Rural round-up

March 7, 2014

Why agribusiness is different – Keith Woodford:

There is a common perception within Business Schools that agribusiness should operate by the same principles as other businesses. The reality is somewhat different. Agribusiness plays by its own complex set of biophysical rules, and beats to its own drum.

There are at least six defining reasons why agribusiness is different from most other types of business. It is these differences which make agribusiness so complex, so fascinating, and at times so frustrating. It is these same differences that can also cause so-called business experts to struggle when they apply their textbook skills to agribusiness.

The six defining characteristics are long investment cycles, long production cycles, production volatility, food safety issues, the politics of food security and environmental implications. The specific ways that these characteristics play out vary from situation to situation. . .

Education for Agribusiness – Keith Woodford:

Last week I wrote about how agribusiness was fundamentally different to other forms of business. I described the defining characteristics as long investment cycles, long production cycles, production volatility, food safety issues, the politics of food security, and environmental impacts. The one I missed was perishability.

All of the above have implications for agribusiness education. Without an understanding of biology, agribusiness managers will blunder.

Of course agribusiness managers also have to understand the principles of economics, marketing, accounting, finance, and law. And then there is the challenge of bringing all of these together within an overall bio-physical system. . .

Kiwi gene tool offers big boost – Abby Brown:

Kiwi technology developed to find desirable sheep traits and now being used on Atlantic salmon could boost agricultural profits by $300 million every year.

It has potential for use on other farm animals, pastures, pests, trees and diseases and could be used for audit and traceability purposes.

Genomic tools created by AgResearch to test a sheep’s genetic worth and predict its future productive merit and meat quality are now being transferred to Atlantic salmon in Iceland in a project that could see them used in other animals, plants and organisms.

The Infinium chip’s technology has enabled researchers to profile a diverse range of traits in a sheep’s DNA and for the first time across a variety of breeds. . .

Employers must recruit on skills – Marie Taylor:

Fencepost Jobs website staff have refused to post advertisements for dairy farmers who want to employ only Filipino staff.

Employing people had a large legal responsibility that went with it and human rights legislation made it illegal to discriminate in employment, which started with advertising roles, DairyNZ people team leader Jane Muir said.

All New Zealand employers, including farmers, had to recruit on skills, Muir said.

“This should also give you the best person for the role.”

A Fencepost spokeswoman said while the site was the largest in the country for dairy workers, containing up to 500 advertisements for work wanted or offered at one time, the advertisements were not policed. . .

Advanced weaning approach boosts beef return:

IF YOU haven’t weaned your beef calves by the end of this month you could be compromising calf and overall farm performance, the experience of a leading Hawkes Bay station shows.

Rissington Station’s advanced weaning approach, honed over the past five years, is to wean calves at 150 days old instead of the traditional March or April date.

A minimum liveweight threshold of 160kg is applied but in practice calves are averaging 230kg at 150 days. . .

 

Dry message goes out:

DairyNZ is issuing summer dry messages to farmers and advising farmers to look after young stock.

DairyNZ’s Craig McBeth drove from Hamilton to Wellington last weekend and got a pretty good idea of the situation, he says.

The drought is severe in Waikato and he was amazed at how dry it was around Otaki in Horowhenua, he says. He knows it is equally dry in parts of Northland’s west. . . .


Rural round-up

February 17, 2014

Coach develops forestry safety vest:

A former rugby league coach has adapted a piece of sporting equipment for the forestry sector in an effort to save lives.

Graham Lowe has designed a GPS monitoring vest which can measure workers’ fatigue levels by gathering data on their heart beat and hydration levels, which he said is almost ready to be launched.

Last year set an unwelcome record for forestry incidents, with 10 deaths and more than 150 serious injuries. . .

From riches to dags – Tim Cronshaw:

More than anything, Christine Fernyhough will miss the sky when she closes the farm gate for the last time at Castle Hill Station.

The big, open skyline is the backdrop to craggy ridges descending down steep shingle screes to the station’s broad tussock country, limestone outcrops and productive pastures.

Live long enough at Castle Hill as Fernyhough has and the overhead vista takes centrestage. Its intensity at dusk and dawn is matched by the evening star show and during the day she never tires of its ever changing canvas.

It’s been nearly 10 years since she came to have a look at the South Island and fell in love with the sky. . .

‘Idiots’ back hunting illegally – Lard Harper:

A resident on a far-flung South Taranaki road says police are doing little to protect life and property from illegal hunters.

Tangahoe Valley Rd resident Jill Hardy says “little idiots” were still peppering farmland months after authorities said they would intervene.

But authorities say they are doing everything they can to navigate a difficult issue.

Hardy said her latest complaint, laid against a group shooting from a picnic table on to her land, had gone nowhere. . .

 

NZ milk volumes 4.2% higher for the season – Abby Brown:

New Zealand milk volumes are 4.2% higher for the season to January 31, 2014 the Fonterra Shareholders’ Council says.

The Global Dairy Trade (GDT) prices on February 4 are 40.5% higher than the last event on January 21.

It is up 50% over the same six month period last year.

The council said in its latest Global Dairy Update that milk collection across NZ for the eight months to January 31, 2014 reached 1120 million kg milksolids (MS).

This was 4.2% higher than the same period last year. 

“Rain through December and early January helped maintain milk production above last season’s level with the North Island 3.7% higher and the South Island 5.0% higher for the season to date,” the council said. . .

Wetlands provide many benefits – Julie Ross:

The area of our Kokoamo Farm near Duntroon in North Otago was a boggy, willow-infested corner at the bottom of the farm boundary, fed by a large catchment area and at the head of the spring-fed Kokoamu Stream.

We decided originally to enhance an unattractive part of the farm, while at the same time testing the filtering ability of a created wetland and providing a suitable pond for duck hunting.

Since then, the focus of our work on the wetland has changed and it is now primarily about improving water quality, reducing the environmental impact of intensive farming and providing a habitat for flora and fauna to thrive.

In 2008 we received a $5000 grant from Environment Canterbury but have funded most of the project ourselves. . .

 

Lack of social media training a barrier to farmers – Abby Brown:

Sophie Stanley says the biggest barrier to farmers and agribusinesses from using social media is a lack of training.

One of five New Zealanders awarded a Nuffield scholarship in 2013 Stanley has travelled the world to explore how the agriculture industry harnesses social media.

She said it is an issue the industry should invest in.

“If farmers are interested in networking and sharing industry knowledge Twitter has a wealth of information and a number of farmers domestically and globally that you can interact with,” she said. . .


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

January 11, 2014

Inquiry after routine spray ruins vines:

The head of a chemical manufacturing giant has launched an investigation after winegrowers had their vines virtually destroyed after a routine insecticide spray went horribly wrong.

North Canterbury winegrowers Brent Knight and Trevor Bunting claim that a common moth insecticide used on the vines in early December last year had been mislabelled by Dow AgroSciences.

They say their vines have been devastated by the compound, which was sprayed over their vineyards.

The managing director of Dow AgroSciences says the company is investigating, but has not admitted liability. Pete Dryden says it is working with the growers to establish what happened, but would make no further comment. . . .

Federated Farmers’ options for red meat reform:

Federated Farmers has publicly released its discussion paper on major options for reforming New Zealand’s $6 billion red meat export industry. 

“The OECD-FAO expects world meat exports to increase by 19 percent by 2022, so the need for reform has never been clearer,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“The OECD-FAO said last year that meat prices will remain high in real terms over the next decade.  This was due to changing market fundamentals of slower production growth and stronger demand and represents the opportunity we have.

“What New Zealanders need to understand is that red meat could be so much more.  If it was a schoolchild then it would be the C+ pupil. The one with massive potential but has issues with concentration and does not play well with others. . .

Why I’m not an ‘agvocate” – Modern Milkmaid:

Advocating for agriculture is a worthwhile goal, no doubt. But who knows what being an agvocate means? Other agvocates. Your typical non farmer thinks you just spelt advocate wrong. The label serves only to identify yourself to others in the industry, most often those who farm the same way you do.

Lately, I’ve become frustrated and disillusioned with where I see agvocacy heading, primarily on twitter. Calling consumers ignorant, stupid, uneducated, brain dead, or scientifically illiterate for not understanding the industry is common. For many farmers, it’s the only life they’ve known. It makes it easy to forget that not everyone lives and breathes agriculture and food issues on a daily basis! I’ve lived both sides, and remember how difficult it was to cut through all the “facts” and “evidence”. We’re experts in our own field, but do you know every facet of the oil or aviation or whatever industries?! . . .

Vice getting prepped to be president – Abby Brown:

Federated Farmers national president Bruce Wills, who will stand down in July, says it is normal for the vice president to take over as national president.

“Dr William Rolleston is working to replace me,” Wills said.

All the board members expressed confidence in Rolleston. . . .

 Calendar showcases women in agriculture – Jaclyn Pidwerbesky;

The Women in Ag calendar initiative was founded by three women proud to be members of the agriculture business community and even prouder to be Saskatchewan farmers.  Our mission is to raise awareness within the ag industry by showcasing smart and talented women of all ages, backgrounds and professions, and to contribute to a cause that advances the presence of agriculture in Saskatchewan.

Thus, the 2014 Women in Ag calendar was born.  Women from many different careers are involved in this project. The calendar has been designed to display and represent these women in their everyday work environment.  Our goal is to create a platform for women to promote each other, work together, and network. . .

South Island Farmer of the Year Winner’s Field day:

One of New Zealand’s most successful primary producers will share their ideas, learning and innovation at the Lincoln University Foundation’s South Island Farmer of the Year winner’s field day next month.

Peter Yealands, of Yealands Wine Group, won the prestigious title for the 2013 season and will host the field day at the Yealands Estate Winery near Seddon, Marlborough, on Thursday 13 February.

Lincoln University Foundation Chairman Ben Todhunter says the informative programme planned for the field day will have practical relevance for farmers and other producers across the primary industries. . .

The Best Farmers’ Market in Munster – John Daly:

According to a survey conducted by Bord Bia earlier in 2013, 68% of Irish people admitted buying local products to support the economy, even if they sometimes cost more. Many small food and drink producers began life at farmers’ markets, and the effect of such direct, weekly contact with the public has provided an important stepping stone to many a fledgling start-up.

Farmers’ markets allow producers to develop a loyal customer base in their community, gather valuable feedback and suggestions for new products, as well as a vital source of regular cashflow. Farmers’ markets have experienced substantial growth in recent years, from less than 100 in 2006 to well over double that number today. Recognising the importance of neighbourhood markets to the general economy as well as encouraging local enterprise, a voluntary Good Practice Standard for Farmers’ Markets was launched in 2009. . .


Rural round-up

December 12, 2013

Audacious goal on South Canterbury demo farm:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s demonstration farm programme is about testing new and exciting ideas within a real farm context. So, when Andrea and Warren Leslie from South Canterbury were invited to join the programme, they were challenged to share their ultimate on-farm goals during an initial workshop of demonstration farmers. Warren says he made the mistake of standing up first.

“I said ‘I want to lamb 200 per cent’ and people said that’s not such a big deal. Then I added ‘without any triplets or singles’.” That quietened them. He wasn’t finished. The cattle goal was more challenging again: “We breed Murray Greys and sell a lot of bulls into the dairy industry. Wouldn’t it be great if 75 per cent of our progeny were male? I’m just putting it out there, to get the discussion going.” . . .

Fonterra farmgate milk price mixed blessing:

Farmers will have split views on Fonterra Cooperative Group confirming the farmgate milk forecast at $8.30 per kilogram of milksolids (kg/MS). While they will be pleased with that confirmation they will be less pleased to see the dividend forecast being cut by two-thirds to ten cents per share.

“The dividend is a direct marker to the financial performance of Fonterra as a company,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“Farmers will be happy to see the milk price confirmed but since 85 percent of the dividend payout goes to farmer-shareholders, they will have mixed feelings since it’s a 22 cents per share haircut.

“But knowing what my farms have produced in the season to date, it’s no surprise to find that Fonterra has been pushed to process what our farms have produced. . . .

Synlait Milk flags faster growth in 2014 as Fonterra cuts guidance – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Synlait Milk, the milk processor which joined the NZX in July, says earnings will beat guidance next year on cheaper raw milk prices and growing demand for its products. That contrasts with Fonterra Cooperative Group, which today slashed its guidance in the face of a margin squeeze.

International demand is favouring Synlait’s milk powder and anhydrous milk fat products, while recent announcements mean the season’s milk price won’t be as high as expected, the company said in a statement. Because of that, Synlait said first-half and annual earnings will probably beat forecasts in 2014. It predicted profit of $19.6 million on sales of $524 million in its prospectus.

“We now expect the company will benefit from both earnings growth in our value added categories, a favourable product mix, and lower than expected milk prices,” chief executive John Penno said. “This is likely to mean Synlait’s earnings for the half and full FY14 will be ahead of forecast.” . . .

Showcasing the best – Rebecca Harper:

It’s show time here in Feilding.

Growing up, the Hawke’s Bay A&P Show was a huge part of our family life. We went to a small country school and they closed the school and gave us all the day off, because we all went to the show.

Dad used to enter lambs every year and there was usually a coloured certificate to take home for a prize on the hoof or the hook.

I rode my pony and competed in the horse events and my brothers and I were given money for the rides. . .

Kiwis take Aussie shield – Tim Fulton:

New Zealand has run away with Australia’s agricultural and pastoral show shield.

The FCAS Shield has been contested by Australian states since 2000, while NZ entered the fray five years ago.

FCAS is the Federated Council of Agricultural Societies, an equivalent of the Royal Agricultural Society in NZ.

First, second, and third placings in premier show competitions are combined to find the shield winner. . . .

Rural women up front and centre – Abby Brown:

Members of Rural Women’s Scott’s Ferry branch showed off their underwear at the Royal A&P show on December 6.

The Y fronts and boxers were decorated as part of their Y Front campaign which encouraged men to be up front about prostate cancer and get checked.

The underwear decorated one wall of the advocacy group’s booth.

Another wall was decorated with plaster cast breasts, as the group also encouraged women to get checked for breast cancer. . .


Rural round-up

December 10, 2013

Meat industry looks to tackle over-capacity:

The meat industry needs to keep looking for a solution to its processing over-capacity because it’s an issue that isn’t going to go away, the head of one of the country’s big four meat companies says.

ANZCO Foods has been exploring rationalisation options with the two big meat co-operatives, Silver Fern Farms and Alliance.

They have been focusing on solving the over-capacity issue, as having under-used processing plants erodes meat company profitability – a problem which is worsening due to the ongoing loss of sheep and beef production to dairy expansion.

The Government turned down a request for legislative backing to tackle over-capacity by introducing a tradeable processing rights system, because other companies were not supporting it. . .

More ‘foodies’ less producers

AUSTRALIA’S “foodie” culture might be booming but at the same time, there’s a growing shortfall of young people interested in producing our food.

That’s according to Dr Brian Jones, from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, who has helped design and will lecture in the university’s new Bachelor of Food and Agribusiness, starting in 2014.

“Exact figures on the employment shortfall are hard to calculate, but in agriculture alone, it has been shown that while there have been around 700 graduates per year Australia-wide in recent years, job advertisements suggest demand for approximately 4500 tertiary qualified graduates per annum,” Dr Jones said. . .

Wandering stock warnings:

THE NZ TRANSPORT Agency and Police are reminding rural property owners particularly in Canterbury to ensure their properties are adequately fenced to contain their livestock.

The reminder comes after a number of reports of wandering stock on state highway road reserve in Canterbury in recent weeks.

The Transport Agency’s highway manager Colin Knaggs says wandering stock poses a serious safety risk to all road users, not only on the state highway network but also local roads. . .

Five-stand shearing record bid – Abby Brown:

Today five shearers are taking on something that has been never attempted before – setting a five-stand, eight-hour lamb-shearing world record.

Odd-numbered stand sheds were uncommon, with most four or six stands, event organiser Emily Welch said.

The five shearers would aim to shear 2800-2900 sheep during the Cavalier Woolscourers record attempt, she said.

Sam Welch, Angus Moore, and Cole L’Huillier would aim to shear 600 or more sheep, while Richard Welch and Peter Totorewa would aim to shear 500-550.

The record attempt will take place at Cashmore Farms, between Clevedon and the Firth of Thames, near Auckland. . .

Prevention best protection for facial eczema risk:

While hot humid weather across the country has provided the perfect conditions for lush pasture cover this spring, farmers need to stay alert for an increased risk of facial eczema through summer.

Dairy and beef cattle, sheep, deer and goats are all susceptible to facial eczema which can damage the liver and cause inflammation of the bile ducts and an accumulation of certain compounds resulting in sensitivity to sunlight.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Animal Nutrition Product Manager, Jackie Aveling, says even before physical signs appear exposure to facial eczema can have a significant impact on animals particularly cows where it can result in an immediate drop in milk production. . .

PGW talks up farm sales:

LAND SALES should continue to rise through summer, says PGG Wrightson Real Estate.

After what it describes as an “auspicious spring”, PGW’s general manager real estate, Peter Newbold says farmers and their bankers are taking a lead from good weather and market outlooks.

“Climatic conditions this spring have been favourable over the whole country, setting up what should be an excellent growing season. Projected income for the agriculture sector also looks positive,” he notes. Newbold says some vendors have already capitalised on the competition for the limited number of farms for sale. . .


Rural round-up

November 24, 2013

Demand grows for halal meat exports – Julian Lee:

Halal meat is becoming one of New Zealand’s major exports, with the billion-dollar industry now feeding 75 countries.

But as production expands, questions are being raised about whether all New Zealand meat should become halal.

Today was the first-ever meeting in New Zealand of the Muslim World Forum, a growing global organisation which looks after Muslim interests worldwide.

But the meeting was dominated by talk about a silently booming industry. . .

Chinese ‘still wary of formula from NZ’ – Nigel Stirling:

Chinese parents scared by reports of potentially fatal contamination of infant formula from New Zealand didn’t get the later memo telling them it was safe, a Chinese formula company owner says.

Suguo Wu, the owner of NZ Goldmax Health, was in Dunedin earlier this month for a global food-safety conference and said the future of infant formula sales from NZ to China hinged on restoring its reputation quickly.

Wu said the initial reporting of Fonterra’s botulism scare cost his company dearly as consumers deserted NZ-sourced brands.

Official reassurances from Fonterra and the NZ Government were not reported as widely in China and consumers remained wary, he said. . . .

Quad bike roll bars debated on both sides of Tasman:

Quad bikes are a major killer on farms on both sides of the Tasman, and farm safety experts in both Australia and New Zealand are debating the need for roll bars to be fitted to all vehicles.

Earlier this month a New Zealand coroner Brant Shortland found five quad deaths could have been prevented if bikes had roll bars.

“I still think it’s an individual decision, my view is I think there is enough information that suggests that roll over bars will save life more than others,” he told the ABC.

New South Wales University’s Professor Raphael Grzebieta has done extensive research to inform people about the limitations of these types of vehicles. . .

Call to retrain quad trainers – Richard Rennie:

Retraining the trainers of quad-bike riders has been offered as a means to reduce death and injury to farmers on the machines.

Tauranga-based driving instructor John James was asked to address the coronial inquest into five quad bike deaths this year (Farmers Weekly, November 18).

“The coroner Brandt Shortland contacted me and asked me to present to his inquest after I had taken him for a ride on a quad,” James said. . .

Chris Hay wins young auctioneer title – Abby Brown:

Chris Hay has beaten out eight auctioneers to win the Young Auctioneer title.

Hay won the second annual Heartland Bank Young Auctioneers Competition held at the Canterbury A&P Show.

The New Zealand Farmers Livestock representative for Wanganui and Waverly put his 14 months of auctioneering experience to use in the mock auction, where he had to sell two live beasts on November 15. . .

UN International Year of Family Farming 2014 successfuly launched in New Zealand:

Representatives from around 40 family farming organisations and their associates gathered at Parliament today for a day-long Inaugural Forum to launch the UN International Year of Family Farming 2014. (The official UN launch at UN headquarters in New York was also on November 22.) . .


%d bloggers like this: