Rural round-up

June 27, 2016

Brexit has major implications for the New Zealand sheep and beef industry:

“We are concerned about the future of New Zealand’s sheep and beef exports to the UK and the EU following the UK’s vote to leave the EU,” says Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association of New Zealand.

“Our sheep and beef trade to both the UK and EU are inextricably linked through quota access and both are likely to be affected,” said Sam McIvor, CEO of Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

The EU is New Zealand’s most valuable market for red meat and associated co-products, accounting for over NZ$2 billion in trade last year. . . 

Banks put heat on meat co-ops – Neal Wallace:

Banks appear to be running out of patience with meat company debt, asking both co-operatives to reduce their level of borrowing.

Both Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group have confirmed they have been told by their banks to reduce seasonal and core debt, but Alliance chairman Murray Taggart said his board had decided to do that anyway.  

Late last month Alliance chief executive David Surveyor told shareholders at the Alliance Pure South Conference banks had sent a strong message to the co-operative to reduce debt. . . 

Changing world will suit our red meat sector – Allan Barber:

When sheep and beef farmers are questioning whether they will ever receive the returns they need, there is potentially considerable hope for the future. The changing demographics and spheres of global influence indicate a substantial change in the relative economic power of the markets with which we trade.

The ANZ Bank’s June report focuses on new horizons in Asia, highlighting the top six countries we already trade with, representing 80% of New Zealand’s bilateral trade with Asia, and a second division of up and coming prospects. The report’s focus on Asia means our trade with the rest of the world is excluded from the analysis, but it provides a timely reminder of the opportunities available in markets not previously seen as easy or possible to develop.

These opportunities are further underlined by the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations held recently in Auckland involving 16 Asian countries which importantly include India. . . 

Dairy cow cull eases – Alan Williams:

Dairy cow cull numbers are finally reducing after spending most of the processing season in line with the high tallies of last year.  

Most people expected the cull to end early in the season but the numbers have only been falling since the end of May, week 33 of the killing season.

Going in to that week the tallies were down only 0.3% on the same time last year, at about 800,000; then the week itself was down 7% on last year and the companies have indicated the trend has continued. . . 

Silver Fern Farms seeks extension on Chinese deal :

Meat processing company Silver Fern Farms is seeking a time extension for official approval of its controversial deal with a Chinese company.

It also wants to defer a special meeting called by unhappy shareholders.

The joint venture with China’s biggest meat processor, Shanghai Maling, was approved by a majority of shareholders last October but still needs government and Overseas Investment Office approval. . .

Vineyards in growth mode – Sally Rae:

New Zealand’s vineyard area could expand by as much as 7000ha during the next five years, an almost 20% boost to the present producing area.

The expansion was under way, with an estimated 1800ha of grapes in the ground coming into production by the 2018 vintage, ANZ’s latest Agri Focus report said.

Marlborough would remain the epicentre of the sector at 65%-70% of the growing area, with the next largest areas being Hawke’s Bay, Otago and Gisborne. . .


Rural round-up

June 24, 2016

Prestigious Farm Environment Trophy Awarded To Helensville Couple:

Auckland farmers Richard and Dianne Kidd are the National Winners of the 2016 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Their win was announced at a gala dinner in Northland on June 22.

Richard and Dianne own a 376ha sheep, beef and forestry unit, Whenuanui Farm, on the edge of Auckland city. Their breeding and finishing operation runs 4820 stock units on 331ha (effective) with a pine woodlot established on 18.5ha and 15.3ha of regenerating native bush. . . 

Gisborne station marks fiver generations of farming – Kate Taylor:

Wendy Loffler points across the hills at a long fence line, reminiscing about rolling the posts down the steep ridge as the fence was built when she was a child.

Wendy was born on the property she farms with husband Brett, son Joe and his wife Sally on the Gisborne hills between Ngatapa and Rere. She’s full of stories about how the farm was developed and subdivided and the fascinating stories behind the names of the “new” paddocks, including Ngaio, which no longer grows any ngaio, and Dead Dog Paddock, although the exact location of the dead dog’s final resting place is still under friendly debate.

Piritaha Station was settled in the late 1880s by Johnny Hutchinson, whose sister married Frank Sherriff and it has been in the Sherriff family ever since. Joe and Sally’s children are the fifth generation to live on the property. . . 

Anchor Helping Ethiopian Children Reach Their Full Potential:

Anchor has launched a new consumer campaign in Ethiopia to help local children reach their full potential.

Anchor entered the emerging Ethiopian market in August last year with Anchor Fortified Milk Drink, a milk powder developed by Fonterra and the Food and Nutrition Society of Ethiopia to provide children with essential nutrients they may be missing from their daily diet. 

Now, as part of a brand-awareness programme, Anchor is giving away 100 school savings accounts to help pay for a year’s worth of school fees. . . 

Smart farm technology proves popular with farmers at Fieldays 2016:

Vodafone NZ is providing a launching pad for rural entrepreneurs to grow their ‘smart farm’ innovations as seen at this year’s Fieldays.

Innovation was the centerpiece of this year’s Fieldays, with farmers from across the country descending on Mystery Creek to see how technology is making farming smarter, easier and more cost effective.

More than 130,000 people walked through the gates at Mystery Creek near Hamilton for the 48th annual agribusiness event, with many heading straight for the Premium Pavilion where three of Vodafone NZ’s Smart Farm Innovation Partners were based. . . 

Notice of hearing for insecticide application method change:

A hearing is scheduled on an application to allow the insecticide Exirel to be applied aerially. Exirel is an insecticide whose active ingredient – cyantraniliprole – controls caterpillars and aphids in brassica crops used as fodder

Exirel was initially assessed and approved for use by the EPA in June 2013 for ground-based application with a maximum of three applications per year and a minimum interval of seven days between applications.

The applicant, DuPont Limited, is looking to move to aeriAal application for use on uneven terrain and in wet conditions. DuPont has proposed an aerial application rate of 15 g ai/ha, a maximum of three times per year, within a minimum interval of 14 days between applications. This is lower than the currently approved maximum application rate of 50 g ai/ha for ground-based methods. . . 

Horticulture Welcomes Bruce Wills As New Board Member:

Former Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills has been appointed to the position of independent board director for Horticulture New Zealand.

The Hawke’s Bay hill country farmer was appointed after an extensive selection process. Bruce joins the board of seven elected grower representatives and one other independent director.

He has been appointed for a three year term which starts from 1 July 2016. . . .


Rural round-up

June 23, 2016

Retiring prof’s work continues – Sally Rae:

Prof Frank Griffin describes his lengthy career in animal science at the University of Otago in his own inimitable way.

“It’s been absolutely amazing. I’ve had a party every day; it’s really been fun,” he said.

Official retirement might be looming at the end of the month for the popular professor but his association with the university, where he has worked since 1973, is unlikely to end. . . 

Port dairy cows spared – Sally Rae:

Port Chalmers dairy farmer Merrall MacNeille is looking at various options to get his milk back on the market.

He was recently ordered to stop selling raw milk after a tuberculosis-positive heifer was discovered on his property.

He was able to supply milk for pasteurisation and, using a small pasteuriser, hoped to have “something on the shelf” by the end of August.

Other options were also being explored and Mr MacNeille said they would “get there one way or another”. . . 

Zespri raises profit forecast range to recognise $50M of Gold3 licence revenue :

(BusinessDesk) – Zespri International, the kiwifruit marketer, raised its full-year profit forecast to take into account licence revenue of $50 million from the release of 400 hectares of Gold3 licence in 2016.

Zespri is now forecasting profit of $70 million to $75 million for the 2016/17 year, up from the range of $25 million to $30 million it gave in April. The earlier forecast excluded revenue from the release of Gold3 licences that were tendered in May.

The closed tender bid process attracted broad participation from the industry with 1,376 hectares bid and 266 successful bidders for the 400 hectares of the SunGold licence, Zespri said. Half the hectares were restricted to Green and Green14/Sweet Green growers to provide an opportunity for existing green growers to convert over to SunGold, it said. . . 

Seeka handles record volumes:

Seeka Kiwifruit Industries Limited advises that it has completed kiwifruit packing operations in Australia and New Zealand for the 2016 season. The Company has handled record volumes in the packing season, with more than 30M trays handled in New Zealand for the first time. Seeka now heads into the storage and inventory management portion of the season in New Zealand, while at the same time it completes its kiwifruit sales program in Australia. The Australian pear selling season is anticipated to complete in October.

New Zealand volumes handled by Seeka were up by 16.6% at 30.8m trays. This figure includes approximately 700k trays that will be removed from the inventory or at time of packing, through crop management. All volumes have been handled within the company’s infrastructure, and Seeka now moves to managing more than 16M trays in store. . . 

Police investigate ‘dear old lady’s’ pet sheep:

An elderly Waikato woman has been left distressed after four of her pet sheep were killed and their body parts strewn across her paddock.

Cambridge police say someone jumped the “dear old lady’s” farm fence on Tirau Road on Friday night and killed the four pregnant ewes.

“They left the offal and heads in the paddock for her to find the next morning,” police said on their Facebook page. . .

Greenpeace launches legal challenge against controversial $1b dam plan:

Greenpeace NZ is launching a legal challenge against a controversial plan to build a dam that’s set to cost close to $1 billion and will pollute a region’s rivers.

Today, Greenpeace will file a judicial review of resource consents granted by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to extend the area of land area that can be irrigated by the Ruataniwha scheme, which will aid the expansion of dairy farms in the region. 

The motion, to be lodged at the High Court in Napier, challenges two resource consents given to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company in January, which were granted without public notification on the basis of a Council assessment that any environmental effects would be no more than “minor”. . . 


Rural round-up

June 16, 2016

Meeting the market – Sally Rae:

A group of Silver Fern Farms supplier shareholders, led by chairman Rob Hewett, recently flew to China, visiting Shanghai, Inner Mongolia and Beijing. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae joined the group to learn more about opportunities, and challenges, in the country. 

Diverse and complex – that’s China.

It’s a country of extreme contrasts; travel from Shanghai Pudong International Airport to the inner city on the maglev train and reach a relatively sedate speed of just over 300kmh (it has a top speed of 430kmh).

City footpaths are swept by old-fashioned straw brooms, while latest model cars sweep past, somehow – albeit narrowly – avoiding the melee of ubiquitous scooters, bicycles and pedestrians. . . 

 

Chilled meat market to come – Sally Rae:

Chilled meat exports to China are likely to be “some time away yet”, Silver Fern Farms chairman Rob Hewett says.

In April, Prime Minister John Key announced New Zealand and China had agreed to protocols relating to chilled meat.

That was lauded as being set to add hundreds of millions of dollars in returns from red meat exports. . .

Dramatic improvement in water quality expected from aquifer project:

A project that provides fresh ways to improve water quality in New Zealand rivers opened to the public today.

IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis said “The Hinds/Hekeao Managed Aquifer Recharge project will take clean Rangitata River water and put this into the aquifer, helping solve current water quality issues as well as improving stream flows.

“The recharge project in combination with improving farm environmental performance, through nutrient limits and audited farm environment plans, will allow waterways in the zone to regenerate and thrive,” he said. . . 

 

Rural businesses target growth strategies;

Fieldays focus on helping rural businesses shift to the cloud

Despite the challenging effects of the dairy downturn, businesses in rural New Zealand remain focused on growth strategies, with strong investment intentions for the coming year according a new report on the sector released on the eve of Fieldays.

The latest MYOB Colmar Brunton Business Monitor survey of 210 businesses from across rural New Zealand highlighted that over half (57 per cent) acquired new machinery and equipment in the last year, a third (33 per cent) invested in technology and just under a quarter (23 per cent) spent money on employee training. . . 

A2 Milk lifts guidance for full-year sales, earnings as trading exceeds targets – Jonathan Underhill

 (BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk raised its guidance for full-year sales and earnings, saying trading is exceeding its targets and the milk marketing company is well placed to cope with changes to regulations for infant formula in China.

Revenue is forecast to be in a range of $350 million to $360 million in the year ending June 30, from a previous forecast of $335 million to $350 million. Operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation are projected to be $52 million to $54 million, up from the $45 million-to-$49 million range it gave with its first-half results in February. . . 

Wrightson lifts earnings forecast on strong retail, sees tough 2017 – Paul McBeth

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson raised its earnings guidance, saying its retail unit is likely to beat last year’s record result, although the rural services firm expects 2017 to be tough.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation are expected to be between $65 million and $68 million in the year ending June 30, up from a previous forecast for ebitda of $61 million to $67 million, the Christchurch-based company said in a statement. That’s still down from $69.6 million a year earlier due to the slump in dairy prices eroding farmers’ incomes. . . 


No change in GDT

June 16, 2016

The GlobalDairyTrade price index neither rose nor fell in this morning’s auction.

However, the price of whole milk which largely determines the farm gate price fell 4.5%.


Rural round-up

June 15, 2016

New regulations for bobby calves:

New regulations to strengthen the law around the management and treatment of bobby calves are planned to be in place before the 2016 spring calving season, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“Most farmers care for their animals and do a good job of looking after them. However it’s important we have clear rules and enforcement in place. Animal welfare is important not just to animals, but to consumers and our export markets,” says Mr Guy.

“The new, strengthened regulations will go to Cabinet for final approval shortly. I want to give farmers, transport operators and processors advance warning of these changes before the start of the calving season.” . . 

New Regulations Part of Wider Initiative to Strengthen Bobby Calf Welfare:

Details announced today for new regulations for the management and treatment of young calves are part of a wider programme of work by farmers, industry and government to strengthen bobby calf welfare.

The eight organisations that formed the Bobby Calf Action Group at the end of 2015 have accelerated and added to existing measures aimed at ensuring everyone involved with bobby calves applies best practice in their handling and care. . . 

Updated tool-kit to help farmers improve health and safety:

An updated tool-kit designed to help farmers better manage risks on their farms will be distributed at National Fieldays at Mystery Creek.

The tool-kit, which provides practical advice and resources to help farmers improve health and safety on their farms, has been developed by Safer Farms, ACC and WorkSafe New Zealand’s health and safety programme designed with farmers and the wider agricultural sector.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Federated Farmers were among the groups which provided input to the tool-kit. Beef + Lamb New Zealand, in addition to working with WorkSafe on the new tool-kit, is working with sheep and beef farmers to help them meet their obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act. Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive, Sam McIvor, says that by the end of June, the organisation will have run over 70 health and safety workshops for more than 2,100 attendees around the country. . . 

Nominations & entries open for South Island Farmer of the Year:

Nominations and entries are open for the 2016 Lincoln University Foundation South Island Farmer of the Year competition, and organisers are expecting wide interest.

Foundation Chair Ben Todhunter says, “Last year we had excellent entries which resulted in a tie, with Omarama Station and Clearwater Mussels sharing the honours. This substantially boosted public interest and we had excellent attendance at all of our events. We anticipate this level of interest will continue in 2016.” . . .

Genetic base cow change brings breeding worth back:

The genetic base cow – the genetic reference point for all dairy cattle in New Zealand – will be updated this month when it will become younger, moving from a 2000 to a 2005-born base cow.

New Zealand Animal Evaluation Limited (NZAEL) manager Jeremy Bryant says the genetic base is updated every five years and will be again on June 19, 2016.

Jeremy says the base cow update reflects genetic progress and prevents the gap between today’s animals and the genetic base becoming too large. This keeps the scale of genetic predictions relevant. . . 

Asia-Pacific’s Growing Appetite For NZ Blueberries Produces Record Industry Sales:

Huge demand for New Zealand blueberries is being welcomed by local growers who have exported a record 1.37 million kilograms of fruit this season.

Blueberries New Zealand (BBNZ) today announced over 10 million punnets of berries (worth an estimated $30 million FOB) were shipped to the end of March – a 40 per cent increase on the season before.

“Demand is continuing to grow, especially in Asia-Pacific where a ‘food-as-a-medicine’ culture prevails,” explains Blueberries NZ Chairman Dan Peach. “Asian markets have demonstrated a clear and voracious appetite for blueberries thanks to the wide range of amazing health benefits they offer.” . . 

DairyNZ announces new associate directors:

Two dairy farmers from Canterbury and south Auckland will join the DairyNZ Board of Directors this year.

New associate directors Jessie Chan-Dorman and Stu Muir have been selected to join the DairyNZ board for successive six month terms. Jessie begins this month and Stu from January 2017.

DairyNZ chair Michael Spaans says Jessie and Stu bring great industry experience to the roles, which are about providing experience to future leaders, showing first-hand how a board works and what goes into making key decisions. . . 


Rural round-up

June 14, 2016

Old meets new on China’s farms – Sally Rae:

The vast region of Inner Mongolia is an important agricultural producer in China. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae pays a visit.

The sight of an elegantly dressed woman, complete with red high heels, unloading sheep at a saleyards in Inner Mongolia is a little unusual.

But it is China after all.

Expect the unexpected.

Having spotted a small truck carrying a load of sheep, a detour proves enlightening for a group of Silver Fern Farm shareholders as the truck is destined for a sheep-trading centre in Wuchuan county, surrounding the capital city of Hohhot. . . 

Fieldays 2016: Govt looks to entice young people into farming Samantha Hayes:

The annual Fieldays farming extravaganza kicks off on Wednesday in Hamilton, bringing together farmers and 1008 exhibitors.

More than 120,000 people are expected through the farm gates at Mystery Creek between Wednesday and Saturday, but with falling dairy prices over the past two seasons will it be the money-go-round of previous years?

Around $1 million was withdrawn from ATMs on site last year. The trade show contributed $396 million to New Zealand’s economy, with Waikato’s slice of the pie totalling $132 million. . . 

Results of Fonterra shareholder voting at special meeting:

Fonterra’s Board and Shareholders’ Council will consider adjustments to the recommendations on the Co-operative’s governance and representation model with a view to bringing a revised proposal back to farmer shareholders before the end of the year.

This follows today’s Special Meeting where farmer shareholders did not pass a resolution regarding changes to Fonterra’s Constitution and Shareholders’ Council By-laws. 63.74 per cent of votes cast were in favour of the changes but under Fonterra’s Constitution 75 per cent support was required for the changes to be accepted. . . 

Back to the drawing board for Fonterra governance – Keith Woodford:

The key message from this month’s failed governance restructure vote is that Fonterra’s directors and the Shareholders’ Council must go back to the drawing board. Farmers do want change, but nothing can happen without 75% support from voting members.  So where to from here?

 Calculated over the total membership, approximately 37% of the voting electorate said ‘yes’ to the proposals, 21% said ‘no’, and 42% sat on the sidelines. Those 42% on the sidelines were either confused, disenchanted, or distracted by other events.

It is hard to believe that any of Fonterra’s farmers could consider themselves to be disinterested. This is because, unlike most investors who have diversified holdings across many companies, Fonterra’s farmers are totally dependent on Fonterra.   It is a very special relationship. . . 

Govt mulling options after velvetleaf outbreak:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy says he had “strong words” with his Italian counterpart after seeds imported from Italy led to a potentially costly outbreak of velvetleaf.

Labour has called for the company behind the beet seed importation to be prosecuted, but MPI is still considering its options.

The contaminated seed has been sown on more than 250 properties from Southland to Waikato, and is linked to beet seeds imported from Italy. . . 

Horticulture Supports Primary Sector Skills Funding:

Horticulture New Zealand welcomes a new pilot programme which aims to encourage tertiary education providers to work more closely with primary industry.

The new programme will introduce a competitive process to the allocation of the $35 million annually spent on tuition for study in tertiary level primary sector qualifications.

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce announced the new approach saying it would increase the tertiary sector’s responsiveness to industry education and training needs. . . 

ViBERi – NZ’s own organic blackcurrants – Just A Farmer’s Wife:

This week I was introduced to a fantastic, locally grown, superfood that is produced organically,  just 15 minutes from my door step – Organic Blackcurrants by ViBERi, Owned by Tony and Afsaneh Howey.

The packaging has caught my eye many times on supermarket shelving, local cafes and health food stores. As I knew little about them I never took it any further but made a note in my blog diary to look into them. In a strange twist of fate, just one week later I bump into Afsaneh, at Strawberry Divine (The local ice cream shop). Had a quick chat and got handed her card and flier with an offer to stop by!

Of course I cannot resist and here I am! Afsaneh was fantastic and took me for a look around the pristine facility and popped my head through the door of the sorting and packaging room where the overwhelming smell of sweet berries and even sweeter chocolate hit me like a freight train. (If they could bottle that smell I would buy it!). . . .


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