Rural round-up

July 30, 2013

HNZ praises biosecurity improvements – Dan Satherley:

More than 400 fruit and vegetable growers will meet in Wellington today at the annual Horticulture New Zealand conference.

Government industry agreements, biosecurity and food safety in the industry will all be discussed over the next two days, and industry newcomers will battle it out for the title of Young Grower of the Year.

The industry is worth $5 billion to the economy and employs more than 150,000 people, so Horticulture New Zealand president Andrew Fenton says it’s essential that recent improvements to biosecurity are maintained.

“We have a lot more activity with more frontline border security people; we have a lot more focus on electronic and technical surveillance; we have a lot more focus on the dog patrols, which we in fact will be having at the conference today to show growers what is being done,” he says.

“I have to commend MPI for their commitment to increase biosecurity, but we never, never need to relax on it.” . . .

Attitude is everything in sharemilking – Richard Jones:

It has never been easy to achieve farm ownership.

The sharemilking system was established to enable young Kiwis to build up equity to progress through to farm ownership. Sharemilkers gradually build cow numbers, either by raising calves or buying cows, becoming what is known as a herd-owning sharemilker (HOSM). They would then sell some for the deposit on a farm and stock it with the remaining cows.

However, with the rapid increase in farm sizes and the price of land escalating, taking the leap up the progression ladder from contract milker and variable order sharemilker to a HOSM is becoming increasingly difficult.

As a result, sharemilkers need to stay sharemilking longer to build equity, slowing their progression to farm ownership. This holdup also affects farm owners wanting to exit the industry, as fewer sharemilkers have enough equity to pay a decent price for a farm. The only option available for these farm owners may be the faceless multi-national corporate, not the experienced, hands-on sharemilker. . .

Exports grow better when working as a pair

Newly formed avocado exporter Avoco has raised its forecast for this season’s earnings in Australia. It now expects to hit the $50 million mark by the end of the harvest, which starts late next month.

Avoco director Alistair Young says the latest analysis of the potential harvest suggests an above-average yield.

Formed last month by New Zealand’s two largest avocado exporters, Avoco represents about 75 per cent of New Zealand growers and holds a similar-sized chunk of sales in the Australian market.

“We were forecasting retail and wholesale sales in Australia of about $40 million when we launched Avoco. . .

What is the Meat Industry Excellence Group? – David Burt:

The Federation is keenly aware that if structural change, of whatever form, is to be successful, behavioural issues must also be resolved.

The Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group was set up to address farmers’ frustration about the parlous state of the red meat sector, particularly the sheep industry.

Established in March, MIE has held a number of meetings seeking a mandate from farmers to work with the meat companies to develop an industry consolidation plan. The group’s executive is chaired by Richard Young.

The group is currently working towards areas such as developing potential new industry models, which would then be considered by stakeholders for possible adoption. . .

Agri-buisness network aims to help economy:

An East Coast farmer says the Gisborne economy is likely to profit from the establishment of a new local Maori agribusiness network.

Te Tairawhiti Maori Agribusiness group was set up recently as a result of a hui for Maori farmers from the East Cape to northern Hawke’s Bay.

The hui discussed the idea of working together and developing and branding products for several niche market opportunities.

Rongowhakaata farmer Stan Pardoe says the network will bring in more profit for the Gisborne region and help to market the area internationally. . .


Rural round-up

July 16, 2013

Suicide fears spark action:

Federated Farmers is worried the stress caused by drought, snow, flooding and continuing poor returns will push more farmers to the brink of suicide and it is working to help those in contact with farmers to recognise the danger signs.

“You’d have to say the 2012 to 2013 season is certainly not one we’re all going to rush out and remember for the good things that happened,” said Federated Farmers health and safety spokeswoman Jeanette Maxwell.

“We’ve had a drought, we’ve had snow, we’ve had gale force winds, we’ve had terrible prices and it’s just one on one on one.

“People are going to manage to get through winter and spring but you know they’ll get through lambing and then they’re still waiting for feed to grow, and lamb numbers are down because scanning is definitely looking pretty average at the moment, and at the end of spring you’re exhausted, even in the good years. . .

Building equity through innovation – Diane Bishop:

The pathways to farm ownership in the sheep industry are not easy.

But, Wyndham farm manager Murray (Muzza) Kennedy is building equity through one of his innovative ideas – hand-rearing triplet lambs.

It might not be everyone’s idea of fun but his wife Marcia, and their three young children, are more than happy to feed the troops, which last spring numbered around 150.

Murray, 35, and his team farm 11,000 Texel-Romney ewes, 3250 replacement hoggets, 300 Hereford-Angus cows and 60 replacement heifers on Jedburgh Station. . .

Fierce rivals’ joint venture boost exports 20%:

TWO FORMERLY fierce rivals in avocado exporting say their successful collaboration could signal the way forward for other export industries.

The forecast for Australia earnings this season have jumped 20%, from $40m to $50m, for the newly formed avocado exporter Avoco.

Now representing about 75% of New Zealand avocado growers, Avoco is a collaborative venture after decades of “fierce rivalry yet mutual respect” between New Zealand’s two biggest avocado export companies, says an Avoco director Alistair Young. . .

University farm among region’s best performers – Tim Cronshaw:

Out of five top dairy farms the Lincoln University Dairy Farm came third in profitability during the 2012-13 season.

A profitability margin of more than $4600 a hectare was described as a solid result by managers of the commercial demonstration farm at a focus day attended yesterday by farmers.

The 160-hectare farm at the university campus, run by the South Island Dairying Development Centre (SIDDC) and milking 630 cows at peak milking, measures its performance against four top privately run Canterbury operations. . .

Disease top concern for rearers:

DISEASE PREVENTION is the number one priority for calf rearers, judging by a show of hands of delegates during a workshop session at last week’s South Island Dairy Event.

It topped a long list of issues put forward for calf rearing guru Bas Schouten to tackle, most of which he answered in a whirlwind session during the three day event.

Schouten stressed “it all starts with colostrum.” Calves need 10% of their bodyweight in colostrum, so a 40kg calf needs 4kg. Studies have shown 80% of calves learn to suckle in their first six hours and if they haven’t done it by then, they won’t, so why leave them in the paddock any longer, he asked delegates. . .

NZ Winery Secures Multi-Million Dollar China Export Deal:

New Zealand winery Allan Scott Family Winemakers has secured a significant wine export deal with more than 200,000 bottles of wine to be shipped to China in the first year alone.

The wine is destined for high-end restaurants and premium hotel chains throughout the country.

Company Managing Director, Allan Scott, says the export agreement is a major coup for the winery which has been able to capitalise on the burgeoning interest in white wines in China. . .

Old truck centre-stage in NZ children’s book – Tim Cronshaw:

An old farm truck that lay rusting in a shed and survived fire and floods, is capturing the imagination of children in a book by Canterbury author Jennifer Somervell.

Somervell, and her sister Margery Fern who is the illustrator of the book, Old Truck, grew up with the 1921 Model 10 Republic on a family farm near Takapau in central Hawke’s Bay.

The story is based on their childhood memories of farm workers struggling with the old truck at the 50-hectare family farm. . .


Rural round-up

July 3, 2013

Bacteria detector set to scale up for food industry – Peter Kerr at sticK:

I’m always a bit of a sucker for innovations and improvements that add value to our biological industries.

After all, as a country we’d be fools not to play to our major strength in producing food and fibre.

An innovation’s appeal is also greatly increased when it solves a problem – and in this particular case it is instantly identifying the presence of bacteria in food products.

It’s one reason I’m keen on seeing Veritide’s real-time, non-contact bacterial scanner gain more traction. (Note: Veritide’s in the process of updating its website following its pivot to concentrate on the food industry). . .

Synlait well structured for a successful future – Allan Barber:

Synlait Milk’s $120 million capital raising will enable the company to restructure debt and invest in several new initiatives, including a lactoferrin plant, a third dryer, a butter plant, testing laboratory and dry store. The share offer is made up of $75 million of new capital and $45 million sell down by some of the exiting shareholders.

All the signs point to this capital raising being a success, unlike the attempt to raise $150 million in 2009 which was shunned by New Zealand investors. . .

Fonterra to Invest $27 Million in New Dry Store at Te Rapa:

Fonterra has announced a $27 million investment in a dry store distribution centre at its Te Rapa site that will strengthen its Waikato operations and allow the Co-operative to deliver product more efficiently to its customers.

Fonterra’s Director Logistics Network, Mark Leslie, says the dry store will provide the Co-operative annual benefits of nearly $5m through reduced operating costs.

“Our seasonal production means that we store product until we receive orders. The new dry store will enable us to store product at the site of manufacture right through the peak of the season and to more efficiently manage the flow of goods through to our customers by better utilising the rail infrastructure out of our Crawford St distribution centre,” says Mr Leslie. . .

Reassessment of organophosphates and carbamates:

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is being congratulated by Federated Farmers for the difficult decisions it has made around the use of organophosphates and carbamates (OPC’s).

 “Extending the use of Diazinon through to 2028 was the right thing to do because farmers have little or no alternatives at this time,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President.

 “Home gardeners and farmers both know that diazinon is the most effective agrichemical we currently have to treat grass grub and porina. An issue may arise if by the end of the next 15-years we fail to have approved replacements in the toolbox. . .

New Crown Irrigation Chair welcomes opportunity:

The chair of the newly appointed Crown Irrigation Investments board, Alison Paterson, is welcoming the opportunity to help develop large-scale irrigation infrastructure.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has this morning announced the establishment of the new company and the appointment of all members of the Establishment Board to the board of the new company. . . .

Crown irrigation investment company needs to act:

IrrigationNZ has congratulated the Government on the establishment of the new Crown company ‘Irrigation Investments Ltd’ – but signals action is needed quickly before opportunities are lost.

The $80million investment company was announced this week as a “bridging investor” to help irrigation projects that may not otherwise get off the ground. . .

OSPRI New Zealand looking to add value to the primary sector:

This week sees a new arrival in the primary sector with the launch of OSPRI New Zealand.

Formed on 1 July, following the merger of the Animal Health Board and NAIT, the national animal identification and tracing scheme, OSPRI has been set up to bring together existing expertise and, as its name implies, to provide creative operational solutions.

“We are excited by the prospect of developing some creative operational solutions for the sector,” said OSPRI Chief Executive William McCook. . .

New President for Veterinary Association:

 Dr Steve Merchant is the new President of the New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA). His first official public engagement is welcoming delegates at the opening plenary of the NZVA’s annual conference in Palmerston North this week (3 and 4 July).

He is a founding director of the Pet Doctors Group. Established in 2005, this is an expanding network of clinics made up of like-minded veterinarians who share resources and take a team-based approach to animal care. . .

New Avocado Exporter Lifts Earnings Forecast

Newly formed avocado exporter AVOCO has raised its forecast for this season’s earnings in Australia and now expects to hit the $50 million mark by the end of the harvest, which starts in late August.

Alistair Young, a director of AVOCO, says latest analysis of the potential harvest suggests there will be a better yield than usual, without it being a brilliant harvest. Formed recently by the two largest avocado exporters, AVOCO represents about 75% of all the growers in New Zealand and holds a similar-sized chunk of sales into the Australian market. . .

Praise Bee – industrious insects get the stamp of approval:

They’ve been celebrated in verse (by the likes of Emily Dickinson[1], William Blake[2] and Kahlil Gibran[3]) – in song (by the likes of Gloria Gaynor[4], Blake Shelton[5] and Owl City[6]) – and in popular culture (with spelling bees, ‘Buzzy Bees’ and Wellington’s own ‘Beehive’). But the humble bee stands poised to get a new tribute this week, with the release of a special set of postage stamps.

The Honey Bees stamp issue celebrates the industrious insects on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the National Beekeepers’ Association of New Zealand.

Honey bees, which are of European origin, have played a key role in New Zealand horticulture for over 150 years – pollinating essential crops and producing up to 12,000 tonnes of honey per annum, with as much as half of that being exported. . .


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