Rural round-up

April 21, 2017

Feeding the demand – Alan Williams:

Hawke’s Bay farmers who quit many of their lambs as stores in the severe drought of January and February have been buying back in to keep on top of the remarkable turnaround in feed conditions.

They have to restock because of the strong pasture growth that started with warm rains in March, but their buying is also a sign of confidence in lamb values over the finishing period ahead, through winter and early spring, NZX Agri analyst Rachel Agnew said. . . . 

Landcorp’s future in value-add – Alan Williams:

Some complex plans are involved in Landcorp’s move to a value-add strategy and all the shifts required will take some time, chief executive Steven Carden says.

Farms will be sold to free-up cash for the new investment, which includes plans for alternative land uses and growing more crops across all its properties. The state-owned farmer is doing due diligence on a couple of areas, but Carden couldn’t give further details yet. . .

Dairy farmer shares her knowledge in Sri Lanka – Yvonne O’Hara:

Kelso dairy farmer and dairy adviser Marloes Levelink’s background in tropical agriculture proved useful when she was chosen to be part of Fonterra’s farmer volunteer scheme.

Earlier this year she flew to Sri Lanka to provide training and advice to Fonterra’s supplier relationship officers for three weeks as part of its Dairy Development programme.

The programme supports the growth of sustainable dairy industries in key markets where Fonterra operates, including Sri Lanka, by sharing its expertise and working together with local farmers, governments and industry players. . .

Submitters fear for area’s rural character – Tim Miller:

What is rural and what is not was one of the questions posed at a resource consent hearing in Wanaka this week.

Ballantyne Barker Holdings Ltd, owned by Michael and Caroline Garnham, has applied for resource consent to turn 48ha of land near the Cardrona River in Ballantyne Rd into nine residential lots.

Wendy Baker and David Whitney were the independent commissioners appointed to the hearing. . .

Texel conference to mix it up in style – Yvonne O’Hara:

What do goat and sheep cheeses, the Clyde dam, wine, whisky and wild food have in common?

They are all part of Texel New Zealand’s conference from May 1 to 4.

Organising committee spokesman Alistair McLeod said about 50 delegates were expected for the conference, which would be based in Cromwell. . .

Free range cows and robots in future:

Greg Gemmell is a rare man – a dairy farmer who doesn’t get out of bed at 4.30am to milk the cows. His robots do it for him.

What’s more, he believes he is one of the pioneers in new technology that will change the face of New Zealand dairying.

“This isn’t common now,” says the Bunnythorpe farmer who, with wife Amy and farm owners Margaret and Brian Schnell (Amy’s parents), have invested just under $1 million into three Lely Astronaut robot milking machines and a cowshed renovation and retrofit. “But I’ll bet it is in about 10 years – it’s a life-changer.” . . .


GDT up 3.1%

April 19, 2017

The GlobalDairyTrade price index increased 3.1% in this morning’s auction.

Whole milk powder which largely determines Fonterra’s farmgate payout increased 3.5%.

 


Rural round-up

April 18, 2017

Mentoring part of the prize – Sally Rae:

Papakaio dairy farmer Morgan Easton says he is ”humbled” to win the 2017 Zanda McDonald Award.

The Australasian agribusiness award was launched by the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group in
2014.

It was in memory of Australian beef industry leader and PPP foundation member Zanda McDonald, who died aged 41 after an accident at his Queensland property in 2013.

Mr Easton, along with Invercargill-based dairy consultant Jolene Germann and Waiau farmer Henry Pinckney, was initially shortlisted for the award, along with Australians Anna Speer, Will Creek and Airlie Trescowthick. . . 

It’s not just farmers – Neal Wallace:

The country’s senior scientist has called for a more mature conversation on solving water quality issues and an end to the polarised positions that have characterised the debate so far.

Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, the Prime Minister’s chief science adviser, said to have the pristine environment we all desired would not be achieved without having a conversation “where people are not threatened but will come together and discuss solutions”.

“Where we have gone is groups with extreme positions and people are not listening to each other.”

Farm’s efficiency gain, emissions fall impresses – Sally Brooker:

A South Canterbury farm has proved environmental gains can be made while production improves, scientists say.

Beef and Lamb New Zealand director Bill Wright and his wife, Shirley, have been farming a sheep and cattle property at Cannington since 1991. Their records have allowed scientists to study the profile of greenhouse gases while the farm evolved.

The the last two years’ data also gave insights into nitrogen-leaching.

“Farmers are conscious of their collective responsibilities to restore water quality and minimise their environmental footprint,” Mr Wright said.

“But this is material we are now only learning how to manage in a way that not only protects the environment but provides opportunities to be more productive with less impact.” . . 

Blue Sky left searching for positives after Binxi offer lapses – Allan Barber:

Invercargill based meat processor Blue Sky Meats is trying to put a positive spin on its prospects after being advised by Chinese cattle and meat company subsidiary NZ Binxi Oamaru that its takeover offer would not proceed. The main reason for the decision was failure to receive OIO approval by the 20th March deadline, but Binxi also cited a material adverse change in this season’s performance. As a result Blue Sky has advised shareholders they will continue to own their shares, 96% having already accepted the offer.

The offer for 100% ownership at $2.20 per share placed a value of $25.4 million on Blue Sky compared with a current valuation of just under $15 million based on the last trading price of $1.30. Chairman Scott O’Donnell made the point adverse seasonal conditions are part and parcel of agricultural businesses, while NZ Binxi has asked the OIO to continue to process its application in spite of its withdrawal. It also signalled its possible willingness to reconsider if the OIO were to come through with a positive response. . . 

UK will offer good trade deal :

New Zealand’s farmers and exporters will get a favourable post-Brexit trade pact with the United Kingdom but find a new European Union trade agreement much harder, Lord Sam Vestey believes.

The British peer and former owner of NZ meat processing plants under the name of Weddell until the 1990s was speaking at the opening of the Royal Easter Show in Auckland.

He was chairman of the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth and a regular visitor to major shows in NZ. . . 

Southland dairy consultant in the running for Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year:

A Southland woman who only milked her first cow seven years ago is one of three finalists in the 2017 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year awards.

Jolene Germann grew up on a Waikato sheep and beef farm and had no dairy experience until meeting her husband, Hadleigh, seven years ago. Now, she’s a busy dairy consultant with a full book and is an equity partner and sharemilker on a 200ha, 570 cow dairy farm in Aparima, Southland.

Germann’s husband nominated her for the Dairy Woman of the Year award and says her commitment to environmental sustainability and empathetic leadership style are her stand-out qualities. . . 

Dear Lady at the Bank – Ruby Uhart:

Last fall I went into the bank to deposit checks after we’d sold our calves.  The lady at the front desk wasn’t familiar with the company who had written the check.  I explained to her who they were and that we had sold two loads of calves.

She replied “wow.  I’m in the wrong business.”

At the time, it caught me off guard that she would say something like that and all I could do was chuckle a little and say “no.  You’re not.”

 I’ve been thinking about her all winter and different moments in particular made me wish I had said something to her other than what I replied in my dimwitted moment.  As with all of my best comebacks, they hit my brain later and are told with the story as “what I should have said was…”

So here goes.  Here’s my shoulda, coulda, woulda said….


Rural round-up

April 12, 2017

NZ lamb shortage drives up prices :

A drop in slaughter rates in New Zealand, the world’s largest exporter of lamb meat, has pushed up prices to multi-year highs in export markets.

Benchmark frozen lamb prices for legs, french racks, forequarters and flaps all lifted in March, according to AgriHQ’s latest monthly sheep & beef report.

Demand for lamb in overseas markets is coming at a time when supplies are lower than normal in New Zealand as good grass growth prompts farmers to retain their stock for longer to increase their weights.The latest lamb slaughter data for New Zealand shows the lamb kill in the fortnight to March 11 was 11 per cent below the same period a year earlier and 18 percent weaker than the five-year average, AgriHQ said. . . 

Synlait transforms from bulk powders to infant formula – Keith Woodford:

Synlait is currently undergoing a strategic restructure from a producer of bulk milk powders to a producer of consumer-packaged infant formula. These investments will make Synlait the dominant New Zealand producer of infant formula.

So far, Synlait are still in the early stages of the transformation, but with a current construction contract with Tetra Pak to double their wet-kitchen capacity to 80,000 tonnes per annum, plus a foreshadowed announcement about doubling canning capacity to 60,000 tonnes, it is ‘all systems go’.

It is only a few months since Synlait was focusing in their public communications on building a fourth dryer on a new yet to be found site. . . 

NZ cow prices rise to record on tepid start to slaughter season – Tina Morrison

New Zealand’s cow slaughter season has got off to its slowest start in five years, pushing prices for stock to record highs for this time of year.

Just 41,789 cows were slaughtered in the fortnight to March 11, the lowest level for this period since 2012, according to AgriHQ. That pushed up the price meat processors paid for stock to record levels for this time of year, with the North Island price last week reaching $4.50 per kilogram, and the South Island price hitting $4.20/kg, AgriHQ said. . . 

Scottish farmer Euan McLeod crosses the world to chase a dream – Andrea Fox:

Thanks to New Zealand’s much-envied farming career pathway, a young Scot is realising his dream, writes Andrea Fox.

When young Euan McLeod was bitten by the farming bug back home in Scotland he became a bricklayer.

Getting a trade seemed the only option to a teenager who jumped at chances to work weekends and school holidays on a farm but without family farm roots couldn’t see how to get ahead, recalls McLeod, Waikato 2017 dairy manager of the year. . .

North Canterbury farmers make the best of life after earthquake – Tracy Neal:

North Canterbury farmers Bob and Vicki Todhunter lost their 1902 villa in November’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake when a fault ruptured beneath it.

It was the centrepiece of the 1100-hectare farm Ngaio Downs, near Clarence, which is also now part of an altered landscape.

They are among the hundreds waiting on insurance assessments and pay-outs, but they have moved ahead under their own steam. They are now living in their shearing quarters, converted into a stylish home, landscaped with the boulders that smashed down the hills behind them. . . 

Vet practice redevelops site -Sally Rae:

When Clutha Vets senior vet John Smart joined Clutha Vets as a young graduate back in 1976, it was a very different place to what it is now.

The business employed two vets in Balclutha and one in Milton, with a total of three other staff.

Forty-one years later, Mr Smart is still there but staff numbers have grown to 20 vets and a total staff of between 45 and 50.

This month, Clutha Vets will celebrate a recent $3million redevelopment of its Wilson Rd premises in Balclutha.

The official opening is on April 20.

The last upgrade was in 1994-95. At one stage during the most recent rebuild, Mr Smart worked out only one more staff member was needed for it to have tripled in size since that last redevelopment. Obviously, the building had been ”bursting at the seams” while, cosmetically, it was also looking a little tired, he said. . . 

Is Mike Joy a biased scientist? – Doug Edmeades:

It might have made good TV but it was, from my perspective at least, bad science. I’m referring to those pictures of Dr Mike Joy, a fresh water ecologist from Massey University, standing in the dry bed of Selwyn River lamenting about the poor state of New Zealand’s rivers.

Those pictures and his words perpetuate what appears to be his considered opinion that, when it comes to water quantity and quality, all roads lead to any combination of nitrogen, dairying and irrigation – intensification of dairying full stop.

From my reading and understanding of the science of water quality, noting that this is not my specialty, it seems to me that Dr Joy’s opinions on this subject are biased. I know some water quality experts who agree with this assessment. . . 

Orange roughy’s redemption celebrated at book launch:

The remarkable turnaround of New Zealand’s orange roughy fishery, long-hailed as an example of over-fishing, has been detailed in a book to be launched tonight in Wellington.

The book Roughy on the Rise was written by Tim Pankhurst, former editor of the Dominion Post and now Chief Executive of the fishing industry’s peak body, Seafood New Zealand.

It tells the story of the decline of the stocks by over fishing in the 1980s to the fisheries management that, last year, saw the fishery gain the global gold standard of sustainability by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). . . 


Rural round-up

April 3, 2017

NZ red meat sector must pursue both ‘value and volume’ growth into China:

The New Zealand red meat sector must focus on creating greater value from its exports into China, as the rate of import growth slows in this major export market, according to new research from Rabobank.

In its recently-released report, China’s Animal Protein Outlook to 2020, the specialist global agribusiness bank says while Chinese imports of sheepmeat and beef will continue to grow out to at least 2020, the rate of growth will not be as rapid as it has been in the past.

In addition, says Rabobank animal proteins analyst Blake Holgate, as China has continued to open its market to New Zealand’s competitors in recent years, the NZ red meat sector no longer enjoys the same unique competitive advantage it had when it was the first developed country to enter into a free trade agreement with China in 2008. . . 

Rural doctor shortage: GPs considered ‘lesser beings’ – Joanne O’Brien:

For 25 years, Dr John Burton has been a lifeline for people in the isolated Waikato community of Kawhia, but, he says, GPs are considered “lesser beings” so job training is not producing good doctors for rural areas.

He said being the only doctor within an hour’s drive might deter some, but it made life fun.

“One of the things that often puts people off coming to a place like Kawhia is you’re always on call and anything can happen.

“Yet if I look back over the years I’ve had here, the times I’ll be remembering will probably be the times when, yes, I delivered a baby in the back of the ambulance or somebody was in a life-threatening condition.” . . 

Cows could infect humans with different strain of leptospirosis – Alexa Cook:

About 30 percent of New Zealand’s dairy herds pose a risk of infecting humans with a different strain of Leptospirosis not covered by the existing animal vaccine, a study has revealed.

People can pick up the disease if they come into contact with cow urine and rodents. It can lead to serious illness or death.

Leptospirosis is the most common zoonotic occupational disease for farm and abattoir workers. In the past year cases of the disease have jumped by nearly 50 per cent, compared to 2015.

The Massey University study, which started in 2015 and is government funded, collected blood and urine samples from 200 dairy farms. . . 

Fonterra produces a solid half-year set of results but it is not all plain sailing ahead – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra has produced a solid set of results for the first half of the 2016/17 season, with after-tax profit up two percent to $418 million.

Results were broadly in line with market expectations. Prices for Fonterra units had been drifting down on the NZX in the weeks prior to the announcement from a high of $6.39 to $6.20 and lost another five cents over the following two days down to $6.15.

As always, the half-yearly and annual reports from Fonterra are a masterful exercise in communication. It takes effort to scratch beneath the surface to figure out what the numbers are really telling us. . . 

Cervena to be marketed in Germany:

Cervena venison is to be marketed in Germany during the northern hemisphere summer as part of a market development trial.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) venison marketing manager Marianne Wilson says the trial, while relatively small, is symbolically very important. Traditionally, the deer industry has been heavily reliant on sales of venison to the German game trade which is highly seasonal, with demand and prices peaking in the northern autumn and winter, she says.

“Marketing Cervena venison there as a lighter summer eating option, suitable for grilling, is a challenge but it’s a journey we want to begin. Chefs across Europe are now showing more interest in innovative summer menu items, so the timing is positive.” . . 

NZ exporters gain access to international agfood innovations portal:

The FoodHQ Innovation Club has become a partner of World Food Innovations, an internationally recognised online portal that profiles innovative agfood solutions to attract global business.

The FoodHQ Innovation Club helps food and beverage companies tackle the multiple challenges associated with innovating their products and businesses to meet consumer demands in New Zealand and overseas. It provides one-door access to 2,200+ researchers, leading-edge knowledge, and innovation tools from internationally recognised research and innovation organisations.

WorldFoodInnovations.com, an initiative by Food Valley, the Netherlands, was established in 2016. Food Valley has built up a deep insight into the challenges of the agrifood industry and vast network of companies and knowledge institutions that can help to tackle these challenges effectively. . . 

Rabobank NZ annual profit falls 14% on higher provisioning for bad dairy debt – Paul McBeth

(BusinessDesk) – Rabobank New Zealand posted a 14 percent decline in annual profit last year as the rural lending specialist boosted its provisioning for bad debts in the face of the dairy slowdown.

Net profit fell to $89.5 million in calendar 2016 from $104 million a year earlier, the Wellington-based lender said in a statement. The decline in profit was largely due to the bank booking $15.1 million in impairment charges on bad debt. In 2015 Rabobank booked a $5.6 million gain, writing back the value on impairments. Net interest income edged up 2.6 percent to $251.3 million, outpacing a 2.2 percent increase in the size of Rabobank’s NZ net loan book to $9.65 billion. . . 

Dairy – the new cream of choice in China:

For chefs across China, it’s out with the old mock cream and in with the UHT cream as Fonterra ups capacity to meet growing demand.

UHT cream, one of Anchor Food Professionals top selling products, is fast becoming the cream of choice for chefs in China and other parts of the world as they look for a product that has the freshness of pure dairy, won’t over whip and holds its shape for longer.

Fonterra has recently completed a new one litre UHT line at its Waitoa site. However, with continued growth, the Co-operative has already begun construction on a second line which will produce an additional 45 million litres each year for consumers across Asia, the Middle East and the Caribbean. . . 


Rural round-up

March 27, 2017

24-hour shearing marathon for suicide prevention raises thousands – Leighton Keith:

The buzz of clippers went silent and was replaced by cheers and applause in a Taranaki woolshed as a 24-hour shearing marathon came to an end.

The event, held just out of Whangamomona on Sunday, had been organised by John Herlihy to raise awareness for suicide prevention following the death of his son Michael in January 2016.

Michael’s death, a suspected suicide, shocked New Zealand’s close knit shearing community and came just 10 days before he and his five brothers, Paul, Mark, Craig, Tim and Dean were planning to set a new world record by shearing 3000 lambs in just eight hours. . . 

The Green Issue: Linkwater dairy farmers see benefits in more sustainable farming practices – Mike Watson:

Linkwater dairy farmers Jason and Amber Templeman​ entered the region’s leading environment awards to show the positive aspects of the dairy industry, they say.

“The dairy industry has been getting a lot of bad publicity over environment standards,” Jason says.

“Entering the awards was an opportunity for us to show what the dairy industry was doing positively.” . . 

In the field – Guy Williams:

For the past two summers, teams of academics and students from the University of Otago have made field trips into a stretch of spectacular high country between Arrowtown and Lake Wanaka. Queenstown reporter Guy Williams finds out what they are up to.

It is a glorious morning after a night of wind, rain and broken sleep at the Skippers camping ground.

On the final day of a three-day field trip to Coronet Peak Station, two University of Otago summer bursary students are helping Dr Christoph Matthaei, a freshwater ecologist from the university’s zoology department, take water samples from a tributary of the Shotover River.

The hustle and bustle of Queenstown is only 20km to the south, but in this gully on the flanks of the Harris Mountains, it feels like the middle of nowhere.

The trio are on the western edge of Mahu Whenua (Healing the Land), the name given to a vast tract of country encompassing four high country stations stretching from Arrowtown most of the way to Wanaka’s Glendhu Bay. . . 

Commodity prices hide ‘solid’ Fonterra performance – Dene Mackenzie:

Volatile commodity prices hid a solid performance from dairy company Fonterra when it reported its first-half profit last week, Forsyth Barr broker Lyn Howe said.

In a detailed analysis of the result, Ms Howe said Fonterra had continued to shift volume from commodity areas towards its higher value consumer and foodservice business.

Fonterra posted normalised earnings of $607million for the six months ended January, down 9% on the previous corresponding period. The result was ahead of Forsyth Barr expectations. . . 

Yili expects more jobs as plant grows – Shannon Gillies:

A promise of more jobs came from dairy giant Yili as it celebrated the opening of its stage two development at its Glenavy production plant on Saturday.

Official celebrations were in Auckland, but Glenavy and surrounding areas should be gearing up for employment opportunities at the Oceania Dairy production plant, a company spokeswoman said.

She said while stage two was not operational, it was due to be ready for production in August. . . 

Ashburton wool growers top sale:

The feature of the South Island wool sale on Thursday was the sale of a small amount of merino wool offered by Rata Peaks Station, Ashburton, CP Wool spokesman Roger Fuller said.

The wool created heated demand from exporters. A line of merino hogget 17.7 micron reached 3104c clean and 1900c greasy.

”This was on the back of the Australian market reaching highs not seen for many years.” . . 

2018 Dairy Industry Awards to be held in South Island:

The 2018 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are heading south!

At the Southland-Otago Dairy Industry Awards dinner on Saturday in Invercargill, it was announced that the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards will hold their national awards dinner at ILT Stadium in Invercargill on 12 May 2018.

The last time the Nationals were held in the South Island was 2011, when they were held in Queenstown.

The awards oversee the Share Farmer of the Year, Dairy Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions. . . 


Rural round-up

March 24, 2017

Rabbit virus setback ‘bureaucratic nonsense’ – Alexa Cook:

Canterbury’s regional council knew three weeks ago it could not release a much-anticipated rabbit virus this autumn.

It was not until yesterday Environment Canterbury (ECan) set a new release date of March 2018, saying “more work was needed to get the necessary approvals”.

Federated Farmers said it was disappointed by the setback. Farmers would have to rely on poisons yet again.

Its Otago president, Phill Hunt, said he spent about $15,000 a year controlling rabbits on his sheep and byeef farm near Queenstown. . .

British farmers want lamb deal with kiwis  – Colin Ley:

The idea of Britain and New Zealand working together to promote a complementary fresh lamb offer, with seasonality being used to stimulate demand, was discussed during a recent meeting between English and Welsh farming leaders and delegates from the kiwi meat industry.

A similar plea for closer co-operation between NZ and United Kingdom lamb producers, including on pricing levels, was also voiced to Farmers Weekly by north of England sheep sector leader, Richard Findlay. . . 

Quake hit farmers face winter in damaged homes – Maja Burry:

Quake-hit farmers with damaged homes urgently need suitable accommodation before winter, a group supporting them says.

North Canterbury Rural Support Trust spokesperson Sarah Barr said about 20 farming families were applying to buy temporary housing units from the government.

The units, which were no longer needed in Christchurch, could be bought for $25,000 excluding relocation costs of about $30,000. . .

Ag trainers to get more help – Neal Wallace:

The beleaguered training and education sector has received some welcomed news with PrimaryITO adopting a greater and more diverse training role.

The changes followed a difficult two years for primary sector training providers in which a number closed but that came with the realisation training was essential to meet the Government’s goal of doubling the value of primary sectors exports by 2025, chief executive Dr Linda Sissons said. . .

The Green Issue: Awatere Valley high country station farmers among environment award finalists – Mike Watson:

High country farmers Steve and Mary Satterthwaite have shown how to farm sustainably on difficult land through dedication, innovation and efficiency.

Steve has farmed Muller Station, in the upper Awatere Valley, for the past 37 years.

The 38,000-hectare high country station carries about 14,500 merino sheep, and 2000 angus cattle, and is self-sufficient with well-stocked gardens and freezers.

When he first arrived on the farm it was overrun by rabbits and scabweed, he said.

Fonterra Announces 2017 Interim Results

Results Highlights

• Forecast Farmgate Milk Price $6.00 per kgMS

• Forecast cash payout $6.40 after retentions*

• Interim dividend of 20 cents per share – to be paid in April

• Revenue $9.2 billion, up 5%

• Normalised EBIT $607 million, down 9% . . .

Why American Farmers Are Hacking Their Tractors With Ukrainian Firmware –  Jason Koebler:

A dive into the thriving black market of John Deere tractor hacking.

To avoid the draconian locks that John Deere puts on the tractors they buy, farmers throughout America’s heartland have started hacking their equipment with firmware that’s cracked in Eastern Europe and traded on invite-only, paid online forums.

Tractor hacking is growing increasingly popular because John Deere and other manufacturers have made it impossible to perform “unauthorized” repair on farm equipment, which farmers see as an attack on their sovereignty and quite possibly an existential threat to their livelihood if their tractor breaks at an inopportune time.

“When crunch time comes and we break down, chances are we don’t have time to wait for a dealership employee to show up and fix it,” Danny Kluthe, a hog farmer in Nebraska, told his state legislature earlier this month. “Most all the new equipment [requires] a download [to fix].” . . .


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