The Lost Country of the Pacific

11/01/2022

It’s Australia, but it could also be New Zealand.


Rural round-up

11/12/2021

Tim Ritchie – iconic meat industry leader dies – Peter Burke:

A man who dedicated his whole working life to the meat industry died suddenly on December 5.

Tim Ritchie, 71, made an outstanding contribution in his many roles in the industry over more than 40 years working for Government, the private sector and the Meat Industry Association and its predecessor, the Freezing Companies Association.

After completing a Bachelor of Agricultural Science degree in marketing and economics at Lincoln University, Ritchie embarked on a wide ranging international career in the red meat sector. He started off at Treasury but then moved to Towers International and then to Waitaki International, both in NZ and overseas. Ritchie told Rural News just after his retirement last year that working for Waitaki in London was the highlight of his career

“There as a 30 something year-old my job was to manage the Waitaki operation in the UK and Europe,” he said. . .

It’s time to imagine New Zealand without production animals – Jacqueline Rowarth:

It’s time to imagine New Zealand without production animals. Anti-farming lobbyistsprobably don’t mean this to be the outcome of their activities, but outcomes are difficult to predict, even when the predictor is an expert in the appropriate discipline.

Lobbyists are experts at getting noticed in the media. The negative coverage of agriculture this month has been extraordinary. Anybody who has read the press, listened to the radio, watched the television or gone to a cinema would be forgiven for thinking that New Zealand is an environmental cot case.

The reality is that pre-Covid, tourists rated the environment at the top of New Zealand’s attractions. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has the data. The reality is also that without dairy, beef and sheep, New Zealanders would not have a first-world and flourishing economy. . . 

Fonterra are farmers under ‘enormous pressure’ – Sudesh Kissun:

Fonterra chairman Peter McBride has acknowledged that despite the co-op’s improved performance, many shareholders feel under enormous pressure.

He says the rate of change on-farm, Covid, labour shortages and environmental reforms have pushed many farmers into protest, and others out of the industry.

He told Fonterra’s annual general meeting in Invercargill today that some of that change is being driven by regulation.

“More so, it is being driven by consumer, customer and community expectations,” he says. . .

Another day at the office for Pip – Simon Edwards:

Is this one of the best rural photos of the year (even decade)?

It was snapped earlier this week by Pahiatua farmer and Federated Farmers member Nick Perry and has already been seized on by media as a compelling shot.

This is how Nick described what happend:

While crossing a culvert on farm I heard a bleat from beneath me and thought ‘bother there’s a lamb in there’. Knowing full well extracting the lamb might involve getting wet I put off the decision until later in the day. But the bleat was still emanating from the culvert that evening so I selected my two most experienced working dogs, a huntaway and a heading dog, and explained the situation to them. . .

Family living the dream on beef farm – Shawn McAvinue:

An East Otago egg farming family is giving cropping and cattle finishing a crack in the Maniototo.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand ran a field day at Rotherwood, a 737ha beef and cropping farm near Ranfurly, last week.

The farm is owned by the Winmill family — Jeff and Aileen and their children Nina and Ben.

Jeff Winmill, standing on the steps of the homestead, told more than 80 people at the event, about the purchase and transformation of the farm. . . 

Ag records to tumble for Aussie farmers – Liv Casben:

It’s set to be a record breaking year for Australian farmers thanks to strong growing conditions and high global prices according to a report from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).

If forecasts are realised, Australia’s agricultural production will reach a record $78 billion in 2021/22, with the most valuable winter crop ever expected worth $22.3 billion.

Meanwhile agricultural exports are also likely to hit a record $61 billion.

ABARES executive director Jared Greenville said the good results are expected to be enjoyed across livestock and cropping, with 30-year price highs being experienced. . . 


Rural round-up

10/12/2021

Feds backs withdrawal from governments archaic pay agreement laws :

Federated Farmers supports Business New Zealand’s decision to opt out of the government’s plans for it to be a partner in implementing so-called ‘Fair Pay’ agreements.

Federated Farmers has already indicated it will not function as a mediator for the government’s flawed pay negotiation scheme.

It fully supports Business New Zealand’s decision.
“We support them and for the same reasons they outline we will also refuse to be a negotiating partner for agricultural employers.

“We call on other agricultural organizations to take a similar stance,” employment spokesperson and national board member Chris Lewis says. . .

Fonterra’s Flexible Shareholding structure gets green light from farmers :

Fonterra shareholders have today given the Co-operative’s new capital structure proposal the green light with 85.16% of the total farmer votes in support of the proposal.

The final votes on the capital structure proposal were cast at a Special Meeting in Invercargill early this afternoon.

Chairman Peter McBride says the Board and Management are united in the belief that the Flexible Shareholding structure is the best course of action for the Co-operative.

“Today our farmers have agreed. We have received a strong mandate for change with 85.16% of votes cast in favour of the proposal and 82.65% of eligible votes being cast, , 

Rural schools cry out for mental health support – Matthew Scott:

Without proper access to mental health services for students, teachers in rural schools are left putting out fires

On paper, it was a dream job.

Sarah* had taught at an urban intermediate school for six years before packing up and moving to the country.

Her new school in rural Manawatu meant teaching a class of 18 students rather than her old class of 31. . . 

New Zealand red meat exports increase by 27 percent:

The value of New Zealand’s red meat sector exports reached $693 million during October, a 27 per cent increase year-on-year, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Sheepmeat was a standout performer with the value increasing by 25 per cent to $309m. The major sheepmeat markets by value were China, up 25 per cent to $131m, the United States, up 54 per cent to $46m, and the Netherlands, up 94 per cent to $29m.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of MIA, said a mixture of supply constraints and good demand in key markets had contributed to the high sheepmeat prices. These factors included Brexit-related issues and Australia rebuilding its sheep flock.

“The average Free on Board* (FOB) value for sheepmeat exports for the quarter was $12.52/kg,” said Ms Karapeeva. . .

Forest Owners say Fish and Game barking up wrong tree :

The Forest Owners Association says Fish and Game’s criticism of exotic plantation forests doesn’t accord with reality.

“Fish and Game is, quite simply, barking up the wrong tree when it invents what it calls a ‘myriad of adverse impacts’ from exotic forests,” says Phil Taylor, the FOA President.

“It is true that forests moderate rainfall entering waterways – which reduces the risk of floods. But that also applies to native trees – which Fish and Game wants a lot more of – as well as to exotics – which Fish and Game wants less of.”

“The same applies to water quality. Water emerging out of forests is cleaner than that flowing off farmland – irrespective of the type of forest or type of farmland,” Phil Taylor says. . .

Te Mata Exports acquire rights to Bay Queen™ Apple:

New Zealand produce exporter, Te Mata Exports Limited, has acquired the exclusive rights to a new early season apple variety.

Developed by Hawke’s Bay growing operation, Bayley Produce, the Bay Queen™ is New Zealand’s earliest export apple variety. Bay Queen™ has a vibrant bright full block red colour with crisp flesh and it’s smooth, sweet balance makes it broadly appealing.

Te Mata Exports and Bayley Produce have enjoyed a close working relationship for 10 years, originally partnering to manage the global sale and distribution of apples and summerfruit, and more recently working together to trial and commercialise the Bay Queen™.

The exclusive rights will see Te Mata Exports manage all tree distribution, planting, exporting and marketing. . . .


Fonterra forecast milk price up again

03/12/2021

We’ve just got an early Christmas present:

Fonterra Co-operative Group today lifted its 2021/22 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range, reported a solid start to the 2022 financial year and revised its earnings guidance.

The Co-op has lifted and narrowed the forecast Farmgate Milk Price range to NZD $8.40 – $9.00 per kgMS, up from NZD $7.90 – $8.90 per kgMS. This increases the midpoint of the range, which farmers are paid off, to NZD $8.70 per kgMS.  The higher milk price has seen the Co-op revise its earnings guidance to 25-35 cents per share from 25-40 cents per share.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says the lift in the 2021/22 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range is good news and is an important boost to New Zealand communities. With a midpoint of $8.70 per kgMS, it would contribute more than $13.2 billion to the New Zealand economy.

“It’s the result of consistent strong demand for dairy at a time of constrained global supply.

“We’ve seen the impact of a number of events play out this first quarter. That includes the high price of feed in the US which has seen milk production growth stall and a lower-than-expected supply picture in Europe.

“Fonterra’s New Zealand milk supply is down around 3% on this time last season. While we expect that milk supply will be less than last season’s 1,539 million kgMS, the improving weather conditions and forecast milk collections for the balance of this season that are generally on par with last season support our current season forecast of 1,525 million kgMS.

A lot of wet and warm weather in North Otago has given good grass growth but it’s quantity rather than quality which has impacted on milk production.

“While we’ve seen demand soften slightly in China, global demand remains strong, and we think that will remain the case for the short to medium term.

“A higher forecast Farmgate Milk Price at this level can put pressure on our margins and therefore our earnings, which is why we’ve reduced the top end of our earnings guidance.”

First quarter business update

Fonterra has delivered a Total Group EBIT of $190 million for the three months ending 31 October 2021. This was achieved at a time when input costs are significantly higher than the same period last year. These have been driven by a 30% increase in Whole Milk Powder prices.

Mr Hurrell says there have been a number of factors at play in the first quarter. “We’re seeing stable sales volumes in our Foodservice channel, but a milk price at these high levels has squeezed margins. Our Chilean business continues to improve but tightening margins and weaker local currency in other markets have impacted our Consumer channel overall.

“In our Ingredients channel, we’re seeing margins in our longer-term pricing contracts return to more normal levels, which has helped push Total Group gross margin up from the last quarter last year.

“We continue to see the benefit of our focus on financial discipline with lower interest expense, and operating expenditure down 2% on the same quarter last year.

“Looking at the whole picture, I’m proud of what we’ve achieved. With EBIT of $190 million and a strong Farmgate Milk Price, we are starting to consistently deliver solid commercial outcomes.”

Outlook

While the impacts of COVID-19 continue to be felt around the world, Mr Hurrell says the Co-op is working hard to deliver for farmer owners, unit holders and customers and supporting employees.

“The resilience of our people and our supply chain means we continue to stay on top of the strong demand for our New Zealand milk.”

“However, it is concerning to hear about new variants, which are potentially more resistant to vaccines. There is also the ongoing question of whether economies can rebound from the pandemic and then sustain their financial health.

“That’s why we have a 60-cent range on our forecast Farmgate Milk Price range.”

Supporting our people

Globally, teams are starting to return to the office following extended COVID-19 lockdowns. Mr Hurrell says it’s been a challenging time for employees.

“In some of our regions, our people have spent more than 18 months working from home. We’ve supported them during this time and continue to support their safe return to the office. I want to acknowledge the extra effort from our employees that is helping us deliver good results for the Co-op.

“Here in New Zealand, we recently completed the rollout of our vaccination programme in partnership with the Ministry of Health, which saw more than 8,000 doses administered.”

Path to 2030

Fonterra set out the next phase of its long-term strategy in September, with three key strategic choices guiding the Co-op – a continued focus on New Zealand milk and to lead in sustainability and dairy innovation and science.

Mr Hurrell says the Co-op is confident in its strategy and 2030 targets and is already showing early signs of progress.

“As we continue to focus on New Zealand milk, work is underway on the divestment of our Chilean business and the ownership review of our Australian business, with the appointment of advisors to assist with both processes. Dependent on the outcome of these processes, we intend to return around $1 billion of capital to our shareholders and unit holders by FY24.

Mr Hurrell says the focus on New Zealand milk is paying off with customers. “We recently launched our Mainland cheese range in Dubai’s largest supermarket chain. The range completely sold out, with customers using social media sites to track down the cheese in-store. Our in-region team is now looking at launching the range into other countries.

“We’re also focused on delivering innovative new solutions for our customers. Our new Ingredients ecommerce platform, myNZMPTM, is being embraced by customers across China, Latin America, South East Asia and the Middle East.”

Mr Hurrell says the Co-op is also using innovative technology to make the most of the natural goodness found in our New Zealand dairy.

“A transformative dairy science collaboration with Vitakey will explore how we can further unlock the benefits of our probiotic strains. Our goal is to design dairy products that incorporate targeted and time-controlled release of specific dairy nutrients in a way that locks in the freshness for longer and allows the nutrients to be more active and beneficial in the body.”

New Zealand is already the most carbon-efficient dairy producing nation on the planet and Mr Hurrell says the Co-op is making strides in its intention to retain a significant advantage by being a leader in sustainability.

“By treating water at our Maungatūroto site using a natural wetland, we can reduce water use on site by up to 25%. On-farm, we’ve just introduced Farm Insights Reports, which give farmers a comprehensive picture of their overall farm from an environmental performance and animal health perspective. This enables them to focus on the improvements which will have the biggest impact.

“We’re also working to find a solution to the challenge of on-farm emissions and one of the exciting projects we’ve been working on is Kowbucha™, a probiotic which could switch off the bugs that create methane in cows. Initial results have been promising, showing a reduction of up to 50% in methane, and we’re now at the stage of trialling it on farm.

“This is just some of the great work underway in the Co-op that will enhance our New Zealand sustainable nutrition story.”

This isn’t just good news for farmers, it’s good news for the economy, especially when tourism, which was one of the country’s biggest foreign exchange earners, has been hit so hard by closed borders.


Rural round-up

29/10/2021

Tourism reset would hurt agricultural exporters :

The Government’s proposal to reduce future international tourism visitor numbers post-COVID to concentrate on higher spending visitors may solve one problem but create others.

Research by Lincoln University’s Dr Rob Radics, Dr Muhammad Umar, and Associate Professor Anthony Brien, highlighted that most of our agricultural products delivered fresh to market are transported on passenger planes, and tourists contribute to the cost.

The drop in tourism numbers could push up transport costs to the point some businesses do not export at all and are put out of business.

Their work showed that before COVID-19 hit, there were 550 international flights into and out of New Zealand each week, which carried 80% of New Zealand’s overall export airfreight in their belly-holds, and that it was worth $10.8 billion in December 2019. . . 

A fillip for farmers from Fonterra’s milk-payment forecast – Point of Order:

In    a  timely   boost  to  the  rural regions,  Fonterra has raised its forecast milk payment to farmers for this season to match its previous record high  of  8.45kg/MS, as demand for dairy holds up while supply tightens.

The giant co-operative lifted and narrowed its forecast farmgate milk price range for the 2021/22 season to between $7.90 and $8.90kg/MS from the  initial $7.25 to $8.75  kgMS.

The midpoint of the range on which farmers are paid increased to $8.40 kg/MS, from $8 last  season.  That would match the previous record, paid in the 2013/14 season, and would result in almost $13bn flowing into regional New Zealand.

The  country is heading into its peak milk production period in late spring and output so far is below last season, constrained by poor weather and limits on expansion. Milk production is also soft elsewhere, because  of  poor weather and high feed costs. . . 

Log exports to peak before dropping more than a third within decade – Forsyth Barr – Nona Pelletier:

Major changes are looming for the forestry sector as the deluge of raw log exports fades amid dwindling supplies and demands increase from the building industry and other users.

An industry report by investment house Forsyth Barr suggests the mainstay of the industry, log exports, will peak and then drop by more than a third within a decade.

“Export volumes will peak by 2026 then decline as insufficient planting activity after the 1990s boom means total harvest volumes will fall,” report author and head of research Andy Bowley said.

“The use of wood domestically is undergoing a transformation through the use of trees to sequester carbon, power boilers and as a low carbon building material alternative.” . . 

Primary sector returns strengthen export-led recovery:

Farmers’ hard work in leading New Zealand’s export-led recovery from COVID-19 is being rewarded with high prices forecast for milk and very strong returns for meat, says Trade and Export Growth and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

Fonterra announced today a record predicted milk price of $7.90 to $8.90 for the coming season. The mid-point of $8.40 would match the previous record set in 2014. The announcement follows continuing high demand for NZ-grown meat.

“Our farmers and growers have been working hard maintaining their volumes and together, through the COVID response, we’ve been able to keep supply chains ticking and freight links open,” said Damien O’Connor.

“The resilience of all export sectors is vital to our ongoing economic strength. Just as we aim to have diversified export markets, we’re also focussed on growing all our export sectors.” . . 

Pāmu and Westpac NZ agree market- leading sustainability-linked loan :

Westpac NZ and Pāmu have signed New Zealand’s most comprehensive Sustainability-Linked Loan to date, also the largest in the agricultural sector, and the first involving a state-owned enterprise.

Pāmu, also known as Landcorp, is New Zealand’s biggest farming business. It will borrow $85m from Westpac NZ over three years. To incentivise continued improvement in sustainability performance, Pāmu will receive a pricing discount from Westpac NZ if it meets material and ambitious performance targets and pay higher interest costs if it fails to reach them.

It is the first Sustainability-Linked Loan in the agricultural sector to include a 1.5-degree Science-Based emissions reduction target that will be validated against global best practice. . .

Farm 2050 coalition names first five nutrient technology trial startups :

 Finistere Ventures and Innovation Endeavors today revealed the first five companies selected for the Farm2050 Nutrient Technology Trialing Platform, a dual-hemisphere agritech testing and validation platform. The Farm2050 Nutrient Trialing Platform aims to identify, validate and demonstrate at scale promising technologies in nutrient management and water contamination reduction across broad acre crops, horticulture and pasture-based dairy in collaboration with agritech investors, farmers, researchers and startup companies around the globe.

The innovators chosen for the first wave of trials in New Zealand include:

– ClimateAi, which uses AI to tackle climate risk across the food supply chain

– CropX, an established farm management platform with soil sensing and nitrogen monitoring solutions. . 


Rural round-up

28/10/2021

Southland boosted by UK free trade, sets up NZ for EU talks – Blair Jackson:

An in-principle free trade agreement with the UK is good news for Southland and positions New Zealand for negotiations with the EU, a sheep and beef farmer says.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced an in-principle agreement with the UK on Thursday, which will entirely remove tariffs on most goods produced in New Zealand.

It is expected to boost exports by 40 per cent, and lift New Zealand’s gross domestic product by $970 million.

Sheep and beef export quota volumes will increase over time, with all tariffs eliminated after 15 years. . . 

Truffle business to produce double Southern Hemisphere’s current crop – Nadine Porter:

Canterbury will be home to the first large-scale producer of truffles south of the equator with 37,500 trees expected to produce double the current yield of the entire southern hemisphere.

In a secret four-year operation, the NZ Truffle Company has set up nurseries and greenhouses at a small farm near Rangiora run by the company’s two shareholders, Catherine and Matthew Dwan, before planting a 75-hectare truffle plantation near Darfield.

The entire crop, worth between $2500 and $3000 per kilogram, will be exported to lucrative Asian and European luxury food markets.

In a statement, the company said financial returns per kilogram were expected to be between seven and 86 times that of any other New Zealand crop. . . 

Couple touting picking strawberries as fun family outing – Jared Morgan:

From bulls to berries — they are polar opposites but Ben and Rebecca Trotter are hoping they attract.

For the past three years, the couple have farmed 135ha at the junction of State Highways 6 and 8A at Luggate 11km from Wanaka.

Their focus, until now, has been farming Friesian bulls, while working their day jobs — Mr Trotter specialising in grass seed as South Island manager for Agricom, Mrs Trotter as a lower South Island territory agribusiness manager for Genesis Energy.

Added to the mix are the couple’s two children, Florence (2) and Edward (8 months). . . 

Farming changes through generations on Lindisvale family property – Marjorie Cook:

The Trevathan family has been farming at Lindisvale, near Tarras, since 1914. Marjorie Cook meets fifth-generation Trevathan, Maggie (6 months) and chats with her dad, Jonny, and grandparents Beau and Ann about farming changes over five generations.

Eight years after Jonny Trevathan was sent home from a Masterchef competition for burning a pork chop, the irrepressible Tarras farmer is still confidently farming and cooking for his family.

He was relieved to quit Auckland and return to life on Lindisvale farm in the Ardgour Valley.

‘‘I just did that for s…s and giggles,’’ he confessed. . . 

Smart Agriculture Market business opportunities leading players trends outlook up to 2030 :

The Smart Agriculture Market research report provides the vital study of the market situation including present facts and data, definitions, SWOT analysis, industry expert opinions, and the recent global developments. The report also evaluated the market size, revenue, price, supply, sales, revenue, gross profit margin and market share, cost structure, and growth rate. The report will help vendors understand the competitive scenario and have details to get a better position in their businesses. MarketResearch. Biz offers a 10-year prediction for the Smart Agriculture market between 2021 and 2030. The analysis includes key trends that are presently influencing the growth of the Smart Agriculture market. This updated research and in-depth report focus on vital dynamics, which are projected to change the future of the Smart Agriculture market, in turn, creating flourishing avenues for prominent companies as well as emerging players related to manufacturing.

The Smart Agriculture market report is a sinuous market intelligence on important revenue growth factors, challenges, market current trends, and opportunities, which will ultimately impact the growth graph of the market. . . 

CWA supports quad bike changes – Stephanie Stanhope:

Change isn’t always easy, but sometimes it is necessary; especially when lives, livelihoods and communities are involved.

Most readers would be aware of the new requirements relating to quad bike measures that have kicked in as of the October 11.

There are new rules in place that will improve quad bike safety through the provision of more consumer information outlining warnings for operators.

The design of new quad bikes will also need to be improved from a handling perspective. . . 


Rural round-up

23/10/2021

No MIQ spots for dairy workers :

The fact that only two dairy workers have made it past the post and into the country instead of the 200 granted border exceptions by the Government is again a reflection of the shambles of our MIQ system,” says National Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger.

“Minister O’Connor is blaming COVID’s Delta strain for lack of numbers making it through.

“So I find myself reflecting on what I said last week regarding the lack of 50 MIQ spots for qualified vets who are desperately needed and trying to get into New Zealand. . . 

Nine cent avocados – glut leads to low prices but it’s not so flash for growers – Tom Kitchin:

A glut of avocados this year has led in extraordinarily low prices at the supermarket, despite growers not being able to make any money.

One in particular – PAK’nSAVE in Hastings – was selling the fruit for nine cents each today only, as a one-off special.

Other supermarkets in Hawke’s Bay were selling the fruit for around $1.

The day began with a limit of 10 per day, changing to six later on as demand rose. . .

DCANZ welcomes high quality UK – NZ FTA dairy outcomes :

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is welcoming the agreement in-principle of the United Kingdom – New Zealand free trade agreement (FTA).

“Reaching a point of complete elimination of all dairy tariffs five-years after entry-into-force will make this a high-quality FTA” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey. “This is the ambition we expect for an FTA with a developed OECD economy, and the UK has now set the bar”.

The agreement will also provide new trade opportunities for New Zealand dairy exporters from day one. All dairy products except butter and cheese reach the point of duty free trade over three years. For butter and cheese, DCANZ is pleased to see the agreement include transitional quotas which will provide for some duty-free trade during the 5-year tariff elimination period. New Zealand cheese exporters will have access to a tariff free quota which starts at 24,000 tonnes and grows to 48,000 tonnes over the five-year period. For butter, a duty-free quota with a starting volume of 7,000 tonnes grows to 15,000 tonnes over the 5-year period. . .

NZ’s onion growers and exporters applaud in principle agreement of the UK-NZ free trade agreement:

New Zealand’s onion growers and exporters are welcoming the in-principle agreement of the UK-NZ Free Trade Agreement (FTA), saying that it will ensure that this country’s onion exports continue to grow as the world comes to terms with Covid.

‘Trade and exporting benefits a diverse range of New Zealand businesses. Without clear trading arrangements, improved market access and reduced tariffs, it is extremely difficult to export from the bottom of the world to larger economies like the United Kingdom,’ says Onions NZ Chief Executive, James Kuperus.

‘Of immediate benefit to the onion sector is the expectation of tariffs being eliminated on onions, once the agreement comes into force. . .

“After 18 months in a pandemic, the Government announced yesterday it will finally allocate 300 priority spaces a month for healthcare workers from November 1. . . 

Free trade deal will be a welcome boost for the NZ honey industry :

Apiculture New Zealand welcomes the move by the New Zealand and UK governments to a free trade agreement in principle which will see the removal of tariffs on all New Zealand honey into the United Kingdom.

“The free trade deal will be a great outcome for our industry and will improve our competitiveness in one of our largest export markets,” says Karin Kos, Chief Executive of Apiculture New Zealand.

The United Kingdom consistently ranks as one of top three export markets for New Zealand honey and is worth $70 million annually. . . 

NZ wine industry welcomes UK FTA announcement:

New Zealand Winegrowers is pleased with today’s announcement of an Agreement in Principle for a future New Zealand UK Free Trade Agreement.

“The agreement is very positive for the New Zealand wine industry. We understand the agreement will mean significant progress for wine, including a specific wine annex. This will help remove technical barriers to trade and minimise burdens from certification and labelling requirements,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

“The UK is New Zealand’s second largest export market for wine, with exports valued at over $400 million over the past 12 months. The agreement will reduce trade barriers and remove tariffs on New Zealand wine exports to the UK, which will make a big difference for many within our industry.” . . 

Beef research project reduces deed costs considerably:

Annual feed bills across the UK beef industry could be reduced by up to £12.5m due to the development of new selection index tool that allow animals to be selected for feed efficiency.

The tool, which was developed by the Beef Feed Efficiency Programme, will also enable the rate of reduction of beef-related greenhouse gas emissions to be accelerated by 27% over a 20-year period.

The programme, established by the AHDB, Defra, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), the Scottish government and ABP, studied Limousin and Angus store cattle to identify animals and sire groups that eat less than others but achieve the same growth rate. . .

 


Rural round-up

22/10/2021

Benefits all round in NZ-UK free trade deal:

Federated Farmers says today’s announcement of a free trade deal between the United Kingdom and New Zealand is great news for consumers and farmers in both countries.

“The United Kingdom is walking the talk when it comes to promising a truly global Britain,” Federated Farmers National President Andrew Hoggard says.

“We congratulate the New Zealand team of negotiators, officials and politicians who have tenaciously pursued this deal. The result is impressive. It’s a job well done.”

Federated Farmers has a long history of supporting efforts to free up global trade and it takes every opportunity to get producers in other countries to embrace trade liberalization. . .

UK FTA ‘back to the future’ :

Today’s announcement of a comprehensive new Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United Kingdom will offer some welcome variation in market access to New Zealand exporters, say the EMA.

“It’s great news for many of our export members, particularly in the horticulture, wine and honey sectors. The dropping of 97% of all tariffs from day one is a major success and the access to new investment in both direction is also significant,” says Chief Executive, Brett O’Riley.

“I don’t think New Zealand would have had this level of free access into the UK since before the UK first went into the then European Economic Community (EEC) back in 1973. That was a black day for many exporters, but this announcement is a bit ‘Back to the Future’ in terms of access.” . . 

NZ Apple industry welcomes UK free trade agreement :

New Zealand Apples & Pears Inc (NZAPI), the industry association representing the country’s apple, pear and nashi growers, has welcomed the announcement from the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, and Trade Minister, Damien O’Connor, that an agreement in principle has been reached on a Free Trade Agreement with the United Kingdom.

“We congratulate Minister O’Connor and the MFAT negotiating team for achieving this outstanding outcome”, says NZAPI chief executive Alan Pollard.

“The United Kingdom is a very important market for our apples and pears, regularly featuring in the top two or three markets by volume. . . 

Wrestling with forestry decisions – Keith Woodford:

Carbon and forestry, increasingly linked to overseas investors, continue to outmuscle sheep and beef but nothing about carbon is simple

I had intended this week to move away from forestry to other topics. But once again, I have been drawn back to forestry because it is the biggest issue right now facing rural land-use.

For those who are farming sheep and beef there is the disconcerting reality, but also in some cases exciting reality, that carbon farming is now the most profitable land use.

Somewhat ironically, this changing land-use is also relevant to the dairy industry, which in combination with the other pastoral land uses is supposed by 2030 to reduce methane by 10 percent. It is looking as if much of this might now come from the decline in sheep and beef. . .

Meat industry backs mandatory vaccination for sector workers :

The meat processing industry says it would support a vaccine mandate for staff.

It comes after the Government last week announced it would make vaccinations mandatory for education and health sector employees.

The Meat Industry Association believes the Government should also consider a mandate for other high-risk sectors, such as meat processing.

Association spokesperson Esther Guy-Meakin said it had written to the Food Safety and Associate Health Minister, Ayesha Verrall to make its views clear. . .

Strategically developed farm Eco farm with high regard for the environment is placed on the market for sale :

A strategically developed New Zealand sheep and beef farm aligned to an international award-winning environmental enhancement project has been placed on the market for sale.

The 377-hectare property on the Mahia Peninsula between Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay comprises rich pumice soils sustaining a mixture of fodder crops, fertile grazing pasture, and strategically planted native developments.

Over the past two decades, the farm – known as Taharoa – has been developed with a focus on creating an environmentally-sustainable operation. Two kilometres of the Whangawehi River flow through Taharoa. An organisation known as the Whangawehi Catchment Management Group was established to protect some 3,600 of land on Mahia Peninsula where Taharoa is located. . . 


Brexit benefits NZ

22/10/2021

Whether or not Brexit is good for the UK is still moot, but it has led to a free trade agreement with New Zealand which is good for New Zealand.

Trade negotiator Charles Finny writes :

. . . If you had told me 10 years ago that New Zealand would on 21 October 2021 announce agreement in principle on a comprehensive high quality free trade agreement with the UK, and that agreement, over time, would lead to full free trade in beef, lamb and dairy products, I would have asked what you had been smoking or drinking.  . .

We have to wait 15 years for some of the more sensitive agriculture products to reach full free trade but that will be worth the wait. Beef, lamb and dairy products will enjoy progressively larger duty free access to the UK from year one. Ninety-seven percent of New Zealand’s existing exports go duty free on entry into force. . . 

All up, the Government is claiming that the agreement will boost New Zealand’s GDP by $1 billion. I am sceptical of such claims – usually high quality agreements such as this deliver far greater impacts than it is possible to model. . . 

The UK’s entry to the European Union in 1973 had a serious impact on our trade.

It wasn’t all bad though, it forced us to diversify our markets which is sensible. However, in recent years we have become very, many would say overly, reliant on China.

The deal announced yesterday allows us much better access to the UK than we’ve had for decades which will be good for consumers and exporters on both sides of the agreement.

Their farmers will be worried but they have five years until cheese and butter are fully liberalised and 15 years until beef and sheep meat are fully liberalised.

Those who are fearful could learn from what happened here when we were forced to face the real and unprotected world of trade in the 1980s.

Instead of producing what the government subsidised  us to produce, we had to provide what markets wanted.  Farmers, and the wider economy, are stronger and more sustainable as a result of that.

This deal is a welcome reversal of the protectionism that has increased since Covid-19 spread and a reminder that the only really fair trade is free trade.


Rural round-up

03/10/2021

Don’t be complacent about agriculture’s ability to rescue us – Gareth Kiernan:

The massive increase in tourist numbers coming to New Zealand between the global financial crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic is well documented, lifting from under 2.5 million in 2008 to 3.9 million in 2019.

But it’s perhaps less well-known that agriculture and forestry exports held their own during this period, with their share of total exports increasing from 44 per cent to 49 per cent.

The drop in “other goods” in this chart implies that the squeeze was felt more by manufactured exports than the primary sector – a trend that is not unique to the last decade.

Since Covid-19 struck, a reliance on agriculture has been the defining feature of the best-performing regional economies. . . 

New visa some relief for rural communities :

The Government’s announcement of the 2021 Resident Visa will provide some welcome relief to rural communities, says Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ).

“Today’s announcement of the one-off 202 Resident Visa, which creates residence pathways for approximately 9,000 primary industry workers, is excellent news and will relieve some of the stress in our rural communities,” says RWNZ board member Sharron Davie-Martin.

Davie-Martin says that RWNZ understands the one-off visa will support workers elsewhere in New Zealand in retail, teaching, health care, construction and aged care which she says must be a great reassurance to all migrant workers and their families.

“However, RWNZ is acutely aware of the pressure on the health and well-being of rural communities caused by stressed migrant workers and staff shortages. . .

Sensible solution to desperate time keeping workers on farm :

Sighs of relief all round at Federated Farmers after the announcement of a clear and achievable residency process for international workers and their families.

“I am delighted. This gives 9000 of the workers who have stayed on to help run our farms some certainty about their future,” Federated Farmers immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“And they deserve it. They’ve supported us through exceptionally difficult times on farm and we are going to need them even more in the future.

“There will be big smiles in cowsheds and tractors across the country after this announcement.” . . 

Alliance welcomes decarbonisation investment

Alliance Group says decarbonisation projects at three South Island processing plants is a major boost to its goal of reducing its carbon footprint.

Alliance Group and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) will co-fund the projects at the co-operative’s Lorneville and Mataura plants in Southland and at Smithfield plant in Timaru. Together, the plants employ approximately 3,000 people at peak season.

As part of the decarbonisation project, Alliance will install an electrode boiler to reduce the use of existing coal fired boilers at its Lorneville plant near Invercargill, saving 11,739 tonnes of carbon per annum. . .

Soaring demand for beef drives 26 per cent increase in New Zealand red meat exports in August:

New Zealand’s red meat exports increased by more than a quarter in August compared to the previous year, according to an analysis from the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Overall exports for August 2021 reached $650 million with the 26 per cent increase largely driven by a growth in beef exports, up 39 per cent to $299m year on year.

Exports to the top three beef markets all increased, with China up 89 per cent to $117m, the United States by 31 per cent to $102m and Japan by 31 per cent to $15 million.

Sirma Karapeeva, MIA chief executive, said volumes of beef exported during August were also historically high. . . 

‘TRY A NEW CHEESE, NEW ZEALAND!’ October’s NZ Cheese Month encourages Kiwis to try a new cheese:

Kiwis are being encouraged to try a new cheese this month to celebrate New Zealand Cheese Month.

A regular event on the country’s food calendar, New Zealand Cheese Month is an initiative created and organised by the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association, to draw attention to the value of the local cheese industry. NZ Cheese Month occurs in October because it’s ‘spring flush’ the early days of spring, with warmth and soil moisture creating lush, green grass for animals to feast on. Sheep and goat milking resumes and there is plenty of fresh cheese available for cheese lovers.

NZSCA Chair, Catherine McNamara says the country’s cheesemaking industry is constantly evolving and she’s encouraging cheese lovers to take a fresh look and try something new.

“From its beginnings with the European settlers in the early 1800s, through to the present day; the art of cheesemaking has thrived in Aotearoa thanks to the environment producing some of the world’s best milk. This is reflected in the success small and large New Zealand cheese producers have enjoyed on the international stage. . . 

 


Rural round-up

30/09/2021

‘Frustrating, disappointing’ – Call for better vaccine rollout in rural areas – Sally Murphy:

There are concerns the vaccine rollout is lagging in rural areas with some farmers having to do three-hour round trips to get the jab.

The Rural General Practice Network said it had been asking for data on rural vaccinations from the Ministry for Health for some time without a response.

Chief executive Dr Grant Davidson said the network believed the rates for rural communities, and rural Māori in particular, lagged the vaccination rates for the general population being reported by the government.

“We do know that there are small niche areas such as Rakiura/Stewart Island where entire communities have been vaccinated, but we believe this is hiding what is a major issue for a vulnerable population in New Zealand – the rural backbone of the country needing support. . . 

Growers nervous of labour shortage despite imminent arrival of RSE workers – Tom Kitchin:

The arrival of seasonal workers from next week gives growers some certainty, but they fear the upcoming season will still be a big challenge.

The arrival of seasonal workers from next week gives growers some certainty, but they fear the upcoming season will still be a big challenge

Seasonal workers arriving from the Pacific Islands next week will be able to skip MIQ and go to work during their isolation period.

Vaccinated workers from Vanuatu can come in from next Monday, while those from Tonga and Samoa will need to wait until Tuesday, 12 October.

The workers will complete a self-isolation period of seven days and undertake day zero and day five tests, all while working at their work sites. . . 

Groundswell protests no Bloody Friday – luckily – Jamie Mackay:

Imagine running 1500 animals through the main street of a city, then mobbing them up and cutting their throats in protest.

The year was 1978. I remember it well, as it was a watershed year in my life. I’d taken a gap year after secondary school to try my hand at senior rugby with the big boys.

Many parts of Southland had suffered a crippling drought in 1978. Combine that with a season of industrial mayhem at the four local “freezing” works, and you had a powder keg waiting to explode. The meat companies, farmers, unions and workers were literally at each other’s throats.

Lambs weren’t worth much and the old ewes, who had selflessly given the best five or six years of their lives to bear the aforementioned lambs, were worthless. They had reached their use-by-date. As the dry summer rolled into autumn and beyond, the old ewes were eating scarce winter feed needed for their younger and more productive counterparts in the flock. . . 

Open trade climate change can work together – Macaulay Jones:

Supporting local businesses benefits the economy, but supporting local products is not always beneficial for the climate.

As the world and New Zealand continues to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and policies enacted to curb its spread, many consumers are making a conscious effort to support local businesses.

Local businesses directly and indirectly support local communities and are often owned and operated by active members of the community. However, while supporting local businesses is a great way of helping your neighbours financially recover from the pandemic, extending this principle to choosing to buy local products as a means of taking climate action may not offer the benefits for the atmosphere you’d expect. . . 

OSPRI reduces TB slaughter levy rates for dairy and beef farmers :

OSPRI who manages the TBfree programme is to reduce the TB slaughter levy rates for cattle farmers from 1 October.

The Differential Slaughter Levy (DSL) is reviewed each year to ensure that industry funding aligns with that agreed under the 2016 TB Plan Funders’ Agreement, this is subject to a 15-year period.

The slaughter levies collected support funding of the TBfree programme on behalf of the beef and dairy industries. The revised levies are collected by meat processors.

The new differential slaughter levy rates are: . . 

This silage contractor chartered a jet for $44,000 to get his workers home from New Zealand – Angus Verley:

What do you do when your key staff are stranded overseas and peak season is fast approaching?

COVID-19 has shut down international travel. For Sam Monk, one of the largest silage contractors in the country, that meant four of his machinery operators were stuck in New Zealand.

With just a fortnight before those workers were required in Australia for corn planting, Mr Monk went to the extraordinary length of chartering a plane to pick up his workers.

Mr Monk said the charter plane landed in Sydney on Friday. His employees are completing two weeks of quarantine before getting to work. . .


Rural round-up

10/09/2021

Austrian company given consent to buy 2018ha farm for forestry conversion – Rebecca Ryan:

More farmland is set to be converted into forestry in the Waitaki.

An Austrian company has been given consent to buy a 2018ha sheep and beef farm at Mount Trotter, near Palmerston.

The Overseas Investment Office approved the sale of the farm to 100% Austrian-owned company Cerberus Vermogensverwaltung GmbH, from Peter and Susan Lawson, as trustees of the Lawson Family Trust, for $8.5million.

The consent states the company intends to develop about 1524ha of the land into a commercial forest, principally in pine trees, and has received resource consent to do so. Planting is expected to start next year, and the trees would be harvested in 26 to 32 years. . . 

Flower farmers forced to bin or mulch harvest due to restrictions – Ella Stewart:

Under alert level 4 flower growers aren’t able to sell or distribute their goods. This means months of work and beautiful flowers are going straight into the bin.

On Saturday, Auckland-based flower grower Aila Morgan Guthrie took to her Instagram page to voice her frustration.

“I’ve just finished my harvest for the day and this is only one days’ harvest. It’s going to be the same tomorrow and the same after that and we’ve still got two more weeks of level 4 lockdown and we can’t sell them.

“Is there anyone out there in government or with contacts to government that can help us figure out how we can advocate for flower farmers in level 4. We’re one of the only businesses that have perishable goods that we can’t sell. All meat, fruit, veg – that can all be sold – but as for us, you know well, what do I do with this? This is all just going to go in the compost heap.” . . 

Hope tool can eliminate American Foulbrood –  Shawn McAvinue:

A new technology helping fight against a bee-killing disease is a “massive breakthrough”, an Otago apiarist says.

New Zealand Alpine Honey owner and Project CleanHive chairman Peter Ward, of Hawea, said he ran about 5000 hives across Otago, Southland and the West Coast.

The operation was one of the biggest in the South Island.

He had been beekeeping for nearly 45 years and the highly contagious American Foulbrood disease was a “constant concern”. . . 

Campaign for Wool reveals strategic direction:

Change is on the horizon and the future is bright.

That’s the message from The Campaign for Wool who has this week unveiled a dynamic short-term strategy that aims to help turn the tide on the struggles faced by New Zealand wool growers.

Campaign for Wool Chairman Tom O’Sullivan – himself a fourth-generation sheep farmer – says the strategy heralds a turning point for the wool industry, and growers should take heart. “I believe we’re at an important crossroads for strong wool,” he says. “Globally, consumers are starting to actively seek out natural and renewable products. We’re acting as quickly as we can, putting a short-term strategy in place that effectively triples our investment into the projects and resources required to leverage this sea change.”

The Campaign for Wool NZ Strategy 2021-2022 aims to deliver greater consumer awareness of wool fibre options through an integrated public campaign. “We know that when people are more aware of how wool benefits their lives, they’re more likely to purchase it,” says Tom. “That’s one way demand will grow, so an important focus for us is education and fostering a greater understanding of wool’s many qualities.” . . 

Farmers urged to enable staff to get vaccinations :

Farmers should do all they can to enable and encourage their staff to get their COVID vaccinations, Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“I know dairy farms are flat tack with calving and workforce shortages have never been worse. But there’s nothing more important than your family’s health, and that of your staff and their families.”

It would certainly help if district health boards booked a hall in some smaller towns for well-advertised-in-advance day clinics.

“If it’s possible to combine getting a jab with a trip into town for the next supermarket shop, or to pick up supplies from Farmlands or Wrightsons, try to make it happen. It’s part of being a good boss,” Chris said. . . 

Fall in dairy and forestry demand hits commodity prices :

Weakening demand for dairy and forestry exports saw commodity prices fall in August.

The ANZ Bank’s World Commodity Price Index dropped 1.6 percent last month, as dairy and wood products retreat from the extreme highs these hit earlier this year.

The dairy sub index fell 4 percent month on month, with whole milk powder, a key driver of farmer’s returns, falling 6.5 percent.

Forestry prices fell sharply, down 6.6 percent in August, as high overseas demand for logs started to ease. . . 


Rural round-up

29/08/2021

RTF frustrated by Govt’s ‘she’ll be right’ attitude – Annette Scott:

Road transport operators are frustrated over decision-makers holding up their business of moving essential freight and livestock.

Road Transport Forum (RTF) chief executive Nick Leggett says the “she’ll be right” message from the Government is not good enough.

He says the decision-makers appear to be gripped by timidity and that is not helping to move essential freight around the country.

A key concern is the insurance liability of trucks . . .

Chinese export clampdown threatens Kiwi businesses – Sam Sachdeva :

Exporters already dealing with strained supply lines and the downsides of lockdown face another threat – the suspension of export licences with China if the current Covid-19 outbreak makes its way into their workplace

Kiwi food exporters battling through lockdown have been warned a single positive Covid-19 case within their workforce could lead to Chinese authorities immediately suspending their export rights and forcing a recall of their products.

Sector figures say the advice from government officials has added to the stresses businesses face as they deal with strained supply lines and the public health requirements of operating at Level 4.

In a guidance note to export businesses this week, the Ministry of Primary Industries said it was aware of new import measures being applied by China, covering “all cold chain food products that are normally stored and transported under refrigeration, including vegetables and fruit”. . . 

US foodies drive TPN’s popularity up – Annette Scott:

Taste Pure Nature (TPN) is growing in the United States, as conscious foodies strive to understand where their meat comes from.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand global manager brand and red meat story Michael Wan says brand tracking in the US market shows there is increased awareness of the TPN NZ red meat brand and story.

TPN is a global brand platform designed to enhance the position of NZ grass-fed beef and lamb globally.

Awareness of NZ grass-fed beef and lamb and what makes it unique and special has increased by 17%, as more consumers understand the story behind the brand. . . 

A2 Milk facing 80 percent drop in net profit in year battered by Covid-19 disruption :

Specialty dairy company A2 Milk has had a major slump in full year profit caused by pandemic related disruptions to key markets.

A2 Milk’s net profit dropped by 79 percent as excess stock and a slide in sales of infant formula in the key Chinese market battered its earnings.

The company issued numerous earnings downgrades over the past 12 months as Covid-19 closed borders and put an end to the previously lucrative “backdoor” daegou sales channels, while a falling birth rate in China also reduced demand.

Key results for the year ended June vs year ago: . .

 

Forestry waste trial offers lifeline to Huntly power plant – Jonathan Milne:

Until this week, Genesis Energy had steadfastly refused to discuss any future beyond 2030 for the coal and gas-fired plant. That’s just changed.

To most New Zealanders, the twin stacks of the Huntly power station are a Kiwiana icon. But to the people of that community, the electricity generator is a family, and a future.

Yvonne Anscombe runs the town’s community patrol. Her neighbour works at the power station. Her friend’s husband worked there. And when the local Lions Club was fundraising to buy a new car for the community patrol this year, Genesis came to the party with a $10,000 donation.

“Genesis are part of our community,” Anscombe says. “It’s been a big employer over the years. We’re not stupid, we understand the climate issues. But we would be supportive of anything that kept the jobs in Huntly.” . . . 

End  quarantine bickering say ag leaders – Andrew Miller:

Stop the bickering over quarantine.

That’s the message to federal and state governments from farm sector leaders, desperate to get workers into the country.

They say quarantine is the main sticking point to the introduction of the new Australian Agriculture visa, which responds to workforce shortages in the agriculture sector.

“The elephant in the room is this continual bickering, or lack of co-ordination, between state premiers themselves and the federal government,” GrainGrowers chairman Brett Hosking said. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

27/08/2021

Why farmers will be hoping for a better FTA agreement with the Brits than the Aussies secured – Point of Order:

Reports  this  week  indicate that  New Zealand is  getting  closer  to a  free  trade  deal  with  the  UK.  Trade Minister  Damien O’Connor says  NZ’s negotiators  have been working around the clock to reach the shared objective of an FTA agreement in principle by the end of August.

The problem, as  Point of Order understands it,  is that  NZ has  been  offered  the  same arrangements as  Australia  on  agricultural products,  with  a  phase-out  of  tariffs  over  11  years.

As  NZ trade  expert  Stephen Jacobi argues:

“It would be absolutely ridiculous if we were to enter into an FTA with the UK that did not put forward the prospect of free trade, zero tariffs in lamb and beef and dairy within a reasonable timeframe.” . . 

Farmers consider what would happen should they get Covid-19 – Sally Murphy:

Federated Farmers is working with the government around what would need to happen if a farmer gets Covid-19.

Currently all positive cases are transferred to a quarantine facility – but taking a farmer off their property would create a lot of issues especially in a busy calving and lambing season.

Federated Farmers general manager of policy Gavin Forrest said some farmers have raised concerns about catching the virus especially in rural areas where health care is limited.

He said they are working with the Ministry of Health around what would happen if a farmer tests positive. . .  

Feds – pragmatism prevails on winter grazing :

Farmers will breathe a considerable sigh of relief over news the government has accepted most of the Southland Advisory Group’s winter grazing recommendations, and will now consult on proposed revised rules.

“Everyone wants strong protection for our waterways but from the day they came out Feds had said a number of aspects of the Essential Freshwaters winter grazing rules were simply unworkable,” Federated Farmers environment spokesperson Chris Allen said.

The Southland Advisory Group is testament to how inclusive processes involving local communities and informed stakeholders are able to produce good results.
“It’s good to see the government taking a pragmatic view – a stance we’re also looking for across more of the multitude of issues they are imposing on farmers in the next three years.

“We’ll take this as a win for common sense, and for consistent advocacy for pragmatism by Federated Farmers and others,” Chris said. . . 

Poultry industry having to adapt in face of staff shortages

The poultry industry is feeling the impact of staff shortages during Covid-19 alert level 4, with some processors having to adapt their operations to try and keep supermarkets stocked.

The industry has been grappling with labour challenges since the border closed last year – with the usual supply of migrant workers and backpackers cut off.

Poultry Industry Association executive director Michael Brooks said the problem had been compounded further during lockdown, as some workers had to stay home to look after their children and others were isolating while they waited for Covid-19 tests result.

There was plenty of chicken, but without enough staff some products which required more processing were not being made, Brooks said. . . 

Let’s  not kill five more people  on farm this spring :

Last year’s spring saw a spike in fatalities on farm and Federated Farmers is asking its members not to let history repeat this year.

WorkSafe statistics show 20 on farm workplace fatalities in 2020, with a spike of five deaths in August and September during the busy lambing and calving period.

So far this year five people have died in on-farm workplace accidents. One of these deaths was in August.

Federated Farmers vice president and health and safety spokesperson Karen Williams says enough is enough, farmers need to priortise their own, their children’s and their staff’s safety on farm. . . 

Golden kiwifruit orchard with a character house for sale:

Golden kiwifruit orchard with a character house, plus three residential rentals placed on the market for sale

A well-managed kiwifruit orchard producing the fruit’s high-value golden varietal – complete with a character home, three residential rental dwellings delivering multiple revenue streams – has been placed on the market for sale.

The 6.2466-hectare property close to Kerikeri in the ‘winterless North’ is known as Puriri Park, and comprises 1.51 canopy hectares of G3 (gold) kiwifruit vines planted in fertile volcanic soil with a good water supply. The orchard has approximately 869 plants.

Production data for the Northland property at 1349B State Highway 10 for the past four seasons show output has grown from 18,596 trays in the 2017/2018 season -to 26,500 trays in the 2020/2021 cropping year. Early bud counts indicate 24-27,000 trays for the next season delivering a great return to a new owner. . . 

 


Rural round-up

26/08/2021

Why the rush? – Barbara Kuriger:

The pace of regulatory change for rural communities has been relentless under the current government.

It’s the concern I hear most when I move among them around the country and speak with rural advocacy groups.

It’s the reason why Groundswell NZ founders, Otago farmers Bryce McKenzie and Laurie Paterson organised a tractor protest in Gore against the National Policy Statement on Freshwater in November. The group’s overwhelming national support since then led to the Howl of a Protest’ on July 16.

Agricultural, horticultural communities aren’t the types to jump up and down, so when they take to the streets in their thousands, you can bet there’s a reason. . .

Why NZ farmers should hope for positive results from research into the methane effects of lacing stock feed with seaweed – Point of Order:

A warning  bell  sounded  for  New Zealand farmers  when The Economist – in an editorial  last week headed “It  is  not  all  about  the  CO2” – argued  that carbon  dioxide is by far the most important   driver of  climate  change, but methane  matters  too.

The  final  sentence of  the  editorial reads,  ominously:

“Methane  should be  given priority on the  COP26 climate  summit  this  November”.

NZ may  fight  its  corner   vigorously   at the   Glasgow  summit,  but  the   risk is  that  delegates  there   will  seize  on  the  thesis  advanced  by The Economist    that   methane is  a more  powerful  greenhouse  gas  than  carbon   dioxide,  and  decide  to  target  it harshly. . . 

UK releases NZ free trade negotiation details as agreement nears :

The UK government has released more details of how negotiations have been progressing.

Tariffs on exports of honey and apples to the UK would be slashed and wine which faces tariffs of up to 20 pence per bottle would also be expected to be cut.

In return tariffs on British gin, chocolate, clothing and cars we import would be dropped.

Britain trade secretary Liz Truss said teams were working around the clock to get the deal done in the coming weeks.

“We are both big fans of each other’s high-quality products, so this could be a huge boost that allows British shoppers to enjoy lower prices and British exports to be even more competitive,” Truss said. . . 

Carbon farmers need to understand the ETS – Keith Woodford:

The price of carbon is determined by Government. There lies the risk for carbon farming. 

Two recent articles of mine have explored the economics of carbon farming on land that is currently farmed for sheep and beef.  Those articles showed that, if financial returns are what matters, then at current carbon prices the development of permanent forests for carbon credits provides significantly higher returns than sheep and beef.

My focus there was on the close to three million hectares of North Island farmed hill country, but a similar situation exists in considerable parts of the South Island. One big exception is the Canterbury Plains, where history shows that shallow soils plus norwest wind storms wreak periodic havoc to forestry operations.

Those findings on the apparent economics of forestry lead to a series of other questions. First, how reliable is this carbon market? Second, what are all the other important things apart from simple economics that need to be considered? . .

Recognition for forestry’s highest achievers in 2021:

The New Zealand Institute of Forestry (NZIF) has announced the winners of its prestigious 2021 awards. In what has been an exceptionally volatile year for many, the forestry sector remains a significant contributor to the New Zealand economy. NZIF President James Treadwell says the industry is working hard to benefit Aotearoa / New Zealand and New Zealanders, not only with significant returns to GDP but also to offer social benefits including carbon capture, recreation opportunities, clean water, biodiversity and general wellbeing. “We’re fortunate with our high-calibre industry professionals who set the standards for others to aspire to. The NZIF relishes the opportunity to celebrate with ‘the best of the best’ and to proudly champion the recipients of NZIF’s awards.”

This year’s recipient was acknowledged for their diverse range of skills and experience. From hard graft and commitment at grass roots level to high level policy planning and execution and academic leadership.

The NZ Forester of the Year award, which was presented in Wairarapa on Monday night by Minister Nash (Minister of Forestry) went to Paul Millen. . .

Sponsor support continues for Dairy Industry Awards:

Entries for the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) open October 1st with planning well underway and National sponsors continuing to back the programme.

The Awards programme allows entrants to connect, learn and grow as individuals across the board from Trainees and new entrants to the industry through to experienced Share Farmers.

NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon is thrilled to confirm DeLaval have renewed their sponsorship for the next three years. “It’s a significant commitment and we’re rapt to have world leaders in milking equipment and solutions for dairy farmers as part of our national sponsor family.” . .

 


Rural round-up

25/08/2021

Labour must stop flooding rural NZ with pointless and onderous regulations :

Labour’s latest regulatory hurdle for rural water schemes shows it is deeply out of touch with provincial New Zealand, National’s Rural Communities spokesperson Barbara Kuriger and Local Government spokesperson Christopher Luxon say.

“As it stands, the Water Services Bill would expose tens of thousands of rural water schemes to disproportionate bureaucracy, just so they can continue supplying water between, for example, a farmhouse, a dairy shed and workers’ quarters,” Mr Luxon says.

“Despite warnings from National and major sector bodies at select committee, the bill will require Taumata Arowai to track down and register around 70,000 farm supply arrangements, each of which will need to write safety and risk management plans.

“We’re deeply concerned that the compliance costs and administrative burden this will create for farmers will be significant, while any supposed safety gains will be tiny. . . 

Shearing industry faces added challenges at busiest time of year – Chris Tobin:

The pressure is on the shearing industry as contractors juggle the usual challenges of inclement weather with the added restrictions of level 4 lockdown which has fallen at their busiest time of year..

South Canterbury Federated Farmers president and meat and wool chairman, Greg Anderson, said under level 4 restrictions which include social distancing and mask wearing, shearing was taking longer to complete with daily tallies down on usual numbers.

Anderson said there was now pressure to get pre-lamb shearing done.

“The time frame depends on when lambing begins, if it is in early September, the shearing will have to be done in the next week or so,” Anderson said. . . 

Should people really be thanking farmers for their morning latte? – Craig Hickman:

Like many silly ideas, the Thank a Farmer hashtag that has been popping up all over social media and which even made an appearance at the recent farmer protest can trace its origins back to the United States.

It was a silly sentiment when it originated there in the 1800s, and it hasn’t improved in the intervening 300-odd years.

I recently objected to the concept in reply to a social media post where a local young dairy farmer was berating his audience for not being more appreciative for the milk in their Sunday morning coffee while he was at work on the farm.

I was confused. My milk goes to the Clandeboye factory, where it is processed into either milk powder or mozzarella. Do I deserve thanks from the Sunday morning coffee sippers or is that reserved for the farmers who produce the 5 per cent of dairy product that isn’t exported? .  .

Yili and Westland “Cream Team’ create new product for China:

A cross-cultural research and development project has succeeded in harnessing the natural grass-fed goodness of milk from New Zealand’s remote West Coast into a product suitable for discerning Chinese bakers.

The product, Yili Pro UHT Whipping Cream, will be available to Chinese consumers this October.

Resident Director for Yili in New Zealand, Shiqing Jian, said the two-year collaboration between Westland Dairy Company Limited and parent company Yili had managed to overcome the inherent variability of grass-fed milk to produce cream with a consistency suitable for Chinese bakers.

Mr Jian said Yili’s growth as an international brand relied strongly on innovation and longstanding research and development investment. New product sales accounted for 16 per cent of Yili’s total revenue in 2020 with Yili now ranked the fifth largest dairy producer globally. . . 

Whittakers goes nuts for Canterbury with its new artisan block:

Whittaker’s has released its new Artisan Collection Canterbury Hazelnut in Creamy Milk Chocolate 100g block. Whittaker’s Artisan Collection celebrates New Zealand’s finest home-grown ingredients, and this is the first flavour that features premium produce sourced from the Canterbury region.

Whittaker’s Chocolate Lovers with a keen eye may have already spotted the block at their local supermarket. It is available now in stores nationwide and via online shopping and there is plenty to go around, so Whittaker’s Chocolate Lovers are encouraged to wait until their next planned supermarket shop to pick up a block.

Whittaker’s Canterbury Hazelnut in Creamy Milk Chocolate combines roasted Canterbury hazelnut pieces, sourced from Canterbury hazelnut co-operative Hazelz, with a silky smooth hazelnut paste and Whittaker’s 33% cocoa Creamy Milk Chocolate. . .

Country diary: the ups and downs of buying a retired shepherd’s flock – Andrea Meanwell:

I haven’t been to Ingleton since the 1980s, but the rocky landscape still inspires as much awe and wonder in me now as it did when I was a girl. We would come here on school trips to crawl into a cave or abseil down a pothole, but this time I’m here to discuss buying sheep from a retiring shepherd.

It is a difficult thing to retire and sell a flock of sheep, and it’s a difficult thing to buy one. I felt guilty for buying all of them, not some. And it brings to mind your own limited time as guardian of your farm. What will happen when I can no longer walk the length of the farm to gather sheep? Will I retire, or simply carry on doing what I can? Is the only realistic exit strategy death?

My mind is brought back down to earth as we arrive at the gate. I thrust my cash into my pocket and jump out of the car ready to look at the sheep. This will not be an easy conversation. How do you buy someone’s life’s work, their legacy? . . .


Rural round-up

22/08/2021

Primary producers charter ships to beat global ports logjam – Jonathan Milne:

A bold proposal for the Government to invest in shipping charters has been put on ice, as ministers watch to see whether exporters can work together to get their produce to international markets.

New Zealand’s biggest fruit, meat and seafood producers are paying up to double the odds to charter ships to the lucrative markets of Asia, Europe and the USA.

It will add to the consumer price of this country’s food in Northern Hemisphere supermarket chillers or cut into export margins – but for some producers, the alternative is dumping their produce.

The international supply chain crisis, getting supplies in and exports out, has become critical. It’s understood the Government was in industry talks to intervene, floating the radical solution of buying or chartering its own ships like the late Prime Minister Norman Kirk’s NZ Shipping Corporation. . .

A delay getting lambs to the meat works could cost farmers if lockdown drags on – Bonnie Flaws:

Farmers should get stock away to the meat works as early as possible because the risk to the supply chain is growing by the day, Silver Fern Farms supply chain manager Dan Boulton says.

Level 4 lockdown could lead to delays at the works depending on how long it continued and farmers could face problems if they waited, he said.

But he said the timing of the current lockdown was better than last year’s because livestock numbers were low. Lamb numbers were down between 20 per cent and 30 per cent nationally.

“That tells me farmers are sitting on lambs chasing higher prices. There’s a real risk with that as capacity may not be there. And as we get into the main season there is a risk there will be problems with the volume coming at us.” . .

Climate change work on track – Colin Williscroft:

Concerns about the effectiveness of Overseer by an independent panel will have little effect on agriculture climate change partnership He Waka Eke Noa, which is well on track to meeting its targets.

Programme director for the partnership between Government, industry and Māori Kelly Forster says Overseer is on its list of approved tools when it comes to raising awareness of farmers knowing their greenhouse gas (GHG) numbers and having a plan to measure and manage their emissions, but He Waka Eke Noa does not look at it as a regulatory tool and its ability to provide real-time data, which is the problem raised by the panel.

“We’ve said it’s suitable for building awareness, for getting an understanding of tracking direction,” Forster said. . .

How to keep safe during milking in a lockdown – Sudesh Kissun:

DairyNZ has developed advice, tools and resources to support dairy farmers and their teams to farm safely during the Covid lockdown.

It urges farmers to keep themselves and their employees safe at milking during COVID-19 with the following tips:

“We know from medical professionals that Covid-19 stays on surfaces for at least 72 hours and is transferred via droplets. This means that we have to be extra vigilant with the hygiene of our shared work surfaces, and that we must maintain a distance of two metres from others to minimise its spread over the next four weeks of lockdown.

“Traditionally, and especially in our herringbone milking platforms, we worked closely together and with no disinfection of our surfaces. To keep everyone safe, we now need to make changes to how we milk

Farmer protest a time for reflection – Melissa Slattery:

I also loved hearing farmers were dropping into foodbanks on their travels and donating some farmer goodness; that’s just such great stuff to hear and a great outcome for the day.

There’s no doubt the protest arose out of frustration. Many farmers are feeling overwhelmed by too many regulations, coming in too fast. There is a lot to consider and often the timeframes are too short to allow meaningful consultation.

As farmers, we’d rather not get bogged in politics. We’d much rather look ahead at what we can do to continue running progressive, environmentally sustainable and successful businesses into the future.  . .

Victorian agriculture still looks to horses – Rebecca Nadge:

While many sectors in agriculture have adopted technologies to improve efficiency, there are some places where traditional horsepower is still the best way to go.

Cobungra station, Omeo, was established in the 1850s and has both freehold and grazing leases across 30,000 hectares.

The station runs Full Blood Wagyu, and British breeds to use as recipients for an embryo transfer program

Station manager Bruce Guaran said almost all mustering was carried out on horseback. . . 


Who’s standing up for farmers?

30/07/2021

This is funny:

. . . after 20 years of nuking our taste buds with bread that’s mostly sugar, Ronald McDonald’s special sauce, chicken vindaloo, deep-fried chicken and crisps made from artificially flavoured carpet underlay, most of us could not tell a beautiful piece of prime beef from a Walnut Whip.

This is not:

. . . Right. So one day you’re in the supermarket and in front of you are two legs of lamb. One is from the UK and costs £20 and one is from New Zealand and costs £15. So that’s an easy choice. You buy the one from down under. Lovely.

But it isn’t lovely, because animals farmed in New Zealand and America and China and Brazil and Canada and Australia — with which Boris has just done a much-trumpeted trade deal — do not have anything like the happy lives enjoyed by the animals farmed here. . . 

Both come from the pen of Jeremy Clarkson writing in The Times on why the UK should be proud of its animal welfare.

He might be right about that but he’s wrong that New Zealand standards for animal welfare aren’t at least as high as those in the UK.

Ironically that is partly due to the need to meet standards imposed to give access to the UK market when it entered the EU.

But more than anything it is because we’re very good farmers and very good farmers know that animal welfare is paramount.

The Listener has caught up with Clarkson’s criticism and in its editorial (not online) asks: who would we rather have tell the world about New Zealand produce – Jeremy Clarkson of our own government?

Britain’s RSPCA welcomed the trade negotiations, stressing New Zealand alone among the UK’s potential free trade partners has animal welfare standards as good as, and in some cases, better than Britain’s.

But did our Government speak up in our farmers’ defence on animal welfare? Did it point out that this country is also head-and-shoulders the most sustainable producer of dairy and meat – even counting air miles after export to the northern hemisphere? Not a word.

Nor has it ever thanked agriculture for agreeing to arguably disproportionate methane-reduction goals because of the lack of progress on – mostly urban-generated – carbon emissions.

It’s this sense of abandonment and blame that sent farmers with placards to more than 50 towns and cities last week as much as the undeniable burden of new restrictions and compliance obligations they face.

Yes. This government, at least as much as its predecessor in the mid to late 1980s, doesn’t understand farming nor does it champion it. The policies of the 80s were necessary, based on sound economics, and have led to better outcomes. Much current policy is unnecessary, based on political ideology not economics or science and will lead to perverse outcomes.

The government has been damagingly remiss in declining to champion the global competitiveness of this country’s meant and dairy sector. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has had unprecedented global attention, not least for climate advocacy, yet rarely, if ever, has she talked overseas of this economy’s most outstanding sustainability story. As we approach new trade negotiations with the European Union, the United States and Britain, that environmental prowess has never been more relevant. Yet how can we sell our products to other countries’ populations if even our own citizens are under the misapprehension we willfully produce every emissions? . . 

 Farmers here have been doing a lot to improve environmental practices and doing it for some time. But government policies and dictates give no indication they understand or appreciate that.

Urban New Zealander should be encouraged to take pride in the progress the majority of the farm sector is making. Townies are not subject to a fraction of the individual accountability required from farmers for landfill, emissions and water use. . . 

The generally positive response to the Groundswell protests indicates that many urban people do understand and respect what farmers are doing.

It’s a pity the government doesn’t show it has nearly such a positive view and that it is failing to champion farming on the world stage.

 


Rural round-up

28/07/2021

Dairy exports could hit 22b – Gerald Piddock:

NZX is forecasting New Zealand dairy exports to reach $22 billion by 2030 as companies shift NZ’s milk to higher-value products.

Last year, NZ’s dairy exports were worth $19b.

NZX head of insight Julia Jones emphasised the forecast in NZX’s 2021 Dairy Outlook is contingent on a number of factors lining up.

“It’s a point in time with what we know today, this is what we believe it will look like in the future,” Jones said. . . 

Methane vaccine for cows could be ‘game changer’ for global emissions – Tina Morrison:

A methane vaccine for cows being developed in New Zealand could be a big game changer for animal emissions globally, according to the chairman of the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium, Professor Jeremy Hill.

Hill, who is Fonterra’s chief science and technology officer, says the methane vaccine it is working on aims to introduce antibodies into a cow’s saliva which then pass to the animal’s rumen, or stomach, and bind with the methanogens which convert hydrogen into methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

“That would be the big breakthrough because in theory a vaccine could be implemented in any animal production system,” Hill told reporters at Fonterra’s research and development facility in Palmerston North earlier this month.

“This would make a real game changing difference to the world.” . . 

The organics myth – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The ongoing push that “organic is better” is frustrating when the facts, evidence and data don’t support the case, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

With all the research and information available it is extraordinary that the myth of organics – that the food is safer, healthier for them and kinder to the environment which means that people will pay more for it – persists.

It isn’t and they don’t. Not enough to cover the costs.

Of course this is “usually”, and people will always be able to show that they make it work in terms of the economics, at least in some operations in some years. . . 

Tarata Honey wins national gold medal for creamed manuka honey :

A Taranaki honey packing factory has won a national gold medal for its creamed manuka honey.

Tarata Honey owners Raul and his wife Eniko Mateas-Orban attended the Apiculture New Zealand  in Rotorua last month.

Raul says they entered the company’s Manuka Honey MG0 300+ in the creamed honey medium colour category.

“We’re very pleased to have won the gold medal in this category. We think it is a great recognition of our hard work and high quality standards in terms of manuka honey. Nevertheless it just goes to show that people really like our honey.” . . 

Calf rearers dropping their numbers – Hugh Stirngleman:

High beef schedules and store cattle prices are not feeding through into four-day calf values and calf rearing margins, which march to the beat of different drums.

Major calf rearers say their businesses are dependent on calf supply numbers in sale yards, input and labour costs, seasonal weather and demand down the track from beef farmers for 100kg weaners.

The numbers of calves being reared are going down, which is counter-productive for the industry, despite good markets for beef and the availability of better beef genetics over dairy cows.

The biggest operators are hanging in, but not expanding, while low margins and uncertain outcomes have decimated the ranks of smaller businesses. . . 

UK lamb exports plummet by a a quarter in May:

Lamb exports from the UK continue to be under pressure as new figures show exports declined by nearly a quarter last month.

UK sheep meat exports declined 23 percent year-on-year in May to stand at 4,850 tonnes, data by HMRC shows. The vast majority – 95 percent – were to the EU.

Volumes of fresh carcase exports only recorded a modest 2% on the year with most of the reduction being in cuts of sheep meat.

Looking at the figures, AHDB said there had been continuing trade friction between the UK and the EU which had ‘no doubt put volumes under pressure’. . . 


Rural round-up

03/07/2021

Call for pork imports to meet NZ standards – Shawn McAvinue:

New Zealand Pork has launched a petition asking the Government to force producers of imported pork to meet the same animal welfare standards as pig farmers in this country. Reporter Shawn McAvinue asks North Otago pig farmer Ian Carter why he wants people to sign the petition. 

North Otago pig farmer Ian Carter has joined a call for new legislation to force producers of imported pork to meet New Zealand’s animal welfare standards.

Mr Carter, who runs about 2000 pigs, including 200 sows, near Hampden, said he wanted New Zealanders to show their support for farmers by signing a petition.

Earlier this month, NZ Pork policy and issues manager Frances Clement launched a petition seeking Parliament to urge the Government to apply the same animal welfare standards to imported pork as is required by New Zealand pork producers. . .

Stern response to winter grazing post – Laura Smith:

Winter grazing in Southland is once again in the spotlight, following social media posts from an environmental activist.

The posts, though, have brought a stern reply from some Environment Southland councillors.

Activist Geoff Reid took some photos of weather-worn Southland farms, some of which look to have been taken by drone.

“This farm is currently spilling runoff into a freshly dug trench that is draining a large peat wetland.

“Pollution is flowing into the Eglinton River and causing havoc in Lake Te Anau,” he posted on Monday. . .

Orchards seek Labour bubble with Covid-free islands – Anuja Nadkarni:

Fruit growers stretched for labour are desperately seeking a Pacific bubble for workers as demand for MIQ allocations outstrip supply. More than 3 million cartons of fruit will to go waste, they warn.

Apple and pear orchards have large blocks of fruit still sitting on trees in the Hawkes Bay, weeks before pruning season starts.

“It looks a bit depressing, really,” NZ Apples and Pears chief executive Allan Pollard says.

The labour shortage will have a “huge” financial cost with the industry expecting more than 3 million cartons of unpicked fruit going to waste. . .

Focusing on the future of farming – Ben Speedy:

It’s been a remarkable 18 months for New Zealand, and for the world. For a country like ours that is reliant on exports, many predicted the pandemic would result in a broad slowdown in international trade, due to border closures, logistics challenges and reduced demand dampening the economic outlook.

But given our country’s status as a quality food producing nation, we finished 2020 in a stronger financial position than expected, and that’s thanks, in large part to New Zealand’s rural sector.

Despite predictions of a sharp fall, New Zealand goods exports finished the year in a resilient position. Data from our ASB economists shows that over the past 12 months regions that are more reliant on agriculture and exports have been benefiting from this. . .

Season a success but not without issues:

The kiwifruit industry has successfully reached the end of its harvest with a record crop now headed for overseas markets – if not already there.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. CEO Colin Bond says the sector weathered the labour crisis that affected the country’s horticulture sector well – “but that was down to a combination of good practice and good fortune.”

Bond says the 2021 season’s domestic operational practices weren’t disrupted by COVID-19 to the same extent as last year’s, but continued border closures meant Working Holiday Visa (WHV) holder numbers were down significantly and RSE worker numbers were limited – meaning an even heavier reliance on Kiwis filling the roles. . .

Country blokes are better than their city counterparts – Samantha Townsend:

Country music legends Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings might have sang the line “mammas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys”. But thank goodness those mammas didn’t listen.

Some women like surfers, some like sportsmen, but for me there is nothing better than a man in wranglers, dusty boots and working hands to sooth the soul.

With the ever-popular television series Farmer Wants a Wife set to hit our screens again this week, it begs the question: Are country men better than their city counterparts?

Let’s look at the facts (my facts). Firstly country blokes are jacks-of-all-trades. They can fix a fence, fridge, car, nail together a high heel shoe and if country songs are anything to go by, they can mend a broken heart. . .

 


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