The sky isn’t falling

September 25, 2014

The cut in Fonterra’s payout isn’t good news but it isn’t the disaster that many are proclaiming.

Nor was the timing the political conspiracy that Winston Peters suspects:

Just four days after the General Election the true state of the dairy industry is revealed – returns for milk that the New Zealand economy is reliant on have slumped.

“Questions need to be asked by New Zealand voters on why they were not informed about this serious decline before Election Day,” says New Zealand First Leader, Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“The drop in payout is a $5 billion hit to the New Zealand economy and 2 per cent off nominal GDP.

“It appears the government and Fonterra joined forces to keep the facts hidden from voters? . . .

Fonterra makes announcements on its previous season’s final payout and any revision to the current one at this time every year.

The record final payout for last season was no surprise. Nor was the cut in this season’s forecast.

Anyone with even cursory knowledge of the global milk market was expecting it after successive drops in the GlobalDairyTrade price index and with the knowledge that the milk supply here and around the world was outstripping demand.

Lower income will impact on farmers, those who service and supply them and the wider economy but the news isn’t all bad.

The value of our dollar fell after Fonterra’s announcement which will help all exporters.

And while dairy prices are falling, demand and prices for sheep meat and beef are improving:

Rabobank New Zealand CEO Ben Russell said the softening in overall rural confidence was clearly a reflection of the impact of the bearish global dairy outlook and lower milk prices on dairy farmer sentiment.

“Falling dairy commodity prices are the overwhelming factor at play here. At the time of the survey being taken, the globalDairyTrade auction prices fell six per cent, taking them down 45 per cent from their February peak,” Mr Russell said.

“And with global dairy supplies continuing to increase from all key exporting regions, a significant price recovery is not imminent.

“That said though, farm commodity prices move in cycles and, clearly, dairy commodity prices are entering a lower part of the cycle right now. While this is always a difficult time, the important thing to remember is the medium to long-term picture for the dairy industry is strong.”

Mr Russell said dairy farmers were also cautious with the dairy industry approaching a critical time in the year, with the peak production and selling period for New Zealand milk just weeks away.

The dampened confidence among dairy farmers was reflected in their business performance expectations in the coming 12 months.

Dairy farmers had the most pessimistic outlook of their own farm business performance. However, Mr Russell said, it should be noted this was coming off record highs for business performance expectations among dairy producers over the past 12 months.

The latest survey found almost half of dairy farmers surveyed (47 per cent) expect the performance of their own farm business to worsen in the coming 12 months, up from 30 per cent with that expectation in the previous quarter. Just 20 per cent expect an improvement in performance, compared with 27 per cent previously. A total of 32 per cent expected performance to remain stable.

While there was also a tempering in sentiment among beef and sheep farmers, after reaching three-year record highs in the previous survey, confidence in this sector remained at overall strong levels.

Mr Russell said lamb prices were up on the previous season and beef prices were currently hitting record highs due to tight global supply.

In terms of expectations of their own businesses, the number of beef and sheep farmers expecting improved performance declined from 57 per cent last quarter to 48 per cent this survey. However, the percentage expecting their farm business performance to worsen remained stable, at just seven per cent. A total of 42 per cent anticipated business performance would remain at the same level.

Despite the decline in overall confidence, New Zealand farmers’ investment intentions were overall stable, the Rabobank survey showed.

Sheep and beef farmers increased their investment appetite – with 43 per cent indicating they intend to increase investment in their farm businesses over the next 12 months, up from 37 per cent previously. Only six per cent intended to decrease investment (compared with four per cent in the past quarter).

For dairy however, investment appetite had waned, with 21 per cent intending to invest less in their businesses (up from just seven per cent with that view in the previous survey) and 20 per cent expecting to increase investment (down from 27 per cent). This was the lowest level of dairy farmer investment intentions in more than five years (since August 2009).

Mr Russell said this change in sector investment dynamics may be an early indication the decline in the national sheep flock and the rate of dairy farm conversions were slowing. . .

Federated Farmers says farmers will be down but far from out:

Fonterra Cooperative Group farmer shareholders will welcome confirmation that the 2013/14 season has ended exactly as promised with a total payout of $8.50 per kilogram of milksolids (kg/MS).  That good news is balanced by a sharp revision downwards in the 2014/15 forecast.

“The 2014/15 season which offered so much has turned into a breakeven one for not just Fonterra suppliers but the entire industry,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“Like Synlait’s revision this week, there is a ‘good news and bad news’ dimension in this.   The good news is that we take the 2013/14 confirmed payout and the lowest revised forecast for 2014/15, we are talking an average total of $7kg/MS across the two seasons.

“A $5.30 kg/MS milkprice is also a lot higher than some commentators had expected if the forecast sticks.  If being a little word with a big meaning.

“Losing 70 cents kg/MS on the milkprice is really going to hurt.  Farmers will be kicking capital works into touch and will be pruning herds to rid themselves of any passengers.

“Speaking to DairyNZ, farm working expenses this season, before depreciation and interest payments, are expected to be around $4 kg/MS this season.  Feed, fertiliser as well as repairs and maintenance are going to be cut back.  We’ll only do what needs to be done.

“What we know from DairyNZ is that two-thirds of dairy farms have working expenses of between $3.25 and $4.75 kg/MS.  Of course when you start paying back the bank manager, the average cash costs on-farm head up to $5.40 kg/MS.

“As you can tell from what the forecast currently is, the current surplus is a wafer thin 15 to 25 cents kg/MS.  Expressed as retail milk, that’s about 1.25 to 2 cents a litre this season.

“It means that upwards of a quarter of our guys will be making a loss this season. 

“We also believe that unlike the Global Financial Crisis, dairy farmers have been listening and have focussed on building financial freeboard.  Sadly for some farmers, they’ll have to dip into that big time.

“Federated Farmers’ advice is to watch costs but to keep your bank, farm consultant, accountant and family fully in the loop.  Take a no surprises approach to get through.

“This season has been a perfect one for global milk with ideal conditions everywhere compounded by civil unrest in the Middle East and dislocation of European milk due to what is happening in Eastern Ukraine.

“We can only hope there is no more bad news but I am optimistic we may be back above $6 kg/MS for 2015/16,” Mr Hoggard concluded.

Agricultural prices are always cyclical.

Dairy farmers creamed it last season, now it’s sheep and beef farmers who have a brighter outlook. Both know that what goes up comes down and what comes down goes up again, sooner or later.


Rural round-up

August 26, 2014

Blood and guts all poachers left behind   – Sonita Chandar:

A steaming pile of blood and guts was all that was left of a mob of newly bought pigs after poachers visited a Tararua farm.

In an incident that occurred earlier this year, a farmer told of taking his young grandchildren to show them the new pigs but instead they found a distressing sight.

”We released the pigs in a paddock right in the middle of the farm and they didn’t even last a week. . .

Night raiders caught in the act-

A Tararua victim of stock rustling and poaching had his security cameras stolen after police showed photos of alleged rustlers around sporting goods shops.

The theft is just one incident of many that have recently occurred in a small community where several farmers have had stock go missing.

Farmers were willing to share their stories but did not wish to have their names published for fear of retaliation.

Frustrated at being the target of stock rustlers and trespassing hunters, a farmer and his son installed surveillance cameras in trees earlier this year. . .

Agricultural exports to Japan - Keith Woodford:

Back in 1988, Japan was our most important market for both total exports and agri-food exports. Now, some 25 years later, the share of total exports going to Japan has declined from more than 18 percent down to less than six percent. In part this is because of the phenomenal rise of China. Also, in that 25 year period our global exports have increased greatly, so a loss in percentage is not necessarily surprising. But our exports to Japan have been declining in absolute as well as percentage terms. So what went wrong?

The simple but somewhat naïve answer is that the Japanese economic boom came to an end. The Japanese economy has indeed struggled during those times, but per capita incomes have remained much higher than almost everywhere else in Asia. The exceptions are the city states of Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau. The Japanese GDP per capita is still more than five times that of the Chinese. . .

Water system a winner on Mt Watkins :

Switching to a gravity-fed water system has paid off for East Otago farmers David and Sarah Smith.

The couple are equity managers on a 1463ha property, Mt Watkins, near Waikouaiti, farming in partnership with Mr Smith’s parents Rex and Glenys.

The family purchased the original 920ha block in 2005 and bought another 510ha, which was previously leased, three years ago. . . .

A little home cookery for orphan lambs – Diane Bishop:

David Hamill has a secret weapon when it comes to mothering lambs onto ewes.

The semi-retired Southland farmer has been using the popular baking ingredient vanilla essence as a mothering on tool for almost 50 years.

Hamill rubs the essence on both the orphan lamb and the ewe and it’s doesn’t take long for the ewe to bond with the lamb and accept it as her own.

”I’ve had huge success with it,” Hamill said. . .

Rabobank Recognises the Challenge of Farm Succession:

As part of Rabobank’s focus on assisting New Zealand farmers with the challenges of succession planning, the agricultural specialist bank has announced it has strengthened its succession team with the appointment of succession planning manager Chris Haworth.

An experienced agricultural banker who has been involved in family farm succession planning, Chris will be working with rural farming families to achieve their personal, family and business goals for each generation. . .


Rural round-up

August 13, 2014

Getting New Zealand agriculture on the global market access ‘VIP’ list:

Priority must be given to policy and regulatory settings that improve market access for New Zealand exporters, with a heightened focus on the negotiation of Free Trade Agreements and building business-to-business and government-to-government working relationships, according a new report by global agribusiness specialist Rabobank.

Further leveraging New Zealand’s world class production and supply chain systems is also of utmost importance, the report says.

Releasing the research report, Competitive Challenges – Getting on the global market access ‘VIP’ list – Rabobank animal proteins analyst Matt Costello says improving market access is critical for the future growth and success of New Zealand agriculture, given the importance and reliance on exports across all sectors. . . .

Human clinical trial demonstrates digestive differences in A1 and A2 beta-casein – Keith Woodford:

The results of a human trial comparing A1 and A2 beta-casein have been published recently in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which is a high ranking journal of the Nature Publishing Group. The trial demonstrated statistically significant differences in faecal consistency, with the faeces on A1 being overall looser. Also, for those people who on the A1 milk had the looser and runnier faeces, there was very strong evidence (p<.001) that this was associated with more stomach pain, whereas this relationship did not hold on the A2.

The trial was undertaken at Curtin University and led by Associate Professor Sebely Pal. I was part of the analysis and writing team, and I am listed as a co-author.

Prior to this trial there was already conclusive evidence that A1 and A2 beta-casein digest differently in animals. . . .

DNA technology a ‘game changer’ for monitoring environmental impacts:

Cawthron scientists have proved DNA technology can be used to accurately and effectively assess changes in the environment around marine-based operations.

Their findings have generated international interest – in particular from the aquaculture and off-shore oil and gas sectors that see huge potential for the technology. It will enable them to undertake environmental monitoring in near real-time.

“This revolutionary DNA technology, while still in its infancy, will eventually deliver results in real-time so industries can know instantly if anything is changing in the marine ecosystems around their operations, and if necessary, they can respond and adapt their practices immediately – it’s a game changer,” Cawthron Institute Chief Executive Charles Eason says. . .

Oh No! The ‘Perfect Bad Storm’ for Dairy Farmers World-Wide – Pasture to Profit:

Falling demand for dairy products, increasing wheat stocks, Russian ban on food imports have created the worst possible “Perfect Storm” for dairy farmers worldwide.

Dairy farmers’ business resilience will be severely tested, especially over the next year until these extraordinary events are resolved or resume normal trading.   Farmers need to quickly get control of their cash-flows, debt servicing and capital spending needs to ‘out of cash surplus’ only.

New Zealand dairy farmers have been ‘farming the milk price’…some have made decisions based on “an apparently ever increasing milk price”. . .

 Nothing forbidden about 40-fruit tree:

If you are the indecisive sort, especially when choosing exactly what sort of snack you’re craving, a special tree may be the answer.

A man in the US has created a fruit tree that grows 40 different kinds of fruit.

Sam Van Aken’s nursery is a workshop, laboratory and easel all rolled into one, and here he has created his masterpiece.

A springtime rendering of what the tree will look like in blossom has been gathering world-wide attention.

“It’s flattering. It’s amazing. But yeah, it’s also overwhelming,” Mr Van Aken says.  . .

Strong interest in 2014 South Island Farmer of the Year competition:

A wide variety of entries has been received for this year’s Lincoln University Foundation South Island Farmer of the Year competition, with meat, wool and dairy dominating the range of farm types competing.

Canterbury, Otago and Southland are particularly well represented among the entries, which include high and low country operations ranging from a large-scale pig operation to beef cattle specialists, dairy farms, sheep (both meat and wool breeds) and deer farms. Two of the entries include a cropping component their business. . .


Rural round-up

August 7, 2014

The other face of foreign ownership:

The generosity of foreign investors has created New Zealand’s largest ever private land protection agreement at 53,000 hectares; equivalent to 240 Cornwall Park/One Tree Hill Domains.

“It is exciting that a Queen Elizabeth II covenant now covers the iconic high country over most of Motatapu, Mount Soho, Glencoe and Coronet Peak stations,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers President.

“This is the other face of foreign ownership, perhaps best explained by dual Federated Farmers/Forest & Bird life member, Gordon Stephenson, who commented: “this is the first time a whole landscape is being put into a covenant”.  . .

Sheep Industry Excellence Celebrated:

The important role ram breeders play in New Zealand’s sheep industry was celebrated at the third annual Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Sheep Industry Awards.

About 230 people attended a dinner in Napier, where 10 genetics-based awards and five sector excellence awards were presented. Results of the genetics-based awards were calculated based on ram breeders’ performance in SIL-ACE (Advanced Central Evaluation) – the large-scale, across flock and breed genetic evaluation of more than 300 ram breeding flocks. . . .

GlobalDairyTrade not ‘milk and disaster’:

The latest decline in the benchmark GlobalDairyTrade (GDT) online auction continues a trend expected by Federated Farmers. 

“We’d love to see a plus sign for a change but at least it seems to be tracking in the direction Rabobank has projected,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Vice-Chairperson.

“I don’t expect this latest result will affect the payout forecast in the near term.  What will be critical is the expected market recovery in the New Year.  . .

–  Allan Barber:

It’s wonderful what a bit of buoyancy in the market for beef and sheepmeat will do for morale, especially when it coincides with a solid drop in the predicted dairy payout. It isn’t just about absolute price returns, but also a reduction in the gap which has opened up this year between red meat and dairy prices.

MIE’s chairman John McCarthy has already characterised the improved mood among processors and exporters as signalling a desire to preserve the status quo which is why he and MIE are thrilled to have obtained the funding required to produce a business plan. This is intended to ‘deliver a definitive roadmap for farmer profitability’ through committed supply, coordinated marketing and best practice. . .

Global animal protein trends become more complex – Allan Barber:

At the Red Meat Sector Conference Luke Chandler, General Manager of Rabobank’s Food and Agribusiness Research Advisory group in Australasia, presented an interesting perspective on global protein trends and the increasing complexity required to feed the world’s growing population.

He observed three main trends: demand from emerging markets and market access, competitiveness between proteins and the complexity of the supply chains.

Briefly stated there is a surplus in the west and a shortage in the east with 70% of growth occurring in Asia, predominantly in China, India and Indonesia. Australia and New Zealand provide 6% and 3% respectively of imports of agricultural products into Asia and are therefore high value, niche exporters rather than providers of high volume production. . .

Ravensdown to pay farmer rebate as profits surge – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Ravensdown Fertiliser Cooperative will resume paying farmers a rebate this year after its earnings jumped some 161 percent after it quit an unprofitable Australian business.

Profit before tax and rebate from continuing operations rose $73 million in the year ended May 31, from $28 million the previous year, the Christchurch-based cooperative said in a statement. Trading profit rose to $46 million from $6 million a year earlier, which was impacted by the cost from quitting Australia. Ravensdown will pay shareholders $37.78 per tonne, made up of $15 in rebate and fully imputed bonus shares worth $22.38. . . .

Third International Accolade in Three Months for Yealands:

Yealands Family Wines (YFW) has been awarded a trophy in the 2014 Green Apple Awards for Environmental Best Practice. This award is the third international award that the Marlborough Company has won for its high quality sustainable wine growing practices in the past three months.

Yealands were awarded “Green Company of the Year” by the UK’s leading drinks publisher, Drinks Business on April 30 and crowned the Gold Medal Winner in the Most Socially or Environmentally Responsible Company of the Year category at the 2014 International Best in Biz Awards last month.

The company competed against more than 500 global nominations in the Green Apple Awards, and they will be presented with their trophy and certificate at a glittering presentation ceremony in The Houses of Parliament, in London on November 10. . .


Rural round-up

July 30, 2014

Speech to Red Meat Sector conference – Nathan Guy:

Good evening and thank you for the opportunity to address you all tonight.

Following some challenging years, there are strong indications of improved results for many companies in the sector this year.

This resilience is a reflection of the hard work of people throughout the red meat sector.

The meat and wool sectors make up 21 percent of total primary sector export revenue at an estimated export value of $8 billion for the year ending 30 June 2014, which is a record.

The recovery of dry stock numbers after last year’s drought and the productivity improvements need to be acknowledged.

In the face of forecast decreases in stock numbers these capabilities will be important assets for the future. . .

Growth in global milk pool ‘unusual,’ says Spierings, in cutting forecast - Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – The global market for dairy products have been in the unusual situation where most producers have been lifting supply, while demand weakened in China, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, says Fonterra Cooperative Group chief executive Theo Spierings.

The world’s biggest dairy exporter today cut its Farmgate Milk Price forecast for the 2014/2015 year to $6 a kilogram of milk solids from a previous forecast of $7 kgMS, reflecting a slide in global dairy prices, which touched their lowest levels since December 2012 in the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction. It flagged a dividend of 20 cents to 25 cents, up from last year’s 10 cent payment.

“All milk pools around the world showed significant growth – we see milk coming from everywhere,” Spierings said. “On the demand side, China is looking at pretty high inventories” although in-market sales “are still very, very strong in China.” Demand in Southeast Asia and the Middle East had dropped off faster than expected as rising prices were passed onto consumers, he said. . . .

Agri industry passion leads to new appointment – Rabobank:

With a clear passion for the agricultural industry and strong knowledge of the sector, Georgia Twomey is thrilled to be appointed as a commodity analyst in Rabobank’s Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory team.

Based in Rabobank’s Australia/New Zealand head office in Sydney, Ms Twomey will oversee sugar, cotton and wool – three key sectors for Rabobank’s business in the region.

Ms Twomey says she has always loved working in the agricultural industry, particularly being raised with a farming background, growing up in Goulburn in southern New South Wales.

“I love the agricultural industry and believe the sector really holds the key to Australia’s future economic security,” she says. . .

More emphasis on microbes required in food safety -

Current concepts regarding food safety and security may be inadequate for fully addressing what is an increasingly complex issue. That’s according to Lincoln University Senior Lecturer in Food Microbiology, Dr Malik Hussain.

Dr Hussain has been invited as a representative of the University’s Centre for Food Research and Innovation to the Asian Food Safety and Security Association Conference to be held in Vietnam in August. He will also chair a workshop at the conference on risk assessment and management with regard to food safety.

Although the matter of food safety and security may sound simple enough, it is, in fact, a multi-dimensional and complicated issue, made all the more so from increasing pressures stemming from rapid population growth. . .

Steve Yung appointed as new Sealord CEO:

Sealord Group Ltd’s Board of Directors has appointed experienced food industry leader Steve Yung as the company’s next CEO.

Canadian born Yung has most recently been Managing Director of McCain Foods Australia/New Zealand and will take up his new role, based in Auckland on the 25th August 2014. He was a member of the global Senior Leadership Team at McCain.

Sealord Group Chairman Matanuku Mahuika said Yung has a strong set of skills that will help the company’s growth and development, particularly in the Australian market. . . .

Protecting your winter grazing business:

Both graziers and those sending animals for grazing have obligations under the NAIT programme to record the movements of animals from farm to farm. It is the grazier’s responsibility to record a NAIT movement from the grazing block to the home farm for animals that have been wintered on their property.

It’s also important that the person in charge of the animals at the receiving home farm confirm with NAIT when the cattle arrive back from grazing.

This can be done through movement related notification emails that include a direct link to the NAIT system, where animal movements can be confirmed or rejected in just a few clicks. Alternatively, you can contact NAIT on 0800 624 843. . . .

UK supermarket giant partners with New Zealand Ag-Tech company for major R&D collaboration:

British supermarket Sainsbury’s is teaming up with New Zealand’s Techion Group to run an international, cutting edge, technology project. The two-year international research & development project will roll out on-farm technology to effectively manage parasites increasing product quality and profits for farmers.

 J Sainsbury Plc, in conjunction withTechion Group Ltd, has announced Sainsbury’s will support the cost of implementing Techion’s technology, the FECPAK G2 system, both in New Zealand and the UK. The project team includes meat processors Alliance Group (NZ), Dunbia (UK) and Randall Parker Foods (UK).

Greg Mirams, Founder and Managing Director of the animal parasite diagnostics company, Techion, is at the centre of the project. He is confident it will have a significant impact on farmers’ profit and efficiency here and in the UK. . .  .


Fonterra holds 4th place in global dairy rank

July 16, 2014

Fonterra has held fourth place in Rabobank’s global dairy rankings:

  The latest annual Rabobank survey of the world’s largest dairy companies highlights the giants of one of the world’s most valuable food sectors.

The last 18 months have seen most of these players battle challenging conditions, with weak economies and supply constraints undermining sales growth in key markets. Againt this backdrop, mergers and acquistions have become an attractive route to growth and profitability. But with billion dollar deals increasingly hard to come by, dairy giants will need to acquire or tie up with more companies to sustain the same rates of growth in future. Those adept at acquiring and embracing new businesses will remain well positioned to survive and thrive. 

“Once again, giants Nestlé, Danone and Lactalis top the list, showing that the world’s largest dairy companies are reasonably entrenched,” commented Rabobank analyst Tim Hunt. “We continue to see some companies outperform their peers in sheer growth terms. In particular, the Chinese giants Yili and Mengniu, which saw their sales expand by 14% and 20% respectively, with Yili entering the top 10 for the first time ever”. 

Saputo continued its march up the list to push to eighth place, in part due to several recent acquisitions. Meiji and Morinaga slipped down the list largely due to the sharp decline in the value of the Yen (in which most of their products are sold).  

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2013 was a challenging year for most of the world’s major dairy companies, with stagnant sales volumes in most OECD dairy markets. Acquisitions have become a more attractive route to grow sales and in 2013, there were 124 dairy transactions, up from 111 in 2012 and the highest since 2007.

Positioning for maximum effectiveness in the expanding Chinese market remains prominent. In 2013, joint ventures were announced between Mengniu and Whitewave and COFCO and Danone while Yili announced a partnership agreement with Dairy Farmers of America.

Mengniu took a stake in China Modern Dairy to secure raw milk supply. A further joint venture is pending between FrieslandCampina and Huishan. Despite the increase in transactions, the dairy sector saw no billion dollar deals in the 12 months to 30 June 2014.

While underlying growth will pick up in coming years, many markets will not return to the rapid growth rates seen before 2008. In this context, mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures will remain a key avenue to growth and profitability.

“The catch is that the number of attractive targets is shrinking and multiples have risen,”  explained Hunt. “With billion dollar value deals harder to come by, dairy giants will need to acquire or tie up with more companies than in the past to sustain the same rates of growth”.

Fonterra made a record pay out to its suppliers last season but that was overshadowed in the media by its poor handling of the whey protein concentrate debacle.

However, it maintained its 4th place in the rankings.


Rural round-up

June 30, 2014

Rustling needs to be a specific offence:

Federated Farmers is asking political parties to develop policies to tackle the scourge of stock theft better known as rustling.

“We know stock theft or rustling has been estimated to cost the farming community some $120 million each year,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers rural security spokesperson.

“In recent weeks we’ve seen a lifestyler raided for breeding ewes in Waikato and over 200 sheep despicably shot in Otago.

“We’ve got to ask if the penalties imposed are serious enough to be a deterrent for either rustling or poaching. Based on our experience to date they are not. . .

Behaviour is the root cause of meat industry’s problems – Allan Barber:

I am not completely sure why we spend so much time and effort complaining about the meat industry or which problems we are trying to solve. However in the interests of encouraging progress and stimulating debate, I will try to define the problem: this appears to be that the meat processing and export sector is not profitable enough, whether in absolute terms or in comparison to dairy. Both may be true.

It is worth stating the unique challenges of the red meat sector up front. First, there is a market at both ends of the chain, procurement and sale of the products; second, New Zealand exports a higher percentage of its production than any other country which must travel further to reach its markets, not all of them equally buoyant; third, sheep and beef must be disassembled into multiple cuts of meat as well as many co-products, all of which are sold into a wide range of markets for variable returns; fourth the climate dictates when the grass will grow and livestock will be ready for slaughter; and last, but not least, the producer can choose when and where to send the livestock for slaughter except in a drought. . .

The recipe for future success:

Blue Sky Meats and its suppliers will be relieved the company is back in black after two challenging years.

The return to profitability – a $1.946 million after-tax profit for the year to March – came on the back of the only two losses in the Southland-based company’s 28-year history.

It has been a much better year for meat companies. Along with Blue Sky – and Lean Meats – the two big co-operatives, Alliance Group and Silver Fern Farms, who both report late in the year, have signalled profitable years. . .

Dairy recovery anticipated – by Christmas – Sally Rae:

Dairy commodity prices are predicted to stay in a trough period for another three to six months.

Speaking at the recent South Island Dairy Event in Invercargill, Rabobank’s director of dairy research for New Zealand and Asia, Hayley Moynihan, said it could be Christmas before there was a more sustained recovery in commodity prices.

It would be a ”reasonably prolonged” trough, as inventories were worked through and an additional seven billion litres of milk available on the world market in the first half of 2014 took time to ”find a home”. . .

Focus on consumers behind Pasture to Plate success – Sally Rae:

King Country farmer William Oliver’s belief in the consumer stemmed from his time studying at the University of Otago.

Mr Oliver and his wife Karen were the overall winners of the Silver Fern Farms’ Pasture to Plate Award.

Silver Fern Farms chairman Rob Hewett said the couple impressed the judges with their focus on the consumer. . . .

Simpler pesticide rules on the way:

The Environmental Protection Authority is aiming to simplify the rules covering pesticides and other hazardous substances.

The authority is marking its third anniversary as the country’s environmental regulator after being created from three agencies – the Environmental Risk Management Authority, the Ministry for the Environment and the Economic Development Ministry.

EPA chief executive Rob Forlong said one of its big achievements has been a wide ranging review of organophosphate chemicals, which resulted in controls on some pesticides being tightened and others phased out. . .

Final countdown for Ultimate Rural Challenge:

The showcase event of the rural calendar is only three days away!

The 2014 ANZ Young Farmer Contest Grand Final begins this Thursday 3 July, 4.30pm with the Official Opening at Lincoln University Library. Here, the top seven contestants will be introduced to the public and compete in their first head-to-head challenge.

The competition over the following two days is a testament to the sophistication of modern farming and level of skill and knowledge required to be successful in the field. The top seven young farmers have made it through to the Grand Final by competing in their local district competition and taking first place in their Regional Finals.  . .

Successful annual conference for Rural Contractors NZ:

More than 100 agricultural contractors from all over the country met in New Plymouth, last week, for Rural Contractors New Zealand’s (RCNZ) annual conference.

Rural Contractors New Zealand is the only national association for rural contractors in New Zealand.

Last week’s conference saw Wellsford-based Steve Levet re-elected as president of RCNZ, with Southland’s David Kean re-elected vice-president. . .

 


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