Rural round-up

April 14, 2014

Challenge of creating a strong red meat sector – Allan Barber:

I am obviously not alone in trying to work out ways of creating a strong red meat sector with profits being shared equitably between the participants. But it is an elusive model which nobody has yet succeeded in identifying. It makes me wonder if it is an impossible dream, but there are a number of determined dreamers who are still intent on finding the solution.

Recently I have had an exchange of emails, not always amicable, with John McCarthy, chairman of MIE, who is committed to achieving consensus among farmers about a future industry structure which will get away from the price taker model.

He takes me to task, quite legitimately, for seeing things from the companies’ perspective which, he says, focuses on making a profit for shareholders. But this doesn’t satisfy farmers’ objectives of being sustainably profitable which is the only way a strong red meat sector will emerge. He agrees the top farmers are performing satisfactorily, but in his view these only comprise 20-25% of farmers. . .

Wool industry picks up dropped stitches - Sally Rae:

New Zealand’s wool industry is ”a wee bit broken” , Wools of New Zealand chief executive Ross Townshend says.

At an autumn roadshow in Waikouaiti, Mr Townshend spoke of his observations since starting the job in August last year.

Sixty years ago, 85% of sheep farmers’ revenue was from wool and 15% was from meat, and now it was the complete opposite. . .

Linking youth and the land – Sally Rae:

Annika Korsten is on a mission to expose disengaged Dunedin youth to rural work opportunities.

Ms Korsten, a recipient of a $100,000 World of Difference grant from the Vodafone New Zealand Foundation, is establishing a programme, on behalf of the Malcam Charitable Trust, to develop opportunities for young people aged 18 to 24 to transition to work or further rural training.

Describing herself as passionate about people, place and food and the inter-relationship between the three, she said she enjoyed facilitating networks and connecting people. . .

 

The costs of GMO labelling -Foodie Farmer:

There has been much discussion over whether or not the labeling of “GMO” foods would add to the cost of food production or not. This was one of the supporting arguments for GMO labeling at the legislative hearing at the Maryland House of Delegates Committee on Health and Government Operations during which Doug Gurian-Sherman of the Union of Concerned Scientists and Michael Hansen of the Center for Food Safety, both insisted that labeling costs would be minor at best.

So does Mother Jones

So does The Grist

Wow, do these scientists and journalists have any understanding of the food supply chain from farm gate to grocery shelf?
Apparently not, nor does anyone else who thinks that “GMO” labeling won’t increase the cost of food.
Here is my pictorial analysis of the food supply chain from my farm gate: . . .

 

What is Your Dairy farm Profit?  – Pasture to Profit:

What is dairy farm profit? Is profit a dirty word? Too few New Zealand dairy farmers know their profit? Discussion groups rarely discuss or compare profit. Few farmers financially benchmark. Why do farmers and consultants continue to use profit per hectare to compare farms?

PROFIT = GROSS FARM REVENUE – FARM OPERATING EXPENSES + NON-CASH Adjustments. Non-Cash Adjustments include changes in feed & livestock inventory, inclusion of Family labour & Management and depreciation. See NZDairybase   Why do so few NZ dairy farmers know what their profit is? Profit per hectare is not enough, although every farmer should calculate Profit/hectare.  . . .


Rural round up

December 29, 2013

Wool rice product developed:

A Wellington company which has developed a new upholstery fabric blended from wool and rice straw is expecting to start commercial production next year.

The Formary, a textile design and development company, is proposing to use 70% New Zealand mid-micron wool and 30% rice straw in the fabric, which will be manufactured in China.

The Formary co-founder Bernadette Casey said manufacturing of commercial samples would start in China early next year, with full production by mid-year. . .

Indo Minister steps up rhetoric on live cattle:

The Indonesian agriculture minister Suswano has stepped up his anti-Australia rhetoric, calling for cut backs on the importation of live cattle from Australia due to the ongoing spying rift between the two neighbours.

The Minister has called on the cattle industry to cease imports of cattle from Australia and to give preference to local suppliers. He said the appeal was related to Australia’s snooping on Indonesia.

“Basically it is business-to-business, (and is) the right of businesspeople to chose where they source their meat supplies. However, when the government shows a certain political stance, it would be good if the businesspeople adapt to it,” he said. . .

Donating kidneys to protect the landscape – Erin Hutchinson:

Manawatu farmer Dave Stewart reckons the agricultural landscape needs a lot more kidneys.

Dave uses the term to describe the numerous small native-bush blocks he has planted in the small, incised gullies that criss-cross the family’s property.

Those organs across the flat to occasionally rolling territory intercept nutrients carried in paddock run-off before they enter waterways. Dave calls them nutrient-interceptor beds.

Dave and wife Jan are the fourth generation of Stewarts to farm the 600ha property at Hiwinui, a short distance from Palmerston North. . .

Year in review – April - Rebecca Harper:

Fonterra’s strong balance sheet was used to bring forward the advance payment schedule for its milk supply pool and improve cashflow for drought-affected dairy farmers. The co-op declared a net profit increase of 33% on the first half of 2011-12 to $459 million in the six months to January 31 after an 8% increase in sales volume. The milk payout forecast was lifted 30c to $5.80/kg milksolids.

The Meat Industry Excellence Group (MIE) continued to hold farmer meetings around the country to gauge support for its push for red meat industry consolidation. Meat companies said they were working together on a plan to rationalise the processing industry and the two big co-ops said they were willing to work with MIE. Tradable slaughter rights were suggested as one solution to industry woes as the impetus for change gathered momentum.

MIE elected a national executive with Richard Young as chairman. . .

And from the Nutters Club:

>:) kindest, Boris


Rural round-up

November 6, 2013

Fonterra 2.0 – Willy Leferink:

There has been more than a little soul searching by Fonterra’s Board. For all the bad press it gets slammed with locally, I can say from the World Dairy Summit in Japan that Fonterra is not just respected; it is admired by many and even feared by some across the world.

With its independent report on the non-botulism scare, Fonterra’s Board dropped a very big hint that things are going to be different going forward in deeds more than words. Given former act leader Rodney Hide admitted in print this year that “politicians leak all the time,” it must have come as a shock to the media that such a critical and sensitive report was kept tight right up until 2pm last Wednesday.

I didn’t have an advance copy just a general heads up so I raced to the internet at the same time as everybody else. There was no leak and nor was it timed to clash with some other event; Honesty 1 v. Spin Doctors 0. Even the media conference was webcast live for anyone to watch anywhere on earth. I don’t want to sound like a commercial here, but wait, there’s more. Critical parts of the report were translated into key languages so I guess Fonterra’s Board did not want there to be any ambiguity.

Yet the words of Jack Hodder, who chaired Fonterra’s independent board inquiry, sticks in my mind – the biggest thing that needs to change within Fonterra is cultural. . .

 Farmers urged to vote in historic meat co-op elections:

Given strong moves to restructure New Zealand’s red meat sector, Federated Farmers is describing the director elections for Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group as historic.

“If you want empowerment in your farming business then as shareholders you need to vote,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chairperson, newly returned from a World Farmers’ Organisation event in Zambia.

“Set against a backdrop of what could be up to three million fewer lambs and declining stock numbers, future generations of farmers will ask current shareholders how they voted. . . .

New sentencing options for polluters not needed, says minister:

The Government has rejected a suggestion that more flexible sentencing options for judges are needed to help the fight against agricultural polluters

In a speech to the Environmental Compliance Conference this week, Environment Court judge Craig Thompson says more imaginative sentencing options could lead to better outcomes for both the environment and farmers.

Judge Thompson suggests that judges should have the power to shut down the worst offenders altogether.

He says those farmers or farm companies place a huge burden on the enforcement and prosecution resources of councils that are unfortunate enough to have them as ratepayers. . .

Fonterra and Tatua paths might cross in Australian tangle:

Cross-ownership and joint ventures could see two New Zealand rivals working together depending on the outcome of wrangling for ownership of an Australian dairy company.

Dairy companies throughout the world often own a stake in competitors or operate joint ventures, an Australian analyst Jon Hauser of XCheque says.

“There’s a whole range of commercial joint ventures and ownership structures between private companies and private companies, and private companies and co-operatives,” Hauser said. . .

Fleeced: 160 sheep stolen from field near village of Wool – Adam Withnall:

Dorset police are appealing for witnesses after 160 sheep were stolen from a field near the village of Wool.

The rustlers are thought to have had to use a large lorry to move the animals, which were all marked and electronically tagged.

Police said the incident took place between 8am on Saturday 2 November and 2.30pm on Monday, at the field which lies next to the A352 between Wool and the nearby village of East Stoke. . .

 

Gigatown competiton could benefit a rural town:

Farmers see the benefits for their rural town if it were to win Chorus’s year-long competition to bring the fastest broadband speed to one New Zealand town

FWPlus followers tweeted that it could have both indirect and direct benefits for farmers.

“Fantastic urban internet will help rural communities indirectly by helping their towns thrive,” @AaronJMeikle tweeted

The one-gigabit per second broadband speeds – up to 100 times faster than most cities around the globe – would act as a magnet and attract businesses to relocate to that town, he tweeted.

Another direct benefit, he tweeted, was that it would provide services that fitted farmers’ time constraints.

This is why I’m supporting #gigatownoamaru


Rural round-up

July 25, 2013

Korean visit to address fears about trade direction - Marie

Prime Minister John Key heads for South Korea on Thursday for an official visit warning that New Zealand’s fifth biggest trading partner will slip down the rankings without a free trade agreement.

War commemorations will be a central feature of the visit, with 30 New Zealand veterans joining Key’s entourage to mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice. 

Key said outside those events, the priority was to make progress on reaching an FTA. . .

Farmer Confidence Rebounds, New Survey Finds:

Federated Farmers’ New-Season Farm Confidence Survey, undertaken at the start of the 2013/14 season, has shown a major turnaround in farmer confidence.  This result is in keeping with other recent farm and business confidence surveys.

“Farmers are showing a lot more optimism in both the wider economy and individual farm prospects,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“You could say farmers are in recovery mode but this bounce back comes off a low base.  There is still a large gap in the sentiment of dairy farmers when compared to the other farming sectors.

“Six months ago, farmers were fairly negative about the wider economy and were very pessimistic about their own profitability.   This was particularly the case for sheep and beef farmers. In contrast, dairy farmers were feeling more optimistic than they had been at this point last year [July 2012], thanks mainly to better dairy commodity prices and growing conditions. . .

Alliance lamb in Oliver’s Russian eatery - Alan Williams:

Alliance Group lamb from New Zealand will be on the menu at the new Jamie Oliver restaurant due to open in Russian city St Petersburg.

The contract was a good boost to the business Alliance had built with Russian food service companies and restaurants over the past 12 years, marketing general manager Murray Brown said.

It highlighted the growing status of the group’s Pure South brand as a leading red-meat export, he said. . .

Eliminating wool’s dirty secret:

With New Zealand’s main-shear approaching, Federated Farmers and the NZ Shearing Contractors Association are backing moves to cut the woolshed contamination of wool. If successful, it could boost farmgate returns by a couple of million dollars each year.

“When you are dealing with a $700 million export, cutting wool contamination translates into a big opportunity for fibre farmers,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre spokesperson.

“As a farmer, the easiest way for us to increase our returns is to focus on what we can control. Woolshed contamination is a perfect example of this. . .

Head in a bucket – he does that every morning – Mad Bush Farm:

 He’s old, muddy, grumpy and he wasn’t making it any secret he wasn’t going to be sharing his breakfast with Ranger and the other little horses. As for me well the black eye has at last waned to a faded reminder of Muphy’s visit last week to the farm. The cows and naughty little Tempest, are finding out the hard way that an electrified wire is now on the road fence. We’ve had a few fine days, it’s still a bog hole here. My complaints are going unheeded by Mr Winter. He won’t be leaving until the end of August – darn. I’m going back to the mud now to complain some more or mayube I’ll just go and have a coffee instead

Talking of horses I found this beautiful tribute to the Arabian horse done with clips from the Black Stallion and other films. . .

Jousting for poll position – Milk Maid Marian:

Scuffles broke out right across the paddock as the weak winter sun lit the stage for a bovine pugilism festival. The cows were feeling magnificent and, unable to contain their energy, were ready to take on all comers.

The kids and I love watching the cows “do butter-heads” and the cows seem to love it, too. For every pair or trio engaged in warfare, there will be a group of curious onlookers and one scuffle seems to inspire more outbreaks.

Does butter-heads have a serious purpose though? Yes, it does. The herd has a very structured pecking order. Cows come into the dairy in roughly the same order every milking and the smallest and most timid are inevitably last. Mess them up by splitting the herd into seemingly random groups for a large-scale vet procedure like preg testing and you can expect trouble. . .


NZ presents new prince with wool

July 23, 2013

New Zealand’s gift to the baby prince is made from fine wool:

Prime Minister John Key today congratulated Their Royal Highnesses, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, on the birth of their first child, a boy.

“This is wonderful news for Prince William and Catherine,” says Mr Key.

“The birth of a child is a time of great joy and excitement, and I know they will make excellent parents.”

Mr Key also extended his congratulations to The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, and The Queen and Prince Phillip, on the arrival of the newest member of the Royal Family.

. . . New Zealand’s official gift to the Royal couple is a hand-spun, hand-knitted fine lace shawl, similar to the one that New Zealand gave when Prince William was born. The intricate shawl has been designed by Margaret Stove, who was also responsible for Prince William’s shawl. Cynthia Read spun the wool and knitted the shawl. . .

Photo of Cynthia Read and shawl, Photo credit Sacha Kahaki.

 

 

. . . As well as the shawl, and with the blessing of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, an invitation was sent to knitters around the country to knit baby singlets to give to new parents at local maternity and neonatal units on the couple’s behalf. . .

That’s a lovely way to honour the birth and help babies who will be in greater need of gifts than the new prince.


Rural round-up

July 22, 2013

‘Real people’ contact informs policy - Sally Rae:

Representing the farming community has been a ”privilege” for Matt Harcombe.

Mr Harcombe is leaving Federated Farmers, after 12 years working for the rural lobby organisation, to join the Ministry for Primary Industries in a Dunedin-based policy role.

The main highlights of his time with Federated Farmers had been the relationships established with farmers and working closely with the organisation’s provincial presidents and national board, he said. . .

Rise of the machines – robotics meet farming – Dr William Rolleston:

In the very near future ‘drones’ could well take the place of workers in forestry and a host of different industries.  It may be a case of not wishing too hard for what the CTU wants because an obvious solution to “carnage,” as CTU President Helen Kelly graphically described forestry, is to completely remove the person from the risk equation.  No person, no accident.

The CTU has demanded to know how forestry will stop the “carnage” and we know agriculture is also in the CTU’s crosshairs.  In 2010, the Forest Owners Association was one of the first to enter into a Primary Growth Partnership with the Government.  This has flown under the CTU and media radar but the PGP’s vision is “no worker on the slope, no hand on the chainsaw”.

The outcome will likely be drone logging machines reflecting an increasing use of robotics on-farm and in our farm system. . . 

Fleeces ‘absolutely fabulous actually’ – Sally Rae:

Ask Marnie Kelly what she likes about Matakanui Station’s fine-wool fleeces and the answer is simple – ”they’re absolutely fabulous, actually”.

Mrs Kelly is the general manager of Central Otago-based Touch Yarns, which produces mostly hand-dyed wool yarns which are exported to Europe and the United States, as well as sold in shops throughout New Zealand and Australia, online and through a retail shop in Clyde. . .

MIE seeking farmer registrations – Sally Rae:

Meat Industry Excellence is seeking registrations from farmers to ensure they are up to date with what the organisation is doing in its bid to drive reform in the meat industry.

While the group had been ”a bit slow off the eight-ball” communicating with farmers, a website had now been launched, chairman Richard Young, of Tapanui, said.

Farmers were encouraged to register on www.mienz.com and also provide details on their farming operations, including what meat companies they supplied. . .

Maori farmers launch a new network – Murray Robertson:

A GROUND -breaking new collaborative initiative to develop Maori farming in Tairawhiti sprang out of the major Maori agri-business hui in Gisborne on Thursday.

More than 160 people attended the day-long event at Shed 3 at the Gisborne port and heard a range of impressive presentations.

The word “collaboration” was the common theme and a challenge was issued to Maori agri-business leaders to work together to capture more value for their owners. . .

Milder flavours in latest olive harvest -

Customers of Nelson olive oils can expect milder, better balanced products from this year’s harvest, say growers.

After a tough, wet growing season last year, which made it difficult to produce top oils, the long, dry summer has been much kinder, although rain before and during picking caused some disruption.

The region’s biggest grower, Roger Armstrong, of Tasman Bay Olives, is pressing about two-thirds of a record crop of about 280 tonnes – 40 tonnes more than in 2011 – and he’s happy with what he’s seen. . .

Hemp growers ready for success – Sandie Finnie:

Waikato couple Dave and Anne Jordan are prepared for a cropping venture which slots into the new “greenwave” of products in demand around the world.

For the last four years the Jordans have trialled growing industrial hemp and are now building up their seed stocks so they can do large plantings.

Meanwhile they sell hemp oil for skin care and related products at their local farmers’ market and can barely keep up with demand. . . .


More wool woes

July 21, 2013

Canterbury Woolspinners’ proposal for 50 redundancies in Dannevirke is sad news for the staff and the town.

It is also concerning for wool producers.

Carpet isn’t the floor covering of choice in many countries and even where it is there are synthetic alternatives which are often cheaper.

There’s an opportunity to tap into the green market  going begging.

If only the strong wool industry could follow merino’s example and sell itself as the natural, renewable, flame retardant material it is.

Jon Morgan reminds those of us who grow it that we should be setting a good example by using it in our homes and clothing.

. . . I’m not throwing off my winter woollies just yet.

And they are wool. The blankets on my bed, the rugs on my floor, the clothes on my back (and front). I couldn’t look sheep farmers in the eye if they weren’t.

But a surprising number of sheep farmers are not wearing wool. Quite often their outer clothing is made from a synthetic fibre.

Which makes me wonder about their carpets . . .

If we don’t use the wonderful fibre we grow we have only ourselves to blame if other people don’t either.


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