Rural round-up

November 14, 2016

Alliance in good shape – Allan Barber:

Alliance has produced a solid result for the year ended 30 September with a pre-tax profit of $10.1 million compared with $7.9 million for the previous year achieved on 9% lower revenue of $1.366 billion. Of greater significance to farmers is the decision to distribute $9.8 million to shareholders, while the company’s equity position has improved from 58% of assets to 72%. Debt reduced from $129 million to $41 million with no seasonal debt at year end.

Alliance’s transformation programme has achieved improvements of $56 million compared with budgeted savings of $34 million and, according to chairman Murray Taggart, the company is only part of the way through the programme. In spite of the market challenges arising from global uncertainties like Brexit and the US presidential election result, Taggart told me he is feeling more optimistic than at any time since joining the Alliance board. . . 

Meat, wool lack NZ brand: report – Sally Rae:

One of the biggest weaknesses — and thus opportunities — for the meat and wool sector is the lack of a coherent New Zealand “brand” internationally.

That is a key point raised in Westpac’s latest Industry Insights report covering New Zealand’s largest primary industry.

Farmers, meat and wool processors, farm advisers and farm support business were among those canvassed for their views on the biggest risks and challenges for the sector. . . 

Stratford deposes world champ shearer Smith –

Reigning world champion Rowland Smith has been deposed by Southland shearer Nathan Stratford who will now represent New Zealand at the world championships in his home town.

The gruelling 10-month selection process ended in dramatic fashion at the Canterbury A&P show with Stratford causing the second boil-over in a many days after Mary-Anne Baty bolted into the wool-handling team with fellow Gisborne handler Joel Henare.

Stratford will team up with 2014 world champion John Kirkpatrick of Napier in the machine shearing team. . . 

Baty bolts into NZ woolhandling team:

A bolter. It’s an oft-used term in the sporting world, and it sits comfortably with Gisborne’s Mary-Anne Baty.

On Thursday Baty completed a remarkable three weeks by being named alongside Joel Henare in the CP Wool Shearing Sports New Zealand woolhandling team to compete at the 2017 world shearing and woolhandling championships in Invercargill in February.

Baty had to rely on a strong finish in the final qualifier of the six-event, year-long series in Hastings in October to sneak into the six-person selection final on a countback. She then made the most of her opportunity to qualify third from the semi-finals and take second place behind Henare to earn New Zealand selection. But it could have been a very different story. . . 

Binxi not only Blue Sky suitor – Neal Wallace:

A takeover offer by Chinese-backed NZ Binxi (Oamaru) Foods is not the only offer being considered by Southland processor Blue Sky Meats.

The company earlier this year employed Auckland consultants BDO to provide business options for Blue Sky and the $2.20 a share offer from NZ Binxi was the “first out of the blocks”, chairman Scott O’Donnell said.  

“They are not the only party talking to us.”  

The offer valued the company at $25.3 million, a significant premium on its market capitalisation value of $15m.   O’Donnell said the process of formally documenting the takeover offer, board consideration of its merits and finally making a recommendation to shareholders could take four to six weeks. . . 

Apple connoisseur to the core – Gerard Hutching:

Tony Fissette knows his apples. Hailing from Belgium’s growing heartland, he has been involved in the fresh produce business most of his working life.

As far as he is concerned, the jazz and envy apples he markets from his office near Brussels for T&G Global (the former Turners & Growers) are “the best apples I’ve ever eaten”.

European consumers agree. For the industry standard 18kg carton of jazz sold to supermarkets, growers receive an $8 premium over the old standby braeburn and royal gala varieties. . . 

Seafood New Zealand welcomes improvements to the management of our fisheries:

Seafood New Zealand welcomes the opportunity to review and refine fisheries management in New Zealand.

The Government proposes three strategic and two regulatory changes that focus on improving information gathering and management, and on ways to further minimise the industry’s environmental footprint, in the Future of our Fisheries report released by the Ministry for Primary Industries today.

“The report brings a renewed focus, for all those who love kaimoana, to work together to further improve New Zealand’s fisheries,” Seafood New Zealand Chairman George Clement said. . . 

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I think that if you were raised on a farm, you were born with dirt in your shoes, and once you get dirt in your shoes, you can’t ever get it out.

 


Rural round-up

October 17, 2016

Much done, much to do for Alliance Group – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group’s balance sheet is in “much better shape” and it will report an increased profit later this year.

Addressing the co-operative’s annual roadshow meetings, chief executive David Surveyor said the business was “much healthier” than it was a year ago.

While the financial results were yet to be confirmed, figures were “roughly” expected to show debt reduction of about $84 million, operating cash flow of $120 million, interest savings of $5 million and equity percentage of 70%.

The company also expected to make a profit distribution payment to shareholders, Mr Surveyor said.  . . 

Major a faithful friend – Sally Rae:

The bones might be a bit stiffer and the face a little whiter but there is  one constant in Major’s life — riding in the back of his master’s ute.

The 13-and-a-half-year-old golden retriever has clocked up a whopping 700,000km over the years, accompanying Power Farming Otago sales manager Russell Burgess on his road trips.

“That’s his job. He knows every morning he’s on the back of the ute and away. He loves it. When someone comes up, he’ll lift a lip …  because it’s his ute,” Mr Burgess said, while attending the East Otago Field Days in Palmerston.

In his younger years Major enjoyed a run or a swim in a lake or river during their excursions, but old age was now catching up. . . 

World First for Atkins Ranch and Waipari Station:

A Hawke’s Bay sheep farm is the first in the world to be certified for the GAP step 4 sheep programme.

GAP is the Global Animal Partnership – a non-profit, charitable organisation committed to improving the welfare of animals in agriculture. Through the GAP programme, Atkins Ranch, formerly known as Lean Meats in New Zealand, sells lamb and lamb products through Whole Foods Markets in the US and Canada. The GAP rating gives consumers confidence animals have been raised in accordance with strict animal welfare standards, says New Zealand supply chain manager Pat Maher.

“Atkins Ranch has adopted the GAP step 4 standard, which is pasture centred. This will be rolled out to our North Island producers over the next few months and will form a critical part of our procurement offering,” Maher says. . . 

Seaweed could hold the key to cutting methane emissions from cow burps –  Michael Battaglia:

When Canadian farmer Joe Dorgan noticed about 11 years ago that cattle in a paddock by the sea were more productive than his other cows, he didn’t just rediscover an Ancient Greek and Icelandic practice.

While the Ancient Greeks didn’t have to contend with global warming, it turns out that this practice could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 21st-century livestock farming.

Cows and sheep produce methane, a greenhouse gas that is 28 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Despite misconceptions, most cow methane comes from burps (90%) rather than farts (10%). Livestock produce the equivalent of 5% of human-generated greenhouse gases each year, or five times Australia’s total emissions. . .

Fast track fertiliser from new Ballance Huntly store:

Safety, efficiency and sustainability are the key features of Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ new Huntly service centre, which promises to deliver faster service, better access and close-to-home convenience for local customers.

Ballance has invested over three million dollars in the new purpose built 2500 m² store, which opened last week, including new equipment and machinery that will increase fertiliser load-out efficiency and provide significantly faster delivery times to carriers and customers.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients CEO, Mark Wynne, says that the new site reaffirms Ballance’s commitment to Huntly and the Waikato – a region where the co-operative already has strong ties with the community. . . 

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The hardest part about being vegan is having to wake up at 5am to milk all the almonds.

Pioneer’s homestead and farm sale ends six generations of family ownership:

A pioneer’s homestead residence and farm which has been continually occupied by members of the same family for six generations has been placed on the market for sale – ending some 145 years of ownership.

Hilton Station Homestead on the outskirts of Havelock North in Hawke’s Bay was built by colonial settler Robert Henry Mackenzie in 1871 and has been passed down throughout the generations from father to son ever since. Robert Mackenzie arrived in New Zealand with his family from England in 1854, aged eight.

Over the centuries, the property has hosted three Mackenzie family weddings, as well as multiple home-births during the late 1800s and early 1900s, family wakes when the ever-expanding Mackenzie clan would return from the far-flung corners of New Zealand to commemorate the passing of their own. . . 


Rural round-up

October 10, 2016

Alliance appoints Stacy to new role :

Alliance Group has appointed Heather Stacy to the newly created role of general manager livestock and shareholder services.

Ms Stacy, who starts work on November 21, has held senior leadership roles,  including as general manager of international farming with Fonterra New Zealand, and  general manager milk supply with Fonterra Australia.

She was previously the executive director of United Dairy Farmers (the dairy sector’s equivalent of Federated Farmers) and has worked in the red meat industry for Meat and Livestock Australia (Australia’s equivalent of Beef and Lamb NZ). . . 

Off to Oz to contest Wayleggo Cup:

Taieri dog trialling enthusiast Graham White, pictured above with his dogs Moss and Ladd, is off to Australia for the annual Transtasman dog trial test.

Mr White, who is president of the New Zealand Sheep Dog Trial Association, is team manager and also the New Zealand judge. . .

Contracting firm changing hands – Sally Rae:

Geoff Scurr and Blair Skevington have a few things in common.

Not only do they live in East Otago, but they showed entrepreneurial streaks from a young age, and shared a passion for the contracting industry.

Mr Scurr was just 16 when he bought his first bulldozer, an International BTD6, for $1800 — a substantial sum for a teenager.

Two years later, he bought a contracting business in Waikouaiti.

Mr Skevington bought the then-closed North Western Hotel in Palmerston when he was 19.

Being underage, he had to find a business partner with a bar manager’s licence to help him reopen it. . . 

Farm systems ‘status quo’ despite forecast milk price:

Dairy farmers Rachel and Kenneth Short say despite a potential increase in forecast milk price, they won’t be making any changes to their farm budget.

The couple are equity partners with Louis and Barbara Kuriger on a 440 cow, 168ha Taranaki farm run under a very simple, low input system which operates year-in, year-out with farm working expenses (FWE) of $1.90-$2.20/kg MS. Production for 2016/17 is expected to be 140,000kg MS.

“We’ve run the same financial budget since 2010. We never make changes to the budget – even at a high payout, our farm working expenses are identical to what they are this year,” says Rachel. . . 

While most African farms are organic @OxfamNZ @GreenpeaceNZ @SteffanBrowning – Utopia:

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Africa’s urgent need for agricultural modernization is being rudely ignored. When elite urbanites in rich countries began turning away from science-based farming in the 1980s, external assistance for agriculture in poor countries was cut sharply. As late as 1980 the U.S. Agency for International Development was still devoting 25 percent of its official development assistance to the modernization of farming, but today it is just 1 percent. . . 

Farmers warned not to plant left-over contaminated fodder beet seed:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is cautioning farmers not to plant left-over seed from any of the six lines of fodder beet seed imported last year and known to be contaminated with velvetleaf.

MPI is working with industry players and regional councils to manage the incursion of the pest weed resulting from the importation of the contaminated seed.

Response Incident Controller David Yard says there are hundreds of properties around New Zealand that have velvetleaf on them and we don’t want any more. . . 

Forest Enterprises now licensed:

One of New Zealand’s leading forest investment and management companies has been licensed.

On 3 October, Forest Enterprises Limited was licensed under the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013 to manage Managed Investment Schemes (excluding managed funds) which are primarily invested in forestry assets.

Managing Director Steve Wilton describes the licence as a “milestone” for the company.

He says Forest Enterprises was, on 5 October, one of just two forestry investment specialists that had been licensed out of a total of 51 licensed MIS managers. Most of the others are managers of managed funds. . . 

#GMO the most regulated & tested product in agricultural history:

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(Click the link on the headline above for more)


Rural round-up

September 6, 2016

Pukeuri boners get robotic workmates – Sally Rae:

A $7.5 million upgrade at Alliance Group’s Pukeuri meat works is the biggest investment at the site since redevelopment following a major fire in 2006.

Commissioning is under way of robotic  cutting machinery in the  boning room.

The machinery, developed by Scott Technology, features an X-ray unit that analyses each carcass and instructs two cutting machines where to cut.

The primal cutting machine separates carcasses into hinds, middles and forequarters.

A middles cutting machine then separates  middles into racks, loins, flaps and saddles. . . 

Water quality, farm model links asserted – Sally Rae:

New Zealand cannot continue to have conversations about protecting water quality without having a parallel set of conversations that change the farming business model, Taupo farmer Mike Barton says.

Speaking at the Institute of Forestry’s conference in Dunedin, Mr Barton questioned how to start that conversation if the model was to change.

“Food production is the biggest single component of our impact on the planet … We just don’t talk about that. Nowhere in the world do we internalise the environmental costs of food production,” he said.

About 150 years had been spent convincing consumers that food was cheap.

It would take two or three generations before environmental costs were internalised into the price model. . . 

Rakiura Maori Lands Trust & Real Journeys Announce Wild Kiwi Encounter on Rakiura/Stewart Island:

Rakiura Maori Lands Trust (RMLT) and Real Journeys announced today that their first joint tourism venture will be kiwi spotting on Stewart Island called Wild Kiwi Encounter.

These highly successful nocturnal trips were previously run by Bravo Adventures. Owner Phillip Smith, who began the original trips to see Rakiura/Stewart Island brown kiwi says he is delighted that he has been able to find a company with a solid conservation ethos to operate his Department of Conservation concession (authorisation to operate the trips).

“I’ve been running kiwi spotting trips for over a quarter of century now. I still love seeing the look on people’s faces when they see a kiwi in the wild for the first time, but was ready to put my feet up and let someone else head out into the night!” . . 

Higher lamb meat prices eroded by elevated kiwi dollar – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – Limited supply of lamb meat is pushing up prices in overseas markets, however the gains for local farmers are being eroded by the higher value of the New Zealand dollar.

The benchmark CKT price for a leg of lamb in the UK rose to 4.10 British pounds per kilogram in August, from 4.05 pounds/kg in July and 3.40 pounds/kg in August last year, according to AgriHQ data. In New Zealand dollar terms, returns declined to $7.41/kg in August, from $7.53/kg in July, and $8.35/kg a year earlier.

New Zealand’s lamb numbers fell last season as farmers reduced sheep numbers to cope with drought conditions, and are expected to decline a further 2.9 percent to 23.3 million this spring, according to the Economic Service of farmer-owned industry organisation Beef + Lamb New Zealand. . . 

Tonnellerie de Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker 2016 announced:

Congratulations to Jordan Hogg from Seresin – the Tonnellerie de Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker 2016. The National Final was held on Tuesday 23 August at MRC and the winner was announced at the Bragato Wine Awards dinner on Thursday 25 August.

Congratulations also goes to Alex Roper from Mission Estate, Hawke’s Bay who was the runner up. Tom Hindmarsh and Matt Fox were the other finalists, also performing strongly throughout the competition. . . 

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Female farmer – of course I don’t work as hard as men, I get it right the first time.

Buchan Uncorks New Design at NZ Winery:

Global architectural firm The Buchan Group has uncorked its design of the Mt. Beautiful Tasting Room in Cheviot, New Zealand, aimed at introducing food and wine enthusiasts to this internationally successful, locally grown wine label.

Mt. Beautiful is a premium North Canterbury wine brand grown and produced at Spotswood, 9 kilometres north of Cheviot. The tasting room based in Cheviot showcases its varieties in Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Chardonnay. . . 

Rod McDonald wines scoop international design award for ‘One Off’ Pinot Noir:

Hawkes Bay wine company Rod McDonald Wines is the only New Zealand winery and business to win a prestigious prize in the 2016 Harpers Design Awards.

The internationally recognised design awards, made up of a high calibre judging panel, received entries from ten countries around the world, with only five picking up an award.

“The standard was high, with some stunning examples of enticing and engaging design, really lifting those products above the ordinary,” said Harpers editor Andrew Catchpole. “But our brief as judges went beyond purely aesthetical considerations, looking at how well the design of each product had been tailored to the client’s brief and its target market.” . . 


Shareholders back SFF

August 15, 2016

Silver Fern Farms’ shareholders have backed the board in its plan to enter into partnership with Shanghai Maling:

A strong majority of 80.4% of votes in favour of the 50/50 partnership with Shanghai Maling reinforced Silver Fern Farms Board’s position that the partnership is in the best interests of shareholders and the Co-operative.

The resounding support from shareholders came at a Special Meeting requisitioned by Messrs John Shrimpton, Blair Gallagher and a group which included 31 other shareholders who supported a statement stating they wanted to stop the $261m investment into Silver Fern Farms.

The 80.4% of shareholders’ votes in support of the partnership follows the result of the October 2015 vote, where 82% of votes cast supported the transaction. Both vote results exceeded the 75% Special Resolution threshold put forward by the Requisitioners. Chairman Rob Hewett said it was pleasing shareholders remained overwhelmingly supportive of the partnership.

“While the Board has clearly stated its view that the outcome of this meeting could not bind the company given the valid and binding approval last October, it is pleasing to see shareholders reaffirm their support and maintain their confidence in this exciting opportunity to create a sustainable Silver Fern Farms,” Mr Hewett said.

Mr Hewett said the partnership would create a strong Silver Fern Farms.

“This partnership will enable us to generate higher, sustainable returns for our shareholders.

“Shareholders have again made it clear they want progress for their company. They want meaningful change and are genuinely excited about the prospects presented through this significant investment and partnership with Shanghai Maling.

“The Board has strongly disagreed with the negative stance on the transaction taken by Messrs Shrimpton and Gallagher. They have caused significant disruption and their actions have been damaging to the company. Their allegations have proven to be entirely unfounded. Independent reviews by both the Financial Markets Authority and the Registrar of Companies have found no issue with the information provided to shareholders in October 2015 or the actions of the Directors.

Chief Executive Dean Hamilton said the process to complete the transaction had continued with all outstanding information now with the Overseas Investment Office for its consideration.

“We remain confident that we will achieve OIO approval prior to 30 September, and proceed to complete the transaction by 4 January 2017 as previously announced.

“The clear message from the voters is to get on with it, and realise this opportunity ahead of us.”

2610 shareholders voted representing 62.15% of eligible votes.

John Shrimpton says he accepts that shareholders have spoken.

New Zealand First which has also been a very vocal opponent of the plan continues to show it doesn’t understand the issue:

New Zealand First says Silver Fern Farms’ shareholders will regret selling majority control of their co-op to the Chinese but expects the Overseas Investment Office will greenlight it at breakneck speed.

“Today was the owners of Silver Fern Farms last chance to preserve one of New Zealand’s great assets for present and future farmers,” Mr Peters says. . . 

“How is it that foreigners can see value in what we produce, but the producers and this government can’t? Meat progressively joins forestry and increasingly dairying to condemn farmers as price takers at the bottom of the heap. . . 

This was a matter for shareholders not politicians.

SFF needs a large investment if it is to survive. Shareholders weren’t prepared to invest more and the company wasn’t able to get other investment from within New Zealand.

If the partnership doesn’t go ahead the company has no future, and even if it does get OIO approval, SFF has a lot of work ahead of it.

The deal leaves Alliance Group as the only co-operative in the meat industries, farmers who prefer that model can choose to support that company.


Rural round-up

June 27, 2016

Brexit has major implications for the New Zealand sheep and beef industry:

“We are concerned about the future of New Zealand’s sheep and beef exports to the UK and the EU following the UK’s vote to leave the EU,” says Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association of New Zealand.

“Our sheep and beef trade to both the UK and EU are inextricably linked through quota access and both are likely to be affected,” said Sam McIvor, CEO of Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

The EU is New Zealand’s most valuable market for red meat and associated co-products, accounting for over NZ$2 billion in trade last year. . . 

Banks put heat on meat co-ops – Neal Wallace:

Banks appear to be running out of patience with meat company debt, asking both co-operatives to reduce their level of borrowing.

Both Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group have confirmed they have been told by their banks to reduce seasonal and core debt, but Alliance chairman Murray Taggart said his board had decided to do that anyway.  

Late last month Alliance chief executive David Surveyor told shareholders at the Alliance Pure South Conference banks had sent a strong message to the co-operative to reduce debt. . . 

Changing world will suit our red meat sector – Allan Barber:

When sheep and beef farmers are questioning whether they will ever receive the returns they need, there is potentially considerable hope for the future. The changing demographics and spheres of global influence indicate a substantial change in the relative economic power of the markets with which we trade.

The ANZ Bank’s June report focuses on new horizons in Asia, highlighting the top six countries we already trade with, representing 80% of New Zealand’s bilateral trade with Asia, and a second division of up and coming prospects. The report’s focus on Asia means our trade with the rest of the world is excluded from the analysis, but it provides a timely reminder of the opportunities available in markets not previously seen as easy or possible to develop.

These opportunities are further underlined by the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations held recently in Auckland involving 16 Asian countries which importantly include India. . . 

Dairy cow cull eases – Alan Williams:

Dairy cow cull numbers are finally reducing after spending most of the processing season in line with the high tallies of last year.  

Most people expected the cull to end early in the season but the numbers have only been falling since the end of May, week 33 of the killing season.

Going in to that week the tallies were down only 0.3% on the same time last year, at about 800,000; then the week itself was down 7% on last year and the companies have indicated the trend has continued. . . 

Silver Fern Farms seeks extension on Chinese deal :

Meat processing company Silver Fern Farms is seeking a time extension for official approval of its controversial deal with a Chinese company.

It also wants to defer a special meeting called by unhappy shareholders.

The joint venture with China’s biggest meat processor, Shanghai Maling, was approved by a majority of shareholders last October but still needs government and Overseas Investment Office approval. . .

Vineyards in growth mode – Sally Rae:

New Zealand’s vineyard area could expand by as much as 7000ha during the next five years, an almost 20% boost to the present producing area.

The expansion was under way, with an estimated 1800ha of grapes in the ground coming into production by the 2018 vintage, ANZ’s latest Agri Focus report said.

Marlborough would remain the epicentre of the sector at 65%-70% of the growing area, with the next largest areas being Hawke’s Bay, Otago and Gisborne. . .


Rural round-up

April 4, 2016

Alliance taking NZ produce to the world – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group is looking at how to “take a New Zealand Inc story to the world”.

Chief executive David Surveyor, who has returned from a trip to Asia, said the company was happy to do that with other industry players, whether it was the likes of kiwifruit growers, cheese or wine makers.

It was also happy to do it with other red meat companies “where it makes sense”, Mr Surveyor said. . . 

Eyes on lamb price as supply falls – Sally Rae:

Time will tell which “fork in the road” lamb prices will take over the coming months, ASB rural economist Nathan Penny says.

While the good news was that prices had stopped falling, the bad news was that prices remained low.

In the latest ASB rural commodities outlook, Mr Penny said one possibility would be “more of the same”, with prices remaining low until the spring before a modest recovery began.

That pattern would be consistent with demand remaining weak, particularly in Europe and the Middle East. . . 

Harvest brings grain glut – Annette Scott:

Canterbury is awash with feed grain, forcing cropping farmers to pay for off-farm storage for the surplus.  

But despite treading water over the next 12 months the industry was confident it had the resilience to ride out the glut, Federated Farmers arable chairman Guy Wigley said.  

The strong harvest this season, combined with a lot of grain carried over from the previous year meant farmers had to account for significant quantities of uncommitted grain. . . 

Farmers win with revived stream

Fish and Game has rewarded the Waikuku Water Management group for its efforts to protect a north Canterbury stream.  

The group is the first recipient of North Canterbury Fish and Game’s Working with Nature Award for outstanding efforts to improve local freshwater habitats.  

The award recognises what Fish and Game describes as the dedicated efforts of a number of farmers to protect and give back to the Waikuku Stream. . .

Farmer events spread message – Glenys Christian:

Northland dairy farmers have been urged to put strategies in place to move forward, monitor progress and keep communication up.  

A facilitation day organised by the Rural Support Trust, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers in Whangarei attracted more than 30 farmers.  

“That’s a good turnout for the north as some have started autumn calving,” Northland Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Julie Jonker said. . .

 

 

Hat tip: The Farming Show


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