Rural round-up

September 24, 2018

There is support out there for Hawke’s Bay farmers – Georgia May:

Farmers constantly deal with situations that are out of their control, heavy weather, dairy payouts and stock illness. A vulnerability that doesn’t weigh on the minds of many others.

It’s been nearly three weeks since heavy rain struck the Hawke’s Bay region where some farmers lost up to 25 per cent of their newborn lambs.

While attitudes of farmers generally remain stoic through difficult times, others have spoken out, saying that they feel forgotten about. . .

Plant shows Alliance is serious

Processing has begun at Alliance’s new $15.9 million venison plant at Lorneville in Southland.

The first deer went through the plant last Monday. 

Once operating at peak capacity the plant will employ about 60 people.

It has improved handling facilities and an enhanced configuration. 

The slaughterboard, boning room and offal area are larger than those at Alliance’s venison processing facilities at Smithfield and the company’s former Makarewa plant. . .

Comprehensive interim tax report a useful step:

The Tax Working Group’s (TWG) Interim Report provides a useful resource for how New Zealand’s tax system could be improved says Federated Farmers vice president Andrew Hoggard.

“It’s a good piece of work. The report clearly articulates and explores the issues we raised in our submission – it’s a highlight when you can see you have been heard.”

A big issue explored in the report is whether to extend New Zealand’s taxation of capital income, says Andrew. “Federated Farmers remains opposed to a significant broadening of the capital gains tax particularly if it taxes unrealised capital gains.”

“The report outlines the value of providing ‘roll-over relief’ for farms sold to the next generation and for farmers wanting to ‘trade-up’ to a bigger more expensive farm.  These were two critical issues we raised in our submission to the TWG back in April so we are pleased that it has listened to us on those points. . .

Tax Working Group findings support private land conservation:

QEII National Trust is pleased to see the Tax Working Group’s recommendations acknowledged the scope for the tax system to support, sustain and enhance land protected by QEII covenants.

QEII National Trust CEO, Mike Jebson says “our covenantors know the value of investing in protected private land and we are pleased to see the Tax Working Group include suggestions that costs incurred in looking after land protected by QEII covenant should be treated as deductible expenses for tax purposes in their interim conclusions.” . .

UK farmers have edge on Kiwis – Jack Keeys:

Over the past 12 months I’ve visited numerous farms and agricultural companies throughout Britain. 

That insight provided an opportunity to observe New Zealand agriculture from an outside perspective and get a clear comparison with those on the other side of the world. 

Driving through Scotland, Ireland, Wales and now England I see the farms here exhibit a large variation in size, topography, climatic conditions and pasture management. 

However, some broad commonalities become very apparent.

The farms have insufficient infrastructure, they are under-stocked and have very inefficient pasture management.

Most farms require subsidies s to be profitable.  . .

Hunters under attack again:

Hunters all over new Zealand feel like they under an intense attack from the Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage who has let her personal hatred of wild animals cloud her judgement.

“This mass killing of up to 25,000 Himalayan Tahr is unprecedented in this country and about one million kilos of meat will be left to rot on the mountains of New Zealand. The stench and pollution of headwater streams will be on the Minister’s head. This is our food basket on which many families rely on.” says Alan Simmons President of The NZ Outdoors Party. . .


We need to talk about GM

September 24, 2018

We need to talk about genetic modification, former Chief Science Advisor Sir Peter Gluckman says.

Sir Peter Gluckman says the debate over whether to use genetically edited grasses to combat greenhouse gas emissions is more philosophical than scientific.

It’s also more emotional and political than rational.

The former Chief Science Adviser to the Prime Minister spoke to The Country’s Jamie Mackay about his report released this week in which he suggests New Zealand needs to have a “national conversation,” about using GMOs in agriculture.

“What I’ve raised in the report is just that if we’re serious about climate change, if we’re serious about environmental protection, if we’re serious about a reduction in predators and protecting biodiversity, we perhaps need to think again about whether the technologies which are increasingly being used offshore have got a role to play in New Zealand.” . . 

There are widespread calls for farmers to play their part in reducing emissions but many of those agitating for that are also opposed to allowing GM.

It is a tool widely used in other countries that is being denied to New Zealand farmers.

Mackay wonders if consumers will want to eat products from animals that have grazed on genetically modified grass, but Gluckman says this is already happening.

“Around the world consumers are eating lots of meat and lots of milk that are coming from genetically modified crops now … it’s been going on at least for a decade broadly around the world.”

It’s also in a lot of the food we’ve been eating for years. Most corn and soy that we import will have come from GM crops.

Gluckman says the issue is more “philosophical rather than a scientific debate” with a number of countries ruling that gene editing does not need the same regulatory controls as gene modification, but “other countries are not so certain.”

Gluckman believes there needs to be a discussion around the use of GM grasses before New Zealand begins testing them.

“I think that in theory it’s possible in New Zealand. It’s just that in practice it’s not possible and I think one would need a much broader national conversation to look through the issues which are largely more philosophical and values-based than they are scientifically based.”

We saw huge areas of corn when we were in Colorado and Nebraska on an IrrigationNZ tour 10 days ago.

All of it was genetically modified.

Farmers there have been producing GM crops for years with no problems in the field or in the market.

They told us it had both economic and environmental benefits. It yielded better and required fewer chemicals to grow.

AgResearch is trialing GM grass in the USA because it can’t do it here. The grass has the potential to make a significant reduction to methane emissions.

Opponents of the technology say it could risk our reputation for producing clean and green feed.

Surely the risk our competitors will be gaining the benefits of GM grass and marketing their meat as cleaner and greener is even greater.

Science is rarely 100% settled. But after decades of use in many countries there has been no evidence of any problems with GM that would put our farming at risk, and plenty of evidence of the benefits.

New Zealand needs to start talking about GM and the  conversation must be based on science and facts, not emotion and philosophy.


Rural round-up

September 23, 2018

Women: “We’re the glue in rural communities” –

Country women are still facing a high level of isolation, the president of Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) says.

Fiona Gower is a fifth generation New Zealand farmer, her family migrated to New Zealand in 1840. She has worked on farms and in wool sheds around the country.

And as the president of RWNZ she comes from a long line of community advocates.

“My grandmother was one of the founding members of the Rural Women New Zealand group in the early days down in Marton.” . .

Buyers bide their time – Hugh Stringleman:

The next two months will be crucial for the 2018-19 season milk price as buyers work out New Zealand’s dairy production, Rabobank dairy analyst Emma Higgins says.

Fonterra will offer more whole milk powder on the Global Dairy Trade platform where prices have fallen for the past four months and seven out of eight auctions.

As the spring peak looms an NZ milk production to the end of August was 5% or eight million kilograms of milksolids ahead of the corresponding time last season. . .

Potato virus found in New Zealand for first time:

A potato virus which affects potatoes used to make chips has been found for the first time in New Zealand.

The potato mop-top virus, known as PMTV, has been found in tubers from two properties in the Canterbury region.

David Yard of Biosecurity New Zealand, said PMTV was not a food safety issue but, if it became widespread, could cause productivity issues for growers. . .

Experienced dog trial isn’t shares tips

From training dogs as a youngster to having success at a national dog trialling level, Steve Kerr knows a thing or two about getting the best from a working dog.

Earlier this month more than 30 people attended his training day hosted by the Strath Taieri Collie Club at Lindsay Carruther’s Middlemarch property.

It was the first time the training day had been held there and Mr Carruthers said it was great to give people the opportunity not just to watch, but also get involved with their own dogs. . .

The rural wrap from around NZ:

The weekly rural wrap from around the country from RNZ’s Country Life.

Northland‘s kumara growers are finishing off bedding out to produce the plants that will go into the ground at the end of October. Kumara are fetching good prices – between $6 and $11 a kilo depending where you shop. Farms are still quite moist underfoot. However, showers this week will have served to freshen up the grass. Growers and farmers would like 15 millimetres of rain a week – and for the sun to come out. . .

Blow for WA sheep farmers as biggest buyer heads to South Africa – Jenny Brammer:

The live sheep export industry has been dealt a further blow with Australia’s biggest customer, Kuwait Livestock Transport and Trading, moving to source a long-term supply of sheep from South Africa.

The company, also called Al Mawashi, issued an announcement to the Kuwait Stock Exchange saying its board had approved the establishment of a new live export subsidiary in South Africa, similar to its Australian subsidiary Rural Export Trading WA.

RETWA owns a large pre-export quarantine property near Peel, and has offices in West Perth. Establishing operations in South Africa would spell the end to Australia’s 40-year exclusivity arrangement of supplying sheep to KLTT, which was buying up to two-thirds of the 1.8 million Australian sheep exported each year. . .

 


Rural round-up

September 22, 2018

Changes on the farm are improving water efficiency:

A water tax isn’t workable – but changes on the farm are improving water efficiency

IrrigationNZ says that introducing a nationwide water tax is not workable, and that allowing irrigators to continue to invest in more modern irrigation systems rather than taxing them will result in the biggest improvements in water use efficiency.

“A water tax has been considered in other countries internationally but in every case it has been abandoned. Other countries have found it too complex and expensive to design a fair water tax which can be easily implemented without resulting in adverse outcomes,” says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Andrew Curtis. . .

1080 drop to go ahead after failed legal bid :

A conservation group has failed in its legal bid to stop a 1080 drop in the Hunua Ranges near Auckland.

The Friends of Sherwood Trust won a temporary injunction in the Environment Court halting the major pest control programme two weeks ago.

It argued that the drop breached the Resource Management Act which prohibits the dropping of substances in beds of lakes and rivers.

However today the court refused the Trust’s bid to further halt the drop.

“We are not persuaded that there is likely to be serious harm to the environment if the proposed application proceeds.” . .

Plans for huge tahr cull upset Otago hunters – Simon Hartley:

A sweeping cull of at least 17,500 Himalayan mountain tahr proposed by the Minister of Conservation, Eugenie Sage, has outraged some recreational hunters in Otago.

Ms Sage’s sudden announcement of the high killing ratio may yet be challenged in court.

Killing of the tahr, which are related to goats and were introduced here in 1904, is to start within two weeks.

Ms Sage is proposing the Department of Conservation kill 10,000 animals in various areas in the Southern Alps over the next eight months because the animal’s estimated 35,000 population was “three times” that permitted by the long established Himalayan Tahr Control Plan. . .

Meat firms need more staff – Chris Tobin:

South Canterbury meat companies are so desperate for workers to start the new killing season they are recruiting overseas.

Immigration NZ has approved work visas for 24 migrant employees to work at Alliance Smithfield this season.

Figures released to The Courier by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) show Immigration NZ has also allowed Silver Fern Farms to employ 49 overseas workers in Canterbury, although the information did not specify what the break-down figures between the company’s two plants at Pareora and Belfast, Christchurch, were.

Work visas for 18 overseas workers for Anzco Foods at Ashburton have also been approved. . .

New Everyday FarmIQ pack targets mainstream dairy and livestock farmers.

A new range of software subscriptions from FarmIQ address the growing information needs of New Zealand dairy and livestock industry.

With a clear focus on the information needs of dairy and livestock farmers, the new packs will help mainstream New Zealand farmers run more productive and sustainable operations.

Darryn Pegram, FarmIQ Chief Executive Officer, said subscriptions start at $55 a month for the new “Everyday FarmIQ” software pack, delivering a broad suite of recording and reporting tools. . .

 ‘High-yield’ farming costs the environment less than previously thought – and could help spare habitats -“

New findings suggest that more intensive agriculture might be the “least bad” option for feeding the world while saving its species – provided use of such “land-efficient” systems prevents further conversion of wilderness to farmland.

Agriculture that appears to be more eco-friendly but uses more land may actually have greater environmental costs per unit of food than “high-yield” farming that uses less land, a new study has found.

There is mounting evidence that the best way to meet rising food demand while conserving biodiversity is to wring as much food as sustainably possible from the land we do farm, so that more natural habitats can be “spared the plough”. . . .


Reluctant farmer sees light

September 22, 2018

NZ Farmers Weekly profiles Cameron Henderson:

Cameron Henderson grew up on a dairy farm in Waikato but early in his career he decided dairy farming wasn’t for him. Eight years ago he saw a new light in the industry and joined the gold rush of dairying in a new pocket of Canterbury. His journey to farm ownership has been somewhat of a roller-coaster ride but he has no regrets. Annette Scott joined him on-farm to hear his story.

Cameron Henderson started his journey in the dairy industry working for Fonterra as a business analyst.

Growing up on the family dairy farm in Waikato he’d made the call early that he wasn’t keen on being a dairy farmer.

“As a kid I thought there’s got to be more to an agricultural career than wet, cold and mud. . .

 


Rural round-up

September 21, 2018

2019 Zanda McDonald Award shortlist announced: 

Six young agriculture professionals from both sides of the Tasman have been announced for the prestigious badge of honour for the primary industry, the Zanda McDonald Award.

Now in its fifth year, the award recognises innovative young professionals in agriculture from across Australasia. Five Australians and one New Zealander have been selected as finalists for the 2019 award based on their passion for agriculture, strong leadership skills, and their vision for the primary industry.

The shortlist is made up by Australians Alice Mabin 32, owner of Alice Mabin Pty Ltd in Linthorpe Queensland, Harry Kelly, 26, Manager of Mooramook Pastoral Co. in Caramut Victoria, Luke Evans, 28, Station Manager of Cleveland Agriculture in Tennant Creek Northern Territory, Nick Boshammer, 30, Director of NBG Holdings Pty Ltd in Chinchilla Queensland, and Shannon Landmark, 27, Co-ordinator of the Northern Genomics Project of the University of Queensland. Kiwi Grant McNaughton, 34, Managing Director of McNaughton Farms in Oamaru, North Otago rounds off the six. . . 

Kiwi farmers take on growing South American super food – Catherine Groenestein:

Growing Taranaki’s first commercial crop of quinoa was challenge enough, but finding a combine harvester in a district devoted to dairying proved tougher.

Luckily for Hamish and Kate Dunlop of Hāwera, they found someone who owns the only suitable machine in the region living just down the road.

The couple’s journey into growing a crop native to South America on their sheep and beef farm began with a discussion about whether quinoa, a food the health-conscious family was already familiar with, would grow in South Taranaki, Kate said. . .

 The grass on the far side of the fence will look much greener for Fonterra farmers – Point of Order:

It  must have felt  like  salt being rubbed into  their  financial wounds   for Fonterra’s farmer-shareholders, when Synlait  Milk this week  reported  its  net profit  soared  89%  to  $74.6m.   Fonterra’s  mob   saw  their  co-op  notch  up  a  loss of  $196m, and  with prices  at GDT auctions trending down,  they may also have to accept a trim  to the forecast milk price.

Where  Fonterra  talks of   slimming its  portfolio,  Synlait  is still investing  in expansion.

In the latest year Synlait has been working on new and expanded plants in Dunsandel, Auckland and Pokeno as well as a research and development centre in Palmerston North. . .

Much more mozzarella – Chris Tobin:

Cutting-edge technology used in Fonterra’s new mozzarella line at its Clandeboye plant is the first of its kind in the world, and being kept under wraps.

”It’s the result of years of investment into R&D and hard work at the Fonterra Research and Development Centre,” Clandeboye cheese plant manager Chris Turner said.

”The work has been supported in part by the Primary Growth Partnership between the Government, Fonterra and Dairy NZ.

”Other than that we can’t tell you too much more. . .

Fonterra steers clear of consultants after paying millions to McKinseys – Nikki Mandow:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group will not use external consultants for its newly-announced everything-on-the-table asset review, the dairy processor says. This follows allegations it paid up to $100 million a year between 2015 and 2017 to global consultancy giant McKinsey as part of its “Velocity” cost-cutting and restructuring programme.

It also forked out millions of dollars in CEO and other staff bonuses as part of its Velocity Leadership Incentive scheme. . .

Balle and Coull to join Ballance Agri-Nutrients Board

Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ shareholders have chosen Dacey Balle and Duncan Coull from an unprecedented field of 19 candidates to join the Co-operative’s Board, representing the North Island.

Murray Taggart, who retired by rotation this year, was unopposed in the South Island Ward and re-elected to the Board – while the decisions of Gray Baldwin to not seek re-election and Donna Smit to step down in the North Island Ward, opened a rare opportunity to secure a governance role with a leading rural business. . .


Rural round-up

September 20, 2018

Scratching beneath the surface of Fonterra’s accounts – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s loss of $196 million for the year ended 31 July 2018 has left nowhere for the Fonterra Board to hide. Wisely, it has chosen to take the loss on the chin. In line with this, it has completed the jettisoning of CEO Theo Spierings. Two of its most experienced directors (Wilson and Shadbolt) are also departing.

Fonterra plans to now take stock of the situation before charting a path to the future. However, the latest Fonterra communications at farmer meetings are emphasising debt reduction.

A black and white sort of a guy
New Chairman John Monaghan has been described to me as a black and white sort of a guy. That might be exactly what Fonterra needs; someone who calls a spade a spade and cuts through the public relations massaging that bedevils Fonterra
. . .

Synlait nearly doubles profit in tenth year of operation:

Synlait has reported a net after tax profit (NPAT) of $74.6 million, almost double the NPAT of $39.5 million announced for the same period last year.

The results for the financial year ending 31 July 2018 (FY18) were achieved in a period of large investment, and a renewed focus on the future.

An increase in finished infant formula sales helped to drive this profit, which was enabled by a number of investments in the blending and consumer packaging space. . .

Comedy night to highlight rural wellness:

A group of Kiwi comedians are set to hit the road for a series of shows designed to get farmers off the farm and laughing.

Farmstrong, a group which promotes rural wellness, has helped organise five further comedy nights after a successful sold-out first show in Waikato.

The initiative is also supported by NZ Young Farmers and the Rural Support Trust. They say it aims to help highlight the issue of mental health and wellbeing, and are a way for farmers to take a break. . .

Apropos of this, Farmstrong has a wellbeing check list.

New boss aiming for more talent – Pam Tipa:

To hit targets and ensure a flow of young talented people coming into agriculture requires connecting with everybody.

This is the view of Lynda Coppersmith (48), who takes over as Young Farmers chief executive on October 1.

”If that means we need to do more to connect with women and show young women there is a career path, then let’s do it,” says Coppersmith. . .

Waimea Dam Bill widely supported at first reading:

Support has been welcomed from National, Labour, NZ First and Act parties for the introduction of the Tasman District Council (Waimea Water Augmentation Scheme) Bill that saw 112 votes in support to eight opposed and its referral to the Governance and Administration Select Committee, Nelson MP Nick Smith says.

“This Bill is the last critical piece of work required to enable the construction of this dam in the Lee Valley and resolve the long term problems of water security and river health on the Waimea Plains. The project has full resource consents and the $100 million in funding required from horticulturalists, Government and Council. This Bill is about resolving the issue of access to the land for the reservoir in the Mount Richmond Forest Park. . .

Urgent cull of South Island’s Himalayan tahr population ordered by Conservation Minister – Holly Carran:

The Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage has ordered an urgent cull of the Himalayan tahr population across the central South Island, claiming the numbers have reached destructive levels.

The Department of Conservation (DoC) wants to remove 10,000 tahr on public conservation land, including the Westland/Tai Poutini and Aoraki Mt Cook National Parks, over the next ten months. 

The Tahr Liaison Group – made up of organisations with hunting interests and Ngāi Tahu, will help reduce the numbers by hunting an extra 7500 – overall halving the population if successful.  . .

Walking Access Commission appoints new Chief Executive:

The Walking Access Commission, the Government’s expert agency on public access to the outdoors, is pleased to announce the appointment of Ric Cullinane as its new Chief Executive.

Mr Cullinane has been the Commission’s Operations Manager since 2010, and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his new role. . . 


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