Rural round-up

May 22, 2015

Breaking down NZ fences – Lindy Nelson:

From dairy to red meat, New Zealand agribusiness is undergoing a profound transformation. The expanding markets of Asia bring both new opportunities as well as challenges.

To extract the maximum value from these opportunities the sector needs an injection of new ideas and perspectives and to engage 100 per cent of its available talent. One of the ways this is happening is the emergence of more women in leadership roles.

From boardrooms to the management of New Zealand’s top agribusinesses, women are stepping into roles not traditionally held in our sector. . . .

INZ supportive of budget 2015 allocation to freshwater management:

Irrigation New Zealand supports the government’s budget allocation to assisting councils with the implementation of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and the 2014 National Objectives Framework, and to supporting a new collaborative approach to resolving managing freshwater.

“This will help water policy evolve into even more practical, precise and workable terms and will hopefully make the consenting and regulatory process around water storage and irrigation infrastructure development less costly and lengthy,” says Mr Curtis. “It will also give more recognition to the collaborative processes which are already happening in water catchments about future infrastructure development. . .

Plea to promote good employers:

A rural recruitment specialist says the farming sector should be identifying and celebrating good employers, not naming and shaming the bad ones.

This week Council of Trade Union president, Helen Kelly, has been tweeting links to farm ads which she says are for jobs paying below the minimum wage – and sometimes even below $13 an hour.

John Fegan has been a rural recruitment and HR specialist in the Waikato region for more than 20 years and while he agrees there are bad employers out there, he does not agree with what Helen Kelly is doing.

Mr Fegan believes a system which highlights farmers who have good employment standards is the best way to go about bringing change. . .

Ballance makes key leadership appointments:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients has announced the appointment of two general managers as well as appointments to new roles in strategy and agricultural technology.

Chief Executive Mark Wynne said the appointments were aligned with a revised focus for the co-operative on driving value for shareholders from its core fertiliser business, building the capability of its people, and making smarter use of data and technology to support better decision making both within the company and on the farm. . .

 

Low payout, smarter herd management:

“If you want to get the best out of your farming business when payout is low, you need to have the right tools.”

That’s the view of Drury-based dairy farmer Sue Dyer, who recently presented at a series of workshops run by CRV Ambreed to teach farmers how technology can be better used to achieve their herd improvement goals.

Dyer said dairy farmers spend too much time on administration and managing their herd information, and when time is money, farmers have to make a considered decision about the products and services they use and how they use them. . .

Danielle Nierenberg's photo.


Rural round-up

May 21, 2015

Extra support for drought affected North Canterbury:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has met with drought-affected farmers in Cheviot, North Canterbury today and says they’re still feeling the impacts of drought.

“North Canterbury – and the Cheviot area in particular – has missed most of the recent rainfall, and continues to face severe drought conditions,” says Mr Guy.

“Because of this, an additional $20,000 is being allocated to the North Canterbury Rural Support Trust. This will help them with more intensive activities, including individual visits and community events. . .

Livestock moved out of Canterbury drought – Hamish Clark:

Farmers have shipped tens of thousands of sheep and cattle out of north Canterbury and hundreds of tonnes of feed in as the drought there deepens.

The worst-hit area is around Cheviot, which is north of Christchurch, and the locals are desperate for rain.

The ewes are sniffing and searching the parched earth for a single blade of green grass, but there is none.

Cheviot farmer and local Chris Jefferies says farmers in the area are really struggling. . .

Supreme winners open their gates:

Environmental farm award winners for the Horizons Region opened their gates and shared their secrets with other farmers last week.

William Akers, Laura Oughton, Hugh and Judy Akers from Broadlands Station in Ashhurst were announced as the 2015 Ballance Farm Environment Awards supreme winners in March. As part of winning the award, recipients are asked to host other farmers on farm in order to share ideas and inspire others.

Horizons Regional Council environmental manager for land Grant Cooper was on the judging panel for the final round and says Broadlands is a straightforward, efficiently run station. . .

Ministers request report on dairy competition:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Paul Goldsmith announced today they will request a report on the state of competition in New Zealand’s dairy industry from the Commerce Commission.

The report is required under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act, which allowed for the merger of our largest dairy co-operatives to form Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited.

The DIRA contains provisions to ensure contestability in New Zealand’s farm gate and factory gate markets. These provisions are intended to expire when there is workable competition in the domestic dairy market. . .

$5m new funding for forestry research partnership:

The Government will invest $5 million over seven years in a research partnership to increase the competitiveness of the forestry sector, Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce announced today.

“Forestry is New Zealand’s third largest export earner – behind dairy and meat, contributing around $5 billion to our exports. This investment aims to strengthen the ties between research organisations and the industry to produce excellent research driven by industry needs,” says Mr Joyce.

The new partnership is led by Future Forests Research, an industry-operated entity, in collaboration with Scion, the University of Canterbury, and the NZ Dryland Forests Initiative. . .

NZ export log prices hit 3-year low; may start picking up as demand improves – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand export log prices, which fell to a three-year low this month, may start to pick up as demand improves in China, the country’s largest market.

The average wharf gate price for New Zealand A-grade logs fell to $83 a tonne in May, from $94 a tonne in April, marking the lowest price since May 2012, according to AgriHQ’s monthly survey of exporters, forest owners and sawmillers. The AgriHQ Log Price Indicator, which measures average log prices weighted by grade, dropped to 88.40 from 93.29 in April.

The price for New Zealand A-grade logs delivered to China fell to US$99/JAS from US$111/JAS last month, the lowest level since AgriHQ started collecting the data in 2012. . .

Southern Dairy Hub Case to Be Presented:

Trustees of the Southern Dairy Development Trust are very pleased with the support received for the Southern Dairy Hub, with 516 farmers and businesses pledging $1.306 million in support.

“It’s an absolutely fantastic result and a huge endorsement for the Hub project,” Chair Matthew Richards says. “We are grateful and thankful for the support from our community and are confident we will get a good hearing in front of our industry partners, DairyNZ and AgResearch.”

Mr Richards says the official numbers includes postal pledges that arrived following the April 30 pledge deadline and takes the result to 55% of farmers between Dunedin and Bluff as having pledged their financial support. . .

Rural Business Network Launches Free Mentoring Initiative:

Rural Business Network (RBN) in partnership with Business Mentors New Zealand (BMNZ) has launched a new initiative offering mentoring support to rural businesses throughout New Zealand. The project is called ‘Rural Mentor’ and will provide a tool to enhance on-farm profitability and enable access to skills and knowledge that isn’t commonly known to be available.

The new Rural Mentor initiative sees the BMNZ registration fee waived for a limited number of NZYF and Rural Business Network members

Daile Jones, National Rural Business Network Coordinator says `Farmers in the sheep, beef or dairy sector operating their own business or farm managers that want a fresh perspective, will be matched with a business professional who can offer confidential advice, assistance and support that will help overcome business challenges, set new goals and achieve success. There’s no lack of knowledge out there, just a shortage of knowing what information is available.” . . .

Call OSPRI if you’re moving this Gypsy Day:

Don’t put your livelihood at risk when moving or selling stock over the Gypsy Day period; make sure you call OSPRI to update your NAIT and TBfree details and record all animal movements.

“This will help protect New Zealand’s reputation as a producer of high quality, safe food and maintain access to valuable international markets,” said Dr Stu Hutchings, OSPRI Group Manager.

Up to date NAIT data allows farmers to get back to business sooner in the event of a biosecurity incursion or food safety concern and is already being used to contain existing animal diseases like bovine tuberculosis (TB). . .


Rural round-up

May 20, 2015

Better returns trump loyalty – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra must put more effort into understanding why it is losing market share and therefore its shareholder capital is being diluted, major supplier Trevor Hamilton says.

Family-owned TH Enterprises (THE), which has 10 big dairy farms in the North and South Islands, has “driven a bus through Trading Among Farmers (TAF)”.

Founder and chief executive Hamilton said THE directors, including two independents, had exposed the weaknesses of TAF by making perfectly reasonable and sound business decisions over the past 30 months to cash in shares, to buy more farms and divert half of the milk supply to other processors. . .

TAF delivers what it promised – Hugh Stringleman:

Trading Among Farmers (TAF) has delivered what farmer-shareholders wanted in the way of more flexibility as well as capital security for Fonterra, equity analysts have said.

The 2012 restructure created a new generation of hybrid co-operative in which farmers were able to sell the economic rights of supply shares into the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund (FSF) but retain co-operative control and voting rights.

The fund had grown to $713 million at the interim balance date January 31 with the economic rights of just under 122m shares. . .

 Sheep numbers down but productivity up – Jamie Mackay:

News last week our national sheep flock had dropped below 30 million for the first time since 1943 probably surprised no one but, regardless, it’s a damning and telling statistic for a once all-conquering industry.

When I was a kid growing up on a Southland sheep farm, two things stuck in my head from my final year of primary schooling in 1972. . .

 Apple harvest appears positive – Alan Williams:

Scales Corporation subsidiary Mr Apple is busy packing this season’s apple crop and isn’t expecting a dramatic impact on yields from hail in Hawke’s Bay earlier this year.

The harvest was due to finish about now but packing operations would continue through to the end of June, Scales managing director Andy Borland said.

The incidence of hail damage would be revealed during the packing process. Borland estimated a “bit of an impact” but many of the orchards avoided the hail altogether, a benefit of the group strategy to spread the orchard across the fruit-growing region. . . .

New Zealand Young Farmers educating Tasman teens at Stock Skills Day:

New Zealand Young Farmers is providing an educational day for Canterbury teens wanting to learn more about stock judging and handling on Sunday 24 May at the Canterbury Agricultural Park.

Members of New Zealand Young Farmers High School Clubs, commonly known as TeenAg Clubs, in the Tasman region have been invited to take part in a hands-on, interactive one day program which aims to introduce students to a different aspect of the agriculture industry.

Students will participate in groups of twelve and move through modules as they would through a typical day of competition at an A & P Show; from prepping and handling through to judging and prize giving. Prizes will be awarded to the most engaged students. There will also be a clipping and shearing demonstration. . .

RailBike adventures begin pedalling into the Forgotten World:

The visitor industry in the central north Island is set to surge once again with the introduction of the country’s first tandem RailBike experience.
Operating along what is arguably known as New Zealand’s most scenic decommissioned railway; Forgotten World Adventures has added the RailBike product to its already impressive list of seasonal rail based adventures using converted golf carts, also known as RailCarts.

Waikato Farmer and Forgotten World Adventures founder and Managing Director Ian Balme believes the introduction of the RailBike is a timely step for a business that has seen exponential growth since it was launched in 2012.

“This season we’ve provided over 6,000 clients with an outstanding experience through the historic Forgotten World and I am thrilled that we’re now in a position to build on our existing range of tours by introducing what will undoubtedly become a must-do kiwi adventure for groups of up to ten people” says Mr Balme. . .

10 reasons we don’t need organic food:

1. Organic crops do not increase yield.

GMOs have increased yields by 22% with even greater success in developing nations.

2. Organic crops increase pesticide use.

GMOs have decreased pesticide use by 37% with even greater success in developing nations.

Organic herbicides only kill the plant tissue that it touches, requiring more to be sprayed, and more repeated spraying. Glyphosate, on the other hand, attacks a specific enzyme that is only found in plants. Farmers using glyphosate don’t need to cover all of the weed to kill it, and they don’t need to spray as often. . .

New Horizons for regional South Island:

A new fund has been announced this morning to help regional South Island tourism operators capture the tsunami of opportunities from the growing China market.

The ‘New Horizons Fund’ is a regional economic development programme initiated by Christchurch Airport, as part of the “South” initiative, which sees all 15 South Island regional tourism organisations working collaboratively in tourist markets.

The programme kicks off with a budget of $100,000 and aims to support a minimum of two South Island tourism operators into the China market each year. . .


WTO rules aainst USA CoOL on meat

May 20, 2015

The World Trade Organisation has ruled that labels on red meat in the United States that say where the animals were born, raised and slaughtered will have to be dropped or revised.

The office of the U.S. Trade Representative said the WTO has rejected a final U.S. appeal, deciding that the U.S. “country of origin” labels put Canadian and Mexican livestock at a disadvantage.

The Obama administration had previously revised labels to try to comply with WTO obligations. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said that if the WTO ruled against the final U.S. appeal, Congress will have to weigh in to avoid retaliation – such as extra tariffs – from the two neighbour countries. . .

Though the ruling went against the U.S., it’s a victory for the U.S. meat industry, which has said the labels are burdensome. Meat processors quickly called for repeal of the labelling laws after the WTO decision.

Canada and Mexico issued a joint statement calling on the United States to repeal the labelling rules and saying they will seek authorization from the WTO to take retaliatory measures against U.S. exports.

The joint statement of Canadian and Mexican agriculture and trade officials said the rules cause Canadian and Mexican livestock and meat to be segregated from those of U.S. origin. The labeling is “damaging to North America’s supply chain and is harmful to producers and processors in all three countries,” the officials said. . .

I don’t support compulsory Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) but I don’t understand why labels which give consumers information on which they might want to base their purchases has been disallowed.


GDT down again

May 20, 2015

The GlobalDairyTrade price index dropped 2.2% in this morning’s auction.

That’s the fifth consecutive drop.

gdt20.5.15

GDT.20515

gdt20515


Rural round-up

May 19, 2015

Spare a thought –  Gravedodger:

While Greater Wellington is being rinsed a pocket of Eastern North Canterbury remains in the grip of a crippling drought. Now accepting I have railed against over egging a summer dry as drought and asked for such adverse weather events to be viewed against much more serious world events, what is happening in an area centred on Cheviot is now very serious.

The affected area is quite local from around  the Waipara river to the Conway and extending from the coast variably extending inland approximately 50 kms this land has been able to miss out on autumn rains. A friend who visited Cheviot to play golf from a more favoured area of the region was gobsmacked a week ago. Any land not subject to irrigation is a depressing grey colour with nothing growing even weeds are in trouble. . .

Farmers despondent in Canterbury drought – Jemma Brackebush:

A stock transporter in north Canterbury says he has trucked nearly 20,000 sheep out of the area to date because of the drought, and claims he has never seen anything like it before.

North Canterbury, particularly Cheviot, is suffering from an ongoing drought, and farmers are having to choose between culling capital stock or sending them to graze in other regions, at quite an expense.

Cheviot Transport owner Barry Hanna, who has been driving trucks for 45 years, said he had not seen a drought as bad as this in a long time. . . .

Keep kids off quad bikes experts urge:

A new study into quad bike use among children has added weight to calls for a law change.

The review, published in the New Zealand Medical Journal today, shows over a seven-year period nearly 30 youngsters were taken to Starship Hospital with injuries from bikes. Two of them died.

Dr Rebecca Pearce, who co-authored the study, wants under-16s banned from using them.

“A lot of children’s groups are advocating against children riding quad bikes, but there’s actually no legislation,” she told RadioLIVE. . .

Some relief for pressured Otago farmers –  Jemma Brackebush:

Farmers in north Otago are welcoming the rain that is slowly bringing life to grass and winter feed crops, though they say there is a way to go before they are out of a green drought.

Parts of Otago are recovering from the effects of the drought that also gripped the Canterbury and Marlborough regions earlier this year.

Farmers in north Canterbury, particularly Cheviot, are still without relief, however, resulting in tens of thousands of sheep and cattle being culled or sent to other regions because of the extremely dry conditions. . .

Opportunities for farmers in lower livestock values:

The release of the National Average Market Values (NAMV) for livestock this week presents an opportunity for dairy farmers to reassess the valuation method they are using for their livestock.

This according to Crowe Horwath’s Tony Marshall who says the valuation highlights the relative strengths and weaknesses of the different industry sectors.

“The release of the 2015 values has seen a substantial fall in the market value of dairy cattle, a slight dip in the value of sheep and a significant increase in the value of beef cattle. These changes mirror closely the changes in the associated commodity prices,” Marshall says. . .

Commerce Commission to hold conference on wool scouring authorisation:

The Commission will hold a one day conference on Wednesday 10 June 2015 to discuss matters relating to Cavalier Wool Holding Limited’s application for authorisation to acquire New Zealand Wool Services International’s wool scouring business.

The conference will be held at The Majestic Centre, 100 Willis Street in Wellington.

The notification and agenda of the Conference as well as all other relevant information relating to the application for authorisation can be found on the Commission’s website at http://www.comcom.govt.nz/business-competition/mergers-and-acquisitions/authorisations/merger-authorisation-register/cavalier-and-new-zealand-wool/ . .

Cuts both ways – ASB lowers milk price forecast and predicts OCR to drop:

ASB cuts its 2015/16 milk price forecast
At the same time, ASB predicts OCR cuts later this year
NZ dollar predicted to hit US 67 cents by year-end
Dairy prices are low and likely to stay that way a while longer, according to the latest ASB Farmshed Economics Report.

“After a drought-driven false dawn earlier this year, prices are at their lowest in five years,” says ASB’s Rural Economist Nathan Penny. “This is driven by a potent mix of domestic production getting a second wind and demand remaining weak. However, we still expect production to slow down to the point where demand can catch up, just later than previously expected.”

“As a result, we have cut our forecast for the 2015/16 season to $5.70/kg as well as adopting Fonterra’s lowered 2014/15 milk price forecast of $4.50/kg.” . . .

Lewis Road Creamery supports new organic dairy co-operative:

Lewis Road Creamery is supporting a new initiative to grow the organic dairy sector in New Zealand and sure up organic milk supply for its growing customer base.

The popular dairy brand is a founding customer of the newly launched Organic Dairy Hub Co-operative of New Zealand. The Hub links organic dairy farms with dairy producers providing certainty of sale for farmers and certainty of supply for purchasers like Lewis Road Creamery.

Peter Cullinane, Lewis Road Creamery founder and one of two independent directors of the Organic Dairy Hub welcomes the initiative. . .


Rural round-up

May 16, 2015

Farmer carried heavy guilt over worker’s fatal farm bike crash – Gerald Piddock:

It has been almost two years since one of Peter Walters’ staff was killed in an accident.

Its effect and the guilt he feels for what happened impacted heavily on himself and his staff for months.

“It’s hard to describe just how responsible you feel in this situation as an employer. I felt so guilty.”

The staff member fell off his farm bike and landed on his head when travelling on the road to a nearby farm. The employee was not wearing a helmet.

Three days later the worker’s family turned off his life support system. . .

Desire drives top meat farmers – Neal Wallace:

Doomsayers preparing to read the Last Rites to the meat sector might be premature, with a new report saying the sector is alive and well.

It based its conclusions on the performances of the sector’s top farmers.

A financial study by ANZ of the top-performing 20% of red meat farming clients across all land types showed their performance was comparable with the top 20% of dairy farmers and, on some measures such as return on assets, they were outperforming their dairying neighbours.

But the performance gap between those top farmers and the rest had widened in the last 20 years as the very best benefited from challenging convention and grasping new technology. . . .

 

Most eligible rural bachelors announced :

The eight finalists for this year’s National Fieldays Rural Bachelor of the Year have been announced.

All eyes will be on the two Australian and six Kiwi bachelors as they put their skills, attitude and all-round charisma to the test in the ultimate battle to find fame, fortune and love.

The finalists selected are Craig Crampton from Foxton, Daniel Rogers from Telangatuk East, Victoria, Australia, Jarred Clode from Ashburton, Matt Barr from Whakatane, Mick Pearson from Tasmania, Australia, Sam McNair from Dannevirke, Toby How from Geraldine, and Tony Peake from Te Awamutu.

Budget back farmers says Barnaby – Barnaby Joyce:

HERE’S a little story about Jack and Diane. Two young farmers doing as best as they can. And if they sell $1.9 million of cattle and grain a year, or grapes and wine, or wool and lamb and their turnover is under $2 million then they have the benefit of record commodity prices and now have an overwhelming reason to invest in their farms to make it bigger for them and better for Australia.

From 1, July 2016, the fences they build are 100 per cent deductible in the first year. The water infrastructure and dams they put will also be immediately 100 per cent tax deductible. The silos and hay sheds they build can be written off over three years. . .

Help for Waikato farmers to reach water quality targets:

With land-based activities in the Waikato and Waipa river catchments due to face new targets and limits to protect water quality, farmers are being encouraged to be on the front foot over environment-related changes to their operations.

“Starting to think about and make changes on their properties now can help put farmers in the best possible position to operate under any new targets and limits that are introduced,” Waikato Regional Council’s land management advisory services team leader Alan Campbell said. . .


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