Rural round-up

October 12, 2019

Flawed policies will bite future growth, Federated Farmers warns:

Before giving thought to splurging funds from the surplus, Finance Minister Grant Robertson should check on the effects some of his colleagues’ policies are having on the economy, Federated Farmers says.

“The warning signs are there as growth in provincial economies slows – predominantly because of a significant drop in farmer confidence, not any fall in product prices.  As any economist knows, a drop in provincial growth will flow through to hit national growth,” Feds commerce and trade spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

There have been media reports that the sharp fall in log prices is hitting employment in regions such as Northland and the East Coast and sentiment in key dairy regions such as the Waikato, Taranaki, Manawatu and Southland is fragile due to concerns about government policy. . . 

Farmers welcome trade envoy appointment:

Farmers are welcoming the appointment of Tararua farmer Mel Poulton to the position of Special Agricultural Trade Envoy for New Zealand.

Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says Poulton will be “a great representative of New Zealand farming”.

“She has a very good appreciation of the importance of trade to New Zealand and to the primary sector.

“Mel can also handle a dog around a hillside better than any man I’ve ever watched, which should be an indication of the patience and skill she will bring to wrangling with international free trade agreements and getting good deals for New Zealand.” . . 

Banking on gumboot move :

It’s a change of scenery, customer and supply chain for Skellerup’s incoming agri division head, Hayley Gourley.

The high profile former chief of Rabobank’s New Zealand operations has been with Skellerup, the owner of the iconic Red Band gumboot, for just under a month.

The Christchurch company was an instant switch for Gourley (nee Moynihan), whose presence at Rabobank gave the Dutch owned, global bank a Kiwi identity and voice in the agri industry.

At Skellerup she is managing a range of products and people, enjoying the initial feel of working for a national “household name,” she says. . . 

Scholarships address need for farming apprentices:

Scholarships address need for farming and horticulture apprentices

Primary ITO is responding to the urgent need for skilled workers in agriculture and horticulture by launching a scholarship programme for apprentice fees.

Applications for the scholarships are open for October and November and will cover fees for the whole duration of the apprenticeship programmes, which generally take 2-3 years. . . 

Carrot prices down to seven year low:

Carrots are the cheapest they have been in seven years, while prices for capsicums, tomatoes, and cucumbers are falling sharply as spring arrives, Stats NZ said today.

This has been partly offset by a spike in courgette and broccoli prices, leaving overall fruit and vegetable prices down just 1.9 percent in September.

“Fruit and vegetable prices typically fall in September as the warmer weather arrives and more stock begins to hit the shelves,” consumer prices manager Sarah Johnson said. . .

French farmers blockade roads in protest against ‘agri bashing’:

Angry French farmers blockaded major roads in the country yesterday over fears that ‘agri bashing’ is increasingly becoming the norm.

Protests occurred on Tuesday (8 October) as farmers become more and more concerned with the media’s representation of the industry.

Unions FNSEA and Jeunes Agriculteurs (Young Farmers), which organised the blockades, called on members to use tractors to bring traffic to a standstill. . . 

 


Rural round-up

September 24, 2019

Consultant fulfilling passion for agriculture – Sally Rae:

He might not have ended up pursuing a hands-on farming or shearing career but Guy Blundell has still forged a profession in agriculture.

Mr Blundell is managing director of Compass Agribusiness, an agribusiness advisory, agri asset management and client partnership specialist.

Established a decade ago, it has head offices in both Arrowtown – where he lives – and Melbourne, where his business partner former Otago local Nigel Pannett leads the team, and has just opened a Dunedin office. . .

Fear, anger and mistrust in government at Mystery Creek freshwater meeting – Gerald Piddock:

Hundreds of angry farmers have confronted government officials at an environment roadshow. 

The Government’s freshwater policy reforms consultation event hit Waikato on Monday with over 500 people packing out the venue at Mystery Creek.

What officials heard was mistrust, cynicism and anger about the proposals from the largely rural audience. . .

Hawke’s Bay farmer’s heartfelt Facebook post goes viral :

A heartfelt social media post from Hawke’s Bay farmer Sam Stoddart has gone viral. In it he points out the strong connections New Zealand farmers have with the communities around them.

Stoddart told The Country he was surprised by the strong reaction to his post, which has had nearly 6000 reactions and nearly 3000 shares.

“For a vent to mates out of frustration on Facebook it certainly has gained some momentum.

I can’t believe the positive feedback though. For over 700 comments only about five are negative. Maybe the rural urban divide isn’t as big as we think. . .

Fonterra chairman John Monaghan due to step down in 2020 :

Fonterra chairman John Monaghan says he is due to retire next year and will work with the board to plan succession, but the company says he has not made up his mind about whether he will leave.

Monaghan was due to retire by rotation at next year’s annual meeting, at the end of his three-year term. 

“Having seen through the introduction of our new strategy, operating model, and with our divestment and debt reduction efforts well progressed, I will be working with the board in 2020 to facilitate chair succession. The timeline for that succession will be agreed by the board nearer to the time,” Monaghan said on Friday. . .

Food award finalist for preserved apricots in wine – Yvonne O’Hara:

Augustines of Central founder and Food Award finalist Gus Hayden, of Wanaka, is bottling “nostalgia”.

He was delighted and “pretty surprised” when he found out his preserved apricots in riesling and sugar syrup was one of 20 finalists in the Cuisine Artisan section of the New Zealand Food Awards.

Mr Hayden, who is a chef with Cardrona Terraces, Wanaka, uses spray-free apricots from two suppliers on Burn Cottage Rd, Cromwell, and Earnscleugh, near Alexandra. . .

Isn’t it time we stopped commoditising the crap out of everything. – St John Cramer:

Discounting destroys value and has always been a clear signal you’ve run out of ideas. So you end up pulling the crude cord called discounting.

Discounting is rife in Ag because it sometimes seems like it’s the only strategy we have left to compete which is always a race to the bottom.

We haven’t been very smart.

Discounting is disastrous for profits because the profit you didn’t make on that sale has to be replaced by the profit on the next sale. Worse, you condition your customers into lower prices and devalue your market positioning in the process. It also robs your business of the capital it needs to invest and grow in itself. . .


Rural round-up

September 15, 2019

Listen to your farmers New Zealand – WhatshesaidNZ:

Some of you may be wondering why I have been absent on here for the past few months. A few of you even messaged me to check I was okay. I am thank you. 

The short answer is I’m tired.

Among other things, this year has been our first year in business, taking over the lease of our family dry stock farm.

It’s been hard. The days are long and often lonely. My husband has worked 12 hour plus days, in the rain, wind and cold. . . 

So farmers and businesses have nothing to fear according to Ardern? – Henry Armstrong:

When the debate on a Capital Gains Tax was in full swing, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was widely quoted as assuring farmers and small business owners that if a CGT were to be introduced, they had nothing to fear.

The productive sector and indeed most New Zealanders, quickly saw through this disingenuous claim and made their views known. The Ardern-led government quickly dropped that proposal-at least for now.

It seems the Ardern-led government learned nothing in the process.

New Zealand must export goods and services to exist financially, yet it seems this government is hell-bent on dumping on those very businesses which produce our wealth- which is then, via taxation, redistributed to fund such basics as health, education, welfare and housing. . . 

Show good faith and grant further extension — Feds – Sudesh Kissun:

Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says the two-week extension for submitting on the freshwater discussion document is a start.

But Milne says the Government should show “a sign of good faith” by granting a bigger extension. The Government has extended the deadline for submitting on its freshwater discussion document: farmers say the two-week extension isn’t enough.

“It would be a good sign of good faith if it was substantially lengthened – six months would be optimal, but three months would at least be more reasonable,” she told Rural News online. . . 

Thanks for listening Minister, but bit longer would be nice:

DairyNZ Chief Executive Dr Tim Mackle is welcoming this afternoon’s announcement that consultation on Essential Freshwater has been extended by two weeks – but is calling on the Minister to go further.

“A two-week extension is a step in the right direction, but our concerns remain the same. Farmers still need more time to consider the Government’s proposal and to carefully weigh up the impact it may have on their farms, families, and communities” Dr Mackle said. . .

NAIT simply must work says Federated Farmers:

Federated Farmers presented to the Primary Production Select Committee on the proposed changes to NAIT legislation.

“Implementation and education on NAIT are lacking, we know a system that actually works would mitigate most of the non-compliance issues that currently exist in the NAIT system,” says Federated Farmers Meat and Wool spokesperson Miles Anderson.

“We do not believe that farmers deliberately set out to be non-compliant, and our members have been very vocal of their concerns with the system”.

These concerns include the usability of a system that is clunky and hard to navigate, requires technology which is expensive, and the reliance on connectivity that often fails or is nonexistent in rural areas. . . 

Vegetable growers get behind farm environment plans:

More than 30 Horowhenua vegetable growers are signing up to audited farm environment plans to prove that they care for the environment and freshwater.

At a meeting in Levin last night, Tararua Growers President, Terry Olsen told the growers that now is the time to act to prove to central and regional government that they follow best practice.

‘We need to put our energy into ensuring the Government’s freshwater proposals result in positive outcomes,’ said Mr Olsen. . .

Are European environmentalists responsible for Brazilian forest fires? – Stuart Smith:

EU animal feed import demands pressures crop producing nations

European based environmental organizations were some of the first organizations to publicly advocate against the commercial introduction of genetically modified (GM) crops over 20 years ago. Since this time, these environmental groups have intensively lobbied to have GM crop production banned in the EU. Today, they’ve been successful in that effort, as Portugal and Spain are the only two GM crop producing countries in the EU, with less than 200,000 hectares of GM corn.

Why do GM crops matter in relation to the Brazilian forest fires?

The answer is trade and land. Corn and soy are two vital inputs required to feed livestock. .  .


Rural round-up

September 12, 2019

Nurture our nature workers – Dr Tom Mulholland:

Over the past 20 years I have had the pleasure and privilege of working as a doctor in rural communities and, more recently, in my mobile ambulance. From D’Urville Island to the Chathams, Kaitāia to Bluff on remote sheep stations and arable farms I have seen how farmers toil and, more recently, boil at the ever-increasing pressure put on them.

None was more evident than on a recent trip to a remote valley that must be one of the most beautiful places on Earth. It was picture-perfect, completely surrounded by snow-capped mountains under a crisp blue sky and with gurgling azure rivers. The air was clean and, with not a person or car in sight, it was the antithesis of urban life. I relaxed instantly as I  took in  the vista,  my lungs filling with mountain air.

However, the humans trying to  make a living in this stunning but harsh environment are far from relaxed. Scanning ewes, compliance and pastoral chores dealing with stakeholders, and the ever-increasing demands of conservation and people’s opinion make it an even tougher life. . .

Taming the black dog – Luke Chivers:

In the past year 685 people died by suicide. But the number of Kiwis affected by those deaths is almost immeasurable. Elle Perriam, 22, knows what it’s like to lose a loved one. She spoke to Luke Chivers.

The last memory Elle Perriam has of her boyfriend Will is of him laughing, making jokes and creating plans for the weekend.

Days later, he died by suicide. He was just 21.

It was a loss that came out of the blue for everyone who knew him, with aftershocks of grief and loss that rippled from his immediate family and through the wider community. . . 

Struggling youth ‘didn’t want to be judged‘ – Sally Brooker and Gus Patterson:

If Sam Robinson had his way, talking about your feelings would be a school subject.

The 29-year-old who grew up on a farm near Methven is itching to get his message across to mental health professionals and educators, as well as the rural people he spoke to during the recent Will to Live Speak Up tour.

Sam joined Will to Live founder Elle Perriam on the tour of 17 towns throughout the country.

Agricultural worker Elle established Will to Live last year to boost awareness of rural mental health issues after her boyfriend, shepherd Will Gregory, took his own life.

Sam told the Kurow gathering he had battled depression since 2008 but kept it to himself for a long time. That just compounded it.

”I was head boy, in the First XV and First XI – on the outside it looked like I had it all. . . 

Sustainability audits are next – Alan Williams:

Beef farmers will increasingly have to prove their farming systems meet sustainability rules, Rabobank says in its latest quarterly report.

The last 12 months has seen a noticeable step-up in the number and variety of mostly market-led initiatives as beef production comes under more scrutiny over the impact on animals and environment.

The impetus is coming from food retailers, food service companies, processors and producers in response to the changing dynamics, it said. 

And the pace of change will increase further. . . 

Fifty farms to take action:

New nitrogen-reducing project protecting waterways in Canterbury has nationwide relevance.

In the next two years, it is hoped 50 Canterbury dairy farms will be playing a leading role in some key research to further reduce nitrogen leaching into waterways.

Along with all the work dairy farmers are doing to look after their waterways, farmers nationally will be able to follow the project, called Meeting a Sustainable Future, which will focus on how farmers in Hinds and Selwyn can meet nitrogen loss limits and maintain profitable businesses under the Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan (LWRP).

The project will build on sustainable farming initiatives many farmers have already begun and an official project launch event was held recently on a Canterbury dairy farm.

Under the LWRP, Selwyn farmers must reduce nitrogen losses by 30 per cent by 2022 and in Hinds by 15 per cent by 2025, 25 per cent by 2030 and 36 per cent by 2035. . . 

Hawke’s Bay: Rockit apple’s China store takeover earns top accolade :

Innovative Hawke’s Bay apple company Rockit Global Limited has received top international honours at the Asia Fruit Logistica Expo 2019.

The company, recognised across the world for its miniature Rockit apple variety, went home with the Asia Fruit Award for Marketing Campaign of the Year from the Hong Kong event last week.

The company’s general manager global marketing Sandi Boyden said it was a huge thrill to have been acknowledged for the impact Rockit has had within Asia’s fresh fruit and vegetable sector, principally in China, which now accounts for around 50 per cent of Rockit’s global sales. . . 

Kempsey high school students go on farm for work placement –  Samantha Townsend:

At a time when dairy farmers are faced with low milk prices and high input costs due to the ongoing drought – there is a ray of hope.

High schools students at Kempsey are opting to do work placement on farms including dairies where they see first-hand where their food comes from.

According to 2019 figures from Education Minister Sarah Mitchell’s office there are 3835 year 11 and 12 enrollments for agriculture, 1903 for marine studies (including aquaculture) and 2727 studying primary industries. . . 


Rural round-up

August 18, 2019

Alliance upgrading Timaru meat processing plant :

Meat processor Alliance Group is investing $1.2 million in its Smithfield plant in Timaru.

The co-operative is owned by approximately 4000 farmer shareholders and exports lamb, beef, venison and co-products to more than 65 countries.

Alliance Group chief executive David Surveyor said the upgrade of the Smithfield plant would include installing additional vacuum packaging, co-products processing technology and extending the secondary processing area at the South Canterbury plant.

Mr Surveyor said the changes would boost processing efficiency by up to 20 percent and help meet the needs of farmers in the South Island. . . 

Turning meat into money – Colin Williscroft:

The McFadzean name is well known to farmers looking for top-quality weaners but the family is now turning its attention to producing affordable yearling bulls based on top-of-the-line genetics, as Colin Williscroft discovered.

Johnie McFadzean is helping take a well-respected family business to the next level.

The son of Wairarapa farming stalwart John McFadzean, who has been achieving top prices at the Masterton weaner fair for about 40 years, Johnie wants to build on his father’s work that has attracted weaner prices that stack up well nationally, often the top in the country, illustrating a successful breeding programme.

The idea now is to use technology like intramuscular scanning to build on that impressive breeding history, making quality bulls that will improve the productivity of commercial herds at an affordable price.

 

‘If you read BBC headlines you would believe the IPCC supported a vegan diet – it did not’ – Martin Kennedy:

The BBC nationally need to take a real good look at themselves and start reporting the real facts in a balanced manner instead of misrepresenting views and reports, says In Your Field writer and NFU Scotland vice president Martin Kennedy. 

Some recent reporting is being done in a manner that not only undermines the integrity of what should be a highly thought of British organisation, but also has massive implications on an agricultural industry that has welfare standards and environmental credentials that are the envy of most across the world.

That is why NFU Scotland (NFUS) has written in the strongest terms to the BBC this week to complain about its poor reporting around the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report last week. . . 

Potato mop-top virus response closes out :

A joint Biosecurity New Zealand and Potatoes New Zealand response to the crop disease potato mop-top virus (PMTV) is being closed out, with industry taking the lead on long-term management.

PMTV was confirmed in New Zealand in September 2018, initially concentrated in grower paddocks in Canterbury.

A national survey to determine the extent of the disease has now been completed and the virus has been confirmed throughout the country north to south, indicating that it has been in New Zealand for a long period of time.

“It became evident earlier into the response that this disease couldn’t be eradicated and that the best outcome for potato growers was for industry management long-term,” says Sam Leske, Biosecurity New Zealand’s acting director of readiness and response services. . . 

Celebrating 200 years of New Zealand wine:

September 25 2019 marks 200 years since the first planting of grapevines in New Zealand.

From the humble beginnings of a vine planted in Northland, the New Zealand wine industry has grown to become a $1.83 billion export earner, with an international reputation for premium, diverse and sustainable wines.

Reverend Samuel Marsden, Chaplain to New South Wales (1765-1838), records September 25 1819 as the day he planted a vine in the rich grounds of the Stone Store, Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands. These pioneering vines were the very first to be planted into New Zealand soils, with New Zealand being one of very few countries in the world where the exact date of the planting of the first vines is known, making our story unique on the world stage. . .

LIC named top co-op :

LIC has been named as the Cooperative Business of the Year.

The co-op, which supplies genetics and world-leading agritech solutions to farmers across New Zealand and around the world, was praised for making a significant and positive impact within the co-operative community and returning benefits to its 10,300 Kiwi shareholders.

It received the award at Cooperative Business NZ annual awards in Wellington last night. NZ Co-ops chief executive Craig Presland said LIC exemplifies cooperative values and highlights the strengths of the enduring business model.


Rural round-up

July 18, 2019

Suggestions definitely off the agenda – Neal Wallace:

Fonterra will not retain 50c of the milk payout, as suggested by commentators, or change the way it sets the milk price as part of its business reset, chief financial officer Marc Rivers says.

It is confident it can address its debt issue and strengthen its balance sheet without those measures.

The reset is on track to meet its target of $800m this year while reduced spending will boost its profitability.

“We’re both tightening our belts and looking for savings but also looking at our investment portfolio,” Rivers said. . .

Speculators push lamb prices up – Neal Wallace:

Speculators have pushed North Island store lamb prices 35c/kg above the same time last year despite winter slaughter prices being similar to last year.

Affco’s recent $9/kg contract for prime lambs appears to have hyped the store market even though AgriHQ analyst Nicola Dennis says other meat companies are offering winter slaughter prices that mirror last year’s at about $7.50 to $7.80/kg.

The contract is available only in August to Affco clients who have been regular suppliers and applies only to stock processed at North Island plants. . .

Grower group still busy after 100 years – Pam Tipa:

A group of vegetable growers centred on Pukekohe in South Auckland say regulatory changes could be do-or-die for their growing enterprises.

The Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association (PVGA) celebrated its 100th anniversary last year and vice president Kylie Faulkner says the advocacy role of the group is crucial.

“There are a lot of changes happening now with the Resource Management Act, the National Water Policy Statement and how the different councils are approaching those rules,” she told HortNews.  . . 

Vege growing nice addition to farming business – Peter Burke:

It’s easy to see what the small central North Island town of Ohakune is famous for. On the outskirts of the town is a huge carrot and a children’s play area based on this popular vegetable.

Peter Burke reports on a vegetable grower who has helped enhance the town’s great reputation.

Ron Frew started growing carrots in 1967, just after coming home to Ohakune from completing his university degree. Since then, he and his family have built up a huge farming business which includes growing carrots and potatoes.

They also have a dairy farm and a large sheep and beef property running 25,000 breeding ewes and 650 breeding cows.  . . 

Protein competition on the rise in China – Sally Rae:

Increased protein competition in China is being cited by Rabobank as something to watch as strong demand for beef from China drives up export returns.

In Rabobank’s latest Agribusiness Monthly report, animal protein and sustainability analyst Blake Holgate said the China Meat Association had announced the Chinese government would be expanding its sourcing of animal protein products in an attempt to replace the lost pork production that had resulted from the African Swine Fever outbreak.

That might include allowing imports of Indian buffalo and lifting the current ban on UK beef. There were also reports of an increase in the number of international meat facilities being accredited for export into China. . .

Why George Monibot is wrong – grazing livestock can save the world – L. Hunter Lovins:

George Monbiot’s recent criticism of Allan Savory’s theory that grazing livestock can reverse climate change ignores evidence that it’s already experiencing success

In his recent interview with Allan Savory, the high profile biologist and farmer who argues that properly managing grazing animals can counter climate chaos, George Monbiot reasonably asks for proof. Where I believe he strays into the unreasonable, is in asserting that there is none.

Savory’s argument, which counters popular conceptions, is that more livestock rather than fewer can help save the planet through a concept he calls “holistic management.” In brief, he contends that grazing livestock can reverse desertification and restore carbon to the soil, enhancing its biodiversity and countering climate change. Monbiot claims that this approach doesn’t work and in fact does more harm than good. But his assertions skip over the science and on the ground evidence that say otherwise. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 14, 2019

Quiz local govt candidates on costs, services — Feds – Sudesh Kissun:

Hold your local council candidates to account on costs and services: and if you think the voice of farmers is not being heard, consider standing for election yourself.

That’s the underlying message to rural people in the Federated Farmers 2019 local body elections guide, Platform: Feds on Local Government, released at the Feds’ AGM in Wellington this week.

“The quality of local government in rural communities can mean the difference between dodgy roads and safer ones, and many thousands of dollars in rates,” Federated Farmers President Katie Milne says. . . 

Workshop helps tackle succession :

Taihape farmer Kerry Whale’s family hadn’t even talked about succession. 

“We had our heads in the sand really.”

“It’s a very complicated subject but now our family has a plan to build on and it’s opened communications among us about what the next 10 years will look like.”

What changed? . .

Huge effort for farmers recognised – Annette Scott:

South Canterbury cropping farmer Colin Hurst has been recognised for his immense contribution to the arable industry.

Hurst was crowned Arable Farmer of the Year at the Federated Farmers arable industry group 2019 awards in Wellington.

The South Canterbury Federated Farmers vice president has represented the federation at national, regional and branch level and contributed to the South Canterbury Rural Support Trust, the arable group’s herbage seed growers subsection, United Wheatgrowers and the Foundation for Arable Research. . .

Concentrating on black currants – Chris Tobin:

Pleasant Point vegetable and berryfruit grower Tony Howey is scaling back.

He and his wife Afsaneh Howey have sold and given up leases on 600ha of land on which they grew onions, carrots, potatoes, grain and seed, in order to concentrate on their blackcurrant business.

Mr Howey said he had hoped to find a young keen grower who might take over the operation but this did not happen.

”It was quite difficult; it’s hard to entice young ones now. There’s no-one around.” . . 

Forget about following the floundering fortunes of Fonterra – a2 Milk is the NZX’s fast-rising star – Point of Order:

New Zealand  eyes  have been so  focussed  this  week  on  an event  20,000kms distant   that they  might  not have  noticed here  at  home another  extraordinary  event, taking  place  on the  NZX.

The market capitalisation of a company  which listed   as recently  as  2012  on the local sharemarket soared  past the  $12bn  mark and is hard on the heels of  Meridian Energy,  which has the  highest   valuation  of  NZ-based companies on the NZX  at $12.3bn.

The  challenger is a2 Milk,  which sells a  specialised  type of  milk  with what  it claims are health benefits. . .

Fonterra declares war on waste :

Fonterra is planning a war on waste.

The co-op will stop sending solid waste to landfill by 2025 and will by then have 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging.

These are the right things to do and even more important as more consumers choose products that are environmentally friendly, says the co-op’s director of sustainability, Carolyn Mortland.  . . 

Being a girl won’t stop Courtney Hanns from becoming a livestock auctioneer – Olivia Calver:

YOU don’t see many women selling in yards but Courtney Hanns, 19, is one of a growing number taking up the gavel.

Courtney grew up in the Blue Mountains and from a young age set her sights on becoming a livestock agent.

“…since I was little girl, my Pop had a farm, and I always just wanted to be an agent because I loved what they do,” Courtney said.

However, first she had to convince some in the industry that she was up for the challenge. . .


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