Rural round-up

July 25, 2016

Future grim if deal off – Neal Wallace and Alan Williams:

A grim economic future has been painted by Silver Fern Farms directors should the meat company not complete its merger with Shanghai Maling.  

In notice of meeting documentation being sent to shareholders, chairman Rob Hewett said banks twice last year warned the co-operative they would not “under any circumstances” provide ongoing finance unless shareholders approved a new injection of capital.

Hewett said in an interview that nothing had changed since those warnings were issued in May and June last year. . . 

Market-ready lamb set for China:

Alliance Group has launched a new range of market-ready retail packs to China.

The co-branded lamb products will begin being sold in China’s retail and food service sectors next month in conjunction with the co-op’s in-market partner Grand Farm.

The initial focus of the programme will be on the upper end of the Chinese market with five regions, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Harbin, being targeted. . .

Turning effluent into electricity – Allison Beckham:

Southland cows are good at producing milk, and now it has been proven they are also good at producing another useful staple – electricity.

After two years of planning and design, a pilot plant producing electricity from dairy effluent methane is about to be commissioned on a Southland dairy farm.

The system is expected to generate about 50kW of electricity annually, enough to power about 75% of the farm’s electricity needs and equivalent to the requirements of about 10 urban households. . . 

Minister clarifies China trade issue:

Trade Minister Todd McClay has today reiterated that the Government has sought and received assurances from the Chinese Government that any competition issues would not impact on trade between the two countries.

Mr McClay is responding to reports that retaliatory action could be imposed if an investigation is launched into allegations of steel dumping.

“On my return from Indonesia I asked my office for a full review of the broader issues around this matter.

“I want to make it clear today that there have been discussions and limited correspondence over the past few months as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has endeavoured to assess the veracity of these reports. . . 

New PGP harvest technology targets safety:

New forest harvesting technology revealed today in Nelson sets its sights on further increasing safety in steep land harvesting operations, Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew says.

The new ‘tele-operation’ technology provides out-of-harm’s way operation of a purpose-built tracked feller-buncher forest harvester, from the safety of a separate operator cabin and console.

The breakthrough is part of Steepland Harvesting, a 6-year, $6 million Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and a consortium of forestry companies and contractors, led by Future Forests Research Ltd (FFR). . . 

New Zealand’s Largest Organic Apple Grower Plants Big in New Varieties:

New Zealand’s largest organic apple grower, Bostock New Zealand has been making the most of the sunny Hawke’s Bay weather, busily planting about 4000 new apple trees each day.

The company has been pulling out it’s old apple varieties and planting new trees to keep up with the international demand for organic, GM Free fruit.

Bostock New Zealand Organic Orchards Manager Craig Treneman says it’s exciting to be planting new varieties, which are sweeter and higher colour and appeal to the growing Asia market.

“We have some new orchard developments in Twyford, where we are planting about 4000 new tree varieties a day. . . 


Rural round-up

July 22, 2016

Agriculture could be included in Emissions Trading Scheme – Kate Gudsell:

The Treasury has raised the possibility of agriculture being included in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) after years of being exempt from charges.

The move is suggested in a March Treasury briefing to Finance Minister Bill English and his two associates Steven Joyce and Paula Bennett.

The briefing outlines the financial risk the government faces from scrapping the one-for-two scheme – a 50 percent subsidy for polluters which meant they paid half the value of their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. . . 

Local government needs you:

With nominations for this year’s local authority elections opening on Friday, Federated Farmers is calling on farmers and other business-minded people to consider standing for election.

Federated Farmers’ Local Government spokesperson Katie Milne said it’s  vitally important that we get good candidates to put themselves forward.

“Being a councillor is a challenging role but farmers can make a real difference on councils as they can inform and educate their colleagues and staff about what happens on-farm. . .

Battle for our Birds 2016 operations begin:

The largest pest control operation in New Zealand’s history has been launched today by Conservation Minister Maggie Barry.

Battle for our Birds 2016 will protect our nation’s most vulnerable native species from the potentially catastrophic explosion of rats and stoats in New Zealand forests as a result of a beech mast event.

At an event at Bob’s Cove near Queenstown today Ms Barry announced aerial 1080 drops have been confirmed for 19 sites covering more than 720,000 hectares of high value land. . . 

Meat exporters facing foreign exchange headwinds:

Meat Industry Association Chief Executive Tim Ritchie says uncertainty in the EU as a result of Brexit is one of the causes of a higher exchange rate, which will significantly affect prices our exporters receive in the European market. This, in turn, affects the prices meat processors can pay farmers for their livestock. Volatility in exchange rates has already had a significant impact on meat exporters, which led to eroded margins in the last season.

This year, the volatility looks like it will get worse. A year ago, a NZD was worth 0.43 GBP, but is currently 0.53 GBP, with the NZD rising sharply against the GBP since the Brexit referendum.  . . 

Rabobank Global Wine Quarterly Q3: Opportunities for wine supply and trade in South-East Asia:

Markets in South-East Asia are calling out to be explored, as opportunities in the region lie beyond China and Japan. Meanwhile, the short South American harvests and the Brexit are leading developments in global wine supply and trade, according to the Rabobank Global Wine Quarterly Q3 2016.

‘Other’ Asia

Headwinds for wine consumption in South-East Asia still dominate the outlook in the near term, however opportunities are nevertheless apparent, and some positive longer term fundamental drivers are present should the necessary catalysts set them in motion.. . .

LIC full year result 2015-2016:

Farmer-owned co-operative, Livestock Improvement Corporation (NZX: LIC), has announced its result for the year ending 31 May 2016.

The financial result is summarised below with background information attached to NZX, including Chairman Murray King’s letter to LIC shareholders.

Revenue: LIC revenue from ordinary activities was $205 million and including other income from grants, totals $211 million, 9% down on the total $232 million achieved during 2014-2015. Lower milk prices have impacted on-farm buying decisions, as many farmers look to reduce costs and indeed go into survival mode through the difficult financial times facing dairy farmers. . .

How the EU Budget is spent – Common Agricultural Policy – Gianluca Sgueo, Francesco Tropea and Marie-Laure Augere-Granier:

With 52% of the European Union (EU) territory classified as predominantly rural, more than 170 million hectares of agricultural land, and 113 million people (nearly one quarter of the EU population) living in rural areas, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) represents one of the largest shares of expenditure from the EU budget. The CAP pools European Union resources spent on agriculture to protect the viable production of food, the sustainable management of natural resources, and to support rural vitality.

The CAP consists of two ‘pillars’, the first includes direct payments (i.e. annual payments to farmers to help stabilise farm revenues in the face of volatile market prices and weather conditions) and market measures (to tackle specific market situations and to support trade promotion). The second pillar concerns rural development policy and it is aimed at achieving balanced territorial development and sustaining a farming sector that is environmentally sound, as well as promoting competitiveness and innovation. . .  (Hat Tip – Utopia)

Wool Market Steady:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s CEO, Mr John Dawson reports that the North Island Wool Auction received revived support this week with an improved 81 percent of the 5700 bales selling.

The weakening NZ dollar across the board saw the weighted currency indicator fall 4.22 percent. Despite these positive factors, local prices were still below last week’s South Island auction, but only marginally under the last more comparative North Island selection. . .


Rural round-up

July 20, 2016

Improved vintage augurs well – Simon Hartley:

A near 35% increase in the countrywide 2016 grape harvest could buoy the wine industry’s exports to the tune of $1.7 billion by the end of next year.

However, the sector also faces some headwinds, including a high cost of production and seemingly constant volatility in foreign exchange rates.

Central Otago appears to be holding its own after an improved 2016 harvest, with quality from the larger harvest already showing positive signs.

Demand for New Zealand wine was continuing to grow in the key markets of the US, UK and Australia, global accountancy firm Crowe Horwath’s viticulture specialist, Alistair King, said. . . 

All sheep are not born equal – Steve Wyn-Harris:

Some people reckon all sheep look just the same.

But not me nor all the other people at the Beef + Lamb NZ Sheep Industry Awards in Masterton a couple of weeks ago.

We look at them and think “There is a specific individual who has some qualities its mates lack and I really like the cut of its jib”.

The awards celebrate high-performing sheep farmers and leadership in the sheep industry. . .

North Canterbury dam project targets investment partners – Chris Hutching:

The $180 million Hurunui irrigation scheme is seeking money from investors and construction companies for its planned dam in North Canterbury.

But before Hurunui Water Project can issue a prospectus it must raise about $900,000 in loans from its current shareholders to fund the offer.

If successful in raising the $900,000 it will be eligible for a $3.3m loan from the Government’s Irrigation Accelerator Fund.  . . 

School students explore agriculture and horticulture opportunities at Massey University – Jill Galloway:

Curious secondary school students have a better idea if studying in agriculture and horticulture is for them after an experience day at Massey University.  Jill Galloway was there to observe them.

An experience day at Massey University is, in essence, about attracting students and getting bums on seats.

Visiting senior high school students in Year 12 and 13, with a sprinkling in Year 11, could be the university’s next studying intake for agriculture and horticulture lecture rooms. . . 

Rangeland income reliability lifts with carbon cash – Andrew Marshall:

Understocking does not normally help a livestock producer’s bottom line, but increasing numbers of pastoral landholders are getting paid to reduce their carrying capacity.

Strategic understocking and vegetation management has enabled these producers to tap into a decade-long income stream which even pays up in tough drought years.

They are cashing in on a national carbon farming program paying landholders who sign up to a vegetation management schedule which encourages woodland regrowth to sequester carbon on their land. . . 

Life, legacy and living well – Briar Hale:

For someone who doesn’t get out much, George of Motueka sure knows how to live well. He never pops out to the supermarket and hasn’t been to the doctors in living memory, so you could be forgiven for thinking George’s life is somewhat constrained. But au contraire; George finds his wellness by working the land and enjoying the pleasures of home. At 89, George still works a full day on his farm, doing an impressive four-hour stint either side of his midday siesta. Health and vitality, as well as joy in his labours, make his old age a beautiful balance of keeping busy and slowing down.  . . 

Computer Protection Software, made in: the world.

A global software enterprise run from a rural NZ lifestyle block. A look behind the scenes.

At Emsisoft, there is no corner office with a view, no central headquarters that I could wander through unseen. Only a blue and grey logo, existing only online, with an untold story behind it. The lack of office makes Christian Mairoll a hard man to interview, yet, here I am with an appointment, winding up a back road through the heights of a valley, near Nelson, New Zealand. Population 5,321. I cannot see any of them, the road is deserted. Locals call this part of the country the Top of the South, I call it the beginning to nowhere. Not even a cafe at sight. The gravel pit road is cradled by mountains and tall pine trees. Christian Mairoll is the face of a company that – apparently – doesn’t have a company face. Given that Emsisoft was founded in Austria in 2003 and is now run from Christian Mairoll’s eco lifestyle block in rural New Zealand, there are many questions to be asked. If only I can find the house in the raising fog. . . 


Whole milk up 1.9%

July 20, 2016

The GlobalDairyTrade price index didn’t change in this morning’s auction.

GdT21.716

gdt21716

But the price of whole milk increased 1.9%.

GDT21.7.16


Rural round-up

July 19, 2016

Tool for easy environment planning – Rebecca Harper:

Onfarm environmental planning has just got easier with the launch of a new cloud-based software programme, AgFirst Landbase.

AgFirst consultant Erica van Reenen developed the programme in conjunction with FarmIQ after being asked time and again whether an online tool to help with land and environment planning existed – it didn’t, until now.

Using van Reenen’s knowledge and FarmIQ’s information technology capability was a perfect match. . .

Greenpeace’s deadly war on science – Bjorn Lomborg:

Is Greenpeace committing a crime against humanity?

A letter from 110 Nobel laureates suggests as much. It urges the environmental group to drop its campaign against genetically modified foods, particularly so-called “Golden Rice,” which could help prevent millions of deaths in the developing world.

Calling GMOs food “Frankenfood” is a brilliant scare-mongering term, heavily promoted by Greenpeace. But it has no basis in reality. . . 

Let’s not leave Silver Fern Farms stranded – Stephen Jacks:

As I take time to consider my vote in the upcoming Silver Fern Farms special general meeting on the 50-50 joint venture with Shanghai Maling, my thoughts are around what the future may look like either way.

What we know is that the challenges facing farmers are large.  The challenges of profitably negotiating our way through the physical, climatic, financial and market vagaries appear to be amplified of late.   I don’t envisage the scale of excellence and adaptation required to survive and thrive to diminish anytime soon.

We have a choice before us: To join with Shanghai Maling or not.  . . 

School paddocks nurture future farmers – Rob Tipa:

Senior pupils of Waitaki Boys’ High School’s primary production course see their future in farming, so attending one of the country’s few schools with its own farm is a definite attraction.

Seven out of 10 senior students who spoke to the NZ Farmer were boarders at Waitaki, mostly from sheep and beef farming families from around Fairlie, Methven, Mayfield, Millers Flat and the West Coast.

Waitaki Boys has a proud history and reputation as a fine school but several students said the school farm was a key factor that brought them to boarding school in Oamaru. . .

How we are innovating our way to cheaper land prices – James Pethokoukis:

They aren’t making any more land, at least on this planet. But technology is, in effect, increasing the long-term supply of land. Robert Shiller:

This 20th-century miracle in agricultural science greatly improved crop yields per acre. From the standpoint of farm output, there was no need for new land. This revolution involved the discovery by Fritz Haber of a cheap process to produce ammonia for fertilizer at the beginning of the century and the discovery of new high-yield strains of wheat by Norman E. Borlaug at midcentury. Both men won Nobel Prizes for their work. These innovations permitted multiplication of yields per acre and very likely saved hundreds of millions of lives from starvation worldwide. . . 

Leading exporter sets benchmark for food safety and brand protection:

New Zealand’s largest vertically-integrated grower, packer and exporter of twenty-five per cent of this country’s apples has taken a bold step to scientifically guarantee the integrity of its produce.

Mr. Apple has signed a three year contract with Dunedin-based Oritain to combat what has become a proliferation of food fraud in the export industry, and safeguard the security of its supply-chain.

Mr. Apple CEO Andrew van Workum says that having his apples 100% traceable from orchard to store is a lynchpin of the Mr. Apple brand, and adds critical value to the relationship it has with growers, suppliers and consumers. . . 

 


Rural round-up

July 18, 2016

Market monopolies a bigger threat to agricultural markets than subsidies – Gerald Piddock:

Market monopolies and not subsidies are the biggest threat to economic sustainability in world agricultural markets, says an international expert.

Belgium-based AgriCord managing director Ignance Coussement said the existence of the monopolies made it difficult for smaller farmers around the world to compete against larger scale “industrialised’ farmers within a nation’s domestic market.

How smaller family farming enterprises competed against these larger scale farms in the market was a tricky issue, he said. . . 

John Key to push for Indonesia to lift beef trade restrictions for Kiwi exporters – Sam Sachdeva:

Prime Minister John Key hopes rising beef prices, as well as a global trade case, will encourage Indonesia to lift restrictions on Kiwi beef imports.

Key has promised to raise concerns with Indonesian president Joko Widodo when the pair meet in Jakarta on Tuesday evening (NZ time).

New Zealand has joined 14 other countries in taking action against Indonesia through the World Trade Organisation over its beef import restrictions and quotas. . . 

When computers became part of NZ farming:

Lincoln University’s role in making the computer one of the essential tools on the farm is told in a new book by Dr Peter Nuthall, an Honorary Associate Professor in Lincoln’s Department of Land Management and Systems.

‘Dare to compute. The early years in the development and uptake of farm computer systems’ is written about the Kellogg Farm Management Unit (KFMU) at Lincoln, which Dr Nuthall founded and was head of for all but two years of its existence, from 1980 to 1995.  

The unit was initially funded by the Kellogg Foundation in the United States, a philanthropic fund. KFMU aimed to develop computer software for farm and horticultural property managers, and train them in its use.  

Dr Nuthall says the history of the unit needs to be told as it played an important part in introducing computer technology and software to primary producers in New Zealand and Australia. . . 

Quarterly tractor sales buoyant despite dairy payout:

“New Zealand Tractor sales are relatively buoyant, despite the current dairy payout,” says NZ Tractor and Machinery Association President, Mark Hamilton-Manns.

The second quarter results of New Zealand tractor sales, compiled by the NZ Tractor and Machinery Association, show tractor sales declined slightly, by 8.5%, compared to the same quarter last year. Several segments saw an increase, however, including the consumer segment which grew by 15%, as more Kiwis bought smaller 20–60hp compact tractors for their lifestyle blocks, hire fleets and some commercial applications. . . 

Early Winter Sees Prices Ease:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were seven fewer farm sales (-1.5%) for the three months ended June 2016 than for the three months ended June 2015. Overall, there were 472 farm sales in the three months ended June 2016, compared to 489 farm sales for the three months ended May 2016 (-3.5%), and 479 farm sales for the three months ended June 2015. . . 

Manuka honey buzz boosts farmland prices Alexa Cook:

Demand for manuka honey has boosted the value of farmland, with many properties doubling price over the past couple of years, a real estate firm says.

The manuka honey industry has surged, with exports growing by 45 percent last year to $281 million. New Zealand is now the third largest exporter of honey by value.

Bayleys Real Estate rural agent Mark Monckton, who is based in Taranaki, said the growth was good news for some of his region’s more remote farming businesses. . . 

 Landmark merger a win-win for organic sector:

The organic community celebrated the landmark merger of two long-established charitable organisations yesterday. Members of the Soil & Health Association of NZ Inc and the New Zealand Biological Producers and Consumers Society Inc (BioGro Society) voted in favour of the proposal. This means that the Society will transfer its assets to Soil & Health, on winding up on 30 September.

The merger brings together the skills and resources of the two charities into one strong, unified organic sector body.

Soil & Health will become the proud new owner of BioGro NZ Ltd, New Zealand’s largest organic certification agency. This will empower Soil & Health to carry out its vital education and advocacy work for healthy soil, healthy food and healthy people. . . 

Synlait GM Accepts next international role:

Michael Stein, Synlait’s General Manager Quality and Regulatory, has accepted the role of Quality and Food Safety Director, Asia Pacific, with Danone Nutricia Early Life Nutrition.

“This is a great personal and professional opportunity for Michael and a clear milestone in his international career,” said John Penno, Synlait’s CEO and Managing Director.

Mr Penno was disappointed to learn Mr Stein will depart Synlait at the end of September 2016, but fully supports his decision. . . 


Covenants protect land in perpetuity

July 18, 2016

The Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of the QEII National Trust, upholding the protection of its covenants:

. . .Spanning 4 years, the case has been taken as far as the High Court and on to the Court of Appeal by the property developer, who has been trying to overturn the 404ha forest covenant he owns on the Coromandel Peninsula. His intention was to have the covenant removed so the land could then be subdivided for lifestyle blocks, to the detriment of the protected area’s ecological values and the intentions of the original covenantor. The covenant agreement allows for the construction of one dwelling only.

The land in question was covenanted in 1997 to protect a block of lowland tawa-towai forest. The block sits within a network of other protected lands that together form a wildlife corridor, connecting the Coromandel Forest Park in the middle of the Coromandel Peninsula to the Peninsula’s eastern coast.

National Trust Legal Manager, Paul Kirby, said the latest ruling has further strengthened open space covenants as an excellent mechanism for protecting land.

‘This win exemplifies the purpose of the National Trust as the perpetual Trustee of covenants,’ Mr Kirby said.

 ‘With the ruling in favour of the National Trust, the intentions and wishes of the original covenantor, who is now deceased, have been honoured and upheld when he was not here to do that himself,’ he said.

Described as a ‘complex’ case by the Court, the decision has established new case law and corroborates existing case law from a previous High Court hearing on the same matter, confirming that open space covenants have the protection of ‘indefeasibility’ under the Land Transfer Act. It has been confirmed in law that, once registered on a land title, open space covenants bind current and future owners and are not susceptible to attack arising from defects or error.

The Court confirmed that the National Trust acted in the best interests of the original covenantor, Mr Russell, and fulfilled its statutory mandate for the benefit of the people of New Zealand. It also awarded the highest possible costs to the National Trust.

The National Trust’s Chief Executive, Mike Jebson is delighted with the outcome.

‘It has been a time consuming and costly exercise but we now have excellent case law that should categorically put an end to any similar challenges on the status of open space covenants,’ he said.

‘We are a charity organisation with limited funds but this case was something that we could not afford to drop. It has diverted precious funds that would normally have been used for protecting land and supporting covenantors. We are hugely relieved, therefore, that some of our costs will be recovered with this decision,’ he said. . . 

Federated Farmers supports the ruling:

Federated Farmers environment spokesman Chris Allen says the decision ensures a new landowner cannot get open space covenants lifted so they build on the land, in this case a developer wanting to build lifestyle blocks.

“As landowners, farmers are some of the biggest contributors to environmental protection in New Zealand.

“Farmers care deeply about the environment and leave a protected legacy for future generations. Our members are extremely proud of their work and achievements on their farms to protect and enhance biodiversity,” Mr Allan said.

“This latest ruling in the Coromandel shows open space covenants as an excellent mechanism for protecting land; even better than District Plans and arguably more than National Parks.”

The QEII National Trust was set up in the 1970s, when a visionary group of farmers came together to investigate ways they could protect special natural and cultural sites on their land after they were gone.

These landowners were the driving force behind the establishment of the QEII National Trust, which was set up in 1977 by an Act of Parliament to deliver on their aspirations.

Federated Farmers strongly support and acknowledges the existing investment in its partnership with QEII working with landowners to enhance and protect our special places and things. . . 

Covenants are legal agreements and any restrictions they place on future owners ought to be reflected in the price they pay for the land.

Landowners place covenants on their land to protect it in perpetuity and this court ruling upholds that protection.

 


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