Rural round-up

Officials crack down on dairy farmers for breaching employment obligations – Gerard Hutching:

Officials have discovered that half of the 28 dairy farms they visited in the last two months in Waikato were in breach of their employment obligations and have fined some farmers $2000 each.

The Labour Inspectorate has promised a nationwide crackdown on employers who fail to keep written employment agreements or time records. Maximum fines can reach $20,000 for serious breaches.

Federated Farmers dairy spokesman Andrew Hoggard said he could not defend the farmers.

“There are no excuses. Employment agreements have been around since 1991 so they can’t say they don’t know,” Hoggard  said. . .

Tenacity and vision mark tenure – Guy Williams:

One of Queenstown’s most respected community servants has hung up his chainsaw. Peter Willsman, the driving force behind the region’s ground-breaking wilding tree control group, has stepped down as co-chairman. Queenstown reporter Guy Williams asks him why, and looks at his legacy.

Wilding trees throughout the Wakatipu — and probably in the rest of the country as well — may well be standing a little taller this week.

That is because one of their biggest scourges, Peter Willsman, has called time on his leadership role in the Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group (WCG).

Co-chairman since the group’s formation in 2009, he announced his resignation at its annual “reporting night” last week. . . 

100 farmers dump milk following silo collapse – Vaughan Elder:

About 100 farmers in Otago and Southland were forced to dump milk over the weekend in  the aftermath of the milk silo collapse at Fonterra’s Edendale site.

Fonterra has called in engineers from around New Zealand and the world to try to get the plant fully operational again after the silo collapsed  on Friday, bringing down an overhead gantry carrying large steam pipes.

Neighbours reported hearing a  loud boom about 1.50pm, followed by the  sound of steam escaping from the ruptured pipes, a noise which continued for about 30 minutes.

One said it sounded like a Boeing 747 flying low overhead. . . 

Farm trends shut yards – Neal Wallace:

The South Island’s largest sale yards at Temuka in South Canterbury are benefiting from competitors closing but could not take anything for granted, Temuka Saleyards Company chairman Ian Bowan says.  

The company has spent more than $100,000 on electronic ear tag readers and was planning a new effluent disposal system.  “We’ve kept up with everything. We haven’t got behind,” he said.  

News the Tinwald yards in Ashburton would close later this year confirmed a trend of consolidation of sale yards around the country, some closing and others holding fewer sales.  

Closures in recent years included Cromwell, Matamau near Dannevirke and Studholme and Holme Station in South Canterbury. . . 

Synlait’s Profit Triples in Fy16, Launches Next Growth Phase:

Synlait’s reported net profit after tax (NPAT) has more than tripled to $34.4 million for the financial year ending 31 July 2016.

Driven by an almost fourfold increase in canned infant formula volumes and growth in powder and cream product volumes, the positive result has also set the foundation for Synlait’s next phase of growth.

“Synlait is a growth company. Our FY16 performance highlights the progress we’ve made since our IPO in 2013 towards our aspiration of making more from milk,” said Chairman Graeme Milne.

“We are continuing this momentum with an accelerated pro-rata entitlement offer to eligible shareholders[1] to raise approximately $98 million in support of our next growth phase. Investing in further capital projects to expand our capability and capacity will put us in a strong position to pursue customer, product and market development opportunities in the coming years,” said Mr Milne. . . 

Quality can sell grain – Annette Scott:

New Zealand grains are in a league of their own and should be marketed as such, industry leaders say.  

Heavy reliance on the dairy industry had affected arable growers’ returns so they suggested other principle markets should be explored.  Market trends, challenges and opportunities were the focus of a grains forum held in Canterbury on Thursday.  

Facilitated by the Grain and Seed Trade Association (GSTA) in conjunction with the Foundation for Arable Research and Federated Farmers, the forum stimulated thinking around plans for future action in the grains sector. . . 

Prices keep heads shaking – Hugh Stringleman:

Keen demand for young cattle for restocking will centre on sale yard prices for 100kg weaners from the end of the month, AgriHQ livestock market analyst Rachel Agnew says.  

The weaner market was expected to open with prices well over $4/kg liveweight, probably $4.50 to $4.80.  

“Inquiry levels are starting to build up and the first weaner calves are an eagerly anticipated part of the annual cattle cycle,” she said.  

Buying weaners was a way of stocking up with the lowest financial outlay. . . 

Computing giant includes rural secondary schools in “vision’ competition:

HP New Zealand (HP NZ) is asking rural students to share their vision of how they think they will learn in the future to be in the running to win a share of $26,000 worth of HP products and support.

The HP Rural Schools Competition, in its third year, gives rural New Zealand primary schools – and for the first time this year – secondary schools, the chance to win HP technology and support best suited to the school’s needs. Entries are open now. . . 

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