Rural round-up

Reserve Bank watching farming sector after drought adds more stress –  Paul McBeth:

The Reserve Bank is “carefully monitoring” an already highly indebted agriculture sector after the recent drought in the North Island is likely to more strain on already stretched balance sheets.

The central bank has previously flagged concerns about the high level of indebtedness among farmers and its dairy concentration, and warns the recent drought could “expose financial vulnerabilities” across the sector, according to its six-monthly financial stability report.

“Parts of the agriculture sector in particular remain quite leveraged, and progress in reducing debt loads in recent years has been fairly limited,” the bank said. “For these reasons, the Reserve Bank will be carefully monitoring developments in these markets for signs that systemic risks are increasing.” . . .

$15 Million Investment In Lactoferrin Production For Infant Formula:

Synlait Milk is investing $15 million to upgrade its Special Milks Drier at Dunsandel as it looks to further tap into the $15 billion a year demand for infant formula in China.

The investment will enable Synlait Milk to become one of only two manufacturers in the world to produce lactoferrin as a spray dried powder, and will also allow the Company to manufacture dairy ingredients to a pharmaceutical standard.

Lactoferrin is a bioactive protein extracted from milk that provides significant antibacterial protection and other health benefits for people of all ages. It is in demand globally for health foods including infant formula and adult nutritional powders. With the new capability, Synlait Milk expects production to reach 18 metric tonnes within four years of commissioning in late 2013 to early 2014. . .

Benje Patterson finds that pasture-raised Kiwi cows are highly productive specimens living in a sweet spot:

When we talk about the dairy industry in New Zealand, we tend to focus on how farmers are going, however, we rarely stop to think about the plight of the cows they milk.

Over the past decade, these dairy cows have become increasingly indebted and the number of other cows they are forced to share paddocks with has also increased.

This article examines how dairy cows have responded to these conditions, and if their underlying financial positions compensate them for all of their hard work. . .

Telford open day:

About 70 southern dairy farmers will hear the first year results of an industry research project at the Telford Farm Training Institute open day on Wednesday.

Dairy NZ senior scientist Dr Dawn Dalley said three different approaches to farming cows over winter are being trialled to help farmers maximise their performance and minimise their environmental impacts.

She said one approach uses a largely traditional method while the second introduces several innovative measures, including calving the herd two weeks later so the cows return to more pasture cover, reducing the need for supplementary feed. . .

Meat Industry Excellence Gisborne & Te Kuiti meetings:

Following the enormous success of its Feilding meeting, Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) is holding additional meetings in Te Kuiti and Gisborne next week.

“As both Gisborne and Te Kuiti are major sheep producing areas, it is important that they be given the opportunity to be part of the meat industry’s change process,” says John McCarthy, MIE Executive Member.

“The MIE initiative is based around the premise that the industry model is broken.

“The ‘Boom and Bust’ model is not serving any of its participants well and needs serious attention if sheep and sheep farmers are to have a future. . .

Meat farm environmental impact steady – research:

New research suggests the environmental impact of sheep and beef farming in New Zealand has remained steady over the past 20 years despite a big increase in productivity.

AgResearch scientist Dr Alec MacKay has compared sheep and beef farm inputs – livestock and fertiliser – with the outputs of meat, greenhouse gases and nutrients.

Dr MacKay said he found huge eco-efficiency gains. . .

Vintage 2013 Keeps Marlborough Winemakers on Toes:

• Cooler Nights Ensure Aromatic Expression
• Pinot Noir Described as “Sensational”

Marlborough winemakers were kept on their toes, during what has been described as one of the most “intense” vintages ever experienced in the region. However no one is complaining about the quality of the fruit harvested in 2013.

After last year’s lower than average yields, Marlborough benefited from more ideal flowering conditions in December. While there has been some variability throughout the region, crop levels are described as being nearer to average this year – which will help to overcome the shortage of wine experienced in 2012.

The drought that impacted on most of the country, did not affect Marlborough. Instead timely rain events allowed the vines to stay healthy, without the fruit suffering disease pressure. . .

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