Rural round-up

Fonterra plays down reports of Chinese officials destroying NZ milk powder – Paul McBeth:

Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, is playing down reports that China’s quarantine administration destroyed three different New Zealand brands of milk powder as being nothing out of the ordinary and part of a regular review.

No Fonterra product was involved.

The kiwi dollar shed half a US cent amid headlines the Chinese agency destroyed the New Zealand powder, just weeks after a global scare about traces of the DCD nitrate inhibiter being present in locally produced milk. Units in the Fonterra Shareholders Fund were unchanged at $7.13 today. . .

Agriculture course boosts school – David Bruce:

Waitaki Boys’ High School is returning to its roots with a major investment to boost its agricultural courses.

Rector Paul Jackson sees it as one of the keys to increasing the school roll.

”I want Waitaki Boys’ to again be a school of farming excellence,” he said.

The school last week began the first stage with an investment of about $60,000, virtually all raised through donations and in-kind contributions, to irrigate its farm – about 16ha of paddocks north and south of the school. . .

Green light for Wools of New Zealand as it reaches first threshold:

Wools of New Zealand announced today that it has achieved the minimum threshold of $5 million necessary to proceed with establishing a 100% strong wool grower-owned sales and marketing company.

Achieved one week ahead of the 25 February offer close, the company is now positioned to pursue its commercial, market pull strategy, putting Wools of New Zealand’s brands and market connections to work and further developing its technical and marketing capability for the benefit of its grower shareholders.

This milestone has been reached through the continued support of growers who recognise the need to invest beyond the farm gate. This includes investors in Wools of New Zealand who have converted some of their loans to the Wools of New Zealand Trust into shares in Wools of New Zealand, demonstrating their commitment and confidence in the proposition and their desire to see the company thrive under grower ownership. . .

Federated Farmers asks meat companies how parties can work together – Allan Barber:

Last week Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers’ Meat & Fibre chair, sent a letter to the chairmen and CEOs of the five major sheep meat processors and exporters. The letter asked them to suggest how the parties could work together for the good of the industry.

So far one company, AFFCO, has replied formally, but no doubt others will respond in due course. Maxwell sees this as an age of ‘collaborative governance’ in which farmers and meat companies must go forward together instead of fighting each other. She says there’s nothing to be gained by rattling the cage to no purpose and the intention of the letter is to start the conversation between the parties.

The last twelve months have been seriously stressful, if not disastrous for the meat industry. A year ago the companies were paying an unsustainable $8 a kilo slaughter weight or around $150 per lamb, but the market price and exchange rate combined had already sent this into serious loss making territory for the processors. Just how serious was confirmed by the published annual results from Alliance and Silver Fern Farms, although Blue Sky Meats’ result for the period ended 31 March gave a good indication. . .

Think before letting dogs breed – Anna Holland:

EIGHTEEN YEARS ago I retired from shepherding; I had been hitting my head against a brick wall for too many years. It had been a frustrating occupation met with much resistance. Slowly it is changing and now there are some very capable women being given the opportunity to work the land.

Since then I have tried my hand at other things. My passion for working dogs never waned and I still bred the odd litter of pups, and in the last few years I trained a number of young dogs to the point of being ready to join someone’s team. . .

Effluent results improving, but farmers could do better – NRC

Northland’s dairy farmers have received qualified praise for their increased compliance with farm dairy effluent resource standards but there’s still plenty of room for improvement, those doing the monitoring say.

The latest Northland Regional Council monitoring figures for the 2012/13 milking season show almost 80 percent of the region’s 978 dairy farms were either fully compliant with their resource consent conditions and or rules, or had only minor non-compliance.

Operations Director Tony Phipps says particularly pleasing for the council was a thirty percent drop in significant non-compliance, which fell to nearly 200 farms compared with close to 300 farms reported twelve months earlier.

He says in recent years many of the region’s farmers have invested heavily in improvements to their effluent disposal systems and it’s pleasing to see that outlay starting to pay off. . . .

Down to the wire at Waikato/Bay of Plenty regional final

Tim van de Molen is the second Grand Finalist in 2013 after he won the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Regional Final for the ANZ Young Farmer Contest on Saturday, February 16 in Hamilton at St Paul’s Collegiate School.

It was a very tight race throughout the competition, the final result came down to just one question.
Van de Molen had his work cut out for him narrowly taking the win by just two points ahead of competitor Dwayne Cowin. Josh Cozens and James Bryan were not far behind, placing third and fourth respectively. . .

Comvita flags 15% fall in FY profit on honey costs, supply shortages:

Comvita, which produces health products from manuka honey and olive leaves, expects a 15 percent fall in annual profit because of expensive honey, supply shortages and tough trading conditions in the UK and Australia.

The Te Puke-based company expects net profit of $7 million in the year ending March 31, down from $8.2 million a year earlier which it had been expecting to beat, Comvita said in a statement.

Sales are forecast to rise 4 percent to about $100 million. The profit warning comes after increases in wholesale honey prices of up to 50 percent, and weak consumer confidence in Australia and the UK, which made it hard to pass on rising costs. . .

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