Rural round-up

December 3, 2013

Environmental analysis role exciting  – Sally Rae:

Mark Crawford is excited about his new role as a Ravensdown environmental consultant.

The fertiliser company has launched an environmental analysis and planning service, in the wake of increasing demands on farmers to meet environmental standards and regional regulatory requirements.

The adoption of stricter nutrient management regulations was being led by the Horizons Regional Council in the lower North Island, with Otago and Canterbury also nearing completion of recent plan changes. . .

Top of the south for Farmax consultancy - Sally Rae:

Simon Glennie reckons he does his farming vicariously through his clients.

Mr Glennie, a consultant at Dunedin-based AbacusBio, has been named South Island Farmax consultant of the year.

The inaugural awards honoured the top North and South Island consultants who used the farm support software. . .

Dairying women learn to ‘dig deep’ through good and bad at annual conference:

Hundreds of women who work in the dairy industry will be tackling some of the big issues that affect today’s farmers including how to reach and sustain a level of performance that matches medal winning athletics and world champion sports teams when they get together at the Dairy Women’s Network annual conference in March 2014.

The line-up of high calibre keynote speakers includes Hamilton sports psychologist David Galbraith who has worked with the Chiefs rugby team, Magic netball team and Olympic silver medal winner Sarah Walker.

The two-day conference at Hamilton’s Claudelands Event Centre, starting on 19 March 2014, is themed ‘Keeping your finger on the pulse’. . .

Otago link highlighted in Fonterra book - Sally Rae:

Think Park Beede and basketball immediately springs to mind.

Dr Beede was heavily involved with the sport in Otago and coached the Otago Nuggets.

What is not so well known is that he was tasked with coming up with a name for the new dairy company that was to become Fonterra.

The story of the creation of the name – and the Otago connection – is highlighted in the new book Till the Cows Came Home by Wellington journalist and former Southland Times editor Clive Lind. . .

Farmers urged to plan ahead to prevent game bird crop damage

With the start of summer, farmers are starting to see large groups of paradise shelducks moving into their newly-planted crops or onto their irrigation lakes.

Fish & Game Northland says if farmers plan ahead, they can reduce the damage done by these flocks of ‘parries.’

“We encourage farmers to place bird-scaring equipment out before their grasses or crops emerge,” Fish & Game officer Nathan Burkepile says.

“And farmers with paradise shelduck problems on irrigation lakes should start scaring the birds off these lakes before the birds start moulting in January.” . . .

At least one dairy farmer won’t mind the summer heat – Milk Maid Marian:

Wayne has a reputation for getting stuck and he’s outdone himself this year by bogging a quad bike on the first day of summer. Worse, he left his helmet at the scene of the crime and by the time the kids and I came to the rescue, his gear had been given a beating by the local hoons.

Cows may be vegetarians but don’t for a minute think that this in itself bestows innocence. They are merciless with unattended vehicles. This time the helmet, fuel breather line and rubber boot for the brake assembly were squelched deep into the quagmire but I’ve seen much worse. . . .


Rural round-up

September 29, 2013

Renewed attack on AgResearch move – Annette Scott:

A move by AgResearch to push on with its restructuring plans has been labelled short-sighted and flawed by southern leaders, with jobs set to go in their regions.

The Crown research institute (CRI) proposed in July the relocation of hundreds of science and support roles from its centres at Ruakura, near Hamilton, and Invermay, near Dunedin, to bigger research hubs in Palmerston North and Lincoln.

This was in line with a planned $100 million investment in its campus infrastructure. . .

Relief over Invermay assurances support, uni link to be retained – Sally Rae:

Federated Farmers Otago president Stephen Korteweg says he is heartened by an assurance that dry stock farm system capability to support deer, sheep and beef farming will be retained at Invermay, and that AgResearch’s linkage with the University of Otago’s genetics team will be maintained.

In a statement this week, after AgResearch’s announcement it still intended to slash jobs at Invermay, Federated Farmers national vice-president William Rolleston said the rural lobby organisation supported the reconfiguration of AgResearch because of the need for ”modern progressive agricultural research centres of excellence”. . .

Purchaser found for Australian Business – Annette Scott:

Ravensdown has signed a conditional sale and purchase agreement for its failed Western Australia business.

The co-operative announced last week it was selling to Louis Dreyfus Group, which has been involved in the Australian market for many years.

Detail of the agreement is yet to be finalised.

Louis Dreyfus is a French company involved globally in agriculture, oil, energy and commodities, global processing, trading and merchandising, as well as international shipping. . .

“First Steps” – the best gift I’ve ever given myself - Eloise Neely:

I attended the Agri-Women’s Development Trust course in Whangarei with two goals, to make new friends and connections and seek guidance to reinvent myself after 20 years farming in the South Island.

First Steps is exactly what the name suggests, a group of rural women meeting to examine their feelings, values and visions to discover the first steps of the rest of their lives.

Who is a First Steps woman? She may be a farmer by choice or an “accidental” farmer, single or partnered and age is not a factor. A First Steps woman may be a rural professional or anyone with a connection to the land. She is often the unseen farming partner quietly raising the next generation and keeping small communities together. . .

Deer industry tipped to become ‘red hot‘ -

The deer industry will be ”red hot” next year, Stanfield’s European Red Deer Stud owner and ”Motivate” group chairman Clive Jermy, of Darfield, says.

Mr Jermy, Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) production manager Tony Pearse and New Zealand Deer Farmers Association (NZDFA) chairman Kris Orange , of Geraldine, are members of Motivate, a group putting together recommendations to encourage more people to enter the industry or to remain in it, to improve training and availability and to raise the industry’s profile.

Mr Jermy said the deer industry was an exciting one to be in. . .

Cow drowns in effluent on hellish road trip:

Two South Westland dairy farmers, a stock agent, a trucking company and two of its middle management have been prosecuted over a road trip suffered by 25 cows on the way to the slaughterhouse.

It is the first prosecution by the Ministry for Primary Industries under the Animal Welfare Transport Code.

At the heart of the case, which was part heard in the Greymouth District Court yesterday, was a cattle shipment from Whataroa and Hari Hari to the Silver Fern Farms meatworks in Hokitika on October 25 last year, which was then diverted to a freezing works at Belfast, in Christchurch. . .

Innovative wastewater system for wheatbelt:

Western Australia Water Minister Terry Redman has announced work had begun to connect Hyden residents to an innovative wastewater scheme, the first of its kind in WA.

The $3.6 million trial was supported by 90 per cent of the town during a community poll in 2011 and is part of the State Government’s infill sewerage program.

“Hyden’s STED system will take wastewater that has already been treated in household septic tanks through a pipeline system and to a disposal pond located outside of town,” Mr Redman said. . .


Rural round-up

March 20, 2013

Commercial Partnership Pays Dividends for New Zealand:

An AgResearch-developed wool dyeing technology that bridges the gap between high performance and haute couture is set to shine on a global stage thanks to a worldwide licensing deal.

The revolutionary textile dyeing process is now being commercialised by BGI Development. It enables wool to be dyed two colours at the same time, and graphics and images to be dyed into the fabric. There is no loss of the quality feel of the fabric and the images won’t deteriorate over time.

The technology enables designers to use high performance merino in creative ways never before possible, making merino an excellent choice for fashion active wear. . .

Dairying Women Want Greater ROI From Professional Advisors:

The Dairy Women’s Network will work with hundreds of dairying women across the country in April, helping them to increase the return on their investment on rural professional advice.

Dairy Women’s Network chief executive Sarah Speight said dairy farmers spend an average of $4,000 annually for advice from rural professionals (Reference, Ministry of Primary Industries, Farm Monitoring Report 2012 – Pastoral Monitoring: National Dairy) and the Network wants to help ensure this is money well spent.

“Dairying women and their partners want to get the best return possible on the money and time they are investing in rural professional advice. They want to see a demonstrable return on their operation’s bottom line – whether that’s in the short or long term – or it’s money down the drain. . .

Red meat farmers call for industry consolidation – Allan Barber:

Not for the first time, sheep and beef farmers have called for a single processing and marketing company representing 80% of the red meat industry.

At a meeting in Gore on Monday up to 1000 farmers from Southland and Otago, and as far away as HawkesBay voted overwhelmingly for a consolidated structure. The organisers now intend to promote the concept to other farmer groups throughout the country. But the industry has been down this route before without reaching a satisfactory conclusion. So what is different this time?

 In 2006 a group of South Island famers formed the Meat Industry Restructuring Group which called for a merger of the two big cooperatives, Alliance and Silver Fern Farms or PPCS as it then was. In 2008 Alliance Group led an attempt to reach agreement with those companies that made up approximately 80% of the industry which was seen as the minimum level required to achieve critical mass. . .

Drought-fuelled pests threaten winter feed crops:

As farmers across the country grapple with drought recovery plans and dry conditions, Ravensdown’s George Kerse Business Manager Agrochemicals is warning about the impact of insect pests on winter feed.

“As if the lack of moisture was not bad enough, the consistent extremely dry conditions mean insect pests are becoming a real issue for farmers.

The current dry conditions will have already reduced the amount of autumn-saved forage for winter feed, so specialist winter crops are becoming more important ensuring adequate feed for animals to prepare for next season. . .

Deteriorating Conditions Impacting On Farm Sales:

Summary

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 28 more farm sales (+8.0%) for the three months ended February 2013 than for the three months ended February 2012. Overall, there were 379 farm sales in the three months to end of February 2013, compared with 399 farm sales in the three months to January 2013, a decrease of 20 sales (-5.0%). 1,445 farms were sold in the year to February 2013, 11.6% more than were sold in the year to February 2012.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to February 2013 was $21,951; a 1.43% increase on the $21,641 recorded for three months ended February 2012. The median price per hectare decreased by 8.5% compared to January. . .

NZ Honey Not Always What It Seems: Airborne Honey Urges Kiwis to Buy Fully Traceable Food:

Airborne Honey, New Zealand’s longest standing honey brand, is calling on New Zealanders to be sure that the honey they are buying is what it claims to be and of a sufficiently high standard. According to Airborne Honey data, a large amount of honey on the shelves is heat damaged and labelled inaccurately. This includes Clover and Manuka honeys coming in well under the pollen percentage recommended by published research and derived from applying the Codex international standard for honey.

“The horsemeat scandal in Europe is encouraging more people than ever before to make food choices based on traceability and assured quality. Unfortunately, many don’t realise that there can be such discrepancies when it comes to honey,” says Peter Bray, Managing Director of Airborne Honey. . .

Mobile technology is a game changer for primary industries:

Back in 1990 few people had personal computers, the internet was an unknown and the age of the mobile phones was just around the corner. In a very short space of time these three technologies have fundamentally changed the face of business around the world.

Many of today’s leading global companies, Google, Apple and Microsoft, built their business around these three technologies. The services they provided their customers had a dramatic effect on workers’ productivity and levelled the playing field for many small businesses.

The recent release of smartphones has also been a game changer for many. Businesses now take it for granted that emails can be checked, news read, documents signed or video streamed, all while on the morning commute to work. . .

Babich Wins Trophy for ‘New Zealand Wine Producer of the Year 2013’ in China:

Babich Wines has continued their run of impressive international accolades by winning the Trophy for ‘New Zealand Wine Producer of the Year 2013’ at the China Wine & Spirits Awards Best Value 2013 held in Hong Kong earlier this month.

The Babich Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2012 and Babich The Patriarch 2010 both won a Double Gold Medal. These medals, along with a Silver Medal for the Babich Black Label Sauvignon Blanc 2012 helped clinch the ‘New Zealand Wine Producer of the Year 2013’ trophy. . .


Rural round-up

February 25, 2013

Joyce hints at more partnerships – Tim Fulton:

Science and Economic Development Steven Joyce has hinted at more partnerships between Lincoln and the private sector, calling his unspecified plan a crucial part of the tech-transfer story.

Joyce was at the university’s dairy research farm launching the second stage of the Pastoral 21 programme, highlighting the importance of places like Lincoln for information-sharing.

There had been a lot of talk over the years about the Lincoln campus developing and becoming a true agri-technology hub, he said.

Now, despite the cost of repairing earthquake damage, the university had a unique opportunity to take that role. . .

To feed the world we need to fix the politics not the environment – Milking on the Moove:

They say there will be 9 Billion people in 2050. The popular question is “how can we feed that number of people?”

There is literally not a day go by where I’m not confronted with some sort of report, program or video about the challenge of feeding the world.

The common theme is we need to increase agricultural productivity to meet this massive demand. The view that we have limited resources that will make food production more expensive or difficult in the future is widely popular.

Some people who belong to the environmental movements, like to use the growing demand to push their causes, one such cause is to promote the vegan lifestyle as less cattle will reduce CO2 emissions. 

Businesses also jump on the band wagon, because it allows them to get subsidies that keep their business profitable when it otherwise would not be, solar panel manufacturers spring to mind. . .

Eco-n suspension blow for Ravensdown – Tim Fulton:

Ravensdown is usually on full show at Lincoln farming events but last Thursday it was fronting up in a different way, explaining its position after suspending sales of its nitrogen inhibitor. Tim Fulton reports. 

ECO-N was introduced to the market on Lincoln University’s dairy research farm in February 2004, Ravensdown’s Richard Christie reminded farmers at the same spot on Thursday. . .

Irrigation company establishment board announced:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has announced that experienced director Alison Paterson will oversee the establishment of a new Crown company to invest in irrigation.

The new company, which is to be established by 1 July, will act as a bridging investor for regional water infrastructure development, with $80 million to be set aside in Budget 2013.

“I’m pleased to have people of high quality and balance to work on what is a critical area of New Zealand’s growth,” says Mr Guy.

“Well-designed storage and irrigation infrastructure has the potential to deliver a major boost to our primary industries and support new jobs, which will have a flow-on effect for all New Zealanders. If current proposals are advanced there could be another 420,000 hectares of irrigated land available over time. . . .

Surprise at lack of interest in carbon credit trading:

Associate Professor Euan Mason of Canterbury University is surprised more hill country farmers are not showing an interest in carbon credit trading as they stand to boost their incomes while at the same time helping the environment.

Professor Mason said he is perplexed that some farmers have a negative attitude towards carbon trading and the climate change issue. . .


Reputation relies on trust

January 25, 2013

The announcement that traces of DCD have been found in milk is concerning but the way it has been handled is exemplary.

There is no food safety risk but the two fertiliser companies which use products with DCD have immediately suspended sales.

This media release from Ravensdown explains the issue:

Ravensdown announces today that, with immediate effect, it is suspending the sales and application of its eco-n product which contains DCD.

“The reputation of New Zealand as a quality food producer is as important to us as it is to our farmer owners. So it is reassuring that both the MPI’s and our own peer-reviewed research shows there are no food safety issues with DCD or eco-n,” comments Greg Campbell Ravensdown Chief Executive. “What’s changed is that last year, organisations like the US Food and Drug Administration added DCD to a list of substances to test for. This, combined with increasingly sophisticated scanning technology now presents a possible trade risk. Given the risk to NZ’s dairy export reputation, Ravensdown has taken the initiative and is suspending the single product which uses DCD for this calendar year.”

“As DCD has been used safely around the world for 30 years, there has never been a set of international standards around maximum residue level in food products. Because no standard exists for DCD, no detectable presence is acceptable. And because zero detection of DCD cannot be guaranteed, Ravensdown has taken the responsible, voluntary step to suspend its use while the trade issues are resolved,” added Greg.

In December last year, the Ministry for Primary Industries initiated a working party to assess the use of dicyandiamide (DCD) on farm land. The working group comprises representatives from MPI, Fonterra, the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand and fertiliser companies Ravensdown and Ballance.

The working group was set up after testing on whole milk powder detected the occasional presence of low levels of DCD coinciding with the times of the year that the product is applied.

DCD, which is applied to pasture in autumn, winter and spring, has been used to reduce nitrate leaching and greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand for nearly a decade.

“Though this news is disappointing for the 500 customers who use eco-n, the potential risk demanded decisive and pre-emptive action ahead of the autumn application season,” said Ravensdown’s Greg Campbell.

Even without eco-n, Ravensdown continues to help farmers lift their production and lower their environmental footprint. The farmer-owned co-operative does this through whole-farm testing, nutrient management planning and advice plus precise fertiliser application.

“We continue to help farmers produce top quality food and do all we can to support New Zealand’s export story in a complex world of international trading partners and regulations. We’ll be foregoing sales of eco-n, which makes up about 1% of Ravensdown’s annual revenues, but we are a 100% farmer-owned co-operative concerned with the long-term future of the rural sector,” added Greg Campbell.

“In the long-term, mitigating nitrate leaching is vital for sustainable New Zealand farming. The effectiveness of nitrification inhibitors like DCD is well proven and helps farmers in the face of stricter requirements being imposed on them. So we’ll be looking to the Ministry for Primary Industries through the working party to initiate the potentially-lengthy process of seeking a new international standard to recognise DCD. This would then specify a level or maximum residue which New Zealand dairy exporters and producers could work below,” concluded Greg.

Ballance’s media release says more research is the key:

More research is the key to developing nitrification inhibitors which help farmers reduce environmental impacts while meeting potential international trade requirements, Ballance Agri-Nutrients Research and Development Manager Warwick Catto said today.

His comments follow the voluntary suspension of sales and application of the nitrification inhibitor dicyandiamide (DCD) on farmland in response to the detection of the occasional presence of low levels of DCD in dairy products. Both major fertiliser co-operatives have announced the suspension until further notice.

“We still have every confidence in the potential for nitrification inhibitors to play an important role in helping New Zealand farmers to operate within nutrient loss limits.

“While our nitrification inhibitor product DCn has been a small part of our portfolio we remain confident that continued research will result in the development of a nitrification inhibitor solution which delivers environmental benefits, meets international requirements and is supported by robust science.”

Mr Catto said Ballance had not sold DCn since July 2012 and had not promoted its use on pastures since late 2010. This means that only a handful of Ballance customers have recently used the product. As a precautionary measure Ballance will not reintroduce any DCD-based products to the market until the potential international trade issue of milk residues is mitigated.

Ballance ceased sales of DCn in early spring 2012 to review the product and its applications, and incorporated it into its $32 million research and development programme aimed at reducing nutrient and greenhouse gas losses through more efficient fertilisers and next generation nitrification inhibitors.

“This is in line with our science-based approach and emphasis on continual evolution of our product and service offerings to meet the needs of New Zealand farmers.

“Our research is partially funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries through their Primary Growth Partnership and our work on nitrification inhibitor developments will take into account potential international trade concerns regarding residues in milk products,” says Mr Catto.

Mr Catto says that Ballance strongly supports all moves to protect New Zealand’s reputation for quality food and believes that all products used in food production must be backed by sound science and ongoing research.

Fonterra backs the suspension:

“We have been assured by New Zealand’s regulatory authority – the Ministry for Primary Industries – that there is no food safety risk.  However, DCD residues in agricultural products may present a future trade issue,” said Managing Director Co-operative Affairs Todd Muller.

“Although DCD was a promising option for reducing nitrate leaching, it is critical that New Zealand’s trade reputation is preserved.  The voluntary suspension is the responsible approach in the absence of any internationally agreed standards for DCD residues in food,” said Mr Muller.

Fonterra will participate in a working group set up by the Ministry for Primary Industries to examine what the suspension means in terms of the future use of DCD in farming, including the impact on water quality requirements.

Not all countries have the strict regulatory and testing standards for food safety that New Zealand does.

Some countries that do test food might hide results that didn’t suit them.

The companies have acted correctly in promptly suspending sales of products with DCD.

It’s about trust.

New Zealand relies on our reputation for high standards of food safety and that reputation relies on trusting that everything possible is done to keep food safe and taking a precautionary approach, even as in this case, there is no risk to consumers.

Products with DCD, a nitrification inhibitor, have been applied with fetiliser to pasture and forage crops to target urine, dung and fertiliser emissions. They can improve water quality, reduce production of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide and increase pasture growth.


Rural round-up

January 14, 2013

Collaboration vital for sector – new CEO - Sally Rae:

A government focus on primary sector growth, alongside increasing concerns about the environment, poses challenges for the future of the agricultural sector, Ravensdown’s new chief executive, Greg Campbell, says.

It was important all sections of the industry worked together to achieve desired outcomes, Mr Campbell, who started work this month, said.

The sector was the ”pillar of New Zealand’s economic prosperity” and it was important soil, water and air was managed in a sustainable manner. . .

Brotherly ‘rivalry’ in studs - Sally Rae:

When Duncan Elliot was a young boy, all he wanted was a shearing hand-piece.

Forget the PlayStation games and other electronic gizmos that his contemporaries desired, he was firmly focused on farming.

Now 16, Duncan, from Lammermoor Station, Paerau, in the south of the Maniototo, started crutching when he was 10 and began shearing his own sheep last year. He, his elder brother Lachlan (20) and sister Brooke (22) have inherited a family passion for the land, and for purebred sheep. . . 

Hooked on dog trialling for life – Diane Bishop:

He’s nearly 80, but Murray Lott has no intention of hanging up his dog whistle.

The successful dog trialist will mark his milestone birthday on January 24 just a few weeks before the new dog trial season starts.

Murray, who lives at Manapouri Downs, near The Key, has competed with both huntaways and heading dogs, but these days prefers heading dogs because they don’t require as much work as their boisterous friends. . .

‘Big guys’ not only target – Diane Bishop:

Strong wool growers frustrated with low returns are backing the farmer-led Wools of New Zealand model.

Chairman Mark Shadbolt said more than $4.1 million had been raised from 552 growers representing about 12 million kilograms of wool production since the offer opened in late October and he was confident of achieving the minimum subscription of $5 million.

But, the company wasn’t about to rest on its laurels. . .

Getting serious about safety – Rebecca Harper:

Quad bikes are a familiar sight on many farms, the reliable workhorse and an essential tool for getting the job done.

Most farmers are sensible and safe when it comes to the use of quad bikes, but they are a dangerous machine and if you end up beneath one, chances are you won’t come out better off.

Talk about quad bike safety is nothing new, but mainstream media has latched on to the topic in recent weeks after a spate of quad-related accidents this summer, several fatal, including a farmer. . .

Macaulay appointed NZIPIM chief executive:

The New Zealand Institute Primary Industry Management (NZIPIM) has appointed Stephen Macaulay to its newly created chief executive role.

NZIPIM is a membership-based association for rural professionals who provide professional services for the primary sector.

Macaulay comes to the role with a wealth of experience within the agricultural industry.

He has previously worked as general manager of the Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust (AGMARDT), the Retail Meat Industry Training Organisation and Retail Meat New Zealand. . .

Curious woolly things: food from Campaign For Wool:

Breakfast: Start the day as you mean to go on with a feast of donuts. This pic comes from Just Crafty Enough.

donuts

Kat at Just Crafty Enough made these donuts.

Lunch: After a hearty breakfast of donuts, you’ll probably only want something light for your lunch. Go for a nice egg salad.

salad

Egg Salad from DominoCat

Snack: Popcorn! NYC artist Ed Bing Lee has made a variety of different woolly foods using the macramé method, from burgers to hot dogs to key lime pies. But our favourite is this all-American popcorn.

popcorn

Macrame Popcorn from Ed Bing Lee

Maybe go for the healthier option and just have some fruit?

fruit

Fruit box from La Gran Tricotada Campaign for Wool event in Madrid

Or some pickles

pickles

Nicole Gastonguay’s Pickles

Dinner: A few dinner options here. If you’re a meat eater why not try the…

Pork Pie

Poor little piggies…

Pork Pie! Some amazing woolly food work from Kate Jenkins here, part of the 2010 exhibition “Come Dine With Kate”. You can see all the work that was on display at the Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery website.

Clemence Joly is another great artist who has produced some woolly meat at his Wool Butchery.

Wool butchery

Wool Butchery

Don’t forget the two veg! Those clever people at the Creative Moments craft group in Perry Common have been knitting these vegetables for the Gardeners World Live event.

Two Veg

Really looks good enough to eat…

Alternatively you could go for the cheeseburger

Cheeseburger

The Not-so-Mad Hatter made this fine cheeseburger crochet hat. Looks a little bit mad though.

Dessert: I don’t know how you could possibly fit anything else in after all that food, but I guess you can’t go wrong with cake for afters. Have a cupcake.

cupcake

This cupcake is actually a pincushion…

Or if you prefer something savoury, you could always go for the cheese board.

cheeseboard

Another of Kate Jenkins’ finest. Wouldn’t recommend eating the mice though.


Rural round-up

January 10, 2013

SC man leader at global grain giant – Gerald Piddock:

Forging a career at a desk of the largest privately owned corporation in the United States instead of behind the farmgate is a choice Maurice Hurst has never lamented.

The South Canterbury-born Lincoln graduate oversees the North American grain and oil seed export division for Cargill Incorporated, a company that reported a $1.17 billion in earnings in the 2012 fiscal year ended May 31, 2012.

It is responsible for 25 per cent of all United States grain exports, employing 150,000 people in 66 countries. It has a presence in New Zealand through its Australian arm. . .

Scheme conserves landowner freedom – Richard Rennie:

Minutes from Tauranga, Te Puna farmer Colin Merrin not only farms on the city’s doorstep but also reclaims flora and fauna, aided by a farmer-friendly conservation scheme.

His 240ha property is perched on high hill country north of Tauranga. Rolling back towards the Kaimai Range, it has been identified as a link in a valuable natural corridor between the Bay of Plenty coast, across the range to the Waihou River catchment in Waikato.

The Forest and Bird Kaimai Connection programme aims to integrate this corridor’s biodiversity protection and enhancement alongside private landowners committed to preserving native bush and wildlife in the area. . .

Sentencing should warn of Gisborne rustlers: 

After Police and farmers worked together to bust a major East Coast stock rustling ring last year, Federated Farmers is warning rustlers to find a different line of work in 2013.

“Late last year, two people were convicted of rustling 160 sheep but realistically, that was possibly the tip of an iceberg,” says Hamish Cave, spokesperson for Federated Farmers Gisborne-Wairoa.

“This ring was busted because farmers saw suspicious activity, took down details and called the Police. . .

Farmers asked to fund wool promotion – Tim Fulton:

Members of the global Campaign for Wool are prodding New Zealand to firm up its contribution, just as talk surfaces again of farmers being asked to directly fund wool promotion. Tim Fulton reports.

New Zealand’s representative for the Campaign for Wool, Stephen Fookes, says some of the partners feel this country isn’t getting the best value from its involvement.

While NZ is doing its bit to create awareness of wool, particularly strong fibre, it is not actually showcasing what it produces, he says. . .

New man heads Ravensdown – Ali Tocker:

Fertiliser company Ravensdown has a new chief executive, former Ngai Tahu Holdings head Greg Campbell.

Chairman of the Australasian farmer-owned co-operative, Bill McLeod, said Campbell brought significant international experience as a chief executive, and company director experience including with PGG Wrightson.

Campbell, who was chief executive at Ngai Tahu, replaces long-serving Ravensdown chief executive Rodney Green. . .

RECORDS TUMBLE IN 2013 DAIRY AWARDS:

The 2013 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards will be the biggest and best yet, with a record 566 entries received, up from the previous best of 525.

“We are just so rapt with the response and at the level of competition that will take place to determine the winners,” national convenor Chris Keeping says.

A total of 144 entries were received in the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year competition, 171 entrants will compete for the New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year title and 251 entries were received in the New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year contest. . .


Co-ops key to feeding world

October 16, 2012

Agricultural co-operatives are the focus of World Food Day 2012.

The success of agricultural co-operatives here supports the contention that they are the key to feeding the world.
One reason for their success is that suppliers are shareholders.
This gives them a much stronger position than farmers who supply companies they don’t own who are then far more likely to be squeezed by processors and retailers.
Contrast returns to dairy farmers here, most of whom supply to co-operatives in which they own shares, with those in Australia where farmers have been the losers in supermarket wars which drove down the price of milk.
Farmers here don’t just benefit from being part of co-operatives which process their produce. Ballance and Ravensdown which between them supply most of our fertiliser are co-operatives and so is the specialist agribusiness bank, Rabobank.

Rural round-up

September 30, 2012

The return of milk scarcity – Rabobank on dairy:

The global dairy market appears to be heading for a period of renewed supply scarcity in the coming 12 months, according to Rabobank.

Rabobank senior dairy analyst Hayley Moynihan says the impetus for tightening emanates largely from the supply side, where low milk prices, extreme feed costs and pockets of unfavourable weather are expected to slow growth in milk production in export regions.

“We fear that much of the market has been lulled into a false sense of security by the phenomenal growth seasons we saw late in 2011 and early 2012, with the next 12 months to provide a rude awakening,” Ms Moynihan says. . . .

Dairy farming New Zealand can be proud of – Milking on the Moove:

I’ve changed my header to the Milking On The Moove logo. My goal is to create a dairy farming system that New Zealanders can be proud of.

I’m passionate about dairy farming and agriculture. While I have blogged about aspects that I think should change, I’m a fan of the industry. I’m concerned that Fonterra seems to get so much flack from the New Zealand public, which includes individual farmers.

I can understand left leaning environmentalists having a dim view of Fonterra, as that would be in keeping with their attitude towards corporates and big business in general. I’m concerned by the attitudes of middle New Zealand. It seems that many view Fonterra as a money hungry corporate giant that is screwing New Zealand consumers. I’m prepared to be a little understanding of a middle of the road New Zealander, who knows nothing about farming being influenced by the media. . .

Organics – Milking on the Moove:

Research out of Stanford University has shown that organic produce has no greater nutritional value than non-organic produce.

That’s not news to me, but I don’t think people buy organic food because they feel it is has a higher nutritional value, but rather because it is not covered in sprays and pesticides.

Jacqueline Rowarth points out repeatedly that organics generally produce 20% less yield than conventional farming methods. These farmers need to receive the premium that organics provides in order to stay profitable. But as the world begins to meet the needs of a growing population, all the figures I’m seeing require more product being produced from less and with a lower environmental impact. I’m doubtful that organics can achieve this.. .

 

Tokyo launch for coat range - Sally Rae:

A range of coats using merino wool from Closeburn Station in the Maniototo has been launched in Tokyo to much media interest.

Suit makers Konaka Co Ltd launched a range of 15-micron New Zealand wool coats to rival cashmere, under the label Limited Wool Premium. . .

 

New tech can help farmers head off enforced regulation

Farmers have an opportunity to put themselves ahead of the game regarding fertiliser application and avoid tough regulations being imposed on them, the annual meeting of Ravensdown was told in New Plymouth on Monday night.

Ravensdown Chief Executive Rodney Green told 500 shareholders that the company had developed new tools to enable farmers to get the most value out of their fertiliser regime, while still dealing with concerns raised by the likes of the Environment Court’s recent decision in favour of the nitrogen limits set by the Horizons Regional Council.

“We stood with Federated Farmers, Horticulture NZ and Fonterra making many submissions on behalf of farmers that were ultimately not given sufficient weight by the Environment Court,” said Rodney Green. “One thing, however, that is not in dispute is the fact that reducing the environmental footprint of New Zealand farming is increasingly important. Sustainable practices are an important part of the story to tell overseas customers about our farming produce and can also help deliver better results for the farmer’s bottom line.” . . .

Ngai Tahu boosts earnings from commercial operations, eyes bigger dairy development -  Paul McBeth:

Ngai Tahu Holdings, which manages the South Island iwi’s commercial operations, boosted earnings across all of its units and is looking to ramp up its exposure in dairy.

Net profit climbed to $95.7 million in the 12 months ended June 30, from $15.9 million a year earlier, the iwi said in its annual report. Operating earnings, which strip out gains from asset sales and property values, climbed 48 percent to $55.1 million on sales of $209.36 million.

Ngai Tahu Holdings invested $39 million in property development, $19 million in investment property mainly to do with dairy, and $22 million in the Agrodome and Rainbow Springs tourism operations. . .

 

‘ve changed my header to the Milking On The Moove logo. My goal is to create a dairy farming system that New Zealanders can be proud of.

I’m passionate about dairy farming and agriculture. While I have blogged about aspects that I think should change, I’m a fan of the industry. I’m concerned that Fonterra seems to get so much flack from the New Zealand public, which includes individual farmers.

I can understand left leaning environmentalists having a dim view of Fonterra, as that would be in keeping with their attitude towards corporates and big business in general. I’m concerned by the attitudes of middle New Zealand. It seems that many view Fonterra as a money hungry corporate giant that is screwing New Zealand consumers. I’m prepared to be a little understanding of a middle of the road New Zealander, who knows nothing about farming being influenced by the media.


Farmers on top in two-tier economy

September 24, 2012

Brian Gaynor thinks the rural sector is showing city slickers the way:

A trip to Dunedin for the South African rugby test last weekend has reinforced the view that New Zealand is rapidly developing a two-tier economy.

On one hand is the rural community which is increasingly inhabited by energetic and entrepreneurial farmers with a long-term perspective.

At the other end of the scale are far too many lethargic and conservative city dwellers who are more interested in trim lattes and recent house price movement. . . 

Unfortunately the country’s rural enterprise has bypassed the NZX because farmers are not convinced of the opportunities offered by our capital markets.

There were a large number of energetic Waikato dairy farmers on the late evening flight to Dunedin for the test match. They talked about their farming operations and the many opportunities they had. A number of them were considering purchasing or leasing additional farms.

They also commented that, in contrast to their parents, they were businessmen rather than farmers and this allowed them to get away for a long weekend.

Farming has always been a business and good farmers have always been good business people. These days the sensible ones realise that doesn’t mean being tied to the farm all day, every day, all year.

Last weekend was in stark contrast to the first weekend in July 1983, when the All Blacks played the British Lions in Dunedin.

The domestic sharemarket, which had surged 39.1 per cent since the end of 1982, had begun its long upward momentum and the urban business community was optimistic and expanding.

The flight to Dunedin 29 years ago was dominated by people from the business, investment, finance and legal sectors.

Few North Island farmers flew to Dunedin in 1983 because the sector was being propped up by Prime Minister Robert Muldoon’s supplementary minimum price scheme and was not in good shape.

In addition, the traditional family farm structure did not allow many farmers to get away for long weekends.

This year, Dunedin seemed to be full of prosperous farmers even though the high New Zealand dollar is supposed to have had a major negative impact on exporters.

By chance I played golf with a Central Otago merino stud and station owner and his son-in-law who had recently returned to New Zealand after a number of years overseas.

The merino farmer was engaging, ambitious, entrepreneurial and the sort of person needed in the urban business community. New irrigation schemes are being developed on his property and a large proportion of its wool is sold directly to Japan, bypassing the traditional auction system.

My golfing opponent sees plenty of opportunities for his business and is not concerned about the high NZ dollar.

He believes that businesses face adverse conditions, whether it is bad weather or a high dollar, and they have to deal with these problems rather than moan about them.

Exactly – in business and in life there are always factors beyond your control. Successful people concentrate on what they can do and influence rather than wasting energy on things over which they have little or no control.

The farmer, or more appropriately businessman, is a man of action. He hits a mean golf ball, was in Auckland last month for the Wallabies test and is off to South Africa for the All Blacks game in Soweto on October 6.

He was quick to note that he will get in some hunting and fishing while in South Africa.

His son-in-law has returned from London where he was employed in the equities division of a large international bank. There are almost no opportunities for his skills in New Zealand, particularly in the South Island, so he is looking for openings in the rural sector.

How many young investment industry people would have been happy to look for employment in the depressed rural sector thirty years ago?

Very few. We lost a generation of young people who thought there weren’t opportunities on farms and in farm support.

They might have been right then, but that isn’t the case now. With farming’s return to prosperity have come new opportunities on farms and in farm support and servicing. That is bringing young people back to rural communities with social and economic benefits for them and the towns which service and supply them.

The new Dunedin indoor stadium, which is a fantastic facility, also seemed to be full of season-ticket holding farmers.

We got a hard time when they discovered we were from Auckland.

They wanted to know why we didn’t build a new stadium on the city’s waterfront when we had the chance. They also wanted to know what Auckland did with all the money it sucked out of the South Island.

The banter was friendly but there is a clear difference between the progressiveness of the rural community and the conservatism of the cities.

Farmers argue that Auckland would never approve a new modern indoor football stadium and it is urban dwellers who are mainly opposed to the Government’s proposed partial privatisation programme.

The rural sector largely supports partial privatisation as long as the Government maintains 51 per cent control.

I’m not sure if there is a rural-urban split on the sale of assets, but farmers know that one way to get through droughts or other tough times is to cash-up non-core investments.

At a post-match function I was approached by two New Zealanders in their early 30s who have lived in the United Kingdom for the past few years.

One of them, who had worked for a large investment bank in London, had returned permanently to New Zealand but was finding it difficult to get a job.

The other said he could never come home because there are no openings for his expertise in the New Zealand finance sector.

The clear message is that the rural economy is confident and on a roll whereas the urban business community is finding it difficult to gain momentum in the more competitive world.

The world needs protein and that’s what New Zealand is very good at producing.

New Zealand’s total exports have increased nearly six fold since 1983, from $7.9 billion to $46.7 billion, while the contribution of meat, dairy and wool has fallen from 53.8 per cent to 37.3 per cent.

This gives the impression that the urban economy is making a greater contribution to exports than it did 30 years ago.

However, the following points should be noted about these figures:

Meat, dairy and wool’s contribution has increased from 34.5 per cent to 37.5 per cent of total exports over the past decade as the dairy industry has gained huge momentum.

If we add logs, Taranaki oil, fruit, wine, fish, casein and Tiwai Point’s aluminium then major exports from the non-urban economy represent 60 per cent of the country’s total exports.

The rural sector has a large trade surplus with the rest of the world while the country’s urban economy runs a substantial overseas trade deficit.

Meanwhile, residential house prices have soared nearly eight fold since 1983, compared with a six fold rise in exports, and that is the most important development as far as many city inhabitants are concerned.

The problem with the housing market is we mainly borrow offshore, through the banks, to inflate house prices and we have to export more and more rural products just to pay the interest on these overseas loans.

In addition, we are making residential property more unaffordable for first home buyers.

Council zoning is at least partially responsible for that though I do have sympathy for the argument against putting houses on productive land.

The final chapter in the Dunedin story is that a number of us stayed on after the British Lions test in 1983 to visit listed companies based in the southern city. In those days Dunedin had its own stock exchange and fifteen listed companies including Alliance Textiles, Arthur Barnett, D.I.C., Doneghys, Hallenstein Bros., National Insurance and Wilson Neil.

The stock exchange is gone and the city now has only BLISS Technologies, Pacific Edge and Scott Technology listed on the NZX.

Businesses and stock exchanges are migrating from smaller to larger urban areas throughout the world but the issue in New Zealand is that business enterprise is moving from the cities to the rural sector and it is not interested in stock exchange listings.

One Waikato dairy farmer remarked on the flight to Dunedin that farmers had a long-term perspective and there was no way that they would allow outsiders to buy Fonterra shares because these non-farmer shareholders would accept the first offer from Chinese interests, just as they will with Fisher & Paykel Appliances.

Who can blame him for taking this point of view?

One reason dairy farmers in New Zealand are doing so well is that most supply a co-operative which means the return to the supplier is of more importance than in companies whose concern is more with shareholders.

We were also in Dunedin for that rugby match with several other farmers as guests of Ravensdown.

In spite of the lower payout and higher dollar, all were positive about farming and many were open to further development and new opportunities.


Rural round-up

September 22, 2012

Otago close to eradicating crop destroying rook:

The Otago Regional Council says it is close to eradicating a pest bird from the region.

Rooks can destroy crops and new grass paddocks in a couple of days and are a problem throughout New Zealand, but are more prevalent in grain-producing regions in the south.

The Otago Regional Council says its eradication programme has reduced numbers from 5000 to less than 100 over the past six years. . .

China to help protect manuka honey exports - Victoria Young:

After more than two years of negotiations a deal has been struck with Chinese officials to protect New Zealand exports of manuka honey . . .

Separating the chaff from the grain in the debate on GM wheat - Prof. Jack Heinemann:

My report on assessing the risks of a form of GM wheat has sparked heated comment here and on other blog sites. The Sciblog-associated Australian Science Media Centre published excerpts from Peter Dearden’s “Genetics Otago” along with comments made by Australian scientists.

For me, these events have raised some fundamental issues – not new ones but recurring ones – that have been confronting the scientific and regulatory communities at the forefront of developing, and critically evaluating, new technologies. I don’t pretend to have all the answers in this difficult area, and my views do and will continue to evolve. In the meantime, let’s pause to reflect on some issues. . .

Change in deer tagging requirements

Deer farmers will soon be able to use a NAIT-approved ear tag instead of an Animal Health Board (AHB) barcoded primary tag.

From 1 October 2012, deer farmers have the option of tagging their animals with a National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme RFID tag, or an AHB barcoded primary tag, until deer join the NAIT scheme in March 2013.

“Deer farmers who have already put NAIT tags into their animals, or plan to do so soon, won’t have to keep using AHB barcoded primary tags,” said AHB Operational Policy Manager Nick Hancox. . .

Farmers help design new online tools to take pain from paperwork:

Ravensdown has worked with farmers to develop new online tools to help take the pain out of farm paperwork.

Farmers helped design the new features of the MyRavensdown secure website, so that documents like statements and invoices are shown the way farmers need them. The 100% farmer-owned co-operative is also the first to launch “live help” for farmers which allows users to get instant help from one of the trained NZ-based Customer Centre team.

“Farming has always been data-rich, but farmers are time-poor, so a great secure online service has to be simple to use,” said Mark McAtamney, Chief Information Officer at Ravensdown.“There’s a real danger of too much information, so the visitor can tailor how much detail they want to drill down and see. Farmers helped us design the straightforward layout and they appreciate the live help feature, so they can ask questions about the page they are on and get an answer about their account there and then.” . . .

Ballance Research Targeting Nutrient Loss Solutions:

As more pressure goes on farmers to manage within nutrient limits, Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ $32 million research programme is working on new and targeted approaches for nitrogen and phosphate applications.

The work is being done through its Clearview Innovation programme which includes projects that will help farmers decide where on-farm to apply nutrients for maximum benefit and minimal loss.

“There is a definite shift towards regional councils requiring farmers to work within nutrient loss limits,” says Ballance Research and Development Manager, Warwick Catto. . .

Lincoln University memes:


The roof was the winner on the night

September 16, 2012

The economists tell us that stadiums (stadia?) don’t stack up financially.

The Forsyth Barr Stadium has plenty of critics who will feel vindicated by that but I doubt if anyone among the capacity crowd at the All Blacks’ first test there cared about that and the roof was the winner on the night.

The forecast was for wintry conditions. I was drizzling as we arrived for the match against the Springbok, but with a covered stadium, once we were inside it didn’t matter.

Only in Dunedin would pre-match entertainment include blokes in tutus – the Selwyn Ballet - and I am sure they too appreciated being under cover.

We were at the game as guests of Ravensdown which brought the bonus of pre-match banter from former All Blacks Buck Shelford, John Timu and Josh Kronfeld. Then there was after-match excitement when we were joined by Olympic rowers Mahe Drysdale and Juliette Haigh.

As for the rugby? A win’s a win but there were plenty of times when it looked like the 21 – 11 score in New Zealand’s favour could just have easily gone the other way.

At the final whistle it was the All Blacks ahead and the winners of the Freedom Cup.


Rural round-up

August 2, 2012

Meat price outlook positive in spite of short term wobbles – Allan Barber:

The exchange rate and uncertainty in the Eurozone remain the biggest negatives for red meat exports in the short term, but the outlook is still positive heading into next year.

It’s very hard to pick what will happen in Europe which will inevitably have a large impact on lamb prices for the foreseeable future. Southern Europe and the UK are technically in recession and are unlikely to improve much, at least until the ECB manages to sort out how it will cope with the trials of Greece, Spain and others. . .

 

Elworthy-managed fund psends $2m on Gisborne land, emerges with 9,200ha of forestry - Paul McBeth:

Craigmore Forestry Fund, which is managed by Forbes Elworthy’s Craigmore Sustainables, paid $2 million for 511 hectares land it wants to convert into forestry, as it looks to build plantations down the east coast of the North Island.

The fund has built up 9,200 hectares of land running from the East Cape to Riversdale, where it plans to either manage existing forestry operations or plant trees on farming land, according to summary decisions from the Overseas Investment Office. . .

  A permeating puzzle – Offsetting Behaviour:

Canadian supporters of supply management note that they’re helping to protect Canadians from “permeate” milk. Or at least my Twitter friend from the Canadian Dairy Lobby keeps needling about use of permeate.

Permeate is a concentrated byproduct from cheese-making that, in diluted form, can be added into fluid milk. You can also get it through ultrafiltration: ultra-filter the milk, then add stuff back in varying proportions depending on the blend you want to achieve. It’s relatively high in lactose, so it could make milk less friendly for those with lactose intolerance, but it otherwise seems pretty innocuous. Most supermarket milk in New Zealand uses permeate; it’s been a bit controversial in Australia. . . 

Ravensdown first fertiliser company to break billion dollar milestone:

Ravensdown, the 100% farmer-owned co-operative, has become the first NZ fertiliser company to surpass a billion dollars in revenue. The co-operative also helped shield shareholders from world price volatility for imports such as urea for a large part of the reporting period.

Revenues for the year to 31st May 2012 were a record $1.07 billion, an increase of 15%. The co-operative plans to distribute $53.5 million to shareholders. This represents a total of $40.48 per tonne of fertiliser purchased which is made up of a rebate of $15.10 per tonne plus a bonus share issue of 17 shares per tonne (tax paid) valued at $25.38 per tonne. . .

 Synlait Milk Scoops Agri-Business Award:

Synlait Milk has scooped the Agri-Business Award in the Sensational Selwyn Awards, which recognise business excellence in the Selwyn District.

Over 500 people attended the biennial awards dinner held on 28 July at the Lincoln Events Centre. Finalists for the award included Coppersfolly Limited and Ellesmere Transport Company Limited.

Since operations began in 2008, Synlait has grown to become one of Selwyn’s largest companies, processing over 500 million litres of milk a year from around 150 Canterbury farms, and employing 128 staff. . .

 Māori partner with agbio leaders to drive growth through science:

The Federation of Māori Authorities says supporting the world’s top agricultural biotechnology conference being held in Rotorua in September is an opportunity to connect its members with the best minds in the business.

The Federation has come on board as a Platinum sponsor of ABIC (Agricultural Biotechnology International Conference) 2012, which will bring industry leaders, researchers and scientists, investors and policy makers from around the world to New Zealand.

ABIC 2012 is hosted by NZBIO, the New Zealand biotechnology industry association.

The Federation of Māori Authorities represents New Zealand businesses with a combined asset base valued at NZ$8 billion, much of which comes from interests in seafood, forestry, dairy, sheep and beef, horticulture and energy. . . 

Dairy Compliance Improved:

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s compliance monitoring of dairy farms shows a marked increase in the level of full compliance.

Full compliance is up to 80% across the region, with the majority of the 20% non-compliance being of a technical nature rather than having a direct adverse environmental effect. . .

 

 

 

 

 


Rural round-up

July 29, 2012

New dairy chairman wants unity – Andrea Fox:

Fonterra chairman-elect John Wilson says ensuring there is the smoothest of board leadership transitions and uniting the farmer-owned co-operative after the rigours of the internal TAF debate are his priorities. 

    The Waikato farmer-elected director will take the reins of New Zealand’s biggest company in December from Sir Henry van der Heyden, who steps down after 10 years in the job. 

    Wilson, 47, will take his seat at the top of the table just after Fonterra is scheduled to have introduced share trading among farmers, or TAF, as it has come to be better known after more than two years of debate. . .

Biofuels and energy production dominate Europe’s landscape - Allan Barber:

After a week in England and a month touring central Europe by road, rail and river, I have gained a superficial impression of the predominant types of agricultural activity in the region. I am talking about Austria, Bavaria, Rhineland and some of the old Communist countries – East Germany, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

While these observations cannot claim to be comprehensive or even accurate in the matter of detail, they will provide a fairly accurate point of contrast with New Zealand’s agricultural landscape.

In particular they indicate a totally different set of political, economic and environmental priorities in Europe. . .

Farming bears – Bruce Wills:

In 12-months you could say we have gone from farming forward to farming bears, such was the sentiment in Federated Farmers new season Farm Confidence survey.

While agriculture will generate $21.7 billion in revenue over 2012, more than half, $11.9 billion, will go on the goods and services farmers consume.

Much of this intermediate consumption is spent locally on everything from number eight wire to builders and injects billions into the provincial economy’s heart.

Being intermediate consumption, it does not include the wage bill for 151,000 primary workers, interest or taxes either. . .

Time to break free of “No 8 wire” mentality – Jon Morgan:

Our pride in our heritage of being useful, practical people who can turn our hands to anything is holding us back, says Claire Massey. 

“That No 8 fencing wire mentality is now at a point where it’s hampering us,” the newly appointed Massey University director of agri-food business says. 

“We say ‘We can do anything’ when we can’t. We’ve got to break free of that. It was useful, but now we need to find the experts.” 

The irony is that it is not only an image we have of ourselves but that others have of us, she says. . .

Ngai Tahu Holdings CEO leaves -

Christchurch’s Ngai Tahu Holdings Corporation chief executive Greg Campbell is leaving the job to take up the reins at big fertiliser co-operative Ravensdown. 

    Ravensdown, 100 per cent owned by 30,000 farmer shareholders, announced today the appointment of Campbell as its new chief executive to replace Rodney Green when he retires on December 31, 2012. 

    Campbell has been chief executive at Ngai Tahu for three years. . .

Lincoln farm in drive to be more efficient – Gerald Piddock:

The Lincoln University Dairy farm finished the 2011-12 season well ahead of its production budget. But it will now seek ways to become even more efficient. 

    The farm produced 297,740kg milk solids at 471kg per cow, well ahead of its budget of 281,600. This was achieved with 5 per cent fewer cows. 

    “We ended up with 12.5 per cent more production per hectare than last season and 15 per cent more profit,” farm manager Peter Hancox said at a field day at Lincoln. . .

Quest for lower nitrate leaching - Gerald Piddock:

Work is underway at Lincoln University to determine ways of reducing the environmental footprint of the wintering systems on dairy farms. 

    Lysimeters are being used to simulate the nitrogen levels within trial plots of three different wintering systems. These plots are early and late sown kale crops and a fodderbeet crop planted at the Lincoln University Dairy Farm’s wintering site, Ashley Dene Farm. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 28, 2012

Kiwi a Transtasman winner:

Tim van de Molen, the Royal Agricultural Society of New Zealand (RAS) Rural Youth Ambassador, was announced as the Australasian Rural Youth Ambassador in the finals at the Darwin Royal Showgrounds.

This is a historic win for New Zealand, taking top honours in only the second year the competition has been extended transtasman.

Van de Molen, a 29-year-old agribusiness manager for ANZ and based in Waikato, is overwhelmed by the win. . .

Rapid lamb gains now in the past - Hugh Stringleman:

The drivers of sheep farm productivity increases are forecast to be throttled back over the coming decade, compared with the rapid pace of improvement over the past 20 years.

Total lamb weight produced per breeding ewe, lambing percentage and lamb carcase weight will ease off compared with past productivity increases which have been the envy of the national economy.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief economist Rob Davison told the Red Meat Sector Conference in Queenstown that an industry-wide discussion is needed on the right mix of lamb carcase weights for the future – whether farmers should push on above 18kg. . .

Ballance shareholders benefit from strong result

Another strong result by Ballance Agri-Nutrients has its 18,200 shareholders sharing in a $47 million rebate and dividend distribution.

Shareholders will receive $43.6 million through a $40 rebate per tonne of fertiliser purchased plus a further $3.4 million through an imputed dividend of $0.10 per share.

This will result in an average return of $44.29 per tonne, a result which compares well with last year’s record distribution averaging $50.29 per tonne. . .

Ravensdown announces new CEO:

Ravensdown, the 100% farmer-owned co-operative, has appointed Greg Campbell as the new CEO to replace chief executive Rodney Green when he retires on the 31st December 2012.

 In announcing the appointment, Chairman of Ravensdown, Mr Bill McLeod, commented that “Rodney Green had given us plenty of notice of his intention to retire, which gave us the luxury of time to conduct a really thorough search for his replacement. We are grateful for that, as Rodney will leave a very different Ravensdown to the one he took over in 1998. We especially thank Rodney, and acknowledge the job he has done growing and strengthening the company over the years of his stewardship. This meant we needed to find a special replacement to take over the reins from him.” . . .

North Islander set to defend title:

 Last year’s winner of the Canterbury A&P Association Mint Lamb Competition, Bill Feetham of Hastings, is preparing his entries for 2012 with the opening of this year’s competition launched this month.

 Farmers from throughout New Zealand are invited to showcase their quality lamb and compete in the 2012 Mint Lamb Competition held in conjunction with the country’s largest Agricultural and Pastoral Show, the Canterbury A&P Show. . .

Government scheme increaeses recycling on farm:

More than 650 tonnes of plastic farm waste has been recycled nationwide during the past year thanks to a government-funded scheme, Environment Minister Amy Adams says.

Under the product stewardship scheme, Plasback supplies more than 1000 recycling bins to New Zealand farms, and collects agricultural plastics such as bale wrap, silage wrap and covers, agrichemical containers and crop bags.

The waste is recycled into plastic resin pellets and then reused in new plastic products.

“Many farmers have been frustrated by the lack of options for dealing with plastic farm waste and know that burning or burying waste is not a sustainable solution,” Ms Adams says. . .

Allied Farmers granted waiver for $1.2M loan for bobby calf business:

Allied Farmers, the company whose market value was all but wiped out when it acquired the financial assets of Hanover Finance, has been granted a waiver to borrow up to $1.2 million for the operations of its bobby calf venture.

The waiver, granted by NZX Markets Supervision, was required because the loan would exceed 10 percent of Allied’s average market capitalisation of about $2.5 million and would have needed approval of shareholders. . .

REINZ Introduces New Farm Price Index:

REINZ is pleased to announce today the introduction of the REINZ Farm Price Index, as a superior and more accurate guide to changes in farm sale prices.

The new measure has been developed in conjunction with the Reserve Bank and adjusts for property specific factors such as location, size and farm type in measuring changes in farm prices.

“The REINZ Farm Price Index is less influenced by the type of farms that happen to sell, providing an improved measure of underlying farm prices,” says REINZ Rural Market Spokesman Brian Peacocke. . .

Canterbury vegetable grower takes national Young Grower title:

Andrew Scott from Canterbury has been named Young Grower of the Year at the Horticulture New Zealand Conference 2012.

Andrew, 29, was presented with his award last night after the day-long Young Grower of the Year competition held at Ellerslie Events Centre, Auckland, as part of this year’s Horticulture New Zealand Conference. . . .


Would-be weka farmer wins Agri-Personality of Year

June 26, 2010

Roger Beattie is the Federated Farmers’  2010 Agri-Personality of the Year.

 Roger Beattie is an eco-anarchist combining conservation with business acumen. Roger is passionate about endangered species, but believes commercial farming is a better model for long term survival. His interview on Close-Up with DoC’s Al Morrison of the status quo versus farming weka, saw 83 percent of viewers side with Roger.  Roger has also rescued a flock of wild Pitt Island sheep with a plan to selling them as a gourmet food product.  His latest victory against bureaucracy is the commercialisation of Undaria – an invasive Japanese kelp used in soups and salads overseas.  After a ten year fight he finally got the greenlight to start an industry that, in five years could be worth $10 million a year.   Roger is also the force behind Eyris Blue Pearls – Paua Pearls – exported around the world. 

The Agri Business Person of the Year is Graeme Harrison, founder and chair of ANZCO Foods.

Graeme created ANZCO foods in Japan in 1984, returning to New Zealand nine years later to lead the company’s subsequent growth. Today, ANZCO has annual sales of more than $1.2 billion and employs 2,800 people on 11 production sites within New Zealand and has sales and marketing offices in Japan, Taiwan, North America, the UK and Belgium. Graeme’s vision for the future has been key in ensuring ANZCO’s past and future success and this is evident in the company’s ongoing focus in increasing investment in downstream manufacturing. This includes food solutions, pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals and food flavourings.  Right through the process of ANZCO’s growth as a company, Graeme has shown leadership, vision and innovation and this has ensured that the business has been extremely successful.

This is the second year Federated Farmers has run the Cream of the Crop awards which Feds president Don Nicolson said gives the organisation the opportunity to celebrate how good farmers are.

The awards were sponsored by Ravensdown whose chair Bill McLeod was one of the judges.

 Other judges were Invercargill Mayor, Tim Shadbolt, farming and All Blacks legend, Sir Brian Lochore, Cathy Quinn, the Auckland based chair of law firm, Minter Ellison Rudd Watts and 2010 Veuve Clicquot businesswoman of the year and Southland netball coach, Robyn Broughton.


Fert prices drop

December 4, 2009

Ballance and Ravensdown have both dropped the price of fertiliser to $310 and $311 a tonne repsectively.

Both companies say it reflects a fall in the price of raw materials internationally and the prices are about half what they were at this time last year.


Coal to fertiliser plant for Southland?

September 25, 2009

Eastern Southland’s lignite coal could be turned in to fertiliser if joint investigations by farmer-owned co-operative Ravensdown and Solid Energy are successful.

Solid Energy, and agricultural fertiliser supplier, Ravensdown, are jointly investigating the viability of building a US$1 billion plus coal-to-fertiliser plant in Eastern Southland, harnessing the region’s world-scale lignite resource and making New Zealand self sufficient in, and potentially an exporter of, urea fertiliser.

The study will consider the economics and possible location of a plant producing up to 1.2 million tonnes a year of urea – a nitrogen fertiliser used to enhance grass growth – from up to 2 million tonnes a year of lignite mined from Solid Energy’s extensive lignite resources. At last year’s urea prices – up to US$800/tonne – this plant would have generated the equivalent of about NZ$1.5 billion per annum in export equivalent revenue – through a combination of import replacement and direct exports.

The venture could created up to 500 new jobs. The study should be completed early next year when the companies will decide if they proceed to the next stage. If they decide to go ahead construction could start by 2012 and the plant might be operating by late 2014.

Solid Energy’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Don Elder, says: “. . . Agriculture is our most important economic sector . . .. Urea is a key input to increased farm productivity, but is mostly imported at present, which exposes our farmers to world supply volatility, and prices that can fluctuate widely. Producing urea from our vast lignite resources is a prime example of how New Zealand can capitalise on our position as one of the richest countries in the world in natural resources per capita.”

The lignite to uerea study is running in parallel with work to investigate producing diesel.

“Developing a urea plant in advance of constructing a lignite-to-diesel plant would allow New Zealand to have advanced gasification industry competency and capabilities in place at an earlier stage, to substantially facilitate further and larger developments. Alternatively the two developments could take place in parallel and form the basis of a “syngas park”, supplying clean syngas to multiple downstream applications including diesel and urea.”

Federated Farmers  president Don Nicolson said the responsible exploitation of our mineral wealth would play an important part in increasing productivity.

“The numbers involved in this feasibility study are mind-boggling.  Even if annually it converts two-million tonnes of lignite into fertiliser, there are enough proven lignite reserves to keep the plant ticking over for some 650 years.

“The study opens up the prospect of 500 new jobs and the construction of a state of the art facility in an investment worth some $1.4 billion.

“Given New Zealand imports some half million tonnes of gas or coal based urea each year, the new plant will likely be built to the latest environmental standards.  This has obvious benefits from a global climate change perspective.

“The really exciting thing is the potential of turning New Zealand from an importer into an exporter, generating the equivalent of $1.5 billion in export equivalent income each year. 

“That amount represents one and a half times the size of the wine industry or three times the current value of the wool clip.

“It’s also an example where companies can leverage off agriculture, New Zealand’s most important industry, into completely new areas.  In this case taking a low value mineral which occurs in vast quantities and turning that mineral into a high value export.

Turning a low value resource into fertiliser, replacing imports, creating jobs in rural Southland, doing it all to meet the highest environmental requirements . . .  If investigations show the project is feasable it will be very good news indeed.


Penno & Rowath Feds Agribusiness winners

July 4, 2009

Dr John Penno, chief executive of Synlait is the winner of Federated Farmers’ inaugural Agribusiness Person of the Year Award.

The inaugural Agribusiness Personality of the Year title went to Professor Jacqueline Rowath of Massey University.

Feederated Farmers president Don Nicolson said:

“Dr Penno has been described as a ‘milk maverick’ but is Federated Farmers kind of maverick.  Synlait’s business model is revolutionary as it controls supply from the grass right through to finished product.

“Just as impressive is Professor Jacqueline Rowarth, Federated Farmers first Agricultural Personality of the Year. If you could bottle intellect, passion, dedication and charm, Massey University’s Professor Rowarth has it all and much more beside.

“As Director of Agriculture, Professor Rowarth is an inspiration to students and to farmers.  Quite simply put, she ought to be on television with her upbeat and positive conviction that agriculture is an overwhelming force for good,” Mr Nicolson concluded.

The Agribusiness Person of the Year was sponsored by gen-I and the Personality title was sponsored by Ravensdown.

Recognising agribusiness achievement and personality in this way is a great idea from Feds.

This is Penno’s second award in a week. He was one of seven people awarded Sir Peter Blake leadership awards. The Bull Pen has more on that here.


Blessed are those who give

May 9, 2009

Three acts of generosity in the last couple of days:

Julian and Josie Robertson from the USA have donated 15 major art works to the Auckland Art Gallery.

The appreciation shown by people when the Robertsons allowed 12 works from their art collection to be shown in an exhibition in Auckland and Wellington, motivated them to make this donation.

From the arts to sport – Eion Edgar donated $1 million to the New Zealand Committee when he retired as president this week.

Mr Edgar and his wife, Jan, have made several substantial philanthropic donations, notably to the New Zealand Olympic Committee, the Edgar Centre in Dunedin, the Edgar National Centre for Diabetes Research and Dunedin’s new stadium, which will be known as Forsyth Barr Stadium at University Plaza.

And from sport to farming –  Ravensdown is offering  shareholders in drought affected areas interest free, deferred payment terms on fertiliser purchases plust free technical advice.

When drought hits, fertiliser often comes out of budgets which means when it rains again pastures don’t get grow as well as they should.

This offer will enable farmers to keep up their fertiliser programmes without increasing their overdraughts.


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