Rural round-up

August 24, 2016

Thousands needed to fill primary industry jobs – Alexa Cook:

The primary sector is turning to cities to promote jobs in the industry in an effort to create a more qualified workforce.

Research commissioned by the Ministry for Primary Industries, Dairy NZ and Beef and Lamb New Zealand has found the industry will need another 2300 people by 2025, on top of the 23,400 needed to replace natural attrition.

There is a growing divide between rural and urban New Zealand, with 36 percent of all secondary students based in Auckland, and just 30 percent spread through rural areas.

New Zealand Young Farmers president Terry Copeland said by 2025 a third of jobs in the dairy industry would not be tied to the land. . . 

Busy ‘making difference’ – Sally Rae:

Fiona Hancox just wants to “make a difference”.

The West Otago sheep and beef farmer recently joined the board of Co-operative Business New Zealand.The organisation represents more than 50 co-operative and mutual businesses operating across a  range of industries, including agriculture, manufacturing, insurance, banking and financial services, utilities, pharmaceuticals, education, health, wholesale and retail.

In February last year, Mrs Hancox became the first female farmer representative director on the board of Silver Fern Farms. . . 

Time to hand over the reins – Sally Rae:

For many years, Chris Bayne has been something of an institution at PGG Wrightson’s Mosgiel store.

So, come September 2,  it will be the end of an era as Mrs Bayne (65) works her last day as store manager.

However, she remained philosophical about leaving a role that has been a big part of her life, saying simply it was “time to go”.

“I just think sometimes you work too long and you retire and, all of a sudden, your health goes to the pack. It’s nice to hand the reins over to someone else …  you can’t work forever,” she said. . . 

Retiring rural postie parks his truck – Lynda Van Kempen:

After travelling more than a million kilometres, Kevin “Rock” McCrorie has finally parked  for good.

His 17-year career as a Maniototo rural postman ended on Friday and he shared some of the finer details with  the Otago Daily Times.

Number of vehicles used: Five Toyota Hiluxes

Kilometres driven: 250 a day, five days a week.

Total: 1,105,000km.

Rural boxholders: 125.

Mail, newspapers and parcels delivered: Hundreds of thousands.

Goldfish received: One

Axolotyls delivered: One. . . 

More business understanding gives Southland sheep farmer positive outlook – Brittany Pickett:

Jo Horrell is feeling positive about the future of the sheep industry.

The Southland farmer believes the tide is turning for sheep farming and she is determined to be part of it. Part of her enthusiasm can be attributed to her recently completing  an Agri-Women’s Development Trust Understanding Your Farm Business course

While she found the Red Meat Profit Partnership-funded course invaluable in gaining a greater understanding of the farm business she runs alongside her husband Bryce, it was having the opportunity to meet like-minded, positive people that for Horrell was a real bonus. . . 

Startup to tackle Predator Free New Zealand challenge:

New Zealand based App and Website Pestur will launch in 2017. Pestur is a social network allowing users to compete with each other in challenges as they work to eradicate different pest species through trapping and hunting.

Co- founder Greta Donoghue says the inspiration came in seeing the millions of people around the world willing to try and catch something that doesn’t exist (Pokemon), “the idea being that if even a fraction of these participants put some real world effort into the issue of invasive pest species we could see tangible improvements ranging from the protection of endangered species to the economics of better crop yields” . . 


Anti-farming bias won’t wait for facts

August 24, 2016

Contamination of Havelock North’s water supply is a serious health issue which has prompted the government to undertake an inquiry.

In announcing the draft terms of reference for it, Attorney General Christopher Finlayson said:

“It is important that New Zealanders have confidence in the quality of our drinking water, and the independent inquiry will ensure we have a clear understanding of what happened in Havelock North,” says Mr Finlayson.

“Cabinet has today agreed to initiate a Government inquiry which will report to me as Attorney General.

“The inquiry will look into how the Havelock North water supply became contaminated, how this was subsequently addressed and how local and central government agencies responded to the public health threat that occurred as a result of the contamination.

“The terms of reference are very wide and will include any lessons and improvements that can be made in the management of the water supply network in Havelock North and, more broadly, across New Zealand.”     

Cabinet will consider over the coming weeks who will lead the Government inquiry.

The inquiry will be undertaken under the Inquiries Act 2013. This will ensure it follows a clear statutory process and will have a range of powers such as the ability to call witnesses.

The need to wait for facts hasn’t stopped the usual anti-farming suspects rushing to blame farming in general and dairying in particular for the contamination and using it as an excuse to call for the end to irrigation development.

Federated Farmers’  Hawke’s Bay president Will Foley said while there was some livestock farming in the area it wasn’t intensive:

. . . Basically in terms of the area around Havelock North there just isn’t intensive livestock farming.

He said farmers were watching the situation but there had not been any discussions yet.

“Really we’re just waiting to see some more clear evidence as to how the contamination occurred. And then if it was something related to farming livestock, then we can react to it then and I guess change practises if that’s what it turns out to be.”

IrrigationNZ points out that a focus on science and proven solutions is needed in the response to the Havelock North water crisis.

“IrrigationNZ is very concerned, as is everyone else, about the situation in Havelock North. However, we are surprised by some of the accusations now being made around intensive livestock and irrigation, particularly as the area surrounding the water supply well is dominated by orchards, cropping and low intensity livestock.”

“Before jumping to conclusions we first must understand the facts. A thorough inquiry will establish how groundwater in the area has become contaminated but this will take time. In the short term we should be moving towards best practice when it comes to protecting public water supplies from contamination,” says Andrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ CEO.

Fact 1;

Pathogen contamination almost always results from a point source or a preferential flow scenario.

“The issue will likely be either a preferential flow scenario down the side of an old well case (particularly around older bore casings), a poorly constructed or sealed well head or backflow (contamination making its way directly into bores). Another scenario could be point source from the stock piling of manure. During periods of heavy downpour, contaminants can move through the soil and then there is a risk,” says Mr Curtis.

Fact 2;

Grazing livestock or irrigation are unlikely to be the cause.

“The Havelock North end of the Heretaunga plains is an area of low intensity livestock. Dominated by orchards and seasonal cropping, with sheep grazing in winter there is no dairy or intensive livestock,” says Andrew Curtis.

Livestock grazing is extremely unlikely to have caused this issue – the pathogens don’t make it through the soil, the soil acts as a filter – research work undertaken by ESR has previously shown this to be true.”

Solutions to prevent contamination of groundwater?

Proven solutions include good management practice at both the supply point and any nearby wells.

“Well head protection is essential for all bores and this needs to be better enforced for older bores. Additionally, we need to be looking at requiring back flow protection where applicable. INZ has produced guidelines for backflow prevention that are based on international best practice for agriculture. On top of this, the council needs to be managing nearby point sources where, if heavy rain occurs, leaching could result. Basically all wells near public water supplies should be properly protected.”

“A best practice approach to managing the threats to public water supplies needs to be implemented across New Zealand. There will always be risks from avian, ruminant and human sources so we need to be identifying all the contamination pathways. We need to let the experts get on with their jobs and not take cheap shots with un-informed accusations,” says Mr Curtis.

It’s understandable for the people of Havelock North to be upset about their water and everyone wants to know what caused the problem and what can be done to prevent it happening again in the area or anywhere else.

But that’s not an excuse for the usual suspects to use the issue for their own political agenda without waiting for the facts. In doing so they’re show their anti-farming bias.

We could forget about feeding people and earning the export income we need for a happy, healthy, well functioning country as those of a very dark green persuasion would have it.

We could produce a lot more food and seriously degrade the environment with no concern for the future, a path for which I haven’t heard anyone advocate.

Or we could use science to produce food sustainably which requires good environmental practices based on science.

If poor farming practices are degrading the water we can do something about it but let’s wait for the inquiry and base any required action on the facts.

 


Rural round-up

August 23, 2016

Young Maori woman brings important cultural perspective to dairy farming:

Lincoln University student Ash-Leigh Campbell, 25, is one of the bright lights of Maori agribusiness in New Zealand.

Recently named as a finalist in the prestigious 2016 Ahuwhenua Young Māori Dairy Farmer Award – the first ever woman to make the finals of the dairy category – Campbell, who is of Ngāi Tahu descent, is passionate about bringing a Maori perspective to the dairy industry.

She graduated with a Diploma in Agriculture from Lincoln University earlier this year, and is currently studying towards a Diploma in Farm Management at Lincoln University. Her sights are set on doing a Bachelor of Commerce and Agriculture next year. Campbell is also an active member of the Dairy Women’s Network Lincoln University branch, and is involved with other industry groups. . . 

Irish Ag role mooted– Peter Burke:

New Zealand banks may have to play a social role with farmers, as do European governments, claims Professor Alan Renwick of Lincoln University.

Renwick says in NZ, with its free market approach, there is an expectation that banks, not governments, will see farmers through troubled times.

He says the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), though much criticised for supposedly keeping farmers on the land when they should not be, in fact has other good points which help manage some of the volatility in the market. . . 

Wool stoush positive – Pam Tipa:

An attack on Wools of New Zealand by its former chief executive has turned out to be a positive, claims chairman Mark Shadbolt.  

He says plenty of backing has emerged to keep going.  

“We have had a strong acknowledgement of support not only from growers, but from the industry in NZ and globally,” Shadbolt told Rural News. . .

Synlait Milk And the A2 Milk Company Reaffirm Infant Formula Supply Arrangements:

Synlait Milk Limited (Synlait) and The a2 Milk Company Limited (a2MC) are pleased to announce a new supply agreement between the two groups for the production of a2 Platinum® infant formula.

The agreement strengthens the current business relationship between a2MC and Synlait by providing certainty around medium term growth plans.

Current production volumes remain the same, but appropriate provisions allowing for increased scale to meet market demand in the medium term have been made.

“We are very pleased to have concluded negotiations in relation to our supply relationship with Synlait. We’ve maintained appropriate flexibility to assess new product and market opportunities as they arise,” said Geoffrey Babidge, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of a2MC. . . 

Comvita posts 15-month profit of $18.5M, lowers dividend ratio to pursue ‘opportunities’ – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, the manuka honey products company, posted a 15-month profit that broadly met its guidance while lowering its dividend payout ratio to chase “growth opportunities”.

Profit was $18.5 million in the 15 months ended June 30, after Comvita changed its balance date, from $10.2 million in the 12 months ended March 31, 2015, the Te Puke-based company said in a statement. Comvita reported profit of $17.2 million in the 12 months ended March 31, 2016, and had said that as the April-June quarter was typically Comvita’s quietest the 15-month result was likely to be in line with the 12 months to March 31. . . 

Wine industry converges in Marlborough:

Around 500 grape growers, winemakers, and industry leaders will converge in Marlborough this week to learn, discuss and network at the wine industry’s annual Romeo Bragato Conference.

“In the past year we’ve seen continued strong demand in our key export markets,” said New Zealand Winegrowers CEO, Philip Gregan.

“This year Bragato is all about working to protect the reputation for quality we’ve attained, and gaining a clear understanding of key market and production trends.” . . 


Telling our stories

August 23, 2016

Consumers at the top end of the market want to know the story behind their food.

Whitestone Cheese shows how to do it:

The product is at least as good as the pictures, Whitestone’s Lindis Pass camembert is simply delicious.

If you’re not in or passing through Oamaru where you can get it at their factory shop, you’ll find a list of stockists on their website and you can buy online.


Rural round-up

August 22, 2016

 

Employment breaches ‘wake-up call’ for Marlborough wine industry – Oliver Lewis:

Widespread employment breaches have been unearthed by an investigation into labour contractors servicing the Marlborough wine industry.

Several labour contractors, who supply wine companies with workers, were found to have breached employment standards by failing to pay their workers minimum wage, holiday pay, or keep proper employment records.

The joint investigation, carried out by the Labour Inspectorate, Immigration New Zealand and Inland Revenue, involved random visits to 10 independent labour contractors around the region. . . 

Old school thinking stunts export gains – Andrea Fox:

New Zealand is stuck in the past figuring how to produce even more low-cost export commodities while the marketing of fine products it already has is “woeful”, says New Zealand Merino boss John Brakenridge.

“We sell commodities at an export value of around $37 billion that reach consumers globally at a value of over $200 billion,” says the chief executive credited with driving merino’s monumental shift from a nearly 100 per cent commodity sold at auction to 70 per cent grown under lucrative contracts to elite wool product makers.

Brakenridge’s call for New Zealand to dramatically lift its marketing and branding game follows another gathering at Stanford University, in the heart of Silicon Valley, of New Zealand’s primary sector “bootcamp”, the Te Hono Movement.  Te Hono, founded in 2012 by Brakenridge, says it has so far united 178 chief executives and leaders representing 80 per cent of the primary sector, in a goal to collaborate to transform New Zealand’s approach to doing business globally. It was Te Hono’s fifth workshop at Stanford, where participants work with professors at the world-leading research and new technology university and Silicon Valley business innovators.  . . 

Cashflow boost for Fonterra farmers – Dene Mackenzie:

Fonterra farmers have received a cashflow boost with confirmation of a further 10c per share payment of the co-operative’s 2015-16 40c forecast dividend.

The co-operative had already brought forward an earlier dividend payment during the last financial year.

Its intention was always to declare a further dividend in August, subject to financial performance supporting the forecast earnings per share range of 45c to 55c, chairman John Wilson said in a statement. . . 

North Otago surprised by early, strong arrivals :

Calves have arrived “early and strong” on North Otago dairy farms, Lyndon Strang says.

The Federated Farmers North Otago dairy section chairman said most farmers had started calving about five days ahead of schedule.

“That’s pretty much across the board.”

He could not determine the cause, but said it was going well and there was “plenty of feed available”. . . 

Proud Marlborough beekeeping firm faces challenges as century celebrated – Mike Watson:

Beekeepers are like any other farmers except they don’t have fences for keeping the stock in, says a Marlborough beekeeper celebrating 100 years of commercial honey making.

“At the end of the day, like any farmer, we need healthy stock to control pests and diseases,” said J Bush and Sons managing director Murray Bush.

“We do selective breeding programmes like the sheep and beef guys and we have similar concerns as they do. . .

Ethanol: bad for cars, bad for consumers, bad for the economy and really, really bad for the environment – Mark J, Perry:

An excerpt appears below from my op-ed in yesterday’s US News and World Report “Unwind the Ethanol Mandate” about one of the biggest political boondoggles in history – ethanol and the ethanol mandate. Back in 2007 when political cheerleaders like Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa (the “king of ethanol hype”) were promoting ethanol with fantastic claims like “Everything about ethanol is good, good, good,” Rolling Stone magazine responded with the best sentence on ethanol I’ve ever read: “This is not just hype — it’s dangerous, delusional bullshit.” And what’s notgood at all about demon ethanol (Paul Krugman’s phrase) are the serious negative effects it’s having on the environment: . . 


Ruralround-up

August 19, 2016

Flaws to idea of reducing dairy herd – Jacqueline Rowarth:

A suggestion that New Zealand should remove 80per cent of dairy cows to return to a natural environment overlooks various fundamental problems including: what is natural?

Dairy farms tend to be in flat to rolling countryside where grass grows well and cows can create milk efficiently.

It is in this country that clear mountain streams become winding rivers, picking up sediment and nutrients from the soils through which they are travelling. As they slow down, plants and fish have a chance to grow.

Dairying occupies 1.7 million hectares of New Zealand’s 26.8 million hectares. This area, with the associated processing and value adding, resulted in export revenue for the year to June 2015 of $14 billion.

In some contrast, sheep, beef and deer farms cover 11.5 million hectares of mostly somewhat steeper land, and bring in $9 billion. . .

Lamb price spike to be brief – Alan Williams:

Sheep farmers could get $6/kg or more for a lamb this season – but only briefly.

The shortage of lambs also meant many farmers would not be able to take full advantage of the short-lived spike, AgriHQ analyst Mel Croad said.

Some overseas markets were prepared to pay up for lambs, knowing there was a NZ shortage and she believed that might push South Island procurement prices to $6/kg and the North Island to $6.10/$6.20 in October and November. . .

Buyers caught napping by possible milk production decline – Gerard Hutching:

A milk futures broker says whole milk powder buyers have been “caught napping” by a potential shortfall in the product, explaining why the price has risen 28.8 per cent at the last two global dairy auctions.

Director of OM Financial Nigel Brunel said the price hike had been “staggering” and taken everyone by surprise.

“Buyers haven’t been able to source WMP at the right price and have been concerned that New Zealand supply could be well down this season. They have been caught napping in a sleepy sideways WMP market for almost a year,” Brunel said.

As a result the buyers had climbed over each other to source WMP and lifted the price.

North Canterbury’s bumper lamb crop hanging on for rain – Tony Benny:

Warm, settled weather and plenty of twins on the ground makes for the sort of lambing farmers treasure but after two years of drought, North Canterbury farmers are just worried about how they’ll feed the extra mouths. Tony Benny reports.

The countryside around Hawarden, North Canterbury, looks a picture.  The sky is clear, the air is still and warm, the paddocks are green, dotted with hundreds of healthy lambs and on the horizon are snow-capped mountains.

But talk to locals like Lew Wright and his son Iain and it becomes clear that they’re just hanging on, unsure how they’ll feed their bumper crop of lambs, let alone the 600 ewe hoggets due to come home from grazing in the next couple of weeks.

“The paddocks have got nothing in them, they’re just bare, they’ve just got no grass.  It’s scary,” says Iain. . . 


Rural round-up

August 18, 2016

Trade access landscape increasingly crowded – Allan Barber:

At the same time as the TPP is struggling to get across the finish line before the next American President takes over early next year, there are several signs of access to the USA freeing up for some of New Zealand’s competitors.

The announcement of greatest significance concerns access for Brazilian beef after 17 years of negotiations which will be permitted to begin in September. Admittedly Brazilian plants must still gain accreditation before they can export to the USA and, when they do, their entitlement will be included in the ‘other country’ quota of 64,800 tonnes at the same preferential tariff of 4.4 cents per kilo as New Zealand for its 213,402 tonne quota. However, there is a possibility Brazil’s eagerness to export, combined with its weak currency, will encourage it to sell at the 26.4% general tariff rate. . . 

The pros and cons of PKE – Keith Woodford:

In recent weeks, PKE has been in the spotlight.  The key reason for this has been the decision by Landcorp to phase out its use on the Landcorp farms. This has brought back into focus Fonterra’s 2015 recommendation to farmers to only use 3kg per cow per day. It has also given a platform for various other groups to promote their own perspectives.

Amongst the environmental groups, there are two polar perspectives. Greenpeace says we should stop using all PKE. However, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says that palm oil production is OK as long as it sustainable, and certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). . . 

A farming mum who loves helping others – Kate Taylor:

Regular visitors to the Facebook site, Farming Mums NZ, will be familiar with an online blogger whose zest for life seems never-ending. Kate Taylor reports.

There’s an element of irony about the name of Chanelle O’Sullivan’s daily blog, Just a Farmer’s Wife, because it couldn’t be further from the truth.

She is, actually, a farmer’s wife, but is also a mother of two, qualified vet nurse, blogger, project manager, 2016 scholar on the Kellogg Rural Leadership Course, guest speaker, online business woman, long-distance runner and admin for several flourishing Facebook pages.

Chanelle lives at Waitohi in South Canterbury with husband Dave, who is working on a farm on Rockwood Rd. He grew up near Timaru and has a Diploma in Farm Management from Lincoln University. . . 

Silver Fern Farms shareholders vote conclusively in favour – Allan Barber:

The long awaited special meeting finally took place this afternoon with the company’s desired outcome. 80.4% of shareholders voting voted in favour of the Shanghai Maling deal, a small reduction from the 82% that voted in favour last October.

At today’s meeting in Dunedin, as soon as the result was announced, it appears John Shrimpton who led the requisition group shook SFF chairman Rob Hewitt’s hand and agreed that democracy had had its say and the campaign was over. . . 

Clear vision for red meat sector in sight at last – Allan Barber:

After many years of relatively low levels of expenditure on market development and promotion, the red meat industry faces a major challenge in deciding how best to create the desired image to appeal to the world’s affluent consumers. Currently expenditure is divided between generic promotion, funded by farmer levies, and brand advertising by the meat exporters, with a small amount of joint funding in some of the less mature markets.

Delegates at the recent Red Meat Sector Conference heard about the importance of telling a believable and emotionally compelling story built on the heritage and healthy attributes of New Zealand and its farming sector. But they were also challenged to make sure this story is constructed on credible building blocks of environmentally sustainable farm, animal welfare and processing practices. . . 

New primary sector groups to support climate change goals:

Two new reference groups will help support New Zealand’s climate change goals and reduce emissions from the livestock and forestry sectors, Primary Industries Ministers Nathan Guy and Jo Goodhew have announced today.

“As part of ratifying the Paris agreement on climate change, New Zealand has set a target of reducing our emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. The primary sector will need to be an important part of that,” says Mr Guy.

“The Biological Emissions Reference Group will bring together a wide range of agricultural, horticultural and farming stakeholders to collaborate with Government and build a solid evidence base. This will ensure we have the best possible range of information on what can be done right now to reduce biological greenhouse emissions. . . 

Glass half-full for dairy after price lift – Alexa Cook:

Dairy farmers could finally have break-even milk prices this season, AgriHQ dairy analyst Susan Kilsby says.

This season’s forecast of $4.25kg/ms is the third season of prices below $5.

Most farmers need about $5kg/ms to cover their costs, which is about $US3000 a tonne for whole milk powder, the industry’s main export.

In the overnight Global Dairy Trade auction prices lifted by 12.7 percent and whole-milk powder surged 18.9 percent to $US2695 a tonne. . . 

Countdown Egg Producer Programme for Free Range and Barn launches today – Supermarket assures farmers their investment in free range and barn eggs will pay off:

Countdown has today launched an Egg Producer Programme to support free range and barn egg farmers to increase the supply available for Countdown stores and our customers.

The Egg Producer Programme provides farmers an opportunity to increase investment in free range and barn egg capacity, as Countdown will make a commitment to take future supply through individual partnership agreements.

Currently, just 18 per cent of eggs produced in New Zealand are free range. Countdown wants to put in place plans with farmers, to increase the availability of the free range and barn eggs.  . . 

Bill to streamline Food Safety passes first reading:

Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew is welcoming the Food Safety Law Reform Bill having passed its first reading in Parliament last night, with unanimous support.

The Bill is the final step in implementing the Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Inquiry recommendations, in particular those which require legislative change.

“This Bill is an important part of putting the false Botulism scare behind us. It illustrates the Government’s commitment to ensuring the safety and suitability of food, which is vitally important for the health of consumers – both in New Zealand and overseas – and our international trade reputation,” says Mrs Goodhew. . . 

Retirement of Fonterra Director:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced that Mr John Waller ONZM will be retiring as an Independent Director on the Fonterra Board with effect from 31 August 2016.

Fonterra Chairman John Wilson said that Mr Waller is retiring to reduce his workload after serving on the Fonterra Board since 2009. He chaired Fonterra’s Fair Value Share Review Committee, the Trading Among Farmers Due Diligence Committee and the Milk Price Panel, and was a member of the Audit and Finance Committee and the Risk Committee.

“John has been an outstanding director of our Co-operative and has made an invaluable contribution by combining his strong personal values, drive and leadership with commercial common-sense. I am pleased that after such a significant contribution John is finding the time to rebalance his commitments so that he can spend more time with his family and pursue his other interests. . . 


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