Rural round-up

March 22, 2018

NZ led study reveals DNA of cattle and sheep bacteria – Eric Frykberg:

International scientists led by New Zealanders have identified the genetic makeup of over 500 species of bacteria found in the gut of cattle and sheep.

Previously the genomes of just 15 rumen microbial genomes were available to the scientific community.

The project was led by the former AgResearch scientist Bill Kelly and a current AgResearch scientist Sinead Leahy.

They were joined by nearly 60 scientists from 14 research organisations across nine countries. . . 

Organic dairy dreams backed by science – Fritha Tagg:

Fritha Tagg meets an organic dairy farmer who has the science to make his dreams come true.

Ged Goode is not shy when it comes to improving his herd. “We want to produce the tastiest, healthiest milk in the world,” he says with a big grin.

Dreams don’t get much bigger but this organic dairy farmer who has farmed south of Tokoroa for 26 years has the track record to back it up and the determination to keep forging ahead. His 800ha (500ha effective, the rest is native bush and forestry) farm is home to 680 organic milk-producing cows.

Now he is embracing A2 milk production and establishing a polled herd. . .

Wetlands hold secret ingredient of future water quality – Aslan Wright-Stow, Tom Stephens, David Burger, DairyNZ, Kit Rutherford, Chris Tanner, NIWA:

Wetlands are the kidneys of the land – filtering, absorbing and transforming contaminants before they can affect streams or lakes. DairyNZ’s water science team and NIWA experts share how wetlands benefit water quality.

A NIWA review of research into seepage wetlands in New Zealand over the past two decades showed wetlands are remarkably effective at stripping nitrate, a problematic form of nitrogen, through a process known as denitrification.

The review offers robust evidence into ‘how’ seepage wetlands benefit water quality. DairyNZ commissioned the NIWA work because it firmly believes that seepage wetlands offer a unique opportunity to reduce nitrogen loss and should be prioritised for stock exclusion and protected against further drainage. The independent research commissioned certainly supports those claims. . . 

Federated Farmers pays tribute to John O’ Connor:

Federated Farmers offers its deepest condolences to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and family after the passing of his father, West Coast dairy farmer John O’Connor.

Mr O’ Connor ONZM was a passionate advocate for the dairy industry and was regarded as a pioneer for introducing dairy to the Buller district on the West Coast.

He was a Nuffield Scholar, Federated Farmers National Dairy Chair, West Coast Provincial President and served for 48 years as a director on the Buller Valley, Karamea and Westland Dairy Companies. . .

Rabobank New Zealand announces new board appointment:

Rabobank New Zealand has announced the appointment of Jillian Segal AM to its board of directors.

Ms Segal, a respected Australian company director with extensive regulatory and legal experience, joins the boards of Rabobank New Zealand Limited, as well as Rabobank Australia & New Zealand Group’s other major operating entities – Rabobank Australia Limited and Rabo Australia Limited.

Announcing the appointment, Rabobank’s Australia & New Zealand chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden said Ms Segal’s extensive board experience across the private and public sectors, including in financial services – coupled with a career-long background in governance and law – made her an “ideal fit” for Rabobank’s New Zealand and Australian boards. . . 

Mammoth kiwifruit property portfolio placed on the market for sale:

One of New Zealand’s biggest privately-owned kiwifruit orchard portfolios has been placed on the market for sale.

The portfolio consists of three separate mid to large-sized productive blocks at Te Puke in the Bay of Plenty – the centre of New Zealand’s highly lucrative kiwifruit-growing industry.

Combined, the three blocks comprise some 98 canopy hectares – on track to produce between 1.2 million – 1.3 million trays once all in mature production, and with the potential to increase production even further. . . 

An easing in the late summer market:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (REINZ) shows there were 52 fewer farm sales (-11.9%) for the three months ended February 2018 than for the three months ended February 2017.

Overall, there were 384 farm sales in the three months ended February 2018, compared to 396 farm sales for the three months ended January 2018 (-3.0%), and 436 farm sales for the three months ended February 2017.1,524 farms were sold in the year to February 2018, 13.5% fewer than were sold in the year to February 2017, with 20.3% more finishing farms, 19.0% more dairy farms and 32.4% fewer grazing and 36.2% fewer arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to February 2018 was $27,523 compared to $27,395 recorded for three months ended February 2017 (+0.5%). The median price per hectare fell 2.6% compared to January. . . 


Thomas Macdonald wins Zanda McDonald Award

March 21, 2018

Thomas Macdonald is the 1918 winner of the Zanda McDonald Award:

Thomas Macdonald, 24 year old Business Manager of Waikato-based Spring Sheep Milk Company, and Sir Don Llewellyn scholar, has scooped the 2018 Zanda McDonald Award.

The award, regarded as a prestigious badge of honour by the agribusiness industry, recognises agriculture’s most innovative young professionals from Australia and New Zealand. It was launched in 2014 in memory of Australian beef industry leader Zanda McDonald, who died aged 41 after an accident at his Queensland property in 2013.

Now in its fourth year, the award is run by the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group – a network of over 150 of Australasia’s influential agri-business men and women, of which Zanda McDonald was a foundation member.

Thomas Macdonald was initially shortlisted with six other candidates, after the award attracted the largest number of applicants received so far.

Following interviews in Auckland in November, Macdonald was named as a finalist alongside fellow kiwi Lisa Kendall, 25 year old owner/operator of Nuture Farming Ltd and vice-chair of the Franklin Young Farmers Club, and Australian Janet Reddan 33, former agronomist now cattle producer from Roma, Queensland.

The award, sponsored by Allflex, Rabobank and Pilatus, was presented last night in Taupo at the annual PPP Conference. Macdonald receives a prize package valued at $50,000, which includes a trans-Tasman mentoring trip to farming operations and businesses, a place on one of Rabobank’s Business Management Programs and $1,000 cash prize. Macdonald will travel by a Pilatus PC-12 aircraft to parts of his Australian mentoring trip, enabling him to reach diverse and remote farming operations.

Mr Macdonald said he was thrilled to have been chosen, and is particularly excited about the opportunity to get direct access to the wealth of knowledge that exists within the PPP group’s membership.

“It’s a real privilege to win the 2018 award, and I’m humbled to be associated with Zanda’s name. I’m looking forward to spending time with some of agriculture’s top business professionals, and expanding my horizons and networks.

Shane McManaway, Chairman of the PPP Group, says: “Thomas is a remarkable young man. To have achieved as much as he has in 24 years is quite something, and a great credit to him. His intelligence, understanding of agriculture and big-picture thinking make him well placed as a future leader in our industry. I feel confident that Thomas will embrace the mentoring opportunities provided by winning the Zanda McDonald Award, and look forward to seeing his career progress”.

The award is named after Zanda MacDonald, a Queensland Farmer and founding member of the PPP Group who died in 2013.

In his honour the PPP group launched the Zanda McDonald Award. This award aims to recognise young people working in the primary industry sectors in New Zealand and Australia, and support their future career development. The total prize package is valued at $50,000.

Zanda was proud to be a farmer and worked tirelessly to encourage young people to work in the industry that he loved. As part of his role in the PPP group he led a number of initiatives to promote his industry to the next generation.

The inaugural was won by Emma Black from Queensland in 2015. Dean Rabbidge from Southland was the 2016 winner and Morgan Easton from North Otago won last year.

Rural round-up

March 21, 2018

New strain of calicivirus released on the Taieri – Elena McPhee:

An important moment for farming in the Taieri area occurred last night, when the Otago Regional Council released the new strain of rabbit-killing calicivirus.

Clad in overalls and armed with a bucketful of contaminated carrots, council environmental officer for biosecurity Kirk Robertson released the virus RHDV1 K5 in the hills near Outram.

He had nine other sites to visit, and across the wider Otago region a team of six or seven people had been laying poisoned carrots in about 100 locations. . .

Struggle to find enough homes for Kaimanawa horses – Alexa Cook:

More than 200 Kaimanawa horses could be sent to slaughter following this year’s muster.

This year is expected to be one of the largest wild horse culls on record, with about 300 animals being mustered from the Waiouru Military Training Area.

The muster is carried out every two years, organised by the Department of Conservation and Kaimanawa Heritage Horses. . . 

Rodeo rider’s success dedicated to mother – Sally Rae:

When Jenny Atkinson won her record sixth national barrel racing title this month, it was a poignant moment.

Mrs Atkinson (44) dedicated the win at the national rodeo finals to her mother, Ann, Ashford, who died in July last year.

And she was delighted to have her father, Ron, in the crowd at Wanaka to watch her ride to victory. . . 

Software softens blow of M. bovis hit:

Good farm records have helped to relieve a South Island farming business of some of the effects of getting through a Mycoplasma bovis infection, reports FarmIQ Systems Ltd, a software company.

MPI placed a restricted place notice on two properties owned by Lone Star Farms in mid-January because they had infected calves. Lone Star was among the first non-dairy businesses identified with the disease.

“We brought in about 400 calves for rearing — 200 of them from a Southland property later found to have M. Bovis,” says Lone Star general manager Boyd Macdonald. “So we know exactly how it’s got here.” . . 

Dairying not all bad tourism not all good – Alistair Frizzell:

Is it fair that the New Zealand dairy industry is criticised while tourism is lauded?

Overseas income from tourism is now claimed to exceed the dairy industry’s export income.

Dairy farmers are accused of polluting not only our waterways but now also our air as a result of burning farm waste. Tourism is said to be ‘clean and green’, rapidly growing and promoting the best of NZ to the rest of the world.

Like many glib statements, the truth is often more complicated. . .

More digital adoption could fuel rural business boom – Gordon Davidson:

GREATER DIGITAL adoption in rural areas could add £12 to £26 billion a year to the UK economy, according to a new report.

Research by Rural England and Scotland’s Rural College, commissioned by Amazon, concluded that greater use of digital tools and services could deliver 4 to 8.8% of additional Gross Value Added per year for the rural economy, as annual business turnover in rural areas grew by at least £15 billion, with rural microbusiness and small-sized business seeing the greatest returns. . . 

Was he pushed?

March 21, 2018

Fonterra has a strangely worded media release announcing it’s seeking a new CEO:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited (Fonterra) today announced that, as part of a planned CEO succession process, the Fonterra Board and its CEO Theo Spierings have agreed that Mr Spierings will leave his role later this year.

Fonterra says its Board and Mr Spierings had formally commenced succession discussions last year. As a result of that, the Fonterra Board initiated international searches in November last year to identify potential candidates and was now shortlisting candidates.

Fonterra Chairman John Wilson says the Board was taking the decision to bring forward the announcement, which the Board was expecting to make in April, to avoid speculation.

“It is not yet clear exactly when any appointment for Theo’s replacement will be made, but it is absolutely clear that Theo will continue in the meantime to drive the Co-operative’s strategy and business, with special emphasis on China.

“The Board and Theo are committed to a high-quality transition to a new CEO and when we have more information in regards to timing we will let our farmers and the wider market know. Until then it is business as usual with the focus on driving returns to our farmers and unitholders.

“We envisage that even after the announcement of our new CEO, Theo will be involved in an advisory role so that we make best use of his knowledge and expertise during the transition,” says Mr Wilson.

Mr Spierings says that he has been proud to have led Fonterra as CEO for seven years as the Co-operative has established a strong demand-led strategy and oriented itself to become innovative and sustainable.

“It is now time for a new CEO who can lead the Co-operative through this next phase. The time is right for the Co-operative and that is important to me and to the Board.

“It is also the right time for me personally. I look forward to new challenges, but right now my focus is on Fonterra. That will be the case until I finish with the Co-operative.”

The usual wording would be that a CEO was resigning and a replacement was being sought.

The convoluted wording makes it sound like he was pushed.

Whether or not he was, I hope that the new CEO brings a culture change with better communication, including a willingness to front the media.

Last week Duncan Garner on the AM Show complained that no-one from Fonterra would come on the show.

It’s the second time I’ve heard Garner make that complaint and I can’t understand why Fonterra wouldn’t take up the opportunity to tell its story.

Good news from Fonterra & Synlait

March 21, 2018

Fonterra has announced an increase in the forecast milk payout:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today increased its forecast Farmgate Milk Price for the 2017/18 season to $6.55 per kgMS and announced a full year forecast dividend range of 25 – 35 cents per share with an interim dividend of 10 cents per share.

Chairman John Wilson says the ongoing strong global demand for dairy and stable global supply are continuing to support global prices, particularly for the important Whole Milk Powder category.

“Farmers will welcome a forecast cash payout of $6.80 – $6.90, which would be the third highest in the last decade. This is also good news for New Zealand as it represents around $10 billion flowing into the country’s economy. However, we are very aware of the challenges many of our farmers are facing this season with difficult weather conditions impacting production.

“While the global supply and demand picture remains positive and we expect prices to stay around current levels, we will be watching for any impact on market sentiment as spring production volumes build in Europe,” he added.

New from China isn’t all good though.

Fonterra’s Greater China business continues to perform well overall but the Co-operative has re- assessed the value of its Beingmate investment so that it reflects a fair value at this point in time.

Commenting on this decision, Mr Wilson says the Board has assessed the carrying value of Beingmate at $244 million and therefore taken an impairment of $405 million. . . 

Synlait Milk has announced a record half-year profit:

Synlait Milk  has reported a half year net profit after tax (NPAT) of $40.7 million for the six months ending 31 January 2018.

This is compared to $10.6 million for the same period last year (H1 FY17).

Synlait’s Managing Director and CEO, John Penno, says the strong earnings growth of $30.1 million has been driven by increases in manufacture and sales of our highest margin products, as well as improved margins and earlier sales of our ingredients products.

“The growth trajectory of canned infant formula has continued with total consumer packaged volumes almost tripling from the same period last year and up 36% on the second half of last year,” he says.

“Our relationship with The a2 Milk Company™ continues to strengthen where we remain their exclusive manufacturer for the important Australia, New Zealand and China market.”

“We have also renegotiated our supply agreements with New Hope Nutritionals and with Bright Dairy, which provides for four-fold volume growth over a five-year period. However, we don’t expect this to impact sales until FY19,” he says.

In the six months to 31 January 2018, Synlait has invested $34.5 million in capital expenditure throughout New Zealand. The major components of this were the Synlait Auckland blending and canning facility ($11.2 million) the new wetmix kitchen at Synlait Dunsandel ($18.4 million). Synlait also established a new research and development centre in Palmerston North. . . 

This is good news for farmers and the wider economy.

The anti-dairying movement gets a lot of attention, much of it based on mis-information and emotion, but that doesn’t change the importance of the industry as a major export earner.


Rural round-up

March 20, 2018

Sticking with tradition pays off for merino breeders – Sally Rae:

When Jim Hore got his first stud merino sheep, industry stalwart Bill Gibson told him not to mix bloodlines.

He listened to that advice and followed it through, saying the Stonehenge sheep had not really altered over the years, as they had stuck to the traditional.

The Hore family hosted the Central Otago stud merino tour on Friday, with other properties visited during the two-day tour including Nine Mile, Malvern Downs, Earnscleugh, Matangi, Little Valley, Matarae and Armidale.

It also marked a changing of the guard with Jim and Sue Hore’s two sons, Charlie and Andrew, now at the helm of the operation. . .

‘Dark moments’ dealing with cattle disease – Sally Rae:

Since Mycoplasma bovis was detected on their property in July last year, Kerry and Rosie Dwyer have gone through some “very dark moments”.But there had also been some heartwarming and humbling times for the North Otago farmers who voluntarily sent 400 calves to slaughter and now face an undefined period before they can be rid of the impact of the bacterial cattle disease.

Mr and Mrs Dwyer were grateful to their friends, neighbours and colleagues for their understanding and empathy, and those Ministry for Primary Industries and AsureQuality staff who had been practical and hardworking to help them find solutions to “so many problems”.

The couple also thanked the rural contractors and service providers, the meat company and transport companies willing to work with them and the employers and employees who had stuck with them through the process. . .

Berry group hopes for $1b export business – Andrea Fox:

Blueberries will be the foundation crop of a new joint venture between a Maori collective and Government scientists that will use technologies not seen before in New Zealand to grow export berries in non-traditional growing regions and climates.

The 50:50 deal between Miro Limited Partnership, owned by more than 20 Maori trusts and iwi from the Far North to the top of the South Island, and state-owned science company Plant and Food Research, will create a breeding programme for new high-value berry varieties, to be grown, marketed and sold by Miro, with support from BerryCo NZ.

Miro aims to build a business as successful as kiwifruit exporter Zespri.. .

Primary sector exports forecast to rise to over $42 billion in 2018:

New Zealand’s primary industry exports are forecast to rise nearly 11 percent in the year ending June 2018 to $42.2 billion.

This would be the largest annual increase since 2014, according to the Ministry for Primary Industries’ latest quarterly update.

“Our Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report shows export revenue across all of the sectors has been incredibly strong over the past year, particularly for dairy, meat and forestry,” says Jarred Mair, MPI Policy and Trade Acting Deputy Director General. . .

Major Te Puke kiwifruit orchards marketed to foreign buyers – Paul McBeth:

A block of three kiwifruit orchards in Te Puke is being marketed to foreign buyers, despite the new Labour-led government’s plans to restrict overseas investment.

Bayleys Real Estate is marketing the Te Matai, Pacific Gold and Coachman orchards in Te Puke, spanning 98 canopy hectares in an international tender, closing on May 3, the realtor said in a statement. The three privately owned orchards are on track to produce 1.2 million-to-1.3 million trays of SunGold G3 and Hayward kiwifruit in roughly equal percentages, or about 0.9 percent of Zespri Group’s total supply. That implies payments from Zespri of between $11.4 million and $12.3 million based on the 2017 payment of $9.76 per tray. . .

Eggleston farmer braves Beast from the East to move pregnant sheep – Katie MacFarlane:

FARMERS battled the elements as the Beast from the East brought unrelenting snow and gale-force winds.

Sheep farmer, David Mallon, braved the harsh conditions to move his pregnant Swaledale ewes to a safer part of his farm in Eggleston, Teesdale, just weeks before they are due for lambing.

Mr Mallon, 35, said: “It definitely makes the routine work more difficult and obviously there’s a concern for the safety and welfare of the animals. . .

Good Food Nation bill must empower food producers – Gordon Davidson:

SCOTLAND’S upcoming Good Food Nation Bill is a ‘prime opportunity’ to ensure that food producers are more empowered within the supply chain, NFU Scotland has told politicians.

At a specially orgnaised fringe event at the Scottish Labour Party Conference, the union’s political affairs manager Clare Slipper told delegates: “Retail sales of Scottish brands have risen by 37% in the last few years and internationally, exports of Scottish food and drink products have surpassed £5billion. That is a great success story but, as Scottish farm incomes figures show, there is a disconnect from field to fork.

“The Good Food Nation Bill is an opportunity to address some of the bad economics that are at play within the food and drink supply chain. It is also an opportunity to recognise that in Scotland we also have a looming public health disaster with obesity and health statistics,” she said. . . 

Rural round-up

March 19, 2018

We need a long cool look at water – Andrew Curtis:

As years go, 2017 was dramatic.

In February, one of the biggest fires in New Zealand history ignited on the Port Hills in tinder dry conditions, causing thousands of residents to evacuate.

In March, the upper North Island was soaked, with Auckland experiencing its wettest March day in 60 years, and over 300 homes were flooded.

July brought flooding to Otago and Canterbury, and snow and strong winds to other areas. . . 

Mix of farming, forestry, engineering keeps McKenzies busy – Sally Rae:

When it comes to thinking outside the square, it would be hard to look past the innovative McKenzie family from Clinton.

Colin McKenzie jokes they have a lot of junk around, but they are incredibly clever at turning that “junk” into all sorts of machinery.

As well as running a large sheep and beef operation, they also do their own forest harvesting, utilising some of their own home-made technology. . . 

Effluent technology set to lift dairy water efficiency – Jamie Thompson:

Nutrient efficiency is vital to Ravensdown as a component of smarter farming — good for the bottom line and the environment.

Water efficiency is now a catch-cry and the dairy sector is being urged to lessen its water ‘footprint’.

Crucial to this challenge is how effluent is managed. Recycling and reusing the nutrients in dairy shed effluent is good practice, showing that dairy farmers are doing the right thing. This comes with a price tag: 70% of dairy farmers’ environmental spending goes on effluent management (see graph). . .

Passion for dairy farming shows through for Canterbury environment award winners:

The Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards have been won by a dairy farming company showing a fantastic level of passion, pride and promotion for its industry. David and Brenda Hislop, Mark Daly and Janet Girvan are partners in Medbury Farm Limited – milking 1240 cows on 442ha at Hawarden.

The awards judges said the partners show strong awareness of farming practices and how they influence the environment. “They show excellent attention to detail to business planning, governance and policies and how that influences and drives the business, as well as great staff and people management.” . . 

Fonterra close to reaching Argentina deal :

Fonterra is close to reaching a deal with Argentina-based dairy co-operative SanCor, according a media report from Buenos Aires.

The Argentine newspaper La Nacion reported that Fonterra was anticipated to finalise a deal with SanCor by the end of this month.

La Nacion, in a translated report, said Fonterra and SanCor would form a new company, of which Fonterra would have 80 to 90 percent control. The remaining shares would stay with the dairy farmers in Argentina. . . 

Education doesn’t encourage creativity’ – Jill Galloway:

The education system does not value creativity enough, says a business commentator.

Chanelle O’Sullivan​ was one of five speakers at a creativity breakfast seminar, one of 10 events being held as part of the Manawatū-hosted Agri Food Week.

Described as an entrepreneur who founded the websites Rural Mums and Virtual Insights, O’Sullivan advised people to not rely on anyone else “as no one is coming to rescue you”. However, people should not feel ashamed of failing. . . 

Four candidates for Silver Fern Farms board :

Conor English, the youngest brother of former Prime Minister Bill English, is throwing his hat in the ring for election to the Silver Fern Farms board of directors.

English is the former chief executive of Federated Farmers who started his farming career at the family farm in Dipton. He is also chairman of Agribusiness New Zealand, a company he founded after leaving Federated Farmers in 2014.

Board members Fiona Hancox and Rob Hewett, and chairman, retire by rotation at the company’s annual meeting in Dunedin on April 18.

Four candidates have put themselves forward for the two available positions on the board. Hancox and Hewett have both advised they will stand for re-election, while nominations have been received for Chris Allen and English. . . 

%d bloggers like this: