Rural round-up

Milk of corporate kindness:

You can’t twirl a milk moustache.

Though there’s no shortage of people ready to portray Fonterra as a giant corporate villain, it deserves better than that.

The company’s trialling of free milk to schools is no less welcome for being commercially smart.

Any focus on the upside for the dairy giant, while reasonable and relevant, needs to be measured against the potential for improved health for a great many children in schools throughout the country . . .

Born with grease under finger nails – Sally Rae:

Mervyn Horrell admits he likes an “older type” of tractor.   

      “If anything goes wrong I don’t have to ring up an electrician or computer expert. I can fix it with two      crescents and a hammer.”    

And if he could not fix it, then he could always “just go up to the shed and start another one”.   

For when it comes to tractors, the Southland farmer has a  plentiful supply – 74 “runners” and another 10 projects waiting.   

 The beautifully-restored tractors are housed on the sheep and  cropping farm near Winton which Mr Horrell (71) farms in  partnership with his son Bryce .  . . 

Meat companies likely tos ustain profitability – Allan Barber:

It’s becoming harder to track meat industry performance with only two companies, Silver Fern Farms andAlliance, reporting annually within two months of the season’s end. ANZCO will continue to report to the Registrar of Companies at the end of March, while AFFCO is no longer required to publish its result. Therefore performance comparison is a matter of studying the available annual reports and gleaning scraps of information from farmer meetings and the grapevine. . .

Dairy Statistics released for 2010/11:

New Zealand’s dairy cow population is increasing at a greater rate than its resident human population, according to the New Zealand Dairy statistics for 2010/11.

Released today by LIC and DairyNZ, the document is made up of statistics sourced from the LIC National Database, dairy companies, Animal Evaluation database, Animal Health Board Annual Report, Quotable Value New Zealand Rural Property Sales Statistics and Statistics New Zealand.

In 2010/2011 the total number of NZ dairy cow increased by 132,000 to just over 4.5 million cows (4,528,736), an increase of 3 per cent over the previous 09/10 season – whereas the resident human population (at March 31, 2011) increased by an estimated 0.9 per cent to 4,403,000.

Along with the growth in cow numbers it was also a record year for the average production per cow in the country – up 5 per cent – to an average of 334 kg milksolids (comprising 190 kg milkfat and 144 kg protein) per cow . . .

Chris Auld gets shrill – Offsetting Behaviour:

Yesterday Federal Agricultural Minister Gerry Ritz uttered insane lies about dairy supply management:
I would make the argument that I don’t see those inflated prices, certainly, depending on where you buy,” Ritz told a joint news conference with Alberta Agriculture Minister Evan Berger and Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Bob Bjornerud.
I received a flyer in my mailbox last night when I got back to my apartment and I opened it up and it’s from Canadian Tire. They’ve got four litres of milk for $4.19. That’s completely comparable to the American price that we’re always being beat up over.
Canadian Tire Econometrics aside, consumers are of course harmed by high prices driven by quantity restrictions. Click here to see a graph showing how much higher our prices are than the EU, US, or New Zealand (all of which also have some sort of supply management, Canada’s is just more severe).

I’m a bit puzzled though by Auld’s claim that New Zealand has supply management. . .

Draft plan aims to reduce high work toll in agriculture:

Improving health and safety in the agriculture industry – a sector with one of the highest death and injury tolls – is the focus of a new Action Plan released for consultation today.

The draft Agriculture Sector Action Plan is part of the Government’s National Action Agenda to reduce the work toll in the five sectors where the most harm is occurring; construction, forestry, agriculture, manufacturing and fishing. . .

A meeting of science and experience – Jon Morgan:

Rambunctious is the best name for this ram. He’s a big bruiser, used to getting his own way, and he doesn’t like being manhandled.

He struggles out of Peter Tod’s grip and makes a break for freedom. But the Otane farmer’s determination is stronger and the ram is wrestled into submission for a photograph.

He is picked out from a small mob as the most photogenic because of his open face, long back, well-shaped legs, sound feet, and meaty hindquarters. . .

Water footprints what do they mean for us in New Zealand? – Dr Sarah McLaren:

  • Have you heard that the water footprint of 1 kg beef is 15,500 litres, and of 1 kg cheese is 5,000 litres? Did you know that Unilever has set itself a target of halving consumer use of water associated with its products by 2020?
  • Or that Walmart is in the process of asking all its 10,000 suppliers to provide information on total water use in their facilities, and their water use reduction targets?

These activities all reflect an increasing concern about the limited availability of freshwater for use in economic activities. . .

Dairy keeps title as 2011 commodity king – Jamie Gray:

The dairy industry has been a star performer for decades, but the time has come for others in the New Zealand family of commodities to share the limelight. APNZ business reporter Jamie Gray looks at some of the primary industries that didn’t make the headlines.

It’s been another great year for dairy, but several other commodities aren’t doing so badly either.

To have New Zealand’s commodities prices moving in the same direction is rare, but sheep meat, beef, wool and log prices have all done well over 2011. . .

But wait there’s more – milk production in Argentina – Dr Jon Hauser:

Argentina is the quiet achiever in global dairy industry trade.  They keep ticking along at a growth rate of about 2.5 – 3.0% and every now and then they put in a spurt. This year they are having a real crack. The chart below shows the monthly milk production for the past 7 years and our seasonally adjusted plot. The seasonal adjustment shows the extent to which milk production is ahead of or behind the long term trend line.  The percentage growth is calculated relative to this long term trend. It is not biased by unusually high or low milk production in the year prior. . .

NZ potato exports break through $100m:

New Zealand potato exports reached a record high in the past year as more than $100 million worth of produce left New Zealand shores.

Over 93,000 metric tonnes of potatoes, including 30,000 tonnes of fresh potatoes and 62,000 tonnes in frozen products, were sold overseas in the year to 30 June 2011.

In the previous 12-month period to the end of June 2010, $92 million of potatoes were exported. . .

A conference by farmers for farmers:

Dairy farmers from across the country are invited to participate in the NZ Dairy Business Conference, the 43rd annual event hosted by the New Zealand Large Herds Association and Altum.

Phil Butler, chairman of the Palmerston North team organising the event says it’s the program designed by farmers, for farmers that makes this event stand out.

“We address the topics that come up outside of the formal discussion groups, around the opportunities for progression and improvement, rather than the mechanics of cows and grass.  As the country’s biggest export earner, the dairy industry is vital to the New Zealand economy.  As participants in the industry, we need to ensure we are up with the play with research, technology and global trends, to help drive continued progress and improvement” says Phil. . .

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