Rural round-up

June 30, 2015

Trade agreements are tricky animals – Alan Barber:

There’s a lot of activity going on with trade negotiations at the moment, but not much certainty about outcomes.

Ranging from the TPP, the grandfather of them all from New Zealand’s point of view, to the murky negotiations with the Gulf Cooperation Council, the only deal signed off this year is the long awaited FTA with South Korea.Although this FTA is good news for our primary sector, it is only a comparatively minor achievement which should have already happened years ago. Even the much vaunted FTA with China appears to have been gazumped by Australia’s more recently signed agreement. . .

‘Decades-old frozen meat’ seized in China :

Almost half a billion dollars worth of smuggled frozen meat – some of it rotting and more than 40 years old – has been seized in China, reports say.

More than 100,000 tonnes of chicken wings, beef and pork worth up to three billion yuan were seized in the nationwide crackdown, the state-run China Daily newspaper said.

“It was smelly, and I nearly threw up when I opened the door,” said an official from Hunan province, where 800 tonnes were seized. . .

Flooding likely to increase vegetable prices:

Vegetable growers in the lower North Island may have lost up to 30 percent of their winter crops from the weekend flooding.

The industry body, Horticulture New Zealand, is still trying to build up a clear picture of the damage to market gardens and orchards.

Communications manager Leigh Catley said some vege growers in Horowhenua and Manawatu were reporting heavy losses. . .

Dart Valley track could be closed for moths –  Sally Murphy:

The Dart Valley track in Mount Aspiring National park could be closed for the rest of the year after wild weather caused land-slips, and heavy rain and flooding washed away parts of the track.

Hillsides have slipped and trees have been washed away.

Department of Conservation services manager John Roberts said it was frustrating as it had undone months of work on the track.

“In recent months we have toiled to find a new route through very difficult country, we hoped to build a basic track around what used to be Sandy Flat, linking up with the temporary track around a new lake.” . .

Water rights and democracy:

The president of Federated Farmers William Rolleston is supporting the Government’s plan for partial return to democracy for the Canterbury Regional Council.

The government is about to confirm its preferred option after consulting on a mixed model of six appointed commissioners and seven elected councillors.

It said the work the commissioners had been doing to bring in a water management plan for the region would be put at risk if there was a full return to democracy. . .

MP delighted at fund announcement for food processing research:

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has awarded funding of $16.65million over the next six years to transform New Zealand’s primary food production into added-value products.

The programme will be hosted by Massey University, with Professor Richard Archer as national science leader, and partner organisations are AgResearch, Plant and Food Research, the Riddet Institute, the University of Auckland and the University of Otago.

National List MP and former member of the FoodHQ board Jono Naylor is delighted by today’s announcement. . .

Lessons from the GFC farmers can use to bank more effectively:

There are good lessons to be drawn on from the global financial crisis (GFC) for dairy farmers in managing volatility and getting the most from their banking relationship, says Hayden Dillon, Head of Corporate Agribusiness and Capital Advisory for Crowe Horwath.

Major rural banks were expected to support their dairy clients despite many farm budgets indicating negative cash flow positions for the coming year, he said. And post-GFC, banks had undergone significant reforms and were now well-positioned in terms of access to capital. . .

 


Rural round-up

June 29, 2015

Snow does little to blunt Hurunui drought – Tim Cronshaw:

Melting snow has combined with the first decent rainfall in six months to provide some relief for dry Hurunui but it would be a stretch to call it a drought breaker.

Much of the snow over the last week has thawed and gone into soils to go some way to replenishing ground moisture that has taken a hammering in the district particularly extending from Hawarden to Cheviot.

The problem is that it’s arrived too late for farmers as winter pulls the plug on major grass or winter crop growth.

Snow, sleet and rain topped up gauges by 20mm to 50mm over Hurunui farmland in the first major rain of the year.

Federated Farmers North Canterbury Meat & Fibre chairman Dan Hodgen said the snow and rain event would be of little initial help for farmers. . .

US likely to force pace on TPP with fast track in place – Pattrick Smellie:

(BusinessDesk) – The United States is likely to try and force the pace of negotiations to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the next few weeks, following a vote in the US Senate last night that all but ensures President Barack Obama will gain so-called ‘fast track’ authority to complete the controversial agreement.

One more Senate vote is expected overnight tonight, New Zealand time, to confirm Trade Promotion Authority – an essential component to resuming the 12 nation talks that have been stalled for months while Obama cobbled together a coalition of Democrats and Republicans large enough to support the measure. . .

TPP does not add up for NZ without good dairy outcomes:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is firm in its view that a good deal on dairy in TPP is necessary for any deal to stack up for New Zealand.

“The facts are that dairy accounts for 35% of NZ exports. You can’t even come close to achieving an acceptable deal for New Zealand without a good deal on dairy” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey.

DCANZ which represents the common policy interests of 11 New Zealand dairy companies, accounting for 98% of milk processed is following the negotiations carefully. . .

 

Landcorp sees NZ dairy conversion rate slowing – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – Landcorp Farming, which has almost tripled its milk production over the past decade, expects the rate of dairy expansion will slow as environmental restrictions, and higher land and labour costs make it less viable.

Large tracts of flat land in New Zealand once used for sheep farming have been converted to dairy as farmers were lured by higher prices for dairy products while demand for sheepmeat and wool waned. The number of dairy cows has jumped to a record 6.7 million, while sheep numbers dropped below 30 million for the first time in more than 70 years, according to data published by Statistics New Zealand last month, covering the 2014 agricultural year. . .

2015 National Award Winners: Recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy:

John and Catherine own 1240ha Highlands Station – a productive and well-maintained hill-country farm south of Rotorua. Sitting within the Lake Tarawera and Rotokakahi catchments, the farm’s distinctive contour was shaped by volcanic activity which flattened forests, carved out hill faces and left the area covered in Phosphate-rich mud.

John’s father Allen began developing Highlands Station in the early 1930s and award judges noted the Ford’s “strong family history of commitment to agriculture”.

Highlands Station has a “much loved feel” and its outstanding meat and wool production puts it among New Zealand’s leading sheep and beef farming operations. . .

 Appointments to Conservation Boards made:

Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner today announced 41 appointments to the 14 Conservation Boards across New Zealand.
“I want to congratulate each of the community representatives who are being appointed in 2015, particularly the 14 who will serve for the first time. I would also like to thank the outgoing representatives for their contribution to conservation in their region,” Ms Wagner says.

“A third of Conservation Board positions were open for renewal this year. The diverse range of appointees will bring a wide array of knowledge and skills to conservation management in the communities they represent. . .

Nobody’s happy with manuka honey definitions: MPI – Suze Metherell:

 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s lack of definition for what constitutes manuka honey has overseas regulators worried about forgeries, with China likely to introduce a certification scheme for the honey imports, the Ministry for Primary Industries is telling the country’s beekeepers.

There is no industry-wide consensus on exactly what constitutes manuka honey, with MPI working to come up with a formal definition and a method for identification. While it isn’t a food safety issue, MPI “takes concerns about the authenticity of New Zealand products very seriously and is acting to address these,” according to its website. . .


Rural round-up

June 28, 2015

Strategic positioning down on the dairy farm – Keith Woodford:

Right now, everyone in the New Zealand dairy industry is figuring out how to get through the next 12 months without too much pain. But eventually events will turn and we will be able to think more strategically about where the industry is going.

Down on the farm, the big long term issue will be how to remain profitable while living in the new world of nutrient emission limits.

There are two ways to go. One is to farm within an all-grass system, but pull back the stocking rate and other inputs such as nitrogen fertiliser and supplementary feed. Some of the environmentally-focused people are arguing that this is the way to go, and within industry organisation DairyNZ there is a strongly held viewpoint that all-grass is where our competitive advantage lies. . .

 

Tukituki decision a win-win for environment & economy:

Federated Farmers is pleased the Tukituki Catchment Proposal Board of Inquiry has released a decision that has allowed for both the environment and economy to prosper.

The Catchment Proposal Board of Inquiry has decided to let the Ruataniwha Dam go ahead with some amendments to the conditions around nutrient management.

Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers water and environment spokesperson says “We are pleased the process is finally over and are 100 percent behind the Ruataniwha Dam project going ahead for the reasons that water storage is good for the environment and the economy.” . .

 

Unprecedented support for North Canterbury:

In an unprecedented first, a group of North Canterbury stock agents and meat processors have agreed to collectively work together with Federated Farmers as the coordinator and the Rural Support Trust to help farmers affected by the drought for the good of the industry.

As feed supplies in the province dwindle large numbers of stock have to be relocated elsewhere or other solutions need to be found. 

Dan Hodgen, Federated Farmers North Canterbury Meat & Fibre Chair says “The commitment from these groups to work together to help drought affected farmers is really encouraging and I thank them for it. This hasn’t happened before and it reflects how serious the situation is heading into lambing and calving.” . . .

Biosecurity pups named Fudge and Fritz:

Fudge (girl) and Fritz (boy) are the winning names for two new biosecurity detector puppies that have been especially bred to stop pests and diseases from entering New Zealand.

The Ministry for Primary Industries announced the beagle names today after running a public competition to name two puppies from its “F-litter”.

“Both names were popular choices among the entrants, and they meet our requirements for names that are short and easy to remember,” says MPI Detection Technology Manager Brett Hickman. . .

 

Aussie farmers plant more Monsanto’s GM canola:

Australian farmers continue to embrace GM technology in greater numbers and have now planted more than 1.5 million hectares of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready® canola since its introduction in 2008.
 
Despite an expected 9% drop in the size of this season’s overall canola crop, local growers have purchased a record one million tonnes of Roundup Ready canola seed, up 15% on last season.
 
More than 436,000 hectares of GM canola will be planted this year, up from nearly 350,000 hectares last year. GM canola varieties now make up 22% of the canola planted in the states that allow GM canola to be grown – Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. . .

Horticultural Industry Celebrates Bay of Plenty Young Fruit Grower Success:

More than 280 people from around the horticultural industry came together last night to celebrate the 2015 Bay of Plenty Young Fruit Grower competition which saw 26 year old Craig Ward from Apata take out the 2015 title at a sold-out gala dinner.

Craig beat seven other competitors in a series of competitive events and tests during the day and a quiz and speech competition in the evening. Craig will now go on to represent the Bay of Plenty at the national competition run by Horticulture New Zealand in Christchurch on 12-13 August.

This year’s competition received a huge amount of support from the horticultural industry through sponsorship and other contributions. . . .

 


Rural round-up

June 27, 2015

Lincoln University’s VIce-Chancellor Resigns:

Dr Andrew West today resigned as Vice-Chancellor of Lincoln University.

“I am proud of what the University has achieved under my leadership. It has been a fabulous three years and Lincoln is on track to become one of the world’s truly great land-based universities”, said Dr West.

 “However my commitment of time, energy and focus has been so great that it is now appropriate that I refocus on my family that live in the Waikato and on my very elderly parents that live in England”, Dr West added.

Farm Environment Award goes to Rotorua couple – Gerard Hutching:

ROTORUA couple John and Catherine Ford have won New Zealand’s pre-eminent farming prize, the Ballance Farm Environment Award for 2015.

It is the first time in the five years since the award was established that a North Island farming business has won.

The Fords were presented with the Gordon Stephenson trophy by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy at a Parliamentary function.

The judges said the sheep and beef property had the “wow” factor and had been chosen from out of 10 regional supreme winners. It stood out in terms of environmental sustainability and impressive production and performance figures, they said. . .

Taupō farmer warned over nitrogen cap breaches:

A sheep & beef farmer has been formally warned for breaching the Resource Management Act by exceeding a nitrogen discharge cap on properties in the Lake Taupō catchment over a two year period.

It is the first warning issued by Waikato Regional Council under the new Variation 5 consenting regime designed to protect the lake’s health from nitrogen, which can leach into waterways and cause nuisance algae.

The warning came after it was discovered more than a tonne of excess nitrogen could eventually leach into the lake as a result of the farmer’s operations over the two years. By themselves the breaches are not expected to have a major detrimental effect on the lake’s future health. . .

Look at it as a challenge – Bryan Gibson:

The line painted on Rob Craig’s haybarn, marked 2004, is a reminder of the devastating floods of a decade ago. 

But heavy rain is often enough to jog Craig’s memory, as it did last weekend.

“I didn’t sleep well on Friday night, to be honest. It was bucketing down with rain. Ever since ’04 it’s always in the back of your mind when it’s raining heavily. It just kept raining and raining and I got a pretty bad feeling then that it was going to be bad.” . . .

Lake Opuha reaps the winter harvest – Tim Cronshaw:

A rich snow harvest in the Fairlie basin is providing an unexpected windfall for lowland farmers needing Lake Opuha to fully recharge for the next irrigation season.

After being closed to irrigating in February the lake reached “zero storage” for the first time in 17 years and had been slow to return to its normal levels over autumn.

The lake will be boosted by the initial snow melt in the lower basin with lake levels expected to continue rising as deeper snow in the Two Thumb Range thaws in spring, but more water is needed for it to totally refill. . .

 NZ finishes 2014/15 wool season with smallest volume sold at auction in at least 7 years: – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s 2014/15 wool season ended this week with what is expected to be the smallest percentage of the clip sold through auctions in at least seven years, as more farmers were attracted to the premium prices and protection from commodity price volatility offered in private sales.

The auction system’s share of wool is expected to continue to shrink. An estimated 464,000 bales are expected to come up for auction in the 2015/16 year, down from 480,000 bales in 2014/15 and 493,000 bales in 2013/14, according to Wool Services International executive Malcolm Ching, who is on the roster committee which estimates wool bale supply for the auctions. Ching said the committee has been forced to revise down its estimates in recent years to reflect declining sheep numbers and an increased amount of wool circumventing the auction system. . .


Rural round-up

June 26, 2015

Young Queensland beef leader Emma Hegarty wins inaugural Zanda McDonald award – Matt Brann:

A beef extension officer from western Queensland took out the inaugural Zanda McDonald Award at the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) conference in Darwin last night.

The award is in honour of grazier and young beef industry leader Zanda McDonald, who died in 2013 following a tragic accident on his Queensland cattle property.

The award winner, Emma Hegarty, is from Colanya Station near Longreach and works as a beef extension officer for the Queensland Department of Agriculture. . .

Final Board of Inquiry decision:

The Chairman of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s Investment Company, HBRIC Ltd says it is pleased to be at the end of the Board of Inquiry decision process on the Tukituki Plan Change and consent conditions for the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

The Board today released its final decision, with submitters allowed 15 working days to appeal. HBRIC Ltd Chairman Andy Pearce says it is good to be getting some finality in what has been an extremely long and involved process. . .

Some Manawatu farms still under water:

 Farmers in Manawatu, like those in the Whanganui and Taranaki regions, are waiting for floodwaters to clear before they can begin to clean up and repair fences, and see what damage may have been caused to pasture.

 Farms in Rangiotu in southern Manawatu were left badly flooded after the weekend rain caused the Oroua River to breach its stopbanks.

The chief executive of Hopkins Farming Group, Richard Syme, said all six of the company’s dairy farms flooded and one of them was left almost entirely under water.

Mr Syme said that farm’s manager had to be plucked from his home by a helicopter after the flood cut off all road access. . .

Opening of the Oete Farms new goat milking facility – Jo Goodhew:

 . . . Apparently Captain James Cook had a taste for goat milk, and took a goat along with him on his maiden voyage to New Zealand. This was the beginning of a long established history of goat milk in this country.

In 1988, New Zealand was the first country to develop goat milk based nutritional products for infants (by Dairy Goat Cooperative). Since then it has been a long journey building the profile of goat milk, and addressing issues such as when the European Union didn’t recognise goats’ milk as an approved infant formula.

With the EU’s recent approval, and growing global demands in the Middle East, Latin America as well as Europe and Asia, goat milk infant formula already accounts for 7% of our infant formula exports, and future growth is predicted. . .

Apiculture industry unification to go ahead:

The apiculture industry has voted to progress plans to unify under one representative organisation.

National Beekeepers Association president, Ricki Leahy, said today’s AGM had voted overwhelmingly to progress unification.

“I am excited about what this offers the industry moving forward.” . .

 Fragmented honey industry votes to create single peak body – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Federated Farmers Bees, Honey Packers’ and Exporters’ Association, and National Beekeepers’ Association have all voted to proceed with plans to create a single national body for the apiculture industry.

The industry bodies voted with a substantial majority to unify the industry at their respective annual meetings held after a four-day conference in Taupo, Fed Farmers said in a statement. The Apiculture Industry Unification Project’s interim working group told the conference that to be profitable and sustainable the industry needed formalised administration and a single peak body funded by a possible reintroduction of commodity levies. . .

Innovative Fonterra return on investment project wins international award:

A return on Investment (ROI) project delivered by Fonterra’s Sales Excellence Team and guided by Bloom Training and Recruitment’s Director, Beryl Oldham, has won a prestigious international award from the ROI Institute.

The Fonterra project was recognised for its approach to ROI measurement and evaluation and earned Fonterra and Oldham this year’s award for the “Most Innovative Approach to ROI”.

“ROI is a performance measure used to evaluate the effectiveness of an investment,” says Ms Oldham. . .

 Fonterra’s June Guaranteed Milk Price Set at $5.25 Per kgMS:

Fonterra has set the June Guaranteed Milk Price (GMP) at $5.25 per kgMS, the same price as the opening 2015/16 forecast Farmgate Milk Price.

A total of 45.2 million kgMS was offered by 443 farms, more than double the number of farms that applied this time last year.

Fonterra’s Group Director Co-operative Affairs Miles Hurrell said: “More of our farmers are seeing GMP as a financial risk management tool and are choosing to lock in a price for a percentage of their milk production. . .

 Wool Generally Holds Its Ground

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the combined North and South Island auction comprising 20,585 bales saw a 91 percent clearance and a generally firm market except for the previously over pressured Fine Crossbred types which eased slightly.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was down 1.47 percent compared to the last sale on 11th June helping underpin local values.

Mr Dawson advises that Finer Mid Micron Fleece were 3 to 6 percent easier with the coarser types firm to 2 percent dearer. . .


Beyond the Top End

June 26, 2015

The theme for this year’s PPP’s 10th  conference was Beyond the Top End.

This was chosen because it was held in Darwin in Australia’s top end,  but the conference also aimed to:

 . . . explore just how we extend ourselves – in business and in our personal lives. We’ll take a look at how we push through the boundaries, hurdle over the barriers and go beyond where others have gone before. And we’ll ask (and hopefully answer) the question of ‘what does it take?’.

It did all that and more.

Chatham House rules applied which enabled everyone to speak freely but constrains what I can report. However, I can say it gave us the opportunity to hear from a variety of speakers who educated, entertained, informed and inspired us all.

We also visited the world’s newest meat plant and an outback station which gave those of us from other places an insight into the challenges which face those farming in the Northern Territory – crocodiles, dingoes, distance, dust,  drought, floods . . .

We had plenty of opportunity to network and learn from each other too.

An undoubted highlight of the conference was the presentation of the inaugural Zanda McDonald Award.

This honours its namesake, an Australian agri-business leader who died in an accident on his farm aged just 41.

Nominees were expected to demonstrate similar leadership and visionary characteristics to the late Zanda McDonald, including respect, passion, innovation, motivation, dedication, determination, curiosity, a strong work ethic and a desire to improve their industry.

The three finalists were:

* Emma Hegarty who grew up on a merino property in Queensland. She has worked in animal nutrition, and is a Beef Extension Officer with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. She also teaches agriculture at her local school, received a UNE Young Distinguished Alumni Award and was listed as one of the 100 most influential women in Australian Agri-business.

* Athol New who is the farm business manager for Purata at Dunsandel Dairies. He is responsible for 4000 cows on two farms with four sheds. He was a regional finalist for the ANZ Young farmer competition this year.

* Luke Wright who is manager of Orr Lake Elk in Quebec, specialising in genetics for antler production. He was manager of Landcorp Farming’s Stuart Farm, a 3000ha deer, sheep and beef property. He and his partner own a small deer farm near Te Anau.

All finalists gave polished presentations which showed how difficult a job the judges must have had to choose the winner.

It was Emma who won and was presented with a bronze award trophy, $1,000 cash, a place on the 2016 Rabobank Farm Managers’ program and an expenses-paid tailored mentoring package.

Rabobank also gave places on the Farm Managers’ programme to Athol and Luke.

You can listen to Shane McManaway, chief executive of Allflex Australasia, speaking to Jamie Mackay about the conference here and Ben Russell GM of Rabobank NZ also spoke of the conference in his interview with Jamie here .

The conference brought together 137 farmers and agri-business professionals from Australia and New Zealand.

We found we had shared concerns for the importance of animal welfare, food safety, recruitment and retention of staff, encouraging young people to consider agri-business careers, environmental protection and enhancement, bridging the rural-urban divide . . .

We also learned about different challenges Australian farmers face. One station in Queensland is in its third year of drought and has received only 65mls of rain this year. On top of that its plagued by wild dogs which kill stock and kangaroos which eat pasture.

This helped us appreciate the gentler conditions at home, even if it was a little harder to wake up to a frost this morning than it had been to wake up to 30 degrees in Darwin.


Rural round-up

June 25, 2015

Supplies helicoptered to rural people:

Emergency services in Taranaki have delivered essential supplies to 20 to 30 rural people who remain cut-off following the weekend floods.

Helicopters have been kept busy in Taranaki and the neighbouring Whanganui region ferrying supplies to isolated farms and rural communities and in some cases, evacuating people needing to get out.

Taranaki Rural Support Trust chair Graeme Hight said there were still two areas in the south of the region where road access was blocked. . .

Dean – Balance needed around Rural Health and Safety Reforms:

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean says it is crucial to get the balance right with proposed health and safety reforms.

“The health and safety reform bill is currently before parliament and while I welcome any moves to improve safety for farmers and small business owners, I also don’t want it to prove too onerous. . .

Student out to make a difference – Sally Rae:

Shaun Snoxell loves the land and food production.

The Lincoln University student also has a passion for poverty alleviation, the result of time spent volunteering in Africa.

So when he found out about a global Youth Ag Summit in Australia this year, with a theme of Feeding a Hungry Planet, he was keen to apply. . .

NZ honey peak body could cost $2m, but who pays? – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – A proposal to create a single body representing New Zealand’s beekeepers and honey product sellers could cost $2 million a year, but doesn’t yet have agreement on how it would be funded.

The industry concluded its four-day conference in Taupo amid expectations China will impose standards on the lucrative manuka honey trade, which has drawn criticism in the UK after a number of false claims to manuka pedigree from what were just blends. Asian demand for manuka honey has seen the price across all New Zealand honey increase, stoked by a global shortage of honey. Bees produced $187 million of exported honey in the June 2014 year, up 8 percent by volume and almost 30 percent by value on the previous year. . .

A2 confirms Dean Foods is other party in possible bid -Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co has confirmed media speculation that Texas-based food and beverage company Dean Foods is the other party with Freedom Foods that is contemplating making a takeover offer for the milk marketing business.

Dual-listed A2 said it made the disclosure at the request of the ASX in response to media reports. The Australian Financial Review’s Street Talk column yesterday named Dean Foods as the second party in a consortium seeking to buy A2, providing an alternative route for the company, which markets milk with a variant protein, to expand in the US. The AFR speculated the bid could be as much as $2 a share, a massive premium to A2’s share price of 57 cents before potential takeover became public. . .

Solving the dairy payout – Chris Lewis:

After reading the article ‘The buck stops at Theo’, with Labour’s Primary Industry Spokesmen, Damien O’Connor, claiming he needs to take a voluntary pay cut, I wondered will this solve our problems.

A topical discussion at the moment is that do Fonterra directors need to go? Would such a move restore credibility with farmers and staff? While it might bring a bit of satisfaction to people to have someone fall on the sword for our low pay out, I personally doubt all these calls will solve our issues. . .

 


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