Rural round-up

01/07/2022

Scottish farmers set to scale back food production, survey shows  :

Production on Scottish farms is set to be scaled back as farmers respond to unprecedented price increases for key inputs, NFU Scotland has warned.

The union has released the results of its intentions survey, sent to farmers in early June to gauge the impact that the surge in input prices is having on agricultural output.

Farmers are currently seeing a combination of several factors, including the war in Ukraine, which has triggered fertiliser and energy prices to treble, as well as for fuel and animal feed.

NFU Scotland received a total of 340 responses. The impact of cost increases has been immediate, with 92% of farmers indicating that they had already altered production plans. . . 

Youngsters urged to give dairy farming a go – Jessica Marshall:

With a third of dairy farms seeking to fill vacancies ahead of calving season, Kiwis are being encouraged to give dairy farming a chance.

And giving dairy farming a chance is something 2021 Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year Dayna Rowe knows a little about.

“Initially, I didn’t quite know if I liked it or anything,” the 23-year-old says of her start in the industry.

Rowe started out as a farm assistant back in 2017, now she’s farm manager on her parents’ Bay of Plenty farm, managing a team of four. . . 

 

Meat and dairy gains are vital in any EU trade deal :

A trade agreement with the European Union must include commercially meaningful outcomes for New Zealand’s meat and dairy exporters, National’s Trade and Export Growth spokesperson Todd McClay says.

“If real gains for meat and dairy aren’t on the table, the Prime Minister should instruct negotiators to continue talks until a commercially meaningful offer is presented.

“Trade Minister Damien O’Connor has already confirmed New Zealand has agreed to the European Union’s demands for geographic indicators. This means Kiwi businesses will no longer be able to produce many food products and call them by their name, including feta, gouda and parmesan cheeses. The EU has consulted on a list that also includes restricting the names Mozzarella and Latin Kiwifruit (Kiwi Latina) and other agricultural products.

“The EU’s agriculture sector has expressed delight that restrictions would remain in place for New Zealand exporters, with the current offer meaning almost none of our meat or dairy would be competitive in the EU market. . . 

Nathan Guy appointed the new chairman of MIA :

Former Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has been appointed the new Chairman of the Meat Industry Association following the retirement of current Chairman John Loughlin from the role.

Mr Loughlin finishes his six-year term after the annual Red Meat Sector Conference in Christchurch on 31 July-1 August 2022.

“It has been a privilege to serve as MIA chair for the last six years,” says Mr Loughlin.

“This was a time of challenge and opportunity and it has been great to be part of the red meat sector working cohesively and contributing to the wider primary sector. . . 

Subsurface irrigation benefits clear despite wet season :

A wetter than usual irrigation season has hindered data collection efforts for Cust dairy grazers Gary and Penny Robinson. They had planned to collect data over the season from their subsurface irrigation system and compare this with traditional irrigation methods. However, the couple have still been able to prove the system’s water and power saving benefits on their two-hectare test block.

Gary and Penny are participating in a six-month farming innovation project, which examines how the next generation of farmers are using innovation to improve their farming practices. Waimakariri Landcare Trust (WLT) and Waimakariri Irrigation Limited (WIL) have partnered with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for the project, with support from MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund along with Environment Canterbury, Ballance, and DairyNZ.

A subsurface drip irrigation system consists of a network of valves, driplines, pipes, and emitters that are installed in tape below the surface of the soil. The evenly spaced emitters slowly release water directly to the root zone of plants which differs from traditional irrigation systems that apply water to the surface of the soil. . . 

 

Food National leading the NZ plant food offerings :

A government-funded plant award-winning company Food Nation is a fast growing award winning supplier helping climate change by producing New Zealand grown food such as buckwheat, beetroot, hemp, mushrooms, chickpeas and quinoa.

In all cases they use mushrooms and chickpeas as a base rather than imported soy or gluten. The food is great for the planet, whether the consumers are flexitarian, vegan or vegetarian.

Their food includes pea and makrut balls; legumes, herbs, spices, cauliflower, turmeric, broccoli, ginger, red pepper and corn magic mince or mushrooms and ancient grained sausages.

The company is owned by Miranda Burdon and Josie Lambert who are co-founders and sisters and run it with a small team in their premises in St Johns, Auckland. . . 


Rural round-up

29/06/2022

Hobson’s Choice – Rural News:

One of the most recognised lines from the classic TV show Hill Street Blues was the send out by Sgt Stan Jablonski – “Let’s do it to them, before they do it to us”.

Sgt Jablonski’s famous catch cry comes to mind with the release of the He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) proposal to Government. This advocates the system the primary sector wants adopted in respect to reducing on-farm agricultural emissions and sequestering carbon.

HWEN is made up of 14 primary sector groups – including Māori agribusiness. It was set up in 2019 in a bid to stop the Governmnet lumping agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). HWEN’s recently released alternative approach is the farming sector’s answer to the Government’s ridiculous proposition of dumping agriculture into the ETS. In other words: ‘Let’s do it to them; before they do it to us’!

In reality, the Government gave the primary sector a Hobson’s Choice: either it gets plonked into the ETS or it comes up with a tax on production itself. Industry leaders were right to take the option of trying to produce a solution itself. . . 

Weaker Japanese yen a spoiler as orchid sales rebound – Kim Moodie:

Things are looking up for orchid growers, with the flower export market rebounding strongly after being brought to its knees during the Covid-19 lockdowns.

New Zealand’s flower export industry is worth about $20 million a year. Most of that is made up of cymbidium orchids, hydrangeas and peonies.

Covid-19 lockdowns forced the industry to shift into survival mode, but the head of NZ Bloom, the country’s largest flower exporter, said the industry rebounded with sizeable payoffs for growers last year.

Managing director David Ballard told RNZ growers were getting strong prices, but international demand for orchids was mixed. . . 

Rural and provincial councils call on government to better align reforms :

New Zealand’s Rural and Provincial Councils are calling on the Government to slow reforms.

The message comes after all 50 Rural and Provincial Councils’ Mayors, Chairs, chief executives and some of their councillors met for the first time this year during a two-day forum run by Local Government NZ (LGNZ) in Wellington late last week.

The forum heard from politicians from both sides of the House who acknowledged the current pressures on the sector.

Mayor Alex Walker, Central Hawke’s Bay District Council, and Mayor Gary Kircher, Waitaki District Council, are the Chairs of LGNZ’s Rural and Provincial Councils. . . 

Farm sale volumes ease but results remain robust :

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 50 fewer farm sales (-11.0%) for the three months ended May 2022 than for the three months ended May 2021. Overall, there were 403 farm sales in the three months ended May 2022, compared to 450 farm sales for the three months ended April 2022 (-10.4%), and 453 farm sales for the three months ended May 2021.

1,697 farms were sold in the year to May 2022, 130 fewer than were sold in the year to May 2021, with 11.9% more Dairy farms, 33.6% fewer Dairy Support, 12.9% fewer Grazing farms, 4.1% fewer Finishing farms and 15.2% fewer Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to May 2022 was $29,760 compared to $28,190 recorded for three months ended May 2021 (+5.6%). The median price per hectare increased 3.9% compared to April 2022.

The REINZ All Farm Price Index increased 1% in the three months to May 2022 compared to the three months to April 2022. Compared to the three months ending May 2021 the REINZ All Farm Price Index increased 31.4%. The REINZ All Farm Price Index adjusts for differences in farm size, location, and farming type, unlike the median price per hectare, which does not adjust for these factors. . . 

Ben McNab wins delayed 2021 Young Winemaker of the Year competition :

Congratulations to Ben McNab from Palliser Estate in Wairarapa who became the 2021 Tonnellerie de Mercurey Young Winemaker. The 2021 National Final was postponed several times due to the pandemic but finally went ahead on 22nd June 2022 at Amisfield winery in the Pisa Ranges near Cromwell, Central Otago.

The other two finalists Jordan Moores Valli in Central Otago and Peter Russell from Matua in Marlborough also excelled themselves with Peter Russell winning the Fruitfed Supplies Speeches and Jordan winning the Villa Maria-Indevin Wine Judging section. All three were delighted and relieved the competition could finally go ahead.

This was the very first time the Young Winemaker National Final has been held in Central Otago and also the very first time someone from Wairarapa has won the prestigious competition. Originally planned as a spring then summer competition, it eventually took place in winter with the snowcapped mountains adding a dramatic backdrop for the day. The finalists undertook a wide range of challenges covering everything needed to be a top winemaker. This included laboratory skills, wine industry knowledge, CAPEX, wine judging and an interview. They also had to prepare and deliver a presentation entitled “What can the wine industry do to reach carbon zero by 2050?” They offered the judges some very well thought out suggestions and plans. . . 

Rural farm with residential subdivision potential at scale is placed on the market for sale :

A substantial farm block overlooking an 18-hole golf course on the outskirts of a prosperous and ever-expanding coastal town – and identified for potential large scale residential property development – has been placed on the market for sale.

The approximately 188-hectare farm is situated on the south-eastern boundary of Thames – the gateway to the Coromandel Peninsula. The northern portion of the existing dairying unit sits alongside Thames Golf Club, while the property’s western boundary has an extensive road frontage onto one of Thames’ main arterial routes linking it with the Hauraki Plains.

The land sits between various residential, lifestyle and commercial zonings, and is currently zoned for rural use under the Thames-Coromandel District Council plan. However, there is an existing council consent in place permitting the two-staged development of the golf course boundary land into nine large lifestyle-sized residential sections.

In addition, the Thames-Coromandel District Council has also identified the address should be rezoned for future medium density housing under its long-term Thames and Surrounds Spatial Plan – to sustain not only the area’s growing population, but also to address the current shortage of new build houses in the locale. . . 


Rural round-up

28/06/2022

Farmers start new dairy season on an encouraging note as Fonterra signals another record milk price – Point of Order:

New  Zealand’s  dairy  industry, which is  proving  again it is  the  backbone of  the  country’s  export industries, has  been  given  fresh encouragement with the big  co-op Fonterra signalling  a  record  milk price for  the  season  that  has  just  opened.

It  comes  as the  payout  for  the  just-finished  season  stands  as  the  highest  since  the  co-op  was  formed in 2001.

So although farmers have  made  decisions for  this  season on  the  number  of  cows  they  are  milking,  they  have the  incentive  to go  hard on production  levels,  despite the  pressure  from  higher  costs  and worries  over climate changes measures, including  projected charges on emissions.

Fonterra’s buoyant  forecast contrasts with  a recent  report  by agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank  which  said that despite global milk production looking set to decrease for the fourth consecutive quarter in Q2 2022, weakening global demand is expected to create a scenario that will see moderate price declines in dairy commodities during the second half of the year. . . 

How we are suckling the sheep milk industry government invests $7.97m in partnership which involves state-owned Landcorp – Point of Order:

Damien O’Connor scored twice – he issued one statement as Minister of Trade and another as Minister of Agriculture – while rookie Emergency Relief Minister Kieran McNulty broke his duck, announcing flood relief for the West Coast.

Covid-19 Response Minister Ayesha Verrall put more runs on the board, too, with a statement about Government work to combat new and more dangerous variants of COVID-19.

In his trade job, O’Connor declared he was pleased with the quick progress of the United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement Legislation Bill that was introduced to the House yesterday.

It would  enable New Zealand to implement its obligations under the FTA and was necessary to bring the FTA into force, he explained. . . 

 

Kiwifruit sector forecasts drop in profits :

The kiwifruit sector is predicting lower profits this year, as yields drop and shipping costs continue to climb.

Kiwifruit marketer Zespri has sent out an update to growers which shows a decent drop in profit is expected this year.

Last year Zespri made a record $361.5 million, but this year that is expected to drop to between $227m and $247m.

Company spokesperson Carol Ward said it had been a difficult season. . . 

Have your say on the Forests Legal harvest Assurance Amendment Bill :

The Chairperson of the Primary Production Committee is now calling for public submissions on the Forests (Legal Harvest Assurance) Amendment Bill.

The bill would amend the Forests Act 1949 to establish a legal harvest system. This system aims to provide assurance that timber supplied and traded has been harvested legally. The legal harvest system would:

· require that log traders, primary processors, importers, and exporters who operate above specified thresholds to be registered

· require harvest information to be supplied to others when trading, and for records of that information to be kept . . 

Groundspread NZ is the new public face for the New Zealand groundspread fetilisers association :

Groundspread NZ (NZGFA) was established in 1956 to promote and protect the interests of both individuals and companies involved in the groundspread fertiliser industry. The Association is made up of 110 voluntary members from throughout New Zealand, with each member committed to promoting best practice fertiliser placement. Precision placement of fertiliser requires skilled operators, sound spreading equipment and appropriate fertilisers.

Groundspreaders are typically the first step in ensuring on-farm productivity, by spreading nutrients accurately and evenly, using the latest technology, finely calibrated vehicles, and highly trained operators, groundspreaders help farmers and growers get the best out of their nutrient spend. The skill involved in groundspreading means that food production in New Zealand gets the best start possible.

The new name and website better share the story of how the Association’s members contribute to on-farm performance. The new name and website are initiatives driven by the Association’s new and ambitious strategic plan, committed to ensuring best practice in the groundspread industry. Farmers and growers can now visit www.groundspreadnz.com to find a spreader in their area, learn more about how the Association supports members to operate at the high level that they do, and learn more about the Spreadmark scheme.

Spreadmark, established by Groundspread NZ (NZGFA) in 1994, was born from a commitment by the Association’s members to improve spreader performance and outcomes for their clients and the environment. Proper placement of fertiliser is of considerable agronomic benefit to farmers and growers and helps protect the environment from the undesirable side effects of poor fertiliser spreading practices. . . 

Greenfern industries attains important industry certification :

Greenfern Industries Limited (GFI:NZX) is pleased to announce it has attained its globally-recognised GACP (Good Agriculture and Collection Practice) certification for its cultivation facility based in Normanby, Taranaki.

“This is a milestone that the team has been working towards for some time since commencing cultivation and research and development in our pilot stage one facility,” said Greenfern’s managing director Dan Casey.

GACP guidelines were developed to create a single supranational framework to ensure appropriate and consistent quality in the cultivation and production of medicinal plant and herbal substances. They were developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2003 with the aim of improving the quality of medicinal plants being used in herbal medicines in the commercial market.

Greenfern’s certification was undertaken by Control Union Medicinal Cannabis Standards (CUMCS). Control Union Israel was one of the partners which formulated the Israeli Cannabis Standard, which is a global standard. Since then, they have been involved with the development of the Medical Cannabis Standard GAP. . . 


Rural round-up

24/06/2022

Golden milk price may drop, costs rise – Tim Cronshaw:

The gloss of two $9-plus payouts for dairy farmers is being robbed by rising farm costs and a build-up of environmental changes.

A record starting point for a payout of $9 a kilogram of milk solids is being advanced for the 2022/23 dairy season by dairy giant Fonterra and Canterbury-based Synlait Milk.

This follows Fonterra’s forecast range of $9.10/kg to $9.50/kg for this season, with a mid-point of $9.30/kg, that’s being matched by Synlait.

Analysts cautiously support the new-season mark despite a mixed bag at the Global Dairy Trade auction and a hazy horizon created by Covid-19, freighting headaches, Ukraine’s invasion by Russia and rampant inflation. . . 

Govt poaching council staff makes contributing to reforms harder – local govt group :

Rural and provincial councils say a shortage of skilled staff is preventing them from meaningfully contributing to the raft of central government reforms.

Local Government New Zealand Rural and Provincial group co-chairperson Gary Kircher said the shortage was made worse by central government departments poaching the staff they do have.

He said councils are dealing with roading, parks and reserves and community services before adding reforms like Three Waters, the RMA, Civil Defence, an Emissions Reduction plan, Waste Minimisation and a health restructure into the mix.

“We are working in a pressure cooker environment, but this pressure will be exacerbated by the need to make meaningful contributions to the Water Services Bill, the Natural & Built Environments Bill and the Spatial Planning Bill,” he said. . . 

Shared cheese heritage should be shared not stripped :

As the EU-New Zealand FTA advances New Zealand cheesemakers are urging both Governments to recognise and celebrate the shared cheesemaking heritage that exists between European countries and New Zealand. Failure to do so will rob numerous hard working New Zealand cheesemakers of investments they have made over decades.

“New Zealand’s cheese industry is asking the Government to not give in to the demands of Eurocrats in Brussels to strip us of the right to use common description terms like Feta, Parmesan, and Gruyere,” says Catherine McNamara, Chair of the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA).

“These cheese names were brought to New Zealand by our industry pioneers and you need to look no further than this year’s New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards to see they are an important and celebrated part of our vibrant and diverse cheesemaking industry. ”

At the 2022 New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards, 10 New Zealand made Fetas, five Parmesans and two Gruyeres received medals recognising excellence and quality. NZSCA is concerned that these companies will lose vital market recognition and face significant costs if the EU has its way. . . 

NZ can lead food evolution – Annette Scott:

While New Zealand’s food and fibre sector is facing a number of challenges there are opportunities that if realised, will ensure the sector is fairly rewarded, Lincoln University Agribusiness and Economics Research (AERU) director Caroline Saunders says. 

Targeting consumers who share NZ food and fibre producers’ values is key to capturing premium returns for the primary sector.

“Nothing should be low cost in NZ,” Saunders said in her opening address of the E Tipu Boma Agri Summit in Christchurch.

“NZ’s early prosperity grew out of exporting three land-based commodities – meat, dairy and wool  – to the United Kingdom. . . 

From Otago to fields of Uzbekistan  :

Uzbekistan. Probably not at the top of the list of countries to visit right now given its location, but for Patrick Suddaby and Tyson Adams, the prospect of making good money was too good to refuse.

The pair are in the Central Asian country harvesting wheat and barley for an eight-week stint, earning double what they would make at home.

Mr Suddaby comes from Ranfurly and Mr Adams is from Tapanui. This is the first harvest Mr Suddaby has done overseas. Mr Adams has done similar work in Scotland and Australia as well as New Zealand.

“Uzbekistan is a unique place. I don’t think my girlfriend or my family believed me when I said I was coming here at first,” Mr Adams said. . . 

Large block offers divers horticulture options :

A large-scale orchard operation in the Gisborne district offers investors and orchard operators the opportunity to expand across a variety of crops and multiple titles with significant flexibility in future land use options.

The three titled opportunity across Awapuni and Main roads offers a combined area of 52.3ha land planted in viticulture, apples, and kiwifruit, with significant future crop yields still to come from the young apple plantings.

Bayleys agent Simon Bousfield says the property on fertile soils only six minutes from Gisborne represents an increasingly rare chance to acquire land that is accompanied with secure water rights, excellent city proximity, and superior infrastructure.

“This part of the district is known as the Golden Triangle, and for good reason. Meantime the property itself brings a crop variety that ensures a very secure, diverse income stream to the entire operation.” . . 


GDT positive again

08/06/2022

The price index in Fonterra’s GlobalDairyTrade auction increased again after five successive declines.

One auction isn’t a trend but milk swaps are offering $10 a kilo of milk solids which gives cause for optimism that the farmgate price will hold up this season.


Rural round-up

07/06/2022

Why this is not the time for government to be heaping regulatory costs on farmers and requiring a culling of the dairy herd – Point of Order:

On-farm inflation is at its highest level in almost 40 years, according to Beef + Lamb NZ’s Economic Service, and costs are expected to increase.  Meanwhile Federated  Farmers  says farmers’ satisfaction with their banks is relatively stable but more are feeling under pressure and the costs of finance are rising.

“Inflation is putting many New Zealanders and businesses under pressure, and our food producers are no different,” Feds President and economic spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

While Consumer Price Index (CPI) data has the annual inflation rate at 6.9%, the latest on-farm inflation rate has hit 10.2%  – the highest it’s been since 1985-86 (13.2%).

B+LNZ is concerned increasing regulatory requirements from the Government, such as freshwater and biodiversity rules, will stretch farmers even further. . . 

Another solid season looms – Rural News:

 Given what’s happening around the world, New Zealand dairy farmers are on to a pretty good thing with its internationally envied farming system.

A record milk price this season and another solid opening forecast for the new season bodes well for farmers’ income.

Dairy demand is still quite strong and supply remains constrained globally, especially in the US and Europe.

However, there are some short-term challenges: Covid, China’s most recent lockdowns and the unrest in Sri Lanka – a key market for Fonterra milk powder. . .

Tough conditions produce good stock – Shawn McAvinue:

Extreme weather conditions on a high-country station in the Maniototo allow for the best breeding of Charolais cattle in the country, Glen Ayr Station manager Drew Dundass says.

“The cream rises to the top.”

More than 80 people attended the 28th annual Taiaroa & Cotswold Charolais Bull Sale on Glen Ayr Station in Paerau Valley last week.

Of the 28 bulls on offer, 26 sold for an average of $6392, and the top price was $11,500. . . 

Queen’s Birthday honours unofficial mayor of Tarata gets official – Ilona Hanne:

He’s the unofficial mayor of Tarata, and now Bryan Hocken is officially a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM).

Bryan was made an MNZM in the Queen’s Birthday and Platinum Jubilee Honours List 2022, for services to agriculture and the rural community.

Announced on Monday, June 6, it’s an honour he describes as having left him “blown away”.

“I wasn’t expecting it. When I saw the email telling me, I just couldn’t believe it.” . . 

Tea Estate back on the boil – Sudesh Kissun:

New Zealand’s only tea farm is back on the boil.

The 48ha Zealong Tea Estate, near Hamilton, is preparing to welcome back local and international visitors after a two-year hiatus.

Home to 1.2 million tea plants, Zealong is the world’s largest internationally certified organic tea estate. It has a philosophy of enhancing the soil quality using carefully managed organic farm practices.

General manager Sen Kong says the company is excited to start welcoming visitors back after a challenging two years. . . 

RSPCA state New Zealand is judged to have higher welfare than UK – John Sleigh:

Flying largely in the face of what is perceived in the UK, New Zealand is the one country globally that can be judged to have better farm animal welfare standards than the UK – that’s according to animal protection body, the RSCPA.

Animal welfare has been put in the spotlight as the UK and New Zealand thrash out a potential Free Trade Agreement, where it is proposed traded food products must be produced to similar standards. UK opponents have been using the welfare issue as a potential block, citing better standards in the UK.

However, when giving evidence to Westminster’s International Agreements Committee, the RSCPA stated: “New Zealand is the only country with whom the UK is negotiating a Free Trade Agreement where there is broad equivalence on animal welfare standards. In some areas, New Zealand’s farm standards are above the UK’s.”

The RSPCA lists non-stun slaughter, increased lameness in sheep, legal live exports and poorer access to the outdoors for dairy cattle as areas where the UK lags behind on welfare. Whilst in other areas, the charity stated that the UK was ahead of New Zealand with our ban on sow stalls, more free range hens and henhouse cleanliness rules. . . 

 


Rural round-up

02/06/2022

Rethink on GM policy needed – Richard Rennie:

John Caradus, scientist and chief executive of AgResearch’s commercial entity Grasslanz Technology, is pushing industry leaders, politicians and farmers to reconsider genetic modification (GM) as the primary sector grapples with the challenges of climate change, nutrient losses and disease. He spoke to Richard Rennie about his recent work reviewing GM globally.

There is a level of hypocrisy within New Zealand’s stance on genetically modified (GM) foods that does not sit well with John Caradus. 

He points out NZ consumers can shop for over 90 different GM foods produced from 10 plant species here, but NZ farmers are unable to grow any of them.

“We have a regulatory system that makes it extremely difficult for any entity considering doing so,” he says. . . 

Up to 6 week delay in cattle processing as meat works face backlog – Sally Murphy:

Processing capacity at meat works around the country is returning to normal but a backlog remains.

There had been a backlog for months due to staffing shortages as workers isolated with Covid-19.

That made it harder for farmers to offload stock, which caused huge stress, especially in areas where feed levels were tight.

An update provided to farmers by Beef and Lamb and the Meat Industry Association showed staff levels were now returning to normal and capacity from plant to plant was ranging from 80-100 percent. . . 

Keep driving innovation, meat sector leader says – Sally Rae:

Last week, Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva visited North Otago, the birthplace of New Zealand’s frozen meat industry. She talks to business and rural editor Sally Rae  about the state of the red meat sector.

It is time to celebrate.

That is the message from Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva to all levels of the red meat sector, from the farming community through to processors and other industry organisations.

Ms Karapeeva was in Oamaru last week for a function to mark National Lamb Day, the 140th anniversary of the first shipment of frozen New Zealand lamb arriving in the United Kingdom in 1882, and the centenary of the New Zealand Meat Board. . . 

Red meat exports achieve record April but markets prove volatile :

New Zealand red meat exports hit a record in April however ongoing volatility in China indicates head winds in the coming months, says the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

New Zealand exported products worth $999.6 million during the month of April, up 16 per cent on April 2021 with the value of overall exports increasing to most major markets.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of MIA, said that while red meat exports continued to achieve good returns, there was some fluctuation in demand, particularly in China and the US.

“The value of overall exports to China was down six per cent year on year. There was also a small drop in the volume of both sheepmeat and beef exported. The reduction in sheepmeat was largely due to China, with beef exports to the US also dipping. . . 

Reaping rewards of maize crop – Shawn McAvinue:

In a bid to protect against the impact of dry conditions, a trial maize crop on a West Otago dairy farm will return next season and be more than twice the size.

Matt Haugh and his partner Kirsten McIntyre own Cottesbrook Dairy, milking 1450 cows across two platforms on about 470ha near Heriot.

Mr Haugh said pasture growth had been good for most of the summer but dry conditions started to bite in late summer and early autumn.

The dry conditions were an “absolute killer”, because the farm traditionally relied on rain at that time of year. . . 

NZ farmer wins world wood-chopping title – Carmelita Mentor-Fredericks:

How much wood could a Kiwi cut if a Kiwi could cut wood?

A lot – if Taumarunui sheep and beef farmer Jack Jordan and Tokoroa’s Cleveland Cherry’s performances at the Timbersports World Trophy event on Saturday in Vienna, Austria, is anything to go by.

However, it was Jordan who came out tops after taking on national champs, many of whom are lumberjacks from around the world, for the coveted title.

The competition, which is organised by Stihl France, sees 16 competitors take metal to wood as they face off using a variety of chopping tools to out chop each other – whoever chops the most wood in the least amount of time wins. . .


Rural round-up

30/05/2022

Fonterra announces record opening milk price payment for its farmers next season as demand remains strong – Point of Order:

New Zealand  has  suffered  several  jolts  in  the  past week, not  least a  higher interest rate regime as the Reserve  Bank counters  surging inflation.  But  at least  one  beacon of  light shines through the gloom:  the country’s leading primary  export  industry’s boom   is  moving  to a  second  season  of high prices.

Dairy  giant Fonterra,  which sets  the  pace  for  other dairy processors,  has announced a record opening milk price payment for farmers next season amid expectations of continued strong demand for dairy products and constrained global supply.

The co-op expects to pay farmers between $8.25 and $9.75kg/MS  for the season starting next month.  The mid-point, on which farmers are paid, is $9 kg/MS.

That breaks the previous record set at this time last year, when Fonterra’s opening price for the current season was $7.25 – $8.75kg/MS, with a mid-point of $8kg/MS. . . 

Rural mental health ignored again this budget :

The Government was made well aware of mental health concerns for rural communities in a meeting in December last year, this Budget has neglected to do anything to address this crisis, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

“It is dead clear from the minutes we received under the Official Information Act that everyone around the table could see that things were bad and getting worse” Kuriger says

“The minutes note that clear themes emerged from a discussion of the drivers of poor mental health, including: workforce shortages, public perception of farmers, and the pace of new regulations.

“If they didn’t already know, it is clear that in December the Prime Minister and Minister O’Connor knew what was happening to our rural communities and were asked by rural sector leaders for help, they’ve had all this time to make a plan but have still done nothing in this budget to address it. . . 

Zespri global revenue exceeds $NZ 4 billion for first time despite challenging 2021-22 season:

. . . A record crop, ongoing investment in brand-led demand creation, and the industry’s ability to respond and leverage its scale and structure have helped Zespri deliver a record result for the 2021/22 season, with total global fruit sales revenue exceeding NZ$4 billion for the first time.

In spite of the immense challenges faced by the industry this season, Zespri’s 2021/22 Financial Results show total global revenue generated by fruit sales reached NZ$4.03 billion, up 12 percent on the previous year, with total global operating revenue up by 15 percent to NZ$4.47 billion. Global sales volumes also increased 11 percent on the previous year to 201.5 million trays.

The results saw direct returns to the New Zealand industry increase to a record $2.47 billion including loyalty payments, despite the considerable uncertainty generated by the COVID-19 pandemic and cost increases across the supply chain. Earnings were again spread through regional communities including within the Bay of Plenty, Northland, Nelson, Gisborne, and the Waikato. . . 

Grower returns remained strong in a challenging season, with per hectare returns representing our second best on record across all varieties: . . 

Top ploughers head to Ireland to compete in world championship – Kim Moodie:

New Zealand’s best ploughing talent is set to represent the country in Ireland this year at the World Ploughing Championships. 

Ian Woolley and Bob Mehrtens, who took out the top titles at the New Zealand Ploughing Championships in Seddon earlier this month, are now preparing to compete against the world’s best in September.

Woolley, who won the Silver Plough conventional competition, told RNZ he’s excited to compete, and to soak up the atmosphere, as the event draws a huge crowd.

“It’s basically their National Field Days, there’s 100,000-odd people there each day for three days, although the plowing is on the outskirts of where the main show is taking place. . . 

Silver Fern Farms partnership between consumers and farmers key to nature positive food production :

Silver Fern Farms today celebrated the launch of its USDA-approved Net Carbon Zero By Nature 100% Grass-Fed Angus Beef at a New York City event attended by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Held at the Kimpton Hotel Eventi rooftop in Chelsea, the Prime Minister was joined by the visiting New Zealand trade mission, Silver Fern Farms US customers and in-market partners, and New York and U.S. national media. The event was to celebrate the successful introduction of Net Carbon Zero By Nature Angus Beef to the U.S., which is already being sold in supermarkets in the New York Tri-state area, the Midwest, and California.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer says closer partnerships between consumers and farmers through products like Net Carbon Zero beef hold the key to addressing our collective climate and environmental challenges.

“As New Zealand’s largest processor and marketer of red meat, we are in a unique position to build closer partnerships between the needs of discerning customers and our farmers in a way that incentivises nature-positive food production,” says Simon Limmer. . . 

MPI announces finalists in 2022 good employer awards :

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust (AGMARDT) have announced finalists for the 2022 Primary Industries Good Employer Awards.

Now in their third year, the Awards are run by MPI and AGMARDT to celebrate employers who put their people at the heart of their businesses.

“We received a number of impressive entries,” says MPI’s Director Investment, Skills and Performance, Cheyne Gillooly.

“Central to all of the entries was a real passion shown by businesses towards supporting their employees by putting their health, welfare and wellbeing first.” . . 


Rural round-up

26/05/2022

Meat industry celebrates 140 years since first frozen shipment to the UK – Sally Murphy:

Celebrations are taking place today to mark 140 years since the first shipment of frozen New Zealand lamb landed in the UK.

The idea of William Davidson the British-based general manager of the New Zealand and Australian Land Company – the first shipment saw 5000 lamb carcasses from Totara Estate near Oamaru sent by rail to Port Chalmers before being loaded onto The Dunedin.

The old passenger ship had been fitted out with a coal-powered Bell Coleman freezing plant.

It set sail for London on 15 February and after weeks at sea only one carcass was condemned when the ship arrived at London on 24 May 1882. . . 

Why exporters should consider decoupling from China and focus more on opportunities provided by India’s growth – Point of Order:

Not many New Zealanders   may  have  noticed what is  happening in China or India – but their   economies  appear  to  be  tracking  in  opposite  directions.  Those movements could have a powerful  impact in  turn   on  NZ’s  economic fortunes.

Point   of  Order  is  indebted   to   two  remarkable   pieces  of  journalism  for   insights  that give  context to these issues.  One  report appeared in  the  Guardian  Weekly,  the  other in  The  Economist.

The  first, by  Larry Elliott,  was headed “Stifled dragon: No-one  should take  delight in Beijing’s  economic  woes”  and argues  a  full-blown   economic crash  would be  as  damaging  to  the  world as  the  US sub-prime mortgage crisis  was.

The  report in  The  Economist focused  on  India’s  economy  which, it  said, is  likely  to be the  world’s fastest-growing big  economy this year.  The  details prompted  The Economist  to  editorialise  that   the  Indian  economy  is  being  rewired. . . 

Perendale pioneer awarded life membership– Sally Rae:

Perendale breeders from throughout New Zealand converged on Queenstown last week for their annual conference. Rural editor Sally Rae headed to West Otago and caught up with them during a tour of two stud properties.

For 50 years, North Otago farmer David Ruddenklau has had a passion for the Perendale breed.

That lengthy involvement and contribution to the breed was recognised last week when he was awarded life membership at Perendale New Zealand’s annual conference which was based in Queenstown and hosted by the Otago ward.

Mr Ruddenklau, who founded the Newhaven Perendale stud in 1972, said he remained supportive not only of the breed but also the overall sheep industry. Long term, the future of sheep meat looked “superb”. . .

Silver Fern Farms will no longer supply offal to Gloriavale meat plant – Niva Chittock:

Silver Fern Farms has announced it will no longer be working with the Gloriavale Christian community.

“Silver Fern Farms has decided to begin the process to discontinue any commercial arrangements with Value Proteins [Gloriavale’s trading company]. We will now be working with all parties involved to bring this into effect,” a spokesperson said.

It is believed the decision is based on the Employment Court ruling that members of the community who worked up to 70 hours a week for years, were not volunteers, and employment standards should be enforced.

Ex-resident David Ready welcomed the news. . . 

Defra to open £30m fund for farmers to add-value to products :

The next stage of the Farming Investment Fund will offer grants focused on supporting farmers to process, diversify and add-value to their products, it has been confirmed.

Launching in June, the next theme of the fund will be ‘Adding Value’, and it will be worth a total of £30 million, Defra explained on Tuesday (24 May).

It will offer grants of between £25,000 and £300,000 to farmers and growers for up to 40 percent of eligible project costs.

Grants awarded will pay for capital items to enable farmers to add value to eligible agricultural products, after they’ve been harvested or reared. . . 

 


Rural round-up

16/05/2022

Government Bill ends high country farming as we know it :

The Labour Government has concluded its campaign to end generations of thoughtful stewardship of the South Island’s high country, National’s spokesperson for Land Information Nicola Grigg says.

“Today’s passing of the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill effectively ends a decades-old relationship between the Crown and high country pastoral leaseholders.

“The Bill states its purpose as ‘maintaining or enhancing inherent values across the Crown pastoral estate’, and it will, instead, have the opposite effect.

“These leaseholders have been effective custodians of this land for generations, but the Government will now impose a punitive regime devoid of any knowledge of practical implementation and will see environmental outcomes worsen rather than improve. . . 

India bans wheat exports as heatwave hurts crop, domestic prices soar – Rajendra Jadhav and Mayank Bhardwaj:

India has today banned wheat exports, just days after saying it was targeting record shipments this year, as a scorching heatwave curtails output and domestic prices soar to an all-time high.

The government said it would still allow exports backed by letters of credit already issued, and to those countries that requested supplies “to meet their food security needs”.

Global buyers were banking on supplies from the world’s second-biggest wheat producer after exports from the Black Sea region plunged following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February. Prior to the ban, India had aimed to ship a record 10 million tonnes this year.

The ban could drive global prices to new peaks and hit poor consumers in Asia and Africa. . . 

Can-do approach keeps garage going – Sally Rae:

In the sleepy North Otago township of Duntroon lives a couple who have overcome massive obstacles to continue to operate a business in their much-loved community. Business editor Sally Rae reports.

There’s a quote written in chalk on the blackboard outside the Duntroon Garage.

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there,” it tells visitors to the rural business in heartland North Otago.

Inspirational quotes might be a dime a dozen but this one is no twee slogan — it is the perfect summation of the unassuming couple behind the business, for whom the term inspirational seems strangely inadequate. . .

DCANZ welcomes New Zealand Action to Fix Canada dairy import system :

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand ( DCANZ) is welcoming the announcement today that New Zealand has invoked dispute settlement proceedings with Canada over the implementation of its dairy obligations under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

“Canada has adopted an approach to administering CPTPP quotas which breaks the rules of the agreement and has severely restricted use of the limited market access,” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey.

“Trade agreements are only as good as their implementation. We fully support the New Zealand Government in taking this step to ensure the rules are enforced and the agreed access is usable.”

Canada is a highly protected market for dairy products with tariffs as high as 300%. CPTPP outcomes for access to the Canadian dairy market were limited to a series of reduced tariff rate quotas, and the administration system Canada has put in place for these quotas has seen the right to import primarily given to domestic processors who are direct competitors to New Zealand exporters of those products. This has resulted in pitifully low quota fill rates averaging just 8% in the latest quota year. . . 

Vegetable prices stabilising as growers begin to meet demand – industry body :

There are signs fresh vegetable prices are stabilising as winter nears, with growers responding to supply issues, an industry player says.

Food prices have continued to rise, with a perfect storm of Covid-19 related supply chain issues, inflation, a war in Europe and sanctions imposed on Russia, as well as bad weather, all contributing to consumer pain.

But vegetable supplies throughout winter are expected to be good and the prices stable, according to Vegetables New Zealand chairperson John Murphy.

Murphy, a Blenheim-based grower of garlic and shallots, told Morning Report growers had struggled lately, had responded to supply and demand issues that have saw supermarket chains bump up prices. . . 

Successful rural resilience programmes receive MPI funding boost  :

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has renewed funding for two successful programmes training farmers, growers and other rural people to manage pressure and adapt to change.

The Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) has been allocated $339,000 to expand its popular ‘Know Your Mindset. Do What Matters’ and ‘Our Resilient Farming Business’ programmes.

Piloted across 2020 and 2021, the programmes have already supported more than 300 rural women and men to better manage stress, prioritise wellbeing, and cultivate financial resilience in the face of change.

“Disruptions and supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are one of the many challenges facing farmers, growers and whenua Māori owners,” MPI’s acting director of rural communities and farming support Andrew Spelman said. . . 


Rural round-up

04/05/2022

More farms being sold to overseas buyers for forestry conversion :

The Overseas Investment Office has approved the sale of another six farms for conversion to forestry under the special forestry test.

Introduced in 2018 to encourage more tree planting – farming groups have raised alarm at the rate of farms being sold through the special forestry test.

The government is currently reviewing the test but sales are continuing.

Sales information just released by The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) includes Gisborne’s Maunga-O-Rangi Station which went on the market last year after being owned by the same family for 30 years. . . 

Dog trialling in the bloodline – Sally Rae:

When it comes to a pedigree in dog trials, Kelly Tweed has it covered.

In 2019, her sister, Steph Tweed, made history as the first woman to win a New Zealand dog trial championship with Grit in the straight hunt, while their father, Roger, a Waitahuna farmer, is a successful triallist too.

Kelly (26) might have have been a slight latecomer to the sport but is showing she has inherited the family genes, qualifying for this week’s South Island championships.

While Steph had to dash off to run one of her four dogs on another course, Roger was there to watch Kelly have her first run in the straight hunt on the first day of competition at Earnscleugh Station. Mr Tweed has five dogs qualified for the competition. . . 

“Milked” (the movie) presents a sour view of our biggest export industry – but dairy farmers can learn from it it anyway – Point of Order:

A documentary titled Milked,  shown  at the  International Film  Festival in Dunedin, seeks  to  “expose”  the  New Zealand  dairy industry   and  calls  on  New  Zealanders  “to  heal the  land”.

Milked is available globally via the streaming platform Waterbear and on Youtube via Plant Based News. The documentary is made by indigenous activist Chris Huriwai and local director Amy Taylor.

Its crowd-funding campaign surpassed an ambitious $100,000 target in just 12 days, with much international support confirming its global relevance. Huriwai  told  one  news  outlet: . . 

Innovators want wool to take to the sky – Sally Rae,

Wool might tick all the boxes as a natural, sustainable and environmentally friendly fibre, but New Zealand’s strong wool growers are still not reaping the reward for producing the best strong wool in the world.

Business and rural editor Sally Rae talks to those behind two diverse projects to add value to the wool clip.

Brent Gregory has a theory: people who need wool do not know the fibre exists and those folk never meet up with those selling wool, leading to a major disconnect for the wool industry.

Mr Gregory and Suzanne Wilson, of Christchurch, are directors of the Merino Softwear Company, an innovation company looking to create high-value products from wool. . . 

Edmonds urgently sources wheat from Australia after weather ruins local yields :

A shortage of wheat due to dire weather conditions earlier in the season has led flour company Edmonds to source stock from overseas.

Heavy rain in February ruined crops around the country, leading arable farmers to describe it as the season from hell.

Edmonds said the weather meant yields in the South Island had been significantly impacted.

“With the reduced supply available in market we haven’t been able to source enough New Zealand grown wheat for our Edmonds flour,” a company spokesperson said. . . 

Union calls for significant rise in milk prices as costs surge :

A union has called for farmgate milk prices to rise significantly in order to make up for the recent surge in input costs, many of which are linked to the war in Ukraine.

The supply chain should pay more to fully reflect the ‘unsustainable’ input costs caused by increases in feed, fuel, fertiliser and energy costs, the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) said.

It recently wrote to the UK’s major retailers urging them to ensure that rising input costs do not threaten the long term viability of food producers in the UK.

Farmers should also be paid a fair price for their produce in light of the developing circumstances in Ukraine. . . 

 


Rural round-up

02/05/2022

Fonterra is well-placed to win Kiwi acclamation as corporate champion – Point of Order :

Can  Fonterra, with  its capital restructured,  become   the national champion,  it  was always  intended to be?.

The  stars   are  aligned  as  they  never have been before.

The  dairy  giant  has  the  products,  the  bosses,  the  markets, the  support of almost  all  its suppliers,  plus  the  government’s  backing.

It seems the  high  international prices  currently  prevailing  will  persist  for  another  season, and  maybe  two, which  would  be  the  longest stretch   in  Fonterra’s 20-years- or-so history. . . 

Fonterra expands seaweed trial, Fonterra farmers have first access :

Fonterra expands on-farm trials of methane reducing Asparagopsis seaweed, as part of the Fonterra’s commitment to helping solve the methane challenge.

In partnership with Australian company Sea Forest, Fonterra is looking at the potential Asparagopsis seaweed has in reducing methane in a grass-fed farming system.

Fonterra General Manager of Sustainability APAC Jack Holden says our grass-fed farming model makes Fonterra one of the most carbon efficient producers of dairy in the world. “However, we have an aspiration to be net zero by 2050 and are investing in R&D and partnerships to help find a solution to reducing methane emissions.”

CSIRO research has shown that Asparagopsis seaweed has the potential to reduce emissions by over 80 per cent in laboratory trials, and while Fonterra understands the reductions will vary out of the lab, all reductions count. . . 

Feedback sought of draft code of welfare for dairy cattle :

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC), the independent Ministerial advisory committee on animal welfare, is calling for feedback on a new draft code of welfare for dairy cattle.

NAWAC has reviewed the existing code of welfare for dairy cattle and is consulting on updated minimum standards and recommendations for best practice.

The objective is to lift the codes to address changes in good practice, available technology and science, and the explicit recognition of sentience in the Animal Welfare Act. It is also consulting on recommendations for regulations.

“The existing code of welfare has gone a long way towards ensuring good animal health and welfare outcomes for our dairy cattle, but we wanted to review the code to ensure it remains fit for purpose,” NAWAC chairperson Dr Gwyneth Verkerk said. . . 

Market garden on farm provides staff with healthy vege boxes – Country Life:

Environmental and social trials are underway on a dairy farm near Ashburton.

Rhys and Kiri Roberts are comparing conventional farming with a regenerative system, they’re giving staff more work flexibility and are providing them with free farm-grown food.

“Offering your team vegetables in this climate at the moment is just such a fantastic thing to be doing,” Rhys says.

Rhys is CEO of Align Farms. The business has eight farms milking 5000 cows and employs 30 people in mid-Canterbury. . . 

Dairy commodity price rises drive increase in March exports :

The value of total good exports rose strongly in March, driven by increases in dairy products, beef, and aluminium, Stats NZ said today.

These increases were mainly the result of higher prices.

In March 2022, total goods exports rose $978 million (17 percent) from March 2021 to reach $6.7 billion.

Exports of dairy products (milk powder, butter, and cheese commodity group) led the rise, up $461 million (30 percent) to $2.0 billion in March 2022. . . 

Livestock guardian dogs  :

When most people think of a flock, they just think of sheep. But if you look closely, you’ll spot a few large white-coated canines calmly at the center and possibly a few darker faced dogs circling the perimeter. These are livestock guardian dogs and their job is to act as an early warning and protection system for the sheep. Year after year, these sheep then go on to provide different types of wool which is spun for use in clothing and home goods. The protection dogs are hard to spot unless you know what you’re looking for. But make no mistake, you’ll meet them in a hurry if you walk up on a sheep or lamb as an unfamiliar face. And you won’t just meet one or two. Typically ranchers employ multiple dogs, based on the size of the flock and the predator challenge of their grazing areas. This natural pack comes together to face down other packs of predators or larger single predators like bears.

According to Cat Urbigkit, a Wyoming based cattle-and-sheep rancher, author, and expert on the training and use of guardian animals, the working sheep dog isn’t typically the friendly mop-haired “sheep dog” so popular in suburban neighborhoods. “Guardian dogs are large but calm animals that have developed instincts to protect flocks. They’re serious athletes, comfortable living out-of-doors, and easy-going around people,” explains Urbigkit. “This job is nothing new for these dogs. These breeds have pedigrees that are thousands of years old.” Indeed, many livestock protection dogs come from the mountainous regions of ancient Turkey, Mongolia, Spain, and Italy, but the one thing they all share in common is loyalty and courage in the face of danger. . . 


Rural round-up

08/04/2022

He Waka Eke Noa is now the main game in rural politics – Keith Woodford:

 Rural industry leaders are caught between unhappy farmers and unhappy ministers as they try to find a pathway through the GHG dilemma

The biggest game in rural politics for many years is being played out right now. On one side are some key Government Ministers saying that they are not impressed by current He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) proposals for greenhouse-gas levies being calculated at the level of individual farms. Their strong preference is that levies, at least initially, should be at processor level and passed down to farmers from there.

On the other side are what is probably a majority of farmers, whose preference would be for no levies at all, but who grudgingly support farm-level levies as definitely preferable to processor levies, and even more preferable than the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS).  Further out to the side, there is another group of farmers who would like to stop any HWEN negotiations. This group, or at least some of them, are still arguing for no levies at all.

Stuck right in the middle are the 11 mainstream industry organisations, with DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb taking a leading role, and getting hammered from both sides. . . 

Labour failing kiwi exporters :

Kiwi exporters will miss out while Australians get ahead after their Government signed a free trade agreement with India, National’s Trade and Export Growth Spokesperson Todd McClay says.

“India and Australia have just signed a free trade agreement that would give 85 per cent of Australia’s exports tariff-free access to the Indian market, including lamb and wool, with wines and certain fruits having lower tariffs.

“Meanwhile, the New Zealand Government has made zero progress on a trade agreement with India, making Kiwis the poor cousins to Australia yet again.

“Our wine industry has to pay a 150 per cent tariff to get into India, while Australians now only pay 50 per cent. New Zealand’s lamb exporters currently pay 30 per cent to sell in India, and Australia now pays nothing. . . 

Bridging the divide between the health sector and rural NZ :

World Health Day brings an opportunity to reflect on the unique challenges rural communities face in accessing healthcare, infrastructure, and services essential to their overall wellness.

Dr Garry Nixon, head of rural section of the Department of General Practice and Rural Health at Otago University and doctor in Central Otago, says access to health services is a significant challenge rural communities are up against.

“Distance is a barrier and rural people don’t get the same access to specialist care. Providing good and accessible healthcare in rural areas means doing things differently to the way they are done in town – not simply providing scaled down versions of urban healthcare.”

Another major issue impacting the health and wellness of rural communities is the severe shortage of doctors and other health professionals in rural areas. . . 

Beautiful story behind award-winning Hawke’s Bay cheese producer  – Afternoons:

One of the big winners in this week’s NZ Cheese Awards was the Hōhepa Hawke’s Bay cheesery.

But Hōhepa, which was established in the 1950s, is a cheese producer unlike any other. It’s part of a charitable organisation that offers home-life care for people with intellectual disabilities.

Artisan cheesemakers work very closely with Hōhepa residents on many aspects of dairy farming and cheesemaking, manager Carl Storey told Jesse Mulligan.

“We have about 180 people that we support with various intellectual disabilities. They work on the farm, milking the cows, tending some of the livestock, they will help us in the cheesery – they make the cheese with us.” . . 

Agrichemical dangers addressed with New Zealand-first technology :

The health of agricultural workers exposed to harmful airborne chemicals is in the spotlight, with one company introducing New Zealand-first technology to limit exposure and help meet the need for increased protection.

A Massey University study found agricultural workers have the highest incidence of leukaemia of all New Zealand occupation groups, likely because of their exposure to chemicals[1]; and there are reports of vineyard workers refusing to operate tractor sprayers due to potential health risks. These can include cancer and respiratory disease.

Canterbury-based company Landlogic Ltd, which supplies New Zealand’s primary sector with machinery and technology, has introduced a new cab air filtration system to the market in a bid to increase worker safety.

The system is manufactured by Freshfilter, a world-leading manufacturer of cab overpressure systems designed to meet strict European standards. It is the first time the technology has been available in New Zealand. . . 

 

Green diesel restriction put silage season at risk – Tamara Fitzpatrick:

Farmers may be “at risk” of not getting their silage cut this year as many contractors are facing quantity restrictions when buying green diesel.

“Deliveries are restricted, there’s no doubt about it,” said Michael Moroney, CEO at Association of Farm and Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI). “We are getting anecdotal evidence from some of our members that they are facing delivery restrictions.”

It comes after the FCI called on the Government last week to “ring fence” 200 million litres of green diesel in preparation for silage season.

“I talked to one contractor who needs 10,000L of fuel to get crops in over the next 10 days, but has only been given 1,500L,” said TD Colm Burke in the Dáil last Thursday. . . 


Rural round-up

28/03/2022

Not so fast – Rural News:

Predictions that NZ’s farming sector is in for a bumper year need to be put into context.

While many primary sectors – including dairy, horticulture and red meat – are experiencing record commodity prices, a number of factors are leading to some even bigger cost increases, which will mean less on-farm profitability.

As Rabobank NZ’s analyst Emma Higgins recently opined, “Rocketing input costs and crimped production in some regions will not translate into new benchmark profits”.

This is due to a number of reasons: the ongoing impact of Covid, the war in the Ukraine, growing inflation and the imposition of government-imposed regulations – to name just a few.

Worrying external deficit should give govt cause to shy away from calls to cull the country’s dairy herd – Point of Order:

Even  though NZ  is  reaping record prices for  its  primary exports, the  country’s current  account deficit  “exploded”  (the  BNZ’s  word  for it) in calendar  year 2021  to  the  equivalent  of  5.8% of  GDP,  or  $20bn. The  previous  year  the  annual deficit had been only  0.8%  of  GDP.

Economist  Cameron Bagrie  said  the current account deficit didn’t  get the  attention  it  deserved. The  BNZ’s  economists, noting there had been  a  very  big change in a  short  space  of time, said the deficit   is  the  largest   since 2009.

“It continues a rapid widening of the external deficit that we have been warning of for quite some time. The deficit is now getting to a level that some in the market and/or rating agencies might start paying attention to.”

Whether  the  government, preoccupied  with Covid  and  rising inflation, is  paying   any attention  isn’t clear — but  it  should be.  Some insiders  believe it is  beavering  away  on climate change  measures  that could have a  damaging effect on  farming  morale—particularly if the government goes  ahead with  measures as  proposed  by the Climate Change Commission to reduce  methane emissions  by  cutting cow herds by  15%. . . 

Otago pulls out the stops on its most insidious pest – Jill Herron:

When the rabbits spill off Otago’s land and on to its sea lion, seal and penguin-populated beaches, you know there’s a serious pest-control problem

For the first time in years – so many no one wants to put a number on it – non-compliance notices have been served on Otago landowners for letting rabbits run amok on their land.

A further 40 notices ordering immediate action or costly consequences are set to follow, as a shake-up in the pest department at the Otago Regional Council (ORC) last year starts to bear fruit.

Environmental implementation manager Andrea Howard, who has been in the role less than two years, concedes the ORC has had a “less than active stance” on the rabbit front and that this would have contributed to current numbers. . . 

Big names back NZ agtech breakthrough:

 Two global leaders in agriculture are helping advance world-first pasture technology designed, tested and made in New Zealand.

Investment from Gallagher and the Royal Barenbrug Group will fund wider farm roll-out and faster development for Christchurch-based Farmote Systems, company founder Richard Barton says.

Launched in Canterbury last spring, the Farmote System is a unique new way of automatically recording precise, consistent and reliable pasture data, 24/7. It now covers over 6000 hectares of farmland.

Fast forward

“We’re excited to have attracted new investment from Gallagher, as well as further investment from Barenbrug,” Richard Barton says. . . 

 

Export deal to see NZ wool carpet used in $1bn New York skyscraper :

A Kiwi company has secured a US export contract to supply one of New York’s tallest skyscrapers with its wool flooring product.

The $1.1 billion Brooklyn Tower will be home to hundreds of the city’s elite and will stand at 327 metres when it opens later this year, making it one of the world’s tallest residential buildings.

The new contract will see Bremworth supply over 3,000sqm of wool carpet for the 93 storey, supertall skyscraper and is one of the company’s largest ever installations of its natural fibre product in the US.[1]

The North American deal is the highest profile commercial contract for the company since Bremworth’s wool carpets were used in the refurbishment of dozens of US retail outlets owned by Cartier, the luxury French jewellery maker. . . 

Dairy giant Arla warns of supply issues unless farmers paid more – Emma Simpson:

The UK’s largest dairy has warned milk supplies could be under threat unless its farmers are paid more.

The managing director of Arla Foods said costs are increasing at rates never seen before and that farmers can no longer cover their expenses.

“Because of the recent crisis, feed, fuel and fertiliser have rocketed and therefore cashflow on the farm is negative,” said Ash Amirahmadi.

He added farmers are producing less milk as a result of the higher costs. . . 


Rural round-up

25/03/2022

RUC reduction brings no relief for farm machinery users – Gerald Piddock:

The Government’s decision to cut road user charges (RUC) by 36% for three months is cold comfort for contractors and farmers using off-road vehicles that will not qualify for the exemption, Federated Farmers says.

The cut, which will take place from late April to late July, is in response to the spike in global fuel prices. Transport Minister Michael Wood said the change was to support the road transport industry.

For the arable industry, the reduction in charges is too late for this season, with much of the harvest already completed apart from harvesting maize grain, Federated Farmers transport spokesperson Karen Williams said.

On Williams’ own farm, fuel costs for the three months during peak harvest had almost doubled from $4000-$7000 a month in 2020 to $8000-$9500 a month this year. . . 

Omicron: ‘major impact’ on staff shortages as apple picking peaks  – Tom Kitchin:

Some orchardists say Covid-19 is running rampant through their harvest fields.

It is peak apple harvest time across the country – and Omicron is not showing any signs of slowing down in the two busiest apple harvest regions – Hawke’s Bay and Nelson-Tasman.

Hawke’s Bay grows over 4700 hectares of apples and Nelson-Tasman is second with about 2400.

Hawke’s Bay Fruitgrower’s Association chair Brydon Nisbett also runs his own 16-hectare two-orchard apple operation. . . 

Bacteria corralled for quality food outcomes – Richard Rennie:

AgResearch principal scientist Dr Eric Altermann admits he has a dream to see a charcuterie of uniquely New Zealand meats and salamis, along with fermented dairy and plant products on the market someday soon. Richard Rennie spoke to him on how his and his team’s work on fermented foods will make that a reality.

Over the past four and a half years AgResearch’s Fermented Foods research team has managed to slice through tens of thousands of evolved bacterial strains to find those with traits most suited to enhancing the flavour and texture of meat, dairy, and plant fermented food types.

The tool that has enabled them to accelerate the natural process of genetic change, which would otherwise have been an almost impossibly time-consuming and frustrating process, has been a high-throughput robotics handling and assaying (screening) platform, developed by AgResearch principal scientist Dr Eric Altermann and his team. 

“The platform’s technology allows us to take bacteria, subject them to rapid genetic evolution using sources such as UV light and then identify those evolved variants which exhibit a positive change towards the desired traits,” Altermann said.  . . 

Awakiki Ridges owners clearing out for retirement – Shawn McAvinue:

A couple of teenage sweethearts are looking forward to retirement on their sheep and beef farm in South Otago.

Howie and Marion Gardner (both 66) will hold a clearing sale on their farm Awakiki Ridges in Puerua Valley tomorrow.

Awakiki Ridges has come a long way since his parents, Clyde (now 93) and his late mother, Beth, bought the land and started developing it in the mid-1960s.

The property was once considered “the worst bit of dirt in South Otago,” Mr Gardner said. . . 

Sharing enthusiasm for red meat sector – Shawn McAvinue:

Maniototo man Dean Sinnamon’s new job allows him to pursue his passion for the red meat sector.

Mr Sinnamon, of Oturehua, started in a new role at Beef + Lamb New Zealand in January this year.

His job title is Central South Island South extension manager.

“It’s a bit of a mouthful, isn’t it?” . . 

China tariffs causes Victorian harvest to tank Annabelle Cleeland:

The 2.1-billion litres of unsold Australian wine sitting in storage is wreaking havoc on Victoria’s grape harvest this season, as a storage shortage forces growers to leave grapes on vines.

Last year the nation’s wine exports plummeted $860 million, or 30 per cent, due to China’s crippling tariffs on bottled Australian wine.

China’s anti-dumping duty introduced the last march of up to 218pc for containers of two litres or less, and is set to remain in place for five years.

It has been a blow for the industry with Australia’s wine exports the lowest in nearly two decades, as the volume of wine sent overseas dropped 17pc to 619-million litres in 2021. . . 


Rural round-up

21/03/2022

Dairy prices expected to remain elevated in the near term, but longer-term outlook less certain — Global Report :

Dwindling world milk production looks set to support buoyant global dairy commodity prices over coming months, but with the Russia-Ukraine conflict creating a wave of uncertainty in markets, the longer-term pricing outlook remains much less clear, Rabobank says in a recently-released report.

In its “Global Dairy Quarterly Q1 2022: How high for how long?”,the agribusiness banking specialist says weather-related issues, high or rising production costs and lingering disruptions from Covid-19 resulted in milk production growth faring worse than previously anticipated in the final quarter of 2021.

“These challenges have impacted dairy farmers from all the key production regions around the world, and among the “Big 7” dairy exporters – New Zealand, Australia, the EU, the US, Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina — production is now expected to fall by 0.7 per cent year-on-year in the first half of 2022,” Rabobank senior agricultural analyst Emma Higgins said. . . 

Vegetable prices tipped to go higher due to spiraling costs :

Horticulture New Zealand says vegetable prices will continue to increase if the Government does not support growers to find ways to reduce the costs of growing.

‘There is a crisis developing in commercial vegetable production in New Zealand. Input costs have soared over the past 12 months, not the least being the cost of fuel,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.

‘Reducing petrol excise duty by 25 cents a litre and road user charges for three months is a positive step for most New Zealanders. However, this has no impact on the significant increase in the cost of diesel for use on the farm, orchard or market garden.

‘Between December 2021 and March 2022, the cost of diesel has increased from $1.67 a litre to $2.41 a litre. . . 

Young Waikato Dairy Award winners see value in judges views :

The major winners in the 2022 Waikato Dairy Industry Awards are a young couple who believe that progression is possible and your limits are only what you perceive.

Brian Basi and Rachel Bunnik were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year category at the Waikato Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at Claudelands Event Centre on Monday evening. The other big winners were Andrew Macky, who became the 2022 Waikato Dairy Manager of the Year, and Edward Roskam, the 2022 Waikato Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Brian and Rachel are contract milkers for Dick and Liz Johnson on their 72ha, 230-cow Putaruru property for the past two seasons. They won $14,828 in prizes and four merit awards.

Brian placed in the top five in the same category last year and believes judges analysing their overall farming business and performance was a key benefit of the awards programme. . . 

Varroa increasingly responsible for NZ bee colony losses :

New Zealand beekeepers have reported varroa to be the most common reason for over-wintering hive losses for the first time, according to the recently released NZ Colony Loss Survey.

The 2021 Survey found varroa was responsible for nearly 40% of all losses. This marks a change in the primary cause, with queen problems having consistently been attributed as the key reason for colony losses in the past six years of the survey.

The Survey noted that an estimated 5.3% of all living colonies were lost to varroa and related complications over the 2021 winter, significantly higher than the 1.6% recorded just five years ago.

Beekeepers surveyed reported a number of reasons for the losses due to varroa; including reinvasion post treatment and timing issues with treatments. Nineteen percent believed their varroa losses were due to ineffective products. . . 

Australia’s biggest customer pressured to give kangaroo products the boot – Chris McLennan:

Australia’s biggest export market for kangaroos has the jitters.

There is a big push from the Netherlands for the European Union to give Aussie roo products the boot now free trade talks have begun.

The EU is our biggest market for kangaroo meat and leather worth about $130 million annually.

Traditionally the light and strong kangaroo leather has been highly valued by sporting apparel companies. . .

Spring Sheep Milk Co wins Company-X Innovation Award:

and the Company-X Innovation Awards goes to . . . the Spring Sheep Milk Co.

The smart Kiwi business began in 2015 and now sources sheep milk from 12,700 grass-fed Zealandia sheep, its own breed, from dedicated farms across the Central North Island.

The milk is spray-dried into powder at Waikato Innovation Park at Ruakura in Hamilton and is used to create high-value nutrition products. Its early life nutrition range, including Gentle Sheep Toddler Milk Drink and nutrition powders are sold in China, Malaysia and New Zealand. Sheep milk is one of the most nutritious milks available and may be helpful for people with stomach or digestion intolerances.

Grass-fed New Zealand sheep milk is one of the highest quality milks available in the world and is clinically proven to be more easily digested and absorbed than cow’s milk, making it the ideal base for premium nutrition products. . . 


Rural round-up

17/03/2022

‘Unviable to grow produce’ in NZ: Farmers blame rising cost of energy, rates, wages, audits – Sally Murphy:

Increasing costs are putting a huge strain on vegetable growers, with some considering hanging up their tools.

Energy costs have almost doubled in the past year, the minimum wage has gone up and the price of on-farm audits are rising – making growing vegetables more expensive.

NZ Gourmet director of production Roelf Schreuder said the business needed to have audits for certification, water quality, chemical storage and health and safety, just to name a few.

“For certification for NZ Gap and Global Gap they come a couple of times a year and charge about $240 an hour to sit down and check the books, so growers are having to spend more time and money preparing for them as well as paying for the actual audit – it’s a big cost. . . .

Fruit and vegetables drive up annual food prices :

Annual food prices rose 6.8 percent in February 2022 compared with February 2021, Stats NZ said today.

This was the largest annual increase since July 2011 when prices increased 7.9 percent.

In February 2022 compared with February 2021:

  • fruit and vegetable prices increased by 17 percent
  • grocery food prices increased by 5.4 percent . . .

A farmer’s perspective:

After enduring COVID19 and isolating for 10 days, I was asked to give my opinion on how we managed the farm, family and staff.  Regardless of how people think of COVID19, whether it’s a she’ll be right mentality or you have ordered a pallet of Vitamin C along with toilet roll, the reality is you’re going to get sick.

We were prepared with a COVID plan.  We knew our legal obligations around milk pick up and we knew we needed to be a step ahead.  The virus hit us pretty hard and happened within a day of first contact. Within those first 24hrs I had rung our neighbours, our 2IC, Fonterra (area manager and milk collection), our bank, school and thereafter kept everyone updated.  We had a designated drop off point for food, medication and anything that was needed for the farm.  We were able to work most of the days out of necessity and kept away from our 2IC. We had to amend our milking times to be able to use a relief milker. To put things in perspective, adults were double vaxed with boosters. Kids not vaccinated. We still caught the virus but certainly didn’t need any outside medical intervention or Hospitalisation. COVID will affect people differently.

We got very sick and it was tough watching the kids going through it.  We lived on paracetamol, vitamins and electrolytes and we used my “My Food Bag”. We put the farm on sleep mode for about 5 days. We didn’t want to overwhelm staff with the extra workload so we kept the jobs to essential along with milking.  I would suggest checking your calendar and canceling all your appointments. We had a shed inspection during COVID but all went well. In hindsight I would have cleared the calendar.  We did have people call to the door and had to tell them our situation, most were thankful for our honesty, some were less than pleased.  Public perception has shown me people are scared and nervous.  At one point when the fever hit hard and the body ached and every orifice was evacuating someone drove into the driveway and I sure I heard, bring out your dead!  But after day 6 we were on the mend.  . .

Fonterra reports its Interim Results :

  • Total Group Revenue: NZ$10,797 million, up 9%
  • Reported Profit After Tax NZ$364 million, down 7%
  • Normalised Profit After Tax: NZ$364 million, down 13%
  • Total Group normalised EBIT: NZ$607 million, down 11%
  • Net Debt: NZ$5.6 billion, down 8%
  • Total Group normalised Gross Profit: NZ$1,607 million, down 7%
  • Total Group normalised Gross Margin: 14.9% down from 17.4%
  • Total Group Operating Expenditure: NZ$1,062 million, up 1%
  • Normalised Africa, Middle East, Europe, North Asia, Americas (AMENA) EBIT: NZ $250 million, up 25%
  • Normalised Greater China EBIT: NZ$236 million, down 20%
  • Normalised Asia Pacific (APAC) EBIT: NZ$158 million, down 33%
  • Full year forecast normalised earnings per share: 25 – 35 cents per share
  • Interim Dividend: 5 cents per share
  • Forecast Farmgate Milk Price range: NZ$9.30 – $9.90 per kgMS
  • Forecast milk collections: 1,480 million kgMS, down 3.8%

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced its 2022 Interim Results which show the Co-op has delivered a half year Profit After Tax of NZ$364 million, a Total Group normalised EBIT of NZ$607 million, and a decision to pay an interim dividend of 5 cents alongside a record high forecast Farmgate Milk Price.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says the Co-op’s results for the first half of the financial year show it is performing well, while creating the momentum needed to achieve its 2030 targets. . .

Māori owned dairy company, Miraka, has appointed global food industry executive, Karl Gradon, as its new CEO :

Chairman, Kingi Smiler has welcomed Mr Gradon’s appointment which followed an extensive search.

“We’re delighted to appoint Karl as our new CEO. He has solid credentials and international experience in business development and strategy across the dairy, agricultural and primary industry sectors.”

Karl spent nearly 20 years in the dairy industry with Fonterra and Kerry Ingredients holding Senior Management positions in Asia, Europe, Latin America and the USA.

Since returning home, he has taken up a range of governance roles and directorships in economic development and business. Karl was also CEO of New Zealand Mānuka Group helping that business grow its Mānuka honey and oil production.” . . 

Groundswell NZ proposes emissions reduction plan :

The proposals put forward under the He Waka Eke Noa Partnership are so unworkable that Groundswell NZ is proposing its own alternative, Groundswell NZ leader Bryce McKenzie said.

“None of the options are workable and, like the Emissions Trading Scheme, they will deliver worse outcomes for the environment, farmers, and our country.”

“We back Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard’s view, that none of the options are long term solutions and that an emissions tax, without affordable and practical new technologies, would kill off the farming sector.”

“Groundswell NZ’s alternative is an integrated environmental policy framework incentivising and enabling on the ground actions across all aspects of the environment, including freshwater, indigenous biodiversity, and emissions.” . . 

                                                                   

Ukraine – how the global fertiliser shortage is going to affect food – John Hammond & Yiorgos Gadanakis :

We are currently witnessing the beginning of a global food crisis, driven by the knock-on effects of a pandemic and more recently the rise in fuel prices and the conflict in Ukraine. There were already clear logistical issues with moving grain and food around the globe, which will now be considerably worse as a result of the war. But a more subtle relationship sits with the link to the nutrients needed to drive high crop yields and quality worldwide.

Crops are the basis of our food system, whether feeding us or animals, and without secured supply in terms of volume and quality, our food system is bankrupt. Crops rely on a good supply of nutrients to deliver high yields and quality (as well as water, sunlight and a healthy soil), which in modern farming systems come from manufactured fertilisers. As you sit and read this article, the air you breath contains 78% nitrogen gas – this is the same source of nitrogen used in the production of most manufactured nitrogen fertilisers.

However, to take this gas from the air and into a bag of fertiliser takes a huge amount of energy. The Haber-Bosch process, which converts nitrogen and hydrogen into ammonia as a crucial step in creating fertilisers, uses between 1% and 2% of all energy generated globally by some estimates. Consequently, the cost of producing nitrogen fertiliser is directly linked to the cost of fuel. This is why the UK price of ammonium nitrate has climbed as high as £1,000 per tonne at the time of writing, compared to £650 a week ago.

Fertiliser inputs to farming systems represent one of the largest single variable costs of producing a crop. When investing in fertiliser, a farmer must balance the return on this investment through the price they receive at harvest. Adding more fertiliser, for a small improvement in yield, might not pay for itself at harvest. . .


Rural round-up

15/03/2022

War and sanctions have caused commodities chaos :

Global commodity crises tend to cause severe economic damage and political upheaval. The oil shocks of the 1970s left Western economies with runaway inflation and deep recessions. Oil revenues also helped prop up the Soviet Union and fuelled the export of Saudi extremism. Soaring grain prices in 2010 and 2011 were a trigger for the street protests that led to the Arab spring and the toppling of dictators.

Today Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is unleashing the biggest commodity shock since 1973, and one of the worst disruptions to wheat supplies since the first world war. Although commodity exchanges are already in chaos, ordinary folk have yet to feel the full effects of rising petrol bills, empty stomachs and political instability. But make no mistake, those things are coming–and dramatically so if sanctions on Russia tighten further, and if Vladimir Putin retaliates. Western governments need to respond to the commodity threat as determinedly as to Putin’s aggression.

The turmoil unfolding in energy, metals and food markets is broad and savage. Overall indices of commodity prices are now 26 per cent higher than at the start of 2022. The cost of a barrel of Brent crude oil has swung wildly around levels that indicate the biggest supply shock since Saddam Hussein’s army crossed from Iraq into Kuwait in 1990.

European gas prices have almost trebled amid panic that pipelines from the east will be blown up or starved of supply. The price of nickel, used in all-electric cars among other things, has spiraled so high that trading in London has been halted and Chinese speculators are nursing multi-billion-dollar losses. . . 

Ukraine farmer warns of looming food crisis – Country Life:

Ukrainian villagers and farmers have been thrown back into the Middle Ages, slaughtering pigs and milking cows by hand in an effort to keep the country fed, a farmer in Ukraine says.

Kees Huizinga said Russia’s invasion of its neighbour was not only creating a humanitarian catastrophe at home, but also a global food security crisis.

For the past 20 years the Dutchman has farmed 15,000 hectares about 200 kilometres south of the capital Kyiv.

He also milks 2000 cows, keeps 450 sows and plants a range of crops including wheat – the grain which helped give Ukraine, together with Russia, the moniker “breadbasket of Europe”. . . 

Farming in a pressure cooker – Colin Williscroft:

A rapidly changing world is forcing change on farmers faster than ever before, but 2019 Nuffield scholar Corrigan Sowman suggests taking some lessons from the All Blacks’ playbook can help.

A presenter at the Farmax conference webinar held on March 9-10, Sowman spoke on the topic of his Nuffield study paper, Farming in a Pressure Cooker, and applied it to farming three years on.

In his earlier paper, he noted that global agriculture was at a crossroads, with past practices no longer deemed acceptable and often scrutinised by people with half the facts and pressure on farmers compounding as a result. 

He said some farmers were being overwhelmed by the situation, which was reflected in their mental health. . .  

New Zealand red meat export values grow despite pressures on sector :

New Zealand’s red meat sector is continuing to achieve strong export results in the face of considerable labour shortages and global supply chain disruption, says the Meat Industry Association.

The latest MIA analysis shows the industry is overcoming significant headwinds with exports reaching $940 million during January, a 27 per cent increase by value on January 2021.

The value of exports increased to nearly all the major markets. China was up 25 per cent to $398m, the United States up 32 per cent to $195m, the United Kingdom up nine per cent to $41m and Japan up 76 per cent to $40m.

“January was another very positive month for exports, which reflects the efforts across the sector to overcome the many challenges in processing and exporting,” said MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva. . . 

Hard work bears fruit for Central Otago orchardist – Country Life:

Kevin Jackson and his team go out on a limb to ensure the harvesting season runs smoothly at Jackson Orchards in Cromwell.

Kevin’s original orchard was located in the Cromwell Gorge but he was forced to leave the property when the Clyde Dam was being built.

Keen to stay local, he bought two large blocks of fertile land overlooking Lake Dunstan and developed new orchards and a roadside fruit shop.

“We started planting in 1969 and it was spread over five years before the total property was fully planted,” he says. . . 

 

Big wheat trouble in China – Andrew Whitelaw:

The Snapshot

  • The Chinese ag minister has declared that the winter wheat crop will be the worst in history.
  • >90% of the Chinese wheat crop is winter planted.
  • China is a huge producer of grain but requires a large import program.
  • Australia no longer sends barley, but we send wheat to China.
  • China has huge stockpiles (on paper) but has increased the import volumes during the past two years.
  • 2022 will test whether those stocks are as large as government sources suggest.
  • This development will likely see imports remain strong.

 


Farmer confidence at low ebb

10/03/2022

Farmer confidence in Federated Farmers’ January survey was the at the lowest ebb since the biannual surveys began in 2009:

. . . Of responses from nearly 1000 farmers from around the country, a net 7.8 percent considered current economic conditions to be good, a 10.1 point decline from the July 2021 Federated Farmers Farm Confidence Survey, when 17.9 percent considered conditions to be good.

Looking forward, a net 64 percent of farmers believed general economic conditions would worsen over the next 12 months, a 25-point deterioration from the 39 percent in the July survey. Sentiment about general economic conditions is at the lowest level since the Feds surveys began in July 2009, surpassing the previous low in July 2020

“The results are even more disturbing when you consider farmers were answering the survey before the surge of Omicron cases in New Zealand and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, both of which will weigh on economic growth,” Feds President and economics spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said. 

The Russian invasion will hit food production and that will boost prices but it will also hit the supply of fuel and fertiliser, the prices of which have already had steep price rises in the last few months.

While a net 61.1% of farmers reported making a profit, a 5.5-point increase on July 2021, a net 11.2% expected their profitability would decline in the year ahead, 16 points down on six months earlier when a net 4.4% expected profitability would improve.

“We’re getting strong returns on meat and dairy right now thanks to high global demand and food security concerns but clearly farmers are seeing a lot of that revenue going right back out again with higher fuel and fertilizer prices, rising labour costs, and the hot inflation that is affecting every other New Zealander,” Andrew said.

The survey showed a net 52.7 percent of respondents expected their spending to increase over the next 12 months (up from 32.6% six months ago) “but this will be due to higher expected input costs rather than farmers feeling confident to spend and invest”.

That is spending for business as usual, not for anything that will improve production, nor for environmental improvement and enhancement.

A net 1.8% of respondents expected their production to increase over the year ahead, a 13.4-point drop from July 2021 when a net 15.3% expected it to increase.

“This finding is another substantial drop and it was before February’s heavy and unseasonable rain, which caused a lot of damage and loss for many arable farmers,” Andrew said.

Some traditionally summer dry areas have already had close to their annual average rainfall.

Last year’s survey pinpointed the sector’s struggle to fill workforce gaps as a huge issue, with nearly half of respondents stating it was harder to recruit skilled and motivated staff. January’s result shows negligible improvement, with just a 0.2-point decrease on that finding.

Unemployment is down to the unemployable, even though the number of people on JobSeeker benefits has been increasing.

Farmers struggle to employ locals and closed borders have kept out experienced farm workers, shearers and back packers who usually fill jobs on farms and orchards.

“We should all be pleased unemployment levels are so low in New Zealand given assaults on our economy from all sides, but this dire farm recruitment situation underlines why Federated Farmers continues to advocate to government for additional workers – especially in dairy – to cross our borders.”

Asked to list their greatest concerns, those farmers who completed the January survey chose climate change policy and ETS (18.7% of respondents), followed by regulation and compliance costs (13.1%), and freshwater policy (9.5%). This result is unchanged from the July 2021 survey.

There is a very real fear that the Paris Accord’s stipulation that climate change mitigation shouldn’t come at the expense of food production will be ignored.

Farmers are also concerned that the anti-farmer, and anti-dairy in particular, lobby will lead to policies that are political and bureaucratic rather than scientific.

“I suspect the global economy will be right up there if the survey were done right now,” Andrew said.

The three highest priorities respondent farmers wanted the Government to address were the economy and business environment (15.0%), fiscal policy (12.1%) and regulation and compliance costs (11.7%). This compares to the July 2021 survey when the top three priorities were regulation and compliance costs (14.0%), economy and business environment (13.1%), and supporting agriculture and exporters (10.4%).

When prices for most primary produce are at least good, and for milk, the highest ever, the outlook for farming ought to be bright.

But global supply chain uncertainties, inflation, and the threat of climate change policies are compounded by Covid-19 in undermining confidence.


Rural round-up

09/03/2022

Oil and wheat price surges likely to hit consumers – Andrew Patterson:

Business and investing: Further sanctions on Russia remain a possibility and if bans on Russian oil are enacted, international crude prices could skyrocket to US$150 per barrel.

Brent Crude oil futures surged to a new 10-year high of US$118 a barrel, a jump of 20 percent for the week, as investors endured another rollercoaster week of markets lurching wildly in response to the news from Ukraine after Russia’s military intensification.

After Russia’s latest offensive and the potential for a prolonged conflict, analysts aren’t ruling out the possibility oil could reach upwards of US$150 a barrel in the coming weeks.

To date, the United States and the European Union have been reluctant to slap sanctions on Russia’s oil and gas exports following concerns about the repercussions such a move would have on Europe’s energy supply and already skyrocketing oil and gasoline prices. However, potential sanctions remain a possibility and if bans on Russian oil are enacted, international crude prices could skyrocket to US$150 per barrel according to analysts. . .

Honey company joins efforts to cull wasps :

Honey company Comvita has joined efforts to cull the numbers of wasps across the country.

Introduced German and common wasps are a damaging pest, invading beehives and eating insects – reducing the amount of food for native birds.

A Department of Conservation programme, Wasp Wipeout, raises funds for bait stations used to control populations.

Comvita head of industry affairs Tony Wright said increasing numbers of wasps led the company to get involved. . .

RWNZ marks International Women’s Day:

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) is marking International Women’s Day by reminding the rural sector why the day is important.

“By measuring progress and highlighting the work still to be done, we can ensure that we keep moving forward in addressing inequities faced by girls and women around the world,” says RWNZ president Gill Naylor.

She says the primary industry has typically been seen as a man’s world where women remain hidden as an invisible partner or in a support role where they are perceived as providing less value.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel, she says.

Reliance on demotic market continues for feijoa growers :

Feijoa season has got underway and high freight costs means orchardists are focused selling their produce to the domestic market.

The first of this season’s fruit is landing on many supermarket’s shelves this week after picking of early varities kicked off late last month.

Kaiponi Farms in Gisborne is New Zealand’s largest feijoa grower and packer and expected volumes similar to be similar to last season.

Sales lead Olivia Abernethy said the growing season had been fantastic, with lots of hot days but also plenty of rainfall leading to some great sized fruit. . . 

Farming awards build networks and appreciation for the sector:

Ravesndown spoke with shareholder and FMG Young Farmer of the Year competitor Reuben Connolly ahead of the Waikato BOP finals last weekend.

Reuben came 4th in Saturday’s competition but was eager to speak to the benefits of competing in farm awards and the things which keep his young family motivated to grow in the industry.

You can catch what he had to share below:

Building lasting relationships and the farming lifestyle are two of the big reasons Reuben Connolly wants to stay in the farming sector. .

Ukraine Ag Minister: dairy farmers will fight for their farms – Tom Venesky:

One week after Russia launched a large-scale military invasion of Ukraine, the United Nations estimates that more than one million people have fled the Eastern European country.

As the war continues to escalate after the Feb. 24 attack, one segment of the Ukrainian population has found that the decision to flee isn’t that easy.

Despite the dangers posed by constant shelling and destruction, the country’s dairy farmers have largely remained on their farms and the threat of a Russian attack isn’t enough to sway them to leave, according to Taras Vysotsky, deputy minister for development of economy, trade and agriculture of Ukraine.

“In most cases, they’re on the farms. Only a few have been abandoned so far,” Vysotsky said during a phone interview with Lancaster Farming. “They’re staying on their farms. They’re going to protect it. They will fight for their farms and their animals to the end.” . . 


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