Rural round-up

November 16, 2015

Fonterra increases forecast earnings per share range:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited is increasing its forecast earnings per share range for the current financial year to 45-55 cents. With a forecast Farmgate Milk Price of $4.60 this lifts the total available for payout to $5.05-5.15 per kgMS and would currently equate to a total forecast cash payout of $4.95-5.00 per kgMS after retentions.

Fonterra is also increasing the rate at which farmers are paid the Co-operative Support of 50 cents per kgMS, with the total amount paid up to December going from 18 cents to 25 cents.

Chairman John Wilson said performance in the period 1 August – 31 October 2015 built on the strong second half of the 2015 financial year. . . 

95pct of rats killed by 1080 drops – Dave Williams:

New Zealand’s biggest pest poisoning programme killed 95 percent of the rats it went after and more evidence shows forests are better off after 1080 drops, scientists say.

The New Zealand Ecological Society 2015 Conference is being held at the University of Canterbury this week and one focus is on the use and effects of 1080, or sodium fluoroacetate.

The toxin has been widely used for pest control in New Zealand since the 1950s – possums are a target because they spread tuberculosis – but critics say it kills more than just pests. . . 

Kiwi inventions set to revolutionise horticulture industry 5:

Two giant hot-air blowers are being trialled in South Island vineyards and cherry orchards to fight off severe spring frosts. 

The Kiwi invention could protect crops and transform the horticulture industry.

The blowers stand five metres tall and blows out warm air like a giant blow drier.

Known as the Heat Ranger, it’s one of two machines being put to the test in Otago and North Canterbury. . . 

Speech to DRC Food Security and Food Safety Strategy Summit – Nathan Guy:

Distinguished guests,

It is my pleasure to speak here today. I want to thank the Development Research Centre (DRC) for inviting me here to participate at this Summit.

Today I will discuss the role that New Zealand, as a regional partner in the Asia Pacific, can play with China in meeting the challenges of food security and food safety.

As China liberalises its economy and raises living standards, its demand for raw materials and food for its 1.3 billion population will have a significant impact on global agricultural markets.

All agricultural producing nations have an interest in a strong China. As China looks to move away from a solely manufacturing-driven economy to one propelled jointly by agriculture, manufacturing and services, New Zealand can be a practical partner to support this change.

Background on NZ

We have a lot to offer because we are an agricultural and food producing nation.

The wider primary sector – including agriculture, horticulture, forestry and fisheries make up around three quarters of our merchandise exports. . .

AsureQuality first in World to Issue an Accredited FSSC22000-Q Certificate:

Food safety assurance provider AsureQuality is the first Conformity Assessment Body (CAB) in the world to be both accredited to the new FSSC22000-Q scheme, and to issue accredited FSSC22000-Q certification to a customer.

First published in February this year by the Foundation for Food Safety Certification, FSSC22000-Q gives organisations the option to have their Food Safety and Quality Management Systems certified under one certification, by way of one integrated audit rather than individual FSSC22000 and ISO9001 audits.

The first dairy site in the world to gain FSSC22000-Q certification is Fonterra’s Te Awamutu site, with other Fonterra sites awaiting certification. . . 

World first for Fonterra:

Fonterra Te Awamutu has become the first site in the world to be awarded the newly created Food Safety System Certification 22000 – Quality, an internationally recognised food safety accreditation.

Where previously food safety and food quality have been audited and assessed separately, the new certification gives companies the option of combining their food safety and quality management systems into one certification. This provides customers with the assurances of international best-practice in both food safety and quality.

Fonterra Director New Zealand Manufacturing Mark Leslie said this highlights the Co-operative’s commitment to producing the highest quality dairy nutrition and world-leading service. . . 

Arrest for 1080 milk powder threat

October 13, 2015

A man has been arrested on charges relating to last year’s threat to contaminate infant formula with 1080:

New Zealand Police have arrested a 60-year-old Auckland businessman in relation to the criminal blackmail threat to poison infant formula with 1080, made public in March this year.

The man is appearing in the Counties Manukau District Court this afternoon on two charges of criminal blackmail, relating to threat letters sent to dairy giant Fonterra Cooperative Group and Federated Farmers in November last year. Blackmail is punishable by up to 14 years in jail.

The arrest follows the execution of five search warrants in Auckland and the Rangitikei district this morning.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said today’s arrest follows a long and complex 11-month investigation, that has cost over $3 million and involved a 35-strong investigation team.

“This investigation is one of the biggest undertaken by police in recent times and reflects how seriously we view this kind of crime,” he said.

The Operation Conchord team had used a range of forensic techniques in gathering evidence, some that were innovative and could be used in future investigations, he said.

It’s believed the arrested man was acting alone and no further arrests are expected though Bush said he couldn’t comment on his motivations for the threatened blackmail.

More than 2,600 people were considered by the investigation team over the course of the enquiry.

Ministry for Primary Industries chief executive Martyn Dunne said the safety of consumers was paramount during the investigation. . . 

This is weclome progress in the case and police deserve credit for the work that must have gone into gathering evidence.

MPI and others involved in ensuring infant formula is safe have also done good work.

Rural round-up

April 10, 2015

No 1080 found in 100,000 plus tests:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has carried out more than 100,000 tests since a threat to contaminate infant formula but none has detected any trace of 1080, it says.

It is almost a fortnight since the deadline imposed by a blackmailer threatening to contaminate infant formula with the pesticide.

The ministry began its testing in mid-January, after the threat was made. . .

Dairy farm’s boss has eye for talent – Sue O’Dowd:

The 2015 Taranaki Farm Manager of the Year is on track for his second record production season on a Central Taranaki dairy farm.

Lance Chadwick is in his second season as manager of a 115ha (effective) Toko property owned by farm consultant Brendan Attrill and wife Susan Mundt.

Chadwick’s win is also the second successive Taranaki Dairy Awards title with which Attrill has a connection.

The 2014 Taranaki and New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year winners, Jody and Charlie McCaig, were variable order sharemilkers on the Taranaki Community Rugby Trust Farm supervised by Attrill when they won both titles last year. . .

Stay safe on quads:

Farmers are being urged to take special care on quad-bikes after two fatalities this week. A farmer died on his Wairarapa farm on Tuesday, while a 17-year-old died today on a farm in Kaikohe.

“These two tragic events are a reminder to the farming community that while quad-bikes are a useful tool on the farm, they need to be used safely,” says Francois Barton, Manager of National Programmes at WorkSafe New Zealand.

“Five people died on quad-bikes in 2014 and many were seriously harmed. Using a quad safely comes down to the attitude of the user, their safety practices, making safe choices and using the bike responsibly.” . .

Former rural reporter becomes a dairy farmer in New Zealand Angela Owens and Sally Bryant:

It is not common to hear of young people leaving a successful career to go into farming but it is a move that has worked for one former journalist.

Former ABC Radio journalist Brad Markham worked in rural New South Wales and then became the state political reporter in Tasmania before throwing down the microphone and pulling on the gumboots.

Mr Markham grew up on a dairy farm, but chose a life in media and was having considerable success in that field. . .

Free workshops to up-skill NAIT users:

Farmers are being encouraged to get along to a series of workshops on how to use OSPRI’s National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) programme.

The workshops have been tailored to beef, deer and lifestyle farmers, and will provide a hands-on, interactive two-hour experience using NAIT’s online system.

OSPRI Acting Chief Executive Stu Hutchings said the workshops aim to help new users of the NAIT system and those needing a refresher course. The feedback to date from farmers who have attended a workshop has been overwhelmingly positive.

“The NAIT programme is critical to biosecurity and market access. To be effective, we need all cattle and deer tagged and registered with NAIT as well as up to date data on their location and movements,” said Dr Hutchings. . .

New manager to strengthen DairyNZ’s Forage Value Index:

The addition of persistence and metabolisable energy (ME) traits to the DairyNZ Forage Value Index (FVI) are seen as key targets for Cameron Ludemann in his new role as Forage Value Manager.

Cameron, originally from a mixed farm in mid-Canterbury, joins DairyNZ having submitted his PhD thesis last year at the University of Melbourne.

In his thesis he assessed the value of changes in perennial ryegrass traits for Australian dairy farmers. The work was funded through the Dairy Futures Co-operative Research Centre.

A major component of Cameron’s thesis was the assessment of the value of improvements in the ME concentration trait in perennial ryegrass for Australian dairy farmers. . .

 Final Results in Kiwifruit Grower Referendum Confirmed:

The final results in the Kiwifruit Industry Strategy Project (KISP) referendum have now been officially confirmed by election management company Electionz.

KISP’s independent Chair, Neil Richardson, said that the official results have changed very little from the interim results and now they have been confirmed, the industry’s focus will turn to implementing the recommendations.

“With the official final results showing over 90% support for each recommendation in the referendum, including 97% support for the industry’s single point of entry structure, growers have sent a very clear message to the Government, Zespri, and New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc (NZKGI) on how they want their industry to be structured and controlled. . .




March 27, 2015

Ahuwhenua Trophy finalists announced:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has congratulated the three finalists in this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy competition, celebrating excellence in Māori farming.  

Mangaroa Station in Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne, Paua Station north of Kaitaia, and Maranga Station near Gisborne were announced as the finalists for the 2015 Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Māori Excellence in Farming award at an event tonight in Parliament. . .

 Can green-lipped mussels be the next heavy lifter? – Keith Woodford:

If New Zealand is to double agri-food exports by 2025 in line with Government targets, then we are going to need some lateral thinking. We won’t get there just by doing more of what we have been doing.

Related to this, in recent weeks I have been giving thought as to whether the green-lipped mussel can be one of the heavy lifters that can get the job done for New Zealand.
The green-lipped mussel is indigenous to New Zealand. The species is found nowhere outside our coastal waters. It is easily identified in the shell by its distinctive emerald green colour. The flesh is also distinctive from other mussels.

Maori would no doubt have harvested green-lipped mussels for many hundreds of years, but most of nature’s mussels are well hidden. In most years there are huge amounts of microscopic mussel spat washed up attached to seaweed on the Northland Coast, particularly on the so-called Ninety Mile Beach. Exactly where it comes from no-one knows. . .

 – Keith Woodford:

A Chinese language report on WeChat –China’s popular social media platform – indicates that the Chinese infant formula market is about to become a lot more price competitive. According to a usually reliable Chinese industry website, the New Hope Nutritional Foods Company is about to introduce a new line of products called ‘Akarola’ which will come from New Zealand and sell for less than one third the price of similar products.

New Hope already has a New Zealand sourced brand called ‘Akara’ which is manufactured and canned by Canterbury-based Synlait. Linked to this, Synlait announced in late 2014 that it was taking a 25 percent share in New Hope Nutritional Foods and that this would create an integrated supply chain from farm to consumers, in line with Chinese Government regulations. . .

Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Awards Winners Determined to Advance in Industry:

The 2015 Canterbury/North Otago Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Justin and Melissa Slattery are passionate and determined to advance in the dairy industry – in fact they want to be farm owners before they are 35 years old.

The Slatterys took out the major title and claimed $18,800 in prizes at last night’s 2015 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards annual dinner held at the Airforce Museum of New Zealand at Wigram. The other big winners were Mark Cudmore, the 2015 Canterbury/North Otago Farm Manager of the Year, and James Davidson, the 2015 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year. . .

Food Safety Law Reform Bill consultation begins:

Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew has welcomed the consultation process for the Food Safety Law Reform Bill, which will address the recommendations from the Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Contamination Inquiry.

“We have made substantial progress implementing the WPC Inquiry recommendations; however, some recommendations require legislative change,” Mrs Goodhew says.

“The Food Safety Law Reform Bill will address these recommendations and reinforce New Zealand’s reputation as a reliable supplier of safe and suitable food.

“We are seeking feedback from the public and those in the food industry to ensure the proposed changes are usable and practical for all involved.” . .

Red Meat Sector welcomes signing of Korea FTA:

The recently signed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Korea will be a significant step towards reducing the overall amount of tariffs paid on New Zealand red meat exports, according to the Chairmen of Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Trade Minister Tim Groser signed this week the New Zealand Korea FTA with his Korean counterpart.

“This deal is critical for New Zealand sheep and beef farmers and meat exporters, keeping us competitive in this key market,” said Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman James Parsons. . .

 Commerce Commission issues draft determination on wool scouring assets application:

The Commerce Commission has reached a preliminary view that it should allow Cavalier Wool Holdings to acquire 100 per cent of New Zealand Wool Services International’s wool scouring business and assets.

The Commission has today published its draft determination on Cavalier Wool Holding’s application under the Commerce Act for authorisation of the proposed acquisition.

“Our preliminary view is that the proposed acquisition would substantially lessen competition in the North and South Island wool scouring markets, and in the small domestic customer wool grease market. Cavalier Wool Holdings would essentially have a monopoly on the supply of wool scouring services and the supply of wool grease post-acquisition. However, at this preliminary stage, the Commission is currently satisfied that the public benefits of the acquisition would outweigh the loss of competition,” said Commerce Commission Chairman Dr Mark Berry. . .


Rural round-up

March 23, 2015

Food Safety Arrangement signed with Viet Nam:

Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew has welcomed an arrangement between New Zealand and Viet Nam to strengthen food safety cooperation.

The Food Safety Cooperation Arrangement between the Ministry for Primary Industries and Viet Nam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development aims to promote recognition and consistency between the regulatory systems of the two countries.

“This arrangement comes as we mark the 40th anniversary of bilateral relations between New Zealand and Viet Nam,” Mrs Goodhew says. “It is an important step towards boosting trade to Viet Nam and further developing the strong ties between our two countries.”

The arrangement was signed in the presence of Prime Minister John Key and Viet Nam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, who is currently visiting New Zealand to discuss strengthening these bilateral ties. . .

Federated Farmers condemn breaches of animal welfare:

Federated Farmers is emphatic farmers and trucking operators must follow the animal welfare rules when they take stock to processing works, especially as drought conditions reduce animal feed in some parts of the country.

A picture of Jersey cows being transported across Cook Straight for slaughter recently, led to thousands of shares on Facebook, attacks on farming practices and a complaint to the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Federated Farmers Animal Welfare spokesperson, Andrew Hoggard, says the rules on stock welfare and stock transport are clearly laid out in Ministry for Primary Industries’ Codes of Welfare Practice.

“For transport, the trucker has to follow rules, such as keeping the animals fed and watered for long distance transport, but both the trucker and farmer are legally responsible for making sure that stock are suitable for transport at loading.” . .


Farmers care about cow welfare, says DairyNZ:

Industry body DairyNZ is reminding farmers of the requirements for transporting cattle following recent news and social media comments on a case now being investigated by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

DairyNZ’s veterinary technical policy advisor, Dr Nita Harding, says the requirements for transporting cattle are the same whether the animals are going to slaughter or some other destination – all animals must be fit for the journey.

“It is not acceptable to load and transport very thin animals and most farmers understand that and take great care of their animals. The industry, and that includes farmers, see the importance of everyone adhering to the same standards of care and they place a high priority on ensuring that happens. The law and our industry take animal welfare very seriously and there are strict rules relating to animal transport.” . .

2015 Dairy Community Leadership Awards announced:

Two women deemed to be dedicated and inspiring influences in their dairy communities have won the Dairy Community Leadership Award at the annual Dairy Women’s Network Conference in Invercargill tonight.

The Dairy Community Leadership Award is open to all Dairy Women’s Network members and recognises dairying women who make significant contributions in their local community, through leadership and support.

The 2015 recipients of the award are Western Southland farmer Jo Sanford and Northern Southland mum Rachael Nicholson. . .

 Sustainable Farm Systems Win Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Awards:

The 2015 Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Matt and Tracey Honeysett, aim to farm sustainably taking into consideration the environment and staff.

The couple were the major winners at last night’s Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Industry Awards held at the Masterton War Memorial Stadium, winning $11,200 in prizes.

The other big winners were Rowan McGilvary, the region’s 2015 Farm Manager of the Year, and Grace Stephenson, the Dairy Trainee of the Year.

“Our future farming goal is to run a sustainable system taking into consideration the environment, human resources and producing efficient product,” the Honeysett’s said. . .

Big wins for Whitestone – Rebecca Ryan:

Artisan Oamaru cheesemaker Whitestone Cheese won big at the New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards this week, winning the Champion Sheep Cheese category for its Monte Cristo sheep milk cheese.

Whitestone’s other accolades included four gold awards, five silver awards and 19 bronze awards.

The winners were announced in Auckland after a panel of 31 dairy connoisseurs, including top international critics, had judged more than 470 specialty cheeses, yoghurts and butter entries in the 2015 awards. . .


"To celebrate our 29 medal win at the New Zealand Cheese Awards, we are giving away 6 x Gold Medal Cheese Packs! (one for every gold medal) Contains one each of the gold medal cheeses. To enter just comment below which cheese is your favorite winner...(can deliver to NZ address only)"

Hawke’s Bay economy gets major blast from new food facility:

Pictured is a Post harvest technician at the Rockit food packing facility in Havelock North

The global success of Rockit™ apples has led to a $17 million investment into land development and a state-of-the-art food packaging facility in Havelock North.

Minister for Economic Development, Hon. Steven Joyce officially opened the multi-million dollar food facility today (Wednesday).

Havelock North Fruit Company managing director Phil Alison said world-wide consumer demand, which is up 700 percent from 2013, has proved a fruit such as an apple can be marketed as “a premium snack food and compete against sugar-coated confectionary.” . .


Farm Prices Steady but Sales Volumes Falling


Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 70 fewer farm sales (-13.1%) for the three months ended February 2015 than for the three months ended February 2014. Overall, there were 464 farm sales in the three months to end of February 2015, compared to 455 farm sales for the three months ended January 2015 (+2.0%) and 534 farm sales for the three months to the end of February 2014. 1,809 farms were sold in the year to February 2015, 1.0% fewer than were sold in the year to February 2014.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to February 2015 was $28,009 compared to $22,644 recorded for three months ended February 2014 (+23.7%). The median price per hectare rose less than 1% compared to January.  . .

Association records another surplus:

The Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association have released their Annual Report announcing results for the financial year ending 31 December 2014. Despite some poor weather on the Wednesday and Thursday of the 2014 Canterbury A&P Show, attendance increased with approximately 103,000 visitors, slightly up on 2013.

The 152nd Canterbury A&P Show, hosted by the Canterbury A&P Association, attracted 6682 livestock, equestrian and feature competition entries. The Trade Exhibitor section experienced its most successful year in the history. .



Food industry regs open for consultation

January 20, 2015

Proposals for regulations under the Food Act 2014 are open for consultation.

Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew says:

The proposed regulations ensure our food is safe and suitable, and will apply to around 85,000 food premises, growers and food importers when the Act comes fully into force by 1 March 2016. 

“We want the regulations to be practical and appropriate for the wide range of businesses operating in New Zealand’s food industry, from coffee carts and catering companies to restaurants and large industrial food manufacturers,” Mrs Goodhew says.

“The best way to ensure the regulations are suitable is for those people within the food industry to get involved in the consultation process.”

Proposals cover matters such as hygiene practices, production, processing, handling of food, and how businesses are checked to ensure they are meeting these food safety requirements.

Under the new Act, food businesses will have increased responsibility for managing their food safety risks, with good performance leading to fewer checks and therefore lower compliance costs. 

“Food businesses will be regulated at different levels depending on their food safety risk. High risk businesses will need a food control plan, while low to medium risk businesses will use a national programme,” Mrs Goodhew says.

“These changes bring the Food Act into line with other food safety laws in New Zealand.”

Proposed changes include:

The central feature of the new Act is a sliding scale where businesses that are higher risk from a food safety point of view will operate under more stringent food safety requirements and checks than lower risk food businesses.

The new law recognises that each business is different and is a positive step forward from the old Act and its one-size-fits-all approach to food safety.

Higher-risk food businesses – that prepare and sell meals or sell raw meat or seafood, for example – will operate under a written Food Control Plan (FCP) where businesses identify food safety risks and steps they need to take to manage these risks. The FCP can be based on a template or businesses can develop their own plan to suit their individual business.

Businesses that produce or sell medium risk foods – like non-alcoholic beverages, for example – will come under National Programmes. There are three levels of National Programmes, which are based on the level of food safety risk. They won’t have to register a written plan, but will have to make sure they are following the requirements for producing safe food that will be set out in regulations. This includes having to register their business details, keep minimal records and have periodic checks.

Unlike the old Act, the new Act provides a clear exemption to allow Kiwi traditions like fundraising sausage sizzles or home baking at school fairs to take place.  The only rule will be that food that is sold must be safe. 

Growing food for personal use and sharing it with others, including ‘Bring a plate’ to a club committee meeting or a lunch for a visiting sports team or social group, is outside the scope of the Food Act. The Act only covers food that is sold or traded. . .

Having higher standards for higher risk businesses and less stringent requirements for lower risks ones makes sense.

Clearly exempting traditional fundraisers like sausage sizzles and fairs  is a welcome common sense approach.

There must be a certain level of buyer beware and if you buy something at a sausage sizzle or fair you know the same standards of hygiene as commercial producers won’t apply.

Consultation is open until March 31. There’s more information on the Act here.


Govt accepts WPC recommendations

December 9, 2014

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says the government accepts all the recommendations of the report into last year’s whey protein concentrate incident.

“The rigour and conclusions of the report, as well as the actions of key players since the incident, should further strengthen confidence in New Zealand’s world class food safety system,” says Mr Guy.

The second report of the independent inquiry, headed by Miriam Dean QC, looks at how the potentially contaminated WPC entered the New Zealand and international markets, and how this was subsequently addressed.

“This is a very robust piece of analysis which makes some valuable recommendations for all parties involved. I am pleased a number are already in place or are being implemented,” says Mr Guy. 

“The report concludes that the Ministry for Primary Industries took the correct decisions in putting consumer interests and public health first, both in New Zealand and overseas, by adopting a precautionary approach,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“It recommends, among other things, that MPI works to finalise its single scalable response model and undertake regular exercises and simulations. We accept these recommendations and work is already well-advanced in these areas.

“MPI has already better aligned its structure, provided greater clarity on food safety responsibilities and accountabilities to key players, and put in place new governance processes.

“A Food Safety Law Reform Bill is being developed for introduction in 2015, and a Food Safety and Assurance Advisory Council is meeting quarterly.

“Working groups with industry representation are underway focusing on traceability and capability in the dairy sector. A Food Safety Science Centre is being established, and MPI has increased its presence in key overseas markets, including China,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“In addition to the funding provided by Government as part of its response to the Inquiry’s first report, we will be providing $7.9m over four years for MPI to strengthen its core food safety regulatory and operational capability,” says Mr Guy.

“The first part of the Inquiry reported back to the Government in December 2013. It concluded that New Zealand has a world class food safety system, and that the WPC incident was not the result of any failure in the regulatory system.

“It made 29 recommendations to the Government, all of which were accepted, and good progress has been made on implementing these.

“All parties involved in this incident have learnt valuable lessons, and have become stronger and better prepared for any future issues. We are aware of significant changes Fonterra has made to its processes and systems following the incident,” says Mr Guy.   

“We want to thank Miriam Dean QC who led the Inquiry, assisted by Tony Nowell and Dr Anne Astin, and Professor Alan Reilly as the independent peer reviewer.”

The full report is here.

Fonterra’s initial response to the incident was appalling.

However, the company learned from that and the government’s acceptance of this report’s recommendations will further strengthen food safety.

That is essential for both health and economic reasons when so much of our export income comes from food.


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