It’s red meat’s turn

July 22, 2014

The red meat sector has been lagging behind dairying for the best part of two decades but ANZ’s Privately Owned Business Barometer Survey says that’s about to change:

Over the past two decades red meat farmers have not enjoyed the same stellar gains as dairy farmers due to decreasing real prices, increasing costs, lack of reinvestment and an industry structure that did not encourage collaboration or economies of scale.

The ANZ survey of 779 farmers, including 374 red meat farmers and discussion groups found that most participants were planning investment in their farms to increase productivity and take advantage of rising global demand for protein.

“The survey found the sector was confident that conditions were right to regain some of the lost momentum and play a bigger role in the New Zealand economy,” said Graham Turley, Managing Director Commercial & Agri for ANZ Bank NZ.

“Farmers we spoke to had active strategies in place to take advantage of rising global demand for protein, and advances in agronomy and genetics to increase production.

“While structural issues within the industry remain unresolved, many farmers have an expectation that solutions are emerging that will lead to better integrated supply chains.”

Key findings of the ANZ Red Meat Sector Key Insights Report
65% of red meat farmers plan to increase production in next 3–5 years. Of these:
• 84% plan to invest in pasture
• 69% plan to invest in animal genetics
• 53% see benefit in getting expert help in improving farm productivity
• 63% say succession is about passing the farm to family or whanau
• 34% say the purchaser’s ability to finance is the key barrier to succession

Turley said it was likely the red-meat sector would see faster productivity gains than dairy.

“Already, many operations are achieving outstanding results way in excess of the averages.

“The top 20% of farmers are achieving productivity of around four times more than the average, irrespective of land class and location.

“They rightly have the confidence to reinvest profits to lift productivity and generate long-term wealth.”

Beef + Lamb NZ has been working with farmers to help them learn from the top operators who are doing significantly better than average.

On and off-farm research and improvements in farming practices have already led to significant improvements as this shows:

We’re producing 7% less lamb but from 46% fewer sheep which means there’s been a huge increase in productivity in the sector.

No-one should be celebrating the fall in milk prices but it might help sheep and beef farmers take a fresh look at their own sector and see opportunities for improvement.


Rural round-up

June 23, 2014

Leave TPP slowcoaches behind, New Zealand farmers urge

With Prime Minister John Key and President Barack Obama showing strong support for a comprehensive Trans Pacific Partnership, New Zealand farmers will support leaving countries behind that are not prepared to eliminate agricultural tariffs.

“The Trans Pacific Partnership was established to eliminate all tariffs and bring a new level of discipline to the use of non-tariff barriers,” says Bruce Wills, the National President of Federated Farmers of New Zealand.

“If we have a country that is not prepared to accept this reality, then they should not be allowed to slow down progress for all. . .

US milk exports affecting NZ farms – Tim Cronshaw:

Fonterra’s milk suppliers are wary of the ability of United States feedlot farmers to step up or slow down milk production faster than they can.

When grain is cheap and commodity prices are high, as was the case in the soon-to-finish 2013-14 season, this can be to the advantage of operators keeping cows in confined feedlots. As they ramp up milking, this has a bearing on world supplies and the prices Kiwi farmers receive.

Logic would say they will ease off as global commodity prices falter, but narrowing down their next move is complicated. . . .

The noblest of farmersBruce Wills:

The word nobility, to me at least, describes people who give of themselves without thought of personal advancement or enrichment.

As this will be one of my final columns as the President of Federated Farmers, I am in awe of the people who work incredibly hard for this organisation and farmers in general. To be fair, having a good team makes leadership easy and in our provinces and branches we are blessed with great people.  People who meet councillors and officers on plan changes one day, maybe Worksafe NZ the next and then may help to resolve a dispute among neighbours.  Being available 24/7, they work with the Rural Support Trusts when either we don’t have the right kind of weather or too much of it. 

Throughout it all, they still have their farm to run and their family to care for.

Our people do this because they are not just passionate about farming but they care for its future. They believe, as I do, that farmers and farming are a force for good in our country. While farming defines part of our national identity we are not immune from the odd ratbag.  In saying that, farmers are overwhelmingly honest, decent and generous folk who genuinely care. . . .

Techno Expo gets off to a flyer:

AN INAUGURAL Technology Expo run as part of Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Central Otago ‘Farming For Profit’ programme has been hailed a success by organisers.

The event, in Alexandra earlier this month, featured parallel presentations from a string of companies and organisations with products, services, and – in the case of Otago Regional Council – regulations, which are set to change the way we farm.

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the turnout,” BLNZ central South Island extension manager Aaron Meikle told Rural News. “Both seminars have been busy all day. I’d suggest there’s been well over a 100 people come through during the day.” . . .

Couple getting in the olive groove – Gerard Hutching:

There are several ways to harvest olives: laboriously beating the trees with sticks, using a hand rake, or using a mechanical rake.

But Helen Meehan, owner of olive grove Olivo in Martinborough, in the Wairarapa, prefers the relatively new method of mechanically shaking the tree until the olives drop into nets.

It’s all about saving time, she explains, even though about 20 per cent of the crop stays on the tree. . . .


Rural round-up

January 15, 2014

Ingredient for plastic has global potential – Cecile Meier:

It took more than 10 years for Ashburton-based LignoTech Developments to create a technology that turns organic waste material into an ingredient to make lightweight plastic, chief executive Garry Haskett explains.

This is interesting for makers of cars and trucks as they strive to produce lightweight vehicles to make them more energy-efficient, chairman John Rodwell says.

The raw material, corn residue, is worth 12 cents a pound as a stock food. After running through Lignotech’s process, it is worth more than 70c a pound.

With the corn-ethanol industry in the United States alone responsible for more than 40 million tonnes of bio-waste a year, the potential is huge, Rodwell says. . .

Ngai Tahu leads way in sustainable dairying – Howard Keene:

It’s fair to say that while Ngai Tahu has had an increasing influence in the South Island economy in recent times, its participation in the commercial agriculture boom has been minimal up to now.

However, that is changing as it converts its vast tracts of plantation forestry land in North Canterbury into dairy paddocks, which could eventually make it one of the biggest dairy farmers in the country. But more importantly it aims to be a leader in sustainable dairying.

In the 15 years or so since its $170 million Treaty of Waitangi settlement with the Crown, Ngai Tahu has successfully grown its asset base to around $1 billion, mainly through investment in property, fishing and tourism. . .

  Water storage vital in changing climate – James Houghton:

Now most of you will be back from a well rested break, having indulged yourselves silly and feeling a little guilty perhaps? Well just thought you might like to know, like most farmers, I have been kept busy as farming is a 365 day a year job. Thankfully, summer has been kind to us so far and the ever increasing drought has been kept at bay.

Looking to the year ahead, I am hoping we will see an improvement in people and organisations being accountable for their actions and learning from their mistakes. Last year, we saw some disappointing performances in the biosecurity area and animal welfare. We also seem to be struggling with the ever increasing reality that we need a reliable source of water to maintain a sustainable primary industry and our economic independence. When corporates make a mistake, they need to do what is right and not solely focus on the dollar.

My hope is that this year we learn from past experiences and make changes for the better. If we do not learn from them, how are we meant to protect ourselves from risk or make progress and develop ourselves? The climate and water debate paint this picture well, time and time again. . .

Increase in stock thefts over summer – Abby Brown:

Federated Farmers are warning that stock thefts increase over summer.

“There is normally a pre-Christmas binge and then it’s ongoing for the rest of summer,” their rural security spokeswoman Katie Milne said.

The warmer weather made it easier for thieves to get around farms, as they did not have to contend with winter rain and mud.

Christmas visitors often put pressure on family food supplies and so there would be a spike in the black market for meat.

She said there were commonsense ways for farmers to prevent themselves becoming a target of stock theft. . . .

Why farming brings out the best of us – Willy Leferink:

The great thing about the Christmas/New Year break has been the absence of phone calls.  I don’t know if my sharemilkers and farm managers have appreciated having the boss around a lot more than usual, but it’s been great to be among the girls.

I’m not being sexist or implying that I only employ women.  I am of course talking about my cows.  Given my team, cows included, have been going full tilt our ‘Christmas holidays’ will come mid-year at the end of this season.  Right now it’s pretty full on.

The absence of media calls has given me a chance to catch up on some programmes I recorded, like TV One’s NZ Story.  Several have stood out for me given the way farming has shaped their lives for the better. . . .


Rural round-up

November 30, 2013

Stressed rural families urged to get their men talking:

Families of farmers in Marlborough’s Awatere Valley are being urged to give the men on the farm the chance to talk.

The Top of the South Rural Support Trust says some rural males who live very close to the centre of August’s magnitude 6.6 earthquake at Lake Grassmere, are struggling to cope with the aftermath.

The trust says that it has observed serious signs of stress and depression.

Its field facilitator, Ian Blair, has this advice: “You got to get them into a relaxed attitude, and many times, the easiest way to do that is to sit round the table with a cup of tea. . .

Better management could cut farm emissions – study:

A study suggests greenhouse gas emissions and nitrogen leaching on farms can be signficantly reduced if farmers improve they way they manage their properties and use available technology.

The study the Motu Economic and Public Policy Research group used data from more than 260 farms to estimate the potential for reducing emissions and leaching.

Senior fellow Dr Suzi Kerr said the research found the best dairy farm operators are getting at least twice the milk production for each kilogram of nitrogen released. .  .

Paua battle almost over:

Last Wednesday, the Ministry for Primary Industries convened a meeting of over 15 key stakeholder representatives at Otakou Marae, Dunedin in an attempt to resolve the long-running battle over a proposal to open up closed populations of paua to commercial fishing.

Nine months after passionate New Zealanders first mobilised in their fight to protect one of the treasures of New Zealand’s south, the battle is finally drawing to a close.

This was the last of 3 meetings convened by MPI to uncover and report on further evidence and seek agreement from all parties about paua and paua diving in these four closed areas. . .

Emerging organic contaminants: A threat to New Zealand freshwaters? Sally Gaw:

Emerging organic contaminants are a burgeoning and extremely diverse class of contaminants that are not routinely monitored and that have the potential to have adverse ecological and human health effects. Emerging organic contaminants (EOCs) include both naturally occurring and synthetic chemicals.

Many of these contaminants may have been present in the environment for a long time but are only now have they become detectable due to advances in analytical chemistry. EOCs include active ingredients in personal care and domestic cleaning products, pesticides, plasticisers, pharmaceuticals, steroid hormones excreted by humans and animals, surfactants and veterinary medicines. Many EOCs are everyday chemicals in widespread use in consumer products. Much research is being devoted internationally to understanding the sources, environmental fate and adverse effects of EOCs. . .

Corbans wins Pure Elite Gold at Air New Zealand Wine Awards:

 Corbans has produced an outstanding result at this year’s prestigious Air New Zealand Wine Awards, with two of their Homestead range being awarded gold medals. 

Corbans Homestead Sauvignon Blanc 2012 won a ‘Pure Elite Gold’ at the Awards Gala in Queenstown over the weekend, one of only seven Sauvignon Blancs to receive the accolade.

The Sauvignon Blanc and Corbans Homestead Riesling 2012 had earlier won a ‘Pure Gold’ in their respective classes for their 100% sustainable wines. . .


Rural round-up

November 6, 2013

Fonterra 2.0 – Willy Leferink:

There has been more than a little soul searching by Fonterra’s Board. For all the bad press it gets slammed with locally, I can say from the World Dairy Summit in Japan that Fonterra is not just respected; it is admired by many and even feared by some across the world.

With its independent report on the non-botulism scare, Fonterra’s Board dropped a very big hint that things are going to be different going forward in deeds more than words. Given former act leader Rodney Hide admitted in print this year that “politicians leak all the time,” it must have come as a shock to the media that such a critical and sensitive report was kept tight right up until 2pm last Wednesday.

I didn’t have an advance copy just a general heads up so I raced to the internet at the same time as everybody else. There was no leak and nor was it timed to clash with some other event; Honesty 1 v. Spin Doctors 0. Even the media conference was webcast live for anyone to watch anywhere on earth. I don’t want to sound like a commercial here, but wait, there’s more. Critical parts of the report were translated into key languages so I guess Fonterra’s Board did not want there to be any ambiguity.

Yet the words of Jack Hodder, who chaired Fonterra’s independent board inquiry, sticks in my mind – the biggest thing that needs to change within Fonterra is cultural. . .

 Farmers urged to vote in historic meat co-op elections:

Given strong moves to restructure New Zealand’s red meat sector, Federated Farmers is describing the director elections for Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group as historic.

“If you want empowerment in your farming business then as shareholders you need to vote,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chairperson, newly returned from a World Farmers’ Organisation event in Zambia.

“Set against a backdrop of what could be up to three million fewer lambs and declining stock numbers, future generations of farmers will ask current shareholders how they voted. . . .

New sentencing options for polluters not needed, says minister:

The Government has rejected a suggestion that more flexible sentencing options for judges are needed to help the fight against agricultural polluters

In a speech to the Environmental Compliance Conference this week, Environment Court judge Craig Thompson says more imaginative sentencing options could lead to better outcomes for both the environment and farmers.

Judge Thompson suggests that judges should have the power to shut down the worst offenders altogether.

He says those farmers or farm companies place a huge burden on the enforcement and prosecution resources of councils that are unfortunate enough to have them as ratepayers. . .

Fonterra and Tatua paths might cross in Australian tangle:

Cross-ownership and joint ventures could see two New Zealand rivals working together depending on the outcome of wrangling for ownership of an Australian dairy company.

Dairy companies throughout the world often own a stake in competitors or operate joint ventures, an Australian analyst Jon Hauser of XCheque says.

“There’s a whole range of commercial joint ventures and ownership structures between private companies and private companies, and private companies and co-operatives,” Hauser said. . .

Fleeced: 160 sheep stolen from field near village of Wool – Adam Withnall:

Dorset police are appealing for witnesses after 160 sheep were stolen from a field near the village of Wool.

The rustlers are thought to have had to use a large lorry to move the animals, which were all marked and electronically tagged.

Police said the incident took place between 8am on Saturday 2 November and 2.30pm on Monday, at the field which lies next to the A352 between Wool and the nearby village of East Stoke. . .

 

Gigatown competiton could benefit a rural town:

Farmers see the benefits for their rural town if it were to win Chorus’s year-long competition to bring the fastest broadband speed to one New Zealand town

FWPlus followers tweeted that it could have both indirect and direct benefits for farmers.

“Fantastic urban internet will help rural communities indirectly by helping their towns thrive,” @AaronJMeikle tweeted

The one-gigabit per second broadband speeds – up to 100 times faster than most cities around the globe – would act as a magnet and attract businesses to relocate to that town, he tweeted.

Another direct benefit, he tweeted, was that it would provide services that fitted farmers’ time constraints.

This is why I’m supporting #gigatownoamaru


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