Rural round-up

March 8, 2016

Embrace change Ballance CEO says – Sally Rae:

Agriculture has to ‘‘sell itself to New Zealand”.

That is the strong belief of Ballance Agri-Nutrients chief executive Mark Wynne, who cited a generation of people with no rural connections.

The sector – which was the foundation of New Zealand’s wealth – had to keep promoting its good stories, he said. . . 

$2m fertiliser plant opens near Timaru – Sally Rae:

More than $2million has been invested at Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ Washdyke site with the official opening of a specialist PhaSedN fertiliser manufacturing plant.

Timaru Mayor Damon Odey and Ballance chief executive Mark Wynne attended the opening, along with local farmers.

The plant was developed in partnership with Te Poi Manufacturing Ltd. It was expected to initially produce about 10,000 tonnes annually with capacity to build production as demand grew. . .

Landcorp to scale back Wairakei dairy conversion – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Landcorp Farming, the state-owned farmer, confirmed it will scale back the conversion of former forestry land to dairy farming on leased land at the Wairakei Estate north of Taupo following a slump in milk prices and concern about the environmental impact.

New Zealand’s largest corporate farmer “will significantly reduce dairy’s footprint from the original plans and instead include alternative uses for the 14,500 hectares of former forestry land it leases from Wairakei Pastoral,” the Wellington-based company said in a statement.

Landcorp has a 40-year lease to develop and farm the former forestry land, and since 2004 has developed 13 dairy farms with 17,000 cows over 6,400 hectares of the property. A new land-use model will see the eventual number of dairy farms and cows on the Wairakei Estate significantly reduced from the 39 originally planned, it said today. . . 

Industry group well advanced on bobby calf initiatives:

The eight organisations that formed a Bobby Calf Action Group at the end of 2015 are well advanced on a range of initiatives ensuring best practice handling and management of bobby calves.

The group is DairyNZ, Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand, Meat Industry Association, Federated Farmers, New Zealand Petfood Manufacturers Association, Road Transport Forum, New Zealand Veterinary Association and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Scott Gallacher, MPI Deputy Director General Regulation and Assurance, said a number of the initiatives being worked on were new, other initiatives were already underway but were being accelerated. . . 

Seeka commits to a new HQ and major infrastructure development to handle growing kiwifruit processing demand:

Seeka Kiwifruit Industries (NZX-SEK) will move into its new headquarters in Te Puke by the middle of this year and plans to make it a centre of excellence for its produce and grower-focused business, says Chief Executive Michael Franks.

“Our new HQ will reflect our focus on the crops we and our growers produce, and the harvest and post-harvest value chain,” said Mr Franks.

The move is part of this year’s planned capital expenditure of $20 million to develop new infrastructure to handle increasing kiwifruit volumes. . . 

Manawatu Dairy Awards Winners Look for New Opportunities:

The 2016 Manawatu Dairy Industry Awards big winner, Stephen Shailer, is on the hunt for a new dairy farm position and hopes his win will help his progress.

Mr Shailer won the 2016 Manawatu Share Farmer of the Year title and $10,450 in prizes at the region’s awards dinner held at Awapuni Racecourse last night. The other major winners were Renae Flett, the 2016 Manawatu Dairy Manager of the Year, and Karl Wood, the 2016 Manawatu Dairy Trainee of the Year.

“We entered the awards for the first time this year as we are hoping to move to a 50:50 sharemilking position or lease farm, so we entered in an effort to make our CV stand out a bit more,” Mr Shailer says. “We also wanted to push ourselves to identify our own strong and weak points.” . . .


Quote of the day

January 20, 2016

Since we humans have the better brain, isn’t it our responsibility to protect our fellow creatures from, oddly enough, ourselves? Joy Adamson who was born on this day in 1910.


No tolerance for animal welfare abuse

December 5, 2015

Seven groups in the dairy, meat and other industries together to ensure ill-treatment of bobby calves won’t happen again.

The industry groups have joined with the Ministry for Primary Industries to “eradicate” bobby calves being mistreated and ensure animal welfare codes were being followed.

The groups are DairyNZ, the Meat Industry Association, Federated Farmers, the Road Transport Forum, the New Zealand Petfood Manufacturers Association, the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand, the New Zealand Veterinary Association. . . 

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said there has been a lot of talk over the last few days and the dairy industry was now focused on its next steps.

“Resolving these issues will depend, not on words, but on actions. We are committed to working with everyone in the supply chain to ensure bobby calves are well cared for.” . . 

Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie said the meat industry and the dairy industry was undertaking a systematic review from farm to processor to identify any opportunities for improvement and this would be completed before the next bobby calf season.

New Zealand Petfood Manufacturers Association chief executive Richard Brake said strong codes were in place for the treatment of bobby calves on the farm and during transport and in processing.

“The vast majority of New Zealand’s dairy farmers, transport operators and processors uphold and, in many cases, exceed these world-class codes,” said Brake. “We want everybody to uphold them.  That’s what we will all be working on.” . . .

The law is there and it’s clear – there is no tolerance for ill-treatment of animals and everyone in the supply chain must adhere to the high standards the law requires.


Rural round-up

December 4, 2015

Moving stock to cope with dry conditions:

Canterbury and other parts of the country are continuing to struggle with dry conditions. The need to offload stock, particularly store lambs from farms is intensifying and it may be necessary to get large numbers of lambs to the North Island to help ease the pressure.

Federated Farmers are trying to get a handle on the numbers we may have to deal with and if there are farmers in other parts of the country with surplus feed who may be interested in taking on lambs to finish. . . 

Katie Milne reflects on her role before new Dairy Woman of the Year nominations open:

Dairy Women’s Network will be taking nominations for the 2016 Dairy Woman of the Year Award from 1 February until 11 March 2016.

Sponsored by Fonterra, the Dairy Woman of the Year award recognises an outstanding woman who has significantly contributed to the dairy industry with passion, drive, innovation and leadership.

The Dairy Woman of the Year is announced annually at the national Dairy Women’s Network conference, which in 2016 is being held on 4-5 May in Hamilton.

Current Dairy Woman of the Year Katie Milne attributes her recent win in the rural category of the New Zealand Women of Influence Awards to her Dairy Woman of the Year title, along with her role as Federated Farmers national board member. . . 

Dairy Awards Receives 452 Entries:

A total of 452 entries have been received in the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, a pleasing result given the economic climate in the industry.

The awards have also undergone significant change for the 2016 awards programme, with entry criteria changing for all three competitions resulting in two of the competitions sporting new names.

“Given this we are really happy with the result and we are pleased with the balance of entries across the three competitions,” General Manager Chris Keeping says. . . 

Ngāi Tahu Holdings confirms new joint venture:

Ngāi Tahu Holdings Board Chairman Trevor Burt is pleased to announce a new joint venture with the family-owned company, Watson & Son, one of New Zealand’s largest mānuka honey producers.

Ngāi Tahu will own 50% of Wairarapa-basedv which focuses on the production and distribution of premium mānuka honey products; and 50% of ManukaMed, a related company focused on the medical applications of mānuka honey. . . 

Notice of hearing for herbicide with two new active ingredients:

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) advises a hearing is scheduled for an application to import for release the herbicide GF-2687. This herbicide contains two active ingredients that are new to New Zealand, halauxifen methyl and florasulam. It is intended to be used for the control of broadleaf weeds in cereal crops, including wheat and barley.

The application from Dow AgroSciences (NZ) Ltd is for a wettable granule herbicide containing two ingredients that have not previously been approved under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act and which are not components in any approved formulations. The submission period was from 8 June 2015 to 20 July 2015. . . 

Elite Ram and Ewe Sale Results:

The Canterbury A&P Association Elite Ram and Ewe Sale, held Friday 27 November, attracted a quality line up, with 231 Rams and 11 Ewes entered into the sale. With 144 rams selling, the average sale price was $1861 and $250 for ewes with 6 selling; total sales of $269,500 were recorded.

The highest price was reached by a Clifton Downs Southdown Ram (Chris Medlicott, Waimate), selling for $16,000.

Other top prices were as follows: Corriedale – $2900 (Wattlebank, GR and RW Wilson, West Melton); Hampshire – $3100 (Blue View, Gudex Family, Ashburton); Romney – $2400 (Gatton Park, DA & SJ Wyllie, Ashburton); Poll Dorset – $2000 (Brooklands, A&P McIlraith, Leeston); Border Leicester – $4000 (Hermiston, GJ Letham, Ashburton); Texel – $4000 (Hemingford, SEJ & V Holland, Culverden); South Suffolk – $4200 (Inver, SJ Sinclair, Ashburton); Suffolk – $6700 (Stoneylea, AW & JH Adams, Christchurch). . . 

Ceres Organics Addresses Californian Drought Impacts on Almond Crops:

NZ organics company Ceres Organics is spearheading action to diversify the world’s organic almond supply and take pressure off Californian almond growers, in response to one of the most severe droughts in California’s history.

Currently, California provides 80 per cent of the world’s almonds and with the drought affecting supply, the price of almonds has risen 40 per cent globally. Ceres Organics is one of the biggest suppliers of organic products across Australasia with around 400 products in the range and at least 40 of these contain organic almonds.

Managing Director of Ceres Organics Noel Josephson said the drought in California highlighted the issues associated with having mono-crops and the need for global crop-diversification. . . 

Wool Generally Steady

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s C.E.O, Mr John Dawson reports that the more versatile and stylish South Island selection on offer this week saw most types well supported, despite a slightly firmer New Zealand dollar.

Compared to the last sale on 26th November the indicator for the main trading currencies was up 1.05 percent only having minimal impact in some quarters.

Mr Dawson advises that compared to the last time sold on 19th November, Merino Fleece 20.5 microns and finer were firm to 1.5 percent easier with 21 to 23.5 microns 1 to 3 percent dearer. . . 

Narrabri mega train rolls into the record books – Mike Foley:

BIG train, big gain: That’s the aim for the longest grain train to haul wheat to port in Australia.

The train, rivalling the coal industry’s heaviest efforts, hauled out of Narrabri this morning and unloads at Newcastle Agri Terminal (NAT) tonight, its cargo bound for South East Asia.

Longer trains deliver bigger loads and squeeze more value from the scant rail slots available on the coal-laden Hunter Valley line.

The massive train – which is 1.3 kilometres long – is snaking across the North West farming districts and over the Great Dividing Range to port. . . 

NZ Farming's photo.

Proud to be a farmer supporting animal welfare.


Rural round-up

November 30, 2015

Climate change: Call to recognise farmers’ efforts – Anders Crofoot:

The Paris climate change meeting represents an opportunity for the world to agree the terms for the next global effort to reduce emissions.

Negotiations have continued for a number of years and, with the Kyoto Protocol having effectively lapsed at the end of 2012, farmers are hopeful of an agreement which better recognises the services we provide civil society.

For better or worse, the Kyoto Protocol bundled biological emissions from food production together with fossil fuel emissions from industry, energy and transport. With agricultural emissions representing a relatively minor proportion of national emissions among most countries, the focus naturally remains on other sources. . . 

Season has contrasting impact on Silver Fern Farms and Alliance – Allan Barber:

The two biggest meat processors had contrasting experiences during the 2015 season to judge by their annual results and accompanying comments. There is no doubt Silver Fern Farms found life easier than Alliance, with respect to the year in question. SFF must also have heaved an enormous sigh of relief after its improvement from the previous three years.

The bare facts of the differing results are NPAT of $24.9 million and dramatically reduced debt for SFF and $4.6 million NPAT for Alliance accompanied by a marginal reduction in equity ratio. Alliance’s performance was slightly worse than 2014, disappointing as chairman Murray Taggart agreed, whereas SFF’s result was a massive improvement on the previous year. Neither result represented a satisfactory return on assets, but signs for the future are positive. . . 

Federated Farmers signs Land & Water Forum Report but with conditions attached:

Federated Farmers has today added its name to the signatories of the fourth report of the Land & Water Forum after receiving the conditional support of its National Council.

The National Council, meeting in Wellington over 26 and 27 November, comprises the presidents of Federated Farmers’ 24 provinces, its National Board and representatives of its seven industry groups.

“Federated Farmers has been deeply involved in and committed to the Land & Water Forum since its formation in 2009, playing an active role in the development of this and the previous three forum reports,” says Federated Farmers Water spokesperson Chris Allen. . . 

Farm gate milk price won’t recover until mid-2016 – Westland:

Westland Milk Products believes the farm gate milk price will not recover until the middle of next year because overseas buyers have already reacted to predictions of falling production and drought.

Chief executive Rod Quin said the brief upward spike in prices at the Global Dairy Trade auction six weeks ago was overseas buyers moving to secure supply.

Westland Milk Products, which has about 500 shareholders, held its AGM this week and Mr Quin said the payout forecast remained around $4.90 to the early five dollar mark, which was less than farmers needed to break even.

He said that was unlikely to change because it looked like there would be more pressure on prices in the next couple of months. . . 

Silver Fern Farms paid former CEO Keith Cooper more than $1.8M in 2015 – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Silver Fern Farms, New Zealand’s largest meat processor, paid former chief executive Keith Cooper more than $1.8 million last financial year, reflecting his long service with the company.

Cooper, who joined the cooperative in 1989 and was chief executive for eight years, was paid between $1.84 million and $1.85 million in the company’s 2015 financial year ended Sept. 30, Silver Fern Farms said in its annual report, where it is required to detail the number of employees that it paid $100,000 or more.

“The payments made to him reflect a combination of base salary for a period, a short-term incentive related to the prior year, a retention incentive that related to prior and future years, annual and long-service leave as well as a payment that reflected his significant contribution to the company over the prior 18 years, the most recent eight as chief executive,” the Dunedin-based company said. . . 

 

NZ Farming's photo.

 

 


Aberrant and abhorrent

November 30, 2015

Cows like all other mammals have to deliver a baby before they start lactating.

If animals are farmed to produce milk their offspring, be they calves, lambs or kids, are a by-product.

Dairy farms here usually keep most of their heifer calves to raise as replacements or for later sale.

Some might raise some bull calves for beef but most are sold to others to raise or sent for slaughter as bobby calves.

Normal practice is to treat all animals well and make the process from birth to death as fast and humane as possible for the calves.

The mistreatment of calves  shown on Sunday last night is not normal practice.

It is aberrant, abhorrent and appeared to be illegal.

No-one is trying to excuse it.

The Ministry for Primary Industries is investigating and DairyNZ, Federated Farmers and the New Zealand have condemned it:

Dairy industry bodies say they are appalled at the bobby care practices revealed in video footage recorded by animal rights group Farmwatch and released as part of a SAFE public campaign launched against dairy farming.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says cruel and illegal practices are in no way condoned or accepted by the industry as part of dairy farming.

“We are shocked and farmers are too,” he says. “We will be asking questions of everyone involved. Farmers don’t see what goes on when calves leave their farm and we need to be holding the transport operators and processing plants to account to ensure bad practices get stamped out of our industry.

“Our surveys show that 95 percent of farmers are compliant with all animal welfare codes and they take great care of their animals including calves. We obviously want to see that even higher because the dairy industry takes its animal welfare responsibilities seriously and we are committed to farming to high standards,” he says.

“There is a range of industry initiatives already in place and we will be boosting our actions with other groups to ensure the care of calves.”

Federated Farmers’ dairy section chair, Andrew Hoggard says “farmers have to farm within strict animal welfare rules and the vast majority care for their animals humanely and responsibly”.

He says the footage released by SAFE and Farmwatch includes some appalling behaviour, by a minority of farmers but also by transport companies and slaughterhouse workers. “This is something we and the industry will not tolerate.

“Federated Farmers strongly, and each season, reinforces to its members that the highest standards of animal welfare must apply when dealing with all calves. The federation will also put resources behind any industry initiatives to review the handling, transport and processing of bobby calves,” says Mr Hoggard. 

Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand executive director Kimberly Crewther says that compliance with the New Zealand codes of welfare is important to dairy companies.

“These codes are internationally recognised as robust.  Where there are breaches we fully support and expect Ministry for Primary Industries’ compliance action,” she says.

This abuse of animals is an indictment on the perpetrators, it should not be taken as a reflection on the whole industry in which most people in the production chain strive for, and achieve, high standards of practice with animal welfare a priority.

UPDATE:

Fonterra says any mistreatment of animals is completely unacceptable to the company and its farmers:

Fonterra has seen the upsetting footage of bobby calves being ill treated provided by SAFE NZ, the subject of this week’s Sunday show on TVNZ.

Any mistreatment of animals is completely unacceptable to Fonterra and our farmers.

Immediate action

We’re taking immediate steps to deal with it alongside the rest of the New Zealand dairy industry:

  • We’ve requested a meeting with SAFE, and will let them know that we share their concern for the treatment of animals, and to seek further information from them on the footage
  • We’re in contact with representatives from the meat industry to discuss what we have seen in the footage to express to them our concerns around the treatment of bobby calves

Animal welfare is our priority

While bobby calves will always be part of the dairy industry, they must be treated with care and respect. Behaviour in this footage in no way represents the vast majority of New Zealand farmers who care about their animals.

As a Co-operative we take a hard line on animal welfare. We’re investigating this and will be taking strong action if any of our people were involved.

Five Freedoms

We work proactively with our farmers to embed best practice and uphold the Five Freedoms:

  • Freedom from hunger or thirst
  • Freedom from discomfort
  • Freedom from pain, injury or disease
  • Freedom to express normal behaviour
  • Freedom from fear and distress through conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering

Responsible dairying

Fonterra is absolutely committed to responsible dairying. We work with our farmers to ensure they maintain the highest standards of animal welfare and they have a strong track record when it comes to on-farm animal welfare practices.

We audit farms annually and have strict controls in place in any instance where these Five Freedoms are not being observed.

Working together with the dairy industry

This includes working with industry representative bodies like Dairy NZ and MPI to support our farmers and ensure best practice is observed on-farm.

We want to let our customers and consumers know that we are taking action to ensure these practices do not happen on Fonterra farms and will be front-footing this issue with other primary industries.


No excuse for cruelty, deliberate discharge

August 5, 2015

Don’t click on this link if you’re going to be upset by details of ill treatment of animals:

. . .  Michael James Whitelock pleaded guilty in Greymouth District Court on Monday to 12 charges, including ill treatment of animals, unlawful possession of firearms and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

He was bailed to his home in Timaru until sentencing on October 7.

Whitelock was the dairy manager for a Landcorp farm near Westport from July 2012 until his suspension in September 2013. A Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) investigation began that month after a Landcorp manager arranged for a vet to examine the herd.  . .

There is no excuse for cruelty to animals.

People who can’t treat animals with the care and respect they deserve shouldn’t even contemplate working on a farm.

Nor is there any excuse for this:

A dairy farmer has been fined almost $73,000 for deliberately discharging effluent into his drains which then flowed into the Coromandel Peninsula’s Tairua River.

The 11 years of illegal discharges is “quite staggering”, the Waikato Regional Council says. . .

Accidents could happen on the best of farms. Deliberate discharges might still occur in third world countries but they should not happen here.

 


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