Rural round-up

April 21, 2015

Sturgess.”I’ll help” – Neal Wallace:

Tom Sturgess, one of New Zealand’s richest men and largest farmers, is willing to be involved in making the red meat industry more profitable.

A career that includes running several diverse multi-billion-dollar companies including United States meat packing houses has given Sturgess some clear thoughts and ideas on how to revitalise the meat industry, even though some of those solutions could be considered unconventional.

Sturgess volunteered his help in an FWplus interview, saying he would happily be involved to find ways to improve sector profitability if he was wanted. . .

Shear warmth: former hairdresser’s dream become reality :From being a city hairdresser in New Plymouth making small talk with clients to living in the remote central North Island where the closest neighbour is eight kilometres down a winding, gravel road, Monique Neeson has been through a few changes.

You can also add to that the launch of a company selling woollen blankets that are, as she describes them, born, grown, woven and handmade in New Zealand.

Neeson laughs at her transformation.

“I can remember the first time I came to this farm, winding down the road for absolutely ages, and I told Tim, [now her husband], I’d never negotiate the road again.” . .

Don’t fight system farmers told – Alan Williams:

Farming within water quality limits is now a reality that all farmers will need to adapt to, Canterbury farmers have been told.

The process of setting quality limits and the farming changes required to meet them would be challenging and take time for everyone to get there, Environment Canterbury (ECAN) commissioner David Bedford told the Future of the Heartland farm forum at Conway Flats in North Canterbury today.

Some nutrient management tools had limitations and were still being developed and ECAN compliance activities would take that into account, he said in a speech on behalf of head commissioner Dame Margaret Bazley. . .

Farmers’ bank balances under severe pressure:

Industry body DairyNZ says bank balances for most dairy farmers will be heading south this winter and spring, producing some short-term but significant cashflow management challenges for farmers.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says 2015-16 will still probably end up being a breakeven year for most farmers but cashflow will be a major issue that could result in some increased term debt in the sector and less spending in the regions.

“Farmers are used to having seasonal cashflow that drops into the red but then pops back into the black at some stage during the summer period. However, our current forecasts indicate that many farmers won’t be in credit for the entire 12 months of next season unless costs are reduced, income is higher than predicted or some of their overdraft is put into their term debt.” . . .

24 ways to to survive next drought – Nadene Hall:

Ask a group of farmers with over 500 years’ experience between them how to manage a property before, during and after a drought, and you get a lot of practical tips and wisdom. AgResearch asked 20 South Canterbury farmers about their strategies for successfully managing their properties after a drought.

All the farmers had experienced severe droughts over the previous 20-30 years of farming. What worked best on an individual property depended on things like its climate and soil type, and what was being farmed, but the scientists concluded these are the key areas to look at: . .

Search on for cotton workers – Andrew Marshall:

AUSTRALIA’S rural skills shortage is not just a problem troubling individual farms or regional machinery businesses – the cotton industry fears the profitability of the entire cropping sector is eroding.

The combined impact of new farm technology growth and a shortage of rural recruits with skills ranging from information technology and accounting, to engineering and agronomy, is stressing broadacre agriculture’s efficiency and productivity.

Corporate farms and big agribusinesses are frequently resorting to ‘cherry picking’ the talent they need from other players or other sectors of the industry, even if it means taking agronomists and turning them into bankers.  . .


Rural round-up

April 20, 2015

Future of the heartland – Dr William Rolleston:

When we think of the Heartland we conjure up images of the rough and ready can-do farmer striding across the high country. But the farmer of the Heartland is not confined to this image.

Farming in the Heartland is a technically challenging career. I am in constant awe of my fellow farmer, who every day must make complex decisions, dealing with the vagaries of weather, biology and the market. Like me, my grandfather also came to farming from medicine and for the rest of his life found incredible satisfaction in the scientific challenge farming brings.

The Heartland has contributed enormously to New Zealand and our development as a country. This month we commemorate 100 years since New Zealand’s recognised baptism of fire.

Farmers contributed their horses and their sons to the war effort. Almost every horse and many of our men never returned. Back in New Zealand the production of food and fibre had to continue apace. We remember the past but we also must look to the future. The future of the Heartland. . .

 Award-winning agriculture student gets the job done – Kate Taylor:

Kahlia Fryer wants to own her own farm one day and she’s likely to make it if her work ethic to date is anything to go by.

As well as studying and working fulltime as president of the Lincoln University Students’ Association, she has 41 high-breeding-worth heifer calves that are in the top 5 per cent of New Zealand crossbreds and destined for her father’s herd.

Fryer won the Lawson Robinson Hawke’s Bay A&P scholarship at the recent Hawke’s Bay Primary Industry Awards  – chosen as much for her extensive work experience as her wish to succeed in agriculture and to encourage others into the industry, according to one of the judges.  . .

Grower tops veggie patch:

Pukekohe grower Hamish Gates  has beaten off tough competition from four finalists to be crowned New Zealand Young Vegetable Grower of the year.

Gates had the home turf advantage in the Horticulture New Zealand competition at Pukekohe on April 16 where finalists competed in a series of practical and theoretical challenges  to test their skills needed to run a successful vegetable growing business.

Gates, 24,  works at AS Wilcox & Sons as a carrot washline supervisor and won a $2500 travel grant for professional development and other prizes. As the vegetable grower titleholder he will travel to Christchurch to compete for the national Young Grower of the Year title in August. . .

Game of two halves for 2015 Grain Harvest :

The 2015 Grain Harvest has been a game of two halves, according to survey results released by the Arable Industry Marketing Initiative (AIMI).

Federated Farmers Grain and Seed Vice-Chairperson, David Clark, says “Whilst drought conditions during the growing season has reduced the yields on dry land that has been balanced out by improved yields on irrigated land resulting in total harvest yields being very similar to 2014 across all grains.”

“The survey shows the large surpluses of unsold grain in the previous 2013 season have well and truly gone, however available stocks of grain are very similar to last season which leaves the NZ Industry well placed to provide domestically grown feed to assist in drought recovery.” . . .

Paul Whiston appointed CEO of LIC Automation:

LIC has appointed Paul Whiston as chief executive of its new subsidiary business, LIC Automation.

Paul Whiston, originally from Rotorua, was previously head of sales and marketing for Paymark Ltd, the bank-owned payment network operator, where he was also acting chief executive for a time.

Prior to that, he was based in London as general manager international for Simpl, a New Zealand information technology professional services company. . .

 

ExportNZ welcomes introduction of U.S. legislation to facilitate trade agreements:

ExportNZ Executive Director Catherine Beard says the introduction of bipartisan legislation in Congress to re-establish Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) – trade legislation that facilitates the negotiation and implementation of U.S. trade agreements – is welcome news.

“There is still work to be done to pass this legislation, but this is an important step in that direction. We understand we are close to the final stages of the TPP negotiation.  . .

 


The Farm At Black Hills

April 20, 2015

The Farm At Black Hill is the story not only of the farm and the families who farmed it.

It weaves in the history of the Hurunui District, merino wool and the Romney and Corriedale sheep breeds

Most of all it is a memoir of the very full life of Beverley Forrester, a woman who, as she quips to one of her staff, is not afraid of hard work.

Beverley was brought up on a farm on Matakana Road, near Warkworth, by parents who modelled a strong work ethic and taught their family the importance of community involvement.

She trained as an occupational therapist and soon after graduating was appointed charge OT at Templeton Hospital.

While working in various posts as an OT, Beverley continued to follow her interest in coloured sheep. An invitation to judge at the Cheviot Show led to a meeting with Jim Forrester and she moved to Black Hills.

The marriage was a happy but short one. After just 10 years Beverley was widowed and found herself in charge of the farm.

Eventually she had to accept Black Hills was too big for her and she sold most of it to focus on other work.

She and her staff undertook the restoration of the farm’s historic limestone buildings which became a tourist attraction.

She also followed her passion for wool. English cousins helped her set up a shop in Henley-On-Thames. She exports to several countries, has her own fashion label and her clothes have been shown at New Zealand Fashion Week.

Beverley writes in a matter-of-fact style on everything from dagging sheep to meeting royalty.

I finished this book in awe of what she has accomplished.

You can find out more at her website Black Hills.

The Farm AT Black Hills, Farming Alone in the Hills of North Canterbury by Beverley Forrester with John McCrystal, published by Penguin Random House.

blackhills

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All royalties from the book are being donated to Rural Women NZ.


Rural round-up

April 19, 2015

DOC and New Zealand Fur Council agreement a win-win – except for possums:

Greater conservation and economic benefits will follow an agreement signed by the Department of Conservation (DOC) and New Zealand Fur Council (NZFC) today.

DOC already works with individuals who wish to hunt and trap on conservation land, but this Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the collective voice of the possum fur industry will make it easier for Fur Council accredited hunters and trappers across the country to gain access to public conservation land for fur recovery operations.

“We need more possum fur to increase the market size for New Zealand’s unique blended Brushtail possum yarns and garments,” says Neil Mackie, chairman of the New Zealand Fur Council. .

An iwi-based farming initiative:

A large Māori farming corporation in Whanganui is using a marae homestead near Waiōuru to train young adults from its iwi to run all of the incorporation’s farms.

The Awhiwhenua Land Based Training Farm School based at Ngā Mōkai Papakainga, under the shadow of Mount Ruapehu, is Ātihau Whanganui Incorporation’s third iteration of a training programme that its trust funds.

Chair of Te Ātihau Trust, Toni Waho, said that while its goal is to have uri (descendants) running all its farms, he admitted that the course was lacking a cultural and kaitiakitanga (guardianship) component. . .

Export statistics for the first half of the 2014-15 season:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand compiles lamb, mutton and beef export statistics for the country. The following is a summary of the first six months of the 2014-15 meat export season (1 October 2014 to 31 March 2015).

Summary
Strong demand and a weaker New Zealand dollar against the US dollar led to record high returns for beef in the first six months of this season, with the average per tonne value up 28 per cent, compared to the same period last season. Meanwhile, the total value of lamb exports rose slightly, despite lower export volumes.

October 2014 to March 2015 exports

 . . .

US burger demand bodes well for NZ beef farmers, economist says: – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – A trend towards eating out in the US, which saw sales at restaurants and bars overtake spending at grocery stores for the first time last month, bodes well for New Zealand farmers who produce beef for hamburger patties, an economist says.

The US is New Zealand’s largest beef market, accounting for 51 percent of the nation’s $2.65 billion of beef exports in the year through February, according to the latest trade data from Statistics NZ. Retail sales data released in the US yesterday showed younger Americans are more likely to eat out at fast-food restaurants, helping restaurant and bar sales overtake grocery for the first time since the data began in 1992, Bloomberg reported. . .

Minister meets four-legged border protectors:

Customs Minister Nicky Wagner acknowledged the valuable assistance the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) Detector Dog Breeding and Training Centre has provided New Zealand Customs, on a visit to the Centre in Melbourne.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet the hardworking Customs staff – both four-legged and two – at the Detector Dog Centre,” Ms Wagner says.

“New Zealand Customs has been working with the ACBPS Detector Dog programme since 2002. The ACBPS provides up to five dogs a year under an agreement that has seen 27 dogs join NZ Customs since 2008. . .

How bad was this summer’s drought? – Andrew McMillan:

There are two interesting questions in regard to this summer’s drought. Firstly, how bad was it compared to other years. And secondly, how bad was it on a regional basis.

To answer these two questions, I grabbed some rainfall data from NIWA’s CliFlo Database and carried out the following analysis. . .

Waitomo-based Footwhistle Glowworm Cave celebrates 100 years guiding:

It is a momentous occasion for the team at the Footwhistle Glowworm Cave Tour in Waitomo as they celebrate a combined 100 years of Guiding. The small Family team of Four Guides have over 100 years of guiding experience between them.

“This is quite an achievement considering we only opened this cave tour in 2010,” says Kyle Barnes, owner-operator of the Footwhistle Glowworm Caves.

“Footwhistle Glowworm Cave is one of the largest systems in the Waitomo area and thanks to conservation measures and careful native planting over the past 20 years our system now supports some of the best Glowworm displays too,” he says. The absolutely stunning cave system is made up from stalactites, stalagmites and other cave formations growing from water dripping from the ceiling or flowing over the walls and leaving behind limestone deposits. . . .

 


Rural round-up

April 18, 2015

Criteria “too tough” on migrant workers – Federated Farmers – Tess McClure:

Farmers facing labour shortages say immigration criteria is “too tough” for migrant workers plugging the gap.

High numbers of farmers had approached Federated Farmers Southland with concerns about visas for their migrant worker employees, regional president Russell Macpherson said.

He said many workers were having trouble getting residency visas, despite calls from farmers to help keep their employees in-country.
 
“For some reason the people at immigration don’t think these jobs are important enough to grant them residency,” he said. “They’re doing work that New Zealanders clearly don’t want to do, so why are we making it so hard?”
 
While many migrant workers coming to New Zealand on work visas have high hopes of staying in the country and bringing their families over, less than a third are granted the chance of residency. . .

Shearing community mourns woolhandler:

The shearing community is mourning the loss of New Zealand woolhandling legend, Joanne Kumeroa, who has died after a three year battle with cancer.

The 45-year old had been living in Australia but returned home to Whanganui just before Christmas, and died yesterday.

Ms Kumeroa was regarded in shearing circles as a New Zealand icon, winning more World, Golden Shears and national wool-handling titles than any other competitor in her 24 year career.

Friends said she used her battle with cancer to raise women’s awareness of the disease. . .

Project to future-proof our biosecurity system:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has launched a new project which will further strengthen and future-proof New Zealand’s biosecurity system.

The project, Biosecurity 2025, will update and replace the founding document of New Zealand’s biosecurity system, the 2003 Biosecurity Strategy, with broad input from stakeholders, iwi and the New Zealand public.

“Government and industry have set a goal of doubling the value of our exports by 2025, and an effective biosecurity system is fundamental to achieving this,” says Mr Guy. . .

 

Peta’s mutilated lamb campaign sparks backlash (graphic content) – Rosanna Price:

The picture above has been captioned by PETA with: THIS is what most sheep used for wool look like after “shearing”.

But many people, including animal-activists and sheep shearers, disagree.

The image of an Australian musician holding the explicity graphic and mutilated body of a lamb was animal rights group PETA’s (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’) way of advertising their latest expose on sheep shearing. . .

Outstanding in her field:

Dairy Woman of the Year 2015 Katie Milne hopes to use her new profile for the wider good of New Zealand farming. 

Katie Milne hopes winning the Dairy Woman of the Year title will be a good platform to push messages about farming as “the rest of New Zealand do not understand us well”.

 “They need to understand us better so we can be allowed to grow our industry, and to do that New Zealand has got to back us,” Milne told Rural News. . .

Questions for Fonterra – Andrew Hoggard:

A lot of shareholders were disappointed with the interim results Fonterra announced last week.  Many feel they are not seeing a return on their investment.

I think we might be asking the wrong question.  It shouldn’t be about where’s the return on our investment, but rather where do we see the value of being part of a co-op.

At the moment the milk price we are paid is based on the Global Dairy Trade result.  It is averaged across the season – less manufacturing costs – in a very crude simplistic sense.  The reality is that all the other companies should be achieving this anyway with their products. . .

Field day for Waipā catchment:

An event organised by DairyNZ aims to advise famers and landowners on how best to manage their property in an environmentally sustainable way.

People in the Waipā River catchment are being encouraged attend the Kaniwhaniwha Stream field day, which will offer information on funding sources for environmental initiatives along with other resources.

Hosts Denis and Felicity Ahlers have worked with industry body DairyNZ to develop an environment-focused sustainable milk plan. They have also identified work that can qualify for council and Waikato River Authority funding. . .


Lower milk price good in long run

April 18, 2015

Dairy farmers aren’t enjoying the lower prices that have followed a drop in demand for milk, but they could be good in the long run:

Low dairy prices will benefit the New Zealand dairy industry in the long term, Lincoln University Agribusiness and Food Marketing Programme Director Nic Lees says.

“The low prices are the best thing that can happen as it will limit the European expansion.”

He says a cost war is going on between New Zealand and Europe at the moment.

“Quotas have come off production in Europe so they are expanding production. This is similar to what is happening in oil with expanding production due to shale gas,” Mr Lees says.

“Ireland, for example, is planning to increase milk production by 50 per cent.”

A Dutch dairy farmer who visited us last year had begun increasing his cow numbers in preparation for the end of quotas.

He says New Zealand is the Saudi Arabia of milk — “We can be the lowest cost producer, but need to focus on grass based production to weather the storm”.

“Grass will always be the lowest cost source of feed and New Zealand has the most efficient grass- based dairy system in the world.

“Ireland can grow grass too but currently they utilise less than half what they grow. The large housed dairy operations in Europe are also only profitable at high milk prices,’’ Mr Lees says.

“We need to focus on what we are good at, which is grass.”

Higher prices encouraged farmers to use more expensive feeding systems but our climate and soils give us a natural advantage in growing grass.

The halcyon days may be gone for a while though.

“We are unlikely to see high prices again soon.

“It is going to be a slow recovery of price and dairy farmers need to be able to be profitable at $5/kgMS or they won’t survive.”

He says the average milk price over the last 10 years was around $5.50/kg MS.

“It is likely that this will be similar over the next decade as well. What we are seeing though is greater volatility. This is going to continue so farmers need to have systems that are still profitable when the price is low. The most resilient system is the low input grass based system.”

As an economy we also need to see the opportunities in other areas, he adds.

“For example there have been record high returns for beef in the first six months of this season, with the average per tonne value up 28 per cent. Beef is a great story with China needing to increase its beef imports by up to 20 per cent a year for the next five years to meet its surging demand for protein.”

Lamb also has good prospects, Mr Lees says, and there are other opportunities, such as can be seen with the growing sheep dairy industry.

Lower dairy prices will take the heat out of land prices.

They’ll also make conventional sheep and beef farming more attractive and there is potential for more sheep milk production.

 


Rural round-up

April 17, 2015

Southern Dairy Hub Great Farmer Investment:

The Southern Dairy Hub is an excellent investment for southern dairy farmers, as every dollar invested automatically delivers a $6 return.

That’s the view of Hedgehope dairy farmer Nigel Johnston, who has pledged his support for the Hub proposal and considers it a good investment for his farm business for a number of reasons.

“We need some decent science around what’s happening specifically in Southland and especially around nutrient management. A collective approach to that – like what’s being proposed with the Hub – is critical.” . .

 

Drystock farm ownership, what’s the path? – Kiwifarmer:

Drystock farm ownership, what is the path?

I have a collection of ideas on this and it’s a great discussion to be having.

With drystock farms increasing in value faster than individuals can save and are also realistically out of reach of the saving only model. How becomes a very good question!?

In recent times I’ve read suggestions about share farming and share cropping.

The sticking point for me with these arrangements is the risk and return. There has to be enough return or fat in the agreement that both party’s feel they get their fair share and in the case of the farm owner, they need a fair return on their capital. Which they may or may not currently be getting. . . 

New Zealanders Treat Soil like Dirt:

An international soil scientist claims that, too often, New Zealanders treat “soil like dirt” when it should be revered because “our lives depend on it.”

Dr John Baker says human life exists because of soil yet all that most people do is walk on it, dirty their shoes or dig it up and put buildings and roads on it.

“Soil is a living entity. It provides us with up to 90 percent of our food. There are more living organisms in a cupful of healthy soil than people on the planet,” he says.

Dr Baker says alarming figures provided by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the UK Farmers Weekly suggest that the quality of soil is rapidly diminishing. . .

New Zealand vintners pioneer low-alcohol techniques

(Reuters) — New Zealand’s cooler climate is giving its wine makers an edge as they seek to exploit growing global demand for lighter, premium wines.


Rising temperatures are pushing up the alcohol content of wines from rivals such as Australia and the United States.


The 2015 vintage of the country’s flagship Sauvignon Blanc will be the first produced under a government-backed initiative to research and produce wines that dispel the image of low-alcohol, low-calorie wines as overly sweet, inferior tastes.
 . .

Marlborough vineyard with growth opportunities goes up for sale:

A respected Marlborough vineyard producing award-winning sauvignon blanc grapes has been placed on the market for sale.

Located in the Awatere Valley, the vineyard is owned by the Van Asch family who are well-known for farming in the region for 150 years.

After spending more than a decade creating the vineyard from bare land and building up the business, the owners have decided the time is right to move on. The freehold property has been placed on the market with Bayleys by negotiation, with a closing date for offers of April 22. . .

 

Hat tip: Utopia


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