Rural round-up

May 26, 2016

Record-breaking 2015/16 kiwifruit season: volumes, returns grow:

The 2015/16 kiwifruit season broke records for the industry and Zespri with the biggest-ever total return to growers, highest-ever Green return per hectare and record sales volumes for both Zespri Green and Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit.

Zespri Chairman Peter McBride explains total sales revenue for the season also grew to hit $1.9 billion, up 21 percent from the previous season. The total fruit and service payment to growers for New Zealand-grown fruit increased 22 percent on the previous year to $1.143 billion, with average return per hectare reaching a record $60,758. . . 

FMA concludes assessment of complaints against Silver Fern Farms:

The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) has concluded its assessment of complaints received about Silver Fern Farms Limited (SFF) and will be taking no further action.

The FMA received a small number of complaints in April 2016 relating to Silver Fern Farms Limited and documents released to its shareholders in September 2015. A complaint was also made about the resolution approving the transaction with Shanghai Maling Aquarius Co. Ltd (Shanghai Maling).

The FMA considered whether information sent to SSF’s shareholders could be substantiated and concluded that SFF’s Notice of Meeting and Shareholder Information Pack, dated September 2015, was not misleading or deceptive. . . 

International Campaign Set to Boost NZ Dairy Exports:

A new multi-million-dollar marketing campaign has begun to educate Australian, Chinese and ultimately U.S consumers on the health benefits of New Zealand’s grass fed dairy products.

The international campaign has been launched to raise awareness of the benefits of consuming milk products from grass fed cows over those raised organically. It’s all part of the introduction of new Munchkin Grass Fed™ milk-based formula and toddler drinks. Milk matters because it is the key ingredient in infant formula and toddler milk drinks, constituting up to 65% of the powder. . . 

Higher fruit exports offset dairy fall:

Goods exports rose 4.0 percent in April 2016, up $166 million to $4.3 billion, Statistics New Zealand said today. Fruit exports led the rise, up $59 million (16 percent), offsetting a similar fall in dairy values.

Gold kiwifruit rose $53 million (53 percent), but was partly offset by a fall in green kiwifruit, down $38 million (35 percent). Apples rose $39 million (29 percent), with apple exports to Taiwan up $16 million (91 percent). Taiwan was New Zealand’s top destination for apples in April 2016, beating out the United States and the United Kingdom.

Among other export commodities, untreated logs, foodstuffs such as dietary supplements and savoury fillings, and beef and lamb all rose in value this month. . . 

Comvita to beef up honey supply in new joint venture – Sophie Boot

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand manuka honey products maker Comvita is linking up with Blenheim-based apiary operator Putake Group to form a South Island-based honey business to meet global demand for manuka honey.

The companies have signed a memorandum of understanding to form a 50:50 joint venture, named Putake Group Holdings, which would develop a wholesale honey business in the South Island, Te Puke-based Comvita said in a statement. Putake owns 1,200 hives and manages another 2,800 hives through separate joint venture arrangements. . . 

Advisory boards can offer guidance for farmers during a period of uncertainty:

As the agricultural sector grapples with high levels of dairy debt and increased volatility, Crowe Horwath’s Head of Agribusiness, Neil McAra, says farmers need to look at getting sound governance support.

McAra is a strong advocate for advisory boards which can assist farmers with the ability to make better decisions and can help improve business governance.

The value, scale and complexity of New Zealand farming operations have increased significantly over the last two decades. . . 

Rural Contractors annual conference coming up:

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) is encouraging all of its members – and any others interested in the agricultural contracting sector – to attend its annual conference being held in the Bay of Islands later next month.

Chief executive Roger Parton says this year’s RCNZ annual conference is being held at the Copthorne Hotel and Resort, in Paihia, from June 27-30.

“The conference is now only a month away and for those who have not registered yet; now is the time to do so,” he explains. “We will be unable to hold any accommodation past the end of this month, so if people want come they need to get their registrations in now.” . . 


Fonterra opening forecast $4.25

May 26, 2016

Fonterra has announced an opening forecast farm gate milk price of $4.25 per kilo of milk solids for next season.

Prices are expected to increase during the season but no one should be banking on that.


Rural round-up

May 25, 2016

Shareholders unhappy with NZ’s biggest meat company split – Julia Lee:

If New Zealand dairy is our nation’s economic life-blood, then New Zealand meat is our muscle.

At $7 billion a year it’s our second-biggest export earner.

Seven-thousand New Zealanders work for the country’s biggest meat player Silver Fern and 16,000 more have shares in the company.

A company part-owned by the Chinese government are on the verge of signing a deal to split its ownership in half with Shanghai Maling. . . 

Longtime farming families honoured – Samuel White:

More than 200 people from all over the country congregated in Lawrence on Saturday to honour the 33 families receiving a Century Farm and Station Award this year.

The New Zealand Century Farm and Station Awards honour and recognise New Zealand families who have continuously farmed the same land for more than a century.

The awards ceremony was held at the Simpson Park Recreation Centre in Lawrence on Saturday night. . . 

Excellence awards for Armidale:

The Paterson family, of Gimmerburn, have won the Clip of the Year title at the Otago Merino Association’s merino excellence awards.

Simon and Sarah, and Allan and Eris Paterson received the award at a function in Queenstown on Friday night, after winning the stud flock category.

Their Armidale merino stud, which has enjoyed considerable success over the years, was founded by Allan Paterson’s grandfather George. . .

Announcement from MPI’s Director-General in relation to independent review – Martyn Dunne:

On 19 May I initiated an independent review into circumstances surrounding specific MPI compliance operations. I have now approved the Terms of Reference which will inform this review, and am making these available to the public.

The credibility of MPI is of utmost importance to its ability to successfully discharge its role as the regulator of fisheries in New Zealand. Each year MPI prosecutes in excess of 300 cases in the fisheries sector and issues more than 3,000 infringements. . . 

Conservation group’s claims slammed:

A campaign launched by a Northern Hemisphere conservation group targeting the New Zealand fishing industry is based on inaccurate allegations, Seafood New Zealand Chief Executive Tim Pankhurst says.

Nabu International is calling on fast food chain McDonald’s to drop New Zealand fish to “save Maui dolphins”.

“McDonald’s use New Zealand hoki. Maui dolphins are not found in the deepwater where hoki are caught, Mr Pankhurst says. . . 

New international cooperation on animal diseases:

The Government has signed three new agreements to work closely with and support other countries in the event of animal disease outbreaks, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“As a Government we are working extremely hard to protect our borders and the primary sector from natural threats. An important part of that is international cooperation in case there is a major incident,” says Mr Guy.

The agreements formalise the participating countries’ commitment to support each other in the event of animal health emergencies, including the sharing of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) vaccine in an outbreak and recognition of zoning principles for foreign animal disease outbreaks. . . 

Faster rollout of fisheries monitoring:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has today signalled the Government’s intention to speed up the rollout of monitoring equipment on commercial fishing vessels.

“Work is already underway on installing electronic monitoring and cameras on all commercial fishing vessels, however today I’ve signalled to my officials that this work should be fast-tracked,” says Mr Guy.

“This increased monitoring will provide greater transparency of the commercial fleet’s activities and improve public confidence that our fisheries are being well managed. . .

New Zealand poultry industry – new strategies needed to catch next wave of growth:

Strong growth in both volume and value terms is possible for New Zealand’s chicken meat industry, but it needs to focus on alternative strategies to capture new opportunities, according to a new report by agribusiness specialist Rabobank.

In the report, Catching the next wave of growth, Rabobank identifies the development of new markets, the capturing of a greater share of consumer spending and improved margins through productivity gains as three key strategies that will enable the industry to maximise volume and value growth. . . 

Latest Overseer Update Reduces Workload For Users:

OVERSEER Limited released today the latest update to OVERSEER® Nutrient Budgets (or OVERSEER). The new version OVERSEER 6.2.2 reduces the amount of manual data users need to input into the tool.

OVERSEER 6.2.2 lets users access soils data directly from Landcare Research’s S-map database. OVERSEER uses the S-map database to seamlessly provide online data on soil properties affecting farm nutrient leaching. State of the art technologies link the two systems.

“This new OVERSEER version is great news for users, reducing the manual input of up to 18 soil data fields. For the first time, OVERSEER has connected with other software to provide auto-population of data. Our users have been asking for this capability. The new version is an exciting step forward for OVERSEER,” Dr Caroline Read, OVERSEER Limited General Manager says. . . 


Irrigation greener option

May 25, 2016

Greenpeace is highly critical of the decision to provide funding for irrigation in Canterbury.

. . . Genevieve Toop, Greenpeace’s agriculture campaigner, said:

“The government is throwing away millions of dollars on this controversial industrial irrigation scheme which will pollute our precious rivers.

“Millions of tonnes of pollution ends up in our rivers already. And this will only get worse if government departments like MPI throw taxpayers’ money at irrigation schemes like Central Plains Water that expand the industrial dairy sector.

“Ecological farming is much better for our rivers, our land and our international reputation. It’s this that the government should be backing, not some failed industrial agriculture model which is polluting our rivers.” . . 

IrrigationNZ counters her arguments:

IrrigationNZ welcomes government funding of $7.85 million for Canterbury irrigation projects that will help lift the water quality of Lake Ellesmere and groundwater in the Hinds area.

The Central Plains Water scheme has been injected with $6.64m to help get its next stages through to construction, and $312,000 has been puttowards a pilot study for aquifer recharge in the Hinds area which aims to restore spring-fed stream flows and alongside address groundwater nitrate issues.

IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis said the Hinds recharge project was particularly exciting because it was the first time techniques commonly used overseas would be used to improve water quality.

“The trial – a first in New Zealand – will use clean Rangitata River water to soak into the aquifer in an area of high nitrate concentrations, diluting the nitrate, whilst also providing better reliability for groundwater takes, and stream flows”, said Curtis “

This alongside the move to Good Management Practice through Audited Farm Environment Plans will allow natural ecosystems to regenerate,” said Curtis. 

Pollution from intensive farming happened over time and it will take time to improve water quality but that’s not an argument to oppose irrigation when better management and independently audited farm environment plans will protect and enhance waterways.

The water will come from the Ashburton District Council’s unused stock water allocation via the Rangitata Diversion Race and Valetta Irrigation Scheme. Groundwater, surface water and climate monitoring will be built into computer models to distinguish the trial effects from other water influences.

“Managed aquifer recharge is used a lot in the United States to replenish aquifers, but is new to New Zealand. This trial is about replenishing aquifers and diluting nitrates. It could be a great tool going forward with excellent environmental outcomes. The success of the trial could lead to it being used in other catchments in New Zealand.”

The project is expected to bring many benefits to the Ashburton community including economic, environment and recreation, said Curtis.

IrrigationNZ also welcomed the announcement by Minister Guy that responsibility for the Government’s irrigation programmes will change in July when Crown Irrigation Investments Limited takes over grants for the development of regional irrigation schemes. This role was previously carried out by the MPI’s Irrigation Acceleration Fund that continues to be involved in supporting early stage strategic water studies and smaller irrigation scheme developments.

Curtis agrees it makes sense to link the Government’s irrigation investment agency more closely to developing schemes, they have much expertise and their help and advice is welcome in setting up the commercial side of community water storage projects as this is one of the biggest hurdles to be overcome. “In the past we have often commented that the two government organisations involved in irrigation should be joined at the hip so this makes much sense,” said Curtis.

Bigger irrigation schemes, particularly those with water storage, are better for the environment than individual farmers pumping underground water.

The bigger schemes use less power and replenish aquifers rather than taking from them.

Of course Greepeace would prefer no irrigation at all and is blind to the economic environmental and social benefits it brings.


Rural round-up

May 24, 2016

Imports threaten exports – Neal Wallace:

Exports of New Zealand sheep genetics to Australia will effectively stop while officials there consider the risk of scrapie.  

They were worried about it reaching NZ in sheep milking genetic material imported from Britain.  

Trade in genetics between NZ and Europe had been closed for 20 years following the outbreak of scrapie in sheep and BSE, also known as mad cow disease, in cattle but the fledgling sheep milking industry wants access European genetics which produce five times the volume milk of NZ flocks. . . 

Fonterra working on rebuilding trust:

Fonterra executives admit they need to listen more to rebuild the public’s trust in the company.

The dairy giant outlined its international marketing strategy to 800 farmers at a DairyNZ farmers’ forum near Hamilton today.

The company said it’s using social media to target young global consumers with different nutritional needs. . . 

Young Māori dairy farmer Jack Raharuhi changes direction and wins award –  Gerard Hutching:

A young farmer who confesses he “got into the wrong crowd as a teenager and chose the wrong path” has been crowned the 2016 Ahuwhenua Young Māori dairy farmer of the year.

Jack Raharuhi, hailing from the Ngati Kahu, said winning a prestigious award such as the Ahuwhenua was a huge honour.

“I got into the wrong crowd as a teenager and I chose the wrong path. I left school and came to work here on the farm which I now manage. Dairy farming got me in line. I had no time to go out and get into trouble. Now I have a fiancée and two children,” he said in Hamilton at the awards ceremony last night. . . 

Rakaia farm takes Awuwhenua Trophy:

A South Island dairy farm has won the prestigious Ahuwhenua Trophy for the first time in the 83-year history of the competition.

The winner of the Maori Excellence in Farming Award dairy was the Proprietors of Rakaia Incorporation, whose farm Tahu a Tao has a long and proud history dating back to 1886.

The 216ha property near Ashburton runs around 830 Kiwi cross cows. . . 

Dog trailist a legend in his lifetime – Rob Tipa:

Rob Tipa meets a three-time national dog trials champion and farmer who knows what he likes and knows how to breed it.

Three-time New Zealand champion dog trialist Ginger Anderson, of Omarama, is a man who understands pedigrees and good breeding, whether he is talking about top trial dogs, fine wool sheep or charolais cattle.

He qualified for his first national dog trial championship 51 years ago, the youngest competitor to qualify at just 19, after winning the North Otago Centre and South Island championships. . . 

Hazelnuts offer nitrogen option:

Hazelnut trees’ potential to soak up nitrogen leaching will be revealed at three workshops over the next few weeks.

Farmers will be able to learn more about how hazelnut trees can fit into their farm management plans.

Hazelnut Growers Association chairman Murray Redpath, an Eastern Bay of Plenty sheep and beef farmer and hazelnut grower, says hazelnuts need nitrogen and their spring growth relies on having enough stored in their roots and plant tissues. . . 

New trophy for Young Farmers:

This year’s FMG New Zealand Young Farmers winner will hoist a new trophy, complete with number 8 wire.

A brand new trophy for the contest was unvelied earlier today as part of an official blessing in Canterbury.

“In constructing the trophy FMG and NZ Young Farmers wanted to honour the tradition of the contest and our proud farming heritage as well as acknowledge the pivotal role farming plays in terms of New Zealand’s current and future prosperity,” FMG chief executive Chris Black said. . . 

Horsetail weevil to rein in field horsetail weed:

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has approved the horsetail weevil (Grypus equiseti) as a biological control agent to help curb the weed field horsetail (Equisetum arvense).

Field horsetail is an invasive species with green fern-like fronds that grow up to 80cm tall. Though it dies back in winter, it has a large underground root system that makes it difficult to control. It also produces large quantities of spores that can germinate on bare ground, threatening native plants in sensitive habitats, such as wetlands and on the banks of waterways. It is classed as an unwanted organism under the Biosecurity Act 1993. . .


Rural round-up

May 23, 2016

Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act out of date and out of time:

Federated Farmers is calling on the Government to urgently set up an expert panel to review the regulation of genetic modification (GM) in the wake of a report by the National Academy of Sciences which confirms the safety of GM crops.

GM crops have been used in agriculture since 1996 and the study carried out by US-based National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine examined the literature, listened to speakers and heard comments from the public to determine the negative effects and benefits of commercial GM crops.

Federated Farmers President Dr William Rolleston says the report found there was no substantiated evidence of a difference in risk to human health between current commercial GE crops and conventional crops. . . 

Future-focussed farm since 1863 – Sally Rae:

Brendon Cross is the sixth generation to farm amid the spectacular beauty of the Otago Peninsula.

He and his wife Paula’s vision for farm sustainability was rewarded recently when they were named supreme winners in the Otago Ballance Farm Environment awards.

At a field day last week, judging co-ordinator Judy Miller described it as a successful farming operation that incorporated the complexities and challenges of farming in a semi-urban environment. . . 

YFC’s support after accident appreciated – Sally Rae:

Brooke Solly had been meaning to join the Maniototo Young Farmers Club.

The young shepherd had every intention of heading along to a meeting but she got busy, breaking in a horse, and never quite made it.

Then on April 2 this year her life changed, potentially forever, when she rolled her vehicle and suffered serious injuries, including spinal damage.

“I got through 22 years of not breaking any bones and then decided to do a hell of a job of it,” she said dryly. . . 

NZ export log prices lift in May as weaker currency offsets higher shipping costs – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand export log prices advanced this month as a decline in the local currency made the country’s shipments more competitive, offsetting a lift in shipping costs.

The average wharf gate price for New Zealand A-grade logs edged up to $120 a tonne in May, from $119 a tonne in April, according to AgriHQ’s monthly survey of exporters, forest owners and saw millers.

The in-market price of A-grade logs in China, New Zealand’s largest market, advanced to US$113/JAS from US$111/JAS last month as inventory levels on Chinese ports remain moderate, following a relatively low build up of stock on ports during the Chinese New Year holiday period. . . 

Business leaders from Agritech industry to gather at the upcoming INZBC Summit 2016:

Over 300 global business leaders and stakeholders will come together on 13th June for first of its kind summit on Agritech, being held by INZBC. The summit will witness business leadership from across New Zealand and India to discuss in depth the scope of agribusiness in both the countries.

The Summit is being held in partnership with New Zealand National Fieldays, the most respected organisation in NZ for Agriculture. . . 

New Zealand Winegrowers welcomes modernisation of Customs and Excise regime:

New Zealand Winegrowers has welcomed today’s announcement by the Minister of Customs around the modernisation of New Zealand’s Customs and Excise legislation.

‘The legislation was becoming increasingly outmoded and an update has been badly needed’ said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. ‘We are looking forward to changes in areas such as moving goods around New Zealand and simplifying the process for applying for refunds of excise for unsold damaged goods.’ . . 

NZ should be milking it in organic market:

Consistent growth in the demand for organic produce over the last four decades is a missed opportunity New Zealand dairy farmers can’t afford to ignore any longer, says organics stalwart Bob Crowder.

His comments are a response to a payout forecast of $9.20 for organic milksolids, more than double the price of conventional milk, which he believes has the potential to take New Zealand back to being a world leader in organics.

He laments New Zealand letting its status as a frontrunner in organics slide. “At one time we were one of the top certified organic nations in the world. Now we’re almost insignificant in the global picture,” says Mr Crowder. . . 


Rural round-up

May 22, 2016

Canterbury woman captures drought on camera – Annabelle Tukia:

A north Canterbury woman has created a remarkable record of how tough it’s been farming through a drought.

Claire Inkson has been living through the ordeal and at the same time capturing it through her camera lens.

Frame by frame, Ms Inkson is capturing north Canterbury’s record-breaking drought.

The photographer and farmer’s wife usually snaps portraits, but as the region’s dry spell enters its second year, Ms Inkson shifted her focus to documenting the people and stock affected by it. . . 

US political change may slow efforts to free up agricultural trade, academic Bailey says – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – Political change in the US may slow efforts to free up agricultural trade, impacting New Zealand which had hoped to gain better access to the world’s largest economy through the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, according to a US academic with links to New Zealand.

US lawmakers are expected to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership during the so-called “lame-duck” session of Congress between the US presidential election in November and the swearing-in of a new US president early next year. . . 

Rare native plant back from the brink:

The white-flowered ngutukākā, a rare variant of the kākābeak, has been welcomed back to Te Reinga Marae in Wairoa.

The native plant has been nurtured back from near extinction by Crown research institute Scion, which took four years to successfully grow the white-flowered ngutukākā after being given seeds from the estate of a collector of wild seed.

There were 100 people at the homecoming and children from the marae planted the shrubs in a specially prepared garden near the marae. . .

Statement from the Director General of the Ministry for Primary Industries in Relation to Operation Achilles:

There has been much comment in recent days in relation to a Ministry for Primary Industries compliance investigation into potentially illegal discarding of fish by some South Island-based fishing vessels in 2012 and early 2013.

The investigation was known as Operation Achilles. Copies of a preliminary investigation report have now been placed in the public arena.

The investigation was known as Operation Achilles. Copies of a preliminary investigation report have now been placed in the public arena. . . 

Ahuwhenua Trophy winners congratulated:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell have tonight congratulated The Proprietors of Rakaia Incorporated, this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy winner.

The Proprietors of Rakaia Incorporated were presented with the 2016 Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Māori Excellence in Farming award tonight in Hamilton.

“The Incorporation has a long and proud history back to 1886. They have set a fantastic example to other Māori landowners of what can be achieved through ambition and hard work,” says Mr Guy.

“They converted to dairy farming in 1996 and sustainable irrigation has helped them grow and develop wider opportunities for whānau,” says Mr Guy. . . 

Township’s only shop faces closure – Jono Edwards:

The imminent closure of a community-owned Teviot Valley store has residents rallying to save it and a councillor calling a grocery chain’s departure from the building “disgraceful”.

Millers Flat’s only shop, Faigan’s Store, will shut its doors on Sunday next week after operating in different forms for more than 100 years.

The catalyst was Foodstuffs pulling out its Four Square, which has been in the building since the late 1950s.  . .

 

Kiwifruit project excites eastern BoP Māori:

Māori in eastern Bay of Plenty are hailing a plan to create kiwifruit orchards as a solution to high unemployment and low productivity in the region.

The kiwifruit orchards will replace low value maize farming on multiply-owned Māori land in Omaio near Te Kaha as part of a six-year conversion plan.

Te Rau Aroha Charitable Trust devised the strategy for Omaio, Otuwhare and Waiorore whānau and hapū. . . 

Australian agricultural ministers visit:

Primary Industries Ministers Nathan Guy and Jo Goodhew have welcomed Australian Ministers of Agriculture to New Zealand for a study tour and forum.

“The primary industries are the engine room of both New Zealand and Australia, and an important goal of both countries is growth in value-added products,” says Mr Guy.

“The study tour has focused on exciting progress being made by the Primary Growth Partnership, which involves industry and Government co-investing in innovation. It is helping develop value-added products and services, through new science and technology,” says Mr Guy. . . 

Zespri Kiwifruit Strives for Growth Across North America

Global leader in premium quality kiwifruit responds to growing consumer demands

In response to the very positive consumer reaction to Zespri Kiwifruit last season, Zespri today announces plans to significantly grow its volume across North America in 2016. In fact, Zespri’s growth extends beyond its distribution: a North American office is opening in Orange County, California to support customers and distributors in the next step in the company’s expansion, which includes hiring more staff within the region.

Zespri SunGold—a natural cross between gold varieties of kiwifruit—is one of the fastest growing new fruits globally, with sales expanding rapidly in the U.S. and Canada. Sweeter than a green kiwifruit, the SunGold variety tastes like a cross between a mango and a strawberry and has a smooth, hairless skin with a juicy, yellow flesh. SunGold’s appeal is also its nutrition benefits: one serving has three times more vitamin C than an orange and provides as much potassium as a banana.1 . .


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