Rural round-up

April 16, 2014

“Awareness needed around psychology of hunting accidents”:

Wellington start-up, Hunter Safety Lab says there needs to be greater awareness around the subconscious psychological factors that can cause safety conscious, experienced hunters to mistakenly shoot another hunter.

The comment came in light of the death of a Southland hunter shot by another hunter over the weekend.

It is the hunting season’s second shooting accident to take place in the space of two weeks since it officially kicked off at the beginning of April. . .

No rain reprieve yet for drought-hit farms:

While farming areas in the South Island and the main centres receive rain, very little has fallen in areas affected by the upper North Island’s second consecutive autumnal drought.

“It is clearly a localised drought adverse event covering Waikato and parts of Auckland and Northland,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers adverse events spokesperson.

“I must add that we are also concerned about conditions in Manawatu-Rangitikei too.

“Having been through drought myself last year, I fully understand why farmers up north would dearly like to trade weather with us in the South Island. . . .

Kiwi environmental innovation receives international honours:

Contact Energy’s Wairākei bioreactor – a Kiwi innovation – has been awarded honours at the internationally recognised 2014 IWA Asia Pacific Regional Project Innovation Awards in Singapore. Jointly developed by Contact and Beca, the bioreactor is a unique, world-first solution to improve the quality of water that is discharged from the iconic Wairākei geothermal power station into the Waikato River.

“I’m immensely proud of our bioreactor,” says Contact Energy CEO, Dennis Barnes. “As a world-first it’s great to see this example of Kiwi ingenuity recognised at an international level.”

“To work with Contact Energy from the beginning, developing and testing innovative concepts through to the design and construction of the Wairākei bioreactor has been immensely rewarding for the Beca team”, says Beca CEO, Greg Lowe. “This is another great example of New Zealand talent delivering world class project outcomes.” . . .

Tough Ask to Separate Bright 2014 Sharemilker Finalists:

Choosing a winner in the 2014 New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year competition is a tough task for the judges, due to the varying backgrounds and positions of the finalists.

“It is a really interesting competition this year. A number of the finalists are relatively new to the dairy industry, having changed careers, and they also hold a variety of positions which highlights the many ways people can now progress in the industry,” national convenor Chris Keeping says.

“The greatest factor they have in common – apart from being ambitious dairy farmers – is the majority of this year’s finalists have Bachelor degrees. This demonstrates the industry is attracting talented people who are applying skills learned on the job or in other vocations to excel.” . . .

Rollout of faster broadband to remote East Cape schools complete:

All twelve rural schools in remote locations around Gisborne and Wairoa now have faster broadband, as a result of the Government’s broadband initiatives, Communications and Information Technology Minister Amy Adams announced today.

Local communications company Gisborne Net has successfully completed the installation of point-to-point wireless broadband for the 12 schools, under a contract signed with the Government last year.

The 12 Gisborne and Wairoa schools are among 57 across New Zealand which will get faster broadband under the Remote Schools Broadband Initiative, because they are beyond the reach of cost-effective fibre deployment.

The schools will have access to broadband capable of peak speeds of at least 10 megabits per second (about four times faster than previous services). . . .

Sales Volumes Strong, With Prices Holding Steady in March Market:

Summary

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 94 more farm sales (+25.5%) for the three months ended March 2014 than for the three months ended March 2013. Overall, there were 472 farm sales in the three months to end of March 2014, compared to 534 farm sales for the three months ended February 2014 (-11.6%). 1,842 farms were sold in the year to March 2014, 28.5% more than were sold in the year to March 2013.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to March 2014 was $22,342 compared to $22,317 recorded for three months ended March 2013 (+0.1%). The median price per hectare fell 1.3% compared to February.  . . .

State of the art CT scanner to make quick work of animal yield measurements:

Sheep and Deer farmers in the South Island can now benefit from faster and more accurate carcass measurements, thanks to a new CT scanner in Mosgiel. The scanner, which uses X-Ray technology to create cross-sectional pictures of the body, is a valuable tool for determining meat yield in livestock.

The new CT scanner is being provided by INNERVISION, a joint venture between Landcorp Farming Ltd and AgResearch. It replaces an older scanner that had been in operation for eighteen years.

CT scanner scientist Neville Jopson said the new scanner was considerably faster than the old machine, scanning a whole carcass in around two minutes compared to as much as two hours previously. The ‘spiral scanning’ feature takes measurements over the entire carcass rather than single slice views at set points, providing a much better understanding of composition. . . .

Rabobank opens afresh in central Christchurch:

Continued strong growth in New Zealand has seen specialist agribusiness lender Rabobank relocate to state-of-the-art premises in the new ‘Rabobank Building’ in central Christchurch.

The Christchurch branch of the world’s leading specialist agribusiness bank and the third largest lender to rural New Zealand reopened on Monday 14 April at Level 2, 12 Papanui Rabobank northern south island regional manager David Clarke said the new premises catered for expanding staff numbers and would enable the branch to better service rural farmers and agribusinesses in the Canterbury region.

“We’ve almost doubled in staff numbers in the last decade so we’re excited to move to modern, newer premises with improved technology and more space, which will allow us to grow into the future,” he said. . . .

New Zealand’s First Masterclass for Home Winemakers?

Wine enthusiasts, as well as new and seasoned home winemakers, can learn the secrets of the profession from veteran vintner Justin Oliver.

Oliver is from Matakana’s famous Mt Tamahunga Vineyard and has over 20 years industry winemaking experience at wineries throughout New Zealand and in California. He is also Senior Cidermaker at Zeffer Cider and has distilled professionally. Oliver is in the throes of launching his own wine brand, Free Range Wine Co, specialising in premium wine on tap. 

The Syrah grapes that Mt Tamahunga make into $50 a bottle wine can also be pre-purchased from makewine.co.nz to be collected at the masterclass. The supply is very limited this year – and will be sold on a first in first served. Mt Tamahunga vineyard is one of oldest in the area. It was first planted by the Vuletic brothers for the famous Antipodean Farm wine label of the 1980′s. People may remember a 5-litre bottle of this Bordeaux-styled red selling for $5000 at auction. Those were the days! The Syrah vines were planted in 2004 by new owners, for the premium Mt Tamahunga wine label.  . .


NZ risks missing golden ag future

April 8, 2014

New Zealand risks missing ’a golden opportunity’ to grow its agricultural sector, and addressing this will require a coordinated, joint approach from across the sector, a new report on the competitiveness of New Zealand agribusiness has warned.

Agriculture in Focus 2014: Competitive Challenges, by agricultural banking specialist Rabobank, says New Zealand agribusiness is facing mounting competitive threats throughout the supply chain, which require concerted and aligned action from industry and government.

The report, which jointly examines New Zealand and Australia’s agribusiness sectors, identifies six key challenges affecting the competitiveness of the countries’ food and agribusiness industries, which are increasingly coming under threat from a growing group of highly-resourceful international competitors, including countries in South America, Eastern Europe and even Asia.

The report says the critical areas, which need to be addressed as a matter of priority are:

• rising production costs both on-farm and beyond farmgate

• international market access

• logistics infrastructure (in)efficiencies

• regulatory pressures

• capital constraints and

• product innovation and development.

A change in government would aggravate most if not all of these.

Rabobank general manager Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory Luke Chandler says “while the rising demand growth for food from Asia remains a golden opportunity, New Zealand and Australia both risk missing the boat without a more co-ordinated effort from industry and government” to address the factors which threaten to impact both countries’ future competitiveness in world export markets.

“While the competiveness of New Zealand’s food and agricultural sectors has generally compared favourably in a global context in the past, this situation is far from static,” he says.

“Many of New Zealand’s competitors in agricultural markets around the world are
investing heavily and becoming much more productive, and this is very much raising the bar for New Zealand’s agricultural industries.”

Mr Chandler says food and agriculture is becoming the subject of increased focus from governments around the world as the challenge of meeting the food needs of a growing and wealthier global population places pressure on farming enterprises.

“However, we need to realise that New Zealand is not the only agricultural exporter looking to capture this increasing demand,” he says. “Over the past decade highly-resourceful developing countries have begun to assume a greater role in the global export trade of food and agriculture products.

“The potential of countries in South America and Eastern Europe is obvious, but even some major food-importing countries and regions, such as China and the ASEAN-5 nations are playing a greater role in shaping the export landscape.”

Some of these countries don’t have our high standards for food quality and safety and environmental practices.

That means we face higher costs but also gives us a marketing opportunity.

As opportunities to boost direct on-farm cost competitiveness become harder to realise for New Zealand, the report says, the nation’s food and agribusiness sector must look to broader factors to maintain its competitive edge.

Regulatory pressures – New Zealand dairy The report notes other determinants of growth and prosperity for agriculture include the sector’s ability to deal with regulatory pressures.

As a case in point, it says, New Zealand’s dairy industry needs to increasingly deal with significantly heightened environmental regulation, both current and pending.

“New Zealand’s milk production growth is likely to be constrained over the next five years relative to the 2008 to 2013 growth period as the ability to change land use will become more difficult and expensive,” the report says.

“The future growth of the New Zealand dairy industry will party depend on how efficiently producers adapt production systems to meet heightened environmental controls. This will require even closer engagement locally with regulators and the wider community, alongside a rigorous programme of measuring, monitoring and mitigating environmental impacts.”

Capital constraints – sheepmeat

The growing need for new capital to rationalise and revitalise industry supply chains is another priority in lifting the competitiveness of New Zealand’s agricultural sector, the report says.

Ready access to efficient investment capital is critical to driving the pursuit of scale, infrastructure investment and the adoption of new technologies which act to support competitiveness across the agribusiness sector, it says.

“In recent times a lack of investment capital has been a particularly pressing issue affecting the competitiveness of the New Zealand sheepmeat sector,” Mr Chandler says.

“Investment, whether local and/or foreign, is clearly required to improve efficiencies and productivity downstream in the supply chain. With the sheep flock halving since 1990, the adjustment of both processing capacity and capability has not kept pace and is consequently impacting returns.”

With the two major meat companies being co-operatives there’s not a lot of opportunity for foreign investment.

‘Road map’ forward

Mr Chandler says that while the solution to the competitive challenges to New Zealand agriculture does not lie in any one direction, there is a ‘road map’ that can guide industries to build a more competitive and sustainable base for the sector into the future.

“While some competitive factors such as exchange rates and wage costs are beyond the sector’s control, many other issues can be successfully addressed through the concerted and coordinated action of industry and government institutions,” he says.

“There is no question that a food and agriculture sector that has better access to global markets, ready access to capital, more efficient logistics infrastructure, higher value product and processes, a highly sustainable environmental impact, and more affordable production inputs will be better placed to capture the ‘Asian dining boom’.”

Agriculture in Focus 2014: Competitive Challenges is the first in a series of reports Rabobank will release examining the issues impacting the agricultural sector along the supply chain.

The world has a growing demand for protein.

Our climate gives us a natural advantage for producing that through converting grass to milk and meat.

Other countries which have similar advantages don’t all have our stable political and economic conditions nor our high standards in production and processing.

The challenge is to make the most of these to compete on quality where we can’t compete on price.

That doesn’t mean it’s not important to also keep costs down in all areas, including those imposed on us by local and central government.

Agriculture is making a major contribution to the economic recovery. We need to make sure we don’t miss the opportunity that will ensure it continues to do that.


Rural round-up

March 18, 2014

New staff to boost border security:

26 New Ministry for Primary Industries border staff begin training in Auckland today as part of a programme to beef up frontline resources, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“Close to 125 new quarantine inspectors have joined MPI in the last 18 months and this is another big boost in resources.

“The 26 new staff will graduate around the middle of this year and will be posted around New Zealand.

“While there is increasing use of technology and intelligence to protect our border, we still need people on the frontline.

“Biosecurity is my number one priority as Minister because it is so important in protecting our economy. We know that unwanted pests and diseases can have devastating effects on our farmers and growers. . .

Clover root weevil under attack in Southland - Sally Rae:

An industry-wide effort is under way in Southland to combat the damaging clover root weevil, whose economic damage has been measured in hundreds of millions of dollars nationwide.

Clover root weevil (CRW), identified by distinctive U-shaped notches on clover leaves, was discovered in the Waikato and Auckland in 1996 and has now spread as far as Southland.

A project, involving AgResearch, Beef and Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ and Environment Southland, which has been releasing parasitised clover root weevils on Southland farms, is being accelerated. . .

Fonterra Chairman Visits New $126m UHT Milk Processing Site:

Fonterra Chairman John Wilson visited Fonterra’s new $126 million UHT milk processing site at Waitoa on the weekend.The site is in its final stages of testing before commissioning Anchor UHT milk and cream products at the end of this month.

Mr Wilson said he was impressed with how quickly it had taken the site to get to this stage with construction completed in 12 months.

“It was great to get the chance to visit and meet the team who have brought our Waitoa site to life. There is a real sense of pride from the team on the ground.  . . .

History repeats itself in Northland:

David Kidd is the fourth Grand Finalist to be named in the 2014 ANZ Young Farmer Contest.

The thirty year old sheep and beef farm manager of Shelley Beach took first place at the Northern Regional Final at the Kaikohe Showgrounds over the weekend, Saturday 15 March.

Thirty years after Mr Kidd’s father, Richard Kidd, became a Grand Finalist David is following in his footsteps. Richard placed third (on count back) in the 1984 Timaru Grand Final representing the Northern Region. “I don’t remember it, but I was at that Grand Final and it was my first Young Farmers experience,” said Mr Kidd. . .

Meet Dr Sunday – Alice Roberts:

A doctor living in rural Queensland says it’s the patients who have kept him in town for the past decade.

Dr Sunday Adebiyi has been a general practitioner in Dysart for 10 years.

He says it’s the friendships you strike up in regional areas that make the job worthwhile.

“I have some very, very good patients and I think about them and they think about me, they are concerned about my welfare and how I’m going,” he says.

“So with such people it would be very difficult to let them down. . .

Rabobank business alumni tour successful South Island farms:

More than 80 New Zealand and Australian farmers toured South Island farms last week as part of Rabobank’s Business Management Programme alumni tour.

They visited a deer operation, an intensive indoor robotic dairy operation and a mixed cropping and birdseed business, which was currently undertaking a dairy conversion.

They also visited North Otago dairy farmer Rogan Borrie’s four properties near Oamaru.

Borrie, a fifth-generation farmer, completed Rabobank’s Farm Managers Programme in 2007.

He said it was a rewarding experience to share the developments and technology introduced on-farm.

“We showed the tour our new computerised irrigation scheme with pivot and fixed grid sprinklers that we have recently installed in order to reduce labour time and energy and improve water efficiency,” he said . .


Rural round-up

February 8, 2014

Waikato fast turning waste into wealth:

The Waikato is fast turning waste into wealth, thanks to New Zealand’s first and only independent product development spray dryer and a collection of the country’s world-class researchers.

Waikato Innovation Park is the first organisation in the region to receive funding from Bio-Resource Processing Alliance (BPA). The $28,000 is helping it develop a way to scale up commercial production of pure avocado powder – a project that was started on a small scale in 2013.

The BPA is a government funded initiative that helps New Zealand’s biological-based manufacturing businesses gain maximum value from waste and by-products, while reducing environmental impacts from primary production and manufacturing activities.

According to BPA general manager Trevor Stuthridge, the initiative has $2.5 million per year on offer to New Zealand companies and their research providers over the next five years. . .

Benefits tipped from Synlait takeover - Alan Williams:

New jobs and $6 million coming from overseas for farm development spending are among the benefits of the latest Shanghai Pengxin investment in New Zealand, Cabinet ministers say.

Chinese company Shanghai Pengxin’s majority shareholding in the company that is taking over Synlait Farms in Canterbury was approved by State Services Minister Jonathon Coleman and Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson.

In their decision released by the Overseas Investment Office (OIO), they also referred to the benefits to NZ of the Shanghai Pengxin investment in 16 former Crafar farms in the North Island and the advancement of New Zealand’s “China strategy”. . .

Controls on fruit and vegetable movement lifted:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) confirms that all restrictions on the movement of fruit and vegetables in Whangarei have been lifted as of yesterday evening, Friday 7 February.

MPI Deputy Director General, Compliance and Response, Andrew Coleman, says this marks the milestone where two weeks of trapping, fruit sampling and testing is completed.

“We have received our final results from trapping and fruit examination and I am delighted to say that our rigorous checks found no further sign of the Queensland fruit fly in the Whangarei area. New Zealand’s fruit fly-free status remains intact, as it has throughout this response. There is no longer any need for residents in the area to be restricted in their movements of produce.” . . .

Whangarei fruit fly operation comes to an end:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has thanked the people of Whangarei for their cooperation over the last two weeks in responding to the find of a single male Queensland fruit fly.



“It’s very pleasing that no other fruit fly has been found and that this appears to be a solitary insect.



“This detection is a very rare event and shows we have a high performing biosecurity system.



“I want to thank the people of Whangarei for their support and patience over the last two weeks.



“Locals have been very supportive of this operation. They realise how important it is to treat this response seriously, and their cooperation has been great,” says Mr Guy. . . .

Good news in seed export growth:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see exports of vegetable and herbage seeds still rising.

“To see total seed exports rise by 14 percent from 2012 levels shows arable farmers in New Zealand are doing their fair share for the economy,” says Ian Mackenzie, the Grain & Seed Chairman of Federated Farmers.

“What makes the $192 million contribution to the economy so good is that this contribution is heavily concentrated in mid and North Canterbury region, with almost all the production done between the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers.

“Dairy is not the only land use that is driving economic activity in Canterbury, and that deserves to be celebrated” . .

Rabobank Wine Quarterly Q4: Challenges remain for global industry:

• New Zealand harvest yet to commence, but favourable growing conditions indicate positive signs for the coming vintage.

• New Zealand wine exports are firmly back in growth given the higher supply available from the record 2013 vintage, and the share of bulk wine in the ‘product mix’ is rising.

• Australian harvest underway, expectations of a slightly smaller crop, with the recent severe heatwave potentially impacting yields. . . .

The full report is here.


Holistic farming needed to meet world food demand

December 16, 2013

A holistic approach to farming is required to introduce sustainability into the food and agriculture (F&A) equation, a new report from Rabobank concludes.

Fundamentally, this would entail a shift in farmers’ focus away from yield maximisation and towards input optimisation. However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution and technological innovations tailored towards the specific issues within a farming category are pivotal to improving best practices, and impact the way farm input companies view their business models.

“Without a holistic approach towards feeding the world, the global agriculture industry’s capacity to keep up with demand will be stretched at the expense of the environment”, states Rabobank analyst, Dirk Jan Kennes. “A strategy that includes resolving structural resource imbalances, optimising F&A supply chain efficiency and reducing waste within the global F&A complex would ease the pressure on agricultural yield improvement and would help align the interests of the different stakeholders”.

Rabobank has identified the over-application of fertilisers and inefficient water usage as critical to a step change shift in farmers’ perception of best practice. Agriculture accounts for 70 percent of global water demand and technologies to optimise irrigation systems will be key to future water conservation. Similarly, an integrated approach is needed to optimise farm inputs to enable farmers to apply at the right time, place and rate; subsequently reducing the environmental impact and initial cost. Technological innovations in both areas are being developed as higher farm input prices incentivise farm input companies to spend more on research and development (R&D).

Every year, an estimated 1 billion tonnes of produce is wasted along global F&A supply chains. In addition to reducing waste, it is crucial that all links in the supply chain work together to solve the food supply problem. However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Rabobank has identified four different farming groups – agro-enterprises, family farms, smallholders and agricultural adventurers – which each require a unique approach to improving best practices. Such methods include:

• Soil conditioning for those farms which operate with less crop rotation
• High-tech innovations including accurate soil-water sensors and GPS technology for variable planting density
• Research, education and farming recommendations through less intensive ICT-services
• Land transformation and infrastructure through collaborations of funders, agronomic consultants and contract farmers

“The ability to gather a broad set of data on climatic conditions, soil conditions and crop conditions transfers farming into more of a science”, continues Kennes. “Turning this data into farming practices requires intense cooperation between all partners in the agricultural production chain for which product form, application technology and farm operations need to be fully aligned”.

Good farmers have always taken a long-term view, regarding themselves as stewards of the land with a responsibility to pass it on to the next generation in as good, and preferably better, condition than they found it.

However, sometimes it’s only in hindsight that mistakes are recognised.

Ensuring there’s enough food to meet the increasing demand in a sustainable way requires good science and best practice in all links of the production and distribution chain.


Rural round-up

December 13, 2013

How we manage incidents still needs fixing:

While it is good news that the inquiry into the whey protein incident concludes there was no failure with New Zealand’s dairy regulatory system it simply confirms what we already knew, said Michael Barnett, chairman of the NZ Infant Formula Exporters Association.

“We do have world best regulations. We are world leaders in whey production. Within the terms of reference of the inquiry to look into our dairy food safety system the report is a good outcome.”

However in our view the incident was never a failure of our dairy regulations. “It was a failure to manage the situation and the reputational damage it caused New Zealand. This report will not fix that failure,” said Mr Barnett. . .

Red Meat Profit Partnership underway:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has welcomed the announcement that the Red Meat Profit Partnership is underway, acknowledging the significant opportunities it will provide farmers.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman, Mike Petersen says: “The significance of this collaboration cannot be underestimated as it draws together a big part of the red meat processing industry along with farmers and two banks, with the common goal of improving the profitability of sheep and beef farms. Profitability has been too variable and insufficient in recent years, but through this collaboration there is a significant opportunity to improve it.” . . .

Rabobank welcomes signing of Red Meat Profit Partnership:

Agricultural banking specialist Rabobank has welcomed the recent signing and successful contracting of the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP).

The finalisation of the $64 million dollar partnership has been announced with the Crown officially contracting its support of the initiative.

Rabobank New Zealand CEO Ben Russell said the bank was pleased to confirm its support as a partner of the RMPP alongside the other co-investors. . . .

Week one in a revolutionary fortnight for red meat  – Jeanette Maxwell:

With red meat industry reform a big topic for farmers, Federated Farmers is welcoming the most comprehensive collaboration ever seen in the sector.  With the Federation going out to its members next week on meat industry reform options, this becomes the first week in a revolutionary fortnight for New Zealand’s number two export industry.

“It seems ironic that I am going to welcome 1.3 million fewer lambs being tailed in 2013 over 2012, but the second smallest lamb crop in nearly 60 years is a good outcome following the 2013 drought,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“To be brutally honest, that 4.7 percent decline to a 2013/14 crop of 25.5 million lambs, underscores how vital this week’s announcement of the Red Meat Profit Partnership is. . .

Government Industry Agreements to strengthen biosecurity:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed Cabinet’s approval of the GIA (Government Industry Agreement) Deed as an important tool in strengthening New Zealand’s biosecurity.

“Under the GIA, industry organisations and the Ministry for Primary Industries can sign a Deed that formally establishes the biosecurity partnership. Partners will share decision making, costs, and responsibility in preparing for and responding to biosecurity incursions.

“The GIA is important because it will give industries a direct say in managing biosecurity risk. Joint decision making and co-investment will mean that everyone is working together on the most important priorities.

“Biosecurity is my number one priority as Minister because it is so important in protecting our economy. We know that unwanted pests and diseases can have devastating effects on our farmers and growers,” says Mr Guy . . .

Biosecurity Government Industry Agreements a major boost

Winning Cabinet approval for any policy initiative is never easy so the efforts of Primary Industries Minster, the Hon Nathan Guy with Government Industry Agreements (GIA), must be acknowledged for the way it will boost biosecurity readiness and response.

“GIA’s are a positive development for biosecurity,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers biosecurity spokesperson.

“Cabinet approval is the roadmap forward and follows Federated Farmers leadership last year, which successfully unblocked five years of stalled talks by bringing together key industry players.

“For the general public, GIA’s are about ‘Readiness and Response,’ which are the two key planks to our biosecurity system.  . .

Forest owners welcome biosecurity deed:

Cabinet approval of the deed that will govern how the government and primary industries respond to biosecurity threats has been welcomed by forest owners.

“The biological industries need secure borders, effective monitoring for possible incursions and a rapid response if an exotic pest arrives here. It is essential that we all know who does what and who picks up the tab,” says Forest Owners Association biosecurity chair Dave Cormack.

“The forest industry, through the FOA, has partnered with government in forest biosecurity surveillance for more than 50 years and has funded its own scheme for the last 25 of those years. We look forward to formalising this relationship in a Government Industry Agreement. . . .

Warwick Roberts elected President NZ National Fieldays Society:

The Annual General Meeting for the National Fieldays Society was held last Thursday night at Mystery Creek Events Centre.

Experienced dairy farmer and local resident, Warwick Roberts, was elected President of the NZ National Fieldays Society and starts his term immediately.

Mr Roberts had held the position of Vice President of the Society since 2012 and takes over the presidency from Lloyd Downing, whose term ran 2010-2013.

In speaking about his appointment, Mr Roberts said he was very proud to be leading such a prestigious organisation. . .

Start date for farm training scheme - Annette Scott:

The farm cadet training scheme proposed for the upper South Island has a start date.

Mendip Hills Station, in North Canterbury, will host the new farm cadet training scheme aimed at the sheep, beef, and deer industries.

Scheme co-ordinator Sarah Barr signed a statement of intent agreement last week with Lincoln University, incorporating the Telford division of the tertiary institution, for the scheme to start in 2015. . .

Amendments to layer hens code of welfare:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced amendments to the Layer Hens Code of Welfare 2012, in a move to avoid a large increase in the price of eggs.

“The final date of 2022 for all layer hens to be out of battery cages remains unchanged. However, the amendment alters the transition dates by two years:
• Cages installed before 31 December 1999 must now be replaced by 31 December 2018 (previously 2016);
• Cages installed before 31 December 2001 must now be replaced by 31 December 2020 (previously 2018).

The amendments have been made after advice from the independent National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC). . . .

The long and the short of it is  . . . – Mad Bush Farm:

I got what I always wanted. I can wake up each morning, have breakfast and get a friendly greeting at the door. He got my toast,  I got my coffee and the company of an equine friend. Animals can do so much for healing a hurt, and helping us forget our troubles. And in turn we can help them get through their troubles. Most of the horses I have on the farm have had sad backgrounds. Ed too had a hard life before he came to me nearly ten years ago. His days are coming slowly to an end. Soon I’ll have to make a decision about his future. . .

New Zealand Young Farmers raises over $1400 for men’s health:

New Zealand Young Farmers was a proud participant in this year’s Movember campaign – and it was a wild and hairy 30 days.

For the month of November the Young Farmers Movember ambassadors Terry Copeland NZYF CEO, Ashley Cassin ANZ Young Farmer Contest Events Leader, and Nigel Woodhead Pendarves Young Farmers Club member, cultivated impressive moustaches all in the name of men’s health.

A charity quiz night was held on the last Friday (29th) of November at the Blue Pub in Methven as a final drive for donations. It was well attended with 13 teams and over 60 people participating. There were top prizes from Silver Fern Farms, Husqvarna and a sell-out raffle for a Vodafone Samsung Galaxy mobile phone.   . .  .


Farmers subsidisng NZ consumers

November 29, 2013

The question of why milk isn’t less expensive here when we produce so much is often asked.

What most people don’t know is  the retail price is well below the real cost.

. . . Chief executive Theo Spierings said the downside of strong demand for dairy commodities was increasing pressure on Fonterra’s NZ Milk Products division where profit margin remained under pressure.

To illustrate his point, Spierings said if the division were to pass on to consumers of a two litre bottle of milk in New Zealand the full price paid to farmers for their milk, the retail price would need to increase from $4 to $6 and the co-operative would be facing a media storm.

“And that would not be the worst of it…we would see the volume of dairy consumption in NZ going down very fast.”. . .

Fonterra and ultimately the farmers which supply it are subsidising consumers.

One reason for the higher cost is that we’re no longer low-cost producers.

The traditionally low-cost pasture-based dairying regions, such as New Zealand, have lost their cost advantage as input prices have risen, and now compete on the global market with a similar cost of production to producers with more intensive farming systems, according to a recently-released industry report.

In the report, No longer low-cost milk ‘down under’, agricultural banking specialist Rabobank says global milk production costs have converged between dairy-exporting countries, as the traditionally low-cost milk producers have seen their production costs rise, off the back of volatile global feed prices and the increasing use of feed in traditional pasture-based regions.

Report author, Rabobank director of dairy research, New Zealand and Asia Hayley Moynihan says New Zealand milk producers will need to structure their businesses and production systems to withstand ongoing high price volatility – for both dairy commodity prices and inputs.

Higher costs can be absorbed when the payout is higher but costs rarely drop quickly when the payout falls.

Ms Moynihan says lower-cost regions, like New Zealand, have already “largely capitalised their efficiency gains in a high milk-price environment into the price of land and other assets”.

Therefore there is a need to adapt to this loss of absolute competitive advantage in milk production as efficiency gains become more difficult to obtain.

“It is likely that optimal supply chain efficiency could at least partially mitigate this loss,” she says.

“Efficiencies achieved downstream in milk processing and marketing via a strong route to market and established supply chain relationships will likely play a greater role in differentiating competitive export companies and industries into the future.”

Ms Moynihan says to ensure that competitiveness is based on more than just the cost of producing milk, the New Zealand dairy industry will need to work hard to ensure that it stays ahead of the pack in supply chain efficiency, market access, marketing and sensible regulation. . .

We also have to safeguard our reputation for high quality, safe food.

The New Zealand dairy industry, most well-known for its low-cost production, has moved, perhaps irrevocably, to a higher cost farming system, the Rabobank report says.

Ms Moynihan says the structural increase in milk prices globally and locally has driven the quest for increased production, almost at any cost.

“The first signs were there in 2002 when , on the back of milk prices increasing 42 per cent over two seasons, farm working expenses surged 33 per cent per kilogramme of milk solids produced,” she says.

“The reality check of a 32 per cent lower milk price in 2003, which remained at a similar level over subsequent years soon saw expenses fall back into line.”

However, Ms Moynihan says the 72 per cent lift in milk prices in 2007/08, and higher prices on average in the years following, brought a steep increase in production costs Media Release November 27, 2013

that show little sign of abating without a significant change in farming systems or an economic crisis.

Farm working expenses increased 72 per cent in 2007/08 on the prior season and interest cost rose 29 per cent with both expenditure categories oscillating around these higher levels ever since, she says.

Additionally, higher interest costs per kgMS have been driven by New Zealand dairy farmers’ increased debt, not higher interest rates, Ms Moynihan says.

“The significant increase in dairy land values over the past decade combined with an increased focus on land acquisition resulted in aggregate farm debt across the dairy industry more than doubling since 2002 to almost NZD 20 per kgMS produced,” she says.

New Zealand producers are likely to experience upward pressure on milk production costs over the coming years as they are confronted by a rising interest rate market and the likely impact of future environmental regulations on farming systems and milk production levels.

“Tackling environmental issues is likely to result in a variety of measures that may include increased infrastructure on-farm, altering pasture management or decreased intensity of farming systems which all impact production cost dynamics”.

Ms Moynihan says milk producers in New Zealand should consider where the competitive advantage lies for their own operations.

“Increased exposure to the global dairy market for some milk producers and greater intensification on-farm for others has added complexity to many dairy farm businesses,” she says.

“A flexible production system at a higher average cost may still be competitive if it provides resilience during a downturn.”

With high volatility expected to continue for both milk prices and production costs, the ability to lower inputs and/or costs during periods of abundant global supply would be a distinct advantage, Ms Moynihan says.

“Southern Hemisphere producers previously survived global market downturns for prolonged periods due to the size of their absolute comparative cost advantage,” she says.

“With this cost advantage now minimal to non-existent, other strategies to survive the inevitable downturns – albeit likely short-term – will be required.”

Any dairy farmer not doing well with this season’s forecast record payout shouldn’t be in the business.

But next season’s payout will almost certainly be lower and even the best farmers have to keep a rein on costs to ensure they can cope with less money.

Businesses which service and supply farms also have to be aware that while they might be making hay under this year’s sun, next season could be cloudier.


Rural round-up

November 15, 2013

 

Indonesia – islands of opportunity for New Zealand agriculture:

Indonesia is emerging as a market which needs large volumes of food and agricultural products to satisfy its fast-growing consumer demand. And New Zealand is well placed to capitalise on this demand and grow trade with Indonesia – a significant neighbour – according to new industry report.

In the report, ‘Indonesia – islands of opportunity’, global agricultural banking specialist Rabobank says the economic transformation underway in Indonesia – which is seeing the country emerge as an economic and political powerhouse in South-East Asia – is leading to rapidly-increasing demand for consumer goods, including food.

And with pressure on its natural resources limiting the country’s ability to boost local food production, Indonesia will continue its reliance on imported agricultural commodities. . .

One voice vital for infant formula industry:

New Zealand’s infant formula industry must speak with one voice if it is to achieve best practice and regain the faith of export markets, Infant Nutrition Council (INC) Chief Executive Jan Carey said in Dunedin today.

Ms Carey was speaking at the Global Food Safety Forum Meeting which was being held in New Zealand for the first time. 

She said achieving best practice in the industry depended on a number of vital ingredients. . .

Maximising the productive value of heifers:

Some heifers are calving at only 82% of their mature weight rather than the target of 90%, recent dairy industry statistics reveal.

With some farmers struggling to keep condition on stock during the drought last year, further support may be required to assist heifers to reach target weights.

SealesWinslow Nutritionist Wendy Morgan says that the strategic use of animal feed can assist heifers to reach their target weight by the time they calve, resulting in the animals being more profitable in the herd, using the nutrients and energy from pasture for production of milk solids, rather than for growth.  . . .

2013 New IPO Opens Dairy Sector to Retail Investor:

New Zealand’s leading dairy farm manager MyFarm today launched an initial public offer (IPO) of shares in the first new dairy farm investment to be immediately quoted on its new securities trading platform, MyFarm Trading.

The IPO of GCF Investments Limited will for the first time give New Zealand retail investors access to both a MyFarm syndicate investment, and a facility to trade that investment, overcoming one of the principal barriers to investment in the dairying sector. . .

Wolf Blass tops off outstanding year:

Wolf Blass tops off an outstanding year being named ‘International Winemaker of the Year’ at the 2013 International Wine and Spirit Competition.

Leading Australian winery, Wolf Blass, has been named International Winemaker of the Year at the 2013 International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) in London overnight.

This is the third time that Wolf Blass has won this highly acclaimed award, the first being 1992 followed by 2002. . .

Remarkable success continues for Gibbston Valley School House Pinot Noir at the 2013 Air New Zealand Wine Awards

Multi award-winning Gibbston Valley Winery is celebrating once again after receiving its fourth consecutive Pure Gold Medal for its premium 2012 School House Pinot Noir at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards.

The results of this year’s awards were issued earlier this week (November 13 2013) by the New Zealand Winegrowers Association marking an unprecedented success for the winery. . .


Rural round-up

October 5, 2013

Mild confidence boost in NZ beef sector – Rabobank:

Much improved climatic conditions throughout the winter and a favourable weather outlook for spring have certainly boosted confidence across the New Zealand beef industry, particularly after the challenging drought conditions of summer and autumn, according to agribusiness specialist, Rabobank.

Rabobank’s Beef Quarterly report says that, in line with the seasonal low point in beef supply – which occurs towards the end of winter and into spring – farmgate prices have improved, while average export returns have also seen some encouraging upwards movement.

Rabobank animal proteins analyst Matthew Costello says the decline in the New Zealand dollar against the US dollar, which has eased around seven per cent between April and the end of August, was also helpful in boosting confidence in the Kiwi beef sector. Unfortunately, the currency has since rebounded to the highest level since May, putting downward pressure on schedules and challenging New Zealand’s price competitiveness in the export markets. . .

Farmers with the real smarts:

The Dalrymple brothers, Hew and Roger, farming just out of Bulls, have a second pair of eyes looking over their property.  Actually the word is ‘i’ – as in smartphone technology. Peter Burke reports on the technology in use and the savings that result.

FOR SIX generations the Dalrymple families have farmed in Manawatu and slowly built their land base. 

The current 2200ha freehold plus 200ha leased property is diverse – forestry, cropping, horticulture, sheep and beef trading and some specialised stock business, mainly managing dairy heifers prior to export to China and elsewhere.

Roger runs the sheep and beef, Hew looks after cropping.  This year they’ll plant at least 450ha in maize, 30ha in potatoes, 10ha in onions, 40ha in squash, 120ha in barley and 14ha in wheat. 

Lamb trading numbers vary each year, usually about 25,000, plus up to 10,500 cattle and about the same in dairy heifers. They also contract-finish, making it a big, complex operation. . .

Fonterra Appoints New Managing Director of Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APMEA):

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited announced today the appointment of Pascal De Petrini as Managing Director of its Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa (APMEA) business unit.

The APMEA business unit comprises all of Fonterra’s consumer operations across Australia, New Zealand, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Mr De Petrini will join Fonterra at the beginning of November and takes over from Johan Priem who has been Acting Managing Director APMEA since May.

Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings said, “Pascal is a strong, strategic people leader with a proven track record in delivering significant growth as well as turnarounds in Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) businesses. He has more than 25 years’ experience across the markets of APMEA and in senior leadership roles at Danone which will greatly benefit our consumer, nutritional and foodservice growth in Asia. I am delighted that we have someone of Pascal’s strengths and experience joining Fonterra. . .

Canterbury irrigation firm plans storage ponds:

A Canterbury irrigation scheme that has been taking water from the Waimakariri River for 15 years wants to build a large storage pond so it can continue to operate when water restrictions are in force.

Waimakariri Irrigation Limited is a run-of-river scheme that supplies water to about 200 properties, ranging from dairy farms to lifestyle blocks, covering 18,000 hectares on the northern side of the river.

It is seeking a land use consent to build a double pond combination on a site it owns near Oxford.

Manager Brent Walton says the ponds will allow users to continue irrigating during dry periods when the river level is low and there are restrictions on taking the water. . .

Never too old for new ideas -

ADVERSITY MAKES you struggle, so think and look for answers, say horticulture industry pioneers and innovators Fay and Joe Gock.

The pair, both in their 80s, have for 60 years wheeled out good ideas: they were the first in the world to put stickers on fruit, they’ve grown seedless watermelon, and they pioneered using chilled polystyrene boxes to export broccoli.

They were winners this year of the horticulture industry’s highest honour, the Bledisloe Cup. And they won an award from the Dominion Federation of NZ Chinese Commercial Growers “in recognition of your lifetime of innovation and contribution to the horticulture industry”. . .

US Government shutdown warning to our farmers:

The budgetary deadlock, which has sections of the United States Government shutting down, should serve as a warning to New Zealand farmers to run conservative farm budgets.

“Following record milk price forecasts and increases in the ANZ Commodity Index across the primary industries, farmers may be very bullish about the current 2013/14 season,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President.

“The optimism is most welcome since the ANZ Commodity Index has hit its third highest level. Meat and Fibre farmers will be relieved to see the international price of wool, our green and renewable fibre, increase 13 percent in a month. Yet it is right across the primary board, from red meat to apples and logs, we just seem to be in an export sweet spot.

“Some may be tempted to anticipate outstanding forecasts for this season by taking on debt. . .

Entries open for New Zealand’s Prestigious Royal Show:

The Royal A and P Show New Zealand promises to be an affair for the whole family featuring entertainment, sideshows and livestock exhibits from some of New Zealand’s elite farmers.

The countdown has begun and entries are now open as Feilding and the wider Manawatu gear up to host the most prestigious A and P show on the calendar – the Royal A and P Show New Zealand.

Entries are now being taken for this spectacular event across all livestock sections ranging from Alpacas to equestrian classes to beef and dairy cattle, pigs and everything in between. . .


Rural round-up

September 27, 2013

New funding for Global Research Alliance projects in Latin America:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced $800,000 in funding for two new Global Research Alliance projects in Latin America.

Mr Guy made the announcement during his speech at the Inter American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture conference in Buenos Aires, involving Agriculture Ministers from across the region.

“This funding will support two regional livestock greenhouse gas research projects in Latin America – one looking at dairying in the Andes with Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Colombia, and the other looking at trees on farms in Central America with Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua and Honduras.”

“This additional funding recognises the growing importance of this region to New Zealand,” says Mr Guy. . .

New Zealand ‘beefs’ up presence in China:

The growing appetite for beef in China – which can’t be met by domestic production in the near-term – is good news for New Zealand exporters, according to a new industry report.

In its report, ‘Australia and New Zealand beef up their presence in China’, agricultural banking specialist Rabobank says Chinese beef consumption is expected to continue growing at a faster pace than domestic production, increasing the reliance on imports to satisfy demand.

Report co-author, Rabobank animal proteins analyst Matt Costello warns however, that while the New Zealand beef industry sees long-term growth and potential within the Chinese market, so too do competitors from around the world. . .

Icelandic fishing industry has some lessons for New Zealand’s commodity sector – Allan Barber:

Ogmundur Knutsson, Dean of the school of business and science at Iceland’s University of Akureyri, was in New Zealand in early September to give a keynote speech at the conference Charting Pathways for Maori Industry Future.

He is an expert in the Icelandic fishing industry which has moved from a low cost, harvest-driven model to a market-driven, value added model within the last 40 years. He believes New Zealand is trapped in the same low-cost industry operating model that existed in Iceland and needs to change its thinking to lift the fishing industry’s profitability.

The dramatic improvement in Icelandic fishing returns since it changed from the old, low value, largely frozen model to a new high tech, mostly chilled model provides a very good lesson for our fishing industry. Without having any firm knowledge base of how our fishing industry operates, I was struck by the philosophy which appears to have potential to be applied to other New Zealand commodity sectors, such as the meat industry. . .

Deepwater Fish Stocks in Healthy State:

Reduced hoki catch limits over the past few years have paid off for New Zealand’s second most valuable fishery.

Increases in the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) levels, from 1 October, for a range of deepwater species, have just been announced by the Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy.

Both the eastern and western hoki stocks are double the size required to produce the statutory maximum sustainable yield. The western hoki stock is now above the management target range set by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), and the eastern stock is at the top of the target range. . .

Estates turn to barn conversions as farms struggle - Agrimoney:

Owners of UK country estates are turning to commercial opportunities, such as office lets, to boost takings in the face of a pressure on agriculture income which is “to continue”, Savills said.

Estate owners are – encouraged by a relaxation in May of UK planning laws, and by an acceleration in economic growth to 0.6% in the second quarter from 0.3% in the first – looking to non-agricultural areas such as turning barns into  industrial units to bolster income.

“The increasing optimism in the economic outlook is reflected in more enquiries to rent commercial space, which is helping to boost rents and reduce void periods and debtors,” Sophie Barrett at Savills said. . .

Good nutrition sets heifers up for lifetime performance:

With the first mating season for heifers coming up rapidly, good nutrition not only has a major role to play in getting replacement stock up to live weight targets, but also in the cow’s productive future.

Failure to achieve adequate mature live weight targets affects the heifer’s lifetime performance, starting with low conception rates and leading to lower milk production in the first lactation.

Yet a recent study, published in the Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production 2013 concluded that between 86-92% of heifers were not achieving optimal weights. . .

New Sacred Hill Sauvignon Blanc already a Gold Medal winner:

The newly released Sacred Hill Orange Label Sauvignon Blanc 2013 is already amongst the gold medals, reflecting this year’s blockbuster vintage.

The wine received a gold medal and was selected in the Top 50 at this year’s New World Wine Awards.

Sacred Hill winemaker Tony Bish says the Orange Label Sauvignon Blanc 2013 showcases everything that was great about the Marlborough vintage, from the cool spring through the warm, dry summer and autumn.

“This year’s Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs sing with energy and are packed with bursting flavour and aromas derived from the long, idyllic summer,” he says. . .

Fine Wools Ease, Coarser Types Steady

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s Marketing Executive, Mr Paul Steel reports that the weaker New Zealand dollar played a small role in the South Island Wool auction of 10,300 bales this week, with supply and demand factors influencing sectors differently. There was a 90 percent clearance rate with the fine wool sector making up most of the passed in lots.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies eased 1.53 percent compared to the last sale on the 19th September.

Mr Steel advises that compared to the last time offered on 12th September Merino Fleece 17 to 19 microns ranged from slightly easier to slightly dearer. . .


Rural round-up

September 15, 2013

Getting low riding out the big blow – Tim Fulton:

Tom Kearney, his wife and family hunkered down in a bedroom and rode it out when the nor’wester whacked their farm near Ashburton.

The Kearneys’ home at Winslow was well sheltered but it felt for a while like the windows might blow in, Kearney said.

“We’ve got a young daughter and another one on the way in about three weeks time so it could have got a bit frightening if it (the baby) decided to turn up a bit early.”

The sheep farmers expect they lost up to 1000 trees in the gale, about half the trees on the property. Some of thee shelter-belt trees were 50-60 years old. . .

Response needed on black grass – Annette Scott:

The black grass damage is done and the focus now must go on establishing a robust response plan, Methven cropping farmer Ian Letham says.

Letham farms along the route the contaminated seed took on its journey to a Methven seed-dressing plant.

“I’m extremely concerned about this issue,” he said of a biosecurity breach that resulted in the spillage of the noxious weed black grass in Mid Canterbury. . .

NZ-linked Chinese dairy firms rank highly – Jamie Gray:

Chinese dairy companies Yili and Mengniu – both of which will soon have factories in New Zealand – now rate among the top 15 of the world’s biggest dairy companies in terms of turnover, rural lending specialist Rabobank said.

Rabobank said Yili is now ranked at 12th, up from 15th last year, while Mengniu went to 15th from 16th.

Yili has plans to manufacture in South Canterbury while Yashili – which is in the throes of being taken over by Mengniu – is building a factory at Pokeno, on the southern outskirts of Auckland.

The top five rankings – with Fonterra at number four – remained unchanged from last year. . .

Genetics programme critical for improving productivity – Allan Barber:

Two complementary programmes have just been announced which promise to deliver improved sheep traits which will compensate for lower production and generate greater profits.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics is a proposed new partnership between B+LNZ and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) which will combine existing levy payer funding of $2.9 million with $1.5 million of third party investment to be matched by $4.4 million from MBIE.

B+LNZ currently invests its share in the activities of Sheep Improvement Limited, Central Progeny Test and Ovita which has been a joint venture with AgResearch for the last 10 years. This will now be wrapped up into B+LNZ Genetics, while AgResearch will provide major input into the new programme which will broaden the historical breeding excellence focus to determine breeding values and genetic ability to perform on hill country. . .

Vision projects #4 - Credo Quia Absurdum Est:

I see agribusiness biotechnology startups in the news every week.  They usually have the words “Massey University”, or occasionally the school for backward farm kids “Lincoln” attached to them.

There’s no reason why they shouldn’t have Invercargill attached to them.

But we have had decades of wasteful spending on airport runways, pastoral land at Awarua and other ridiculous projects that are not going to create community wealth or jobs.

Invercargill needs to play to its strengths. . .

Pāua Data Logging to Better Manage the Fishery:
Commercial pāua diving is entering the electronic age with logging of every shellfish taken.

When the new season opens on Oct 1, every diver in the Pāua 2 fishery will be wearing a data logger that will record each captured pāua’s location, depth, weight and the water temperature.

The small electronic boxes strapped to wetsuits unload their data on the supporting dive boat, which will provide a reef by reef picture of what is happening in the fishery.

“This will allow us to spread the catch effort, ensure an area is not over exploited and better manage a sustainable fishery,” Tony Craig, Pāua 2 Management Group chairman, said. . .


Rural round-up

August 25, 2013

Rabo back US dairy as Fonterra reveals milk hitch – Agrimoney:

Rabobank highlighted the potential for the US to grow dairy exports as New Zealand-based Fonterra. investigating the botulism scare which prompted product recalls, revealed a milk powder withdrawal.

Tim Hunt, US-based global dairy strategist at Rabobank, said that the US “could emerge as a significant competitor” in dairy exports, thanks to a slowdown in domestic demand at a time of elevated international prices.

Already prices of some US dairy exports are showing significant growth, with milk powder exports rising from some 300,000 tonnes in 2007 to 500,000 tonnes last year, and cheese shipments rising from 100,000 to 250,000 tonnes over the same period. . .

Kiwi-run Chinese dairy farm far cry from home -

As Fonterra works to rebuild its reputation in China, it will face competition from other dairy companies trying to grow their share of the market.

One is popular brand Wondermilk, which is produced by a Taiwanese-American company, but the farm manager is a Kiwi.

An hour’s drive northeast of Beijing, past scenes of dramatic urban development, is a small piece of modern agricultural China. And New Zealander Berwick Settle leads us to “Red Star”, the newest of three facilities he manages for Hua Xia Dairy Farm. . .

Restructure losses may be huge - Annette Scott:

The loss of experience and knowledge to the agricultural industry could be huge under the proposed AgResearch restructure, agribusiness professor Jacqueline Rowarth says.

AgResearch announced this month 180 jobs at Ruakura and 85 from AgResearch’s Invermay site near Dunedin would be lost to its Lincoln campus in a $100 million proposal to create large campuses at Grasslands, in Palmerston North, and at Lincoln.

“History tells us globally that only 10% (of scientists) will go (to the new site) and that’s a huge loss of capability,” Rowarth said.

“When Wallaceville in Upper Hutt and Hurley Pasture Research Centre in the UK closed, 90% of people, for a variety of reasons, did not relocate. . .

Biofuels plants key to UK wheat price outlook – Agrimoney:

Success in efforts to bring two major biofuel plants onstream may have an undue impact on UK wheat values, in determining the level of supplies needed to be priced to compete on export markets.

Wheat futures for November touched £151.00 a tonne in London last week, the lowest for a spot contract in 19 months, in a slump attributed to growing harvest hopes leaving the country with hefty supplies to sell abroad.

Harvest estimates, some of which fell below 11.5m tonnes after a cold spring followed an unusually wet autumn and winter, have risen substantially after early harvest results showed far better yields than had been expected. . .

Forests to help create fresh air:

A Hawke’s Bay couple have just launched a Fresh Air Forests service to let people like travellers, businesses and landowners measure and counteract the effects of transport, travel and accommodation.

People taking part buy trees to create native forests.

Fresh Air Forests has growing sites at Lake Waikopiro and on Mount Kahuranaki on retired and protected land in Hawke’s Bay for generations ahead to enjoy.

“We are serious about making a difference, now and in the future so the idea of pledging trees to create a native forest made a lot of sense,” director Colin Pirie, who runs the venture with wife Wendy, said. . .

Their website is www.freshairforests.co.nz.

Farm tree planting together is fun - Pasture to Profit:
Planting farm trees is best when you plant with community friends. I had a great day tree planting in a wetland area on farm with 30 new friends. It was really fun! So much fun that I will continue to invite the community rather than using contractors.
 
The environment and protecting the quality of our rivers & streams is a community responsibility. Farms need to engage their local communities in helping to plant trees,  Trees that are aesthetically beautiful, trees that are ECO-Sourced, trees for bees, trees that reduce N leaching. . .

Rural round-up

August 17, 2013

Chinese Kiwis defend NZ brand:

An analysis of social media in New Zealand and China has found an emerging group of Chinese residents in New Zealand and others with close ties to China, vigorously defending New Zealand’s brand in the wake of Fonterra’s whey protein contamination crisis.

The analysis was carried out by Dr Hongzhi Gao, a senior lecturer at Victoria Business School and senior research fellow of the New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre; Vallen Han, Asia marketing director of New Zealand Post; and Simon Young, chief executive of syENGAGE, a social media consulting firm. . .

Two Fonterra managers sent on leave in botulism probe:

Fonterra has placed two of its senior managers on leave as it continues its internal investigation into the whey protein botulism scare.

Fonterra chief executive officer Theo Spierings says the company is moving quickly and establishing key facts and as they emerge they are taking appropriate action.

He says placing two people on leave does not pre-empt the findings of the review and they will continue to be involved in the ongoing investigation.

The review will be finished by the end of the month. . .

Beware sleeping US dairy giant – expert - Hugh Stringleman:

The giant United States dairy industry is re-gearing for exporting and may rival soon the influence of New Zealand in world dairy trade.

Rabobank International global strategist dairy Tim Hunt gave that message to dairy audiences throughout NZ last week.

An Australian economist, Hunt is based in New York and has a special interest in the contrasts between Oceania and North American dairying.

His prepared notes were called “Arise the Hunter, the reorientation of the US dairy industry and implications for NZ”. . .

Economy-wide lessons as white gold loses its shine – Eye 2 the Long Run:

It is critical to understand that the issues for the NZ economy arising from the current Fonterra debacle  (as opposed to dairy farmers and Fonterra directors and managers) is assuredly not a “public relations” issue or one of “reputational management”. The best PR firm in the world cannot resolve such issues through spin – nor should it try.

Calling for better “PR” is simply a form of denial.

Key problems from an economy wide perspective are:

1. Nowhere else to turn

The choice for producers has been narrowed by statute to Fonterra for some 90% of the market. There is virtually no diversity, depth or spread of processing in the industry. The statute prevents it. Dissatisfied producers have nowhere else to turn. All eggs in one basket – then we drop the basket. . . .

Lustrous lambs wanted:

The hunt is on for lambs with unusually lustrous fleece. Crown Research Institute Agresearch says if you have any such lambs this spring, it wants to hear from you.

“We particularly want to understand what proteins or cellular structure may be special to their wool, and then whether these are the same as those in the lustre breeds,” says David Scobie, who is leading the lamb quest.

“Studying a naturally occurring mutation with such a dramatic effect on fibre characteristics provides a unique opportunity to understand the genetic and physiological mechanisms affecting fibre quality.” . . .

AgResearch overhaul tipped to boost research - Annette Scott:

A proposal to overhaul AgResearch’s campus and farm infrastructure will create a vital agricultural research institute for the next 50 years, AgResearch chief executive Tom Richardson says.

The restructuring proposal involves axing 180 jobs at Ruakura, near Hamilton, and 85 jobs from the Invermay site near Dunedin.

The $100 million proposal would result in large campuses at Grasslands in Palmerston North and at Lincoln in Canterbury.

A final decision is expected next month following a four-week consultation period. . .

Federations’ ‘www.ruraljobs.co.nz’ a success:

Federated Farmers is thrilled its ‘Rural Jobs’ service has hit 115 job advertisements since the beginning of the year, promising a bright future for agricultural careers.

“www.ruraljobs.co.nz is a fantastic service and it is picking up traction as one of the leading rural job advertisers,” says Conor English, Federated Farmers Chief Executive.

“Great staff are critical to any farming operation. Federated Farmers wants to ensure that our youth realise these opportunities are available to them and that employers have all the right documentation to know what the legal requirements are.

“Our www.ruraljobs.co.nz is not only the place to go to match people with jobs, but also where you can get up to date employment contracts reflecting the latest law changes, information on nationwide wages and salary packages, immigration ACC and OSH requirements and free legal advice for our members. It is a great one stop shop, tailored for the farming sector” . . .


Rural round-up

July 11, 2013

X-ray transfer system offers biosecurity boost:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the beginning of trials for the use of x-ray images to screen airline baggage before it arrives in New Zealand.

The trials are a world-first and involve the transfer of aviation security x-ray images from Melbourne Airport to Auckland for passengers on Air New Zealand flights, while the passenger is on the flight. Passengers will still be subject to clearance requirements prior to boarding the plane.

“This technology will allow biosecurity staff to assess the x-ray images before the plane touches down. Any bag containing biosecurity risk items will then be matched with the passenger, who will face further scrutiny by officials upon landing,” says Mr Guy. . .

Plenty of hope but no solutions yet – Allan Barber:

The Red Meat Sector Conference, held in Auckland on Monday, was very well attended by 320 people from all parts of the industry.

There were interesting presentations from overseas and local speakers. The former spoke eloquently about the outstanding global prospects for the red meat sector, while the latter had plenty of statistics to illustrate their concerns about sheep and beef farming debt and shrinking livestock numbers.

The Prime Minister opened the Conference with an upbeat talk about an $8 billion industry of great importance to the country. While acknowledging farmer dissatisfaction with the status quo, he said it was up to the industry to drive change, but the government was sympathetic and supportive. . .

New Zealand red meat sector welcomes Economic Cooperation Agreement with Taiwan

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) say the signing of the Economic Cooperation Agreement (ECA) between New Zealand and Taiwan is a significant outcome for the New Zealand sheep and beef sector.

Eliminating all tariffs on beef within two years and sheepmeat within four years is important news B+LNZ Chairman, Mike Petersen and MIA Chairman, Bill Falconer said.

“This ECA will eliminate tariffs with Taiwan and it complements New Zealand’s existing free trade agreements with China and Hong Kong,” Petersen said.  .  .

ExportNZ welcomes economic cooperation agreement between New Zealand and Taiwan:

ExportNZ welcomes the announcement that New Zealand and Taiwan have signed an economic cooperation agreement.

Executive Director of ExportNZ, Catherine Beard, says this will be positive for both economies since they are very complementary, with Taiwan’s exports to New Zealand being dominated by high tech manufactured goods and New Zealand’s top exports to Taiwan being agricultural products. . . .

New Zealand – Taiwan Economic Cooperation Agreement positive for seafood trade:

Seafood New Zealand welcomes today’s announcement of the signing of an Economic Partnership Agreement (ANZTEC) between New Zealand and Taiwan and congratulates the Trade Minister, Tim Groser, and his team of negotiators for completing a negotiation that first started under the watch of the previous Labour-led administration.

All of New Zealand’s seafood trade interests with Taiwan have been fully included in the Agreement. All seafood items will be able to enter Taiwan tariff free within eight years – with many products benefitting much earlier. . .

‘ASEAN tigers’ offer growth opportunities for New Zealand’s dairy sector:

Burgeoning demand for dairy among consumers in the ASEAN-6 group of countries is creating substantial trade opportunities for dairy export countries including New Zealand, according to a new industry report.

In the report Dairy – Milk for the ASEAN-6 Tigers, global agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank says the ASEAN ‘six majors’ (the six largest economies of the Association of South East Asian Nations – Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam) should be part of all dairy exporters’ global growth strategies, but particularly for New Zealand given its competitive advantage in these markets. . .

Latest Agreement gives New Zealand wine tariff-free access to Taiwan:

New Zealand Winegrowers welcomes the signing of the Agreement between New Zealand and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Cooperation (ANZTEC). The Agreement will give New Zealand wine tariff-free access to the Taiwan market as soon as it comes into force.

“This is an important trade advantage for New Zealand wine exporters. Taiwan is a small but developed market that is well suited to the premium wine styles that New Zealand offers. Asia is an increasingly important destination for New Zealand wines. This Agreement will make New Zealand the only wine exporter with tariff-free access to China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.” said Dr John Barker, general manager advocacy and trade for New Zealand Winegrowers. . .

Latest research delivers encouraging signs for oyster industry ahead of AGM:

A collaborative research programme to breed oysters resilient to a virus that three years ago devastated New Zealand’s Pacific oyster industry is starting to deliver promising results.

Scientists at Cawthron Institute, together with industry partners, have been working towards breeding Pacific oysters resilient to the ostreid herpes (OsHV-1) virus that almost wiped out the country’s Pacific oyster stocks in 2010.

Cawthron Institute has today reported promising results from the latest research trials which it will present at the New Zealand Oyster Industry Association AGM this weekend (6 July).

“We have identified oyster families with a very high survival rate when exposed to the oyster virus, which decimated stocks in 2010,” Cawthron Institute Chief Executive Charles Eason says. “These recent findings are most encouraging. They suggest that selective breeding has great potential to address the current crisis.” . . .


Rural round-up

July 9, 2013

Call to take multi-party approach – Sally Rae:

The state of the red-meat industry was, not surprisingly, a major topic of conversation at Federated Farmers national conference in Ashburton last week.

A session entitled ”Culture Change: The New Beginning In The Meat Industry” was a focus of the meat and fibre meeting, as agribusiness reporter Sally Rae reports.

Former PPCS chairman Reese Hart believes a merger between the co-operative (now Silver Fern Farms) and Alliance Group is not a priority.

”I simply think there are more important things to be done. I think the merger will happen some day but probably not for the reasons we wanted it to happen five years ago,” Mr Hart told Federated Farmers meat and fibre meeting in Ashburton last week. . .

Beef prices expected to firm -

New Zealand beef prices are expected to firm over the next quarter, partly in response to tighter supplies resulting from the drought, but also to forecasts of a wet winter encouraging producers to retain stock, Rabobank said.

The specialised agribusiness lender said seasonal pressures still exist, but have since improved from the poor conditions in the first quarter.

Most regions received some good rainfall, with temperatures still warmer than average, which has enabled some good pasture growth, the bank said. . .

Debacle carries big implications for farmers – James Houghton:

While Christchurch was taking in the revelations about its council’s chief executive, former Hamilton City Council CEO Tony Marryatt, farmers were discussing the big issues facing agriculture at Federated Farmers’ national conference in Ashburton.

Fittingly, these discussions included a plenary session featuring Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend, Selwyn District Mayor Kelvin Coe and Ashburton District Mayor Angus McKay, looking at local government and its implications for some of its biggest contributors, the rural sector.

Christchurch City Council has hit some serious credibility issues, with International Accreditation New Zealand withdrawing its ability to issue building consents. It is clear council staff were not meeting the required building code standards. It is also clear they were not meeting the required standards of professionalism needed. . .

Soil health key component of farm economics – Gerald Piddock:

Future farm systems can achieve environmental and economic sustainability, but there are no quick-fix solutions for reaching that goal, a DairyNZ scientist says.

Getting there would require a balance between environmental and production- driven goals, DairyNZ senior scientist Pierre Beukes told scientists and farmers at the New Zealand Society of Animal Production Conference in Hamilton.

Farmers would have to build strong system fundamentals based around soil health, nutrients and cows to withstand the future challenge of farming within limits. . .

Healthy pipfruit profits expected – Peter Watson:

The Nelson economy is in for a much-needed boost with the pipfruit season shaping up as the best in five years.

After losing money in three of the last four years, growers expect to bank a modest to healthy profit this year on the back of record prices for many varieties in Europe and Britain and steady growth in Asia.

They have been aided by a shortage of fruit in key markets and a weakening kiwi.. .

New Zealand shearing team has first win:

New Zealand’s shearing test team has tasted success for the first time on its Northern Hemisphere test tour, levelling the eight-match series at one-a-piece.

Golden Shears champion Rowland Smith, from Hastings, and Rakaia’s Tony Coster combined to beat an English test pairing by three points at the Lakelands Shears in Cumbria. . .

Hawkes Bay Winery scoops four medals at San Francisco International Wine Competition:

Hawkes Bay boutique winery Mangapapa Estates has scooped four medals at the prestigious San Francisco International Wine Competition with its Chateau Waimarama branded wines.

More than 4,500 wines were judged at this year’s competition and out of the four wines entered, all Chateau Waimarama wines attained medals, a Gold Medal, two Silvers and one Bronze.

The Gold Medal was for Chateau Waimarama’s 2009 Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon. . .


Rural round-up

June 29, 2013

Holding costs dairying’s challenge – Tim Cronshaw:

Keeping costs down could be the major challenge dairy farmers face in retaining New Zealand’s edge in global dairy markets.

Buyers had been making tougher conditions for food safety, sustainability, traceability and animal ethics and the list would grow, said Rabobank dairy research director Hayley Moynihan at the SIDE conference this week.

Milk-production costs were up “everywhere”, she said, and, with milk prices increasing to an expected $7 a kilogram of milksolids – about US50 cents a litre – other countries could be expected to want to supply this market. . .

Indian food demands might prove costly - Richard Rennie:

Pressure to comply with Indian dairy market requirements could hit farmers with higher feed costs as stock feed operators are forced to re-jig feed formulas and plant.

Dairy companies keen to get established in the growing Indian market may need to change stock-feed formulations and increase traceability around bought-in dairy farm feed.

Hindu religious leaders are pushing the dairy companies, saying imported milk products cannot contain animal tissue at any point in the process. . .

Cutting edge nitrate loss at SDF:

FOR MOST months of last year the Tomoporakau Stream leaving the Southland Demonstration Farm contained less nitrate than when it flowed onto the property.

While that finding from ground-breaking research by Lincoln University – with funding from Ravensdown – is good news for the farm and possibly the wider dairy industry, it is just a first year finding, stress the researchers involved.

“This is a really challenging but interesting project,” Lincoln University’s Prof Keith Cameron told a recent focus day held near the farm. . .

Tackling water limits in Otago:

IT’S GOING to take time and considerable investment to meet the measures Otago Regional Council is promoting to improve water quality, judging by the comments of two south Otago sheep and beef farmers to a recent Beef + Lamb New Zealand nutrient nous seminar.

However, both accept the need for change and are already taking steps to reduce their farms’ impacts.

At Taumata, Ken Campbell says he’s “pretty lucky” to have most waterways already fenced, with extensive planting, thanks to his parents’ hard work. . .

Big money for Busy Brook – Diane Bishop:

A five year-old pedigree Holstein Friesian cow is believed to have set a New Zealand record when it sold for $28,500 at the Southern Gold Medal Sale in Gore.

Taieri dairy farmers Nathan and Amanda Bayne, of the Henley Farming Company on the Taieri Plains, sold a two-third share in Holstein Friesian cow Busy Brook AP Rana for $28,500 to Australian dairy farmers Peter and Jessica Fullerton.

Sale manager Bruce Eade said it was the highest price paid for a Holstein Friesian cow this year, eclipsing the price of $24,000 paid for a Holstein Friesian cow at the Royal Presentation sale in Cambridge in June. . .

From Leaf Cutter Design:

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Perfect storm shows sheepmeat challenges

June 5, 2013

A report from Rabobank shows the challenges facing the sheep industry:

The New Zealand sheepmeat industry has been riding a ‘rollercoaster of returns’ in recent years, according to agribusiness banking specialist, Rabobank. A perfect storm of high supply, strong local currency and weak consumer demand has reduced returns and some key challenges must be addressed in order to secure a prosperous future for the sector.

In its recently released report ‘Sheepmeat – riding the rollercoaster of returns’ reviewing the sheepmeat sectors in New Zealand and Australia, Rabobank says in order to capitalise as conditions improve in established export markets, the sector will need to retain sufficient scale and market presence relative to competing meats.

Rabobank CEO New Zealand Ben Russell says the industry has experienced extreme volatility in returns throughout the value chain, and that is likely to continue with an expected supply shortfall looming in the coming season.

“The New Zealand sheep flock has been declining in size for many years with the drought and lower prices last season likely to see that trend continue next year,” he said.

“The shrinking flock has created structural over-capacity that will need to be addressed, however there are risks and practical challenges in achieving this that need to be carefully considered by processing companies.

“Ultimately the path to greater industry prosperity and growth is creating more value for consumers and a more efficient supply chain, including on-farm, procurement, processing and marketing.”

Better returns for sheep farmers depend not just on better prices for meat, it requires better returns for by-products including wool.

New Zealand’s sheep industry started to produce wool. The introduction of refrigeration enabled meat to be exported too but wool was still an important part of sheep farmers’ incomes.

Two or three seasons ago strong wool prices were reasonable but they’re fallen away again and that is one of the reasons sheep farmers’ incomes have slumped.

Notwithstanding the challenges facing the sheepmeat industry, Mr Russell says Rabobank remains enthusiastic about the long-term potential for the sector in New Zealand, and working alongside its clients throughout the supply chain to capitalise on future opportunities.

Report author, Rabobank animal proteins analyst Matt Costello says that, given the sector’s exposure to and reliance on export markets, and the fact that sheepmeat is a higher valued product, the sheepmeat industry is dependent on the economic environment and consumers in these markets.

“Market demand for sheepmeat has been subdued as a result of higher prices and fragile economies, especially in Europe, whereas Asia and the Middle East have emerged as stronger markets and should be cultivated,” he says.

“With an improving outlook in some of the lucrative sheepmeat export markets and with the optimism surrounding the potential of developing markets such as China – New Media Release June 3, 2013 2
Zealand and Australia will be the only countries positioned to supply consumers around the world.

“It is increasingly important that the sheepmeat sector retains significant scale and market presence in comparison to competing meats to remain viable and capitalise on the longer-term growth opportunities.”

Part of the problem in New Zealand isn’t competition from other meats in export markets, it’s competition for land from dairying.

Dairy returns are better and improving which has pushed up farm prices. Growing demand for milk can support the increase in prices, volatile returns for sheepmeat can’t.

The big ‘dip’

The Rabobank report finds that the variation in returns for sheepmeat producers and exporters over the past few years has been significant, with “unprecedented” volatility.

Mr Costello says there is a lack of confidence among producers across the sheepmeat industries in both countries.

“The extreme high and low points over the past few years have not helped anyone, only serving to add to frustration and disillusionment,” he says.

“In simple terms, historically tight supply from both New Zealand and Australia underpinned the initial surge in livestock prices during 2010 and 2011, and the ensuing weak prices through 2012 and 2013 have been driven by higher short-term production due to the extremely dry conditions across both countries.”

While tighter supply in 2013/14 will assist to firm pricing over the coming year, a more sustainable market recovery will need to be driven by improved consumer demand and ultimately a more buoyant global economy.

Sheepmeat isn’t a traditional food in many parts of the world but the demand for protein from developing countries might help that.

Emerging markets

Globally, rising prices have been met by stubborn consumers in the major sheepmeat export markets of the EU, UK and the US. The emergence of developing markets throughout Asia and the Middle East has helped to offset the declines in volumes and, to a lesser extent, returns from the traditional export markets.

Not only is weak consumer demand impacting returns for the industry currently, but a persistently high exchange rate has also been challenging both countries.

Even with a slight fall in recent weeks, the prolonged high dollar in both New Zealand and Australia has been pressuring competitiveness in the global market, resulting in substitution and weaker export demand for sheepmeat, the Rabobank report says.
China, the report says, is a good example of the emerging market demand for sheepmeat.

Mr Costello says China became the largest single sheepmeat export market for New Zealand in 2012, surpassing the UK for the first time ever. Furthermore, China is now Australia’s largest sheepmeat export destination. Media Release June 3, 2013 3
“The emergence of China has seen a much greater utilisation of the whole carcass as demand has grown for items that were once rendered or offloaded at a discount and sheepmeat demand is expected to grow as affluence continues to increase,” Mr Costello says.

Utilisation of the whole carcass helps returns.

If only we could persuade the Chinese to embrace wool as well . . .


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

March 16, 2013

‘An industry in transition’ – US beef challenges present opportunities for NZ producers:

The United States’ beef cattle industry is undergoing a major transition, with a significant contraction of its domestic herd diminishing available beef supply locally and offshore. This presents opportunities for New Zealand producers to cash in on increased market share, according to a visiting US meat industry expert.

Rabobank’s Texas-based vice president for animal proteins, Don Close says the reduction in the US herd is “unprecedented”, with current on-feed numbers at six per cent lower than 12 months ago, and set to continue to decrease into the 2013 Northern Hemisphere summer period.

“Right now, with a significant period of drought, the ongoing tightening of our cattle herd is really becoming increasingly evident,” Mr Close said. . .

Controversy over CAP capping and coupling plans – Paul Spackman:

Farming unions and environmental groups have given a very mixed response to yesterday’s crucial vote by MEP’s on the future of the CAP.

Elements that could cut red tape for farmers, ease the burden of inspections and allow for more proportionate penalties were generally welcomed.

However, other proposals were criticised by some for potentially distorting the market and discriminating against larger UK farms. . .

Rural media research reveals the changing face of farming:

The old image of farmers being dyed in the wool consumers of traditional media, late adopters of digital technology and low users of social media has been completely blown apart by a major piece of research commissioned by Waikato/Bay of Plenty based agency, King St.

The research involved 759 farmers – 314 dairy and 346 dry stock – participating in a 15-minute phone survey conducted by independent research firm, Versus Research, on behalf of King St and some of the agency’s rural clients.

The comprehensive study provides a full picture of farmers’ media habits. “It’s the largest study of its kind to be conducted and provides some extremely valuable information, along with some fresh insights”, says King St CEO, Chris Williams.

“If you think farmers are behind the times as an audience, you need to think again. Radio, TV and print are still going strong but it’s in digital media where we saw some big moves, particularly with the under 40s,” says Williams. “And rather than being behind, they are ahead in some instances.” . . .

Roadshow spreads word on lifting returns – Tim Cronshaw:

Sheep farming can once again be a mainstay of the New Zealand economy, says a top merino leader.

New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) chief executive John Brakenridge said sheep farming had anchored much of the New Zealand economy throughout the 1900s and had been overtaken by the dairy industry as it adapted to capture market opportunities.

For sheep farming to return to its previous position farmers had to be far more involved with global markets and accept scientific developments such as genomics research so that sheep could be adapted to meet market opportunities, he said. . .

Monitor puts squeeze on farm fuel thieves – Tim Cronshaw:

Stealing fuel from farm tanks will be made much harder for thieves with a smart new device.

The release of the remotely transmitted levno technology coincides with reports from the Federated Farmers of increased thefts of fuel, equipment and livestock. In the last few weeks diesel has been drained from diggers in Nelson and from fuel tanks in Upper Takaka and Motueka.

The theft of diesel and petrol is likely to be a bigger problem than realised with a farming enterprise estimating as much as 20 per cent of their fuel goes missing. . .

Myanmar President Welcomed by Fonterra:

Today, on his first visit to New Zealand, Myanmar President Thein Sein met with the Fonterra Co-operative Group’s Chairman John Wilson and CEO Theo Spierings at their headquarters in Auckland.

Fonterra, is opening an office later this year in Myanmar, and the meeting aimed to further strengthen the company’s relationship with Myanmar where it has been supplying high quality dairy nutrition for almost 20 years.

Chairman John Wilson said they were pleased to welcome President Sien to New Zealand and provide him with a deeper understanding of their business, and the New Zealand dairy industry. . .

Renowned NZ grape grower Willie Crosse strikes Gold again:

New Zealand Wine Society has been privileged to make wines from Willie Crosse’s pristine fruit since the 2001 vintage when his Riesling won a Gold medal. Eleven vintages on, the magic is stronger than ever.

At the 2013 Easter Show Wine Awards Willie and New Zealand Wine Society did it again, collecting another Gold medal for the Crosse Vineyard Marlborough Riesling 2012.

Willie is thrilled and says, ‘Jo Gear [the winemaker] is shaping quite a record with our riesling. 2012 was a good year on the vineyard, thanks to a very cool summer and a long dry finish through autumn which brought out the flavours and kept the grapes clean. It was a challenging start, but perfect in the end.’ . . .


Rural round-up

February 19, 2013

Better Lake Rotorua = Farmers + Community + Councils:

A “third way” to better water quality is the promise of the Lake Rotorua Primary Producers Collective signed between Federated Farmers, Te Arawa and councils.
“The positive reaction has been pretty amazing,” says Neil Heather, Federated Farmers Rotorua/Taupo provincial president.

“This is the application of a Land and Water Partnership type approach at a local level.

“Despite one academic taking a pot shot, most Kiwis will see farmers and landowners working hard with regulators to improve what is our lake too. . .

A telling quote about co-ops – Milking on the Moove:

“There seemed little room for entrepreneurial creativity; virtually every decision was politicized.  The most politically active members controlled the co-op with the own personal agendas, and much more energy was focused on deciding which companies to boycott than on how to improve the quality of products and services for customers.  I thought I could create a better store than any of the co-ops I belonged to, and decided to become an entrepreneur to prove it.”

This  quote is from Whole Foods CEO John Mckey. The quote is from his recent book Conscious Capitalism and Forbes has run an article about John and his book, which I found interesting.

John was a hippy in the 60s and 70s and was involved in a commune and various food co-ops.

It appears he became disillusioned with the co-ops and started his own natural food store which grew to be the now famous Whole Foods Market. . .

Failure a huge spur as record-breaking shearer faces biggest challenge -

Tackling the biggest job of your life might not be the best time to talk about failures.

But that’s not the way for Te Kuiti shearer Stacey Te Huia who on Tuesday tackles possibly the greatest shearing record of them all, hoping to shear more than 721 strongwool ewes in nine hours in a remote a King Country woolshed.

The record has not been tried by any other shearer in the six years since it was set by Southern Hawke’s Bay shearing ironman Rodney Sutton.

Tuesday’s bid will be a at Te Hape B, east of Benneydale on SH30 between Te Kuiti and Taupo, and will start at 5am and end at 5pm, including meal and smoko breaks). . .

Gang of four rips through record – Terri Russell:

A lively crowd of about 800 people cheered as four shearers, two from Southland, set a world shearing record near Mossburn yesterday.

Invercargill shearer Leon Samuels, Ohai’s Eru Weeds – who battled on despite being injured – and North Island shearers John Kirkpatrick and James Mack, shore 2556 sheep in eight hours.

The gang set the record in the previously unattempted Heiniger four-stand crossbred lamb eight-hour event. They shore the sheep in four two-hour runs.

The final countdown was heated, as the crowd screamed and shearers sweated it out. Some members of the crowd also performed a surprise haka to the shearers when they finished shearing. . . .

‘Wiggy’ working to better his skills – Sally Rae:

Meet Wiggy from Wales.

Paul ”Wiggy” Davies has been in North Otago working for shearing contractor Owen Rowland, having met Mr Rowland when he was over shearing in Wales.

Mr Davies (27), who had been shearing with former Oamaru man Grant Rowland, now living in Wales, wanted to improve his shearing. . .

Downright ‘grumpy’ over schedule - Rob Tipa:

NEW Zealand meat companies really should listen to their suppliers, because there are some very frustrated, disillusioned and downright grumpy sheep farmers out there.

And with good reason. Those who have withstood the financial pressures experienced by the meat industry in recent years are survivors who deserve a medal for their enduring loyalty to their respective meat processors.

They have listened patiently to promises of greater co-operation between meat companies in one meat industry review after another going back decades.

When the tide turned on low sheepmeat prices in the last couple of seasons, farmers were rewarded for their loyalty with record returns of an average $117 a head for lambs in 2010/11 and $113 a head in 2011/12. . .

Rabobank strengthens NZ research division – new animal proteins analyst appointed:

Rabobank’s Food and Agribusiness Research & Advisory division has announced the appointment of its new animal proteins analyst for New Zealand, Matt Costello.

Rabobank’s head of Food and Agribusiness Research & Advisory Luke Chandler said Mr Costello – who has strong experience as a researcher in the meat industry – was an excellent addition to the bank’s New Zealand food and agribusiness research team, joining senior analyst Hayley Moynihan, who specialises in the dairy sector.

“We’re pleased to welcome Matt into our team here at Rabobank and I am confident his strong background in the animal proteins sector will be a great asset to help further support our clients in this industry in New Zealand,” Mr Chandler said. . .


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