Rural round-up

June 14, 2014

Integrated agri-food value chains - Keith Woodford:

Many New Zealand agri-food companies are still struggling to understand the global shift to integrated agri-food value chains. This move has been playing out most spectacularly in the infant formula industry, where the small companies have been badly caught out, but the trend is much broader than that.

A key driver is the need to have food safety systems in place that span from consumers back to producers. It is not simply a case of the food having to be safe, it is also a case of there being a transparent evidential trail. Food testing is just a small part of this system.
A major focus has to be on overall business systems that react to first stage mistakes before they compound into major events. It was just such a failure to react to the warning signals that led Fonterra down a shambolic path with the botulism scare in 2013.

There is also a key idea relating to provenance. Consumers not only want to know that something is safe; they also want to know that they are buying is what they think they are buying, and that the brand is genuine. . .

Milk spill stopper wins innovation award – Jamie Small:

The dragons have chosen, and another farm invention is one step closer to commercial success.

For the second year running, Fieldays had its own Dragons Den-style competition for agricultural innovations.

The joint initiative, run by Fieldays and Hamilton business incubator Soda Inc, selected nine innovators from a pool of 20 to present their gadgets to a panel of experienced investors and business leaders.

The top prize, Most Viable Business, went to Pahiatua couple Graeme and Alison Franklin with the DTexH2o. . . .

Primary Industry’s outlook good:

Federated Farmers believes the ‘2014 Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries’, released by the Ministry for Primary Industries, shows a promising future for the New Zealand economy thanks to kiwi farmers.

“This report shows an increase of 16.3 percent in primary sector exports, to $37.7b on the previous year, which translates to increased farmgate incomes of 22 percent and an increase in off farm spending of 11 percent,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers National President.

“These statistics remind us of the importance of exports to New Zealand, in particular the impact on farmgate incomes and spending on farm inputs, which has a direct influence on rural and provincial economies. . . .

Applauding the night away: superb exporters win top recognition:

Spectacular export growth of hundreds of chicken and turkey products has won Tegel Foods the Supreme Award in the 2014 Air New Zealand Cargo Export NZ Auckland export awards.

Prime Minister John Key presented the award last night at the Langham hotel in Auckland also attended by Auckland Mayor Len Brown and ‘Minister for Business’, Steven Joyce.

The judges said Tegel has been an iconic brand in New Zealand for more than 50 years and began developing export markets 11 years ago. . . .

Fonterra slapped with $150,000 fine over NZX disclosure – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – The New Zealand Markets Disciplinary Tribunal has fined Fonterra Cooperative Group $150,000 for breaching continuous disclosure requirements to the NZX during the dairy manufacturer and exporter’s botulism false alarm last August.

Auckland-based Fonterra undertook a world wide recall after it quarantined several batches of whey protein concentrate last August on concern it was contaminated with a potentially dangerous strain of clostridium bacteria, capable of causing botulism. The strain was ultimately shown to be harmless. . . .

Boys from the farm turn on the charm - Libby Wilson:

Fieldays’ rural bachelor contestants have done the hard yards in the leadup to their event.

The eight eligible blokes chased sheep, shot clay targets, and went zorbing on their journey from Auckland to Mystery Creek.

And the action continued yesterday, with fencing, speed-dating and cooking.

Yesterday morning they faced questions from Waikato women.

It seems ladies into a romantic but rural first anniversary picnic would be a good match with Wanganui’s Fraser Laird, 26. “I’ve got some back paddocks at the back of the farm. It’s got a bloody good view. Serious,” he said. . . .

Farmers encouraged to embrace technology - Susie Nordqvis:

Accounting firm Xero is laying down a challenge to farmers this week’s Fieldays: start embracing technology and innovation to maximise profits and grow the economy.

The innovation hub at Fieldays is not quite Dragon’s Den, but it is a sure fire way of fast-tracking participants onto the national stage.

“We have developed an ice maker that makes a slurry and you can reduce milk from 32degC down to 5degC in three seconds,” says innovation den participant Richard Upperton.

Xero says if more people followed Mr Upperton’s lead then the economy would be in better shape. . .

New Zealanders and shearing - Ali Ikram:

Sheep outnumber New Zealanders seven to one. 

They’re crucial to our economy and they get a bad wrap when it comes to their intelligence.

But there was one question we desperately wanted answered – as New Zealanders, can we all shear a sheep?

Is it innate in us – a birth-right?

Or are there some born and bred in cities who simply can’t shear, no matter what? . . .


Rural round-up

July 9, 2013

Call to take multi-party approach – Sally Rae:

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

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

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

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

Beef prices expected to firm -

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

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

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

Debacle carries big implications for farmers – James Houghton:

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

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

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

Soil health key component of farm economics – Gerald Piddock:

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

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

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

Healthy pipfruit profits expected – Peter Watson:

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

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

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

New Zealand shearing team has first win:

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rowland Smith Golden Shears champ

March 3, 2013

Hastings-based shearer Rowland Smith has won the 2013 Golden Shears open.

A new shearing champion has been saluted in an emotional end to the 53rd Golden Shears  in which he gave his $3000 prize to help fight cancer.

After his win in an almlost all-Hawke’s Bay race for the “Wimbledon” of shearing in Masterton, 26-year-old Rowland Smith, of Hastings, told the crowd “it’s not for the money,” and bolstered the shears’ cancer research fundraising to over $11,000 from donations and other gifted prizes.

Smith’s own mother died of cancer, making it a particularly poignant moment as shearsgoers got behind woolhandling icon Joanne Kumeroa, battling cancer but still finishing second in her attempt to win the wool industry pageant’s Open woolhandling title for a seventh time.

The shearing final was an exciting contest dominated by four Hawke’s Bay shearers who were separated by less than four-tenths of a point, Smith justifying his TAB favouritism after winning eight other finals in the six weeks leading into Shears week.

With 16-times winner David Fagan missing from the final for only the fourth time in 30 years, Smith was always going to find three  other former winners toughest to beat in defending champion and four-times winner John Kirkoatrick, of Napier, 2006 winner Dion King, of Hastings, and 2010 winner Cam Ferguson, of Waipawa.

 It was King who poured on the pace throughout the contest, finishing the 20 second-shear sheep first in 16min 30.09sec, 16 secoonds ahead of Kirkpatrick, and another 8 seconds ahead of Smith.

With Ferguson next to finish, all four Hawke’s Bay guns put more than a sheep around World champion Gavin Mutch, a Scotsman farming in Taranaki, and Southland hope Nathan Stratford.

The final result was in doubt however until the presentation, with Rowland’s event best 10.45 quality points total securing him the major prize.  King had to settle for second overall, Kirkpatrick third and Ferguson fourth.   

Amazingly, despite his lack of familiarity with the fine-wooled merino, Kirkpatrick was first to finish the multi-breeds PGG Wrightson National Circuit final earlier in the night. Taking 19min 6.862sec for the 15 sheep, half-a-minute slower than the fastest time last year and in nhis first time in the circuit final, he just just pipped 2009-2011winner Tony Coster, of Rakaia, for the major prize.

With points ultimately in the same order as the shearers came off the board, World champion, Scottish national and Whangamomona farmer Gavin Mutch was third and defending champion Angus Moore, from Ward in  Marlborough but now living at Kaitangata, South Otago, was fourth.

The 15 sheep comprised three of each type representing each of the qualifying rounds at Alexandra (fine wool), Waimate (longwool, Alexandra (coarse wool), Raglan (lambs) and Pahiatua (second-shear).

A dramatic Open woolhandling final ended with World champion Joel Henare, 21, of Gisborne, winning the title for the first time after four consecutive second placings in the event. He’s the youngest ever to win the title, and the first male woolhandling champion since Oti Mason, of Dannevirke, won in 2000.

In the other major event of the final night, New Zealand won a shearing test over Australia.

The link in the opening sentence will take you to the full results on Shearing Sports NZ’s website.


Rural round-up

February 4, 2013

Alliance taste testers help guide NZ meat industry – Dave Gooselink:

A team of 50 Southlanders have what some carnivores might see as the perfect job.

They’re the taste testing panel for meat company Alliance, charged with ensuring the company’s export lamb, beef and venison is gourmet quality.

There’s not a lot of conversation around the table. The diners are too busy eating prime cuts of lamb, cooked to perfection by an award-winning chef. It’s their job, making in-depth evaluations of meat.

“You smell it for the aroma, then you bite into it for the texture and succulence, then last of all the flavour,” says veteran meat taste tester Sonja Lindsay. . .

$21m of new funding to benefit research partnerships:

The Government will invest $21 million over a maximum of seven years to support research that will benefit two of New Zealand’s primary industries Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce announced today.

A $16 million investment over seven years will be made in the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium and a $5 million investment over a maximum of seven years will be made in Seafood Innovations Limited.

“Science and innovation are major drivers of economic growth and international competitiveness. These investments will help improve the performance of two key parts of our primary industries, and as a result the New Zealand economy will benefit,” Mr Joyce says.

The Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium — a partnership between AgResearch, DairyNZ, Beef+Lamb NZ, Fonterra, Landcorp Ltd and DeerResearch — will develop new technologies that farmers can use to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without loss of productivity. . .

ORC split on water accord – Rebecca Fox:

A decision about whether or not to sign up to the dairy sector’s new water accord has divided Otago regional councillors.

The council, along with others nationally, has been asked to sign up to the accord as a ”friend” but the implications of this worried some councillors, while others were concerned not signing would alienate the dairy sector.

Councillors voted three times before a final decision was made to sign the document – although not all were happy. . .

Winton’s dairy vet woman of year finalist – Sally Rae:

Winton dairy veterinarian and mastitis consultant Kath Taylor is among six finalists in the 2013 Dairy Women of the Year Award.

She has been a dairy vet for 19 years, graduating from Massey University in 1994 and working in mixed practice in Taranaki for the next seven years before moving to Southland in 2001. She works for VetSouth Ltd in Winton, leading the milk-quality team. . .

Shearers take break before big Southland record challenge:

Four shearers are sitting it out in Southland in the countdown to a World Record shearing challenge in which they could shear as many as 3100 lambs between them on Tuesday.

Contractor and event organiser Brendon Potae says he’s given the quartet the weekend off after three hard weeks preparing for the Heiniger Four-stand Crossbred Lambs Eight-Hour World Record, to be shorn at Centre Hill Station, near Mossburn.

“I’ve told them to go fishing, sightseeing,” he said today as he and others from a support crew expected to swell to almost 70 people put finishing touches to the shed where about 250 people are expected to watch the event inside, with others watching on CCTV in marquees nearby. . .

Dancers for Farmarama - Sally Rae:

Tractors, motorbikes, farm machinery and dancing girls will all be on display at the Southfuels Farmarama at Lawrence on February 7 and 8.

The biennial event will be held at the Lawrence gymkhana grounds, opening to the public at 11am on the Thursday and 9am on the Friday. . .

Tru-Test Group acquires NZ’s leading milk containment and refrigeration company, DTS:

Auckland-based agri-tech company Tru-Test Group has today announced the acquisition of Dairy Technology Services from NDA. The move is the second such deal completed by Tru-Test Group in recent months, following its purchase of Radian Technologies (MilkHub) in December.

Dairy Technology Services (DTS) is the leading provider of milk storage and cooling systems in the New Zealand dairy industry. It employs 80 staff in its manufacturing facility in Taranaki and its nationwide sales, installation, repairs and maintenance and customer service operation based in Hamilton.

The deal reflects NDA’s desire to focus on its engineering activities in the dairy processing and transport, chemicals and refining, wine and resources industries. . .

New Record Top Price at Karaka Festival Sale:

Day 1 of New Zealand Bloodstock’s two-day Festival Sale was highlighted by a new top price for this session with the Swiss Ace colt at Lot 1149 fetching $125,000.

From the Hussonet mare Eclaircissement, Lot 1149 from Westbury Stud was purchased by Rogerson Bloodstock for $125,000.

Having a previous affiliation with the family, Rogerson was prepared to go beyond his budget to secure the colt out of a half-sister to multiple stakeswinner Illuminates (Strategic). . . .


Rural round-up

October 31, 2012

Customers attack Sainsbury’s for ditching Red Tractor – Alistair Driver:

SAINSBURY’S has come under fire on its own website over its decision to drop the Red Tractor logo from the food it sells.

Customers have branded the decision a ‘disgrace’ and some are threatening to stop shopping at Sainsbury’s stores until the logo is reinstated. The move has also been attacked by TV presenter Jimmy Doherty, who described it as ‘an odd thing to do’.

The UK’s third biggest retailer announced it was ditching the Red Tractor logo last week, blaming concerns that consumers were becoming confused about the number of labels on food packaging. It is planning to phase the logo out across its products lines, beginning with fresh meat. . .

CAP reform must not overshadow collaboration on family-owned farms -  Tom Levitt:

SMALLER family farms need better access to rural development funds to enable them to break free of subsidy dependence, a meeting of the Family Farmers Association (FFA) in Westminster heard last week.

NFU vice-president Adam Quinney, whose wife now runs the family farm near Redditch, West Midlands, told the audience that CAP funding was still inaccessible and unfavourable to smaller farm enterprises.

He was especially scathing of rural development funding, split between environmental schemes, modernising the farming sector and helping the rural economy. He said it had been largely ‘wasted’. . .

Times change for big show – Jill Galloway:

A & P shows used to be the the highlight of the social calendar for many people. They were the event of the year and there were public holidays, so people had time off to go to the show.

Now there are just two which have statutory holidays – Hawke’s Bay and Canterbury celebrate their anniversary days the weekend of their shows.

“Twenty years ago, it was about the promotion and sale of livestock,” says Manawatu and West Coast A & P president Lawrence Satherley. Now, Manawatu Showtime, being held at Manfeild Park this weekend, is competing against the Tour de Manawatu bicycle race, the Feilding horse races at Awapuni and the stock cars in Palmerston North. . .

Farm Environment Trust Leader Bows Out After Constructive Tenure:

North Waikato farmer Jim Cotman has stood down from his role as chairperson of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust after a very successful six years at the helm.

Since the Trust was established, its flagship event, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, has gone from strength to strength and is now regarded as one of New Zealand’s premier farming awards. The Trust has also developed a range of other initiatives designed to promote environmental sustainability in New Zealand agriculture.

Mr Cotman says the Trust has played a key role in showcasing sustainable farming practices. . .

What NZ agriculture can learn from the i-Phone -  Milking on the Moove:

. . . New Zealand’s agricultural sector could do well to study Apples business model and supply chain design. I’m really struggling to think of a major NZ agribusiness that even attempts a vertical supply chain.

Fonterra is New Zealand’s economic saviour, but Fonterra is a commodity supplier. It is equivalent to a Korean company that supplies a component to Apples iPad or iPhone and receives less than 7% of the final retail price.
The red meat sector is in the same, farmers are relegated down the value chain and as a result receive only a small fraction of the retail price.
Australian dairy farmers are at the mercy of the supermarkets because they don’t control their supply chain. The same is true for our UK dairy farming friends too. . .

Standards met through pond course:

Over 100 contractors and designers of farm dairy effluent (FDE) ponds are the first to complete a training course aligned with new industry standards.

The Farm Dairy Effluent Pond Training Course was established by DairyNZ in conjunction with InfraTrain New Zealand and Opus International Consultants (Opus).

The course is based on Practice Note 21: Design and Construction of FDE Ponds, released by the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) at the end of last year. . .

Australia on top in new Trans-Tasman series opener:

New Zealand has suffered a double defeat in the machine shearing and woolhandling tests against Australia in Warnambool, near Melbourne.

The Shearing Sports New Zealand team did however derive some success, with a victory to its two blades shearers denying Australia a clean sweep of the three matches at Saturday’s Romney Shears, which also incorporated the Australian national championships. . .

Public Consultation Begins On Proposed Agricultural Vehicle Rule Changes

The NZ Transport Agency is seeking public feedback proposed changes to agricultural transport law.

The proposed changes would establish a two-tier system for agricultural vehicles, based on a 40km/h operating speed. Vehicles operating below this speed will be exempt from warrant of fitness and work time requirements. The proposed changes aim to reduce compliance costs and provide greater operational flexibility for vehicle owners, without comprising safety. . .


Fagan father & son double win

July 27, 2012

Father and son wins at the Royal Welsh show have added another chapter to the Fagan shearing legend:

The New Zealand shearing legend David Fagan and his son Jack have scored a remarkable double on one of the biggest shearing stages in the world by winning the open and senior finals at the Royal Welsh Show.

Earlier this year Jeanette Maxwell of Federated Farmers called for shearing to be introduced to the Olympics.

Sir Brian Lochore seconded that:

Sir Brian, a Wairarapa farmer who contested in the first ever Golden Shears in Masterton in 1961, gave an almost “hero” status to today’s modern day international shearing guns in his speech at last night’s (Thursday March 1) Golden Shears World Championship dinner.

“Those competitors who are part of Golden Shears and now the World Championships are part of the World Cup of Shearing. Lets compare it to rugby. When New Zealand hosted the World Cup of rugby, we had the best players – the best prepared. Here in Masterton right now we have those same best players and the best prepared.”

Sir Brian said Golden Shears and the competitors who took part had champion quality.

“I absolutely support that shearing is no longer just a job. I do think that one day you will get it in the Olympics.”

Shearing is one of the most physically demanding occupations, it’s also a sport and those who take part are just as much athletes as those who compete in sports which are already included in the Olympics.


Shearing for Olympics?

January 19, 2012

If sport is defined as an athletic  activity requiring skill or physical prowess  and often of a competitive nature there is no doubt shearing fits.

The most memorable sporting commentary I’ve ever encountered in fiction was Witi Ihimaera’s account of a shearing competition in Bulibahsa and this report on this record -breaking attempt shows it also has spectator appeal:

A world shearing record which stood for 16 years was broken in front of a frenzied crowd of more than 150 packed into a King Country woolshed today.

Stecey Te Huia, of Te Kuiti, and Sam Welch, of Waikaretu, shore a combined tally of 1341 ewes in nine hours to beat by six the previous record of 1335 set by Southlanders Darin Forde and Wayne Ingram in 1996.

If it’s sport, then why not an Olympic one? 

Jeanette Maxwell of Federated Farmers said recordholders could strip more than 700 sheep in eight hours and likened the feat to running back-to-back marathons.

“Our World Championship teams are athletes who take it to another level. Surely, time has come to elevate shearing’s sporting status to the ultimate world stage.

“One way would be to make shearing a demonstration sport at a Commonwealth Games, if not the Olympics itself.”

A spokesman said the New Zealand Olympic Committee took the suggestion seriously and would be behind any attempt to include shearing.

I can see some obstacles, not least of which would be sourcing enough sheep in some of the   host countries and animal welfare issues.

But I disagree with Otago University sports marketing senior lecturer John Guthrie who said it could play up to stereotypes about New Zealand, whose sheep flock is about 10 times the human population.

The best way to counter stereotypes is with education and showcasing shearing at the Olympics would be a very good way to educate people about the skill and athleticism required to do it.

It could also help people trying to market wool to counter the misconception held by too many people that sheep have to be killed before the fibre is harvested.


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