Rural round-up

April 29, 2016

Trade negotiations like water dripping on a stone – Allan Barber:

Before he left for China last week, New Zealand’s Special Agricultural Trade Envoy, Mike Petersen, gave me his thoughts on the process of trade negotiation and a brief list of successes he has been involved with since 2003. At that time he was Chairman of Meat & Wool NZ as it was called in those days.

During that 13 year period New Zealand has signed free trade deals with Taiwan, China, ASEAN which comprises 12 countries and at long last South Korea, not to forget the TPPA. No wonder he called trade negotiations ‘like water dripping on a stone.’ Signing FTAs is never quick and demands a huge amount of manpower, preparation, patience and recognition no country ever gets everything it wants.

The reaction to the TPPA, not only here, but also in other signatory countries, notably the USA, indicates a growing feeling of disaffection with free trade deals because of the perceived loss of sovereignty they entail, including domestic employment opportunities, and conversely the benefits to big business. . .

Food ‘knowledge gap’ creates dangers for farmers:

Does a cow need to have a calf to give milk?

The answer should be obvious, but more than 70% of consumers get the question wrong explains University of Guelph associate professor Mike Von Massow. A majority of Canadians also believe that a chicken is processed for meat when it reaches four years of age.

Von Massow shared these findings from his research on consumer perceptions of food at the Farm & Food Care Ontario annual meeting earlier this month. While many of the findings are troubling for agriculture there is also reason to be optimistic. “Consumers feel pretty good about the food they eat in Canada. Generally they believe they have safe, healthy food and they trust farmers,” says Massow. . .

Tribal councils appeal farmers’ discharge consents – John Gibb:

A decision by independent commissioners to grant a consent for a North Otago farmer from 2020 to discharge nitrogen from three farms on to land ‘‘in a manner that may enter groundwater” has been appealed to the Environment Court.

The consent application from Borst Holdings Ltd was the first to be made under Otago’s new 6A water plan change, which concerns itself with the amount of nitrogen being released into the area’s rivers.

The consent for the Borst farms, near the Kakanui River, was granted for 15 years starting from April 1, 2020. . . 

Dairy farmers will pay for next five years say John Mulvany:

MURRAY Goulburn has sheltered farmers from the real global milk price and they’re going to pay for five years, according to a leading consultant.

Gippsland-based consultant John Mulvany said the effect of the overpayment for milk in 2015-16 will result in the deduction of the equivalent of 24 cents a kilogram of milk solids from milk supply during the next three years, or $36,000 a year for a 150,000kg/MS farm, to pay back for this season’s mistake.

“The late notification is absolutely inexcusable,” he said.

“It is not fair to the MG field staff who, until mid-December, were issuing income estimates with three step-ups leading to a milk price over $6 a kilogram of milk solids. . . 

Sweet opportunities in honey industry for locals:

Today marks the first day of work for 11 Work and Income clients, who will be developing Northland College’s mānuka plantation site.

30 hectares of mānuka will be initially planted on Northland College land – an initiative that provides current and future employment opportunities for Kaikohe people.

The Northland College Mānuka Initiative stems from the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan which identifies 58 actions for stimulating the Northland economy. . . 

Horticulture Welcomes Dam Progress:

Horticulture New Zealand has welcomed the announcement of the progress made in funding for the Ruataniwha Dam project in Hawke’s Bay.

The horticulture industry is reliant on sensible management of freshwater in New Zealand and the provision of water for future generations of primary sector business is essential.

“This will see the number of growers increase, and this in turn will improve the sustainability of the proposal,” HortNZ natural resources and environment manager Chris Keenan says. . . 

Expect more gains in nutrient management says Ballance:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients is confident that Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord targets around nutrient data collection and efficiency reporting will continue to lift as more farmers understand the direct benefits to their farms and their OVERSEER® nutrient budgets.

Commenting on the release of Accord results yesterday, Ballance CEO Mark Wynne said that while results had fallen short of targets for nutrient management data and the reporting back of nutrient efficiency information, good progress is being made.

The target is for all dairy farms to provide quality nutrient management data. Progress is currently sitting at 75 percent, up from 56 percent last year. . . 

New online financial problem-solving platform for farmers: ASK Crowe Horwath:

Earlier this month accounting and business advisory firm Crowe Horwath announced the launch of the online platform, ASK Crowe Horwath.

ASK Crowe Horwath, an obligation-free, online financial problem-solving service allows questions to be posed by New Zealand agribusinesses and individuals that are then answered by Crowe Horwath advisors – ‘get a real answer from a real advisor’ is indeed the tagline of the platform.

There are no boundaries to the questions that can be asked, with rural professionals covering the full spectrum of financial services. . .

Debbie Kelliher's photo.


Rural round-up

April 8, 2016

Two new irrigation champions recognised:

Two New Zealand irrigation champions have been recognised with the awarding of the Ron Cocks Memorial Award to South Canterbury’s Robin Murphy and Central Otago’s Tony Banks.

Both men’s achievements were celebrated at IrrigationNZ’s biennial conference dinner last night in Oamaru. The event has drawn more than 400 people to the Waitaki District this week to tour local irrigation infrastructure, listen to global guest speakers address irrigation issues, attend technical workshops and view an industry expo with 52 exhibitors.

The former chairman of the Earnscleugh Irrigation Company, Tony Banks, was described as an outstanding leader in delivering the benefits of water to Central Otago. Tony has given 31 years of service to the scheme; more than half his working life and all in a voluntary capacity. . . 

Power to the people – Anee Hardie:

The power bill is a big expense for many farms. Anne Hardie talked to Franz Josef farmer Graeme Berry about using local resources to reduce that bill to zero.  

Water is an abundant resource around Graham Berry’s Franz Josef dairy farm, which prompted him to build a small hydro power scheme that now supplies all his electricity with enough extra to sell into the national grid and pay its cost.  

It was a lengthy exercise that took years to acquire the necessary consents and ended up costing nearly half a million dollars, but that extra power sold into the national grid pays the interest while the farm and dairy now pay zilch for electricity. . .

Carrfields wins Innovation Award for irrigator stabiliser:

Ashburton’s Carrfields Irrigation company has won 2016’s IrrigationNZ Innovation Award in association with Aqualinc for its innovative irrigator stabiliser.

The award was presented last night at the industry body’s national conference which has attracted more than 400 people to Waitaki District this week.

The HydroFix Irrigator Stabiliser System consists of a series of inflatable water tanks connected to a pulley and counterweight systems along the length of an irrigator. . . 

South America set to dominate beef trade – Allan Barrber:

Rabobank’s quarterly report on the global beef market maintains South American beef producers, particularly Brazil, will be the major influence on the beef trade in 2016.

The most notable features are expected to be an increase in China’s official imports which rose sharply by 60% last year, a decline in US imports and lower than usual Australian beef production. New Zealand’s cattle kill is forecast to be earlier and lower than 2015 because of the earlier dairy cull. Although the American beef kill is still at 20 year lows, high stocks of frozen product will continue to put a dampener on both prices and import volumes. . . 

Isolated negligence of one farmer does not reflect Colony farming practice:

Allegations by SAFE that Colony farming causes increased mortality and poor welfare among layer hens is being strongly rejected by the Egg Industry.

The Egg Producer Federation (EPF) has been working with the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) to investigate claimsmade by SAFE about one of its member farms.

SAFE broke into a member farm to obtain footage that the Industry said is an unacceptable, but isolated discovery.

“The welfare of the birds is our first priority, so this footage is most definitely disturbing. Investigations have shown this is the negligence of one farm, in an isolated incident that shows poor practice around cage checking and clearing. . . 

Judge Valley Dairies Judged Supreme Winner In 2016 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Puahue dairy farmers John Hayward and Susan O’Regan are Supreme winners of the 2016 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

At a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on April 7 (2016), the couple also collected the LIC Dairy Farm Award, WaterForce Integrated Management Award, Waikato Regional Council Water Protection Award and the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award.

Based on 245ha of flat to steep contour east of Te Awamutu, their operation, Judge Valley Dairies Ltd, was described by BFEA judges “as a highly productive farm that works well in a challenging landscape while balancing environmental care”. . . 

IrrigationNZ and Feds ask for scientific integrity:

IrrigationNZ and Federated Farmers say greater scrutiny of claims irrigation causes increased ‘rumbly-gut’ is needed, as recent assertions by Alison Dewes are not scientifically sound.

The industry bodies have joined forces to ask for improved scientific integrity when making claims in the media as “the validity of the argument around increased pathogen losses resulting from irrigation or water storage are not sound,” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

“Our understanding is pathogen contamination of a water supply generally occurs through a direct pathway – a point source contamination. Neither irrigation nor water storage create pathogen issues, except through natural means, the increased birdlife around a water storage lake for example. The main causes of pathogen contamination are poor water treatment from domestic discharges or inadequately protected well- heads. ” says Mr Curtis. . .

International Agri-Group Digs Deep for Farm Community • Raising Over $40,000 for Rural School:

A $5,000 donation for catering and serving lunch for 130 of Australasia’s leading agribusiness professionals turned into an impromptu fundraising event recently – with a rural school of 36 students receiving over $40,000.

As part of its annual conference in Wellington, the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group visited a sheep farm and a dairy operation in the Wairarapa. The school children welcomed the delegation with a Kapa Haka followed by the serving of fresh, local produce including paua fritters, whitebait and crayfish for lunch. . . 

Ideal conditions for sowing:

If you haven’t sown your new pastures yet, there’s no better time than now to get seed into the ground.

Soil temperatures in many parts of the North Island and upper South Island are still mild – over 15 degrees C which is ideal for establishing most pasture species.

Perennial ryegrass or any short term ryegrass can be sown through to about Anzac Day, so that gives you plenty of options.

Early April is however too late for sowing pasture brome or fescue, because these species are sensitive to low soil temperatures. . . 

Report Shows Strong Future for Organic Products:

There’s good news for New Zealand’s organic fruit and vegetable growers in the report released today showing Kiwis are buying more organic product from their local supermarket.

The Organics Aotearoa Organic Market Report 2016 shows continuing growth in markets for organic fresh fruit and vegetables, particularly in supermarkets, up 127% in four years.

“What is good about that figure for horticulture is it shows shoppers are thinking more about what they put in their shopping trollies.

“That’s a good trend for all the producers serving the New Zealand domestic market,” HortNZ chief executive Mike Chapman says.. . 

Weaker Dollar Moves Wool Up:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s C.E.O, Mr John Dawson reports that the slightly weaker New Zealand dollar compared to last weeks’ sale helped lift local prices, aided by strong support for a more stylish South Island selection suitable for greasy wool orders.

Of the 9,400 bales on offer, 91.6 percent sold.

The weighted currency indicator was down 1.12 percent week on week.

Compared to the last time comparable wools were sold on 23rd March in the South Island Fine Crossbred Full Fleece and Shears were firm to 1.7 percent dearer. . . 

 

 

Farmers Are Awesome's photo.

Let’s also pay tribute to those farmers’ husbands/partners who work as hard or harder than their farmers.


Rural round-up

April 1, 2016

Nutritional Sales Underpin Half Year Underlying Profit of $12.3 Million:

Synlait has reported an underlying net profit after tax (NPAT) of $12.3 million for the first half of the 2016 financial year (HY16).

In contrast to $0.4 million in HY15, this improved performance is primarily the result of increased nutritional sales in canned infant formula.

“We’re glad to deliver a solid result for the first half of FY16. Our significant investment in customer and product development, people, plant and operating systems in recent years is beginning to transform our earnings,” said Chairman Graeme Milne. . . 

European market conditions depress Westland’s payout prediction:

Global market conditions for dairy products point to at least two more seasons of low milk payouts in New Zealand, Westland Milk Products told shareholders today as the co-operative revised its predicted payout for the 2015-16 season to $3.90 – $4.00 per kilogramme of milk solids, down from last month’s prediction of $4.00 – $4.10.

Westland CEO Rod Quin said the major driver of the revised payout remains the global oversupply of milk, compounded by the ongoing high availability and aggressive approach by the European dairy market.

Quin and Westland Chair Matt O’Regan have recently returned from Europe where they met with customers, farmers, processors, traders and industry advocates. . . 

Fonterra makes best of a bad job – Allan Barber:

The PR spin has been pretty active signalling a much improved half yearly result which was duly delivered this morning. The company confirmed a 40 cent dividend for the full year with the interim dividend being paid next month as usual and the final dividend being paid in two tranches in May and August instead of October.

This improvement in cash flow will do something, but not a lot, to comfort farmers labouring under a debt burden. Unfortunately it will do absolutely nothing to support sharemilkers who will have to rely on their share of the milk payout. Predictions for the rest of 2016 are notable for their conservatism, probably in recognition of a disappointing track record when forecasting the extent of the current downturn. . . 

Fonterra’s six-month results – good news but some underlying issues – Keith Woodford:

As expected, Fonterra has announced a greatly enhanced six-month profit for the period ending 31 January 2016. The profit of $409 million (NPAT; i.e. net profit after finance costs and tax) is up 123% from the same period in the previous year.

The expected full year profit of 45-55c per share implies an annual profit of about $800 million compared to $506 million for the full year 2014/15.

These figures are all very much in line with expectations . The reason for this is that when milk prices to farmers are low, then Fonterra has low input costs. Accordingly, there is more scope for corporate profit. . . 

Keep sharing the load by talking about it:

No matter which branch of farming you are in, you will face tough times, says Nelson farmer and Horticulture NZ President Julian Raine. When that happens, don’t be too proud to ask for help.

Speaking to the Farming Show’s Jamie Mackay as part of the Getting Through Adversity radio series, Julian said that even with the best planning, erratic weather events can cause mayhem. Jamie suggested that growing fruit crops is arguably one of the riskiest pursuits in farming: “One adverse event at the wrong time and suddenly your whole crop is wiped out. If you are a sheep farmer, for example, you at least have lambing spread over three weeks, or if you are dairy your risk is spread over nine months of milking.” . . 

Meat exporters ready to reap benefits of TPP:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement eliminates all tariffs on beef into our biggest market, the United States, within five years of coming into force.

Trade Minister Todd McClay, speaking at the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce this morning, says New Zealand exported meat products worth over $2.8 billion to TPP countries in 2015 and the gains once TPP comes into force will be significant.

“Our beef into Japan currently attracts a 38.5 per cent tariff. That has made it extraordinarily hard for our exporters to compete with other countries with lower tariffs. . . 

Ongoing market challenges weigh on New Zealand farmers, with confidence close to 10-year low:

The significant and persisting challenges in market conditions continue to weigh heavily on the nation’s farmers, with New Zealand’s rural confidence at the second lowest level recorded in the past 10 years, the latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey has shown.

Completed earlier this month, the survey found more than half of farmers surveyed (53 per cent) had a pessimistic outlook on the agricultural economy over the coming 12 months. This was significantly up from 30 per cent with that view in the previous survey, in late 2015. . . 

Dairy downturn: councils prepare to tighten belts:

Councils in rural areas might be forced to cut spending if the dairy downturn lasts for a long time, Local Government New Zealand head Lawrence Yule says.

A Westpac-McDermott Miller regional economic survey has shown big falls in confidence in major dairy areas including Waikato, Taranaki, and Southland.

Mr Yule said the businesses in many rural towns were already hunkering down as farmers tightened their spending, and that could spread. . .

NZX to teach farmers about new milk contract:

NZX expects to receive regulatory approval for the new fresh milk futures and options product within two weeks.

Chief executive Tim Bennett said there was a demand for the fresh milk contracts product after Fonterra scrapped its guaranteed milk price product for the upcoming season. . . 

NZ helping to restore Fiji’s dairy sector after Winston:

The New Zealand government says it will help restore Fiji’s dairy industry which is losing thousands of litres of milk and was devastated as a result of last month’s cyclone.

New Zealand announced additional aid to help Fiji’s recovery on Wednesday.

A lot of that money is going into the continuing infrastructure rebuild led by the New Zealand Defence Force. . . 

Helensville Farmers First To Claim Supreme Title In Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

“Environmental champions” Richard and Dianne Kidd are Supreme winners of the inaugural Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

At a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on March 30 (2016), the Helensville couple was also presented with the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award and the Farm Stewardship Award in partnership with QEII National Trust and New Zealand Farm Environment Trust.

BFEA judges described Whenuanui Farm, the Kidd family’s 376ha sheep, beef and forestry unit, as “a show piece farm on the edge of Auckland city”. . . .

From paddock to packet: The family behind NZ’s most successful independent chips – Ryan Bridge:

You’re about to meet a family of potato farmers who beat the odds to grow one of the country’s most successful independent chip businesses.

The Bowans are from Timaru and not only do they grow spuds, they transport them to their own factory and make the chips too.

Together they are Heartland Potato Chips.

It all started when Raymond Bowan decided to grow his own potatoes as a teenager. His son James Bowan has taken over running the family potato farm and unlike his old man, he doesn’t do it by hand anymore, there’s a flash piece of kit to help. . . 

Food development facility opportunity for creative entrepreneurs:

Those looking to be innovative with their food are wanted at the FoodSouth food development pilot plant on the Lincoln campus, but there are no Heston Blumenthal creations on the menu.

The final part of a national food innovation network, the facility provides three purpose-built independent food safe development spaces along with a variety of processing equipment — an extruder, ovens, dryers, enrober, mixers, and a mobile product development kitchen among them.

It enables businesses to develop product prototypes for market validation, trial new equipment, carry out scale-up trial work and sample manufacture in 20L to 200L batch sizes, conduct process development and improvement, and validate quality systems. . . 

It’s in the family for new A&P Association President:

Sheep and beef farmer Warrick James has been elected as President of the Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association for 2016 at the Annual General Meeting at Riccarton Park Racecourse on 30 March.

Based in Central Canterbury near Glentunnel, Mr James was confirmed as President of the 154th Canterbury A&P Show in front of outgoing President Nicky Hutchinson and Association Members.

“It means a lot to be President of the Canterbury A&P Association. We host the largest and most prestigious Show in the country – it really is the pinnacle of the A&P movement. Having been involved from a young age with my family and seeing my own children take part over the years just makes this even more special.” . . .

Trio spread cheer on woolshed tour – Suzette Howe:

At a time when life’s a bit tough for rural communities, a trio of Kiwi performers are setting off on a woolshed tour to boost morale. 

They’re coming armed with their own stage curtain, a bar and plenty of laughs.

Over the next five weeks the talented ladies will transform more than 20 working wool sheds into live stages the length of the South Island.

They’re travelling by horse truck, carting hundreds of chairs, a bar, and full production set.

Farmer Georgie Harper says it’s hard to say no when the performance is brought to you. . . 

Itinerary and booking information at The Woolshed Tour.


Rural round-up

March 29, 2016

Rural economy is not all doom and gloom:

All is not gloomy in the agricultural community even though collapsing dairy prices have left a hole at the heart of the sector, New Zealand farming analysts say.

And while dairy problems are having a ricochet effect on other farmers, some areas of the rural economy are doing well and others are booming.

One of the most optimistic sectors is the apple and pear industry. . . 

Not enough mouths – Annette Scott:

Rain has hit the spot for much of the South Island’s parched farmland but with it has come a new challenge – what to do with the feed.

The countrywide shortage of livestock was starting to kick in sooner than expected, Mid Canterbury Rural Support Trust chairman Peter Reveley said.

“We have had some absolutely brilliant rain. . . 

Waikato Lavender Farm owners farewell business after 20 years – Kelsey Wilkie:

After 20 years at the helm, the founders of Waikato’s Lavender Farm are moving on.

Ian and Bev Parlane opened the gates to the Alphra Lavenders farm at Orakau, 8km south of Te Awamutu, 20 years ago.

The purple garden spreads across one hectare.  . . 

Ham-fisted definitely, incompetent possibly – Allan Barber:

Fonterra’s succession of ultimatums to its suppliers smack of ham-fisted bullying and incompetence. The company’s first ultimatum was to push payment terms out to 90 days for a ‘small percentage’ of its New Zealand suppliers in line with its global practice , followed by an invitation to attend Dragon’s Den type negotiating sessions in which it has served notice it will demand 20% price reductions.

There is nothing wrong or sinister about a customer trying to negotiate better terms of trade as a means of increasing efficiency, but in Fonterra’s case the company appears to have completely ignored the value of proper communication and relationships with its suppliers. Many of these will be contractors that have devoted resources and valuable service over a number of years; these contractors will be an integral cog in the life and prosperity of the rural communities they serve and live in. . . 

Political high-fliers win farming award: ‘Cows don’t talk back’  – Gerald Piddock:

Two novices running a dairy farm have taken the title of regional Share Farmers of the Year – and it’s not just their career change that’s gaining attention. 

Matthew Herbert and Brad Markham say they are also the first same-sex couple to win a trophy at the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

The former political advisor and journalist crossed the ditch two years ago, swapping talk with Australia’s top politicians to pulling teats on a dairy farm. . . 

These vitamin fortified bananas might get you thinking differently about GMOs – Nathanael Johnson:

In the winter of 2014, students at Iowa State University received emails asking them to volunteer for an experiment. Researchers were looking for women who would eat bananas that had been genetically engineered to produce extra carotenes, the yellow-orange nutrients that take their name from carrots. Our bodies use alpha and beta carotenes to make retinol, better known as vitamin A, and the experiment was testing how much of the carotenes in the bananas would transform to vitamin A. The researchers were part of an international team trying to end vitamin A deficiency.

The emails reached the volunteers they needed to begin the experiment, but they also reached protesters. “As a student in the sustainability program, I immediately started asking questions,” said Iowa State postdoc Rivka Fidel. “Is this proven safe? Have they considered the broader cultural and economic issues?” . . .

New Zealand’s fisheries performing well:

New Zealand’s fisheries continue to perform well, Seafood New Zealand Chief Executive Tim Pankhurst says.

He was commenting on the latest Status of New Zealand Fisheries report published by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

Around 83 per cent of individual fish stocks of known status and almost 97 per cent of landings are above or well above levels where their sustainability would be a cause for concern, he says.

“These figures are the result of a robust process and show that we are as good as or beyond the standard of the best in the world,” he says. . . 


Rural round-up

March 18, 2016

Research is critical to future prosperity – Allan Barber:

By the time most of you read this, I will have delivered an address to a Meat Industry Research workshop at Ruakura. Preparation for this has severely taxed my knowledge of research directed at the future prosperity of the red meat sector. Depending on the reaction to my presentation, I will almost certainly find out whether or not I have succeeded in talking sense and, more important, introducing some relevant fresh ideas to the audience of scientists and people with infinitely greater technical credentials than I.

The workshop’s themes are added value, value from quality, and provenance and food assurance which neatly encapsulate what the meat industry needs to provide the consumers of the world and extract from the market. Research output will obviously have to contribute new developments to this, as the industry cannot find its place in the sun by continuing to do what it has been doing to date. . . 

K5 “could prove effective rabbit killer

A new weapon in the war on rabbits could be introduced into New Zealand next autumn.

The RHDV1-K5 virus is a Korean strain of the lethal calcivirus already present in New Zealand that causes rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD).

Leader of Landcare Research’s rabbit biocontrol initiative Dr Janine Duckworth said yesterday the new strain of virus could help New Zealand farmers slash rabbit numbers by up to 30%.

Landcare Research and the New Zealand Rabbit Co-ordination Group are seeking approval from the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Environment Protection Authority to introduce the ‘‘K5” virus. . . 

The kiwi behind Northland’s biggest dairy farmer – Peter de Graaf:

The man who became Northland’s biggest dairy farmer puts his success down to the skills he gained helping on his father’s farm as a child.

Merv Pinny and his wife Cara sold their 10 Mangakahia Rd farms to the Spencer family on February 29, for an undisclosed sum, thought to be around $40 million, after an initial sale last year to a Chinese firm fell through.

Mr Pinny, 56, grew up on the family dairy farm at Te Aroha. . . 

Anthony Alexander Sinclair (Tony) Trotter: 1924 – 2016 – Chris Trotter:

TONY TROTTER – “Mr Country Calendar” – died today (Wednesday, 9 March 2016) aged 91, from natural causes.

As the television broadcaster who chose its distinctive theme music, and moved the programme out of the studio and “into the field”, Tony shapedCountry Calendar into the nation’s most beloved television series. The iconic programme, celebrating every aspect of rural life, is still being produced, and this year celebrated its own fiftieth anniversary.

Tony’s later work included the ground-breaking Natural World of the Maori, with Tipene O’Reagan, and the quirky A Dog’s Show – which turned the obscure country sport of sheep-dog trialling into a popular television show. Tony ended his broadcasting career in 1989 as the Executive Producer of Television New Zealand’s award-winning Natural History Unit in Dunedin. . . 

For Dad (a poem) – Chris Trotter:

Wheeling gulls enfold the tractor

like feathered confetti.

My father, head half-turned,

To keep the furrow straight,

Is dwarfed by the immensity

Of the paddock he has ploughed.

To my child’s eye,

The birds’ raucous accolade

Is well-deserved:     . . 

Zespri announces more SunGold licence at start of 2016 kiwifruit season:

At the start of what is set to be a record-breaking 2016 season, Zespri is positioning itself for the future by announcing the release of a further 400 hectares of its gold kiwifruit variety SunGold this year.

In making the decision to release the additional licence this year, the Zespri Board signalled that – dependant on the product’s performance and future global demand – an additional 400 hectares of SunGold licence will also be released each year in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Zespri Chairman Peter McBride said releasing more SunGold hectares was tremendously exciting for the industry and the decision had been made in response to overwhelming global demand for the variety. . . 

Geographical indications law a step closer for New Zealand wine and spirit makers:

A proposed new law that will enable wine and spirit makers to register the geographical origins of their products is a step closer says Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Paul Goldsmith.

The Geographical Indications (Wines and Spirits) Amendment Bill was debated for the first time today and will now go through the select committee process, including public submissions.

The Bill amends the Geographical Indications (Wines and Spirits) Registration Act which was passed in 2006 but never brought into force. . . 

Key Issues Addressed at Winds of Change Agri-Conference:

Over 130 of Australasia’s leading agribusiness professionals will gather in Wellington on Monday (21st) for the annual Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Conference.

Challenged with discussing the ‘winds of change’ currently sweeping across the farming landscapes of New Zealand and Australasia, delegates will hear from keynote speakers including Steven Carden, CEO of Landcorp Farming Ltd, Paul Morgan, Chairman of Wakatu Incorporation, Prof. Jacqueline Rowarth from the University of Waikato, James Parsons, Chairman of Beef + Lamb NZ, Doug Avery, Malborough farmer, and Scottie Chapman, CEO of Spring Sheep Dairy Ltd.

Agenda topics will include exporting and new markets, innovations in sheep milk, changing demands for food and nutrition, encouraging young people into agriculture, farm tourism and connecting rural and urban communities. . . 

International Agri-Leaders Visit Wairarapa Showcase Farms

Pirinoa School Set to Receive Funds:

Over 130 of Australasia’s leading agribusiness professionals will visit two farms in Pirinoa, South Wairarapa, next week (Wednesday 23rd March), as part of the annual Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) ‘Capital Connections; winds of change’ Conference.

The delegation, which includes well-known industry leaders and commentators such as Steven Carden, CEO of Landcorp Farming Ltd, Prof. Jacqueline Rowarth from the University of Waikato, Malborough farmer, Doug Avery, and James Parsons, Chairman of Beef + Lamb NZ, will spend time at the Warren family’s Romney stud, Turanganui, and the Weatherstone family’s dairy farm, Rotopai. . . 

Farm dog ‘a hero and a honey’ – Brooke Hobson and Thomas Mead:

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, including ones with four paws — like Lilly the farm dog who got burnt in a fire.

Lilly suffered burns to all four paws and parts of her body after a fire got out of control at Sharedale farm near Timaru.

Farm manager Darcy Tong says a four-week-old fire reignited in a block of trees last week.

“I was at home and went back up to check on it and [the fire] was out of control,” he says. . . 

Farmers spray hundreds of litres of milk in protest in Brussels – Amy Forde:

Farmers from across Europe were protesting today in Brussels as EU Agriculture Ministers met to try and come up with solutions to the ongoing crises in the dairy and pigmeat sectors.

The video below shows one farmer with a churn on his head spraying European Parliament buildings with milk. 

Low prices across all farming sectors and the Russian ban were what they were protesting over. . . 

Cowsmopolitan Dairy Magazine's photo.

Cervus Equipment Manawatu opens new Feilding branch:

Leading John Deere dealership Cervus Equipment Manawatu has formally opened its brand-new, purpose-built branch in Feilding.

Following seven years of local sales, service and support, Branch Manager Dan Clavelle says the new Feilding branch will enable Cervus Equipment Manawatu to continue and expand its local operations.

“Cervus Equipment Manawatu is committed to adding value to our customer’s businesses every day,” Mr Clavelle said. . . 


Rural round-up

February 17, 2016

Urban ideals quash rural spirit – Craig Wiggins:

Over the last few years I have stood in front of many, commentating rural sports in many rural communities in three different countries and feel it’s time to put some perspective into the emotive protests for and against rural activities.  

We have just witnessed the SAFE campaign against the dairy industry and through the summer the anti-rodeo campaign gaining media coverage.  As in the case of the SAFE coverage, it’s easy fodder for urban-based journalists to get consumer buy-in and notoriety for their own careers.  

I pat on the back anyone who is passionate about what they believe in or against and stand up for it.

I am, however, against sensationalising facts and issues in the pursuit of self-promotion and a win over others at all costs, whether it be the truth or not.  

To win an argument one should be more knowledgeable about the facts the opposing side is arguing than they are. . . 

Landcorp scraps Shanghai Pengxin deal – Neal Wallace:

Landcorp will not renew its sharemilking contract with Chinese corporate dairy farmers Shanghai Pengxin when it expires at the end of next season.  

This brings to an end an arrangement that started in November 2012 when Shanghai Pengxin bought 16 Central North Island dairy farms that belonged to the Crafar family. . . 

Alliance enforces shareholding commitment to match supply – Allan Barber:

After many years competing for livestock without compelling suppliers to invest in the full number of shares required in principle, Alliance Group has seized the opportunity offered by Silver Fern Farms’ likely shareholding change to review its capital base.

The uncharitable observer would presume this action is necessary to raise more capital for balance sheet or investment purposes. However Alliance chairman Murray Taggart is adamant this move is all about correcting the imbalance between those suppliers who are fully shared up and those who have made a lesser commitment. The adjustment will take place gradually in line with the rate of supply with deductions of 50 cents per lamb, sheep or calf, $2 per deer and $6 per head of cattle. . . 

Has our dairy industry gone too far? – Julian Lee:

We all know the importance of our dairy industry and its existence to our country.

It’s our number one industry — we get that.

But has dairy gone too far in the beautiful Mackenzie Country?

The Mackenzie Basin is a stunning piece of landscape in the South Island — a desert spotted with electric blue lakes surrounded by mountains.

It is the last place you would think you would want to put cows. . . 

Open Country Dairy posts record annual profit in 2015 – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Open Country Dairy, the dairy manufacturer controlled by Talley’s Group, posted a record annual profit last year even as revenue fell.

Profit increased 16 percent to $34.4 million in the year ended Sept. 30, 2015, according to the Auckland-based company’s annual report. Revenue slid 24 percent to $688 million while the cost of sales sank 28 percent to $620.5 million, according to the accounts.

The company didn’t pay a dividend and has previously said it was investing in infrastructure for future growth. . . 

Weaknesses in industry cohesion and international marketing are costing kiwi farmers:

Federated Farmers Meat and Fibre Chair Rick Powdrell is calling for action to be taken to address issues in the marketing of kiwi lamb overseas – particularly in the UK – to prevent our sheep farmers continuing to face low returns.

Speaking at Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Council in Wellington today, Mr Powdrell said meals featuring lamb had fallen 7% in the UK, while lamb consumption in the US was rising at 10% per year.

Mr Powdrell has just returned from the American Sheep Industry Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he had seen first-hand some of the initiatives that are underpinning this growth. . . 


Rural round-up

February 4, 2016

Federated Farmers welcomes TPP signing:

 

Federated Farmers welcomes today’s signing in Auckland of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement as a significant milestone for the New Zealand economy and a positive deal for the agriculture sector.

Federated Farmers President Dr William Rolleston says the agreement may not have delivered everything the sector desired, but the scale and its importance to New Zealand is undoubtedly profound.

“As a founding member, the signing of the latest TPP agreement introduces another chapter in our proud history as a trading nation,” he says.

“For the primary sector, the TPP offers diverse opportunities not only for agriculture but for future generations of New Zealanders and their prosperity. You only have to look at the current state of dairy prices to realise the vital importance of opening up new export markets and ensuring a level playing field for New Zealand exporters. . . 

Quota allocations suggest change in balance of industry power – Allan Barber:

The release of the 2016 quota allocation which Alan Williams analysed in detail (Farmers Weekly 11th January) show some considerable shifts in tonnage entitlements between the major meat exporters. The quota is allocated as a percentage of the total allowable quota for shipment to the EU for sheepmeat and USA for beef during a calendar year; in the last two years New Zealand has only filled around 75% of the EU quota and 90% and 98% of the USA beef quota.

This shortfall, especially for sheepmeat, has been a result of the lower lamb kill, economic conditions in Europe and the availability of China as an alternative market eager for product at a competitive price. In 2014 China also took large quantities of beef. . . 

Cattle operated drinking trough:

A new trough that allows cows to pump their own water as they drink could be the answer to keeping stock out of the country’s rivers and lakes, a company says.

Beef cattle roaming in waterways] have hit the headlines in the past week.

Veterinary equipment company Shoof International, which is the importer of the new pump, says it could offer a solution.

Company group sales manager John Stubbs said because it was operated by the animals there was no need for electricity or other mechanical means.

The pump could supply enough water for up to 50 stock. “[It ] operates from the animal’s nose actually pushing on a lever as they drink water from the bowl. . . 

A2 cows are the future – Keith Woodford:

Towards the end of 2015 there was a massive re-assessment of A2 milk on the New Zealand and Australian stock exchanges. The shares of ‘The a2 Milk Company’ (abbreviated hereafter to their NZX code of ATM) closed the year at almost four times their price back in May, and with market capitalisation at $NZ1.35 billion.

For a few heady hours the capital value was close to 1.7 billion – more than Trade Me and almost double The Warehouse. Since then the shares have settled back somewhat, but still showing a three-fold gain from 12 months earlier.

In essence, the drive was fuelled by several major Australian institutional investors building their stakes, and then hundreds of smaller investors climbed on board. This was in response to ongoing good news stories from ATM, based on sky rocketing sales of infant formula in Australia and China, with this news particularly well reported in the Australian media. . . 

Fishing for a complimentary use of fire reservoir ponds – Peter Kerr:

Years ago for a farm management report at Lincoln University, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek plan around the integration of goldfish in troughs on dairy farms (we’d spotted the use of such technology to help keep the troughs clean).

Well here’s a huge expansion on this idea, one that’s taken my fancy…this time utilising water ponds kept on hand by forestry companies in case they ever need to fight a fire.

(Check out the story here in last year’s Otago Daily Times)

Ernslaw One started with an experiment in one of its Maniototo forest ponds, growing koura, or freshwater crayfish, and it has been such a success, it is going to expand the programme around some of its 2000 ponds spread throughout Southland and Otago.  . . 

New Zealand wine industry financial metrics remain sound:

Financial benchmarking survey shows industry resilience

The New Zealand wine industry continues to show sound financial metrics in 2015 on the back of profitability in all but the smallest wineries and stable or increased gross margins across the board, according to the tenth annual financial benchmarking survey released today by Deloitte.

Vintage 2015 tracks the financial results of wineries accounting for nearly 40% of the industry’s total wine production by volume. Survey respondents have been categorised into bands according to revenue to assist comparison within the industry. . . 

Help cows chill out this summer:

With the current El Niño weather pattern bringing heatwave conditions to many parts of the country, it’s important to ensure cows avoid heat stress and closely monitor cow health.

As temperature and humidity levels rise this summer, farmers should take steps to ensure stock stay cool and where necessary put in place a plan help prevent facial eczema.

“These conditions also encourage facial eczema, so farmers are reminded to monitor spore levels in your area, talk to your vet and put in place a prevention plan to suit your farm situation.”

“When it comes to high temperatures this summer, put simply a cool cow is a happy cow,” says DairyNZ animal welfare team manager Chris Leach. . . 

Farmers looking for environmentally friendly solutions:

Despite recent bad press of a select few dairy farmers’ poor environmental practices, New Zealand farmers are showing an increasing interest in finding environmentally friendly farming solutions, according to Frizzell Agricultural Electronics General Manager Alastair Frizzell.

Frizzell have supplied farmers with solar powered water pump systems for the past five years and have noticed a steady increase in demand as farmers search for more sustainable ways to farm.

“We’re getting more and more calls from farmers who genuinely care about implementing sustainable farming practices,” Alastair said. . . 

How a huge dairy is solving a major pollution problem – Beth Kowitt:

Hint: The secret ingredient comes from cows.

Though city dwellers may not realize it, agriculture is a big source of carbon emissions. That’s because of livestock’s production of methane, how manure is handled, and soil management (something as simple as tilling the soil releases greenhouse gases). Dairy geniuses Mike and Sue McCloskey, partners in one of the country’s biggest dairy operations, have come up with an elegant approach to tackling several of these problems at once in the hopes of creating a zero-carbon footprint dairy farm. At the heart of the operation: a process that turns their dairies’ tons of cow manure into natural-gas fuel. Here’s how it works. . . 

 

 


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