Rural round-up

October 14, 2015

Shareholders seek board changes for leaner, fitter Fonterra:

Two Fonterra shareholders and former Fonterra board members are calling on Fonterra shareholders to reduce the number of directors in a move to improve the company’s performance.

The two, Greg Gent and Colin Armer, have put forward a notice of proposal to the company’s annual meeting in late November seeking shareholder support for a reduction of board members from 13 to nine.

“We all want our cooperative to be more globally competitive and successful with a clear strategy to achieve that. Our farming businesses and livelihoods depend on that,” says Greg Gent who was formerly deputy chairman of the company. . . 

Forest & Bird congratulates New Zealand police on 1080 arrest:

Forest & Bird congratulates the New Zealand police for making an arrest as part of their investigation into a 1080 threat to infant formula late last year.

“This threat wasn’t just a challenge for our dairy industry and exports, it also had the potential to damage our ability to control introduced predators that are killing our native wildlife” explained Kevin Hackwell, Group Manager of Campaigns and Advocacy at Forest & Bird.

“We absolutely support the continued use of 1080 in New Zealand’s forests. It’s the most sensible, cost-effective way to reduce pest numbers and allow native forests and wildlife to thrive” said Mr Hackwell. . .

Alliance Group to offer farmers loyalty payments – Gerard Hutching:

Alliance Group will offer loyalty payments this season to farmer shareholders in what some observers are saying are the first shots in a procurement war.

The offer comes with the caveat that farmers have to supply 100 per cent of all their livestock or 100 per cent of one species.

The reward for farmers supplying 100 per cent of their lambs is an additional 10c per kilogram per animal.

Chief executive David Surveyor said the co-operative was forecasting $100 for an 18kg lamb for the 2015-2016 season. . . 

Farmers and growers hope to avoid another drought – Gerard Hutching:

Some South Canterbury farmers and growers are shying away from being dependent on Lake Opuha water and are putting in their own bores.

Jo and Steve Malone, who own Redwood Cherries and Berries on the Pleasant Point Highway, lost thousands of dollars during this year’s disastrous drought.

“We are going to drill for water because we don’t want to be reliant on the lake. We are waiting for the council to give us consent,” Jo Malone said.

They were not as big users of water as dairy farms. Their cherries had not received irrigated water for the last five years, but it was vital for the strawberries. . . 

Grain payments spell risky business – Alisha Fogden:

MAKING seven-day payment terms standard was a contentious topic in the managing market risk session at the recent Australian Grain Industry Conference in Melbourne.

Grain Trade Australia chief executive officer Geoff Honey, who was guest speaker, said that could potentially reduce competition.

“There are organisations that buy grain from you that sell it to an end-user that is on a 30-day end-of-week delivery,” he said.

“If it became seven-days EOW standard across everybody, you could be removing a layer of competition. . . 

A cure for vitamin B6 deficiency :

In many tropical countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, cassava is one of the most important staple foods. People eat the starchy storage roots but also the leaves as a vegetable. Both have to be cooked first to remove the toxic cyanide compounds that cassava produces.

But the roots have a disadvantage: although rich in calories, in general they contain only few vitamins. Vitamin B6 in particular is present in only small amounts, and a person for whom cassava is a staple food would have to eat about 1.3 kg of it every day for a sufficient amount of this vital vitamin.

Serious deficiency in Africa

Vitamin B6 deficiency is prevalent in several African regions where cassava is often the only staple food people’s diet. Diseases of the cardiovascular and nervous systems as well as are associated with vitamin B6 deficiency.

Plant scientists at ETH Zurich and the University of Geneva have therefore set out to find a way to increase vitamin B6 production in the roots and leaves of the cassava plant. This could prevent vitamin B6 deficiency among people who consume mostly cassava. . . 

Arrest for 1080 milk powder threat

October 13, 2015

A man has been arrested on charges relating to last year’s threat to contaminate infant formula with 1080:

New Zealand Police have arrested a 60-year-old Auckland businessman in relation to the criminal blackmail threat to poison infant formula with 1080, made public in March this year.

The man is appearing in the Counties Manukau District Court this afternoon on two charges of criminal blackmail, relating to threat letters sent to dairy giant Fonterra Cooperative Group and Federated Farmers in November last year. Blackmail is punishable by up to 14 years in jail.

The arrest follows the execution of five search warrants in Auckland and the Rangitikei district this morning.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said today’s arrest follows a long and complex 11-month investigation, that has cost over $3 million and involved a 35-strong investigation team.

“This investigation is one of the biggest undertaken by police in recent times and reflects how seriously we view this kind of crime,” he said.

The Operation Conchord team had used a range of forensic techniques in gathering evidence, some that were innovative and could be used in future investigations, he said.

It’s believed the arrested man was acting alone and no further arrests are expected though Bush said he couldn’t comment on his motivations for the threatened blackmail.

More than 2,600 people were considered by the investigation team over the course of the enquiry.

Ministry for Primary Industries chief executive Martyn Dunne said the safety of consumers was paramount during the investigation. . . 

This is weclome progress in the case and police deserve credit for the work that must have gone into gathering evidence.

MPI and others involved in ensuring infant formula is safe have also done good work.

Rural round-up

October 8, 2015

Key sectors welcome TPP – Colin Bettles:

SUGAR may have been served a bitter-sweet outcome in the final Trans-Pacific Partnership but other key Australian commodities like beef, grains, dairy and cotton have tasted some success.

The Cattle Council of Australia (CCA) said the TPP deal – signed overnight by Federal Trade Minister Andrew Robb – would provide significant increased market opportunities for Australian grassfed beef producers, when it comes into force.

Game changer for beef

CCA president Howard Smith said the agreement signifies a game changing opportunity for the Australian beef industry which sees a positive future fort itself, in export markets. . . 

Rolleston wants GM use debate – Richard Rennie:

Councils’ efforts to ban genetically modified crops have Federated Farmers banging up against public opinion in some rural districts.

But federation president Dr William Rolleston argues the move to ban GM crops threatens farmers’ ability to innovate and is a choice they might lose through misinformation and misunderstandings about what the science is really about.

The federation’s case against council bans on GM use got a severe bruising when they lost on appeal to the Environment Court earlier this year. . . 

Milk price expected to hit $3000/t this year – Jemma Brackebush:

Banks and analysts are predicting international dairy prices will continue to rise, and a lift in Fonterra’s forecast payout looks likely.

Prices in the global dairy trade auction rose for the fourth consecutive time on Tuesday night.

The price for the key commodity, whole milk powder, which underpins the price Fonterra pays its farmers, increased by 12.9 percent to $US2,824 a tonne. . . 

Record jail sentence for animal abuser Michael Whitelock:

A dairy worker has been handed what is believed to be New Zealand’s longest-ever prison sentence for animal cruelty, after cows were beaten, had their tails broken and were shot in the kneecaps on a farm he managed.

Michael James Whitelock was sentenced in the Greymouth District Court on Wednesday to four and a half years jail and banned from owning animals for 10 years.

He had earlier pleaded guilty to 12 charges, including ill treatment of animals, unlawful possession of firearms and attempting to pervert the course of justice. . . 

Farmer suicides up – Jemma Brackebush:

Figures from the Ministry of Justice show 27 men in farming communities committed suicide in the past year ended June.

The chief coroner Deborah Marshall released annual provisional suicide statistics on Tuesday, which showed 564 people died by suicide in the past year, up 35 on the previous year and the highest number since records began eight years ago.

Male suicides rose from 385 last year to 428, and female suicides dropped from 144 to 136. . . 

Banks fork out a total $25.5M over rural interest rate swaps – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – The Commerce Commission has completed the distribution of $25.5 million to complainants and rural charities after reaching settlements with banks who had marketed interest rate swap products to farmers.

The commission says nearly $20 million in cash has been paid to eligible customers while $1.9 million was offset by the banks against debts some complainants owed to them. A further $2.5 million went to 14 regional Rural Support Trusts and the Dairy Women’s Network and the commission received $1 million to cover a portion of its investigation costs, including legal expenses. The bulk of the money came from the ANZ Bank New Zealand, which paid out $19.3 million in total, $3.2 million from ASB Bank and $3 million from Westpac Banking Corp. . . .

All Geared Up For The Glammies:

Entries are now open for the 2016 Golden Lamb Awards, aka the Glammies, which seeks out the tastiest and tender lamb in New Zealand.

The competition gives farmers the opportunity to enter their lamb into one of the most highly regarded competitions the industry has to offer.

The entries are then assessed by Carne Technologies in Cambridge for tenderness, yield, succulence and colour.

The scientific testing determines which top four entries from five categories will make it through to the final stage of the competition, a taste test, held at the Upper Clutha A&P show in Wanaka on 11 March 2016. . . 

New Zealand Bloodstock to Sponsor New Race in China:

New Zealand Bloodstock and the Inner Mongolia Rider Horse Industry Co. Ltd have partnered together to introduce the New Zealand Bloodstock Cup to be held in Inner Mongolia, China next year.

2015 RTR
The race is open to horses purchased by any Chinese buyer at this year’s New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale in November. To be held in July 2016 at Korchin, Inner Mongolia, the New Zealand Bloodstock Cup is worth RMB500,000 and will be run over 1800m.

NZB’s Co-Managing Director Andrew Seabrook is excited about the formal partnership reached between NZB and Rider Horse Group. . . 

Serious savings from whole-farm soil testing:

Whole-farm soil testing saves Taranaki farmer Hayden Lawrence about $15,000 on fertiliser each year.

Hayden, who farms in equity partnership with his wife Alecia and parents in Taranaki, began whole-farm soil testing seven years ago. To date, he has reaped about $90,000 in savings and has increased pasture production from 14.5 tonnes per hectare to 18.6T/ha on the 97ha property.

The Lawrences milk a maximum of 240 cows on an 85ha milking platform, using their hill country block to graze heifers. They also follow an 18-month cropping rotation, that sees paddocks planted into silage, oats, chicory and then into pasture. . . .

RHĀNZ welcomes Government’s new rural connectivity target:

The Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand welcomes the new rural connectivity target announced by the Government today.

The target means nearly all rural New Zealanders will be able to access broadband speeds of at least 50Mbps by 2025.

RHĀNZ Chairperson, Dr Jo Scott-Jones, says securing reliable and affordable telecommunications services is critical to the health and wellbeing of rural communities and is a top priority for all 40 RHĀNZ members.

“As part of our RBI phase 2 submission to Government earlier this year, we called for more ambitious targets for rural broadband speeds, so it is really pleasing to hear Minister Adams’s announcement today,” he says. . . 

Anglers urged to vote ‘in best interests of our fishing and hunting resources’:

The country’s anglers and game bird hunters are being reminded to make sure they vote in the Fish and Game Council elections.

Fish & Game Communications Manager Don Rood says that because voting closes at 5pm on Friday (9 October), those who are eligible and haven’t voted are advised to do so online, rather put voting papers in the post.

“We urge licenceholders to take the time to vote – to exercise their right to choose the people who can best advance their local region’s hunting and fishing interests. . . 

Free entry for 2016 Games:

The second annual Hilux New Zealand Rural Games takes place in Queenstown next Waitangi weekend (Sat 6th – Sun 7th Feb) and entry won’t cost you a cent.

Two days of ‘sports that built the nation’ and live entertainment on the Recreation Ground plus the Running of the Wools – more than 400 merino sheep herding through downtown Queenstown – will be completely free to watch.

We’ve been able to waive ticket prices thanks to the generous support of our patrons and event partners including major sponsors Toyota, Fonterra, Line 7, Ngai Tahu Farming, Jetstar and Husqvarna which has increased its support from the inaugural Games.

The Running of the Wools is once again supported by our friends at clothing and gift retailer, Global Culture. . . 

Rural round-up

September 21, 2015

Welcome boost to rural mental health:

New funding from the Government to help rural communities deal with an acute mental health situation is welcome, says Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa NZ (RHANZ) chairperson Dr Jo Scott-Jones.

But the problems are longstanding and go beyond the pressures of a low dairy payout, he says. 

Increased training measures are part of a one-off $500,000 funding boost for mental health initiatives targeted at rural communities, announced by the ministers of health and primary industries. . . 

Let’s break the silence – Matt Linnegar:

I WOULD not be the first nor last person to be astounded by the recent spate of attacks against women in this country. That men, often husbands and fathers could exact such terrible damage or in some cases kill their partners, wives or daughters is beyond comprehension and sickens me to the core.

The latest sad episode splashed across this week’s media forced me to set aside my cup of tea and say “well what are you doing about it”?

It goes without saying that I do not accept any form of violence against women be they my wife, daughter, mum, sisters or anyone else. I have at times spoken out when I have seen evidence of some form of violence against women taking place and in one incident, had to use physical restraint while intervening. But I am also guilty of swallowing the words that should have been uttered – no, loudly declared – at other times.

So a silent declaration to self this morning – never again.

While such a declaration is a very personal one, broadly speaking we can only have an impact if everyone (or the vast majority of people – in particular men) do the same. While this goes for all Australians, I would like to pay particular attention to rural, regional and remote Australia. In terms of my work at the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation, this is where our focus lies. We have a network of over 1000 leaders – men and women – across the country and primarily in rural, regional and remote communities. . . 

Farmers at breaking point after thefts, rustling rise – Phillipa Yalden:

Rising rates of rustling and farm thefts are pushing farmers to breaking point but police urge farmers not to take matters into their own hands. 

Dead cows have been stripped and lambs left orphaned in a spate of rustling and poaching from Waikato farms. 

Farmers are fed up with not only the thefts of stock, but prized equipment in what police say is a seasonal rise in rural crime.  . . 

Cost-cutting to outlast downturn – Glenys Christian:

Almost half of Waikato dairy farmers will keep cutting milk production costs even when returns lift, a field day survey has found.

Improving the cost of production this season was a priority for 60% while 23% were targeting an increase in pasture growth.

Just 8% said they would reduce the cost of supplements while none intended to increase stock sales.

A further 8% voted for other strategies, such as increasing off-farm income by letting their bach. . .

Mackenzie Basin farmers feel tenure review and nutrient rules have shut down land options – Tim Fulton:

Tenure review has given Mackenzie Basin farmers freehold land which they can’t fully develop because of nutrient management rules, says Simon’s Pass farmer Martin Murray.

He and his wife Penny have waited 17 years for permission to irrigate 500ha of Maryburn Station, their property in the middle of the Mackenzie Basin. To get a breakthrough, the owners needed to settle with “all the objectors” including the Mackenzie Guardians group.

Fighting for resource consent to irrigate had been expensive. Maryburn Station had spent $400,000 in legal and regulatory fees over the years, Martin Murray said. . . 

Future agri-leaders finalise UN declaration:

Young agriculture leaders from across the world have created a global call for action to help solve the pressing issues facing agriculture and food security.

In August 100 young thought leaders, aged 18-25, from 33 nations met in Canberra as part of the Youth-Ag Summit, where they discussed the role science and modern agriculture play in feeding a hungry planet.

During the week, the delegates voted on which themes they felt were most important, those with the overall highest priority formed the basis of the Canberra Youth Ag-Declaration. . . 

A Norfolk farmer has put 185 tractors up for sale:

Proud master of all he surveys, Norfolk farmer Paul Rackham takes us to Shed 9. From the outside, Shed 9 looks like just another grain store.

Inside it’s different. Inside, Shed 9, of Camp Farm, Roudham, near Thetford, is a cornucopia of tractor delights.

Filling nearly all its 55,000 square feet, tractors – veteran, vintage and classic – stretch as far as the eye can see.

There is a 1916 Saunderson Universal G, a 1941 Fordson N with row-crop conversion, a 1925 British Wallis (flat bonnet version!) . . .

Home should be safe

August 6, 2015

Justice Minister Amy Adams has launched a review into New Zealand’s family violence legislation:

“Combating family violence is my top priority. The rate of family violence in New Zealand is horrific. While the Government has a comprehensive work programme underway, I think the law can do more to reduce the incidence and impact of family violence,” says Ms Adams.

“This review won’t shy away from taking a hard look at our laws and raising some challenging questions. The reality is if we want different outcomes we have to be prepared to do things differently.

The law underpins our response to family violence, so we need to make sure the broad set of laws that apply to family violence are effective and work well together.

The discussion document raises a number of starters for discussion, including:

  • establishing a set of standalone family violence offences
  • creating an additional pathway for victims, perpetrators and whānau who want help to stop violence, but don’t want to have to go to court
  • ideas about improving the accessibility and effectiveness of protection orders
  • doing a better job of sharing information where family violence concerns arise between agencies and within the courts
  • considering compelling police action in certain circumstances such as requiring mandatory arrest for all breaches of protection orders
  • more prominence to victim safety in related legislation like the Care of Children Act and bail and sentencing law.

“When it was passed in 1995, the Domestic Violence Act was world-leading. It set out a clear response to family violence and distinguished it from other forms of crimes. While successive Governments have modified it over the years, it’s time for a rethink,” says Ms Adams.

“Laws are not the whole picture. We can’t legislate our way out of this. But our laws are a cornerstone element in how we respond to family violence.

“This Government is committed to better addressing the high rate of family violence. The home should be a safe place for all women, children, and men and we want to do our best to protect victims from re-victimisation. 

“This review is just one part of government work toward a coordinated, integrated and efficient response to family violence and sexual violence and is a central part of the cross-government package announced last year by Prime Minister John Key.”

The public consultation opens today at and runs until 18 September.

We have moved on from the time when family violence was regarded as “only a domestic” but it is still a serious problem.

Violence is not acceptable anywhere. It is worse at home which ought to be a safe place.
New Zealand National Party's photo.


August 5, 2015

An Auckland mother has admitted letting a neighbour sexually violate her nine-year-old daughter in exchange for cash. . .

How could any mother do that to her child?


Sixth commandment applies to states

April 29, 2015

Eight of the Bali-Nine have been executed.

An Indonesian firing squad has executed Bali Nine ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran and six other drug offenders.

The executions went ahead despite heavy international pressure on Indonesia and President Joko Widodo to grant clemency. . .

People who smuggle drugs are amoral.

Those who do so in countries which have the death penalty can not expect their own governments to save them.

But that doesn’t make the death penalty right. It is abhorrent.

The sixth commandment applies to states.

It is wrong for individuals to kill and it is wrong for their governments to kill.


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