Rural round-up

May 26, 2015

Arable farmers voice safety concerns – Jemma Brackebush:

Arable farmers concerned with how changes to the Health and Safety Act may affect them are meeting WorkSafe representatives in Southland this week.

The Foundation for Arable Research’s group, Women in Arable, have organised sessions after farmers voiced uncertainty about the changes that are due to come into force later this year.

Spokesperson Anna Heslop said one session had already been held in Ashburton, where they found many people were sceptical of the new rules. . .

Fonterra unit investors kick unit values after interim result – Tim Fulton:

Investors are punishing Fonterra for a disappointing balance sheet and dividend payments to farmers, a Canterbury-based share advisor says.

The value of Fonterra’s listed investment units has dropped up to 20 per cent since the co-op’s interim result two months ago.

The sharemarket “wasn’t too happy” with Fonterra’s interim financial result on March 25 and the feeling had contributed to the unit price in the Fonterra Shareholders Fund falling from about $6 per unit to $4.80, Hamilton Hindin Green authorised advisor Grant Davies said. . .

Westland’s Farm Excellence roll-out close to 100%:

The first stage of the roll-out of Westland Milk Products’ new Farm Excellence (FarmEx) programme has almost been completed, with 97 percent of farms having had their first FarmEx assessment.

Launched in 2014, FarmEx works on the basic philosophy that what happens behind the farm gate impacts on Westland’s ability to sell in a highly competitive marketplace. The programme sets high quality production, environmental, animal welfare and sustainability standards for Westland’s shareholder suppliers.

The move has been welcomed by the Department of Conservation on the West Coast because of the positive environmental spin-offs that the programme entails. . .

Awards experience gave confidence – Sally Rae:

Dave and Janene Divers first entered the Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards four years ago.

At that time, they were newcomers to running Table Hill, a 1650ha family owned property 5km inland from Milton.

While they did not get past the first round of judging, they enjoyed the process and gained a professional look at their business, along with confirmation that their vision was ”on the right track”, Mrs Divers said.

It gave them the confidence to move forward with their ideas and goals and they decided to enter again when they had a chance of injecting ”a bit of their personalities” into the business and achieving some of their goals. . .

Delmont Angus bull fetches top price of $15,000

A top price of $15,000 was achieved at the 15th Delmont Angus bull sale held recently on farm at Kuriwao.

John and Tracey Cochrane sold 25 bulls for an average price of $6388, with a top price of $15,000, to Jeff Farm at Kaiwera.

Bev and Malcolm Helm, from Rough Ridge Shorthorns, at Gimmerburn, sold eight bulls for an average of $5000 and a top price of $9000, to Rob and Sally Peter, from Cape Campbell, Marlborough. . .

No farm ‘fire-sale’ scenario from lower milk payouts says real estate industry leader:

Lower dairying payouts will lead to a tightening of the proverbial belt around many Canterbury farm budgets – but not a rush to the mass selling of productive units, according to the head of a leading real estate agency in the region.

Bayleys Canterbury director Bill Whalan said the full impact of the latest lowered Fonterra payout forecast would depend on how long prices remained depressed – but any talk of ‘fire sale pricing’ was wide of the mark.

“A vast majority of Canterbury dairy farmers are in a position to deal with this season’s low payout – and therefore a rush of distressed farm sales is not anticipated,” Mr Whalan said. . .


Woolly words

May 26, 2015

Drought is no laughing matter but a North Canterbury has found an opportunity for humour while feeding out:

. . .Parnassus sheep farmer Mike Bowler has been hit hard by the drought, which has crippled farming operations throughout North Canterbury.

The harsh conditions have scorched his fields, requiring Bowler to drop thousands of dollars of feed each day for his stock.

To vent his frustration, each day he scatters the feed into a different pattern, manipulating his sheep into a giant roadside billboard.

One day it was the shape of a kiwi; other days it has been the names of his grandchildren.

Bowler’s most popular design expressed in simple terms what many of his fellow farmers are thinking – “bugger”.

His sheep art had been a useful way for dealing with his frustration, he said.

“I feel that if I’m pouring that much money into the ground I might as well get some benefit from it, even if it is just a smile from somebody going along the road.” . . .


Snow good but . . .

May 26, 2015

Ski fields didn’t have as much snow as they’d like last year and it wasn’t just the ski season that was affected.

Less snow on the mountains meant less snow melt to feed rivers and underground aquifers.

That combined with drought over summer and into autumn to put a lot of farms under severe pressure.

Good dumpings of snow a couple of weeks ago and the follow up in the last two days is good for ski fields, aquifers, rivers and farming.

But it’s not all good news. Met Service is forecasting the return of El Niño that could dent agricultural production:

. . .The El Nino weather pattern that meteorological forecasters are predicting this year is likely to reduce New Zealand’s agricultural output, based on historic data, economists at Bank of New Zealand say.

Historic data compiled by BNZ suggests a positive co-relation between New Zealand’s agricultural growth and the Southern Oscillation Index, a standardised index of sea level pressure differences between Tahiti and Darwin that is used to determine whether El Nino or La Nina is present.

The index dropped below 15 in May, a level that indicates the coming of El Nino. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology confirmed this month that the Pacific Ocean has officially entered into an El Nino pattern that has a 70 percent chance to last through the southern winter and spring.

El Nino typically increases the likelihood of drought in the east of New Zealand as a result of the strong frequent winds it brings from the west and south west, BNZ said. . .

Winters are supposed to be cold but cold weather continuing into spring holds back growth and  a continuation of drought will hit farms and those who depend on them hard.

Most farms and businesses can get through one season of drought but a second one or a continuation of the first puts even the best under a lot of pressure.

 

 


Rural round-up

May 25, 2015

Extraordinary season for growers as industry gets back on track for growth:

Zespri’s final result for 2014/15 shows an industry that is back on track and revitalized for the strong growth outlook ahead.

The last season has been extraordinary, Zespri Chairman Peter McBride said, with the total fruit and service payment up 17 percent on the previous year to $939 million. Zespri’s global kiwifruit sales reached $1.568 billion, up 16 percent on 2013/14. Export earnings increased by 18 percent to $1.086 billion versus the 2013/14 season. “These strong headline results were achieved because of the effort of growers, the post-harvest sector and the Zespri team onshore and in the markets,” Mr McBride said. . .

Budget 2015: Driving primary sector export growth:

The Government will invest $7.5 million over two years in developing key skills and systems to help boost exports across the primary sector, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says.

This investment focuses on key initiatives that will help deliver greater economic growth, including:

  • Identifying new farming systems and processes.
  • Building international consumer trust in New Zealand products.
  • Identifying and prioritising opportunities to increase investment, employment and incomes in the primary sector.
  • Encouraging more people to get involved in the primary industries. . . .

Nominations & entries open for South Island Farmer of the Year:

Nominations and entries are open for the 2015 Lincoln University Foundation South Island Farmer of the Year competition, and organisers are hoping for another record year.

Foundation Chair Ben Todhunter says, “Last year we had record entries followed by the most popular winner’s field day in the history of the competition when more than 400 people turned up to tour Patoa Farms.”

The competition offers a top prize of a $20,000 travel grant to undertake further farm study or pursue farm business opportunities, plus four $5000 awards for the best performers in specific areas such as resource management, consumer awareness, innovation and human resource management. . .

Smart agriculture: What resilient farmers do differently – John Janssen:

Falling milk prices have seen renewed discussion about the tough times ahead for those in the dairy sector, and as such it seems a timely opportunity to share some insights into how farmers can put themselves into the best possible position to overcome the challenges ahead.

Adaptability and resilience have become critical to successful agribusiness ventures and we see time and again that the most profitable and resilient businesses are the ones where the decision-making over a period of time has been of a high standard. . . .

Weaker NZ Dollar Helps Wool Prices:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s Marketing Executive, Mr Paul Steel advises that a weaker New Zealand dollar compared to the last sale on 14th May, kept prices high despite a significant increase in the rostered quantity. Steady demand and exporters struggling to source enough wool to meet shipping requirements added extra strength to the market.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies eased 1.97 percent week on week.

Of the 9,733 bales on offer, 91.4 percent sold. . .

$41.2m for resource management, water reform:

The Government is committing $41.2 million in Budget 2015 to deliver on its priorities for the environment, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

Budget 2015 will invest an additional $20.4 million over four years to provide greater national direction and support to councils in implementing the resource management reforms.

A further $4 million will go towards supporting the Environmental Protection Authority’s role to implement the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) legislation in 2015/16. An additional $16.8 million is allocated to support the Government’s programme of improving the management of freshwater. . .

 


Rural round-up

May 24, 2015

Farming at 17: Cheviot teen raises sheep, cattle – Beck Eleven:

Louisa McClintock is just 17 but with her 80-year-old grandfather by her side, she’s taking on a dry North Canterbury farm. BECK ELEVEN watches two generations work together.

For a teenage girl, she’s got a decent pair of lungs.

It’s another dry day in Cheviot, North Canterbury and Louisa McClintock is driving a couple of hundred sheep through a race, funnelling the corriedales towards the shower dip to stave off lice and fly strike. . .

Rural Broadband extension secured:

The passing of the Telecommunications (Development Levy) Amendment Levy Bill underscores the Government’s commitment to extending enhanced connectivity to regional New Zealand, says Communications Minister Amy Adams

The Bill passed last night with support from all parties, other than Labour.

“The extension of the Telecommunications Development Levy (TDL) will fund the $100 million expansion of fast, reliable broadband to the regions. It will also establish a $50 million fund to extend mobile coverage in black spot areas such as along main highways and in popular tourist destinations,” says Ms Adams. . .

Farming women band together – Rebecca Harper:

A gap in the market for a women’s progress group focusing on sheep and beef has been addressed by the new Wairarapa Rural Women’s Initiative. 

Sheep and beef farmer and Baker & Associates agribusiness consultant Ellie Meadows cottoned on to the need for such a group after speaking to other like-minded farmers, Lynley Wyeth and Lucy Thorneycroft.

Both women had taken part in the Understanding Your Farm Business course run by the Agri Women’s Development Trust and wondered “what next”? . .

 Seeing green – Sandra Taylor:

Seeing a bulk of greenfeed in a scorched landscape was enough to make any farmer salivate this summer and growing bulk is what forage maize does best.

A number of dryland farmers in Canterbury have been growing forage maize and while it generates a bulk of feed at a time of the year when little else grows, as a feed it is not suitable for every class of stock.

Charlotte Westwood, an animal nutritionist and vet with PGG Wrightson Seeds, cautions against feeding it to young stock such as newly weaned beef calves. . .

Budget funding boost welcomed:

A 20 per cent increase in tertiary funding for agriculture announced in today’s budget is being welcomed by Lincoln University Deputy Vice-Chancellor International and Business Development Jeremy Baker.

The increase is part of an $85.8 million boost over four years for targeted increases in tuition rates at degree level and above, which also includes a 7.5 per cent increase for science.

Mr Baker described the announcement as recognition of the vital role agriculture plays in the New Zealand economy, and for institutions like Lincoln University, with its specific land-based focus, in providing world-class graduates to meet the growing demand in the sector for highly-trained workers.

It shows the area is a priority for the Government and for New Zealand, he says, as it needs to be. . .

Resilient farmer Doug Avery will lead a tlak on drought in North Canterbury – Kim Nutbrown:

North Canterbury farmers are being urged to heed the advice of Doug Avery who will visit the drought-stricken area next week.

Farmers in the Cheviot area are experiencing record low rainfalls, putting their businesses under extreme stress.

Many are searching for a stress-relief valve. . . .


Rural round-up

May 23, 2015

Modern farming has had its day – Annette Scott:

Modern agriculture, at about 70 years old, was the product of post WWII food shortages and while it had been effective in its primary aim of increasing yields it has to change, an industry expert says.

The 2020s would be the new 1960s as agriculture and social change entered a period as significant as the 1950s and 1960s, Dr Charles Merfield of the Biological Husbandry Unit’s Future Farming Centre said.

“Our times are once again changing,” he told farmers at a sustainable agriculture seminar run by the FFC and the Foundation for Arable Research in Ashburton. . .

Agricultural and Agri-Food Producers Call for an Ambitious, Fair, and Comprehensive Agreement through the Trans-Pacific Partnership:

As Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) nations meet this week in Guam to continue negotiations, agri-food producer and processor organisations from Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand remain united in their call for a modern trade agreement that includes meaningful and comprehensive market access opportunities for agriculture and agri-food.

The organisations advocating for an ambitious, fair and comprehensive TPP agreement are the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Australian National Farmers’ Federation, and the Federated Farmers of New Zealand. Together, they represent hundreds of thousands of farmers, producers, processors and exporters who, in turn, employ millions of workers across the TPP region.

“Our agricultural sectors and the jobs they provide depend on a thriving network of export markets,” said Brian Innes, president of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance. . .

Working to surplus the best news for farmers in the Budget:

Federated Farmers says it’s disappointed there is no Budget surplus this year, but the best news for farmers from the Government is that it is on track for a surplus next year.

Acting President Anders Crofoot says Federated Farmers welcomes a number of measures in the Budget, but the best thing to assist the rural economy is to control government spending enough to create an enduring surplus to enable debt repayment and to keep pressure off inflation, monetary policy and the exchange rate.

“The Government is clearly trying to balance the need to responsibly manage its finances with the pressing and growing demands to do something about housing and child hardship.” . .

Budget biosecurity announcements a good response to changing risks:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) has welcomed the 2015 budget announcements in support of better biosecurity outcomes.

“Short of a major volcanic eruption in Auckland there is very little that trumps the impact that a biosecurity incursion could have on the New Zealand economy. A bad biosecurity incursion would shut down exports and derail much of our country’s productive capability.” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey.

“Unlike a volcanic eruption, there are things we can do as a country to lessen the risk of a biosecurity incursion. DCANZ thanks the Government for its commitment to responding to the changes which are altering New Zealand’s biosecurity risk profile.” . . .

NZ wool prices jump to multi-year high at auction, amid strong exporter demand – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand wool prices jumped to multi-year highs at auction even as the volume on offer rose 78 percent, amid strong demand from exporters.

The price for clean 35-micron wool, a benchmark for crossbred wool used for carpets and accounting for the majority of New Zealand’s production, rose to $6.20 per kilogram at yesterday’s South Island auction, from $5.80/kg in the North Island auction last week, and reaching its highest level since November 2013, according to AgriHQ. Lamb wool jumped to $6.90/kg, from $6.65/kg, marking its highest level since April 2011. . .

Blenheim the place to be in June for Ag contractors:

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 Blenheim later next month.

Chief executive Roger Parton says this year’s RCNZ annual conference is being held at the Marlborough Convention Centre, in Blenheim, from June 22-25.

“The conference is less than 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.” . . .


Rural round-up

May 22, 2015

Breaking down NZ fences – Lindy Nelson:

From dairy to red meat, New Zealand agribusiness is undergoing a profound transformation. The expanding markets of Asia bring both new opportunities as well as challenges.

To extract the maximum value from these opportunities the sector needs an injection of new ideas and perspectives and to engage 100 per cent of its available talent. One of the ways this is happening is the emergence of more women in leadership roles.

From boardrooms to the management of New Zealand’s top agribusinesses, women are stepping into roles not traditionally held in our sector. . . .

INZ supportive of budget 2015 allocation to freshwater management:

Irrigation New Zealand supports the government’s budget allocation to assisting councils with the implementation of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and the 2014 National Objectives Framework, and to supporting a new collaborative approach to resolving managing freshwater.

“This will help water policy evolve into even more practical, precise and workable terms and will hopefully make the consenting and regulatory process around water storage and irrigation infrastructure development less costly and lengthy,” says Mr Curtis. “It will also give more recognition to the collaborative processes which are already happening in water catchments about future infrastructure development. . .

Plea to promote good employers:

A rural recruitment specialist says the farming sector should be identifying and celebrating good employers, not naming and shaming the bad ones.

This week Council of Trade Union president, Helen Kelly, has been tweeting links to farm ads which she says are for jobs paying below the minimum wage – and sometimes even below $13 an hour.

John Fegan has been a rural recruitment and HR specialist in the Waikato region for more than 20 years and while he agrees there are bad employers out there, he does not agree with what Helen Kelly is doing.

Mr Fegan believes a system which highlights farmers who have good employment standards is the best way to go about bringing change. . .

Ballance makes key leadership appointments:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients has announced the appointment of two general managers as well as appointments to new roles in strategy and agricultural technology.

Chief Executive Mark Wynne said the appointments were aligned with a revised focus for the co-operative on driving value for shareholders from its core fertiliser business, building the capability of its people, and making smarter use of data and technology to support better decision making both within the company and on the farm. . .

 

Low payout, smarter herd management:

“If you want to get the best out of your farming business when payout is low, you need to have the right tools.”

That’s the view of Drury-based dairy farmer Sue Dyer, who recently presented at a series of workshops run by CRV Ambreed to teach farmers how technology can be better used to achieve their herd improvement goals.

Dyer said dairy farmers spend too much time on administration and managing their herd information, and when time is money, farmers have to make a considered decision about the products and services they use and how they use them. . .

Danielle Nierenberg's photo.


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