Rural round-up

August 4, 2014

Award accepted as tribute to young farmer – Alison Beckham:

Southland dairy farmer Stefan Zeestraten should have been accepting an award at the 2014 Southland Environment awards on Thursday recognising the positive environmental practices he promoted on his family’s three central Southland farms.

Instead, there was a minute’s silence as the 300 people attending paid tribute to the 24-year-old, killed on Monday when his vehicle left the road and hit a power pole north of Winton, about 3am. . .

Young farmers there to support others - Nicole Sharp:

Waimea Valley farmers Andrew and Katherine Welsh are never ones to shy away from a challenge, especially when it comes to farming.

Moving to the Waimea Valley, near Mandeville, six years ago, the pair joined Balfour Young Farmers.

Mr Welsh had previously spent 11 years with the Thornbury club. But what they arrived to took them by surprise.

The Balfour club was nearly closed and had about five members.

It was in recession, and the task for the Welshes was simple: to get the club up and running again. . .

Biodiversity grant enables nursery at wetlands – Hamish Maclean:

A plant nursery should be the focal point for visitors to New Zealand’s largest privately owned wetland by this summer.

A biodiversity funding contribution of $9600 from the Clutha District Council means work can begin immediately on a nursery at Sinclair Wetlands (Te Nohoaka o Tukiuau), wetlands co-ordinator Glen Riley says.

Mr Riley said the wetlands had benefited from 1000-plus volunteer hours already this year. . .

In sheep farming for the long haul - Annette Scott:

Canterbury farmer Chris Allen grew up on a sheep-and-beef farm in Waikato.

He is a licensed aircraft engineer but 20 years ago the farming in his blood lured him back to the land.

He and wife Anne-Marie headed south and bought a 360ha sheep-and-beef property near Mt Somers.

Despite the growing challenges behind the farmgate Allen is upbeat about the red-meat sector’s revival.

“Either you do what you do or you sell out,” he said.

“Dairy is a whole new level of investment that doesn’t interest me, so I do this.  . .

Taking the sting out of honey cowboys:

Comvita chief executive Brett Hewlett is hopeful new labelling rules for manuka honey will flush out what he says are cowboys who are giving the product and industry a bad name.

The interim labelling guidelines, which come into effect in January 2016, will ensure New Zealand is producing quality manuka honey for export.

Comvita chief executive Brett Hewlett said good brands had been using a quality standard, the Unique Manuka Factor, for a number of years but rogue elements within the industry had put it in jeopardy. . . .

Viability of G9 kiwifruit under question:

There are fears a newly developed kiwifruit variety could be a lemon.

An industry leader said there were concerns about the long-term commercial viability of the gold kiwifruit variety known as G9.

G9 was first commercialised, along with another gold variety, G3, in 2010 in response to the bacterial disease PSA which has virtually wiped out the former variety of gold kiwifruit.

About 150 hectares of G9 is grown, much less than G3’s 4000 hectares. . .

Realignment of Fonterra and Nestlé’s Latin American Alliance Takes Effect:

The first step in the realignment of Fonterra and Nestlé’s Latin American alliance has taken effect.

As announced in May this year, Fonterra and Nestlé have revised their 10-year-old Dairy Partners Americas (DPA) joint venture to better reflect each company’s respective strategies.

Fonterra now has a 51 per cent controlling stake in DPA Brazil, with Nestlé holding the balance; and, together with a local partner, Fonterra has taken over Nestlé’s share of DPA Venezuela.

Fonterra’s Managing Director of Latin America, Alex Turnbull, says: “This is an exciting next step for Fonterra and the people in these businesses as they are formally welcomed to the Co-operative.” . . .

 


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. . .


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