Rural round-up

Is raw milk safe? Some pasteurisation facts. Why I won’t well Raw milk & what to look for in a raw milk supplier – Milking on the Moove:

Tragically a child in Australia has died as a result of drinking contaminated raw milk.

So the raw milk vs pasteurised milk debate begins again. The comments on this article from June this year show the diverse opinions.

I grew up drinking raw milk from the vat. We looked long and hard at selling raw milk. We looked at the issues and decided that raw milk was not for us. I’ll explain why.

Is raw milk safe or not? 

The quick answer is, it can be safe, but it can turn bad very quickly. . .

Silver Fern Farms profit unsatisfactory, but promises more to come – Fiona Rotherham:

Silver Fern Farms, New Zealand’s biggest meat processor and marketer, has returned to profit after two years of losses but admits it still needs to deliver more.

Net profit after tax was $500,000 in the year ended Sept. 30, a significant turnaround from the $28.6 million after tax loss the previous year while pre-tax profit was $1.8 million compared to a loss of $36.5 million in 2013, the Dunedin-based cooperative said in a statement.

Over the same period the company paid down $99 million in debt as part of a plan to reduce the company’s debt servicing costs. Total income was $2.32 billion, up from $2 billion the previous year while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation was $68.1 million, a nearly $46 million improvement on the 2013 financial year. . .

Silver Fern Farms release audited result just before Christmas – Allan Barber:

The delayed and much anticipated final result for Silver Fern Farms’ 2014 year has made it into the public arena in time for Christmas. Although it has squeaked in just above breakeven for the year at $1.8 million pre-tax and $0.5 million after tax, this is worse than the original guidance of $5-7 million announced at the end of October.

The difference is accounted for by a $3.3 million provision following a ruling by the Employment Relations Authority in relation to a technical redundancy arising from the closure of the Silverstream plant in 2013. From recollection SFF laid off staff on the basis of a seasonal shutdown, although at the time the company announced that it was unlikely to reopen unless stock numbers increased significantly.

The ERA’s ruling suggests this automatically implies a technical redundancy situation, whereas SFF believes not. The company has sensibly chosen (requested by the auditors?) to make the provision “while we consider our next steps over the coming month” according to chairman Rob Hewett. The time taken to reach this decision indicates the auditors must have refused to sign the accounts without this provision. . .

Year of contrasts for rural New Zealand:

It has been a year of contrasts for rural New Zealand, weather-wise and in other ways.

In Northland, for instance, while some farmers were emerging from drought, others were battling floods.

And dairy farmers saw record milk payments for the past season plunge from above eight dollars a kilo to below five dollars in a few short months.

Pondering on that is Waikato University’s professor of agribusiness, Jacqueline Rowarth.

“Hooray, hooray for good prices and then far more of a crash than actually was predicted by any of the analysts, though the banking ones were saying ‘watch out, we don’t think it’s going to be as good as you’re saying’, but of course they’re still saying that and there are some fairly dire predictions by the end of the year. . .

Rabobank Beef Quarterly Q4: Supplies remain tight amid robust consumer demand:

Rabobank’s Beef Quarterly Q4 reports that tight global cattle and beef supplies continued in Q4 2014, although prices tempered from their Q3 highs. The US remains the major global driver, with import demand affecting prices and volumes for other countries. A big question heading into 2015 with such a finely balanced market is—if Australian export rates decrease and herds in Mexico and Canada continue to be run down by the US—whether a new norm has been reached for prices or whether they still have room to rise.

“The US continues to be the driver in the global beef market with constrained supply and strong demand keeping prices high. A recent strengthening in the US economy and dollar will support continued imports to the US however we are watching a drop in the oil price and depreciation of the Russian Ruble given Russia’s status as the world’s largest beef importer”, explains Rabobank analyst Angus Gidley-Baird.  . .

Wine industry shows continued increasing profitability:

2014 financial benchmarking survey supports industry-wide optimism

The turnaround in the New Zealand wine industry has continued in 2014 on the back of improved profitability across wineries of all sizes, according to the ninth annual financial benchmarking survey released today by Deloitte and New Zealand Winegrowers.

Vintage 2014 tracks the financial results of wineries accounting for over 40% of the industry’s export sales revenue for the 2014 financial year. Survey respondents have been categorised into bands according to revenue to assist comparison within the industry.

Deloitte partner Peter Felstead says that for the first time since 2007, every category showed profitability before tax, ranging from 3.3% to 17.6%. . . .

New technology helps in fight against pests – Adrien Taylor:

A New Zealand inventor hopes to add drones to the fight against pests.

He won $25,000 to help turn his dream into reality and a trial of his Trap Minder system is taking place on Great Barrier Island this summer.

Scott Sambell and his dog Millie are finding that keeping Glenfern Sanctuary pest-free can be hard work.

The 240 hectare peninsula is cordoned off by a pest-proof fence to protect native wildlife, but that doesn’t stop a handful of unwanted predators making their way in every year. . .

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