Rural round-up

July 26, 2016

Kiwifruit exports reach record levels:

In June 2016, kiwifruit exports rose $105 million (47 percent) from June 2015 to reach $331 million, Statistics New Zealand said today. Overall, goods exports rose $109 million (2.6 percent) in June 2016 (to $4.3 billion).

The June 2016 rise was across all our top kiwifruit export destinations, but particularly Japan (up $55 million) and China (up $39 million). The quantities of kiwifruit exported also rose (up 32 percent), with gold kiwifruit up 49 percent, and green kiwifruit up 21 percent. . . .

New researchers should focus on primary industry:

Federated Farmers wants a plan to attract the world’s top scientists to New Zealand to concentrate on those who will work on primary sector initiatives and the environment.

Federated Farmers President Dr William Rolleston says it makes sense for the government’s $35 million ‘Entrepreneurial Universities’ programme to build knowledge in areas which are key to New Zealand’s economic and environmental needs.

The four year programme, announced by Minister Steven Joyce on Wednesday, aims to encourage the world’s leading researchers to bring their teams to work in New Zealand.

“This programme will help New Zealand keep up with the scientific developments already going on around the globe. . . 

Feds congratulates government on ambitious pest eradication project:

Federated Farmers fully backs the target to completely eradicate introduced predators from New Zealand by 2050 announced by the government today and agrees with the government that emerging technologies is now making such an ambitious target possible.

This project is going to require a team effort from scientists, farmers, government, politicians and rural communities.

“Our farmers live and work in our natural environment every day and in that sense are stewards of a significant part of New Zealand’s land, says Federated Farmers spokesperson for pest management Chris Allen.

“Farmers already spend a substantial amount of money on pest management. They also pay levies to OSPRI, to control vectors of tuberculosis, such as stoats and possums. . . 

Beekeepers stung by swarm of hive thefts –  Wilhelmina Shrimpton:

Beekeepers are seeking an urgent meeting with police as an increasing number of sticky-fingered thieves make off with beehives across the country.

The most recent incident was in Northland, where around $500,000-worth of hives were stolen from Topuni Forest more than a week ago. 

Some call the honey liquid gold – and for very good reason.

“If you’re getting high-grade manuka honey, the beekeepers can expect to get about $60 a kilogram,” Apiculture New Zealand’s Daniel Paul said. . . 

Profit warning makes Silver Fern Farms’ deal more critical – Allan Barber:

Last week’s profit warning from SFF chairman Rob Hewitt confirmed what industry observers suspected – this season has been affected by a combination of factors which has made achievement of the budgeted profit more remote than ever. At the half year Hewett had already warned the year end result would be materially different from budget without specifying numbers. The latest warning indicates break even at best.

The current season has suffered from reduced livestock volumes, regular rain and grass growth in most parts of the country which even out supply patterns, and an obstinately strong NZ dollar. Processors have been squeezed at both ends, paying too much for livestock and not earning enough from the market. . .

Nervous times at Silver Fern Farms – Keith Woodford:

Silver Fern Farms announced last week to its farmer suppliers that it now expects no more than a breakeven return for the year ending 30 September 2016.  This should focus the minds of its farmer shareholders, who vote on 12 August as to whether or not Silver Fern Farms should proceed with the partial takeover by Shanghai Maling. 

The disappointing projected financial outcome – which could yet get worse – reinforces the notion that Silver Fern Farms lacks the necessary financial resilience to go it alone. There is increasing risk that without completion of the Shanghai Maling buy-in, that Silver Fern Farms will lose the support of its bankers and be placed in receivership. That is not an attractive option, for what has in recent years been New Zealand’s largest meat processor. . . 

UK milk production drops 10% in a year – Alexa Cook:

Many British dairy farmers are getting out of the industry due to plummeting milk prices and production, says a UK dairy analyst.

Farmers are being paid from 10 to 30 pence a litre at a time when most farms need 25 to 30 pence a litre to meet the cost of production.

The UK’s Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) – the British equivalent of DairyNZ – has reported more than 1000 farms have closed since June 2013, leaving about 9500 in operation.

The board’s senior dairy analyst Luke Crossman said milk production had fallen off sharply. . . 

Pea growers work with MPI to rid Wairarapa of weevil pest:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), and local pea growers, are planning urgent action to eradicate a small Wairarapa population of a newly discovered weevil that damages pea crops.

The pea weevil (Bruchus pisorum) has been found in pea seeds grown on 8 different Wairarapa properties. It has also been found in 3 seed storage facilities in the region.

The weevil larvae feed on growing pea pods, damaging crops. Its discovery in the Wairarapa has long-term implications for pea production in New Zealand and the pea growing industry is strongly supportive of moves to attempt to get rid of it. . . 

NZDF-Led Projects Boost Drought Resilience of Tongan Communities:

Community projects undertaken by a multi-national task group led by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) are expected to reduce the vulnerability of remote communities to the impact of drought, Tongan officlals say.

The projects, designed to improve water storage in two main islands in Tonga’s Ha’apai island group, were undertaken as part of Exercise Tropic Twilight 2016 and have been formally handed over today to the Tongan Government.

“Tropic Twilight conducted a vast range of activities that will directly improve the resilience of communities in Ha’apai in addressing some water security issues and safety equipment shortages. It was also an opportune time to collaborate with partners to address health issues,” said Tongan Deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni. . . 

Punakaiki Fund Invests in Agtract:

Taranaki rural job management software Agtract has closed a funding round with high-growth investorPunakaiki Fund.

The Agtract software drastically reduces the time it takes for rural contractors to do management tasks and create invoices, saving them up to a week’s work each month.

“Agtract does the administrative grunt work so rural contractors can do what they do best: helping farmers,” says CEO Chris West, who co-founded Agtract with his brother James after feeling the pain first hand of having to do admin work for a rural contractor.

“I was an employee of a contractor in Taranaki and had to fill in job sheet after job sheet. So much of what I did was repetitive, and even more of what the contractor did could’ve been automated. I created an early software solution, saw that it saved time and money, and realised I was onto a winner. Agtract is the result.” . . .


Rural round-up

July 25, 2016

Future grim if deal off – Neal Wallace and Alan Williams:

A grim economic future has been painted by Silver Fern Farms directors should the meat company not complete its merger with Shanghai Maling.  

In notice of meeting documentation being sent to shareholders, chairman Rob Hewett said banks twice last year warned the co-operative they would not “under any circumstances” provide ongoing finance unless shareholders approved a new injection of capital.

Hewett said in an interview that nothing had changed since those warnings were issued in May and June last year. . . 

Market-ready lamb set for China:

Alliance Group has launched a new range of market-ready retail packs to China.

The co-branded lamb products will begin being sold in China’s retail and food service sectors next month in conjunction with the co-op’s in-market partner Grand Farm.

The initial focus of the programme will be on the upper end of the Chinese market with five regions, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Harbin, being targeted. . .

Turning effluent into electricity – Allison Beckham:

Southland cows are good at producing milk, and now it has been proven they are also good at producing another useful staple – electricity.

After two years of planning and design, a pilot plant producing electricity from dairy effluent methane is about to be commissioned on a Southland dairy farm.

The system is expected to generate about 50kW of electricity annually, enough to power about 75% of the farm’s electricity needs and equivalent to the requirements of about 10 urban households. . . 

Minister clarifies China trade issue:

Trade Minister Todd McClay has today reiterated that the Government has sought and received assurances from the Chinese Government that any competition issues would not impact on trade between the two countries.

Mr McClay is responding to reports that retaliatory action could be imposed if an investigation is launched into allegations of steel dumping.

“On my return from Indonesia I asked my office for a full review of the broader issues around this matter.

“I want to make it clear today that there have been discussions and limited correspondence over the past few months as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has endeavoured to assess the veracity of these reports. . . 

New PGP harvest technology targets safety:

New forest harvesting technology revealed today in Nelson sets its sights on further increasing safety in steep land harvesting operations, Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew says.

The new ‘tele-operation’ technology provides out-of-harm’s way operation of a purpose-built tracked feller-buncher forest harvester, from the safety of a separate operator cabin and console.

The breakthrough is part of Steepland Harvesting, a 6-year, $6 million Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and a consortium of forestry companies and contractors, led by Future Forests Research Ltd (FFR). . . 

New Zealand’s Largest Organic Apple Grower Plants Big in New Varieties:

New Zealand’s largest organic apple grower, Bostock New Zealand has been making the most of the sunny Hawke’s Bay weather, busily planting about 4000 new apple trees each day.

The company has been pulling out it’s old apple varieties and planting new trees to keep up with the international demand for organic, GM Free fruit.

Bostock New Zealand Organic Orchards Manager Craig Treneman says it’s exciting to be planting new varieties, which are sweeter and higher colour and appeal to the growing Asia market.

“We have some new orchard developments in Twyford, where we are planting about 4000 new tree varieties a day. . . 


Rural round-up

July 20, 2016

Improved vintage augurs well – Simon Hartley:

A near 35% increase in the countrywide 2016 grape harvest could buoy the wine industry’s exports to the tune of $1.7 billion by the end of next year.

However, the sector also faces some headwinds, including a high cost of production and seemingly constant volatility in foreign exchange rates.

Central Otago appears to be holding its own after an improved 2016 harvest, with quality from the larger harvest already showing positive signs.

Demand for New Zealand wine was continuing to grow in the key markets of the US, UK and Australia, global accountancy firm Crowe Horwath’s viticulture specialist, Alistair King, said. . . 

All sheep are not born equal – Steve Wyn-Harris:

Some people reckon all sheep look just the same.

But not me nor all the other people at the Beef + Lamb NZ Sheep Industry Awards in Masterton a couple of weeks ago.

We look at them and think “There is a specific individual who has some qualities its mates lack and I really like the cut of its jib”.

The awards celebrate high-performing sheep farmers and leadership in the sheep industry. . .

North Canterbury dam project targets investment partners – Chris Hutching:

The $180 million Hurunui irrigation scheme is seeking money from investors and construction companies for its planned dam in North Canterbury.

But before Hurunui Water Project can issue a prospectus it must raise about $900,000 in loans from its current shareholders to fund the offer.

If successful in raising the $900,000 it will be eligible for a $3.3m loan from the Government’s Irrigation Accelerator Fund.  . . 

School students explore agriculture and horticulture opportunities at Massey University – Jill Galloway:

Curious secondary school students have a better idea if studying in agriculture and horticulture is for them after an experience day at Massey University.  Jill Galloway was there to observe them.

An experience day at Massey University is, in essence, about attracting students and getting bums on seats.

Visiting senior high school students in Year 12 and 13, with a sprinkling in Year 11, could be the university’s next studying intake for agriculture and horticulture lecture rooms. . . 

Rangeland income reliability lifts with carbon cash – Andrew Marshall:

Understocking does not normally help a livestock producer’s bottom line, but increasing numbers of pastoral landholders are getting paid to reduce their carrying capacity.

Strategic understocking and vegetation management has enabled these producers to tap into a decade-long income stream which even pays up in tough drought years.

They are cashing in on a national carbon farming program paying landholders who sign up to a vegetation management schedule which encourages woodland regrowth to sequester carbon on their land. . . 

Life, legacy and living well – Briar Hale:

For someone who doesn’t get out much, George of Motueka sure knows how to live well. He never pops out to the supermarket and hasn’t been to the doctors in living memory, so you could be forgiven for thinking George’s life is somewhat constrained. But au contraire; George finds his wellness by working the land and enjoying the pleasures of home. At 89, George still works a full day on his farm, doing an impressive four-hour stint either side of his midday siesta. Health and vitality, as well as joy in his labours, make his old age a beautiful balance of keeping busy and slowing down.  . . 

Computer Protection Software, made in: the world.

A global software enterprise run from a rural NZ lifestyle block. A look behind the scenes.

At Emsisoft, there is no corner office with a view, no central headquarters that I could wander through unseen. Only a blue and grey logo, existing only online, with an untold story behind it. The lack of office makes Christian Mairoll a hard man to interview, yet, here I am with an appointment, winding up a back road through the heights of a valley, near Nelson, New Zealand. Population 5,321. I cannot see any of them, the road is deserted. Locals call this part of the country the Top of the South, I call it the beginning to nowhere. Not even a cafe at sight. The gravel pit road is cradled by mountains and tall pine trees. Christian Mairoll is the face of a company that – apparently – doesn’t have a company face. Given that Emsisoft was founded in Austria in 2003 and is now run from Christian Mairoll’s eco lifestyle block in rural New Zealand, there are many questions to be asked. If only I can find the house in the raising fog. . . 


Whole milk up 1.9%

July 20, 2016

The GlobalDairyTrade price index didn’t change in this morning’s auction.

GdT21.716

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But the price of whole milk increased 1.9%.

GDT21.7.16


Rural round-up

July 18, 2016

Market monopolies a bigger threat to agricultural markets than subsidies – Gerald Piddock:

Market monopolies and not subsidies are the biggest threat to economic sustainability in world agricultural markets, says an international expert.

Belgium-based AgriCord managing director Ignance Coussement said the existence of the monopolies made it difficult for smaller farmers around the world to compete against larger scale “industrialised’ farmers within a nation’s domestic market.

How smaller family farming enterprises competed against these larger scale farms in the market was a tricky issue, he said. . . 

John Key to push for Indonesia to lift beef trade restrictions for Kiwi exporters – Sam Sachdeva:

Prime Minister John Key hopes rising beef prices, as well as a global trade case, will encourage Indonesia to lift restrictions on Kiwi beef imports.

Key has promised to raise concerns with Indonesian president Joko Widodo when the pair meet in Jakarta on Tuesday evening (NZ time).

New Zealand has joined 14 other countries in taking action against Indonesia through the World Trade Organisation over its beef import restrictions and quotas. . . 

When computers became part of NZ farming:

Lincoln University’s role in making the computer one of the essential tools on the farm is told in a new book by Dr Peter Nuthall, an Honorary Associate Professor in Lincoln’s Department of Land Management and Systems.

‘Dare to compute. The early years in the development and uptake of farm computer systems’ is written about the Kellogg Farm Management Unit (KFMU) at Lincoln, which Dr Nuthall founded and was head of for all but two years of its existence, from 1980 to 1995.  

The unit was initially funded by the Kellogg Foundation in the United States, a philanthropic fund. KFMU aimed to develop computer software for farm and horticultural property managers, and train them in its use.  

Dr Nuthall says the history of the unit needs to be told as it played an important part in introducing computer technology and software to primary producers in New Zealand and Australia. . . 

Quarterly tractor sales buoyant despite dairy payout:

“New Zealand Tractor sales are relatively buoyant, despite the current dairy payout,” says NZ Tractor and Machinery Association President, Mark Hamilton-Manns.

The second quarter results of New Zealand tractor sales, compiled by the NZ Tractor and Machinery Association, show tractor sales declined slightly, by 8.5%, compared to the same quarter last year. Several segments saw an increase, however, including the consumer segment which grew by 15%, as more Kiwis bought smaller 20–60hp compact tractors for their lifestyle blocks, hire fleets and some commercial applications. . . 

Early Winter Sees Prices Ease:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were seven fewer farm sales (-1.5%) for the three months ended June 2016 than for the three months ended June 2015. Overall, there were 472 farm sales in the three months ended June 2016, compared to 489 farm sales for the three months ended May 2016 (-3.5%), and 479 farm sales for the three months ended June 2015. . . 

Manuka honey buzz boosts farmland prices Alexa Cook:

Demand for manuka honey has boosted the value of farmland, with many properties doubling price over the past couple of years, a real estate firm says.

The manuka honey industry has surged, with exports growing by 45 percent last year to $281 million. New Zealand is now the third largest exporter of honey by value.

Bayleys Real Estate rural agent Mark Monckton, who is based in Taranaki, said the growth was good news for some of his region’s more remote farming businesses. . . 

 Landmark merger a win-win for organic sector:

The organic community celebrated the landmark merger of two long-established charitable organisations yesterday. Members of the Soil & Health Association of NZ Inc and the New Zealand Biological Producers and Consumers Society Inc (BioGro Society) voted in favour of the proposal. This means that the Society will transfer its assets to Soil & Health, on winding up on 30 September.

The merger brings together the skills and resources of the two charities into one strong, unified organic sector body.

Soil & Health will become the proud new owner of BioGro NZ Ltd, New Zealand’s largest organic certification agency. This will empower Soil & Health to carry out its vital education and advocacy work for healthy soil, healthy food and healthy people. . . 

Synlait GM Accepts next international role:

Michael Stein, Synlait’s General Manager Quality and Regulatory, has accepted the role of Quality and Food Safety Director, Asia Pacific, with Danone Nutricia Early Life Nutrition.

“This is a great personal and professional opportunity for Michael and a clear milestone in his international career,” said John Penno, Synlait’s CEO and Managing Director.

Mr Penno was disappointed to learn Mr Stein will depart Synlait at the end of September 2016, but fully supports his decision. . . 


Cheese price at 8-year low

July 13, 2016

Food prices decreased 0.5% in the year to the end of June, influenced by lower grocery food prices  which were down 2.3%:

Compared with June 2015, cheese prices were down 9.5 percent, fresh milk was down 3.9 percent, and yoghurt was down 9.2 percent.

“The average price of a kilo of cheddar cheese was $7.68 in June 2016, down from $9.12 in June 2015. This was the lowest price since September 2007,” consumer prices manager Matt Haigh said.

Meat, poultry, and fish prices decreased 0.9 percent in the year. Lower prices for chicken (down 5.3 percent), processed meat (down 2.9 percent), and lamb (down 5.2 percent) were partly offset by higher prices for beef (up 4.3 percent).

Fruit and vegetable prices increased 2.0 percent over the year, with continued record high prices for avocados (up 146 percent), partly offset by lower prices for tomatoes (down 20 percent).

Restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food increased 1.6 percent in the year to June 2016. . . 

The low price of dairy products reflects the low price farmers are getting for milk.

When the milk price was high there were calls for farmers to subsidise consumers.

No-one is calling for consumers to subsidise farmers, and nor should they. But I hope everyone remembers this when, as sooner or later they will, dairy prices rise again.


GDT price index down .4%

July 6, 2016

Dairy prices are still in the doldrums with a .4% drop in GlobalDairyTrade’s price index this morning.

GDT6.7.16

gdt6716

It doesn’t help that the EU’s skim milk powder intervention scheme has been officially raised to a record 350,000 tonnes.

AgriHQ dairy analyst Susan Kilsby said the scheme takes the excess milk from the market and puts it into storage, which has a mixed effect on prices.

“In the short term it’s providing some stability in the market, and some support around skim milk powder levels.

“But what it does over the longer term is we’ve now got skim milk powder stocks built up in the EU to record levels so it’s going to take several years for those stocks to work through the market as it’s slowly released, and that will only happen once milk supply slows down and the markets rebalance.”

Ms Kilsby said this would prevent milk powder prices from rising quickly for quite some time.

“It certainly will keep prices for skim milk powder down while we sell more of our milk powder in the format of whole milk powder – there is a link between the two products because they can be substituted to a certain degree.

“It’s certainly going to hamper dairy commodity prices from lifting quickly even when the milk supply does slow down in Europe.” . . 

However, we were in Zambia with dairy farmers from Holland and Ireland lst month and they are no happier about milk prices than we are.


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