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 15, 2013

Government approves kiwifruit Psa plan:

A national management plan for dealing with the kiwifruit Psa virus has been formally approved by the Government, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“This plan means that the primary responsibility for managing Psa is now moving to the industry themselves as they are best placed to co-ordinate and lead the response.

“As part of this, the Government has approved a levy rate on exported kiwifruit equating to one cent per tray for green fruit and two cents a tray for gold fruit. This will help cover disease management, monitoring, plant material movement and dealing with unmanaged and abandoned orchards.

“The levy has been voted on by growers and will have a shortfall until yields return to pre-Psa levels. Therefore Cabinet has agreed that $3.5 million remaining from the initial Government funding of $25 million will be passed to Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) to implement the plan. . .

Enrolments to close for leading farm business management programme:

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

Now in its fourteenth 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 Executive Development Program is designed to assist farmers improve primary producers’ ability to manage the challenges of agriculture and plan for the growth of their farming businesses. . .

Farm Environment Ambassadors Study Marketing of New Zealand Produce in Asia:

An industry-backed trip to Asia has given Otago farmers Blair and Jane Smith a deeper understanding of the challenges facing marketers of New Zealand meat and dairy products.

National winners of the 2012 Ballance Farm Environment Awards, the Smiths recently returned from South Korea, China, Taiwan and Singapore, where they visited a number of key markets for New Zealand sheep, beef and dairy products.

The purpose of the 16-day trip was to learn more about offshore markets, exchange views on topics of crucial interest to New Zealand farmers and to showcase New Zealand’s stance on agricultural sustainability. . .

Announcement of Intention to IPO:

Synlait Milk Limited (Synlait Milk) advises that it is considering an initial public offering (IPO) of shares and to list on the NZX Main Board.

Synlait Milk is currently 49% owned by Synlait Limited and 51% owned by Bright Dairy & Food Co., Ltd (Bright Dairy).

Prior to any shares being allotted under ny IPO, Synlait Limited has advised Synlait Milk that it intends to distribute to its shareholders, on a pro-rata basis, the shares it holds in Synlait Milk. . .

PGG Wrightson annual earnings to fall by up to 27% on drought, lower livestock values:

PGG Wrightson, the rural services company which fell out of the NZX 50 Index this year, expects annual earnings to fall by as much as 27 percent as dry conditions on both sides of the Tasman and lower livestock values erode prices.

The Christchurch-based company expects earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of between $40 million and $48 million in the 12 months ended June 30, down from $55 million in 2012, it said in a statement. The decline was put down to the dry climate in Australia and New Zealand, lower livestock value and falling earnings from its Agri-feeds unit after disposing of its 4Seasons Feeds joint venture. . .

Irrigation Event Needs More ‘Owner Operator’ Irrigator Support:

The irrigation industry is rapidly moving away from a ‘No 8 wire mentality’ as next week’s Great Irrigation Challenge in Ashburton will demonstrate, says IrrigationNZ – but more ‘owner operator’ irrigators need to rise to the challenge.

On May 23 and 24 at Ashburton Racecourse, IrrigationNZ, with the support of principal sponsor Aqualinc, will host a series of hands-on workshops aimed at up-skilling and professionalising both irrigators and their support industries.

While more than 100 irrigators, irrigation scheme representatives and industry advisors from across New Zealand have signed up, IrrigationNZ wants to see more ‘owner-operator’ irrigators attend. . .

Southland’s Morning Milking Roll Call:

Georgia Donaldson discovered some ‘udderly amazing’ facts when she came face to face with about 500 cows on Fonterra Shareholders Allan and Ann Black’s farm in Invercargill this morning.

Each Jersey cow can produce at average 4100 litres of fresh milk a year – enough for more than 20,000 packs of Fonterra Milk for Schools milk.

Georgia was one of several children from 12 Invercargill schools invited to learn about the source of their daily dose of nutrition, and how it can help them concentrate in the classroom and, in this case, outside of it. . .


Rural round-up

January 12, 2013

Big changes ahead for kiwifruit industry – Andrea Fox:

The western Waikato could become a more important kiwifruit growing region to the country after the ravages of Psa-V disease in the kiwifruit capital Bay of Plenty, says a local grower.

Richard Glenn, who has just stepped down after 18 months as regional co-ordinator for Psa-V action management agency Kiwifruit Vine Health, said the Waikato, particularly the western side, has less rainfall than the Bay of Plenty.

Psa-V thrives in wet conditions, and has now affected 69 per cent of New Zealand’s kiwifruit hectares. . .

Careful planning saved milk from dumping – Annette Scott:

Contingency planning by Westland Milk Products has saved thousands of litres of milk from being dumped following the New Year weather bomb that hit the West Coast.

The event also highlighted the importance of dairy farmers ensuring they have their own insurance to cover on-farm milk losses.

With potential to lose more than two million litres of milk, the actual loss of just 400,000 litres has been praised by farmers and the milk company. . .

Mealworms could be tucker of future – Jon Morgan:

Some Dutch researchers have come up with a novel idea (at least to Westerners) to save the planet – eat worms. Mealworms, to be precise – they’re actually beetle larvae, or worms with legs.

Mealworms have much more protein than animals, are low in fat and cholesterol and high in minerals. They take up less room and use fewer natural resources. And they’re edible.

It’s an intriguing idea. And seeing this is what we in the news world call the silly season, when the usual newsmakers are on holiday, I’m in the mood to give it some consideration. . .

Farmers’ Market a plum part of job – Jon Morgan:

Tom Chambers loves to see what he calls the “chocolate face”. It’s when a browser at his farmers’ market stall tries a chocolate filled with syrupy damson plum liqueur.

“You can’t just take a bite or the syrup will dribble everywhere. You have to put it all in your mouth and then bite it,” the Hastings grower says.

“Then the intense damson flavour explodes in their mouth and they get the chocolate face. They are lost in the moment – their eyes sparkle and a big grin spreads across their face. Seeing that is what makes my job worthwhile.”

He is an owner, with wife Margie and their friend, Catherine Rusby, of The Damson Collection, a three-year-old Hawke’s Bay business making a variety of products from the 400 damson plum trees on their Hastings orchard. . .

Beef exporter bonanza – Hugh Stringleman:

United States imported beef prices are at record levels and are expected to go higher during 2013, into bonanza territory for New Zealand beef exporters and producers.

High feed grain prices, the smallest US cattle herd in 50 years and limited supplies from Australia, NZ, Canada and Latin America have driven import prices sky-high.

Bull beef (95CL) is at US 223c/pound and cow beef 212c/pound, both prices slightly higher than the previous records, set in March last year.

The US prices are 7% higher than January last year but the 5c appreciation of the NZ dollar has absorbed all of that lift. . .

Agri-scientist pushes limits – Ali Tocker:

A Waikato dairy industry scientist has made history as the first woman to conquer New Zealand’s most extreme road-cycling challenge.

Chris Couldrey, a molecular biologist from AgResearch’s Ruakura campus, cycled eight times around Lake Taupo, the equivalent of cycling from Hamilton to Dunedin. It took her three days and three nights. She clocked in at 72 hours, 21 minutes and 30 seconds, during which she slept for only seven hours altogether.

The 38-year-old was one of only two people to cross the finish line at this year’s Extreme Enduro race, part of the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge. . .


Production up, conditions tough

December 13, 2012

Pastoral production has been strong so far this season but global economic conditions are tough for business the Ministry of Primary Industries said in its half-year update to its  annual Situation and Outlook report.

The update shows there has been strong pastoral production so far in the 2012/13 season. “This is partly due to favourable climatic conditions during the previous season which left breeding stock in good condition, and also ongoing expansion of the dairy herd,” says Chris Jones, the Manager of Economic Information and Analysis for MPI Sector Policy.

However, MPI reports the continuing economic slowdown, particularly in the traditional markets of the European Union, is causing weaker demand for some New Zealand products such as lamb.

And the strengthening of the New Zealand dollar against most major trading currencies in recent months is having a dampening effect on farm-gate returns for primary produce.

As a result, total primary sector export revenue for the year to June 2013 is forecast to be around $27.5 billion, down 5 percent on the previous year’s income ($29.2 billion).

Key points for the main sectors:

  • International dairy prices are expected to recover over the remainder of the 2012/13 dairy season and beyond.
  • Lower lamb prices are expected, resulting from weaker demand in key European markets.
  • Beef prices are expected to remain firm over the next two years, following a major drought in North America affecting production there.
  • The forestry sector will remain squeezed over the next few years, due to subdued demand from major export markets – export volumes are expected to hold up, but some product prices will not.
  • Horticultural exports are on track to reach $3.5 billion in export earnings in the year to March 2013, with higher in-market prices expected to offset lower volumes of kiwifruit and wine.
  • The bacterial vine-killing disease Psa-V has spread to nearly all kiwifruit growing regions, and will adversely impact gold kiwifruit exports in the year to March 2014.

Although winter wasn’t particularly tough North Otago experienced a cold spring with slow growth.

However, reasonable rainfall resulted in good growth now the temperature is improving.

This week’s announcement of an increase in Fonterra’s forecast payout has provided a boost for dairy farmers.

But wool is in the doldrums and sheep farmers know that meat works won’t be paying the high prices they enjoyed last season.

The full MPI report is here.


Rural round-up

December 6, 2012

Innovative Wellington Entrepreneurs Identify Massive New Wool Markets

A small Wellington company The Formary has a plan that will help China reduce its air pollution, while at the same time creating a potentially massive new market for New Zealand wool.

After China’s rice crop is harvested in the paddy fields, millions of tonnes of rice straw are burnt, causing massive air pollution, closing airports, shutting out the sun and creating health issues for millions of people. Working with Massey University in Wellington, The Formary has developed a rice-straw-wool fabric prototype that could lead to a multi-million dollar business.

The Formary is owned by Bernadette Casey of Wellington and Sally Shanks from Gisborne and the idea is an extension of another product they developed, when they identified the potential of using waste fibre from Starbuck’s vast amount of unwanted coffee sacks and blending it with New Zealand crossbred wool to create fabric they called WoJo®. . .

Government to assist kiwifruit growers:

A package of support measures is to be made available to North Island kiwifruit growers affected by the Psa-V vine disease, Primary Industries Minister David Carter announced today.

Mr Carter has declared Psa a medium-scale biosecurity event under the Government’s Primary Sector Recovery Policy, triggering further assistance for growers dealing with the impacts of the disease. 

“The Government has worked closely with kiwifruit industry representatives to ensure that this declaration is timed to give maximum possible benefit to growers,” says Mr Carter. . .

Help for Kiwifruit Growers as Psa-V Declared an Adverse Event:

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) welcomes Government approval for a financial and recovery support package, for kiwifruit growers hit by the vine-killing disease Psa.

NZKGI President Neil Trebilco says the organisation has worked very closely with the Government, to firstly extend the coverage of existing adverse events recovery provisions to include incursions on pests and disease, and then get the Psa-V support package approved for kiwifruit growers.

“This will give some growers most affected by Psa a level of financial and welfare support to help them through the impact of this disaster.” . .

Equity raising and change of listing to the NZX Main Board

Today, A2 Corporation Limited (“A2C” or “the Company”) announces that it is undertaking an equity raising to provide additional funding to accelerate the global growth initiatives outlined in the recently announced strategic review.

The Company will issue NZ$20 million in new equity and the Company’s three largest shareholders have resolved to sell a percentage of their holdings in the Company to new and existing investors (together “the Transaction”) at a fixed offer price of NZ$0.50 per new share (“Offer Price”) to provide additional liquidity, contemporaneous with a change in listing to the NZX Main Board, thus facilitating inclusion in the NZX50. . .

Commitment needed by wool growers to ensure sustainable, profitable wool future:

A key objective of Wools of New Zealand is to build the company, evolving within five years to be a fully commercial grower-owned sales and marketing business.

Wools of New Zealand has spent considerable time meeting with all sectors of the industry in New Zealand and internationally building strong collaborative relationships and is now pursing commercial opportunities with supply chain participants for mutual benefit. The Directors are pleased with the cooperation and progress made to date. Wools of New Zealand is, for example, very supportive of the New Zealand scouring industry which underpins the quality and integrity of our fibre which supports the Company’s branded, market-pull strategy. . .

ANZCO Foods’ new Foodplus programme – comments by Sir Graeme Harrison:

ANZCO Foods Chairman, Sir Graeme Harrison, who has worked in the meat industry in various roles since 1973, is enthusiastic about the potential of the new Foodplus programme to enhance business opportunities for the sector.

ANZCO Foods and the Ministry for Primary Industries announced joint funding for the $87million Foodplus programme earlier this week. MPI Director-General Wayne McNee approved funding from the Primary Growth Partnership, which is administered by MPI.

Sir Graeme says it will give a vital boost to the meat industry. . .


Rural round-up

October 28, 2012

Fonterra to sell up to $525m of units at indicative price of $4.60-$5.50, accounting for 7% of shares:

The Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund will raise as much as $525 million selling shares in an indicative price range of $4.60 to $5.50 apiece, giving outside investors exposure to up to 7 percent of the dairy cooperative’s equity, offer documents show.

The final price will be set by a bookbuild among institutions and NZX firms on about Nov. 27.

Fonterra unveiled the prospectus for the fund aimed at providing liquidity for the Trading Among Shareholders scheme, one of the biggest overhauls of the dairy giant’s capital structure since its inception in 2001. . .

Rural pulse a worry in National bank confidence survey:

The agriculture sector is the least confident in the October National Bank Business Outlook which shows overall business confidence flat-lining.

A net 17 percent of respondents expect business conditions to improve in the year ahead, unchanged from last month. A net 25 percent in the agriculture sector are pessimistic, the lowest reading in the survey.

“The agriculture sector is the nucleus of our income generating capacity. So when the rural pulse keeps getting weaker we take note,” chief economist Cameron Bagrie said in his report.

Sentiment in the agriculture sector has been sliding for months because of the high New Zealand dollar, a lower dairy payout, nervousness about environment regulation and the leveling out of a production boost from good weather, he said. . .

Turners and Growers pulls out kiwifruit vines near Kerikeri:

Turners & Growers is removing about 20 hectares of kiwifruit orchards in the Kerikeri area after the bacterial vine disease Psa-V was detected on a single male “baker graft” vine in one of its orchards in the area.

Kiwifruit Vine Health has established a controlled area, which includes 102 orchards in the region.

Kerikeri is the eleventh region to be infected since PSA was first discovered in New Zealand two years ago. . .


Rural round-up

October 14, 2012

Alarm as PSA confirmed in the Bay – Patrick O’Sullivan:

Hawke’s Bay kiwifruit orchardists are on heightened alert after an outbreak of the devastating vine-killing disease Psa-V in an orchard near Taradale.

A positive test result was confirmed yesterday and industry organisation Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) has established a controlled area that includes 43 kiwifruit orchards in the Hawke’s Bay region. . .

New Zealand Pinot Noirs Triumph at Major International Competition:

New Zealand Pinot Noir shone at this year’s International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC). Over half of the country’s Gold Medals were awarded to wines made from the variety, while the Valli Gibbston Central Otago Pinot Noir 2010 beat all other Pinot Noirs entered from around the world to win the Competition’s coveted Bouchard Finlayson Pinot Noir Trophy. . .

Further success for Gibbston Valley Winery in their 25th year of winegrowing

A Central Otago Winery is celebrating as it received results overnight from the International Wine and Spirit Competition in London (IWSC).

The IWSC has awarded Gibbston Valley Winery a Gold Medal for its 2010 Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir. This was one of only 12 Gold Medals awarded to New Zealand wines across all varieties, and one of five Pinot Noirs. . .

Eye-opening visit to Canada – Jill Galloway:

Peter Fitz-Herbert has just been absent from his farm at Hunterville, on a trip to British Columbia in Canada, to talk beef cattle.

He won the Beef and Lamb scholarship to the Five Nations Beef Alliance and the Young Ranchers programme.

Fitz-Herbert is stock manager on the family farm in Upper Pakihikura Rd, near Hunterville. He manages 2400 ewes and 220 breeding cattle on 600 hectares. . .

Industry Training for the Primary Industries:

Federated Farmers welcomes the new Primary Industry Training Organisation (Primary ITO), following the formal merger launch yesterday of the AgITO and Horticulture ITO. This follows July’s merger of the Seafood ITO and the NZITO (meat and dairy sectors).

“What we are seeing is the natural alignment of the primary industries training organisations ITO’s),” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers spokesperson on education and skills.

“So far this year, we have seen four related ITO’s announce intentions to become just two. This not only reduces duplication but provides a more seamless offer to trainees. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Workshops to Kickstart the Conversation Around Farm Succession:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is holding a series of workshops in Wairarapa and Hawke’s Bay to help farming families plan for the future.

A succession plan can help to avoid family rifts further down the track, ease the transition from one generation to the next, and ensure a fair go for all involved.

It’s a big issue for the sheep and beef sector. We’re told that more than 60 per cent of farm businesses are owned by over-60s – the majority of whom want to pass the family farm on to the kids. . .

Award-winning ‘super farm’ goes on the market for sale

One of the biggest dairy farms in the Bay of Plenty – and the recipient of an award for environmental best practice policies – has been placed on the market for sale.

“Lake Farm” near the townships of Matata and Kawerau encompasses some 373 hectares of land – milking 850 cows and producing 306,644 kilogram’s of milk solids over the 2011/12 season. This was forecast to grow to 320,000 kilogram’s of milk solids over the current year.

The farm is owned by former New Zealand Dairy Board deputy chairman Doug Bull, who also held senior roles at the Rangitaiki Plains Dairy Company and which became a part of the single merged Bay of Plenty dairy company known as Bay Milk Products. This year the farm won the environmental section of the Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards. . .


GFC far from over

September 6, 2012

It hasn’t been a week for good news in provincial New Zealand.

Solid Energy has suspended workers at its Spring Creek mine on the West Coast, threatening the jobs of 250 staff and 130 contractors which will have a flow on impacts on the wider community.

Then New Zealand Aluminium Smelters announced it’s accelerating plans to axe 100 jobs from its Bluff smelter as depressed global metal prices continue to challenge the aluminium sector worldwide.

And yesterday tests confirmed that the kiwifruit vine killing disease Psa has been found in a Coromandel orchard.

It’s only a single orchard but the ease with which the disease spreads will be causing justifiable concern in the area and the industry.

The disease has devastated orchards further north and that in turn has hit packing houses, job opportunities and the wider community.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is making good progress in implementing the recommendations of the recent independent review of imports of kiwifruit plant material.

This will go a long way to ensuring a similar incursion doesn’t happen again.

But that will be of little if any comfort to the people whose jobs, livelihoods, businesses and retirement plans have been affected so badly by the disease.

All in all provincial New Zealand could be excused for feeling a bit gloomy and it’s all due to circumstances beyond local control. The GFC is not over and won’t be for some time.

Thank goodness the milk price increased in yesterday’s GlobalDairyTrade auction.

The country – in both the rural and national senses of the word – really needs something to give us some optimism.


Rural round-up

August 28, 2012

More milk. less impact achievable – Hugh Stringleman:

The technology exists to lift milk production and manage the environmental impacts of dairy industry development, according to soil scientist Ross Monaghan and environmental consultant Ciaran Keogh, both frontline speakers to the annual Environmental Defence Society conference session called Greening Farming.

Farmers need clear signals from industry leaders and strong extension networks to adopt best practice for environmental sustainability, according to AgResearch senior scientist Ross Monaghan.

“As a technocrat, I believe we have good management options and systems to manage our resources, grow our industries and yet reduce our environmental footprints, he said. . .

Ministry Formally Warns Growers Following Misuse Of Chemical Spray

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has completed an investigation into the misuse of the antibiotic streptomycin on kiwifruit, and 26 growers who admitted using the chemical outside the strict use conditions have been sent a formal warning letter.

The misuse of the compound constitutes a technical breach of the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines (ACVM) Act 1997.

MPI Director Compliance Dean Baigent says MPI approved the use of streptomycin on kiwifruit under strict use conditions to avoid any possibility of chemical residues occurring in fruit. The conditions included a maximum of three spray treatments onto leaves prior to vine flowering. . .

Hunterville Farmer Is The 2012 B+LNZ Young Rancher

Hunterville farmer Peter Fitz-Herbert has been awarded a Beef + Lamb New Zealand agricultural scholarship that will take him to the Five Nations Beef Alliance and Young Ranchers Programme being held in British Columbia, Canada next month.

Peter, who is the stock manager on the Fitz-Herbert family farm, will accompany Beef + Lamb New Zealand Northern North Island Director, James Parsons to the Five Nations Beef Alliance. It is made up of producer organisations from Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the United States and meets annually to discuss global issues and opportunities for the beef sector. . .

Risk expert: banks left farmers in dark -  Rob Stock:

Risk and derivative experts say banks, including ANZ National Bank and Westpac, should not have sold complex interest rate swaps to farmers.

Claims are also emerging that though swaps were sold as “interest rate risk management” tools, unsophisticated farmers lacked the expertise and tools to monitor their position, and were provided with little or no ongoing support or advice to manage their interest rate risks.

One of New Zealand’s best-known risk advisers, Roger Kerr from Asia-Pacific Risk Management, said he believed at least a proportion of the swaps were sold to farmers who did not know what they were buying. . .

Farmers’ bid to revisit divorce deal rejected - Matt Nippert:

A New Plymouth farmer has lost a Court of Appeal bid to recalculate his divorce settlement after judges ruled his sudden recovery from a brain injury and a rapid rise in farm property values could not have been anticipated.

Neil Johnston had been appealing a decision ruling against his claim against a law firm and his court-appointed property manager claiming a five-year delay in settling his divorce left him $780,000 out of pocket. . .

Kiwifruit executive has his hands full - Jamie Ball:

Not even six months in the job but it’s been a week of reckoning for Barry O’Neill, Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) chief executive.

But, cometh the hour cometh the man. The discovery ofPsa-V in two Waikato orchards last week might have taken the wind out of many a sail, but not Mr. O’Neill. It is, after all, what the independent pan-industry organisation was established to minimize in 2010.

With a lengthy career in the biosecurity sector within New Zealand and overseas behind him, Mr. O’Neill, is taking the Psa challenge head-on. . .

Data to be shared in sheep measles’ fight -

Confidential information about sheep and deer farmers collected for stopping the spread of sheep measles is about to be shared to strengthen biosecurity in New Zealand.

Ovis Management project manager Dan Lynch said 20,000 sheep and deer farmers’ contact details were obtained from meatworks and held in a confidential database to help control the spread of sheep measles.

The Primary Industries Ministry managed FarmsOnLine and wanted the database details so there could be a swift response in the event of an exotic disease outbreak, such as foot and mouth, he said. “The benefits far outweigh the issues.” . . .

Poppy crop trials continuing - Gerald Piddock:

Australian company Tasmanian Alkaloids is still two to three years away from deciding whether to push for growing pharmaceutical poppies on a commercial basis.

The company has conducted trials of several varieties of the poppies in Canterbury at an undisclosed location, beginning in 2009.

The trials are moving slowly and that decision was still being evaluated, Tasmanian Alkaloids operations manager Rick Rockliff said. . .

Many queries still over plan – Gerald Piddock:

A group of South Canterbury farmers have been left with plenty to ponder as they come to terms with the implications of Environment Canterbury’s Land and Water Plan.

The plan would see new limits brought in on water quality established at a regional and sub-regional level through the zone committees of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.  . .

Rain enough for all but Southland – Annette Scott:

Paddling a kayak out to check on cows has been just one of the challenges faced by southern farmers coping with the rain deluge over the past couple of weeks.

While many regions of the South Island, including Southland, were facing drought conditions following the extreme dry of June and July, that has been rectified at least in Canterbury and Otago.

With up to 300mm of rain recorded in North Otago over the past three weeks, 250mm in South Canterbury and 200mm in Mid Canterbury, most farmers are ready for the sun to dry up sodden farmlands. Southland has capacity for more rain with just 3mm recorded in Gore and 7mm in Invercargill. . .


Rural round-up

August 25, 2012

Wet winter helping to spread killer kiwifruit infection – Jamie Morton:

The wettest winter some kiwifruit growers have seen is hampering efforts to stop Psa-V, at a time when the vine-killing disease is attacking New Zealand’s most popular variety.

The disease, which has ravaged gold kiwifruit orchards throughout the country since its discovery in Te Puke two years ago, is now being seen in a spate of serious cases among the green variety that makes up the bulk of the industry.

More than 60 orchards have notified industry group Kiwifruit Vine Health of possible Psa-V, and it is feared the disease could eventually reach up to half of New Zealand’s green kiwifruit growers. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand working for farmers to get more Americans eating lamb

Two Beef + Lamb New Zealand farmer directors are meeting with the project partners involved with the Tri-Lamb Group which has a goal to get more Americans eating lamb.

Central South Island Director, Anne Munro and Southern South Island Director, Leon Black are in Idaho, representing New Zealand sheep farmers alongside their fellow Tri- Lamb Group representatives from Australia and the United States.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO, Dr Scott Champion said the collaborative promotion by the three sheep producing nations is built around the understanding that the profitability and sustainability of the lamb market in the US is important for farmers in all three countries. . .

Unlike humans, fat bees are healthy bees:

Federated Farmers is highlighting how everyone can make a difference to whether bees are healthily ‘fat’ or sickly skinny.

“Just like with all livestock, the health of bees reflects the protein and energy sources available to them,” says John Hartnell, Federated Farmers Bees spokesperson and an exporter of bee products.

“Good protein and nectar produces fat bees and in nature, fat bees are healthy bees. Federated Farmers I guess is standing up for the right of bees to become fat.

“We are keen to work with anyone and everyone to provide positive environments for the honeybee to flourish. 

“After several years’ work, Federated Farmers Trees for Bees now has ten regional planting guides available for anyone to create a bee friendly space.  While they are available from a number of websites, all you have to do is type “trees for bees” into Google. . .

Varroa is not the only threat to our honey bees - Bruce Wills:

In 2000, the sum of all fears for New Zealand’s beekeepers took place when the Varroa Destructor Mite was confirmed in Auckland.

A mere six years later, Varroa had jumped the Cook Strait to reach Nelson and progressively, over the past six years, has spread south.

This year it reached as south as you can travel in mainland New Zealand; Bluff. If it wasn’t for human intervention, the economic and agronomic effects of Varroa would be like Foot & Mouth disease.

Our economy and farming system depends on honeybees and a pollination workforce involving some 430,000 hives.

While people may judge the bee industry by the honey they purchase at a farmer’s market or the supermarket, that is a drop in the bucket.

The real value of honeybees is as pollinators par-excellence. . .

Varroa spreads but the battle for bees goes on:

By reaching Bluff in the 12 years since the Varroa Mite was first confirmed in Auckland, one of the world’s worst bee threats is close to completing its colonisation of New Zealand.

“Has Varrora had an impact on New Zealand? Absolutely,” confirms John Hartnell, Federated Farmers Bees chairperson and a major exporter of bee products.

“If it wasn’t for human intervention, the economic and agronomic effects of Varroa would be like Foot & Mouth disease. Our economy and farming system depends on honeybees and a pollination workforce involving some 430,000 hives. . . .

“That should give pause for thought as we celebrate the Honey Bee this week and the massive contribution this mighty insect makes to us all. The value of pollination alone is conservatively estimated at $5 billion each year.

Forest industry transforming itself

The forest and wood processing industries are moving quickly on a strategy to transform the sector.

The Wood Council (Woodco) has just given the go-ahead to a $400,000 research-based initiative which aims to get the highest value out of every cubic metre of timber harvested. Known as Woodscape, it is modelled on a major study carried out for the Canadian forest products industry in 2009.

“In the next decade we will see an increase in the harvest. We are determined to extract the best value we can from this resource and reinvigorate our sector,” says Woodco chair Doug Ducker. . .

PGG Wrightson reports $55m turnaround in bottom line profits

Rural services leader PGG Wrightson Limited (NZX: PGW) has announced an improved operating performance with earnings before interest, tax and depreciation (EBITDA) for the year ended 30 June 2012 at $55.2m compared to $49.4m in the year ended June 2011.

Operating revenue was up 7.2% at $1,336.8m compared with $1,247.2m for 2011, while net profit after tax (NPAT) was at $24.5m, a $55.2m turnaround from the 2011 loss of $30.7m. A substantial turnaround in net operating cash flow to $58.6m (2011: $4.9m) reflected a strong focus on working capital and particularly debtor management, while enabling the company to reduce bank debt. Net interest costs were reduced to $13.8m from $28.1m for the prior period . .

New Zealand’s first Albariño wine awarded a Trophy on debut:

In 2011 one barrel of New Zealand’s first Albariño wine was made by Coopers Creek Vineyard and praised by wine critics. The second vintage has just been released and in its very first outing has been awarded a Trophy at the prestigious Bragato Wine Awards, held during the wine industry’s annual conference. The Select Vineyards Gisborne Albariño 2012 is available in restaurants and fine wine stores nationally. . .


Rural round-up

August 22, 2012

Award for Omakau farmer :

Omakau farmer Jan Manson has been awarded the 2012 Rabobank business development award for her project to reposition her farming operation for future expansion.   

Mrs Manson received the award at the executive developmen programme graduation dinner, which celebrated the latest business management thinking in agriculture. . .

Sheep, beef sectors look at training - Sally Rae:

A steering group is investigating the possibility of    copying in the South Island the residential training farm model, following concerns about the low level of skilled, work-ready employees in the sheep and beef sector.   

Sarah Barr, of Kyeburn, is co-ordinating a feasibility      project, on behalf of the Central South Island Residential  Training Farm steering group, including conducting a survey  to ascertain if there is an issue and, if so, how it can best  be addressed. . .

Fonterra wraps up record End-Of-Season export quarter:

Fonterra’s record end-of-season quarter has been the Co-operative’s biggest ever May, June and July – with 620,000 metric tonnes of dairy products loaded on ships for export to over 100 markets around the world.

Fonterra NZ Milk Products Managing Director Gary Romano says the Co-operative has shipped 36 per cent more than the same period last year.

“The record milk production in the 2011/12 season has meant Fonterra has exported more product at the end-of-season than ever before. Our teams have done a great job collecting the milk, processing it, packing it, storing it, selling it and shipping it.

“If we were to lay the containers we have shipped this year end-to-end they would stretch from the top of the Bombay hills to Christchurch – which is around 1000 kilometres,” he says. . .

Financial treat for rural schools - Rebecca Ryan:

Five Forks Primary and Omarama School received a financial surprise, thanks to their local farmers.

More than 200 rural schools throughout New Zealand received much-needed money for resources such as books and sports equipment.

Five Forks Primary and Omarama School received some of the more than $4300 distributed to schools from the Hatuma Growing Minds Fund.

Hatuma marketing and sales Aaron Topp said the fund was well received by rural schools.

More than $15,000 has been distributed to rural schools in the past three years. . .

US boot camp tune-up:

A WEEK of high-powered brainstorming was expected to heighten ideas of collaboration among 25 of New Zealand’s leading chief executives from the primary sector. With them was Primary Industry Minister David Carter.  

This august group has been tucked away at a ‘boot camp’ at Stanford University, near San Francisco. They represent the dairy, meat, seafood, horticulture and viticulture sectors.

No ‘industry good’ organisations are there but it does include the chief executives of MPI and NZ Trade and Enterprise. . .

Buffalo and rhino make big money:

MAKING SURE none of the rhinoceros herd is poached during the night isn’t something New Zealand farmers have to worry about but it is typical for an increasing number of South African farmers diversifying into the lucrative game breeding industry.  

After several years of rapid growth, there are now estimated to be more than 10,000 commercial game ranches in South Africa breeding rare species for hunting, meat and conservation purposes.

Kirstie Macmillan of Farm To Farm Tours recently returned from escorting a group of New Zealand farmers through South Africa, Victoria Falls and Botswana. . .

Australia and New Zealand Arrangement to combat illegal logging:

Australia and New Zealand have today strengthened their long standing cooperation on forestry issues by signing the Arrangement on Combating Illegal Logging and Promoting Sustainable Forest Management. The signed Arrangement illustrates a shared commitment to working together to address illegal logging and promote sustainable forest management.

Australia’s Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig, and New Zealand Associate Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, signed the Arrangement during forestry talks which included discussions relating to the progress of Australia’s Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill 2011. . .

Wise Nutrient Use Rewarded In Ballance Farm Environment Awards

Former fertiliser consultant Jim Galloway takes a scientific approach to the application of nutrients on his Nireaha dairy farm, west of Eketahuna.

Jim and his wife Lynette bought the farm in 2006 and are milking about 170 cows this season on a milking platform of 70ha (effective). The Galloways also own a nearby run-off, supplementing milk income by rearing extra dairy replacements and farming carryover cows.

Jim and Lynette are both Massey University graduates and Jim worked as a fertiliser consultant for nine years before going farming. This experience in the fertiliser industry is valuable when deciding the farm’s fertiliser policy. . .

Zespri keeping tabs on vine bacterial infection of gold varieties:

 Zespri International, which controls exports of the nation’s kiwifruit, is keeping tabs on the spread of vine bacteria disease Psa-V which is showing signs of infection in new gold varieties.

Listed kiwifruit packer and grower Satara Co-operative Group has warned its shareholders of the potential adverse impact Psa-V could have on its business. Pseudomonas syringae PV actinidiae is again showing clear evidence in orchard vines, Satara managing director Tom Wilson said in a statement to NZX. . .

Grape growers are on target for improved profitability

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has today released an analysis of viticulture production and profitability as part of its annual Farm Monitoring Report series. The report is based on models of a Marlborough and a Hawke’s Bay vineyard and an overview of the financial performance of typical vineyards, based on information gathered from a sample of growers and industry stakeholders.

Grape growers experienced significant erosion in profit last season, with unfavourable weather in both Marlborough and Hawke’s Bay leading to a 20 percent drop in average yields. . .

NZX confirms slump in 1H profit; Agri information stands out as bright spot:

New Zealand’s stock market operator, posted a 28 percent drop in first-half profit as revenue growth stalled and expenses rose, squeezing its earnings margin.

Profit was $3.25 million in the six months ended June 30, from $4.5 million a year earlier, the Wellington-based company said in a statement. Operating revenue rose 1 percent to $26.5 million.

The first-half results confirm NZX’s Agri information unit as the biggest source of revenue, growing 8 percent to $6.2 million in the latest period, driven by growth in subscriptions, while advertising revenue was little changed at $3.76 million. The company expects subscription growth to continue in the second half, when it typically enjoys the benefit of a seasonal pickup. . .

Long-term investment in NZ kiwiberry industry:

Freshmax NZ Ltd is the holder of the exclusive New Zealand master kiwiberry license, granted by Plant & Food Research (PFR) to commercialise four of their proprietary kiwiberry varieties. This month, Freshmax welcomes the decision by select growers to advance these varieties into commercial production in New Zealand.

Over the last few years global demand for kiwiberry has continued to rise on the back of a sustained increase in market share for berryfruit. Freshmax has recognized this exciting opportunity for New Zealand growers to benefit from increasing demand, through investment in kiwiberry production. . .

Skip the sheep can shake a leg again - Sally Rae:

First Tarras had Shrek – and now Tapui has Skip.   

And if Skip the Romney ewe was a cat, she would probably be down to about seven lives.   

Farmer John Dodd did not think the little triplet, born on a  cold and frosty night in rural North Otago, would survive its first night if left outside and took her home. . .


MAF shortcomings, MPI responds

July 5, 2012

The independent report into the Psa incursion which has had such a devastating affect on kiwifruit orchards has  found shortcomings in systems and processes of what was then the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

It is up to what is now the Ministry of Primary Industry to respond swiftly and Director-General Wayne McNee has:

“The review has found shortcomings in the way MPI’s (then MAF) systems and processes were applied to the importation of kiwifruit, kiwifruit pollen, kiwifruit nursery stock, kiwifruit seeds and horticultural equipment, prior to the Psa outbreak.

“While the review also says that it does not automatically follow that these shortcomings contributed to the entry of Psa-V into New Zealand, improvements are needed, and MPI is moving immediately to implement those improvements,” Mr McNee said.

“The Ministry will implement all six recommendations from the review and will report to the Minister for Primary Industries in three months time on progress.”

Mr McNee said the review had found that although the biosecurity risks associated with the importing of goods could never be entirely mitigated, protections could be improved by MPI, industry and Crown Research Institutes working more closely to understand emerging risks.

Federated Farmers calls the report a robust but positive wake-up call.

Federated Farmers is convinced the independent and robust Sapere Research Group review into the entry of Psa will lead to significant improvements at the border.

“The old MAF was so confident in its import health standard for pollen, it said there was no peer-reviewed scientific evidence pollen was a pathway for bacteria,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President and spokesperson on biosecurity

“That contrasts strongly with the independent Sapere Research Group review of how Psa entered New Zealand. This review provides policy makers with a model for independently conducted post-border incursion investigations.

“The Sapere review cuts to the chase.  We can give credit to the new Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for opening itself up to soul searching analysis.  That said, it comes against a $410 million backdrop; the projected cost of this biosecurity failure.

“Even in tough economic times, Federated Farmers believes there should be more resources for biosecurity than just reprioritising current ones.

“We need biosecurity to be robust because it is our first and last line of environmental and economic defence.  Any homeowner knows scrimping on insurance is a false economy when you need to claim against it.  Incursions like Psa not only cost export revenue but jobs too.

“Biosecurity is a tangible feature driving our overall reputation as an exporter and as a destination.  Tourism is a risk vector, but benefits from high levels of biosecurity being maintained. We suggest passenger and cargo levies could be used to build a response fund.

“While the report doesn’t mention it, we also need robust systems to identify emerging disease threats and developments.

“Government Industry Agreements are an opportunity for the MPI to integrate information and improve communication with industry.  Yet the primary industries shouldn’t just leave biosecurity to government as ‘its job’.  We are pleased this report confirms recent moves by the MPI to give farmers a greater say on border protection.

“One practical example of what Federated Farmers wants to see reinstated is the Animal and Plant Biosecurity Consultative Committees.  Disbanded under the old MAF, they provided a valuable exchange of information between industry and the Ministry.

“We believe the MPI now has a golden opportunity to integrate them within Government Industry Agreement frameworks,” Dr Rolleston concluded.

The Psa, incursion has been to the kiwifruit industry what foot and mouth disease could be for livestock farming.

Whole orchards have been infected, businesses – and retirement plans - destroyed and millions of dollars lost from the local and national economy.

The response to the incursion was swift but that is no comfort for those whose vines were infected.

It might not have been shortcomings in MAF procedures which allowed the importation of the infection but MPI isn’t making excuses and is implementing all six recommendations in the report.

Every traveller and import could potentially carry something that poses a risk to our plants and livestock. It is impossible to have 100% protection against that but the adoption by MPI  of the recommendations should ensure an improvement in bio-security at our borders.

MPI’s response and action plan is here.


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