Rural round-up

Falling NZ lamb numbers may not bolster prices – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – An expected decline in New Zealand’s lamb numbers this season to the lowest level in more than 60 years may not bolster prices amid uncertainty in key markets and as the higher kiwi dollar depresses local returns.

The country’s lamb crop is expected to drop for a second consecutive year this spring, slipping 2.9 percent to 23.3 million, which would make it the lowest lamb volume since the early 1950’s, according to the Economic Service of farmer-owned industry organisation Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

New Zealand lamb prices have firmed at the farmgate, at saleyards and in overseas markets in response to lower supply, according to AgriHQ’s latest monthly data for July. . . 

Cost of dairy products continue to fall:

Food prices decreased 1.3 percent in the year to July 2016, Statistics New Zealand said today. This follows a decrease of 0.5 percent in the year to June 2016.

Grocery food prices decreased 2.9 percent in the year, influenced by all the main dairy products decreasing in price:

  • cheese (down 11 percent)
  • fresh milk (down 3.2 percent)
  • yoghurt (down 9.7 percent) 
  • butter (down 11 percent).

“The price of cheese has continued to fall in the year to July 2016, to its lowest price since October 2009,” consumer prices manager Matt Haigh said. “The average price of a kilo block of the cheapest available mild cheddar cheese was $7.39 in July 2016, down from $9.07 in July 2015.”  . . 

Arable Industry Fares Well After Drought Like Conditions:

The 2016 arable harvest has fared well despite challenges, according to survey results released by the Arable Industry Marketing Initiative.

Federated Farmers arable vice-chairperson grains Brian Leadley says drought like conditions leading into harvest had many farmers concerned with how and what yields may look like this season.

“Survey figures show that while yields were slightly down in places, there were still some exceptional yielding crops.

“Feed wheat yields (343,700 tonnes) were up 7 percent on last season with 70 percent sold so far; sales are well ahead on previous years,” says Mr Leadley. . . 

 

Financial sting from honey bee loss:

New Zealand agriculture stands to lose $295-728 million annually if the local honeybee population continues to decline, according to a new study into the economic consequences of a decline in pollination rates.

One of the co-authors of the study, Lincoln University Professor Stephen Wratten of the Bio-Protection Research Centre, says it is well known that a global decline in the populations of insect pollinators poses a major threat to food and nutritional security. “We’ve lost most of our wild bees in New Zealand to varroa mite, and cultivated bees are becoming resistant to varroa pesticides. Functioning beehives are becoming increasingly expensive for farmers to rent.

We know the decline in bee populations is going to have a major impact on our economy, but we wanted to measure the impact.”   Previous methods of estimating the economic value of pollination have focused on desktop calculations around the value of crops and the dependency of those crops on pollinators. Professor Wratten says the experimental manipulation of pollination rates is a more direct estimation of the economic value of pollination, or ecosystem services (ES). . . 

Funding for Uawa River, estuary clean-up:

 Gisborne’s Uawa River and estuary will get a clean-up with funding of $500,000 from the Te Mana o Te Wai fund, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox announced today.

“The Government is committed to working with local communities, councils and iwi to improve water quality in our waterways. This funding will support fencing, planting, pest control and sustainable farm management practices in the Uawa catchment so as to improve water quality in the river and estuary,” Dr Smith says.

“This two-year, $575,000 project involves a partnership with local iwi, Tolaga Bay Area School, Massey University, the Gisborne District Council and the Allan Wilson Centre. The focus is not only on improving water quality but also on restoring whitebait spawning grounds and using the project for environmental and science education. . . 

  Cardrona Chondola a Game Changer for NZ Ski Industry:

Cardrona Alpine Resort are changing the game for the New Zealand ski industry – installing a $10million combined lift of gondola cabins and chairs in time for the 2017 winter season. The new McDougall’s Express Chondola will be the first cabin-style lift on a ski area in New Zealand, replacing the existing McDougall’s Quad chairlift.

The current McDougall’s fixed-grip quad was installed in 1985, and has been a Cardrona stalwart ever since. The lift is the main access point to all the Cardrona beginner terrain, and runs slowly to load and unload first-time chairlift users safely.

The goal for a new McDougall’s lift is to make it an access lift for the whole mountain and all of Cardrona’s visitors, not just beginners. . . 

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