Rural round-up

April 23, 2015

Show Me Sustainable Dairy Farming:

Pakotai dairy farmers, Rachel & Greig Alexander, winners of the 2015 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Supreme Award, are hosting a field day at their Award winning property at 3305 Mangakahia Road on Thursday 7th May 2015.

Their dairy farm will be open to all interested parties, commencing at 10.30am, with the day concluding with a light lunch at approximately 1.30pm.

The field day will provide the opportunity for visitors to learn how Rachel and Greig interpret ‘sustainability’ in their farming business. The Alexanders will explain how they incorporate sustainability into their day to day operation while still achieving bottom line profitability across the farming business, which also includes a beef operation and forestry. . .

Farming finalists a family success:

One of the three finalists for a major Maori farming award has opened its gates to visitors for a field day.

Mangaroa Station, about an hour inland from Wairoa, is a finalist in this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy for Maori excellence in sheep and beef farming.

Owners Bart and Nukuhia Hadfield showed judges the farm and stock yesterday and are running the field day today.

Mr Hadfield said the history of how the couple came to own the station was a major part of their entry into the awards. . .

NZ cow’s milk product wows Mexican dermatologists:

Hamilton-based company, Quantec Ltd, has successfully launched its world-first anti-acne cream to hundreds of Mexican dermatologists in Mexico City this month.

Quantec’s product, a clinically-proven anti-acne cream derived from cow’s milk called Epiology, was first launched into New Zealand pharmacies in May 2014.

Quantec founder and managing director Dr Rod Claycomb said it was the product’s success nationally that spurred Quantec to swiftly take the product global. . .

The New Zealand Seafood Industry has lost a titan with the death of Philip Vela:

The New Zealand seafood industry has lost a titan with the death of Philip Vela.

“Philip Vela was an early pioneer in the development of the hoki, orange roughy, tuna and squid fisheries. He continued to be a major player and innovator in New Zealand fisheries – a business where only the strongest of the strong have survived over these past 40 years,” Deepwater Group chief executive George Clement said.

“As such, the New Zealand seafood industry owes Philip and his brother Peter a huge debt. . .

Battle For Our Birds a great success:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says the success of the Battle For Our Birds programme is a welcome victory for endangered native species.

The Department of Conservation today released preliminary monitoring results for the eight-month long anti-predator campaign.

“There are thousands more native birds alive today than there would have been without the work done by DOC’s Battle For Our Birds last summer,” Ms Barry says.

“If we had done nothing and treated it as business as usual, the rat and stoat plague accompanying last year’s beech mast would have wiped out local populations of some of our rarest birds such as the kakariki, mohua/yellowhead or whio/blue duck.” . .

On the road again – RCNZ workshops being held in May:

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) will be on the road again this May updating its members on the latest changes in health and safety, transport and employment laws – as well as other topics – in a series of roadshows being held around the country during May.

RCNZ chief executive Roger Parton says the roadshow presentation will cover off the proposed new Health & Safety legislation and regulations, the Safer Farms programme and Codes of Practice for using tractors and other self propelled agricultural vehicles and what these changes will mean for rural contractors. . .  

Farmers encouraged to check they are registered with Beef + Lamb New Zealand for referendum vote:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) is encouraging farmers to check they are registered to vote in the sheep and beef levy referendum that will be held later this year.

All sheep, beef and dairy farmers will be able to vote on continuing to invest in programmes run by B+LNZ, which are designed to support a confident sector with improved farm productivity, profitability and performance.

B+LNZ Chief Executive Dr Scott Champion said it’s important that famers ensure they are on the roll and that their details are up to date. . .

OVERSEER 6.2’s new irrigation module now live through the new OVERSEER website:

OVERSEER 6.2 went live last night after a month-long OVERSEER road show that attracted hundreds of farmers and farm advisers willing to learn how to use the new irrigation module.

Full technical notes and the updated Data Input Standards have been released with OVERSEER 6.2 through a brand new website and OVERSEER’s General Manager Dr Caroline Read says users have everything they need to get up to speed.

“We’ve been working with IrrigationNZ since the start of the year to forewarn irrigators that OVERSEER 6.2 would be launched this month. Regional councils in popular irrigation areas have also been getting the message out. Farmers and growers can now work with their advisers to make sure their OVERSEER data is in line with what the new irrigation module requires,” says Dr Read. . .


Lower milk price good in long run

April 18, 2015

Dairy farmers aren’t enjoying the lower prices that have followed a drop in demand for milk, but they could be good in the long run:

Low dairy prices will benefit the New Zealand dairy industry in the long term, Lincoln University Agribusiness and Food Marketing Programme Director Nic Lees says.

“The low prices are the best thing that can happen as it will limit the European expansion.”

He says a cost war is going on between New Zealand and Europe at the moment.

“Quotas have come off production in Europe so they are expanding production. This is similar to what is happening in oil with expanding production due to shale gas,” Mr Lees says.

“Ireland, for example, is planning to increase milk production by 50 per cent.”

A Dutch dairy farmer who visited us last year had begun increasing his cow numbers in preparation for the end of quotas.

He says New Zealand is the Saudi Arabia of milk — “We can be the lowest cost producer, but need to focus on grass based production to weather the storm”.

“Grass will always be the lowest cost source of feed and New Zealand has the most efficient grass- based dairy system in the world.

“Ireland can grow grass too but currently they utilise less than half what they grow. The large housed dairy operations in Europe are also only profitable at high milk prices,’’ Mr Lees says.

“We need to focus on what we are good at, which is grass.”

Higher prices encouraged farmers to use more expensive feeding systems but our climate and soils give us a natural advantage in growing grass.

The halcyon days may be gone for a while though.

“We are unlikely to see high prices again soon.

“It is going to be a slow recovery of price and dairy farmers need to be able to be profitable at $5/kgMS or they won’t survive.”

He says the average milk price over the last 10 years was around $5.50/kg MS.

“It is likely that this will be similar over the next decade as well. What we are seeing though is greater volatility. This is going to continue so farmers need to have systems that are still profitable when the price is low. The most resilient system is the low input grass based system.”

As an economy we also need to see the opportunities in other areas, he adds.

“For example there have been record high returns for beef in the first six months of this season, with the average per tonne value up 28 per cent. Beef is a great story with China needing to increase its beef imports by up to 20 per cent a year for the next five years to meet its surging demand for protein.”

Lamb also has good prospects, Mr Lees says, and there are other opportunities, such as can be seen with the growing sheep dairy industry.

Lower dairy prices will take the heat out of land prices.

They’ll also make conventional sheep and beef farming more attractive and there is potential for more sheep milk production.

 


GDT down 3.6%

April 16, 2015

The GlobalDairyTrade price index fell 3.6% in this morning’s auction.

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Rural round-up

April 7, 2015

Sticky fingered thief nabs hives:

A Taranaki beekeeper has been stung by the theft of 20 hives containing up to a million bees.

Stephen Black said the theft had cost him thousands of dollars. The hives had at least 200 kilograms of honey, which was ready for harvest.

He said they were probably targeted because of the increasing value of manuka honey. . .

Kiwi invention manages polluting cow urine :

On dairy farms around the country, pastures and soil are struggling to absorb vast amounts of cow urine, creating a huge headache for farmers.

An Auckland company believes it has come up with a solution to stop nitrates from cow urine polluting soils and waterways, and also believes it will help farmers save money.

“Dairy farming, although it is bringing enormous benefits to the country’s economy, it is producing more nitrates that are getting into our waterways, so something has to be done,” says Dr Bert Quin.

That is what has led Dr Quin and his business partner, Geoff Bates, to come up with the invention they’ve nicknamed “Spikey”. . .

Zespri completes European planting – Gerard Hutching:

The Mafia is just one of the hazards that Zespri’s European supply manager Callum Kay has to be aware of, but he says its threat is well contained.

Based just south of Rome, Kay manages Zespri’s kiwifruit growing business in Italy and France. About 1400 hectares are planted in Italy, 400 ha in France.

The majority of the kiwifruit in Italy is grown in the Lazio region near Rome, followed by Veneto, Piedmont and Emilia Romagna in the north. About 5 per cent of plantings are in Calabria and Campania, home to the ‘Ndrangheta and Camorra criminal organisations. . .

Visitors increasingly vital for station – Sally Rae:

Lake Ohau Station managers Simon and Liko Inkersell are very aware they live in a special environment.

The 8322ha high country property, on the shores of Lake Ohau, is situated in a spectacular location, with increasing numbers of visitors in the area.

Part of their business was now also bringing people into the area, with the opening of the Lake Ohau Quarters two years ago, and accommodation was becoming a significant part of the operation, Mr Inkersell told an Otago Merino Association field day at the property recently. . .

Landcorp launches new brand – Gerard Hutching:

State-owned enterprise farmer Landcorp has launched a new brand called Pamu to identify its products.

It was a “great modern design” that had been tested with consumers in New Zealand and overeas.Meaning “to farm” in Maori, Pamu was a “fresh, original name which talks to who we are and what we do” said Landcorp chief executive Steve Carden. The cost of the exercise was $65,000.

Carden said the branding was all about adding value to products.

“Consumers are really interested in finding out about products and where they came from,” he said. . .

NMIT ready to harvest new varieties:

New grape varieties planted on Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT)’s Marlborough campus vineyard are ready for their first vintage this year.

 In 2012, NMIT viticulture and wine staff and students began replacing rows of Pinot Noir on the half-hectare on-campus vineyard with several new and classic varieties donated by Riversun Nursery in Gisborne.  They completed further plantings in 2013 and 2014.

NMIT viticulture tutor Glenn Kirkwood says the new varieties have all grown “incredibly well” on the fertile soil, however it remains to be seen how the fruit pans out.

‘FIRB’ screen locks out investors –  David Leyonhjelm:

NEW foreign investment rules for agricultural land purchases will choke farm sales in red tape, says DAVID LEYONHJELM.


I’VE met plenty of farmers my age who are thinking about and planning for the end of their farming days.

Some have succession plans with family members. But many don’t, and their plan is to sell. They’re not sentimental but they have a strong connection with their land, and they know its worth.

They also need to sell at a fair price. They’ve got debts to repay before funding their retirement. After a lifetime of investing in the farm, their superannuation nest egg doesn’t compare with those who have been ‘pay-as-you-go’ employees all their life.

The potential outcome of one who has decided it’s time to sell goes as follows. . .

 


Rural round-up

April 4, 2015

MIE report exposes Silver Fern Farms’ sheep processing dilemma: – Kieth Woodford:

Meat industry reform is back in the news in recent weeks with the long awaited release of the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) report. The MIE perspectives have been well known for some years and so there were no real surprises in what they said. According to MIE, the most important issue is dealing with industry over-capacity through plant rationalisations and company amalgamations.

I will return to MIE’s solutions at another time, but here I want to look at the underpinning analyses provided by international consultancy company GHD, and some key insights therein that could easily be lost. When it comes to finding solutions, losing those insights would be a great pity. For Silver Fern Farms in particular, some of those insights make uncomfortable reading. . .

2015 Golden Lamb Awards (Glammies) Declared a ‘No Contest’:

The 2015 Glammies competition has been declared a ‘No-Contest’ as a result of a mistake made by the testing facility in analysing the data to ascertain the top twenty finalists.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Inc were made aware of this issue by testing facility late Friday afternoon. Yesterday, we found out the full extent of the mistake which impacted the selection of the top twenty finalists.

An error was made with the final spreadsheet when the testing facility calculated the final score and applied the ranking. In error, their IT person used the formula for shear force – where low is good, high is bad – and applied it to yield. . .

Test error dethrones Glammies winner – Kate Taylor and Tim Cronshaw:

A Dannevirke farmer will hand back his Golden Lamb Award after organisers found a testing mistake.

Hamish Buchanan beat 20 finalists last month to win the competition, known as the “Glammies”, to find the most tender and tasty lamb. 

However, organisers have ruled the results in the competition, run by Beef + Lamb New Zealand, were invalid because of a mistake made by the testing facility in analysing the data to narrow the top-20 finalists. . .

Methodical approach a winner:

An analytical approach has won northern Wairarapa farmers Lucy and Robert Thorneycroft the 2015 Keinzley AgVet Wairarapa Farm Business of the Year Award.

“We entered the competition as a challenge and are delighted with the win. It has been a fantastic competition to be involved in,” she said.

Their high-performing stock, tight control of expenses and concern for the environment were also highlighted by judges.  . .

Just the ticket – Anne Calcinai:

In part two of a series looking at different pathways to farm ownership Anne Calcinai looks at the leasing and contracting routes.

It is tough getting into farming, but not impossible.

Hawke’s Bay couple Jeremy and Gina Sunckell are proof that you don’t need to start out with millions of dollars to have a successful business in the sheep and beef industry. . .

 

Midlands 25 Year Celebrations:

Ashburton business, Midlands Seed Limited has celebrated its 25th Birthday by giving back to the local community and both the Mid Canterbury Cancer Society and the Ashburton Stadium Complex Trust were recipients of a generous donation. The company is celebrating 25 years of success in the International seed trade and rather than spending money in this anniversary year, decided to donate the combined sum of $25000 to two organisations that would benefit the local community.

Midlands Seed Managing Director Chris Green said “On behalf of our staff, grower suppliers and international partners, it is great to be able to make these donations into the same local community which has supported our business since the company’s inception in 1990”. . .


GDT drops10.8%

April 2, 2015

The GlobalDairyTrade price index dropped 10.8% in this morning’s auction.

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This isn’t cause for panic but it is cause for caution.

The dairy market is volatile.

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Rural round-up

March 30, 2015

Candid advocate top dairy woman – Sally Rae:

West Coast dairy farmer Katie Milne was recently named Dairy Woman of the Year. She talks to agribusiness reporter Sally Rae. 

Katie Milne is a straight shooter.

So it’s not hard to imagine those attending a meeting on the West Coast, in the early 1990s, took notice when she went along with some concerns about the Resource Management Act’s impact on her ability to farm.

There were a large number of Federated Farmers people there, but they were ”all older fellas with grey hair”. . .

Landcorp’s Carden optimistic despite low half year profit – Allan Barber:

The state owned farmer Landcorp last month reported a substantial drop in both revenue and profit for the six months ended 31 December last year, but CEO Steve Carden is still very positive about future prospects and the importance of Landcorp as a farming business.

In response to a question about the impact of dairy and whether the exposure to it has gone too far, he said he felt the balance was about right at a similar proportion to red meat which had traditionally been the dominant farming type. Dairy represented over half the turnover last year, but in the current year that percentage had fallen to 46%, as evident from the almost $10 million decline in first half year revenue. . .

Synlait releases Interim Report for 2015 financial year:

Synlait Milk has posted a $6.4 million net loss after tax for the first six months to 31 January in the 2015 financial year (FY15).

This result includes after tax unrealised foreign exchange losses of $6.8 million.

The underlying after tax financial performance of $0.4 million for the period was lower than expected and primarily due to delays in the shipment of infant formula and nutraceutical products.

A one-off, after tax product mix benefit of $7.5 million in the first half of FY14, combined with increased depreciation and interest costs from the commissioning of three growth initiatives projects in the second half of FY14, are the primary reasons for a $11.7 million variation between the underlying FY15 interim result of $0.4 million and the FY14 interim result of $12.1 million net profit after tax. . .

New kiwifruit variety revives industry – Jenna Lynch:

Kiwifruit growers are celebrating a bumper export season, with fruit volumes at their highest since the outbreak of the vine-killing disease Psa in 2010.

The disease devastated New Zealand’s kiwifruit industry, costing growers millions.

But a new variety has helped bring the industry back from the brink of collapse.

It’s the industry king, its green brother fetching a fraction of its price, but after years of small crop yield due to Psa the gold kiwifruit is back. . .

Kiwifruit industry set for strong growth in 2015 season:

The first kiwifruit charter ship for 2015 is set to sail from the Port of Tauranga tomorrow (Sunday 28 March), marking the start of a season promising strong growth with volumes back to pre-Psa levels this season, Zespri’s Chief Executive Lain Jager says.

The 2015 harvest began in orchards in Gisborne, Katikati and Te Puke last week, with the first charter shipments of gold kiwifruit leaving on the MV Atlantic Erica today for Zespri’s long-standing premium market of Japan. Zespri has chartered 55 refrigerated ships – including five ships direct to Shanghai – and 8,000 refrigerated containers to carry the 2015 Zespri harvest to 54 countries around the world. . .

Swedes farmer survey results coming in May:

The results of an in-depth farmer survey carried out to help understand the factors behind the toxic swedes issues that hit Southland dairy herds last year are expected to be available by the end of May.

DairyNZ’s Southland regional leader Richard Kyte says DairyNZ interviewed 134 affected and unaffected farmers and 34 graziers last year as part of its study into why many cows became ill after feeding on swedes last season. The detailed interviews followed a general short survey of all dairy farmers that generated more than 400 replies. Analysis of all the survey data is now nearly complete.

“We interviewed farmers across the region to help us understand whether farm management practices may have been a contributing factor. We had some delays in getting the data from the field as farmers got busy just as we started approaching them for information. Until all this analysis is complete, we won’t know if we need to gather more background information. We are expecting to have the results of all this work released to farmers from around mid to late May,” he says. . .

 

Consultation on Campylobacter performance targets open:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is asking for feedback on a range of proposed options for testing of Campylobacter in poultry.

The consultation considers the need for any change to Campylobacter performance targets – contamination limits poultry processors must meet as part of MPI’s routine testing for Campylobacter in broiler chickens.

Paul Dansted, MPI’s Acting Director Systems Audit, Assurance and Monitoring, says that while there have been significant improvements in the control of Campylobacter since performance targets were introduced, it’s important they are continually reviewed. . .

 


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