Milk mountain must move before price will rise.

July 3, 2015

Yesterday’s GlobalDairyTrade auction resulted in a 5.9% drop in the price index.

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The end of EU milk quotas, embargoes on trade with Russia and lower feed prices in the USA are all contributing to an increase in the supply of milk.

Another cause for the price drop is less demand from China which has stockpiled a mountain of milk powder.

Until that mountain moves we’re not going to see much improvement in prices.

 

 


Rural round-up

July 2, 2015

Stoat threatens sanctuary kiwi:

Conservation staff are hunting a stoat that has breached a native wildlife sanctuary’s $2 million fence.

The Orokonui Ecosanctuary near Dunedin is home to several species of native birds, insects, and tuatara.

The centre’s conservation manager, Elton Smith, said a ranger spotted the stoat’s footprints in the snow last week.

“Experts confirmed the worst case scenario that it was in fact a stoat,” he said. . .

$8.8m in erosion grants awarded

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced $8.8 million in funding grants over four years to help councils tackle hill country erosion.

“We’ve seen the serious damage that erosion has caused after the severe storm in the Whanganui, Rangitikei and Taranaki regions, both economically and environmentally,” says Mr Guy.

“This funding round is timely, given that $4.7 million out of the total $8.8 million is going towards the Horizons Regional Council. This covers the Whanganui and Manawatu regions which have been badly affected by flooding and landslides.” . .

 

Getting the right TPP deal – Nigel Sitrling:

Farming leaders say they will not be bounced into accepting a poor deal in the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Government should walk away from the talks if they do not deliver significant improvements in access to overseas markets for this country’s major exports.

After several times looking like it might fail in recent weeks the 12-country negotiation took a sizable step forward yesterday when the United States Senate finally passed legislation giving President Barack Obama authority to negotiate trade deals on behalf of Congress.

The so-called Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill was passed 60-34 and is now ready to be signed into law by Obama in a move expected to clear the way for countries in the TPP talks to bring six years of talks to a close. . .

The bigger picture is progress – Rick Powdrell:

My November address to council had a theme of change. This is a topic our wider industry regularly focuses on, but concentrates on the big macro burning issues often without giving credit to the many progressive changes being made.

I don’t need to highlight the on farm productivity gains made in recent years to this council.  Our progressive farmers have adopted practices and technology to significantly lift the performance of their stock and the quality of the product to the end consumer.

At the same time the meat companies have been adopting modern technologies to improve the throughput performance of their plants. . .

Life membership takes Elliot by surprise – Sally Rae:

When Mike Elliot was presented with life membership of Otago Federated Farmers, he said it took him by complete surprise.

”It certainly blew my socks off. It was totally unexpected; just brilliant,” the 66 year old South Otago farmer said.

Mr Elliot first became involved with the rural lobby organisation in the early 1980s, attending Clinton branch meetings. In those days, the branch system in the organisation was very strong.

He later became chairman of the dairy section of Otago Federated Farmers and served as national senior vice president of the section. He was also a former provincial president. . .

 

Disappointment with ORC over wilding trees – John Gibb:

Otago Regional Council member Gerry Eckhoff says it is ”regrettable” the council has earmarked no funding to support community groups, including those in Central Otago, battling to remove wilding trees.

At an ORC meeting this week Cr Eckhoff, who lives near Alexandra, voted for the ORC’s amended long-term plan (LTP) overall.

But he voiced concern that no money was being provided to support community groups undertaking good work in tackling the growing wilding pine ”disaster”. . .

“Resounding support” for new arable industry structure:

Federated Farmers new Arable Industry Group Chairperson Guy Wigley says some “minor changes” has the arable sector on a secure footing for the forseeable future.

The industry group held its AGM in Wellington today with council elections and confirmed it’s name change from Federated Farmers’ Grain and Seeds Industry Group to the Federated Farmers’ Arable Industry Group. . .

 

New faces on federation’s dairy executive:

Federated Farmers’ Dairy Industry Group has announced changes to its national executive this afternoon.

At the industry’s national council in Wellington there were two new delegates elected with one retiring.

Marlborough dairy chair Wayne Langford was elected vice chair to the national executive, while Mid Canterbury dairy chair Jesse Chan-Dorman was appointed to the executive. . .

 


Two tales of one shipment

July 2, 2015

The Ministry of Primary Industries has one story:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has confirmed the 45,000 sheep and 3,200 cattle, exported to Mexico are now at a holding farm following their 15-day journey from Timaru.

A total of 191 sheep and one cow died – 0.42% and 0.03% respectively of the sheep and cattle in the shipment. This compares favourably with the average mortality of 0.71% in 40 Australian live sheep shipments last year.

MPI’s Director Animal and Animal Products, Matthew Stone, said the exact cause of the deaths is not yet known but, as a matter of course, MPI has required a detailed voyage report by mid-July from the exporter, which will include information from the veterinarian who travelled with the shipment.

“Nothing unexpected happened in terms of the animals’ health and welfare during the voyage,” said Mr Stone.

“The stockmen on board report the sheep had a 10% to 12% weight gain on the 15 day voyage.”

Mexican authorities oversaw the completion of the vessel’s disembarkation process. . .

And SAFE has another story:

192 lives lost on export shipment

Animal advocacy organisation SAFE is appalled that 191 sheep and one cow perished on board a controversial live export shipment to Mexico. The shipment of a reported 45,000 sheep and 3,200 cattle was the largest cargo of animals ever to leave New Zealand.

“192 animals have died and it begs the question, how many more will die on the next stage of their journey?” says SAFE’s executive director, Hans Kriek.

The sheep are being transported by truck for 1000 kilometres in 30-degree temperatures to a farm near Mexico City from where they will be distributed to smaller farms. It was reported that some sheep also died at the feedlots as they waited to board.

There are no reports yet on why the animals died, but it is known that on live export ships a number of animals die from illness or starvation. Some suffer from ‘inanition’ – not recognising the ship food of pellets as food as they were previously used to being on pasture.

When we were in Darwin at All Flex’s PPP conference a couple of weeks ago the preparation of animals for live shipments, which includes conditioning on the feed they will eat at sea, was explained.

Stock are monitored carefully and any not eating enough are culled before they embark and well before there is any danger of starvation.

I am certain that those caring for the sheep in New Zealand would take similar care for both animal welfare and financial reasons.

Although the shipment is purportedly for breeding purposes rather than for slaughter, which is illegal, SAFE says this latest shipment ignores the spirit of the ban on live export since the animals will still eventually be slaughtered in Mexico after they are no longer required for breeding, most likely in conditions that would be deemed cruel and illegal in this country. . .

 New Zealand’s meat works are world leading, I don’t know enough to comment on Mexico’s but the sheep and cattle would eventually be slaughtered had they stayed in New Zealand.

Apropos of dying at sea, another fact we learned in Darwin was that the death rate for people on cruise liners is as high as 2.5%.

Weight gain is also common among people on cruises though probably not as high as the 10-12% gain of the stock.


Rural round-up

July 1, 2015

Dr Rolleston new vice-president of the World Farmers Organisation:

Federated Farmers President, Dr William Rolleston has been elected Vice President of the World Farmers Organisation (WFO) while attending its General Assembly in Milan.

The WFO aims to bring together all the national producers and farm cooperative organisations with the objective of developing policies which favour and support farmers’ causes in developed and developing countries around the world.

“I am delighted and incredibly humbled to be elected into this role,” says Dr Rolleston. .  .

 

Sheep shipment should have been handled better – Jon Morgan:

 I recall once being told that the Prime Minister gets more calls and letters about animal welfare than any other issue.

No-one likes to see an animal suffer and it appears we’re more vigilant about this than we are about anything else, including child cruelty.

The authorities act quickly and severely when cases of animal cruelty occur. Hardly a week goes by when we’re not reading of a case before the courts. Unfortunately, each year several of these are farmers and involve multiple animals.

And so the outcry over the recent shipment of 50,000 sheep (actually 45,000) to Mexico quickly escalated to hysterical levels. . .

Gisborne bull breeders on a high after $100,000 sale  – Kate Taylor:

Angus breeders Charlie and Susie Dowding are buzzing at the sale of one of their bulls for $100,000 – a record price for an on-farm bull sale in New Zealand.

The Gisborne stud’s Rangatira 13-38 sold to the Bayly family’s Cricklewood Angus, Wairoa, which will use the rising two-year-old bull itself initially and make semen available for sale in the future.

“I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling yet,” Susie Dowding said.

“We had no idea at all he would be so sought after. We had moved him up the catalogue but obviously he should have been up further. I’m not sure how many were bidding to start with but it ended up with two studs who wanted him badly.” . .

Focus on support networks – Sally Rae:

A gathering of rural professionals is being held in Oamaru next week to highlight the support networks available to farmers.

It has been organised by the Rural Support Trust, Federated Farmers, Beef and Lamb New Zealand and DairyNZ.

The organisations all had concerns for farmers, particularly in North Otago but also other areas, over the next three to four months, as they faced the effects of drought and also the low dairy payout, Otago Rural Support Trust co ordinator Dave Mellish said. . .

ECan’s future direction – Conan Young:

After five years without a democratically elected regional council, warnings are being sounded that Canterbury’s stock of capable leaders is in danger of being hollowed out.

As Insight investigated the plan for ECan to make a partial return to democracy, it was told the region is getting used to having decisions made for it by government appointed commissioners.

Environment Canterbury’s councillors were sacked by the government amidst claims they were dysfunctional and had failed to introduce a water plan for the region, allowing it to make the most of its alpine water and reap the economic rewards of large scale irrigation.

Now there’s a proposal for a partial return to democracy with a mix of elected members and appointed commissioners.

According to the government, there’s still too much at stake to risk a return to fully elected councillors.

But the head of the Politics Department at Canterbury University, Bronwyn Hayward, takes issue with that position. . .

 

Cashflow crucial for Taranaki demonstration farms – Sue O’Dowd:

Demonstration farms near Stratford and Manaia are closely monitoring their cashflow, focusing on pasture management and deferring some expenditure as they plan for the season ahead.

The Stratford Demonstration Farm, operated by an incorporated society, and the Waimate West Demonstration Farm, owned by a trust, were both established in 1917 by local farmers who wanted a model dairy farm in their area to develop and promote better farming methods. Both farms are managed by the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre. 

Waimate West Demonstration Farm chairman John Fischer says cashflow will be crucial if dairy farmers are to manage their finances in the wake of two seasons of low payout forecasts. . .

Auditing just futile bureaucracy –  Lynda Murchison:

So much time and energy is spent managing land and water at present, with decisions around rules only the first step.

What those rules look like and how much they will cost farmers and the community to implement also needs close scrutiny. Take a couple of examples from Canterbury.

Overseer; like it or hate it, Canterbury farmers are required to record an estimate of their nitrogen losses using Overseer. Personally I don’t have an issue with that. . .


Quote of the day

July 1, 2015

. . .  The whole point – indeed the underlying, triumphal, raison d’être of science – is that it is the only way of thinking and doing things which human society has ever dreamed up which is designed, sometimes, to fail.

The ‘failure’ of a trial is not a ‘failure’ at all, in the conventional sense. It shows that something was wrong with the assumptions that came from the laboratory experiments. . . Michael Hanlon writing about how Anti-GM protesters don’t understand how science works.


Rural round-up

June 30, 2015

Trade agreements are tricky animals – Alan Barber:

There’s a lot of activity going on with trade negotiations at the moment, but not much certainty about outcomes.

Ranging from the TPP, the grandfather of them all from New Zealand’s point of view, to the murky negotiations with the Gulf Cooperation Council, the only deal signed off this year is the long awaited FTA with South Korea.Although this FTA is good news for our primary sector, it is only a comparatively minor achievement which should have already happened years ago. Even the much vaunted FTA with China appears to have been gazumped by Australia’s more recently signed agreement. . .

‘Decades-old frozen meat’ seized in China :

Almost half a billion dollars worth of smuggled frozen meat – some of it rotting and more than 40 years old – has been seized in China, reports say.

More than 100,000 tonnes of chicken wings, beef and pork worth up to three billion yuan were seized in the nationwide crackdown, the state-run China Daily newspaper said.

“It was smelly, and I nearly threw up when I opened the door,” said an official from Hunan province, where 800 tonnes were seized. . .

Flooding likely to increase vegetable prices:

Vegetable growers in the lower North Island may have lost up to 30 percent of their winter crops from the weekend flooding.

The industry body, Horticulture New Zealand, is still trying to build up a clear picture of the damage to market gardens and orchards.

Communications manager Leigh Catley said some vege growers in Horowhenua and Manawatu were reporting heavy losses. . .

Dart Valley track could be closed for moths –  Sally Murphy:

The Dart Valley track in Mount Aspiring National park could be closed for the rest of the year after wild weather caused land-slips, and heavy rain and flooding washed away parts of the track.

Hillsides have slipped and trees have been washed away.

Department of Conservation services manager John Roberts said it was frustrating as it had undone months of work on the track.

“In recent months we have toiled to find a new route through very difficult country, we hoped to build a basic track around what used to be Sandy Flat, linking up with the temporary track around a new lake.” . .

Water rights and democracy:

The president of Federated Farmers William Rolleston is supporting the Government’s plan for partial return to democracy for the Canterbury Regional Council.

The government is about to confirm its preferred option after consulting on a mixed model of six appointed commissioners and seven elected councillors.

It said the work the commissioners had been doing to bring in a water management plan for the region would be put at risk if there was a full return to democracy. . .

MP delighted at fund announcement for food processing research:

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has awarded funding of $16.65million over the next six years to transform New Zealand’s primary food production into added-value products.

The programme will be hosted by Massey University, with Professor Richard Archer as national science leader, and partner organisations are AgResearch, Plant and Food Research, the Riddet Institute, the University of Auckland and the University of Otago.

National List MP and former member of the FoodHQ board Jono Naylor is delighted by today’s announcement. . .

Lessons from the GFC farmers can use to bank more effectively:

There are good lessons to be drawn on from the global financial crisis (GFC) for dairy farmers in managing volatility and getting the most from their banking relationship, says Hayden Dillon, Head of Corporate Agribusiness and Capital Advisory for Crowe Horwath.

Major rural banks were expected to support their dairy clients despite many farm budgets indicating negative cash flow positions for the coming year, he said. And post-GFC, banks had undergone significant reforms and were now well-positioned in terms of access to capital. . .

 


Rural round-up

June 29, 2015

Snow does little to blunt Hurunui drought – Tim Cronshaw:

Melting snow has combined with the first decent rainfall in six months to provide some relief for dry Hurunui but it would be a stretch to call it a drought breaker.

Much of the snow over the last week has thawed and gone into soils to go some way to replenishing ground moisture that has taken a hammering in the district particularly extending from Hawarden to Cheviot.

The problem is that it’s arrived too late for farmers as winter pulls the plug on major grass or winter crop growth.

Snow, sleet and rain topped up gauges by 20mm to 50mm over Hurunui farmland in the first major rain of the year.

Federated Farmers North Canterbury Meat & Fibre chairman Dan Hodgen said the snow and rain event would be of little initial help for farmers. . .

US likely to force pace on TPP with fast track in place – Pattrick Smellie:

(BusinessDesk) – The United States is likely to try and force the pace of negotiations to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the next few weeks, following a vote in the US Senate last night that all but ensures President Barack Obama will gain so-called ‘fast track’ authority to complete the controversial agreement.

One more Senate vote is expected overnight tonight, New Zealand time, to confirm Trade Promotion Authority – an essential component to resuming the 12 nation talks that have been stalled for months while Obama cobbled together a coalition of Democrats and Republicans large enough to support the measure. . .

TPP does not add up for NZ without good dairy outcomes:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is firm in its view that a good deal on dairy in TPP is necessary for any deal to stack up for New Zealand.

“The facts are that dairy accounts for 35% of NZ exports. You can’t even come close to achieving an acceptable deal for New Zealand without a good deal on dairy” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey.

DCANZ which represents the common policy interests of 11 New Zealand dairy companies, accounting for 98% of milk processed is following the negotiations carefully. . .

 

Landcorp sees NZ dairy conversion rate slowing – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – Landcorp Farming, which has almost tripled its milk production over the past decade, expects the rate of dairy expansion will slow as environmental restrictions, and higher land and labour costs make it less viable.

Large tracts of flat land in New Zealand once used for sheep farming have been converted to dairy as farmers were lured by higher prices for dairy products while demand for sheepmeat and wool waned. The number of dairy cows has jumped to a record 6.7 million, while sheep numbers dropped below 30 million for the first time in more than 70 years, according to data published by Statistics New Zealand last month, covering the 2014 agricultural year. . .

2015 National Award Winners: Recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy:

John and Catherine own 1240ha Highlands Station – a productive and well-maintained hill-country farm south of Rotorua. Sitting within the Lake Tarawera and Rotokakahi catchments, the farm’s distinctive contour was shaped by volcanic activity which flattened forests, carved out hill faces and left the area covered in Phosphate-rich mud.

John’s father Allen began developing Highlands Station in the early 1930s and award judges noted the Ford’s “strong family history of commitment to agriculture”.

Highlands Station has a “much loved feel” and its outstanding meat and wool production puts it among New Zealand’s leading sheep and beef farming operations. . .

 Appointments to Conservation Boards made:

Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner today announced 41 appointments to the 14 Conservation Boards across New Zealand.
“I want to congratulate each of the community representatives who are being appointed in 2015, particularly the 14 who will serve for the first time. I would also like to thank the outgoing representatives for their contribution to conservation in their region,” Ms Wagner says.

“A third of Conservation Board positions were open for renewal this year. The diverse range of appointees will bring a wide array of knowledge and skills to conservation management in the communities they represent. . .

Nobody’s happy with manuka honey definitions: MPI – Suze Metherell:

 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s lack of definition for what constitutes manuka honey has overseas regulators worried about forgeries, with China likely to introduce a certification scheme for the honey imports, the Ministry for Primary Industries is telling the country’s beekeepers.

There is no industry-wide consensus on exactly what constitutes manuka honey, with MPI working to come up with a formal definition and a method for identification. While it isn’t a food safety issue, MPI “takes concerns about the authenticity of New Zealand products very seriously and is acting to address these,” according to its website. . .


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