365 days of gratitude

March 21, 2018

We were invited to the annual PPP Group conference but having spent 12 of the last 14 days on farm tours or getting to and from them we declined with regret.

Jamie Mackay on The Country has interviewed several of the presenters and attendees.

Among them was Zanda McDonald winner Thomas MacDonald whose accomplishments and enthusiasm are inspiring and I’m grateful for that.


Word of the day

March 21, 2018

Magari (Italian) – perhaps; maybe; if only; I wish in my dreams.


Thomas Macdonald wins Zanda McDonald Award

March 21, 2018

Thomas Macdonald is the 1918 winner of the Zanda McDonald Award:

Thomas Macdonald, 24 year old Business Manager of Waikato-based Spring Sheep Milk Company, and Sir Don Llewellyn scholar, has scooped the 2018 Zanda McDonald Award.

The award, regarded as a prestigious badge of honour by the agribusiness industry, recognises agriculture’s most innovative young professionals from Australia and New Zealand. It was launched in 2014 in memory of Australian beef industry leader Zanda McDonald, who died aged 41 after an accident at his Queensland property in 2013.

Now in its fourth year, the award is run by the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group – a network of over 150 of Australasia’s influential agri-business men and women, of which Zanda McDonald was a foundation member.

Thomas Macdonald was initially shortlisted with six other candidates, after the award attracted the largest number of applicants received so far.

Following interviews in Auckland in November, Macdonald was named as a finalist alongside fellow kiwi Lisa Kendall, 25 year old owner/operator of Nuture Farming Ltd and vice-chair of the Franklin Young Farmers Club, and Australian Janet Reddan 33, former agronomist now cattle producer from Roma, Queensland.

The award, sponsored by Allflex, Rabobank and Pilatus, was presented last night in Taupo at the annual PPP Conference. Macdonald receives a prize package valued at $50,000, which includes a trans-Tasman mentoring trip to farming operations and businesses, a place on one of Rabobank’s Business Management Programs and $1,000 cash prize. Macdonald will travel by a Pilatus PC-12 aircraft to parts of his Australian mentoring trip, enabling him to reach diverse and remote farming operations.

Mr Macdonald said he was thrilled to have been chosen, and is particularly excited about the opportunity to get direct access to the wealth of knowledge that exists within the PPP group’s membership.

“It’s a real privilege to win the 2018 award, and I’m humbled to be associated with Zanda’s name. I’m looking forward to spending time with some of agriculture’s top business professionals, and expanding my horizons and networks.

Shane McManaway, Chairman of the PPP Group, says: “Thomas is a remarkable young man. To have achieved as much as he has in 24 years is quite something, and a great credit to him. His intelligence, understanding of agriculture and big-picture thinking make him well placed as a future leader in our industry. I feel confident that Thomas will embrace the mentoring opportunities provided by winning the Zanda McDonald Award, and look forward to seeing his career progress”.

The award is named after Zanda MacDonald, a Queensland Farmer and founding member of the PPP Group who died in 2013.

In his honour the PPP group launched the Zanda McDonald Award. This award aims to recognise young people working in the primary industry sectors in New Zealand and Australia, and support their future career development. The total prize package is valued at $50,000.

Zanda was proud to be a farmer and worked tirelessly to encourage young people to work in the industry that he loved. As part of his role in the PPP group he led a number of initiatives to promote his industry to the next generation.

The inaugural was won by Emma Black from Queensland in 2015. Dean Rabbidge from Southland was the 2016 winner and Morgan Easton from North Otago won last year.


Rural round-up

March 21, 2018

New strain of calicivirus released on the Taieri – Elena McPhee:

An important moment for farming in the Taieri area occurred last night, when the Otago Regional Council released the new strain of rabbit-killing calicivirus.

Clad in overalls and armed with a bucketful of contaminated carrots, council environmental officer for biosecurity Kirk Robertson released the virus RHDV1 K5 in the hills near Outram.

He had nine other sites to visit, and across the wider Otago region a team of six or seven people had been laying poisoned carrots in about 100 locations. . .

Struggle to find enough homes for Kaimanawa horses – Alexa Cook:

More than 200 Kaimanawa horses could be sent to slaughter following this year’s muster.

This year is expected to be one of the largest wild horse culls on record, with about 300 animals being mustered from the Waiouru Military Training Area.

The muster is carried out every two years, organised by the Department of Conservation and Kaimanawa Heritage Horses. . . 

Rodeo rider’s success dedicated to mother – Sally Rae:

When Jenny Atkinson won her record sixth national barrel racing title this month, it was a poignant moment.

Mrs Atkinson (44) dedicated the win at the national rodeo finals to her mother, Ann, Ashford, who died in July last year.

And she was delighted to have her father, Ron, in the crowd at Wanaka to watch her ride to victory. . . 

Software softens blow of M. bovis hit:

Good farm records have helped to relieve a South Island farming business of some of the effects of getting through a Mycoplasma bovis infection, reports FarmIQ Systems Ltd, a software company.

MPI placed a restricted place notice on two properties owned by Lone Star Farms in mid-January because they had infected calves. Lone Star was among the first non-dairy businesses identified with the disease.

“We brought in about 400 calves for rearing — 200 of them from a Southland property later found to have M. Bovis,” says Lone Star general manager Boyd Macdonald. “So we know exactly how it’s got here.” . . 

Dairying not all bad tourism not all good – Alistair Frizzell:

Is it fair that the New Zealand dairy industry is criticised while tourism is lauded?

Overseas income from tourism is now claimed to exceed the dairy industry’s export income.

Dairy farmers are accused of polluting not only our waterways but now also our air as a result of burning farm waste. Tourism is said to be ‘clean and green’, rapidly growing and promoting the best of NZ to the rest of the world.

Like many glib statements, the truth is often more complicated. . .

More digital adoption could fuel rural business boom – Gordon Davidson:

GREATER DIGITAL adoption in rural areas could add £12 to £26 billion a year to the UK economy, according to a new report.

Research by Rural England and Scotland’s Rural College, commissioned by Amazon, concluded that greater use of digital tools and services could deliver 4 to 8.8% of additional Gross Value Added per year for the rural economy, as annual business turnover in rural areas grew by at least £15 billion, with rural microbusiness and small-sized business seeing the greatest returns. . . 


Was he pushed?

March 21, 2018

Fonterra has a strangely worded media release announcing it’s seeking a new CEO:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited (Fonterra) today announced that, as part of a planned CEO succession process, the Fonterra Board and its CEO Theo Spierings have agreed that Mr Spierings will leave his role later this year.

Fonterra says its Board and Mr Spierings had formally commenced succession discussions last year. As a result of that, the Fonterra Board initiated international searches in November last year to identify potential candidates and was now shortlisting candidates.

Fonterra Chairman John Wilson says the Board was taking the decision to bring forward the announcement, which the Board was expecting to make in April, to avoid speculation.

“It is not yet clear exactly when any appointment for Theo’s replacement will be made, but it is absolutely clear that Theo will continue in the meantime to drive the Co-operative’s strategy and business, with special emphasis on China.

“The Board and Theo are committed to a high-quality transition to a new CEO and when we have more information in regards to timing we will let our farmers and the wider market know. Until then it is business as usual with the focus on driving returns to our farmers and unitholders.

“We envisage that even after the announcement of our new CEO, Theo will be involved in an advisory role so that we make best use of his knowledge and expertise during the transition,” says Mr Wilson.

Mr Spierings says that he has been proud to have led Fonterra as CEO for seven years as the Co-operative has established a strong demand-led strategy and oriented itself to become innovative and sustainable.

“It is now time for a new CEO who can lead the Co-operative through this next phase. The time is right for the Co-operative and that is important to me and to the Board.

“It is also the right time for me personally. I look forward to new challenges, but right now my focus is on Fonterra. That will be the case until I finish with the Co-operative.”

The usual wording would be that a CEO was resigning and a replacement was being sought.

The convoluted wording makes it sound like he was pushed.

Whether or not he was, I hope that the new CEO brings a culture change with better communication, including a willingness to front the media.

Last week Duncan Garner on the AM Show complained that no-one from Fonterra would come on the show.

It’s the second time I’ve heard Garner make that complaint and I can’t understand why Fonterra wouldn’t take up the opportunity to tell its story.


Good news from Fonterra & Synlait

March 21, 2018

Fonterra has announced an increase in the forecast milk payout:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today increased its forecast Farmgate Milk Price for the 2017/18 season to $6.55 per kgMS and announced a full year forecast dividend range of 25 – 35 cents per share with an interim dividend of 10 cents per share.

Chairman John Wilson says the ongoing strong global demand for dairy and stable global supply are continuing to support global prices, particularly for the important Whole Milk Powder category.

“Farmers will welcome a forecast cash payout of $6.80 – $6.90, which would be the third highest in the last decade. This is also good news for New Zealand as it represents around $10 billion flowing into the country’s economy. However, we are very aware of the challenges many of our farmers are facing this season with difficult weather conditions impacting production.

“While the global supply and demand picture remains positive and we expect prices to stay around current levels, we will be watching for any impact on market sentiment as spring production volumes build in Europe,” he added.

New from China isn’t all good though.

Fonterra’s Greater China business continues to perform well overall but the Co-operative has re- assessed the value of its Beingmate investment so that it reflects a fair value at this point in time.

Commenting on this decision, Mr Wilson says the Board has assessed the carrying value of Beingmate at $244 million and therefore taken an impairment of $405 million. . . 

Synlait Milk has announced a record half-year profit:

Synlait Milk  has reported a half year net profit after tax (NPAT) of $40.7 million for the six months ending 31 January 2018.

This is compared to $10.6 million for the same period last year (H1 FY17).

Synlait’s Managing Director and CEO, John Penno, says the strong earnings growth of $30.1 million has been driven by increases in manufacture and sales of our highest margin products, as well as improved margins and earlier sales of our ingredients products.

“The growth trajectory of canned infant formula has continued with total consumer packaged volumes almost tripling from the same period last year and up 36% on the second half of last year,” he says.

“Our relationship with The a2 Milk Company™ continues to strengthen where we remain their exclusive manufacturer for the important Australia, New Zealand and China market.”

“We have also renegotiated our supply agreements with New Hope Nutritionals and with Bright Dairy, which provides for four-fold volume growth over a five-year period. However, we don’t expect this to impact sales until FY19,” he says.

In the six months to 31 January 2018, Synlait has invested $34.5 million in capital expenditure throughout New Zealand. The major components of this were the Synlait Auckland blending and canning facility ($11.2 million) the new wetmix kitchen at Synlait Dunsandel ($18.4 million). Synlait also established a new research and development centre in Palmerston North. . . 

This is good news for farmers and the wider economy.

The anti-dairying movement gets a lot of attention, much of it based on mis-information and emotion, but that doesn’t change the importance of the industry as a major export earner.

 


Minister shouldn’t mind business’s business

March 21, 2018

Air New Zealand chair Tony Carter has written to Minister of Finance Grant Robertson to reinforce the airline’s independence:

Mr Carter noted that the Crown’s shareholding in the publicly listed airline gives it equal rights to all other ordinary shareholders.

Mr Carter drew attention to recent examples where the Regional Economic Development Minister has publicly criticised Air New Zealand in relation to operational decisions regarding regional air services, while at the same time making reference to the Crown’s 51% shareholding.

“Any appearance of a lack of commercial independence is viewed seriously by the Air New Zealand Board and is ultimately potentially damaging to the interests of all shareholders, including the Crown.”

He was responding to criticism from Shane Jones over the ending of flights to and from Kapati:

Jones is encouraging mayoral leaders to approach the government with “solutions” and he wants to see a policy that ensures flight connectivity in the regions continues.

“The immediate solution lies with (Air NZ). They’ve taken a strategy to increase profit by downgrading provinces and you can’t tell me that they haven’t done that.”

He said former prime minister Sir John Key was on the Air NZ board and was in a position to “change the strategy and priorities”.

Air NZ should “put their money where their mouth is” when it comes to supporting provincial providers, Jones said.

“My whole phone has been clogged by our fellow Kiwis ringing with tales of woe from the provinces. I mean the sad thing is whilst they’re a brand promoting New Zealand to the rest of the world, in respect of servicing…it’s not good enough.”

Jones said regional NZ got better treatment from second-hand car dealers than Air NZ. . . 

National MP Nathan Guy who represents the Otaki electorate which includes the Kapati Coast, has launched a petition urging the airline to keep the flights.

As National’s regional economic development spokesman Paul Goldsmith says, that’s what local MPs do:

Obviously you’d expect the local member to be advocating vigorously for his local community. I’m just saying that every commercial industry needs to operate on commercial lines,” Goldsmith said.

“It’s up to Air NZ to deal with their arrangements. Parts of regional New Zealand should be well served by Air NZ and they have to work through whether particular regions stack up.

“I would hope, particularly in Kapiti, they’d think very carefully before they cut down in that area.”

A local MP in opposition has a lot more freedom than a Minister and Jones could do well to follow his opposition counterpart’s example in choosing his words carefully.

Majority public ownership doesn’t give the government the right to tell a company what to do.

Ministers must be very careful not to mind business’s business.

I have sympathy for Kapati people who are losing flights but Air NZ’s departure could open the door to a smaller airline which could provide a similar service.


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