Rural round-up

August 18, 2016

Trade access landscape increasingly crowded – Allan Barber:

At the same time as the TPP is struggling to get across the finish line before the next American President takes over early next year, there are several signs of access to the USA freeing up for some of New Zealand’s competitors.

The announcement of greatest significance concerns access for Brazilian beef after 17 years of negotiations which will be permitted to begin in September. Admittedly Brazilian plants must still gain accreditation before they can export to the USA and, when they do, their entitlement will be included in the ‘other country’ quota of 64,800 tonnes at the same preferential tariff of 4.4 cents per kilo as New Zealand for its 213,402 tonne quota. However, there is a possibility Brazil’s eagerness to export, combined with its weak currency, will encourage it to sell at the 26.4% general tariff rate. . . 

The pros and cons of PKE – Keith Woodford:

In recent weeks, PKE has been in the spotlight.  The key reason for this has been the decision by Landcorp to phase out its use on the Landcorp farms. This has brought back into focus Fonterra’s 2015 recommendation to farmers to only use 3kg per cow per day. It has also given a platform for various other groups to promote their own perspectives.

Amongst the environmental groups, there are two polar perspectives. Greenpeace says we should stop using all PKE. However, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says that palm oil production is OK as long as it sustainable, and certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). . . 

A farming mum who loves helping others – Kate Taylor:

Regular visitors to the Facebook site, Farming Mums NZ, will be familiar with an online blogger whose zest for life seems never-ending. Kate Taylor reports.

There’s an element of irony about the name of Chanelle O’Sullivan’s daily blog, Just a Farmer’s Wife, because it couldn’t be further from the truth.

She is, actually, a farmer’s wife, but is also a mother of two, qualified vet nurse, blogger, project manager, 2016 scholar on the Kellogg Rural Leadership Course, guest speaker, online business woman, long-distance runner and admin for several flourishing Facebook pages.

Chanelle lives at Waitohi in South Canterbury with husband Dave, who is working on a farm on Rockwood Rd. He grew up near Timaru and has a Diploma in Farm Management from Lincoln University. . . 

Silver Fern Farms shareholders vote conclusively in favour – Allan Barber:

The long awaited special meeting finally took place this afternoon with the company’s desired outcome. 80.4% of shareholders voting voted in favour of the Shanghai Maling deal, a small reduction from the 82% that voted in favour last October.

At today’s meeting in Dunedin, as soon as the result was announced, it appears John Shrimpton who led the requisition group shook SFF chairman Rob Hewitt’s hand and agreed that democracy had had its say and the campaign was over. . . 

Clear vision for red meat sector in sight at last – Allan Barber:

After many years of relatively low levels of expenditure on market development and promotion, the red meat industry faces a major challenge in deciding how best to create the desired image to appeal to the world’s affluent consumers. Currently expenditure is divided between generic promotion, funded by farmer levies, and brand advertising by the meat exporters, with a small amount of joint funding in some of the less mature markets.

Delegates at the recent Red Meat Sector Conference heard about the importance of telling a believable and emotionally compelling story built on the heritage and healthy attributes of New Zealand and its farming sector. But they were also challenged to make sure this story is constructed on credible building blocks of environmentally sustainable farm, animal welfare and processing practices. . . 

New primary sector groups to support climate change goals:

Two new reference groups will help support New Zealand’s climate change goals and reduce emissions from the livestock and forestry sectors, Primary Industries Ministers Nathan Guy and Jo Goodhew have announced today.

“As part of ratifying the Paris agreement on climate change, New Zealand has set a target of reducing our emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. The primary sector will need to be an important part of that,” says Mr Guy.

“The Biological Emissions Reference Group will bring together a wide range of agricultural, horticultural and farming stakeholders to collaborate with Government and build a solid evidence base. This will ensure we have the best possible range of information on what can be done right now to reduce biological greenhouse emissions. . . 

Glass half-full for dairy after price lift – Alexa Cook:

Dairy farmers could finally have break-even milk prices this season, AgriHQ dairy analyst Susan Kilsby says.

This season’s forecast of $4.25kg/ms is the third season of prices below $5.

Most farmers need about $5kg/ms to cover their costs, which is about $US3000 a tonne for whole milk powder, the industry’s main export.

In the overnight Global Dairy Trade auction prices lifted by 12.7 percent and whole-milk powder surged 18.9 percent to $US2695 a tonne. . . 

Countdown Egg Producer Programme for Free Range and Barn launches today – Supermarket assures farmers their investment in free range and barn eggs will pay off:

Countdown has today launched an Egg Producer Programme to support free range and barn egg farmers to increase the supply available for Countdown stores and our customers.

The Egg Producer Programme provides farmers an opportunity to increase investment in free range and barn egg capacity, as Countdown will make a commitment to take future supply through individual partnership agreements.

Currently, just 18 per cent of eggs produced in New Zealand are free range. Countdown wants to put in place plans with farmers, to increase the availability of the free range and barn eggs.  . . 

Bill to streamline Food Safety passes first reading:

Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew is welcoming the Food Safety Law Reform Bill having passed its first reading in Parliament last night, with unanimous support.

The Bill is the final step in implementing the Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Inquiry recommendations, in particular those which require legislative change.

“This Bill is an important part of putting the false Botulism scare behind us. It illustrates the Government’s commitment to ensuring the safety and suitability of food, which is vitally important for the health of consumers – both in New Zealand and overseas – and our international trade reputation,” says Mrs Goodhew. . . 

Retirement of Fonterra Director:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced that Mr John Waller ONZM will be retiring as an Independent Director on the Fonterra Board with effect from 31 August 2016.

Fonterra Chairman John Wilson said that Mr Waller is retiring to reduce his workload after serving on the Fonterra Board since 2009. He chaired Fonterra’s Fair Value Share Review Committee, the Trading Among Farmers Due Diligence Committee and the Milk Price Panel, and was a member of the Audit and Finance Committee and the Risk Committee.

“John has been an outstanding director of our Co-operative and has made an invaluable contribution by combining his strong personal values, drive and leadership with commercial common-sense. I am pleased that after such a significant contribution John is finding the time to rebalance his commitments so that he can spend more time with his family and pursue his other interests. . . 


Rural round-up

July 31, 2016

World trends that will influence future farming – Pita Alexander:

The oldest son in a farming family has returned home from a trip overseas after completing his degree at Lincoln University.

Before coming back to the farm and making a career of farming the son spent a year in Australia, North America and Europe. He wanted to obtain a picture of where farming might be heading during his tenure.

Among his many observations in a report he prepared for his family were the following:

– A formal licence to farm is looking like a certainty for New Zealand within the next 10 – 15 years and the banks may lend at lower interest rates with this certificate.

–  Killing farm animals before they are fully grown is getting some air time in some countries.

– Traceability from the farmer to the eating and buying consumer is already present, but is going to get more complicated and will hopefully bring more value to the farmer.

–  About 25-30 per cent of the world’s food production ends up being wasted and not eaten  – this will have to be improved upon well before 2050. . . 

ASB punts on Fonterra sticking with $4.25 milk price – Jamie Grey:

ASB Bank is punting on Fonterra leaving its 2016/7 farmgate milk price forecast unchanged at $4.25 a kg of milk solids when the co-operative releases a market update on Monday.

However the risks were “skewed” to a figure as low as $3.90/kg because of a consistently strong New Zealand dollar, ASB rural economist Nathan Penny said in a research note.

Penny said it was still early days in the season, which started on June 1, and that there was plenty of time for dairy prices to rise. . . 

More research is needed if farming is to progress – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Climate variability, farm gate prices for food and fibre, and increased concerns about the environment are combining to create unsustainable farm systems.

Alternatives need careful evaluation before decisions are made in an attempt to avoid unintended consequences.

The latter can be worse than the current state – Brexit, for example. 

Increased warm temperatures, drought, floods and long cold springs mean that farmers are adapting systems to cope. Use of supplementary feed has been part of the development of resilient farm businesses, but the urban perspective is that costs have increased without an increase in income. . . 

Resistance or resilience – which best characterises the red meat sector? – Allan Barber:

The Red Meat Sector Conference held in Auckland on Monday did not have one single theme, but a series of themes across the day, starting with the question ‘resistance or resilience?’ Past history suggests the answer might most logically be both rather than a choice between the two options.

In his introductory remarks MIA chairman John Loughlin said the volatile global situation contrasted with a relatively stable environment at home with a predictable meat industry, while Beef + Lamb chairman James Parsons highlighted the need to reduce on farm costs while achieving incremental gains across the supply chain. . . 

Queenstown tracks to get ratepayer funding:

Queenstown’s council has agreed to pay to maintain 11 walking and biking tracks being developed across two high country stations.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council yesterday agreed to pay $10,000 a year to maintain the existing and planned tracks, which will go across Glencoe and Coronet Stations.

The land is partially owned by the Crown under pastoral lease, and partially by Soho Properties, which has entered into an agreement with the Queen Elizabeth II Trust to protect the land. . . 

Better baits and better trapping – Kate Guthrie:

Peanut butter has long been used as a lure for rats. Possums have a fondness for the scent of cinnamon. But are they the all-time favourite foods of rats and possums? Researchers at Victoria University of Wellington used chew cards to check out what really tickles the tastebuds of two of our more common urban pest species. Home trappers might like to give these food lures a go too…

Many tests of trap lures are done with laboratory animals, but in this project the researchers compared food-based products on free-ranging, wild rats and possums. They assessed the chew card results for attractiveness and consumption and found that wild rats preferred cheese, milk chocolate, Nutella and walnut to the peanut butter standard. Possums statistically preferred apricot and almond to cinnamon. . . 

Farmers need to be bank ready:

With the dairy pay out remaining stubbornly low and equity positions becoming more precarious many farmers are seeing more of their bank manager, according to Crowe Horwath’s Head of Corporate Agribusiness, Hayden Dillon.

Dillon is quick to point out that this increased level of contact isn’t always a bad thing and proactive discussions between banker and farmer are an important step to take in dealing with the current financial pressures both parties are facing.

However, it can be intimidating for some and a recent Federated Farmers’ survey found that one in ten farmers were feeling an ‘undue’ level of pressure from their bank. . . 

#431AM top ten calving tips:

We asked our #431AM farming community how to get through #calving16.

Here are some of our farmers’ top tips for the calving season. Thanks to everyone who contributed!

We’d love to hear your #calving16 tips – hit us up on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using #431AM. 

 

  • Eat well, sleep well, know your body’s limits. Good communication amongst your team and don’t let things get to you. It’s farming, it’s life and things go wrong. It’s how you manage the situation that counts. Being negative will make time go so much slower, and above all think of our girls. We get days off during the season but they don’t, without our girls we are grass growers. Richard H
  • We have 3 meetings a day. We have a work safe meeting to work out what safety gear we will need before we’re out the door. Yesterday with snow on the ground it was too dangerous for workers to leave the house. You have to have more meetings. 1 a day is not enough. Ann-Maree G
  • Take time to get off farm, even for an hour. Keep in touch with others, especially when things are at their toughest. Chances are others are also feeling the burn. Sue M
  • Set a roster, keep the fridge stocked with food snacks, have morning meetings with coffee and snacks and last thing at night after milking. Ask what people want to discuss at tomorrow’s meeting and what was their highlights and/or best achievements for the day. Geoff M . . .

 

South Island Wool Bounces:

New Zealand Wool Services International LTDs CEO Mr John Dawson reports that despite a strengthening NZ dollar, the varied selection at this week’s South Island auction attracted strong support.

Of the 7700 bales on offer 85 percent sold.

The weighted currency indicator was up 2.06 percent compared to the previous week’s auction.

Mr Dawson advises that a selection ranging from 21 micron merinos to 42 micron coarse wools with a cross section of styles and lengths provided attractive options to buyers which overrode the possible negative impact of the stronger dollar compared to the similar South Island offering on 14 July. . . 

Fine wines of New Zealand revealed:

Six of the nation’s leading independent wine experts have come together to create “The Fine Wines of New Zealand” – a list of the country’s most prestigious wines.

A selection panel comprising Masters of Wine Alastair Maling, Michael Brajkovich, Sam Harrop, Simon Nash and Steve Smith along with Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas has agreed on the list for 2016 which includes 47 wines representing seven varietals.

This group of leading New Zealand wine experts met several times in late 2015 and in the first half of 2016 to define the criteria that had to be met for a wine to earn the prestigious Fine Wine of New Zealand status. One of the key criteria is consistency, with a wine having had to have been produced to an exceptional standard for a minimum of five consecutive years. . . 


Rural round-up

July 30, 2016

‘Massive’ Chinese stake in the south – Dene Mackenzie:

News of a $200 million milk plant to be built 5km north of Gore has been enthusiastically welcomed by Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks, who yesterday described the announcement as “massive”.

Mataura Valley Milk will have nearly 72% Chinese ownership. Construction of the new plant is planned to start on the site of the former McNab auction yards in October, with a planned commissioning date of August 2018.

Southland dairy farmers will hold 20% of the shares and be the suppliers to the new factory.

Much of the production will be infant milk powder bound for the Chinese market, although other markets will be developed. . . 

Westland Milk Products appoints new Chief Executive:

Westland Milk Products, New Zealand’s second biggest dairy co-operative, has announced the appointment of Toni Brendish as its new Chief Executive Officer.

Westland Chairman Matt O’Regan said today (28 July 2016) that Brendish has extensive leadership experience in the international food and dairy industries, most recently as Vice President of DKSH (Thailand), a large consumer goods distribution business based in Bangkok, where she currently resides.

“Toni’s familiarity with the manufacture, supply chain and sales and marketing of value-added dairy products, including paediatric and nutritional powders and UHT dairy products, will be of immense value to the company as we progress the development and execution of our growth strategy for these businesses,” O’Regan said. . . 

Processing on the horizon – Shannon Gillies:

Waitaki Orchards in Kurow is building a fruit processing plant to avoid a repeat of the loss of up to 50 tonnes of its apricot crop earlier this year because of rain.

The orchard lost most of the crop on nearly half of its 35,000 trees in January after two weeks of near-continuous rain.

The orchard’s smaller crop of nectarines was also badly hit, but other stone fruit, cherries and plums survived the rain. . . 

Upbeat conference attracts 200+ delegates – Allan Barber:

The delegates at the 2016 Red Meat Sector Conference were challenged and entertained by a stimulating range of guest speakers and New Zealand icons the Topp Twins.

Minister for Everything Stephen Joyce gave the welcome speech at the Sunday evening cocktail function and took the opportunity to compliment the industry on its great performance in offsetting the dairy downturn, while encouraging it to work hard on progressing PGP funded projects with 40% of the total already allocated to the red meat sector.

At the formal conference opening the next morning Minister for Food Safety Jo Goodhew made a strong plea for industry government collaboration to protect New Zealand’s food safety and biosecurity reputation. She reinforced her message with the reminder that the consumer is not just interested in product quality and food safety, but also in its provenance, sustainability and the animal welfare standards applied to its production. . . 

Sheep, beef farms must focus on costs – Hugh Stringleman:

Sheep and beef farmers need to focus on onfarm costs in the same way as dairy farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman James Parsons says.

The key focus for his organisation was to help farmers get the average onfarm cost structure down below $3 a kilogram of product, both meat and wool.

When opening the Red Meat Sector conference in Auckland, Parsons said everyone in the sector needed to tell their story better to get product value growth from export markets.

The Red Meat Sector Strategy aimed to increase export earnings from all products – meat, wool and co-products – from $8 billion to $12b. . .

Risk, reward in produce sector – Stepehn Bell:

Huge changes in the booming horticulture sector present export opportunities but also mean considerable risk is developing, Westpac industry economist David Norman says.

Risks included consolidating in fewer markets, growing debt, the potential for more non-tariff barriers and the risk of labour shortages, Norman said in Westpac’s Industry Insights into Horticulture.

The sector was small in terms of jobs with about 39,000 full-time equivalents but accounted for more than 7% of merchandise exports with earnings of $3.4 billion in the year to May. Its exports, accounting for 60% of production, had grown 140% this century compared to 94% for all exports. . .

When a farm kid goes to an animal rights conference… – Laura Bardot:

I grew up on a cattle farm in rural Missouri. I am a classic, stereotypical farm kid that was involved in the local 4-H and FFA. I raised cows, pigs, chickens, rabbits and ducks. I know how to drive a tractor and drove a truck in a field before I drove a car on the highway.

Bullying farmers and ranchers 

I became aware of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) from their pessimistic TV commercials trying to gain more donations by appealing to viewers’ emotions. I knew these animal rights organizations always said they were trying to help dogs and cats, but when they said they needed to “rescue” farm animals, that’s when I started to do research.

In August of 2014, Missouri residents voted on a “Right to Farm Bill”- ensuring Missouri farmers and ranchers are guaranteed the right to farm for forever in the state. I advocated heavily in favor of this bill, yet I met several people who were skeptical, and the majority of those people were misinformed on the bill by anti-agriculture groups. Therefore, I attained a dislike for these groups that felt the need to bully and pressure their way into getting what they think is best for animals – which often does not align with science. . . 

FMG's photo.


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 7, 2016

Need for young blood – Peter Burke:

The aging population in agriculture is working against New Zealand, says Lincoln University’s Jon Hickford.

Speaking to Rural News at the Careers in Agriculture hub at Fieldays, Hickford says this is a huge problem, compounded by NZ’s rapid urbanisation and disconnection from the agri sector.

The problem now is to find enough good young people to work in agriculture.

“The problem across the western world is that young people are entirely urbanised and don’t realise the job opportunities out there on the land. In the case of NZ, agri defines our existence as a country. . . 

Cheap food has high price:

A Lincoln University expert is warning of the cost of focusing on producing food cheaply.  

A report into European farming policy ‘Does the CAP still fit’, co-authored by Lincoln University Professor of Farm Management Alison Bailey, says there is overwhelming evidence at local, national and global levels that food systems need to change.  

The paper was for the Food Research Collaboration on the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) which provides support to Europe’s farmers. . . 

Feds support stance on GMOs by 107 world-leading scientists:

As more than 100 world-leading and award-winning scientists voice their support of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), Federated Farmers continues to endorse farmers’ rights to decide what technologies are used on their farms.

Federated Farmers’ spokesperson Katie Milne said it’s clear that the long-term stance opponents have against all GMO is well and truly outdated and lacks scientific scrutiny.

“Federated Farmers recognises GMOs can provide many positive benefits to farmers and it’s up to individual farmers to decide whether to use GMOs or not. We have a neutral stance on this.

“Through GMOs farmers could have cows without horns or have the ability to not breed calves, there are many positive animal welfare outcomes for the industry,” said Ms Milne. . . 

Feds unveil guide to local government excellence:

See full Federated Farmers Local Government Manifesto here.

A best-practice, practical and common-sense approach to governance has been unveiled by Federated Farmers at its national conference in Wellington today.

Federated Farmers’ Local Government spokesperson Katie Milne said this tri-annual guide promotes the latest thinking on how councils should be engaging with and providing services to farmers and other ratepayers.

“Farmers are some of the largest funders of local government and the sector most likely to be impacted by regulation developed and implemented by councils. “Farmers need level-headed councillors who prioritise real needs over the ‘nice to haves’. They also need to respect the considerable contributions from ratepayers,” said Ms Milne. . . 

Livestock and sustainability – challenges and opportunities for New Zealand:

Livestock may provide one-third of the value of global agricultural production, but it comes at a big cost for the planet. Livestock uses 80 per cent of the world’s agricultural land, putting pressure on water resources and biodiversity and emitting 14.5 per cent of the planet’s greenhouse gases.

The benefits, risk, trade-offs and consequences are complex and policy makers are always looking for guidance. Now, new guidelines have been developed by the Committee on World Food Security’s High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE). The Committee’s report Sustainable agricultural development for food security and nutrition: what roles for livestock? was launched last week at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome. . . 

UK referendum opens can of worms and some opportunities  – Allan Barber:

The referendum on EU membership produced a result nobody really expected and nearly half the voters didn’t want, but now everyone has to plan for an uncertain future. There have even been suggestions the exit might not happen, unless the Westminster Parliament passes the required motion to activate the start of the exit process. It’s not worth thinking about the implications for British democracy, if that were to happen.

In the immediate aftermath of the 23 June referendum there are only two certainties in a sea of uncertainty – the pound is worth a lot less than it was which will affect export receipts, but red meat access to the EU including the UK will not change for two years from the time the UK invokes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which sets the exit process officially in motion. . . 

Agriculture set for slow-down – OECD:

The latest 10-year outlook from the OECD warns the recent period of high agricultural commodity prices is most likely over.

The report, produced with the Food and Agriculture Organisation, said overall market growth was projected to slow and agricultural trade was expected to grow at less than half the rate of the previous decade.

The report – ‘OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2016-2025’ – said global agricultural trade was expected to grow by 1.8 percent per annum in volume during the next 10 years. . . 

Do possums howl at the moon?

Knowing if nocturnal pest mammals are more affected by the phases of the moon or by illumination could bring New Zealand one step closer to being pest free and save control agencies significant sums of money.

Lincoln UniversityEcology Master’s student Shannon Gilmore’s research into the effect lunar phases and illumination have on activity levels in possums, stoats, rats and mice is aimed at finding more effective and efficient means of targeting and managing these pests.

“It costs millions every year to control their populations,” says Shannon. “We’re waging a kind of war on pests. We need to discover their weaknesses. What trait do all four have in common that we can take advantage of? They are all nocturnal, and many nocturnal animals dramatically reduce their activity with the full moon, while others can become more active. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 4, 2016

Drought conditions in South Island continue:

The impact of ongoing dry conditions on the eastern South Island means the medium-scale drought classification will be extended until the end of the year, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“Extra funding of up to $88,000 will go to drought recovery coordination and the five Rural Support Trusts in the area, with $30,000 of this going to the North Canterbury Rural Support Trust,” says Mr Guy.

The announcement was made by Mr Guy at a meeting with local farmers in North Canterbury today, his fifth visit to the region since April last year.

“This will mean the area has been in drought for nearly two years, since its initial classification on 12 February last year. This will be the longest period of time a classification of this type has lasted for.” . . 

Jobs and land galore in Kaitangata:

Kaitangata has a jobs problem perhaps unique among small New Zealand towns – there are too many.

There are only two people without jobs in the entire town of 800, but at least 100 vacancies waiting to be filled.

Three-bedroom standalone houses are now being offered for only $230,000. There are currently 30 sections available, with the houses being built to order.

Clutha District Mayor Bryan Cadogan says they come with “stunning views out over the delta”. . . 

Past, present and future of the meat industry (part 3) – Allan Barber:

The future

There are two diametrically opposing views on the meat industry’s future outlook: either the world is short of protein and has an insatiable appetite for what we produce or meat will be replaced by artificial or synthetic proteins, much cheaper and easier to produce.I can’t predict just where on the continuum between these two extremes actual reality will settle or which direction the trend will move. But it’s probably worth hazarding a guess that the top end of the market will continue to prefer the real thing, produced and presented to a high quality, while the poor who are unable to afford much if anything will be happy to accept the cheaper, artificial version. It is also quite possible the increasingly global craze for fast food, especially hamburgers, could be met by synthetic beef, but here again there would be a premium end of the market demanding the real thing. . . 

MPs urged to back no-tillage farming – Alexa Cook:

An international soil scientist is urging the government to reduce carbon by promoting “no-tillage” farming to the primary sector.

The method is a way of growing crops or pasture from year to year without disturbing the soil through tillage, which results in carbon being captured in the soil instead of released through ploughing.

Scientist John Baker met with Labour MPs this morning as part of his crusade to get the message across that New Zealand has the machinery and technology to transfer carbon into the soil and keep it there. . . 

Silver Fern Farms announces contract extension and new special meeting date – Allan Barber:

Silver Fern Farms have issued two new media releases announcing a revised completion date for the contract with Shanghai Maling and a new date for the shareholder requisitioned meeting.

The revised date of 30th September for meeting the one remaining condition of the contract has been agreed in principle by both parties and is subject to agreement of both boards. SFF’s CEO Dean Hamilton said “We needed to allow more time to answer the further information requests from the OIO and to then provide sufficient time for the OIO and then Ministers to consider the application. We continue to believe that the investment will be approved given its substantial merits.”

“The agreement to the new date reflects positively on the ongoing commitment of both parties to the transaction.” . . 

  – Allan Barber:

ANZCO Foods has just released its annual result for the 15 month period ended 31 December which shows a reduced profit compared with its 12 month 2014 performance. Pre-tax net profit was $5.702 million ($7.128 million in 2014) while NPAT was $4.49 million, down more than 50% on the equivalent 2014 result which included part of the tax benefit from the 2012 loss.

Notable features of the result were a large increase in inventory and in current bank debt which can be partly explained by the purchase of the remaining 50% of Five Star Beef and the effect of the December quarter. However these factors do not seem to explain fully the extent of the increase. . . 

Super Fund swoops on Southland dairy farms – Mel Logan:

The New Zealand Superannuation Fund (NZSF) is actively buying up dairy farms in Southland, clinching deals on seven properties with more to follow.

The new acquisitions come under a dark industry debt cloud and take the NZ Super Fund’s farm portfolio to 21, following two recent dairy purchases in Canterbury. 

NZSF says while the dairy sector faces some difficult short term challenges, it continues to have strong long-term potential. . . 

Fonterra Enhances Pre-Season Preparation:

A single-minded focus on effectiveness, efficiency and innovation across all aspects of Fonterra’s winter maintenance programme is delivering savings for the Co-operative as it gets match-fit for spring.

Director of NZ Manufacturing Mark Leslie said this “winter shut” period is an important time of year for manufacturing teams as all assets across Fonterra’s network of sites are fine-tuned to ensure they are ready for the season ahead.

“Each year we process around 18 billion litres of milk, with the bulk of this carried out in the spring months. The work we’re doing now will help us get match-fit for that peak period.” . . 

Fonterra Launches The Switch To Z Biodiesel:

Fonterra has taken another step forward in its commitment to environmental sustainability, today launching its switch to new Z biodiesel – as a foundation customer for the ZBioD fuel.

Fonterra and Z were joined by Minister of Energy and Resources Hon. Simon Bridges, Whakatane Mayor Tony Bonne and other dignitaries today in celebrating the partnership at the Co-operative’s Edgecumbe site.

Fonterra Chief Operating Officer Global Operations, Robert Spurway said the shift to biodiesel is part of a move towards greater efficiency and sustainability across all operations, and helping Z make cleaner burning biofuel available in New Zealand. . . 

New Zealand Pork, Bacon and Ham Lovers Pay Attention!:

New Zealand pork, bacon and ham lovers pay attention – the ninth annual judging of the 100% New Zealand Pork, Bacon & Ham Competitions kicks of this Friday (1 July) in Wellington.

The Competitions celebrate New Zealand’s finest home-grown pork products and assist customers to identify and appreciate sustainable pork, bacon and ham which is PigCare™ Accredited*. The competitions support our pig farmers, who raise pork solely for New Zealanders.

This year an impressive 210 entries from butcheries nationwide will be scrutinized by an expert and independent panel of 34 judges comprising leading chefs, food connoisseurs and master butchers. The judges will blind-taste each entry to select New Zealand’s best pork, bacon and ham. . .  . . 


Rural round-up

July 1, 2016

Connecting all dairying women – Sally Rae:

When the decision was made to convert their Southland sheep farm to dairying, Katrina Thomas knew nothing about cows.

Undeterred, she decided to “jump in” and become regional group convener for the Dairy Women’s Network.

That way, she thought, she would learn.

It worked and Ms Thomas has now taken on a bigger role, as southern regional hub leader which incorporates Otago and Southland, as well as the fledgling Central Otago DWN branch. . . 

Winter feed pays dividends – Sally Rae:

Johnny Duncan’s fodder beet proved unbeatable in the Maniototo Young Farmers Club’s recent winter feed competition.

The competition attracted 50 entries and it was Mr Duncan’s crop that claimed the overall title.

A dinner, auction and prize-giving held at the Maniototo Stadium and attended by 140 people raised $20,000. . . 

What farming isn’t – Sarah Mock:

This past May, I spent more days in a Ram 1500 pickup on dirt roads than in my apartment. I had the incredible opportunity to traverse the American heartland for just over two weeks, seeking out interesting stories from some of America’s most progressive farmers. Since I moved to California just about a year ago, my view of the endless acres of black soil and satellite-straight rows of corn and soybeans has changed, but not in the way I expected.

Farming in the Midwest: farming for the farmer’s market as scuba diving : sky diving. Same basic direction, but otherwise, literally different elements.

We live in an Instagram-ready, organic cold-pressed hemp milk age. To us, the word “farm” brings to mind a rustic (yet modern) retreat where a cornucopia of lusciously crisp fruit and vegetables are picked daily by weathered hands (body optional) and perfectly clean eggs are laid in perfectly clean straw in reclaimed wood barns with just enough dust in the air to create a flawless #nofilter “eggstra” special post. . . 

Concerns over farmers’ mental helath:

Farmers in Northland are being urged to check on their neighbours as winter and financial stress tighten their grip in the dairy sector.

Federated Farmers president John Blackwell said there had been good turnouts at regular dinners organised to bring stressed farmers and their families together.

But he said those most in need of support may not be asking for it. . . 

Polish meat industry delegation in New Zealand – Allan Barber:

On Friday I attended a seminar, officially named a Congress, presented by a Polish delegation which was in New Zealand as part of a series of five exhibition events to promote ‘the taste of quality and tradition directly from Europe.’ A somewhat bizarre coincidence meant the event took place at exactly the same time as the votes were being counted in the British referendum which culminated in the decision to leave the EU.

The Auckland congress was the third in a series of five being held in different countries targeted for export development for Polish pork and beef products; the other target countries being South Africa, Singapore, Taiwan and Kazakhstan. This one was timed specifically to coincide with the Fine Food New Zealand 2016 held over the weekend at Auckland’s ASB Showgrounds at which Polish frozen and refrigerated pork and beef products were available for tasting and evaluation by potential importers. . . 

Fertility increase in merinos

An improved lamb marking rate at a Wimmera Merino stud supports the breed’s key role in Australia’s modern sheep industry. 

Wallaloo Park Merinos, Marnoo, has recorded some of its best results since starting in 1979. Principal Trent Carter said figures across the board were substantially higher than average and showed success was achievable with good management, genetics and nutrition.  . . 


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