Rural round-up

January 28, 2018

Fonterra has to face up to debacle at Beingmate – Fran O’Sullivan:

Fonterra has run out of lip gloss to apply to its $774 million investment in Beingmate, which has smoked a huge amount of shareholders’ cash since CEO Theo Spierings formed a joint venture through the Chinese company’s charismatic founder three years ago.

Both Spierings and Fonterra chairman John Wilson will have some tough questions to answer when they finally front shareholders over the management of the joint venture – particularly, because of what I see as the clear failure at governance level in Beingmate.

That became alarmingly apparent this week when four directors including its vice-chairman (who is also the third largest shareholder), the chair of the company’s audit committee and Fonterra’s two director representatives, broke ranks and revealed that, in effect, they had no confidence in the integrity of the financial information which had been presented to them as the basis of projected losses of $171m-$214m for the December 2017 financial year. . . 

One billion trees of embarrassment

In October 2017 Shane Jones’ distinctive Shakespearean voice could be heard booming throughout the land as he crowed triumphantly about his 1 billion trees in the Billion Trees Planting Programme. Less than three months later, not a single tree has been planted and the government is on track to come up 90% short of their target of doubling the rate of planting over 10 years.

The issue isn’t so much that there isn’t enough land available for Forestry Minister Shane Jones to plant these trees on. Rather it’s that neither New Zealand First or Labour bothered to ask the public service during the coalition negotiation process whether it was in fact possible.

The “Billion Trees Planting Programme” has been a bit of a disaster right from the get go. . . 

Fruit and vegetable supplies not wilting in summer heat – Gerard Hutching:

Supplies of fruit and vegetables are still plentiful in spite of, or perhaps because of the heat wave covering the country.

And milk quality has not been affected, unlike across the Tasman where Australian baristas are complaining it is not at its frothy best.

Fruit and vegetable growers running out of water are having problems because of the heat but otherwise it is “business as usual”, Horticulture New Zealand senior business manager John Seymour said. . . 

New boss sees huge opporutnities – Annette Scott:

Internationally recognised plant scientist Alison Stewart has been appointed as the new chief executive of the Foundation for Arable Research. She talked to Annette Scott about what attracted to her the key role in in the arable industry. 

When Dr Alison Stewart sat on the panel that did the external programme management review of the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) in 2016 she realised the huge opportunities for the future of the organisation.

Then, a year later, she saw the advertisement for a new chief executive. . . 

Honey sector growth unsustainable – Rachel Rose:

THERE’S lots of discussion about whether we have pushed past hard limits in the case of dairy farming, but have we gone past “peak bee”?

The Great Springvale Bee Standoff is back and elsewhere in today’s paper you’ll see more complaints about bees causing a nuisance in town.

There were 27 complaints made to Whanganui District Council last year about bees in the urban areas. WDC’s media release last month singled out urban hobbyists with a hive or two on the back lawn, as if the large numbers of commercial hives on the outskirts of the suburbs — particularly over winter — didn’t exist. . . 

New Zealand shearer has worked around the world – Jill Galloway:

Paul Rooney has shorn in Wales, Scotland and England, as well as Italy, the United States and Australia.

Now he has a farm and a family and prefers to limit his shearing to around Manawatū.

His travelling days are over, and he misses the travel and excitement, but not the hard work.

Rooney first went overseas in the New Zealand off-season of 1991 when he was 25. He worked in Britain and the change came as a bit of a shock. . . 


Rural round-up

January 19, 2018

Request to farmers as rivers dwindle – John Lewis:

Farmers across Otago are being asked to conserve water, with some rivers across the region dropping to their lowest levels on record.

Otago Regional Council data for October-December 2017 shows ”extremely dry” weather conditions in Central Otago and part of South Otago, and ”moderately dry” conditions for the rest of Otago.

ORC engineering, hazards and science director Gavin Palmer said some areas had particularly low rainfall and the present spell of dry weather, combined with little snow cap to augment river levels from snow melt last year, meant most Otago river levels were low compared to average levels for this time of the year. . . 

Cashmere ‘renaissance’ under way – Sally Rae:

Buoyed by the quality of cashmere produced by goats on their Clinton farm, David and Robyn Shaw believe the fibre offers an “amazing opportunity” for New Zealand farmers.

For the past 35 years, they have been working quietly behind the scenes to now be producing fibre they consider of equal quality to the best in the world.

Mr and Mrs Shaw, who have formed New Zealand Cashmere, recently announced a commercialisation programme with luxury lifestyle brand Untouched World and yarn manufacturer Woolyarns. . . 

New Far CEO well versed in industry – Sally Rae:

Alison Stewart has been appointed chief executive of the Foundation for Arable Research (Far).

Dr Stewart, who is general manager forest science at Scion, takes over in mid-March from founding chief executive Nick Pyke, who has led the organisation since 1995.

Last year, Mr Pyke signalled his intention to step down from the role, saying making the decision was not easy but the time was right.

Far is an applied research and information transfer organisation responsible primarily to arable growers. . . 

A2 to roll out US business to eastern seaboard -Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co plans to roll out its US business to nine states on the eastern seaboard, which it expects will expand its retail footprint by more than a third.

Auckland-based, Sydney-headquarter a2 is targeting 60 million Americans who account for about a fifth of milk consumption in the world’s biggest economy, adding New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine to the states it services in the US, it said in a statement. The milk marketer’s a2 branded milk has been accepted by a number of retailers in the region, which will this month expand its presence to about 5,000 retail stores across the US from the previous 3,600 stores. . . 

Fonterra helps farmers with green plans:

Environment Canterbury has confirmed that Fonterra’s farm environment plan template has met the requirements of the Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP).

The Fonterra template will make the process of designing a farming environmental plan (FEP) a lot easier, says Environment Canterbury chief executive Bill Bayfield.

FEPs are unique to a property and reflect the local climate and soils, the type of farming operation, and the goals and aspirations of the land user. . . 

Somatic cell to be added into cow Production Worth:

The equivalent of currency for cows will be updated in February to better reflect the industry’s focus on efficient, high quality milk production.

Production Worth, or PW, is an economic index calculated for all New Zealand dairy cows as an estimate of their lifetime production ability. It helps farmers identify the top performers in their herd, to decide which cow’s to keep, cull and assist in determining a value for buying or selling.

Four traits currently contribute to the PW calculation – milk volume, milk fat, protein and liveweight. A fifth trait will be added in February – somatic cell. . . 

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