Rural round-up

October 1, 2015

To the woman riding in my husband’s combine – Uptown Farms:

To the woman riding in my husband’s combine on a sales call,

I wouldn’t have thought much about you before last night.  Chances are, if you had tried to call on my husband and ride along in his combine I wouldn’t have known about it.  Most likely I would have been on a different farm, with a different farmer, trying to do my job in the same way you are doing yours.

I didn’t think of you before – but now I will.  Last night I read a post from a woman who was upset that a young, presumably attractive female, made a sales call to the farm – and rode in the cab of the combine with the farmer (the poster’s husband).  

For anyone not in the industry, it may sound funny that you would get into a combine with a customer. This time of year, the combine often acts as an office.  People who need to see the farmer go to the field and are often invited to ride along while they keep working.  Roughly 70% of the time that farmer will be a man.  

Women poured out of the woodwork to attack the sales rep, calling her unprofessional, unthoughtful, disrespectful and worse. . . 

Turning point for red meat sector – Allan Barber:

The Shanghai Maling Aquarius offer for 50% of Silver Fern Farms may not be the restructuring catalyst that MIE and some shareholders of both cooperatives were hoping for, but it certainly presages a dramatic change in the industry’s dynamics.

Assuming a positive shareholder vote on 16th October, for the first time in years all the major processors will have relatively strong balance sheets and will be in a position to compete on an equal basis. This is unlikely to bring about an immediate change in livestock procurement calculations, but different companies will progressively move to payments based on quality and specifications supplied for individual markets.

For too long the meat industry has been affected by an excess of processing capacity, under-capitalisation, procurement battles, inadequate market returns and, as a consequence of all this, falling livestock volumes. The recapitalisation of the country’s largest meat company potentially provides a solution to several if not all of these problems. . . 

Silver Fern receives an offer it can’t refuse – Allan Barber:

No wonder the deal between Silver Fern farms and Shanghai Mailing took so long to conclude, but from all appearances it was worth waiting for. Not that you would necessarily think so, if you read about the disappointment of some shareholders and the MIE group about the board’s unwillingness to give serious consideration to an alternative farmer offer of $40 million or some of the business commentary.

Going back several years, SFF wanted $120 million from its shareholders, hoped for $80 million and actually received $22 million. Nothing has really changed since then – good and bad years have followed each other, as livestock numbers and market prices fluctuated and the business struggled under a huge debt burden. . . 

Value-add key to improved returns for shareholders – Westland Milk Products:

Continuing its move into more value-added production is the best strategy to ensure shareholders competitive and sustainable returns Westland Milk Products says, as the co-operative confirmed a company average operating surplus available to shareholders for the 2014-15 season of $4.95 per kilo of milk solids (kgMS), before retentions.

Chief Executive Rod Quin says Westland, like dairy companies globally, has been adversely impacted by the “significantly lower” market prices in the last season, with total group revenue for the financial year 2014-15 down 23 percent on the previous year, at NZ$639 million.

However he says there is room for cautious optimism for an improvement and, accordingly, Westland has increased its forecast payout for the 2015-16 season by 30 cents to $4.90 – $5.30 per kgMS. . . 

Identifying insect species crucial to protect the environment:

Students at Lincoln University are covering the length and breadth of New Zealand to discover new insect species and keep ahead of potential threats to agriculture and the environment.

Bio-Protection Research Centre students, Francesco Martoni, Samuel Brown and Hamish Patrick have visited mountains, grasslands and forests to collect insect specimens. They have identified about 50 new species.

“This research, to understand what [insects] are present in New Zealand, is vital for us to recognise any change. Especially if it involves the introduction of species that may become pests, or spread disease,” says Dr Karen Armstrong, a Senior Researcher at Lincoln University, and the students’ supervisor.

“The only way to stay ahead of this, and to detect damaging interactions, is to know what is here. And for that, we need to produce experts in traditional taxonomy who are also trained to use modern technological approaches to describe and discover [insect species],” says Dr Armstrong. . .

Initiative gives support to rural schools:

Canterbury’s rural primary schools have been given a welcome boost, thanks to the support of local farmers and fertiliser company, Hatuma Dicalcic Phosphate Ltd.

The initiative, calls on farmers to nominate a school that they feel could benefit from Hatuma’s ‘Growing Minds’ fund. Over the last six years, Hatuma has donated over $30,000 to New Zealand’s rural schools through the programme.

One such beneficiary of the fund is Glentunnel School in mid-Canterbury, which attracted huge support from farmers. . . 

Chinese developer harvests first crop in Western Australia’s remote Ord Valley – Tom Edwards:

The Chinese-backed company developing the Ord River Irrigation Area in Western Australia’s east Kimberley is harvesting its first crop.

Kimberley Agricultural Investment is halfway through harvesting 360 hectares of chia in the Goomig farmland of Ord Stage 2.

Farm manager Luke McKay said it was an exciting milestone for the company and for the Ord agricultural zone in general.

“There’s been a fair bit of interest obviously, a lot of excitement about getting to this point,” he said. . . 

Wine Industry welcomes progress with South Korea Trade Deal

New Zealand Winegrowers welcomes news that the Tariff Amendment Bill was passed through Parliament on Friday, a big step towards implementing the Free Trade Agreement with South Korea.

The negotiators have achieved a great outcome for the wine industry, said Philip Gregan, ‘tariff free access into South Korea at the time the agreement comes into force represents a significant boost to our export ambitions in one of the key Asian markets.’ . . 

More Veterans Set to Go From Protecting America to Feeding America – Nicole Mormann:

For 200,000 U.S. service members transitioning out of the military each year, returning to civilian life will mean trading in their combat boots for a tractor and rubber galoshes, thanks to new farming-focused job-training programs created by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Last week, the USDA and the Department of Defense announced that agriculture will be one of the industries in which the government will provide career assistance and counseling programs to service members finishing their term of enlistment.

The program will give veterans the opportunity to gain farming skills through classroom instruction and registered apprenticeships from experienced farmers. In addition to educational opportunities, the USDA will offer financial assistance to beginning farmers or ranchers who lack the funds to purchase necessary farming equipment, land, livestock, and other resources. Returning service members are also eligible for housing support programs, which can range from repair loans to emergency placement assistance. . . 


Rural round-up

September 15, 2015

Silver Fern Farms Board Unanimously Recommends Partnership with Shanghai Maling:

Board gives unanimous recommendation to accept Shanghai Maling Aquarius Group (Shanghai Maling) as new partner to secure an improved and sustainable future

• A 50:50 partnership with total commitment to our global plate to pasture strategy

• Transaction values Silver Fern Farms’ equity at $311m. This equates to $2.84 per ordinary share, which compares to the $0.35 share price prior to their suspension in July

• Shanghai Maling to invest $261m in cash to own 50% of Silver Fern Farms’ business, in partnership with the existing Silver Fern Farms Co-operative

• A special dividend of $0.30 per share to Co-operative ordinary and rebate shareholders . . .

Cooperatives and private companies work best in agriculture – Allan Barber:

Good company performance demands clarity of purpose which is defined and monitored by a board of directors elected or appointed by the shareholders. There are five main types of company ownership structure that are or have been represented in New Zealand’s agricultural sector and each has advantages and disadvantages.

The five are private and public companies, cooperatives, subsidiaries of an overseas company and State Owned Enterprises. Whatever the structure, good governance and direction are pre-requisites of success.

A privately owned company normally has the greatest clarity of purpose because of the simplicity of the ownership structure, although there is plenty of scope for disputes between individual shareholders, particularly family members. Private company structures range from very simple to more complicated, depending on relative size of shareholdings and the number and origin of the shareholders. . . 

Rural productivity is improving in some sectors, falling in others. Influenced by soil, technology, size and governance according to Motu research:

The agricultural sector produces 40% of New Zealand’s merchandise exports. Not only is agriculture the primary source of employment in many rural areas, its performance influences the success of urban regions and many secondary industries are dependent upon it.

In this study, we estimate the drivers of revenue and productivity in two key agricultural industries – dairy and sheep/ beef. Together these account for about two-thirds of New Zealand’s agricultural exports.

Productivity is an economic term that, in this case, explains changes or differences in output not explained by use of labour, capital, other expenditures or land. Output is measured as revenue excluding income from interest and dividends. Labour is employees and working proprietors. Capital includes stock, depreciation and rent on tractors, irrigation systems and fencing. Other expenditure includes use of fertiliser, diesel, electricity, wormicide and grass seeds; and land is all the land used for production. Productivity encompasses everything else, including management and worker skills and knowledge, technological improvements, unexpected economic shocks (such as the global financial crisis), changing weather conditions (e.g. droughts), and the inherent quality of each farm. . . 

Strong farmer support for sheepmeat and beef levies to continue:

Farmers have given their organisation Beef + Lamb New Zealand a strong mandate to work on their behalf for the next six year sheepmeat and beef levy cycle with over 84% support.

The Declaration of Result provided by the independent Returning Officer, Warwick Lampp, of said 84.56 per cent of farmers on a one farmer, one vote basis had voted in favour of the sheepmeat levy with support of 86.04 per cent on a weighted stock unit basis. There was over 84.66 percent support for the beef levy on a one farmer, one vote and 84.60 per cent on a weighted stock unit basis. . . 

Roles review part of a bigger cost savings project Westland says:

Westland Milk Products confirmed today that it is conducting a review of staff roles throughout the company. The review is part of an overall programme to gain efficiencies and reduce costs to help preserve the best possible return to shareholders during the current global dairy price downturn.

Chief Executive Rod Quin says the review is likely to result in some redundancies. However, he was not going to speculate on how many, or what positions might be affected, until the review is complete, affected staff are consulted, and given an opportunity to provide feedback on any proposed roles under review. The review is scheduled to occur over two rounds, with the first round this month (September 2015) and the second in February 2016. . . 

UN issues stark warning on Pacific drought threat:

The UN’s Resident Coordinator, Osnat Lubrani, says communities and governments need to prepare now for the extreme weather changes El Niño usually triggers.

He says some countries are already implementing or drafting drought plans and the UN is ready to help co-ordinate this and to provide technical advice.

Over the coming months, countries on the equator can expect more rain, flooding and higher sea levels, presenting challenges for low-lying atolls already feeling the impacts of climate change. . . 

Getting the better of El Nino before it gets dry:

Tap rooted, reliable and highly productive, one forage herb species could make all the difference to farmers’ summer feed supply as El Nino looms large this season.

Summer crops are being sown early before soils dry out and chicory is already proving to be a popular drought-proofing choice, according to local pasture specialist Paul Sharp.

“With the long range forecast the way it is, 501 Chicory makes a lot of sense. In a dry year, it’s more reliable than leafy turnips and it also has several other advantages.”

Current soil moisture levels are significantly below average in Hawke’s Bay and Sharp, who works for Agriseeds, says many farmers are being very proactive about setting their feed supply up for the months ahead. . . 

Commission releases final report on 2014/15 review of Fonterra’s base milk price calculation:

The Commerce Commission today released its final report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2014/15 dairy season. The base milk price is the price Fonterra pays to farmers for raw milk and is currently set by Fonterra at $4.40 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2014/15 season.

Having considered public submissions on the draft decision released last month, the Commission’s overall view that Fonterra’s calculation of the 2014/15 base milk price is largely consistent with both the efficiency and contestability purposes of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 remains unchanged.

Deputy Chair Sue Begg said the Commission appreciated the engagement and effort from Fonterra and the parties they met with during this year’s review. . . 

Funding round starts for new forest planting:

The first funding round of the Afforestation Grant Scheme will see 5819 hectares planted throughout New Zealand, says Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew.

The Afforestation Grant Scheme is a $22.5m programme to help establish about 15,000 hectares of new forest plantations over the next six years.

“Under the first round of funding the total area applied for covered 9044 hectares, far exceeding our expectations,” says Mrs Goodhew. . . 

Farm skills day proves popular – James Kinsman:

On Sunday, August 23, the Waitaki Boys’ Fraser Farm hosted Opihi College, Waitaki Girls’, St. Kevin’s and Geraldine High to our first farm skills day.

School pupils did a lot of prior planning to make the day a success. It was a big learning curve for us and the school. The day started with a dog trialling demonstration by Barry Hobbs, assisted by Allan Thompson.

The visitors watched with interest as his well trained dogs got the sheep into the pen. Next it was off to be put into random groups for modules. Barrie Rae, an enthusiastic Poll Dorset breeder taught them stock judging, helped by Jack Price. . . 

Rural round-up

August 21, 2015

Reducing waste to feed the world:

A 2013 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) agreement to reduce food waste by 10 percent across the region is picking up pace as researchers and technical team members work towards their 2017 goal of developing effective strategies and actions to address urgent global food waste issues.

A third of the edible parts of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. That translates into about 1.3 billion ton per year. Lincoln University Associate Professor James Morton says reducing food waste is the logical first step in meeting the needs of a growing world population, which is predicted to reach nine billion by 2050. He recently attended the second of three APEC ‘Multi-Year Project’ meetings focused on addressing global food waste, where he spoke around the need to measure and reduce wastage in the livestock chain. . . 

Democracy, apathy or revolution – Allan Barber:

MIE has to be given credit for its persistence with its campaign to persuade Silver Fern Farms and Alliance to look seriously at the benefits of merging as opposed to continuing to beat their respective heads against the brick wall of competition. But the outcome depends on several planets aligning at the same time.

The present state of flux exists because of the uncertainty surrounding the results of SFF’s capital raising exercise, still to be announced at the time of writing, the outcome of two special general meetings called by a minimum of 5% of the shareholders in the cooperatives, and last but not least, the attitude of the majority of those shareholders.

The latest step in this process is the concept of Newco – the Visionary Meat Cooperative which expands on the Big Red proposal contained originally in MIE’s Pathways to Long-term Sustainability report launched in April. There is more detailed financial analysis in the latest concept plan which implies a net profit of $92.4 million in the fourth year after merger compared with a combined profit of $6.7 million if the companies remain separate. . . 

Revolutionary new trawling method improves quality of catch:

A revolutionary new sustainable trawling method is showing great potential for increasing the value of New Zealand’s fisheries by more than $43 million per year by 2025, industry leaders heard in Wellington today.

The Precision Seafood Harvesting (PSH) technology known as a Modular Harvest System (MHS) is a potential replacement for traditional fishing methods. Using a large flexible PVC liner with specifically sized holes along its length, it allows undersized fish to escape before being brought on board a fishing vessel. In addition, the fish that are brought on board stay in good condition because they are still swimming in the liner when they’re on the deck, resulting in less stress and reduced likelihood of injury. . . 

Seizing the global opportunities for New Zealand seafood:

The growing global demand for environmentally sustainable, natural, healthy food offers great opportunities for the New Zealand seafood industry, Seafood New Zealand Chairman George Clement says.

Speaking at the New Zealand Seafood Industry Conference in Wellington today, Mr Clement referred to the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) prediction that global food production will need to increase by 40 per cent by 2030 and seventy per cent by 2050.

Growth in global seafood production (3.2 per cent annually) continues to outpace population growth (1.6 per cent annually), he said. . . 

New Zealand fish stocks performing well:

New Zealand’s fisheries are performing well overall, Dr Pamela Mace, the Principal Advisor Fisheries Science, with the Ministry for Primary Industries said today.

She was providing an update on the status of New Zealand’s marine fisheries at the New Zealand Seafood Industry conference.

“New Zealand’s fisheries are performing extremely well overall, at least as good as or beyond the standard of the best in the world,” she said. . . 

New Role Encourages Home Grown Talent:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Genetics has appointed Dr Phillip Wilcox as its inaugural senior lecturer in quantitative genetics* at the University of Otago.

Dr Wilcox has a background in molecular and quantitative genetics and comes from the forestry-focused Crown Research Institute, Scion, where he was a senior scientist. He was also a part-time senior research fellow with the University of Otago’s Department of Biochemistry, working in the field of human genetics. . . 

Seeka Kiwifruit Industries Six Months to 30 June 2015 [Unaudited]:

Directors and management are pleased to present Seeka’s financial results for the six months to 30 June 2015. It was a challenging six months for the Company with a fire significantly damaging Seeka’s Oakside post-harvest facility just prior to harvest, then having to focus on managing a record 27.7m trays of kiwifruit; the first major lift in production since 2011’s previous high of 27.1m trays.

Profits are up. Profit before tax this half year is ahead of the previous corresponding period (pcp) by $2.87m [+115%] at $5.36m, reflecting record kiwifruit volumes handled by post-harvest along with good earnings achieved by the orchard division. The half year results include an allowance for the full second year cost of the three-year grower share scheme totalling $2.55m. . . .

Ballance Farm Environment Awards good for farmers and good for the industry, say Horizons entrants:

Halcombe dairy farmers George and Ellen Bartlett entered the 2015 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) because they wanted to support their industry and learn more about sustainability.

Winning three category awards in their first time in the competition was a bonus for the Bartletts, who run a 950-cow operation on 526ha north of Feilding.

“We certainly didn’t expect to win anything,” says Ellen, “we entered because we wanted to find out what we were doing right and what things we could improve on in future. We also felt it was important to support the awards because they do such a great job of showcasing the good work being done by farmers.” . . 

Share Farmer Contest Heralds New Era:

The 2016 Share Farmer of the Year competition has big boots to fill – taking over from the highly regarded sharemilker competition.

New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Executive Chair Gavin Roden says the Share Farmer of the Year is a hybrid of the sharemilker competition, with changes that better position it within the dairy industry’s evolving farm ownership and employment structures.

“We think the changes will make the contest better and enable more people to enter and gain the benefits from entering. . . 

Wanaka lake weed reduced by two thirds:

Lake Wanaka is healthier than it has been in decades, thanks to weed control work led by Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), Minister for Land Information Louise Upston said today.

“In 2005, LINZ and a number of other agencies developed a 10-year strategy to deal with lagarosiphon. A decade on, two-thirds of the lake is clear of the aquatic weed, and LINZ is ready to begin the next phase of control work.

“These results show how LINZ’s collaboration with others is helping protect New Zealand’s iconic landscapes and waterways,” Ms Upston said. . . 

Rural round-up

August 17, 2015

More women working NZ farms – Suzette Howe:

New Zealand is seeing a rise in the number of women working in farming. For years farming has been mainly viewed as a man’s world, but the tide is turning.

Nestled away on a north Canterbury farm, Louisa McClintock is not your average teenage girl. At just 17 she’s fallen in love with farming. She has quit school and is taking up the reins of her granddad’s farm.

“Everyone thought I was going to stay at school till year 13 and do the whole nine yards and go to uni, but I don’t think there’s anything I’d rather be doing; farming is it,” she says. . . 

Getting through the tough times – Andrew Hoggard:

We at least now know where we are with the much anticipated Fonterra forecast payment.  A price of $3.85 per kilo of milk solids is a real shocker.  There’s not going to be many farmers making anything on that payout.

That said, what can realistically be done about helping farmers through the tough times ahead for at least the next few months?

First, there is the no brainer stuff.  Talk to the bank manager.  Talk to advisers.  Put a bit more effort into communication with the family – they will be feeling the pressure as well.  . . 

Water Proposals jeopardise Southland’s farming future

Federated Farmers Southland strongly opposes Environment Southland’s draft ‘Water and Land Plan and are planning meetings to discuss the rural community’s concerns.

President of Federated Farmers Southland, Allan Baird, says “In its current form, the cost to Southland farmers will be crippling and there will be large flow on affects for the wider Southland economy.”

“As proposed, this Plan would severely limit or prohibit development, flexibility, and innovation for farming businesses, which will have huge consequences for Southland’s economy.”

“Farmers want good water quality just like every other Southlander; by progressing the current outcomes based approach that focuses our resources on the priority hot spots. This is consistent with what the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment is encouraging in her recent report, but we can’t do that without the flexibility to adapt to the environment and regulatory changes.”    . . .

NZ and Australia likely to trigger milk quota – Allan Barber:

For the first time since 2004 New Zealand and Australian beef exporters look almost certain to run out of US beef quota before the end of the year. High kills in both countries have seen an excess of beef being processed, well ahead of the normal annual production trend.

New Zealand’s annual quota allows shipments of 213,402 tonnes, much of it manufacturing beef for the fast food industry, but also higher value prime beef cuts in the pre Christmas period. If the quota runs out, these cuts will be at risk. The excess production this year is a direct result of the high cow cull because of the downturn in dairy prices. One processor told me the present slaughter rate was four times the normal amount. . . 

Reducing waste to feed the world:

A 2013 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) agreement to reduce food waste by 10 percent across the region is picking up pace as researchers and technical team members work towards their 2017 goal of developing effective strategies and actions to address urgent global food waste issues.

A third of the edible parts of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. That translates into about 1.3 billion ton per year. Lincoln University Associate Professor James Morton says reducing food waste is the logical first step in meeting the needs of a growing world population, which is predicted to reach nine billion by 2050. He recently attended the second of three APEC ‘Multi-Year Project’ meetings focused on addressing global food waste, where he spoke around the need to measure and reduce wastage in the livestock chain. . . 

TPP – it’s time for a breather – Keith Woodford:

The failure to reach closure at the recent TPP negotiations in Hawaii may be a blessing for New Zealand. It may give some time for our negotiators to reflect on what we hope to achieve and what we are prepared to concede.

Most farmers will be supporters of the TPP. They will be working on the apparently reasonable assumption that more free trade has to be good value. . .

Commission releases draft report on 2014/15 review of Fonterra’s base milk price calculation:

The Commerce Commission today released its draft report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2014/15 dairy season. The base milk price is the price Fonterra pays to farmers for raw milk and is currently set by Fonterra at $4.40 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2014/15 season.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s calculation of the base milk price each year as part of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act’s (DIRA) milk price monitoring regime. The review assesses whether Fonterra’s approach delivers incentives for it to operate efficiently and provides for contestability in the market for purchasing farmers’ milk.

The Commission’s overall view is that Fonterra’s calculation of the 2014/15 base milk price is largely consistent with both the efficiency and contestability purposes of the DIRA. . . 


Rural round-up

August 7, 2015

Rabobank Report: Moving Globally; What role will China play in the global beef market?:

Rabobank sees great potential in China’s beef market, and believes that Chinese investors will play an influential role in the global beef market over the next decade. According to Rabobank’s latest report, Moving Globally: What role will China play in the global beef market?, China’s beef demand will grow an additional 2.2 million tonnes by 2025. Driven by the weak domestic production, but with strong demand, the beef sector will likely become the first agricultural sector where China has high integration with the rest of the world and Chinese investors are expected to play an influential role in the global beef market.

In addition to the volume gap, China’s beef market also demonstrates potential for value-added and branded beef products. Strong demand from the food service and retail market channels provides opportunities for both Chinese and foreign companies in the further processing sector. . .


Fonterra’s restructure more about poor strategy than milk price – Allan Barber:

When Fonterra was formed back in 2001, there was a great sense of optimism about the potential for a New Zealand dairy company to compete on a truly global scale. The industry’s infighting and parochialism would be a thing of the past and the clear intention was to use the greater efficiencies and scale to create a substantially better performing business model.

The big question 14 years down the track is whether that objective has even remotely been achieved. Fonterra is the world’s leading exporter of milk products and the fourth largest dairy processor, so achievement to date appears consistent with the objective. But for many observers there was another, more ambitious expectation: to establish an internationally competitive value added business to compare and compete with Nestle and Danone. . .

Dairy sector needs to work together to manage downturn:

National accounting and business advisory firm Crowe Horwath is calling on all stakeholders in the dairy industry to work together to help the sector get through the current difficult period of lower milk solid prices.

On the back of dairy companies announcing a string of forecast milk price downgrades and prices continuing to plunge at the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) auctions, predictions are the current hard times for the dairy sector could potentially last another 18 months to two years.

Crowe Horwath says given the scale of the challenge now being faced by the industry, doing nothing is not an option for anyone involved, including farmers, banks, farm consultants and business advisors. . .


Fish & Game Calls for Fonterra to Lift Its Game After Pollution Conviction:

Fish & Game says Fonterra needs to lift its game after the dairy giant was fined $174,000 for several pollution offences under the Resource Management Act.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council prosecuted Fonterra for polluting the and other waterways after several wastewater system failures at Fonterra’s Edgecumbe dairy plant.

The offences occurred several times between September 2014 and April 2015.

Fonterra pleaded guilty to six charges and was sentenced in the Tauranga District Court by Judge Smith. . .


I’m worried! I’m sympathising with organic farmers over a land use conflict! – Jim Rose:

Writing this blog of sound mind and sober disposition, I still have considerable sympathy with two organic farmers over a land use conflict they have with the neighbouring gun range.

Local land use regulations allows a gun club to set up 600 m away with competitive shooting days all day for 88 days a year. That is a voluntary self restraint. They could hold shooting competitions every day of the year. The local land use regulations allow the use of guns on rural land. The gun club used this absence of a prohibition on the use of guns in the frequency of use to set up a gun range to fire guns all day long on rural land. . . .

Market Continues to Show Strength:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that a continuing upward trend at today’s South Island wool sale saw prices increase.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies decreased from 0.6314 to 0.6181, down 2.1 percent. The US dollar rate was down to .6520 from .6670 which meant increased prices in NZC terms.

Of the 5,564 bales on offer 5,260 sold, a clearance of 95 percent. . .


Matariki Forestry Group announces recapitalisation:

Matariki Forestry Group (“Matariki”) today announced a NZ$242 million capital infusion from Rayonier Inc., its largest shareholder. This injection of capital will be used for the repayment of all outstanding amounts under its existing NZ$235 million credit facility and for general corporate purposes.

Upon completion of this capital infusion, Rayonier’s ownership in Matariki will increase from 65% to approximately 77% and the Phaunos Timber Fund ownership will be reduced from 35% to approximately 23%. The capital infusion is subject to certain closing conditions including New Zealand Overseas Investment Office approval and is expected to close by year end. Matariki will realise interest cost savings of approximately NZ$15 million annually as a result of the recapitalisation. . .


NZARN says strategic feed approach key to farmer viability:

Nutrition experts have entered the milk price payout debate saying that a strategic approach and optimising home grown and supplementary feed resources are key to long-term viability.

The New Zealand Association of Ruminant Nutritionists (NZARN) urges farmers, in an article published on their website ( to benchmark themselves against the best performing farms to identify areas for improvement.

Dr. Julian Waters, NZARN Chairman says, “Maximising utilisation of home grown resources such as pasture, silage and crops should be the basis for a profitable business, with a sound strategy to incorporate supplements to increase efficiencies when home grown feed is limited.” . . .

 Internet Provider Puts Farmers’ Wellbeing First:

New Zealand internet provider, Wireless Nation, further demonstrates its commitment to the rural sector in a new agreement with Farmstrong, an initiative to promote wellbeing for all farmers and growers across New Zealand.

Wireless Nation’s zero-rated data agreement means that its Satellite Broadband customers can access Farmstrong’s website without the data counting towards their data cap.

Wireless Nation’s technical director, Tom Linn says he is passionate about making internet connectivity easier for people living in rural areas. . .

New Forests agrees to purchase Marlborough timber plantations from Flight Group:

New Forests today announced that it has reached agreement to purchase approximately 4,200 hectares of freehold land and softwood plantations from the Flight Group. The plantations consist of radiata pine and are located in the Marlborough region of New Zealand’s South Island.

The agreement forms part of a larger transaction by Flight Group, including the purchase of the Flight Timbers sawmilling assets by Timberlink, an Australian timber products processor that is also an investee company of New Forests. Completion of the plantation purchase by New Forests is subject to approval by the Overseas Investment Office. . .


Rural round-up

July 23, 2015

Potential for dairy farmers to increase income from calves:

In a welcome departure from dismal news on the dairy front, farmers are being told that a simple change to their herd mating plans could increase their income from calves.

The advice is one outcome from the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Dairy Beef Integration Programme which is looking at the impact of using good beef genetics in a dairy beef supply chain.

The aim of the AgResearch managed research is to confirm the impact the strategy could have for dairy farmers and others in the supply chain. Early results show clear advantage – and potential additional profit – to dairy farmers from the use of proven beef genetics. . .

 Tiny mite a buzzkill for NZ’s wasps: – Nick Butcher:

A Landcare Research scientist says a tiny mite found on the back of wasps could be helping control the spread of the pests, which sting the country’s primary industries by about $130 million a year.

Wasps also pose a hazard to people and harm the native bird population by competing with them for food, including honeydew and other insects.

Dr Bob Brown discovered the unnamed mite in 2011. He said his studies showed wasp nests infested with the mites were 50 to 70 percent smaller than uninfested nests. . .

Efforts continue to get to the bottom of NAIT puzzle – Allan Barber:

The saga continues, as my Warkworth friend attempts to find out how NAIT intends to ensure correct reconciliation of livestock records, but as yet without a totally satisfactory answer. After further contact, NAIT’s acting Group Manager Sam McIvor replied with answers to the main points raised and I understand the conversation will continue, as both parties try to convince the other of their respective point of view.

At its most basic, the debate centres round the issue of ensuring 100% accuracy which is only possible, if there is 100% retention of tags at the time of stock movement or every animal has a second or reserve tag. At present NAIT estimates there is 98% retention. My friend who came through the mad cow disease disaster as well as FMD outbreaks in the UK is adamant the only acceptable position is 100% accuracy in the event of a disease outbreak. . .

Duncan Coull New Shareholders’ Council Chairman:

Duncan Coull has been elected unopposed to the position of Chairman of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Council.

Mr Coull was first elected to the Council in 2010 to represent Fonterra Farmers in Otorohanga and served as the Council’s Deputy Chair for the past 12 months.

Mr Coull: “It is a privilege to be elected to lead the Council and I thank Councillors for the support I continue to receive. . .

 New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated Annual General Meeting:

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) held its Annual General Meeting today, Wednesday 22 July 2015, updating growers on its key projects and reflected on a successful year.

NZKGI President, Neil Trebilco, says grower confidence and orchard values have continued to increase over the last twelve months.

“The main factors in this increasing optimism are the reduced effects of Psa and increasing OGRs per tray, particularly for Green. . .


Dairy farm prices stalling, lifestyle blocks strong, REINZ data shows – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Farm sales are down 9 per cent in the year to June and dairy farm prices have begun a slight downward trend, according to the latest Real Estate Institute of New Zealand data.

There were 62, or 11.5 percent, fewer farm sales for the three months ended June, compared to the same period a year ago and the overall year to date is down 9 percent to a total of 1,737 farms sold.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to June was $29,141, compared to $26,634 in the same period the previous year, up 9.5 percent. But the All Farm Price Index, which adjusts for differences in farm size, location and farming type, rose by just under 1 percent in June compared to the same month in 2014. . . .

Expert’s visit fruition of relationship cultivation:

Feijoas and Kiwifruit have been on the menu as Lincoln hosted a plant specialist recently to initiate closer working ties around food production with a Chinese province of 90 million people.

Feijoa expert Dr Meng Zhang, of Southwest University of Science and Technology (SWUST) in Sichuan Province, spent a month with Lincoln University and the Bio-Protection Research Centre (BPRC) at Lincoln specifically to learn more about New Zealand horticulture production systems, biological protection and bio-control.

The visit comes a few months after SWUST’s President, Jun-bo Wang, and Director Guan-zhi Zhang, were in Lincoln as part of a large Sichuan trade delegation intended to further extend co-operation between the two institutes. . .


Weaker New Zealand Dollar Helps Wool Prices:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the weakening New Zealand dollar helped local prices this week with most types increasing by the corresponding currency change.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was down 2.04 percent compared to the last sale on 9th July.

Of the 7,900 bales on offer from the South Island, 88 percent sold with types suitable for in the grease shipments coming under strong competition. . .

New production quality accreditation for animal feed:

New Zealand animal feed manufacturers now have a quality of production accreditation.

FeedSafeNZ is a new accreditation available to New Zealand Feed Manufacturers Association (NZFMA) members who pass independent audit standards as to quality of feed production. The FeedSafeNZ accreditation has two main aims: to provide safe feed for animals and thereby to protect the safety of human food.

Michael Brooks, NZFMA Executive Director says, “High quality feed is vital not only for the health and wellbeing of animals but also for humans, so it’s imperative that feed is manufactured to strict guidelines and is packed and stored correctly to ensure its quality is maintained. . .


Merger not answer for meat

July 6, 2015

A possible merger between Alliance Group and Silver Fern Farms is still on the agenda of some in the meat industry.

Disgruntled Alliance Group shareholders say they hope to have the support from 5 percent of their number within the next 10 days that’s required to force a special meeting to discuss the potential benefits and risks of a merger with Silver Fern Farms.

Last week Silver Fern Farms shareholders crossed the 5 percent threshold to force a special meeting of their meat cooperative to vote on seeking a full analysis of the benefits and risks of merging with Alliance, along with a comprehensive risk mitigation plan, verified by an independent firm. . .

Allan Barber explains why merger’s  not going to happen:

Silver Fern Farms have been forced to take what CEO Dean Hamilton calls a prudent approach to livestock procurement. This is code for being hard up against the company’s banking facility, directly as a result of greater livestock availability. A longer season in the North Island and pressure from drought in North Canterbury are responsible for this situation.

An in-house message to livestock buyers explains the company’s inability to handle all its potential livestock bookings and says it may be necessary to assist some suppliers in finding alternative slaughter capacity. . .

Clearly SFF has taken the sensible step of implementing seasonal closures at some large plants, such as Paeroa in the Waikato and Fairton in the South Island. Unfortunately the pursuit of cost savings has clashed with the longer than expected flow of livestock, but it would be financially unsustainable if not impossible to reopen these plants.

The other major factor is the state of the export market which is scarcely conducive to killing and processing more product than absolutely necessary at this time of year. As Hamilton told me, there is no point in filling up the chillers and freezers when the market is as soft as it is at the moment. He could well have added that the company’s bankers wouldn’t have allowed it anyway.

The internal communication to the buyers makes it plain SFF must live within its means which hasn’t been the case for the last three or four years. The hope is expressed that this will create more flexibility next season. However the $1.3 billion spent on livestock so far this year is greater than last year which indicates the company has yet again failed to live within its means.

Three years ago SFF suffered because it failed to meet the market which resulted in too much inventory having to be written down, causing substantial losses over two financial years.

SFF is suffering the ultimate meat industry conundrum: how to run all its plants at optimum capacity when its bankers impose facility limits which render this difficult or downright impossible in prevailing market conditions; another dimension of the conundrum is the conflict between satisfying supplier demand for slaughter space and the inability to turn this into cash.

Barber gives some history – this is what happened in the 1990s when Fortex and Weddel went into receivership.

SFF is faced with a similar set of problems which can only be resolved by a capital restructure. The shareholder group’s attempts to force a review of the potential for a merger with Alliance are doomed to fail, because the state of the balance sheet and bank constraints make a merger impossible. There are also rumours about the closure of SFF’s overseas offices. . .

It appears the result of the equity raising process carried out by Goldman Sachs will finally be available for communication to shareholders in August. Unless the shareholders can come up with a minimum of $100 million, and even this may not be enough, they will have no entitlement to influence the company’s future. There may be no alternative to bringing in outside capital to recapitalise all or part of the business. . .

The grapevine suggests several scenarios for the future of SFF none of which is a merger with Alliance.

Those wanting that to happen don’t understand directors’ legal responsibilities to work in the best interests of the company, which would rule a merger out.


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