Rural round-up

November 28, 2015

Trade agreement opens door for agricultural exporters:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership has dominated media recently, but a Lincoln University expert says an equally significant trade-related development has gone largely unnoticed.

Agribusiness and Commerce lecturer Eldrede Kahiya said the Global Procurement Agreement (GPA) – which New Zealand became part of in August – opened up a $2.65 trillion-dollar market for New Zealand exporters.

Dr Kahiya said the GPA came within the framework of the World Trade Organization, and was designed to make it easier to compete for foreign government contracts. . . 

Livestock antibiotics to be replaced with vaccines by 2030:

Antibiotics for livestock are likely to be replaced with various vaccines by about 2030, and the value of New Zealand meat exports will grow because of the switch.

That growth was among the findings in a new report by the Veterinary Association, which shows the antibiotic era was coming to an end because of a growing resistance to them.

A consultant for the Association, Eric Hillerton, said antibiotics would still exist but they would not be a first choice in animal health. . . 

Slight drop in production keeps focus on high value products:

Westland Milk Products says its 2.5 percent drop in peak milk processing has meant more capacity available for the co-operative and its shareholders, enabling more focus on added-value product.

Chief Executive Rod Quin today confirmed that Westland hit peak mid November. In total, Westland processed 3,843,250 litres of milk by peak flow, compared with 3,931,022 the season prior.

“This slight drop, combined with our new dryer seven coming into commercial production meant we had greater capacity to put more of the peak milk flow into higher value products,” Quin said. “In previous years peak milk has all been channelled into bulk milk powders to maintain throughput, which give a lower return compared to products such as infant formula. . . 

Peter Tate makes the case for the broker and auction based system to sell New Zealand’s wool – Peter Tate:

New Zealand agriculture efficiently produces large volumes of commodities and while it would be great to have a stake in all the added value from the front end of the commodity chain, the large amounts of capital both intellectual and financial required, makes it difficult to achieve.

There are some companies that seek publicity about sales contracts they have made. That’s fine but often the fanfare is over a very small volume of product. This distorts the view growers have of marketing to the point that they think these companies are the only ones doing anything to market the NZ wool clip.

The real exporters, those with the long track records, continue to stay out of the limelight. This is due to what is called commercial sensitivity, it is an extremely competitive business. More cut throat than meat marketing, hence the old Yorkshire phrase “meaner than a mill boss”. So the firms who are selling and shipping  90% of the NZ clip remain tight lipped about their daily deals. . . 

RSE employers praise seasonal worker scheme:

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse says two recent reports show the huge benefits of the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme to employers, workers and the Pacific region.

A report into a pilot project involving 640 Tongan and Samoan RSE workers has found that they sent home more than 40 per cent of their take-home income between November 2014 and June 2015 –an average of between $4,600 and $5,500.

“Remittances have been playing an increasingly important role in reducing the scale and severity of poverty in the developing world,” says Mr Woodhouse. . . 

Praise for seasonal employment scheme:

Experience confirms two recent reports showing huge benefits from the scheme to employers and workers, the Rural Contractors Association says.

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse released the reports in which employers continued to praise the scheme, with an annual survey showing 95 percent believed the benefits of participating in the scheme outweighed the costs.

Rural Contractors President Steve Levet said it had made great inroads into being able to bring in seasonal machine operators to alleviate a shortage of labour in that area. . . 

Sound science point of difference for Waipara winemakers:

More than two decades of soil science work in the Waipara area has been brought together in a document launched at a Vineyard Soils Day at Black Estate Vineyard this week.

The document was received with enthusiasm as an invaluable resource by local wine growers, who acknowledged the potential for far greater collaboration in research initiatives between wine growers and Lincoln University.  

Former Lincoln University soil scientist Dr Philip Tonkin, Associate Professor Peter Almond, current Head of the Soil and Physical Sciences Department, Trevor Webb from Landcare Research, and other scientists, have spent the best part of the last two years drawing together available information on the geology and soils of the region gathered in the last 20 years, along with the records of former Soil Bureau surveys. . . 

Rural round-up

November 27, 2015

Rural NZ areas sit on ‘powder keg’ as temperatures rise – Mike Watson:

Rural fire authorities are warning farmers and contractors to check for potential ‘hot spots’ inside machinery and farm equipment as temperatures rise in Marlborough.

Marlborough Kaikoura Rural Fire Authority chief fire officer Richard McNamara said the rural region was on a “powder keg’ as temperatures rise and hot northwest winds continued to dry vegetation causing significant risk of fire outbreaks.

“It is a real issue, and anyone working with farm machinery and equipment, such as welding or grinding, needs to be aware of the risk of sparks igniting any vegetation nearby,” he said. . . 

Many positives but RMA reforms don’t go far enough:

Federated Farmers cautiously welcomes the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill introduced at Parliament today, but is concerned that proposed reforms do not go far enough.

“What we have is a Bill that looks to make the RMA less costly and cumbersome, and these are positive changes,” says Federated Farmers’ Environment and RMA spokesperson Chris Allen.

“Federated Farmers believes the Bill provides for better plan making and we support the introduction of a collaborative planning approach as long as the right checks and balances are in place, so that this is a robust and productive process.” . . .

Alliance launches new products for Chinese market:

Meat cooperative Alliance Group is launching a new range of market-ready lamb, beef and venison products for the food retail market in China.

Alliance Group has reached an agreement with its in-market partner Grand Farm – China’s single largest importer of sheepmeat – to market the co-branded Pure South-Grand Farm products in the country from next year.

Marketing general manager Murray Brown said with meat volumes going into China becoming more difficult, the company was looking to add value to exports. . . .

Competitive future for “unbroken” NZ dairy – visiting global expert:

New Zealand dairy is well placed to compete in the global market as prices begin to recover in the coming 12 months, a visiting global dairy specialist has told localproducers.

Tim Hunt, New York-based global dairy strategist with international agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank, says while current market conditions are “extremely tough” for many local producers, the New Zealand dairy sector is “unbroken” and has the fundamentals in place to enjoy a strong, competitive future in the global dairy trade. . . .

Ongoing disruption and volatility in dairy, with winners and losers – Keith Woodford:

In the last two weeks we have seen increasing signs of further disruption and volatility in dairy. First, there was good news with Fonterra announcing that they had turned the corner In relation to enhanced corporate profitability. But then, only two days later, there was another decline on the (GDT Global Dairy Trade) auction – this time of 7.9 percent overall and 11 percent for whole-milk powder.

In the meantime, The a2 Milk Company announced that they were almost doubling their previous estimate of profitability for the coming year, triggering another increase in the share price. Since the start of November through to 24 November the price rose 60 percent on large volumes. . . 

Ruataniwha promoter seeks mix of equity, debt funding – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Co, the developer and sponsor of the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme, says the $275 million project will be funded with a mix of equity and debt, and is likely to result in a secondary market for water contracts.

HBRIC, the investment arm of Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, is in talks with three potential investors and banks about funding. The council is putting up $80 million for an equity stake in a yet-to-be formed irrigation company. The $195 million balance will come from outside investors, bank debt and an expected contribution from the government’s Crown Irrigation Investments, which acts as a bridging investor for regional water infrastructure developments. . . 

Cellphone helps save house from Australian bushfire:

An Australian man who saw his farm “explode in a fireball” on CCTV cameras at the property says his house survived because he used his phone to activate a sprinkler system from the other side of the country.

Charles Darwin University vice chancellor Professor Simon Maddocks said the reason his house at the 45-hectare wheat farm on the outskirts of Hamley Bridge escaped the fire was because of his neighbours – and the fact he activated an irrigation system at the property by remote control from Darwin.

Two people have been confirmed dead and more than a dozen injured in the fires which continue to burn north of Adelaide. . . 

Consultation on freshwater management ideas planned:

A report today published by the Land and Water Forum on the next steps needed to improved management of freshwater will be carefully considered by Government and help contribute to a public discussion paper to be published next year, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said today. 

“The Government has an ambitious programme of work on improving New Zealand’s freshwater management.  These ideas on requiring good management practice, of how we can maximise the economic benefit of water within environmental limits, integrated catchment management, stock exclusion and enabling more efficient use of water are a further contribution on how we can achieve that,” Dr Smith says.

“I acknowledge the Forum’s significant efforts in tackling difficult policy challenges and we welcome their recommendations,” says Mr Guy. . . 

Irrigation New Zealand Welcomes 4th LAWF Report:

Irrigation New Zealand welcomes the fourth Land and Water Forum (LAWF) Report.

“The diverse group of forum members have spent a lot of time collaborating to reach the additional recommendations,” said Andrew Curtis, CEO of Irrigation New Zealand. “This has resulted in constructive advice to Ministers for the development of freshwater policy. It’s now time for the government to act.”

“Freshwater is a natural and recurring resource we need to protect, and is a national asset which needs to be properly and carefully managed to bolster our agricultural-led economy. . . .

Barbara Stuart returns to the NZWAC board:

Nelson farmer and outdoor-access supporter Barbara Stuart has been appointed to the Board of the New Zealand Walking Access Commission.

The appointment heralds Mrs Stuart’s second tenure on the board, where she previously served from 2008 to 2011.

New Zealand Walking Access Commission chairman John Forbes said Mrs Stuart had long been a champion of walking access and her return was very welcome. . . .

Farm Environment Trust’s Annual Report Highlights Growth:

The New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust and its flagship event, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, have celebrated another successful year.

Now available on the Trust’s website, the 2015 annual report outlines the organisation’s continued growth through 2015, with another region signing up to the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).

“We are delighted to have the Auckland region in the Awards for the 2016 programme,” said NZFE Trust chairman Simon Saunders.

“Having Auckland on board is a huge step towards being able to offer a complete national programme. We are almost there.” . . . 

Rural round-up

November 26, 2015

Farmers on knife-edge as land dries out:

Evidence of a dry El Nino summer is beginning to be seen in Canterbury, and has farmers worried.

Federated Farmers president William Rolleston said the region is not seeing a lot of rain and the nor’west winds are already drying things out.

Fire restrictions have been put in place for the rural district of Selwyn, as have restrictions on taking water from the Opuha dam. . . 

Opuha Dam at 80% capacity:

Early irrigation restrictions have helped South Canterbury’s Opuha Dam reach 80 percent of its capacity.

But with little rain expected in the coming months, farmers are being warned this summer could be harder than last.

The irrigation water supply from the dam was turned off for the first time in its 17 years of operation last February as a result of the drought. . . 

North Canterbury irrigaition proposal rejected:

Independent Hearing Commissioners appointed by Environment Canterbury have rejected a proposal to take water from a North Canterbury stream for irrigation and power generation.

The Kakapo Brook runs through Glynn Wye Station and co-applicants Rooney Group – owner of the station – and Mainpower proposed taking up to 1600 litres per second, to fill two large storage dams on the farm totaling 1 million cubic metres.

The water would be used for irrigating 500 hectares of the high country property and providing hydropower generation. . . .

Fonterra says 2016 forecast payout tied to dairy prices rising next year – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group has affirmed guidance for the 2016 milk payout to farmers, although chairman John Wilson said it was dependent on global dairy prices rising in the first half of next year from current unsustainable levels.

The world’s largest dairy exporter has forecast a farmgate milk price of $4.60 per kilogram of milk solids and a cash dividend of 35-to-40 cents per share for a total payout of $4.95/kgMS to $5/kgMS. . . .

Fonterra targets doubling of China revenue within five years, Spierings says – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s largest dairy exporter, has set a target of becoming the number one dairy player in China and doubling its business in the country to $10 billion within the next five years.

Speaking at the cooperative’s annual meeting in Waitoa today, chief executive Theo Spierings said the new plan meant China could become 25 percent to 30 percent of total revenue.

When asked whether that would expose the cooperative to too much risk in one country, Spierings said China’s provinces could almost be regarded as countries in their own right. . . 

Results of shareholder voting at Fonterra AGM:

Fonterra shareholders have voted to pass seven of the eleven resolutions at this year’s Annual Meeting.

Resolutions eight, nine, ten and eleven, which were special resolutions put forward by Fonterra shareholders, were not passed. The Board and Shareholders’ Council had earlier recommended that shareholders vote against these resolutions.

The results of the resolutions are:

Resolution result / % in favour

Resolution 1: Approval of remuneration of Directors / 85.32%

Resolution 2: Approval of remuneration of Shareholders’ Council / 83.36% . . .

New technologies a paradigm shift for strong wool:

In a move to improve the returns of New Zealand strong wool growers, Wools of New Zealand (WNZ) has entered into a commercial agreement with to acquire the exclusive global rights to an innovative scour and dying process providing new opportunities for New Zealand strong wool previously only the domain of man-made synthetic fibres.

The two innovative technologies will considerably improve the ‘white and bright’ properties of strong wool, along with colour fastness enhancements that will provide a “paradigm shift” in the demand for end products using strong wool. . . .

Texel Poll Dorset Cross wins Mint Lamb Competition:

Hawarden farmer, and long-time corriedale exhibitor, Andrew Sidey took out the 2015 Mint Lamb Competition at the Canterbury A&P Show on November 11. His texel/poll dorset lamb was judged as the country’s best from paddock to plate.

This year the competition had an overhaul with the overall winner being decided on a combination of yield, tender test and taste results as opposed to just taste alone.

Mr Sidey drafted the lamb himself, and after entering for the past four years, believes that experience helped him take out the win. . . 

2016 Beef and Lamb Excellence Awards / Ambassador Chefs to be Announced:

Mark your calendars: The 2016 Beef and Lamb Excellence Award holders will be announced on Tuesday 1 December, alongside five new Beef and Lamb Ambassador Chefs.

The announcement will take place as part of an exclusive 5 course degustation dinner, specially prepared by the five new Ambassador Chefs, on Tuesday December 1 at The James in Auckland.

The 2016 announcement is a special occasion as it marks the 20th anniversary of the Excellence Awards, establishing them as the longest running culinary awards in New Zealand. . . .

Week to Go Til Dairy Awards Entries Close:

There is [less than]a week to go until entries close in the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, including the Share Farmer of the Year, Dairy Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions.

Entries are being accepted online at and close at midnight on November 30.

General Manager Chris Keeping says there have been 360 entries received to date, including 358 who entered in time to be eligible for the Early Bird Entry Prize Draw of $12,000 in travel vouchers and spending money*. . . 

Rural round-up

November 24, 2015

2016 Zanda McDonald Award Shorlist Announced:

Six of agriculture’s most innovative young professionals have been shortlisted for the 2016 Zanda McDonald Award. The six – three from New Zealand and three from Australia – were selected for their strong leadership skills, being visionary and inspirational within their industry and for clearly demonstrating an unwaivering passion for agriculture.

Dean Rabbidge, 30, is a Southland dairy, beef and sheep farmer from Wyndham currently managing the family farm. Dean is also Vice Chairman of the national Young Farmers Competition and twice a grand finalist.

Erica van Reenen, 31, is an agricultural and environmental consultant with AgFirst, based in Manawatu. Erica is also a trustee of the Te Araroa national walkway from Cape Reinga to Bluff and a Huntaway Festival committee member.

Zach Mounsey, 25, is a dairy farmer and an economist with DairyNZ. He is also Chairman of the Otorohanga Federated Farmers group. Last month, Zach travelled to Argentina; he was selected by the Minister of Primary Industries to represent New Zealand together with Malborough farmer, Doug Avery. . . 

Results Announced for the 2015 Fonterra elections:

Returning Officer Warwick Lampp, of Ltd, has declared the final results of the 2015 elections for the Fonterra Board of Directors, Directors’ Remuneration Committee and Shareholders’ Council.

Shareholders voted to re-elect incumbent Directors John Wilson and Nicola Shadbolt. They will be joined by new Director Ashley Waugh. Blue Read, Greg Maughan and Murray Beach were unsuccessful. . . 

Record voter participation sees one new director, two new shareholders’ councillors elected

Today, following the close of voting in the 2015 Fonterra Elections, which saw record Shareholder voting, it has been confirmed that one new Director and two new Shareholders’ Councillors will take office following the Fonterra Annual Meeting on Wednesday.

Newly elected Director Ashley Waugh and incumbents John Wilson and Nicola Shadbolt were the three successful Director candidates. . . 

Subsidies blind producers to market signals

November 24, 2015

Dairy producers overseas aren’t getting low price signals which have prompted New Zealand farmers to reduce production:

New Zealand dairy farmers’ pay packets continue to be thin because overseas farmers haven’t yet received the price signal to cut milk production on the back of a market glut and low demand, says Rabobank’s top dairy analyst.

“Current global commodity prices in dairy are easily low enough to shut off taps globally. The problem is those low prices have not been passed onto farmers in many regions of the world,” said Tim Hunt, the global agribank’s head dairy strategist on a visit from his New York base.

“(With) these current (GDT) auction results of low US$2000 a tonne, there is no farmer in Europe or the US or Latin America who can make money on that. The problem is that New Zealand farmers are the only ones who are at the moment getting the farmgate signal that reflects that. . . 

New Zealand producers have had the very strong market signal that supply is outstripping demand. The price we’re getting is low, in response to that we’ve cut costs and production.

Subsidies in other parts of the world are protecting farmers from the low prices and blinding them to market signals.

Rural round-up

November 23, 2015

Enterprising Rural Women Award 2015 winners announced:

Joanne Taylor’s rural lifestyle magazine Latitude has won the supreme award at the Enterprising Rural Women Awards held in Nelson on Saturday 21 November.

“In the seven years of this competition we have seen vibrant rural businesses increasingly appeal to urban residents, tourists and the rural community. This has been reflected in the winning rural business woman : who has succeeded in pursuing her publishing dream, while also supporting New Zealand’s rural communities,” says Wendy McGowan, National President, Rural Women New Zealand.

Joanne Taylor was the NZ Post sponsored ‘Making it in Rural’ category winner; however, there were three other exceptional category winners: . . .

Thinking pink helps raise funds for hospice support – Sally Rae:

Tom Ballantine has been through a rough patch.

Not only did the Invercargill man lose his daughter, Paula Dempster, to cancer in December last year, but his wife, Lorraine, died in February this year, also succumbing to the disease.

”It’s been a really, really torrid time,” Mr Ballantine (71) said.

What has helped keep him occupied has been a fundraising initiative, selling pink singlets to those in the wool harvesting industry, with $2 from each sale going to boost hospice coffers. . . .

Trust head promotes wool with a passion – Sally Rae:

Wool is a fibre that ”easily ticks all the boxes”.

What now needed to happen was a concerted effort on getting that message out to discerning consumers, Campaign For Wool New Zealand Trust chairwoman Philippa Wright said.

Ms Wright, who is boss of Waipukurau-based woolbroker Wright Wool, has been involved with Campaign for Wool since its inception in 2010. . . 

JUSTICE for Mary Jane Veloso, JUSTICE for Filipino Dairy Workers in NZ and All Victims of Illegal Recruiters:

We applaud Indonesia’s moratorium on executions as we in the Filipino-Kiwi communities in New Zealand were among those who prayed and petitioned for the life of human trafficking victim Mary Jane Veloso. Mary Jane’s plight generated massive support from citizens around the globe. This young mother of two on the brink of execution on drug trafficking charges became the face of many other Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) on death row and those exploited by illegal recruiters and abusive employers. We hope that freedom and justice for Mary Jane will be the next good news.

In New Zealand, over 1000 Filipino migrant workers are now greatly distressed as they experience their lives hanging in the dairy farms. Last October, Immigration NZ arrested a dual Filipino/New Zealand national on fraud charges. This recruiter used false employer details and false documents on workers’ experience, asking huge fees from the applicants wanting to work in NZ. We hope Filipinos back home would be aware of this scam and be careful not to be victimised by recruiters who take advantage of their desperate need to find better jobs in NZ and elsewhere. . . 

NZ Farming's photo.

Rural round-up

November 20, 2015

Aquaculture and red meat producers share South Island’s top agricultural prize:

For the first time ever, the prestigious Lincoln University Foundation’s South Island Farmer of the Year competition has been awarded to two entrants, with a North Otago red meat producer and a Marlborough green-lipped mussel grower sharing the top prize.

Announcing the unexpected result at the finals this evening at Lincoln University, the competition’s chief judge Nicky Hyslop told the audience that the judges were unable to separate the two top performers, Richard and Annabelle Subtil of Omarama Station, and Marlborough’s Clearwater Mussels (John Young Managing Director).

Clearwater Mussels is a greenshell mussel producer with 90 mussel farms ranging from 2.5 to 80 hectares supplying a variety of food and pharmaceutical markets.

Primarily a sheep and beef property with some smaller scale hydro and tourism operations, Omarama Station also has scientific reserves and Department of Conservation and QEII Trust covenants on the property. . . 

Fonterra exits Dairy Farmers of America joint venture, retains supply deal – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, plans to sell its stake in the DairiConcepts ingredients joint venture with Dairy Farmers of America for some $196 million, after deciding it didn’t fit the company’s strategy.

The Auckland-based cooperative will sell its 50 percent stake in DairiConcepts to partner DFA on Dec. 31, ending a 15-year venture where Fonterra contributed key ingredients to the US dairy and cheese flavours business, while the American cooperative supplied a number of cheese and cheese-powder assets, it said in a statement. Fonterra signed a long-term supply agreement as part of the sale. . . .

Regions benefiting from rural broadband:

Connectivity is growing rapidly in the regions with more New Zealanders than ever before now able to access faster rural broadband, Communications Minister Amy Adams says.

The latest quarterly report for phase one of the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) build as at 30 September 2015 shows 271,000 rural addresses can connect to the network.

“With 35.6 per cent uptake across the network, RBI is making sure that New Zealanders living in our rural and remote areas can enjoy the benefits of faster, better internet,” Ms Adams says.

“The RBI is making a genuine difference to farmers, schools, hospitals and health centres in rural areas as well as families and households.” . .  .

Pacific urged to invest more in Agriculture:

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community is encouraging governments in the region to put more emphasis on developing their agricultural sectors.

The team leader of SPC’s Pacific agriculture policy project Vili Caniogo says more than 80 percent of the region’s people live in rural areas but this is not reflected in government policies. . . 

Wool lifts:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s C.E.O, Mr John Dawson reports that a slightly easier New Zealand dollar and limited wool volumes combined with steadier enquiry, saw most categories well supported.

Of the 5,700 bales on offer, 92 percent sold.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies compared to last sale weakened 0.94 percent, helping underpin local prices. . . 

Old school ties to historic home on the market for sale:

A historic home converted from a country school that comes complete with rugby posts and a swimming pool, and boasts an Olympian among its former students, has been placed on the market for sale.

The former site of Richmond Downs School is located in Walton, 15km from Matamata. For more than 80 years it served the community, with former students including Olympian hurdler Lynette Massey. Due to dwindling numbers, the school closed in 2004. . . 

Leading South Island cucumber growing operation for sale is pick of the bunch:

A successful Canterbury horticultural operation, which is the leading supplier of telegraph cucumbers in the South Island has been placed on the market for sale.

Located at 38 Madeleys Road in Clarkville, North Canterbury, the property combines an established telegraph cucumber business and four-bedroom dwelling on 4.05 hectares. It has been placed on the market for sale as a going concern with Bayleys Canterbury, via a deadline sale closing on November 26, unless sold prior. . . 


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