Rural round-up

September 25, 2019

Bill will impact sector significantly – David Surveyor:

Government legislation must not result in a reduction in farming production and cause damage to local communities, writes David Surveyor.

As a farmer-owned red meat co-operative, we are fielding many questions from concerned farmers about the impact of the Zero Carbon Bill.

Our shareholders from the North Island to the deep south include sheep, beef, venison and dairy farmers.

Alliance supports the ambition of the Bill to establish a framework to reduce emissions so New Zealand is contributing to limit the global average temperature increase to 1.58degC above pre-industrial levels. The Paris Agreement also specifically speaks to protecting food production – the world needs protein to feed its people.

The $700m bombshell that could explain Fonterra’s results postponement – Peter Fraser:

Fonterra has delayed its walk up the annual results aisle by two weeks, after earlier warning it will make a multi-million dollar loss. Peter Fraser traces the events leading up to the surprise decision and considers whether there is more to it than meets the eye.

For Fonterra, September 12 2019 mattered. It was the day its much-anticipated and well signposted end-of-year financial results were scheduled to be released.

The issue was simple. In recent times nothing has gone Fonterra’s way, and as a result the organisation has found itself in the headlines for all the wrong reasons (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. And here and here. And here too. And don’t forget here and here.) . .

An inside look at Southland dairy:

A big crowd at a recent open day at a Winton herdhome shelter proves there’s an appetite for change as Southland’s farmers look to ‘gain ground’ with a more efficient use of land and labour.

After converting to dairy over 23 years ago Shane and Vicky Murphy have steadily increased their herd while pragmatically investing in the infrastructure of their Winton farm. . .

ANZ ties $50m loan for Synlait to environment, social and governance measures:

Synlait Milk will reap cheaper interest costs if it hits various environmental, social and governance in a $50 million, four-year loan with ANZ Bank. However, if it falls short, that bill will be higher.

“This is the first time any New Zealand company has agreed with its bankers to link its sustainability agenda to its cost of funds. This is exciting and innovative,” Katharine Tapley, head of sustainable finance solutions for ANZ, told BusinessDesk.

The loan will effectively transfer ANZ’s existing $50m committed four-year revolver loan with Synlait into an ESG linked loan and a discount or premium to the base lending margin will be applied, based on its performance around a score of measures. Synlait and ANZ declined to specify details around the discount or premium, citing commercial sensitivity. . .

Warnings raised that legalising cannabis could contaminate food supply – Zac Fleming:

Experts are warning that the legalisation of cannabis could increase the levels of contamination in other crops and impact our trade relationships, writes Zac Fleming. 

Warnings have been raised with the government that New Zealand’s trade relationships could be compromised by food contaminated with cannabis if the plant is legalised.

On at least four occasions between December last year and April this year, Ministry for Primary Industries staff warned ministers and high-ranking trade officials of a potential “significant trade risk” arising from the legalisation of cannabis. . .

Protecting the environment:

British farmers work hard to enhance the British countryside, maintain habitats for native plants and animals, maintain footpaths, protect watercourses and support wildlife species.

Just as we depend on the UK’s farmland for the food we eat every day, so does the country’s wildlife. And with 71% of land in the UK managed by farmers, it’s easy to see what an important role they play in helping to protect and encourage wildlife and habitats. . .


Rural Round-up

June 17, 2019

ANZ’s rural manager questions capital call – Richard Rennie:

It is a case of when rather than if banks will have to increase their capital reserves against loans and rural customers will end up paying, ANZ commercial and agricultural manager Mark Hiddleston says.

Late last year the Reserve Bank said it wants banks to increase the amount of capital held as security against loans, with weighted capital increases likely to be greater for riskier parts of banks’ lending. 

That prompted fears the dairy and construction sectors in particular could wear the brunt of the higher capital requirements through higher interest rates. . .

Community a priority for environmental winners – Nigel Malthus:

Staying in touch with their community is a priority for the 2019 Canterbury regional Ballance Farm Environmental Award winners, Duncan and Tina Mackintosh.

The Mackintoshes own and run White Rock Mains farm, a 1056ha sheep and dairy support property nestled against the hills at North Loburn, near Rangiora.

Their recent winner’s field day featured presentations from the local North Loburn Primary School, which has partnered with the Mackintoshes on Garden to Table and Predator-Free programmes.

Cattle culls don’t rely on tests – Annette Scott:

Herds with cattle bought from properties confirmed as being infected with Mycoplasma bovis will be culled, regardless of test results, Primary Industries Ministry chief science adviser John Roche says.

More efficient testing is in the pipelines but it’s several years away.

In the meantime any herds containing cattle from properties confirmed as infected will be considered extremely high risk and will also be culled, Roche said.

Tests being used are adequate to determine the need to cull infected and extremely high risk animals.  . .

Climate change and the rural way of life – Alex Braae:

The government’s environmental policy is creating major tensions in farming communities. Alex Braae went to a meeting in Taumarunui to see it play out. 

“We’ve got to get the government’s attention somehow. Okay, we’re not all going to jump on our tractors and drive to Wellington. But we could jump on our tractors and block all the roads for a day and a half, just to get them to listen.”

The comment came from the floor, at a public meeting on carbon farming being held at the Taumarunui Golf Club. It was a rainy day, which meant farmers had some free time. The room was packed and fearful. In question was the future of their town, their district and their way of life.

A while ago, some farmers started talking about the ‘triple bottom line’ – economic, environmental and social. They started assessing themselves on not only how much money could be brought in, but how the farm contributed to the wider community and ecosystem. It’s a concept borrowed from the world of corporate sustainability, and has parallels in the long term view of what farming should be about. Obviously, the performance of the farming world has been mixed on all three, particularly the environmental bottom line, but the mindset is changing.. . 

One billion trees snag? Bay of Plenty, Taupō face ‘drastic’ shortage of planters – Samantha Olley:

The Government wants one billion trees planted across the country by 2028. It has allocated $120 million for grants for landowners to plant new areas and $58m to set up Te Uru Rākau forestry service premises in Rotorua. Across the country, 80m trees are expected to be planted this season. However, Bay of Plenty and Taupō contractors are facing an uphill battle to get trees in the ground. Reporter Sam Olley investigates.

CNI Forest Management has 100 planters working in the wider Bay of Plenty and Taupō this season but it’s not enough and the company is struggling to find workers now more than ever before.

Director Stewart Hyde told the Rotorua Daily Post the company started recruiting six weeks before the start of May when planting began, but “we just can’t get enough people”.

“It’s having a drastic effect.” . . 

How to restore depleted soils with cattle – Heather Smith Thomas:

Michael Thiele’s mission today is to acquaint more farmers and ranchers with a holistic view of agriculture.

Thiele grew up on a farm west of Dauphin, Man., just north of Riding Mountain National Park. His father had a small grain farm and a few cows.

“We were busy trying to farm and make a living and like all the other farmers around us, we were creating a monoculture of grain crops — mostly wheat, canola, oats and barley,” says Thiele.

“When I went to university, I thought soil was simply dirt,” he says. People didn’t realize how alive soil is, teeming with life and activity, and how much we depend on a healthy soil system. Now Thiele is trying to help producers understand that the way we farmed created unhealthy soil. . . 

 


Rural round-up

August 20, 2018

Big US beef index job for AbacusBio – Sally Rae:

Dunedin-based agribusiness consulting company AbacusBio is rebuilding the selection indexes for the American Angus Association, the world’s largest beef cattle society.

AbacusBio partner Jason Archer, who has specialised in beef cattle throughout his career, was thrilled the company was chosen for the work.

The association has more than 25,000 members across the United States and Canada and the scale of the industry was “unbelievable”,  Dr Archer said.

In fact, the work that was being done by AbacusBio meant it affected billions of dollars’ worth of production.

Often, breed societies had selection indexes balancing all the traits that were being measured, and those indexes were both a selection tool and also became “a bit of a benchmark” when evaluating bulls, he said. . . 

Walk On history ‘pretty amazing Kiwi story’ – Sally Rae:

The establishment of Walk On is a “pretty amazing Kiwi story”, new chief executive Mark Davey says.

The  company, founded by young entrepreneur Lucas Smith, produces blister protection products using soft merino wool.

It has appointed Dr Davey as its first chief executive as part of an initiative to carry the momentum of Walk On’s initial domestic success into international markets.

Walk On had secured a national distribution deal with outdoor and adventure sports multi-channel retailer Torpedo 7 and was also available in 10 retail stores nationally, Dr Davey said. . . 

Milking it: NZ’s milk price: Who’s getting rich? Susan Edmunds:

New Zealand milk prices are “astoundingly high” – and we might have supermarkets to blame, one marketing expert says.

Bodo Lang, head of department at the University of Auckland Business School, said the price paid by New Zealanders stood out internationally.

“Particularly when considering that New Zealand is home to one of the world’s largest dairy companies, Fonterra. The problem, however, is not restricted to milk. Other dairy products too have, in comparison with other industrialised nations, exceptionally high prices.”

He said a litre of fresh milk in Germany was selling for the equivalent of $1.51, compared to $2.37 in New Zealand. . . 

Milking it: ‘Micro differences’ between brands. Why are some customers happy to pay a premium? – John Anthony:

Craig Prichard remembers when milk tasted very different from region to region.

“Milk in Taranaki where I grew up was different to the milk in Napier,” Prichard said.

The Massey associate professor, and sheep milk specialist, said things like climate, pasture and production methods used to greatly change the taste profile and characteristics of milk.

“That’s largely disappeared.” . . 

Rural land value a shrinking influence for a bank loan – Andrea Fox:

Banks’ rural credit decisions will increasingly depend on sustainable farming practices, not land value, says the country’s biggest rural lender ANZ Bank.

Commercial and agriculture managing director Mark Hiddleston said ANZ’s credit decisions have for some time been based more on farm performance than the traditional 65 per cent land-to-value ratio and that model looks likely to increase in use.

Also due for change he believes is the banking sector’s use of “a lot of averages”. . . 

Horizons proposes plan change that will get farms compliant – Laurel Stowell:

In an effort to get intensive farms legally consented, Horizons Regional Council is proposing to change numbers on the maximum nitrogen they can leach in its controversial One Plan table.

The matter was discussed at a strategy and policy committee meeting on August 14, and councillors agreed to a three-staged approach.

Last year the Environment Court told the council it must refuse consent to farmers unable to restrict nitrogen leaching to totals in the One Plan’s Table 14.2. The totals were taken from a version of Overseer, a computer system for estimating the amount of nitrogen leaching through soil. . . 

 

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Rural round-up

August 16, 2018

 A flow of “fresh air” – here’s hoping Fonterra’ s financial performance gets a good whiff – Point of Order:

Fonterra’s  latest move, appointing Miles Hurrell as interim CEO  “with immediate  effect”, has   sent  fresh rumbles  through the  dairy industry.

The  co-op’s  chairman John Monaghan, announcing the move,  spoke of the need  to  “breathe  some fresh  air  into the business”.

He is  not alone with this observation:  several  politicians  have been calling for just that – but  many of the  co-op’s 10,500 farmer-suppliers may be wondering  what exactly  a  blast of   “fresh air”  may do. . .

Animal tracking legislation to be debated under urgency – Gia Garrick:

Legislation to properly enforce the animal tracking guidelines, which were found to be hugely inadequate during the Mycoplasma bovis response, is to be debated under urgency tonight and through tomorrow.

It will mean farmers’ compliance with the National Animal Identification and Tracing scheme (NAIT) – the country’s cattle and deer tracking system – will be properly monitored.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said there would be penalties for those who did not comply.

“We will certainly have enforcement of these new guidelines, I can promise you that,” he said. . . 

Farmers encouraged to open homes to drought-hit Australians –  Esther Taunton:

Kiwi farmers are being urged to extend the hand of mateship to their drought-stricken Australian counterparts.

Federated Farmers national president Katie Milne said the organisation was working on ways to help farmers hit by severe drought across the Tasman.

Much of southeastern Australia is struggling with drought but conditions in New South Wales are the driest and most widespread since 1965.  . . 

Poorest performing iwi invested in large farms, ANZ report says – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – The poorest performing iwi investment in recent years has come from farming, which is often favoured for cultural rather than economic considerations, according to the latest annual ‘Iwi Investment Insights’ report by ANZ Bank New Zealand.

In its 2018 annual ‘Te Tirohanga Whānui’ research report, ANZ evaluated the asset base of 34 iwi and hapū, finding the commercial assets of the combined group had increased by just over $1 billion, or 12 percent, to $5.4 billion since 2015. The report found the most common asset in the top quartile for underlying returns was the significant holdings in managed funds which have performed well in recent years. On the flip-side, most iwi/hapū in the lower quartile were actively managing large farms. . .

Raising triplets indoors works – Joanna Grigg:

It’s raining outside, again, but it’s not worrying these new lambs.

All 250 of Richard Dawkins’ triplet-bearing ewes get seven days or so indoors to adjust to supplementary feed, birth their lambs, bond and feed.

Then it’s out to the real world, albeit a nearby paddock with ad-lib clover and a watchful eye for that fading third lamb. . .

Sheep meats are in a sweet spot – Keith Woodford:

This year has been an exceptional year for many sheep farmers.  Lamb and mutton prices have been at record levels.

The key drivers have been increasing demand from China combined with lower exchange rates. Sales to Britain have slowed down, linked to a ‘buy British’ campaign over there. But that has not been enough to counter the overall good news story.

Sheep farmers are telling me that, for the first time in many years, sheep farming is fun again. The cash is coming through to upgrade tracks and other infrastructure. Venison prices have also been exceptional for those sheep farmers who also farm deer. Most sheep farmers also run beef cattle and they too have been paying well. . .

LIC’s Murray King named Co-operative Leader of the Year:

Farmer owned co-operative LIC is pleased to announce its board chairman Murray King has been named Co-operative Leader of the Year at the Co-operative Business NZ Awards 2018.

The annual award recognises those who have shown strong leadership and commitment to the co-operative sector.

A Nelson-based dairy farmer, Murray has a long-standing connection to LIC and the dairy farming community of the upper South Island. . .


Rural round-up

February 3, 2018

Farmers band together for storm clean-up – Alexa Cook:

West Coast farmers are picking up the pieces after ex-cyclone Fehi left paddocks ruined, fences ripped out, and trees down.

The Westland dairy factory in Hokitika only has limited power and can’t process milk or pick it up from several parts of the region – including farms in Ikamatua and north, Runanga up to Karama, and Mount Hercules south.

Dairy farmer Rebecca Keoghan lives near Westport and manages seven Landcorp farms in the area. . . 

Events to offer advice to farmers – Sally Rae:

Various events and gatherings to help farmers coping with drought conditions have already been scheduled throughout Otago.

On Tuesday, the drought in Southland and parts of Otago was classified as a medium-scale adverse event.

That classification covered all of Southland, plus the Queenstown Lakes, Central Otago and Clutha districts and triggered additional funding of up to $130,000 for rural support trusts and industry groups to co-ordinate recovery support. . . 

Bull attack: ‘Pushed me into the ground, gored me a bit‘ – Phil Pennington:

A Hawke’s Bay farmer and his dogs have survived an attack by a half-tonne bull that flipped over his quad bike.

“One bull just broke out of the mob and snorted a couple of times, and you have that sense of dread that something’s not going to go right here,” said Robert Pattullo, 57, from his family farm at Puketitiri 15km west of Napier.

“He charged at the bike – I’d hopped off by that stage – completely flipped it over in one go. This is a 650-kilo bull against a probably 350-kilo bike.”

Friesian bulls were normally placid and he did not know what had set the animal off yesterday morning, Mr Patullo said. . .

Milk producer cuts forecast price:

Westland Milk Products has cut its forecast milk price back by more than 20 cents.

The co-operative is now expecting a price of between $6.20 and $6.50.

Fonterra’s farmgate forecast milk price is currently $6.40 kg/ms, and Synlait is forecasting $6.50.

Westland chair Pete Morrison said the drop in milk price was in line with other milk companies.

“We’re kind to all our stakeholders and we want to keep it as reliable and with as much integrity as possible … so we thought best to indicate that now. . . 

Rising milk price helps push Open Country annual revenue above $1B –  Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Open Country Dairy, New Zealand’s second-largest milk processor, generated more than $1 billion of revenue last year but payments for milk rose faster than receipts from customers and profit fell.

Profit was $23 million in the year ended Sept. 30 from about $62 million a year earlier, its accounts show. Sales rose 34 percent to $1.1 billion while cost of sales gained about 44 percent.

Open Country didn’t disclose volume figures in its public annual accounts but chair Laurie Margrain said it was up on a year ago.. . .

Beef + Lamb NZ to review investment in Sector Capability:

Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) is seeking farmers’ views on its Sector Capability Programme.

Richard Wakelin, B+LNZ’s General Manager Innovation, says the review will consider farmer investment through B+LNZ in the Sector Capability Programme overall and its various activities.

“The review will look at B+LNZ investment in the current portfolio of activities, how these activities align with farmer needs and perceptions, and how they provide value back to the sheep and beef sector.” . . 

Global demand for NZ kiwifruit creating regional growth opps:

The New Zealand kiwifruit sector is set for growth following 2017’s record season and new development opportunities across the country, according to the ANZ Kiwifruit Insights paper.

The sector has bounced back following the PSA crisis, helped by increasing global demand which saw kiwifruit sales rise by $694m from the 2015/16 – 2016/17 seasons.

“The success of the kiwifruit sector is remarkable. It has continued to invest in new varieties while staying connected to consumer demand and has worked hard to keep international markets alive,” said ANZ Managing Director for Commercial & Agri, Mark Hiddleston. . . 

New Zealand and India building stronger horticultural relationships:

A new partnership has been announced between New Zealand and the State of Himachal Pradesh under the Himachal Pradesh Horticultural Development Project which targets smallholder farmers in northern India.

The Himachal Pradesh Horticultural Development project aims to be the start of a much broader relationship with New Zealand horticulture.

The New Zealand team, working on the project, includes scientists from Plant & Food Research, Agfirst Engineering, Fruition Horticulture and other New Zealand-based specialists with additional support from the New Zealand pipfruit industry body, New Zealand Apples & Pears and New Zealand Government agencies. . . 

The Woolmark Company and adidas present the Woolmark Performance Challenge:

The Woolmark Company and leading sports brand adidas have joined forces to launch a design competition focussing on the development of innovative, forward-thinking products for the performance industry. The Woolmark Performance Challenge is a new annual competition for tertiary students in Europe and North America and is set to kick-start the career of the eventual winner.

The competition provides an unrivalled opportunity for tertiary students to develop innovative new product applications within the sports and performance market, by applying the science and performance benefits of Australian Merino wool. . .


Higher spending, tax, debt

November 16, 2017

Economists are warning that the Labour-led government’d Debt will be billions more than planned.

. . . In Opposition Labour laid out a fiscal plan which would borrow around $11 billion more than National had proposed, but still cut debt as a share of the total economic output from 24 per cent to 20 per cent by 2022.

The plan formed a major point of contention during the election campaign, as National finance spokesman Steven Joyce was widely mocked for his claim that Robertson’s plan had a major “fiscal hole”.

This is a very good argument for independent costing of party policies before an election.

But bank economists, who monitor the likely issuance of government bonds, are warning of pressure for Treasury to borrow billions more than Labour had signalled because of new spending promises.

ANZ has forecast that Labour will borrow $13 billion more than Treasury’s pre-election fiscal update maintained the former Government would over the next four years, although around $3b of that would go to the NZ Super Fund.

Borrowing to contribute to the super fund is as reckless as borrowing to play the share market instead of paying off a mortgage.

This would see net Crown debt at 23 per cent of gross domestic product, 3 percentage points higher than Labour’s plan.

Outgoing ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie said the estimates for new spending were “conservative”, including an assumption that the new $1b a year regional development fund would come entirely from existing budgets. . . 

BNZ senior economist Craig Ebert said the figures were hard to determine so early in the term, but borrowing “could amount to a number of billion dollars” more than Labour had outlined. . . 

During question time in Parliament on Tuesday, Robertson maintained that the Government was sticking to its pre-election debt plan.

“But what we’re not prepared to put up with is a situation where we do not have enough affordable homes, where we have not made contributions to the [NZ] Super Fund, and where an enormous social deficit is growing,” Robertson said.

“In those circumstances a slower debt repayment track is totally appropriate.”

A much more disciplined approach to spending would be wiser.

National took office when the kitty was empty and Treasury was forecasting a decade of deficits.

In spite of the GFC and natural and financial disasters, it returned the books to surplus without a slash and burn approach to social spending.

This government has taken over with plenty of money in the kitty and forecasts of continuing surpluses.

With careful management, it should be able to

Labour and many on the left talk about the “failed policies of the 80s”.

They never look at the cause of the problems which precipitated those radical policies – higher spending, higher taxes and higher borrowing.

Those were the failed policies.

Unless the new government takes a much more careful approach, it will take path New Zealand down that path again.


Rural round-up

January 20, 2016

Farmers cop blame – Richard Rennie:

Farming and tourism, the country’s two biggest industries, are set to lock horns over future water quality standards.  

A water campaign with the horsepower of the $12 billion tourism sector behind it will have farming further under the spotlight and under pressure to play a bigger role in lifting national water standards.  

It is gathering signatures for a petition to raise water standards and wants a parliamentary select committee hearing on the issue.

A group of campaigners this month launched a road trip under the Choose Clean Water campaign banner. It is seeking stories from New Zealanders about the quality of waterways in their districts.. . 

Irrigating farmers experience “mixed bag” with El Nino:

While drought conditions persist in many parts of the country, some irrigating farmers are coping well with the dry conditions aided by water supply from alpine-fed irrigation schemes, says IrrigationNZ.

Farmers taking water from rivers and lakes topped up by West Coast rain have benefited from El Nino’s erratic weather pattern this summer, says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

“While we support the Minister’s move to extend the official drought in the South Island, it is interesting to note that farmers connected to the big alpine-fed rivers and lakes haven’t struggled this season, despite low rainfall on the East Coast and an early start to the irrigation season with high temperatures in spring,” says Mr Curtis. . . 

Drought in South Island enters second year:

Widespread drought conditions in the South Island mean the medium-scale event classification will be extended until the end of June, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“Extra funding of up to $150,000 will go to local Rural Support Trusts with $40,000 of this going to the North Canterbury Trust,” says Mr Guy.

Speaking with farmers at a sheep and beef farm in Weka Pass, Hurunui, Mr Guy acknowledged this is the third time the classification has been extended.

“Marlborough, Canterbury and parts of Otago were originally classified as a medium-scale event on 12 February 2015 and have had very little rainfall for more than a year now. . . 

Nominations open for Ron Cocks Memorial Award:

Nominations have opened for IrrigationNZ’s Ron Cocks Memorial Award which recognises outstanding leadership within the irrigation industry. The deadline for nominations is 9th February.

The Ron Cocks Memorial Award is presented every two years at the organisation’s biennial conference to acknowledge a person who has made a significant contribution to irrigation in New Zealand.

Two years ago, IrrigationNZ presented the award for the first time ever to two individuals. . . 

Farmers: South Island rain not a drought-breaker -Emma Cropper:

As the wet summer continues to frustrate holiday-goers, torrential rain has kept fire crews busy as it caused minor flooding to low-lying parts of Timaru.

But the heavy downpour has been welcomed by drought-stricken farmers in Hawarden, though they say the challenge isn’t over yet as they find out tomorrow if much-needed support is heading their way.

For the first time in 18 months, it’s pouring on Iain Wright’s farm. Running water and puddles have appeared after three days of gentle, on-and-off rain.

“Things have really turned around now,” he says. “We’ve got moisture in the ground. The paddocks have greened up. There’s hope.” . . .

Ruataniwha Dam’s future still uncertain – Peter Fowler:

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s Investment Company has still not secured an institutional investor for the controversial Ruataniwha Dam despite saying earlier it was confident it would be able to do so by the end of 2015.

HBRIC has been looking for institutional investors to put money into the dam since Trustpower and Ngai Tahu pulled out in early 2014, saying the risks surrounding the dam were too high and the returns too low.

In the middle of last December, HBRIC said it was confident it would be able to confirm a preferred investor mix for the project before the end of the year.

It said intensive work was being done with three potential investors but it would not make its decision public until very early in 2016. . . 

Theft of calves in Waimate pormpts warning:

The theft of 25 calves in the Waimate district has prompted fresh warnings for farmers to increase security and keep an eye on their stock numbers.

A farmer on Sodwall Road in Otaio has reported the theft of five heifer and 20 bull calves, thought to have be stolen between November and 5 January.

Waimate Sergeant s said the farmer was unaware the stock were missing until he counted heads in his yards.

“The calves weren’t reported as stolen until the farmer had accounted for all his cattle – got them in and did a head count. . . 

ANZ extends dry weather assistance package for South Island farmers:

ANZ is extending its assistance package to South Island farmers affected by extreme dry conditions.

The bank will commit an additional $20 million to the assistance package, but will extend that if demand for help from farmers is high. ANZ launched the assistance package last January.

The announcement follows the Government today extending its South Island drought declaration, which covers much of the South Island’s east coast, until 30 June 2016.

“While farmers in some areas have welcomed rainfall recently, others are still grappling with extreme dry conditions that will impact the productivity of their farms for some time to come,” said Troy Sutherland, ANZ’s General Manager Southern Commercial & Agri. . . 

Waikato Woman Wins Poultry Trainee of the Year Award:

Waikato woman Dahook Azzam regards her job at an Inghams Enterprises meat chicken breeder farm as an ideal opportunity to combine theoretical knowledge with practical experience. And her enthusiasm for her new career in a new country has played a key role in her recent win of the Poultry Trainee of the Year Award for 2015.

The award is given each year to the top-performing trainee in all of the training courses run by the poultry industry in cooperation with the Primary Industry Training Organisation (PrimaryITO).

Dahook is currently an Assistant Farm Manager whose role includes daily feeding, watering and environmental checks of the birds as well as farm and staff management and data entry. . . 

 


Rural round-up

November 17, 2015

Farm shows profit possible – Sally Rae:

”Do the maths. Invest in the future.”

That’s the simple message from Richard Subtil, who is unashamedly proud to be a sheep and beef farmer.

Mr Subtil and his wife Annabelle, who farm Omarama Station, were the supreme winners in this year’s Canterbury Ballance farm environment awards.

A field day was held recently at their 12,000ha Upper Waitaki property, which has been in Mrs Subtil’s family since 1919.

The impressive operation includes merino sheep and beef cattle, an extensive irrigation development, a hydroelectricity plant and a homestay.

James Hoban, one of the judges for the awards, described it as a ”very hard business to fault”. On the economic side, the Subtils were industry-leading, profitable high country farmers. . .  

Refining essence of NZ forests – Sally Rae:

When Paul Greaves suffered a brain stem stroke back in 2012, it forced some major changes in his life.

Not only did he have to learn to walk again but, after more than four decades working in the forestry industry, he found he could no longer handle the high pressure of his job.

But a passion for the industry remained and, when he met Michael Sly, now a director of Wilding and Co, and Mathurin Molgat, and they talked about wanting to turn Douglas fir into essential oil, his interest was aroused. . . 

Fonterra farmers sheer earnings upgrade – Fiona Rotherham:

Dairy farmers say Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s largest dairy exporter, is finally starting to deliver better business returns which are meant to counter low farmgate payouts when global dairy prices are low.

The Auckland-based cooperative raised its forecast available payout range for this season by 5 cents as it cuts costs and boosts margins to record levels, even as milk volumes in New Zealand decline by 5 percent.

Fonterra has indicated the forecast dividend may be in the 35-to-40 cents per share range up from 25 cents last year, which disappointed many farmers who expected to gain more from the value- added side of the business when dairy input prices were down. The revision would mean a likely total payout to farmers of $4.95 to $5 per kilogram of milk solids after retentions, compared to $4.65 last season. . .

Businesses sweet and sour on food safety rules:

– Compliance with regulations rated top challenge and key opportunity, ANZ survey finds –

Food safety regulations are the biggest challenge but also a major source of competitive advantage for New Zealand’s food and beverage firms, according to research from ANZ.

The annual ANZ Privately Owned Business Barometer survey included 178 food and drinks firms and found an industry that was upbeat about the future, hungry for growth, showing the way in mobile technology and social media use, and collaborating to open export opportunities.

The survey also flagged a number of growth challenges, including securing shelf space for products and managing constraints on capacity, such as time, people, plant and funding. . . 

Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year wins Young Horticulturist of the Year:

Congratulations to Caleb Dennis, Young Horticulturist of the Year 2015. He represented the Viticultural sector in this tough and prestigious competition.

Young Horticulturist of the Year was held over 11th and 12th November, where Caleb competed against 5 other finalists from various horticultural sectors including Landscaping, Nursery & Garden, Amenity Horticulture and Vegetable, Fruit & Flower Growing.

The competition kicked off with the contestants submitting Business Plans for a new product they would like to develop and launch. Caleb’s plan to launch a wine cellaring app was very well received and will hopefully eventuate into reality in the not too distant future. This first day also included an interview and a budgeting exam. . .  . . 

Piece of NZ dairy history for sale:

CRV Ambreed’s move to a purpose-built production, distribution and logistics centre on the outskirts of Cambridge marked an exciting new era for the company, and now their old 13.7-hectare bull farm is for sale.

More than 3000 bulls have been housed at the farm on the outskirts of Hamilton since it was established in 1969. At the company’s peak production, more than 200 bulls were housed on-site at any one time.

In December 2014, CRV Ambreed opened its new export-approved CRV Bellevue Production and Logistics Centre, on the outskirts of Cambridge, just a few kilometres away from its old facility. . .

 


Rural round-up

October 8, 2015

Key sectors welcome TPP – Colin Bettles:

SUGAR may have been served a bitter-sweet outcome in the final Trans-Pacific Partnership but other key Australian commodities like beef, grains, dairy and cotton have tasted some success.

The Cattle Council of Australia (CCA) said the TPP deal – signed overnight by Federal Trade Minister Andrew Robb – would provide significant increased market opportunities for Australian grassfed beef producers, when it comes into force.

Game changer for beef

CCA president Howard Smith said the agreement signifies a game changing opportunity for the Australian beef industry which sees a positive future fort itself, in export markets. . . 

Rolleston wants GM use debate – Richard Rennie:

Councils’ efforts to ban genetically modified crops have Federated Farmers banging up against public opinion in some rural districts.

But federation president Dr William Rolleston argues the move to ban GM crops threatens farmers’ ability to innovate and is a choice they might lose through misinformation and misunderstandings about what the science is really about.

The federation’s case against council bans on GM use got a severe bruising when they lost on appeal to the Environment Court earlier this year. . . 

Milk price expected to hit $3000/t this year – Jemma Brackebush:

Banks and analysts are predicting international dairy prices will continue to rise, and a lift in Fonterra’s forecast payout looks likely.

Prices in the global dairy trade auction rose for the fourth consecutive time on Tuesday night.

The price for the key commodity, whole milk powder, which underpins the price Fonterra pays its farmers, increased by 12.9 percent to $US2,824 a tonne. . . 

Record jail sentence for animal abuser Michael Whitelock:

A dairy worker has been handed what is believed to be New Zealand’s longest-ever prison sentence for animal cruelty, after cows were beaten, had their tails broken and were shot in the kneecaps on a farm he managed.

Michael James Whitelock was sentenced in the Greymouth District Court on Wednesday to four and a half years jail and banned from owning animals for 10 years.

He had earlier pleaded guilty to 12 charges, including ill treatment of animals, unlawful possession of firearms and attempting to pervert the course of justice. . . 

Farmer suicides up – Jemma Brackebush:

Figures from the Ministry of Justice show 27 men in farming communities committed suicide in the past year ended June.

The chief coroner Deborah Marshall released annual provisional suicide statistics on Tuesday, which showed 564 people died by suicide in the past year, up 35 on the previous year and the highest number since records began eight years ago.

Male suicides rose from 385 last year to 428, and female suicides dropped from 144 to 136. . . 

Banks fork out a total $25.5M over rural interest rate swaps – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – The Commerce Commission has completed the distribution of $25.5 million to complainants and rural charities after reaching settlements with banks who had marketed interest rate swap products to farmers.

The commission says nearly $20 million in cash has been paid to eligible customers while $1.9 million was offset by the banks against debts some complainants owed to them. A further $2.5 million went to 14 regional Rural Support Trusts and the Dairy Women’s Network and the commission received $1 million to cover a portion of its investigation costs, including legal expenses. The bulk of the money came from the ANZ Bank New Zealand, which paid out $19.3 million in total, $3.2 million from ASB Bank and $3 million from Westpac Banking Corp. . . .

All Geared Up For The Glammies:

Entries are now open for the 2016 Golden Lamb Awards, aka the Glammies, which seeks out the tastiest and tender lamb in New Zealand.

The competition gives farmers the opportunity to enter their lamb into one of the most highly regarded competitions the industry has to offer.

The entries are then assessed by Carne Technologies in Cambridge for tenderness, yield, succulence and colour.

The scientific testing determines which top four entries from five categories will make it through to the final stage of the competition, a taste test, held at the Upper Clutha A&P show in Wanaka on 11 March 2016. . . 

New Zealand Bloodstock to Sponsor New Race in China:

New Zealand Bloodstock and the Inner Mongolia Rider Horse Industry Co. Ltd have partnered together to introduce the New Zealand Bloodstock Cup to be held in Inner Mongolia, China next year.

2015 RTR
The race is open to horses purchased by any Chinese buyer at this year’s New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale in November. To be held in July 2016 at Korchin, Inner Mongolia, the New Zealand Bloodstock Cup is worth RMB500,000 and will be run over 1800m.

NZB’s Co-Managing Director Andrew Seabrook is excited about the formal partnership reached between NZB and Rider Horse Group. . . 

Serious savings from whole-farm soil testing:

Whole-farm soil testing saves Taranaki farmer Hayden Lawrence about $15,000 on fertiliser each year.

Hayden, who farms in equity partnership with his wife Alecia and parents in Taranaki, began whole-farm soil testing seven years ago. To date, he has reaped about $90,000 in savings and has increased pasture production from 14.5 tonnes per hectare to 18.6T/ha on the 97ha property.

The Lawrences milk a maximum of 240 cows on an 85ha milking platform, using their hill country block to graze heifers. They also follow an 18-month cropping rotation, that sees paddocks planted into silage, oats, chicory and then into pasture. . . .

RHĀNZ welcomes Government’s new rural connectivity target:

The Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand welcomes the new rural connectivity target announced by the Government today.

The target means nearly all rural New Zealanders will be able to access broadband speeds of at least 50Mbps by 2025.

RHĀNZ Chairperson, Dr Jo Scott-Jones, says securing reliable and affordable telecommunications services is critical to the health and wellbeing of rural communities and is a top priority for all 40 RHĀNZ members.

“As part of our RBI phase 2 submission to Government earlier this year, we called for more ambitious targets for rural broadband speeds, so it is really pleasing to hear Minister Adams’s announcement today,” he says. . . 

Anglers urged to vote ‘in best interests of our fishing and hunting resources’:

The country’s anglers and game bird hunters are being reminded to make sure they vote in the Fish and Game Council elections.

Fish & Game Communications Manager Don Rood says that because voting closes at 5pm on Friday (9 October), those who are eligible and haven’t voted are advised to do so online, rather put voting papers in the post.

“We urge licenceholders to take the time to vote – to exercise their right to choose the people who can best advance their local region’s hunting and fishing interests. . . 

Free entry for 2016 Games:

The second annual Hilux New Zealand Rural Games takes place in Queenstown next Waitangi weekend (Sat 6th – Sun 7th Feb) and entry won’t cost you a cent.

Two days of ‘sports that built the nation’ and live entertainment on the Recreation Ground plus the Running of the Wools – more than 400 merino sheep herding through downtown Queenstown – will be completely free to watch.

We’ve been able to waive ticket prices thanks to the generous support of our patrons and event partners including major sponsors Toyota, Fonterra, Line 7, Ngai Tahu Farming, Jetstar and Husqvarna which has increased its support from the inaugural Games.

The Running of the Wools is once again supported by our friends at clothing and gift retailer, Global Culture. . . 


Quote of the day

October 8, 2015

FTAs aren’t solely about tariff elimination. They are also about the ability to trade with as few impediments as possible. In this respect, TPP looks comprehensive at first glance, with the promise to breakdown compliance and non-tariff barriers across the Pacific Rim. These benefits are significant, especially for smaller economies and companies. . . .

Closer connectivity with the major players on the trade and investment scene adds another string to our bow. The likes of the United States, Japan and Canada have some of the highest incomes and thus purchasing power of all countries. New Zealand isn’t the lowest cost producer in many sectors anymore and needs access better market access to wealthy consumers to capture margin, and to deliver on the “value-add” strategies that many sectors are pursuing. . . 

There is a raft of empirical evidence suggests trade liberalisation benefits overall welfare and lifts nationwide GDP, particularly for open trade dependent economies like New Zealand. Studies by the Peterson Institute suggested that the gains to New Zealand from TPP would cumulate to around 2% of GDP by 2025. Some of the numbers being bandied around by Government officials look a little on the high side, but considering the surge in two-way trade between New Zealand and China following the signing of the FTA less than a decade ago it leaves little doubt as to benefits on overall trade (and GDP) from increasing trade liberalisation. . . ANZ

Hat tip: Kiwiblog


Rural round-up

May 29, 2015

Top deer environment award winners announced – Kate Taylor:

Central Hawke’s Bay farmers George Williams and Laura Billings were presented with the Elworthy Environment Award at the deer industry conference in Napier on Tuesday night.

The couple have a 1188ha business, including home farm Te Maire, in the Tikokino area with sheep, beef and cropping as well as deer.

Williams has a personal passion for deer with a focus on velvet with a venison by-product.

Velvet production for the 2014/15 season was a total of 2550kg (including 278kg of regrowth). Te Maire has also hosted the Wilkins Farming North Island stag sale since 2010. . .

Chefs to serve up kiwi venison in Euorpean restaruants –  Kate Taylor:

New Zealand venison will be eaten at European restaurants this summer.

Thirty-six ambassador chefs in Belgium and the Netherlands will be serving cervena venison on their menus in a trial as part of a Passion2Profit initiative formally launched at the Deer Industry Conference in Napier on Tuesday. . .

NZ heading for lowest wool clip in 6 years as farmers favour meat breeds, sheep flock declines – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand, the world’s largest exporter of crossbred wool, is heading for its smallest annual wool clip in six years, reflecting the lowest sheep flock in more than 70 years, dry conditions and an increased focus on meat producing breeds of sheep.

New Zealand will probably produce 138,400 tonnes of greasy wool, or 833,700 wool bales, in the annual season that runs through June, down 5.4 percent on the year earlier, according to farmer-owned industry organisation Beef + Lamb New Zealand. That would mark the lowest level since the 2008/09 season when the clip dropped to 132,400 tonnes as farmers eschewed a second shear in the face of low wool prices. . .

Support for dairy farmers ramped up:

Industry body DairyNZ is ramping up its support to dairy farmers following the announcement today by Fonterra of an opening forecast Farmgate Milk Price of $5.25 per kgMS for the 2015-16 season.

Chief executive Tim Mackle says DairyNZ had already been working on boosting its Tactics for Tight Times campaign to help farmers cope with what is likely to be a “very tough and grim season”.

“By our calculations, this forecast will translate into an average farmer’s milk income dropping by $150,000 for this next season. We’ve worked out that the breakeven milk price for the average farmer now going forward is $5.70 kgMS, yet under this forecast scenario they’ll only be receiving $4.75 all up in terms of farm income including retro payments from last season and dividends. Annual farm working expenses will need to be reduced to minimise increasing debt levels further. The flow-on impacts to the local economy will be significant as that money gets spent on things like feed, fertiliser, repairs and maintenance items. There will also be less capital spending in our sector. . .

Well-oiled operation sees rapid growth – Harrison Christian:

WAYNE and Maureen Startup never dreamed the four olive trees in their Havelock North backyard would turn into 17,000.

But that is what happened, after they decided to go full-time with their hobby 15 years ago.

The Village Press, which takes its name from their hometown, is the biggest and most competitive olive oil operation in New Zealand. Its high-quality olive and avocado oils are stocked on shelves around the world – and the business continues to grow. . .

Farmers ready to put irrigation funds to good use:

Federated Farmers says farmers will put to good use a $25m funding boost, from the recent Budget, for investigation and development of irrigation projects.

The Government has put $25m into the Irrigation Acceleration Fund through the next five years to kick-start regional irrigation projects.

Federated Farmers spokesperson on water, Ian Mackenzie, says the Government is quite right to identify nearly every part of New Zealand as being hit by drought in the past three years. . .

Plant disease world first in Bay:

A Peruvian plant disease will be used in a world first biocontrol against a notorious weed in the Bay of Plenty and Northland

Lantana blister rust (Puccinia lantanae) was recently released in the Bay and Northland regions in an attempt to control lantana – considered one of the world’s 10 worst weeds.

Landcare Research scientists have been searching for biocontrols before it becomes widespread. . .

Input Prices Rise for Sheep And Beef Farmers:

Prices for inputs used on New Zealand sheep and beef farms increased 1.1 per cent in the year to March 2015, according to the latest Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Economic Service sheep and beef on-farm inflation report.

The sheep and beef on-farm inflation report identifies annual changes in farm input prices in New Zealand for the various expenditure categories. The on-farm inflation rate is determined by weighting the individual input category price changes by their proportion of total farm expenditure.

B+LNZ Economic Service chief economist Andrew Burtt says the increase in the 2014-15 year follows a 0.6 per cent decrease the previous year and was driven by rises in prices of interest and, local and central government rates and fees. It was only partly offset by a fall in fuel prices as fuel accounts for less than 5 per cent of sheep and beef total farm expenditure. . .

Pasture and Performance Loan to lift red meat productivity:

New Zealand’s largest rural lender today launched an extended lending package for red meat farmers wanting to boost farm productivity.

ANZ Bank’s Pasture and Performance Loan offers an interest rate of 5%* p.a. with a maximum loan of $100,000. The maximum loan term is five years, principal reducing, and there are no establishment fees. . .


Rural round-up

May 9, 2015

Low-Cost Pasture-Based Dairying Still Our Best Bet, Say Farm Environment Leaders:

New Zealand dairy farmers shouldn’t lose sight of their competitive advantage, say farm environment ambassadors Mark and Devon Slee, who recently returned from a study tour of the Northern Hemisphere.

In late March the Canterbury dairy farmers and National Winners of the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards embarked on a 25-day trip to the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Ireland, visiting a wide range of dairy farms

Mark says a key aim of the tour, which was facilitated by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust and supported by a range of industry groups, was to study intensive dairy farming systems in Europe and to find out how farmers were using technology to improve sustainability. . .

Pacing global changes a big ask for Fonterra – Fran O’Sullivan:

Tim Groser’s warning that the dairy sector would effectively have to guts it out during a period of low milk payouts was timely.

It’s perhaps easier said than done maybe from the perspective of a Trade Minister.

But dairy farmers are a resilient lot. They’ve been through cyclical times before.

Yet, last week’s Fonterra announcement that the co-operative has downwardly revised its 2014/2015 payout forecast back to $4.50/kg milk solids (from $4.70) was still a hard knock for those that had factored the higher track into their own financial planning.

Federated Farmers pointed out just how difficult it was for some dairy farmers with their comment that the average Canterbury dairy farmer was now facing a loss of 91c for every kilogram of milk solids that they produced. . .

ANZ Bank was most aggressive in rural rate swaps sales to farmers, ComCom says – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – ANZ Bank New Zealand, the country’s biggest lender, was the most aggressive in pitching interest rate swaps to farmers, over which it subsequently agreed to pay $19 million in compensation, the Commerce Commission says.

General counsel competition Mary Anne Borrowdale told Parliament’s primary production select committee that of the three banks to settle with the regulator, ANZ had the most customers involved and was investigated over both the way it was able to move its margin and the break fees it charged farmers for an early release. While ANZ announced its settlement with the regulator before ASB Bank and Westpac Banking Corp, it only just made its offer to farmers yesterday. The three banks’ collective settlements totalled $24.2 million. . .

Landmark animal welfare legislation welcomed by veterinarians:

The New Zealand veterinary profession welcomes today’s landmark passage of the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill which brings greater clarity, transparency and enforceability of the country’s animal welfare laws, further strengthening New Zealand’s excellent reputation for animal welfare.

The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA), which played a key role in helping to shape the Bill, says some of the key changes include the legal recognition of animal sentience, which is sensation or feeling in animals, for the first time in New Zealand law.

NZVA President Dr Steve Merchant says: “Veterinarians are at the vanguard of animal welfare advocacy and public support is behind us in the call for greater clarity on issues concerning animal welfare and increased sanctions for animal cruelty. . .

 

 High prices and volumes for avocado growers:

Avocado exporter Avoco says its growers are celebrating the end of a season where they not only got a bumper crop – but decent prices for their fruit too.

Avoco said strong end-of-season demand from Australia lifted returns for growers – to $15 per tray for large avocados and $14 per tray for smaller fruit.

Avoco director John Carroll said the company exported a record volume of fruit – 4.5 million trays, out of a total 7 million trays – and still managed to get good returns for its 700 plus growers. . .

Anchor Gives More New Zealanders an Organic Milk Choice:

Anchor is making organic milk more accessible to New Zealanders with the nationwide launch of Anchor Organic.

Fonterra Brands New Zealand Managing Director Tim Deane said that with other organic milk brands only available in certain regions or very expensive, Anchor is on a mission to make organic milk more widely available at a fair price.

“We want to put organic milk in reach of more New Zealanders. We’ve done just that through our nationwide distribution and providing Anchor Organic at an everyday price that works out at only about 20 cents extra per glass compared to our standard Anchor milk,” said Mr Deane. . .

Wool Prices Bounce:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that a weaker New Zealand dollar, limited wool volumes pressuring exporters and renewed client interest, combined to lift local prices across the board.

Of the 6,350 bales on offer, 99 percent sold.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was down 1.79 percent compared to the last sale on 30th April.

Mr Dawson advises that Fine Crossbred Full Fleece and longer shears were 7 to 10 percent dearer, stimulated by resurgent Chinese interest with shorter types 3 to 6 percent firmer. . .


Rural round-up

December 4, 2014

Another industry signs up for biosecurity partnership:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed Pipfruit New Zealand onboard as the third industry to join the Government’s biosecurity partnership.

The Deed of the Government Industry Agreement (GIA) for Biosecurity Readiness and Response was signed by Pipfruit New Zealand today.

“This means that apple and pear growers and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) can work closely together and make joint decisions on readiness and response to manage mutual high priority biosecurity pests,” says Mr Guy. . .

More support for Otago farmers to improve water quality:

Dairy farmers in Otago are receiving more support to meet upcoming water quality rules through a series of DairyNZ ‘EnviroReady’ field days being held with the support of Federated Farmers and Beef + Lamb.

More than 200 farmers and rural professionals attended four recent field days in both north and south Otago, with the last one being held this week at Elderslie, near Oamaru.

DairyNZ’s sustainability team manager Theresa Wilson says the farmers were given an understanding of new regional environmental rules and regulations presented by Federated Farmers’ policy staff. . .

ANZ to pay $19 million in interest rate swaps case:

The Commerce Commission has reached a $19 million settlement with ANZ Bank New Zealand Limited (ANZ) in relation to the marketing, promotion and sale of interest rate swaps to rural customers between 2005 and 2009.

The settlement will see ANZ establish a payment fund of $18.5 million, to be used to make payments to eligible customers (those who registered their complaints with the Commission). The Commission will also receive $500,000 towards its investigation costs, and some monies from the payment fund are able to be distributed to charitable organisations for the assistance of the rural community. . .

Federated Farmers call Commerce Commission ANZ settlement ‘fair and equitable’:

Federated Farmers have described the Commerce Commission settlement with the ANZ Bank over interest rate swaps as ‘a fair and equitable outcome’ for rural customers.

Federated Farmers President Dr William Rolleston says the agreement that the ANZ will pay compensatory payments to customers, who believe they were misled by their interest rate swap contacts, is the best outcome which could be expected.

“While some farmers found interest rate swaps a useful instrument, others felt they were not adequately informed of the risks should the market run against them. The Global Financial Crisis created those unexpected and unfavourable conditions. Federated Farmers wrote to the Commerce Commission asking it to investigate and the outcome today vindicates our stance,” Dr Rolleston says. . .

Rural areas need law reform – Hugh Stringleman:

Regional economies are declining when a means of revitalisation is within reach according to a new study of the potential for mining.

The New Zealand Initiative think tank has published the Poverty of Wealth, subtitled why minerals need to be part of the rural economy.

It sought to answer the conundrum of why resource-rich regions were not tapping into the wealth beneath their feet. . .

Weevil-killing wasp in demand:

Farmers in Southland have been queuing up for supplies of a small parasitic wasp used to fight a serious pest.

Scientists have warned that farms in region could be hit hard by the clover root weevil again this summer – one of the worst pasture pests that attacks and destroys clover.

AgResearch scientist Colin Ferguson said more than 200 farmers had attended workshops in Southland to find out more about the pest and where and how to release the wasps. . .

 20K signs without delay  call:

Rural Women New Zealand says this week’s accident in Canterbury, when a teen was hit crossing the road after getting off a school bus, may have been avoided if the bus had been fitted with flashing 20K signs.

Rural Women New Zealand took part in a trial of new LED signs in Ashburton last year, which included a public education and police enforcement campaign. The trial proved very successful in slowing drivers and Rural Women New Zealand hopes that the signs will be approved for general use on school buses in 2015. . .

Blue Sky Meats acquires Clover Export, adding beef, venison processing – Jonathan Underhill:

 (BusinessDesk) – Blue Sky Meats, whose shares trade on the Unlisted platform, has agreed to acquire Gore-based Clover Export, adding processing capacity in beef and venison to the range of services it can offer to sheep and bobby calf customers, while attracting new suppliers.

No price was disclosed for the transaction. Chairman Graham Cooney said Clover is about 10-15 percent of the size of Blue Sky in terms of turnover. Blue Sky’s revenue was $95.3 million in its 2014 year. More details may be given in the company’s annual report after its March 31, 2015, balance date.

Clover’s owners include European shareholders and, as part of the deal, Blue Sky has agreed to continue with Clover’s horse meat processing on a toll basis for sale into the European market. Horse meat will be a small ongoing business, amounting to about “a day a month,” Cooney said. . .

Another Success for NZ Farming:

CarboPhos®, a phosphate based fertiliser developed after conducting pot, plot and field trials and construction of a pilot plant in Nelson NZ, has been granted a patent in both New Zealand and Australia.Independently monitored trials have shown it can be applied at half the rate of the NZ mainstream phosphate product, saving time and costs for farmers. Sales continue to grow in New Zealand as farmers begin to understand the need for slower release, soil and biology friendly nutrients, compared with the mainstream fertiliser.

Chris Copplestone, Managing Director of The Growing Group commented “We are extremely proud of being able to offer a solution to farmers who understand the need for traditional nutrients, delivered in a granular form free of the traditional sulphuric acid base”. . .

 

 


Who knows best?

September 10, 2014

 National’s proposed tax cuts are realistic:

ANZ’s chief economist says it’s right for National to be a bit vague about its tax cuts plan because of the uncertainty in the economy.

But Cameron Bagrie says despite still owing tens of billions in debt, the Government’s proposal is “realistic”. . .

“If you step back and look at the bigger picture, it’s a signal – and the signal there is if you get out the paid work, we’re going to increase that return to paid work by allowing you to keep more of your money, as opposed to taking it off you and spending it on your behalf,” Mr Bagrie said on Firstline this morning.

“We’ve got to look at the design package in regards to whether it does truly increase the returns to work and encourage people into the labour force, because that’s ultimately the benefit of tax cuts down the track.”

As for the lack of detail in the plan, Mr Bagrie says National doesn’t have much of a choice – but as one of the few countries that includes provisions for future initiatives within the Budget, New Zealand Finance Ministers have more flexibility to adjust to changes in the economy.

“Net debt is going to be on a declining trajectory, and in that situation it gives you options. It gives you flexibility on the fiscal front.

“If I look at the combination of the policies that the Government looks like they’re going to be pursuing by 2017, they’re going to be paying down a little bit of debt, there’s going to be some modest spending increases and they’re going to try and give tax cuts – so it looks like they’re trying to strike a very tough balancing act and trying to deliver on all three, as opposed to skewing off to one side.” . . .

Balanced and realistic – that’s good, as is the signal National is sending:  it trusts people to spend their own money better than any government can.

Labour and the rest of the left think government knows best.

 

We'll start paying off debt. Then we'll cut your taxes. #3moreyears


Rural round-up

February 26, 2014

Govt invests $540,000 in Lake Horowhenua clean-up:

Environment Minister Amy Adams has today announced the Government will invest $540,000 towards cleaning up Lake Horowhenua.

Combined with funding from Horizon’s Regional Council and Horowhenua District Council, as well as in-kind contributions from Dairy NZ and the Tararua Growers’ Association, the total funding for the project will be $1.27 million.

The project will improve the water quality through sediment and nutrient management on the lake and its tributaries, improving water quality for recreation and wild life.

The project includes stream fencing, planting, building a wetland, harvesting lake weeds, and developing farm plans. . .

Irrigation supplies shut-down begins:

Irrigation water supplies to some parts of Marlborough are being shut down as the continuing hot, dry weather takes its toll on river levels.

The Marlborough District Council is advising property owners that water for irrigation is being shut off to about 5000 hectares of farmland and vineyards along the Wairau River.

Further Wairau consents, including all those from the Southern Valleys Irrigation Scheme, were expected to be cut off by today.

Waihopai consents will be suspended in the next day or two.

The shutdown is necessary slightly earlier than last year because there has been no real rain since Christmas. . .

 

Safety group astonished as farmers flout helmet law – Sue O’Dowd:

Worksafe New Zealand has savaged organisers of a farmers’ day out for failing to require helmets on quad bikes in Taranaki hill country.

About 200 people visited Aotuhia Station when Beef + Lamb New Zealand – the farmer-owned industry organisation representing New Zealand’s sheep and beef farmers – hosted what it called a Big Day Out last week.

Only about five people on a cavalcade of bikes touring the 2240ha Aotuhia Station, 65km east of Stratford, wore helmets, and many riders carried passengers.

Worksafe New Zealand would have issued enforcement notices to the organisers, those not wearing helmets and those carrying passengers if it had been there, quad bike national programme manager Francois Barton said yesterday. . . .

Eyes wide open – James Houghton:

Employment relationships are a key factor in setting a positive working environment and ensuring your farm is productive. The general work relationships in rural New Zealand have been traditionally informal. This has had to change with stronger workplace protection for employees.  It means the farm employer has had to learn new skills, involving contractual agreements and human resources.

When it comes to dairy agreements with sharemilkers, who are arguably what makes New Zealand dairying so successful; there have been breakdowns between some employers and their sharemilker.  Sharemilking is a hybrid between self-employment and employment but that hasn’t stopped some harsh treatments of sharemilkers. Such as an employer not honouring either a handshake agreement or misusing clauses in their agreement, which causes sheer misery for the sharemilker involved.

Over the past year, Federated Farmers has been revising the industry standard Herd Owing Sharemilking Agreement, looking to remove outdated clauses and with it, issues within the industry like harsh treatment, which may deter new entrants. . .

Strong growth and profitability increases from PGG Wrightson:

PGG Wrightson Ltd* (PGW) has announced a strong half-year performance under its new Chief Executive.

For the six-months ended 31 December 2013, PGW achieved operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Operating EBITDA)** of $22.3 million, up from $18.0 million for the corresponding period last year.

Mark Dewdney, who took up the role of PGW Chief Executive on 1 July 2013, called it a strong result with increases recorded across most areas of the business. . .

New Zealand Drives Global Pet Addiction:

Imagine a Singaporean company making premium pet food from possums in the Bay of Plenty and exporting successfully for eight years. That’s what Jerel Kwek of Addiction Foods has accomplished, along with a vision to improve pet nutrition globally.

While cats and dogs around the world have fallen for Addiction, it’s only now with a recent plant upgrade in Te Puke that Kwek can make his natural NZ pet food available in the NZ market.

Addiction use a selection of premium proteins and game meats, including New Zealand possum to produce a range of dry and raw dehydrated natural foods designed to prevent allergies and promote long-term health in cats and dogs. . .

Loan package to grow pasture productivity:

New Zealand’s largest rural lender today launched a lending package for farmers wanting toboost farm productivity by improving pasture and forage growth.

ANZ Bank’s Pasture Productivity Loan offers an interest rate of 4%* p.a with a maximumloan amount of $100,000. The maximum loan term is five years, principal reducing, andthere are no establishment fees.

“Renewing pasture and forage is one of the key things red meat farmers can do to improveproductivity and profit,” said Graham Turley, ANZ Managing Director Commercial & Agri. . .


Rural round-up

December 28, 2013

Huge solar power system to milk cows – Gerald Piddock:

Hugh and Sue Chisholm are turning to solar power to help run a more sustainable dairy business.

The Putaruru farmers are installing one of the country’s largest solar powered systems ever to be used on a dairy farm on their dairy shed near Putaruru.

The 28kW photovoltaic (PV) system has 112 solar panels on the roof of the Chisholm’s 64-bale rotary shed as well as two Fronius IG 150 V3 inverters.

Chisholm said the capital cost of the system was a smart investment, and part of an improvement plan for their farm. . .

Sharemilkers not bad people, just bad bosses – Jon Morgan:

Immigration adviser Lyn Sparks is blaming a rise in corporate-owned dairy farms for an increase in workers’ complaints about poor working conditions.

The Christchurch-based adviser says the biggest offenders are some corporate-owned farms run by sharemilkers.

However, he believes there are more good employers than bad in dairying.

“The bad ones are not bad people,” he says. “They just don’t know how to manage.”

But a contract milker says there are just as many bad employees in dairying as bad employers. . .

Sorry tale of swaps no one understood – Fiona Rotherham:

It has been a victory – of sorts – for farmers with the Commerce Commission last week saying it intended filing court action next March against the ANZ, ASB and Westpac banks for “misrepresenting” the sale of interest rate swap loans to rural customers.

I say a victory of sorts because there’s a lot of water under the bridge yet to get compensation for farmers, some of whom ended up more heavily indebted and losing their land.

Sold between 2005 and 2008, interest rate swaps were marketed to farmers as a way to beat rising interest rates. When the global financial crisis hit in 2008 farmers with swaps saw the interest they were paying rise when rates were falling rapidly elsewhere. The banks charged huge break fees for those wanting to exit the swaps. . . .

Bank claims farmer swaps compo call ‘too late’ – Rob Stock:

ANZ says the three-year limitation period has passed under the Fair Trading Act for the Commerce Commission to obtain compensation for farmers who were mis-sold interest rate swaps.

That, the bank warned, meant the commission “will now have to attempt a novel and uncharted method to obtain compensation if it takes the court route.”

The bank’s written statement comes in the wake of the news last week that the commission would launch legal action next March under the Act against ANZ, Westpac and ASB for the sale of the swaps between 2005 and 2008. It is also investigating another bank, not yet named, that also sold swaps and may be joined to the action. . .

Postie’s long run of deliveries nears an end – Lauren Hayes:

After 53 years, millions of kilometres, thousands of early mornings and an unthinkable amount of petrol, a Winton postie is calling it a day.

At 21, Ray Cosgrove used his savings to buy into a Central Southland rural delivery run, and began loading letters into a Hansa station wagon. The Hansa might be long gone and the delivery route altered but, more than half a century later, Mr Cosgrove and his wife, Debbie, are still delivering mail to rural Southlanders.

Mr Cosgrove bought the rural run in September 1960 and stepping into the role was not as easy as many people, including the urban posties, often thought, he said. . .

Year in review – March – Rebecca Harper:

The drought was really hurting rural communities and the bill started to mount for the primary sector with drought declarations coming thick and fast. The entire North Island was eventually declared as being in drought along with the West Coast of the South Island. Dairy production took a hit and the first talk about a merger between the two largest meat co-operatives, Alliance and Silver Fern Farms, started, as farmers looked for the causes of low lamb prices.

This was quickly followed by a call from the newly-formed Meat Industry Excellence Group, a group of lower South Island farmers, for meat-sector consolidation. A meeting in Gore to gauge support and discuss possible reform of the red meat industry attracted 1000 farmers and Alliance chairman Owen Poole put the cost of consolidation at $600 million. . .


Com Com taking action on swaps

December 17, 2013

The Commerce Commission is to issue proceedings on interest rate swaps.

The Commerce Commission confirms that it has advised three major New Zealand banks, ANZ, ASB and Westpac, that it intends to issue legal proceedings over their sales of interest rate swap contracts to rural customers.

The Commission has advised the banks that in its view there is sufficient evidence that they may have breached sections 9, 11 and/ or 13 of the Fair Trading Act, and that it wishes to place the matter before the Court for its decision.

Commerce Commission Chairman Dr Mark Berry says the Commission aims to file proceedings in March 2014.

“This has been a very extensive and complex investigation, but that phase of it is almost at an end. We have advised the banks of our views that swaps were misrepresented to rural customers. I expect to have more talks with the banks about these views, and about the different facts that might apply to each of them, over the coming months,” said Dr Berry.

“Because court proceedings are in prospect, the Commission will not be commenting further at this time.”

The Commission is also considering the conduct of other institutions that have sold interest rate swaps.

The Commission encourages affected swap customers to contact the Commission on 0800 943 600.

Interest rate swaps are a financial derivative product that allows a borrower to manage the interest rate exposure on their borrowing.

Interest rate swaps were typically provided to large corporate and institutional customers, but from 2005 were offered by various banks to rural customers throughout New Zealand.

In August 2012 the Commission began enquiring into whether interest rate swaps were misleadingly marketed from 2005.

Federated Farmers welcomes the news:

“Having fielded calls from concerned farmers over recent years, we formally wrote to the Commerce Commission in November 2012 requesting that they look into the selling of interest rate swaps,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“Now we have the news that the Commission has found there is a case to be answered under the Fair Trading Act.  Legal proceedings are to be filed in the New Year against ANZ Bank, ASB and Westpac.

“Some of the debt instruments sold to farmers have been highly complicated to say the least.  In both 2009 and 2010, we mentioned problems with swaps in various submissions, including to the Opposition’s Banking Inquiry and the Review of the Banking Code of Practice.

“This was why we felt the Commerce Commission was best placed to properly investigate them and its decision today vindicates this faith.

“The Commission looked at swaps from the perspective of the Fair Trading Act 1986.  This includes misleading and deceptive conduct in trade such as false and misleading representations.

“In this case the Commission is looking at potential breaches of sections 9, 11 and/or 13.

“Federated Farmers supports the Commerce Commission in wanting to hear from farmers adversely affected by swaps.  They can contact the Commission on 0800 943 600.

“We believe the case, when it comes before the Courts, will help to resolve what has been controversial to say the least.  It will also be a good opportunity to remind the entire financial industry of its wider obligations,” Mr Wills concluded.

NBR reports that about $8 billion of rural swaps loans were made.

They were sold without full information being given to customers, at least some of whom felt pressured to take them.

A lot of farmers lost a lot of money with swaps and some lost their farms.


Rural round-up

December 11, 2013

New Zealand meat industry calls for speedy conclusion to Korea FTA:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) are calling for a speedy conclusion to New Zealand’s free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with Korea.

Concluding negotiations quickly is vital. Korea finalised FTA negotiations with Australia last week, and, on top of the Korea-US FTA that was signed in 2012, this has the potential to place New Zealand exporters at a significant disadvantage in the near future, the two organisations say.

Korea imposes 40% tariffs on beef imports, which cost New Zealand producers around $48 million in 2012. Korean tariffs on other products like prepared meats can be as high as 72%. . .

Federated Farmers on ECan’s Land & Water Regional Plan

Federated Farmers knows farming practices need to evolve in order to minimise Nitrogen loss from Canterbury farms.

“The Land and Water Regional Plan has to comply with the National Policy Statement (NPS) on freshwater which introduces limits and national bottom lines,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Environment spokesperson.

“Meeting compulsory national bottom lines for nitrates on much of the Canterbury plains, is going to be very difficult without a major shift in how we farm, especially on the lighter soils.

“Right now, Federated Farmers is working as part of a wider partnership with all others in the primary industries to represent a common position to Environment Canterbury (ECan). . .

Council win saves time and money:

Federated Farmers Manawatu-Rangitkei is thrilled by the recent wins in the Horowhenua District Plan.

“We have had two significant wins from the Horowhenua Council hearings, which means we will not need to appeal in the Environment Court,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Manawatu Rangitkei provincial president.

“It is a testament to the great working relationship we have with the council, and the great work of our Policy Advisor, that we were able to get some practical and workable decisions made around ‘Housing’ and ‘Hazardous Substances’. . . .

Farming builds communities in adverse times – James Houghton:

Last week, Federated Farmers Waikato held a fundraising function to raise money for the Rural Support Trust. It is not so long ago that the Trust was stepping in to aid farmers through the drought and working with Federated Farmers on our rural mental health campaign, ‘When Life’s a Bitch’. It is important that we give back to organisations like this who are the ones we call on in our time of need.

The function was not only about raising money for the organisation but it was a chance for the community to get together and focus on building relationships. The Chairwoman of the Regional Council, Paula Southgate, attended the dinner along with other rural community stakeholders, and overall the night was a success, raising $3500 for the Trust. Federated Farmers Waikato donated $3000 for the Trust to direct towards rural mental health initiatives, which is an area that requires a significant amount of resources. . .

Farm package targets sustainability, growth:

New Zealand’s largest rural lender today launched a lending package for farmers wanting to invest in improving the environmental sustainability and productivity of their farms.

ANZ Bank’s Farm Development Package includes a low-interest loan of 4% p.a. for fulfilling compliance on effluent management, water quality management and water and energy conservation.

“Fast-growing markets in Asia are producing enormous opportunities for New Zealand farmers. But increasing agriculture production is creating complex challenges on how to manage environmental stresses – in particular the impact of dairy farming on water quality,” said Graham Turley, ANZ Managing Director Commercial & Agri. . .


What’s a sackable offence on radio?

November 8, 2013

What’s a sackable offence on RadioLive?

Gross misogyny by Willie Jackson and John Tamihere doesn’t seem to have been.

Will losing advertising revenue change that?

Willie Jackson and John Tamihere have been criticised over the way they interviewed an 18-year-old girl who said she was friends of one of the gang’s victims on Tuesday.

They were forced to apologise yesterday but that wasn’t enough for some, and today’s show saw a guest panelist storm out after a heated on air row.

Now it has emerged that a number of advertisers have withdrawn their support of the show and RadioLive while the pair remains on air.

ANZ, Yellow and Freeview have confirmed they are cancelling their ads on the show, and AA Insurance has indicated the same.

It came after blogger Giovanni Tiso contacted around 30 companies which advertised on the Willie and JT Show yesterday, asking them if they would reconsider their support of the programme. . .

The station also lost a guest:

Matthew Hooton walked out of the RadioLive interview today after becoming embroiled in an argument with one of the show’s hosts and being told to “shut your mouth”.

The writer was a guest on Jackson and Tamihere’s RadioLive show discussing the Roast Busters and the fall-out from the scandal, but it quickly descended into an argument when Mr Hooton confronted them about their attitude towards a young woman they interviewed on Tuesday.

The row culminated in Mr Hooton being told to “shut your mouth” or leave the studio. He walked out to shouts of “get out, get out of our studio”.

Listeners could hear fumbling as headphones and microphones were taken off before the station quickly cut to an ad break. . .

The attitude of the hosts in appearing to blame the victim in the interview is part of the problem and there are questions over whether some police have a similar attitude.

Police Minister Anne Tolley has taken the unprecedented step of referring the case to the Independent Police Complaints Authority:

Police Minister Anne Tolley says she has written to the Independent Police Conduct Authority, asking it to investigate the “Roast Busters” case in Auckland, particularly the questioning of a thirteen year-old girl in 2011.

“Parents of young girls need to have confidence that complaints to Police about sexual assault are investigated thoroughly and appropriately,” says Mrs Tolley.

“As Minister, I can’t delve into the details of a Police investigation – politicians cannot interfere in Police inquiries.

“But the IPCA does have the power to carry out an independent assessment of the details surrounding these events, and I believe this is the right course of action to ensure the public has confidence in the Police on this matter.

“This morning the Commissioner has again assured me that this inquiry has been thorough, and that there was a comprehensive investigation into the victim’s complaint.

“However, I have made it clear to the Commissioner that I am disappointed that the full facts have not been available to me or to him.

“I don’t expect to be told finer details of Police operations. Police must remain independent of politicians. But I do expect Police to be talking to each other.

“I would again urge any young women who have been affected to come forward and talk to Police as a first step in gathering evidence which can be used to bring people to justice.”

This referral is the right action when there are so many questions about the way the case has been handled.

Police at first said they hadn’t taken any action because there had been no formal complaints. But four girls complained to police.

. . . She was one of four girls who went to police over incidents involving Roast Busters. She went through the process of making her complaint with police formal via an evidential video interview.

The other girls were all aged between 13 and 15.

She has now said she will lay a second complaint with police because her alleged attackers were “sick boys that were twisted in the head”. . .

It takes a lot of courage to make a complaint of this nature, even more so if an earlier complaint wasn’t handled sensitively.


Good news keeps coming

November 1, 2013

Business confidence remains at a 14 year high in the ANZ’s monthly business confidence survey:

. . . Chief economist at ANZ Cameron Bagrie says the economy is in a sweet spot, despite challenges such as low deposit restrictions, a high dollar, and signs interest rates will rise next year.

“The real encouraging sign about the reading for this month is that businesses looked through all of those dynamics, had a bit of a glance, a bit of a look and have come to the conclusion – when all’s said and done – this little economy is still performing pretty well.” . . .

That’s not just the view of people here.

The Legatum Institute’s Prosperity Index puts New Zealand in fifth in the world, and first in the Asia Pacific region.

The latest Legatum Prosperity Index ™, which ranks nations according to extensive wealth and wellbeing factors, reveals that global prosperity has risen over the past five years, largely due to improvements in entrepreneurship, health and education.

Norway leads the overall rankings for the fifth year and is joined in the top ten by Switzerland (2nd), Canada (3rd), Sweden (4th), New Zealand (5th) and Denmark (6th).

The US (11th) and UK (16th) are both facing economic decline, dropping four and two places respectively for their performance in this sub-index1. . .

Now in its seventh year, the Legatum Prosperity Index™ is a unique and robust assessment of global wealth and wellbeing, which benchmarks 142 countries around the world in eight distinct sub-indices: Economy; Education; Entrepreneurship & Opportunity; Governance; Health; Personal Freedom; Safety & Security; and Social Capital. . .

Path_To_Prosperity_LI2013

The New Zealand profile  is here.

We’re ranked at 17 for the economy; 15 for entrepreneurship and opportunity; 2 for governance, 1 for education, 20 for health, 15 for safety and security, 5 personal freedom, 2 for social capital.

prosperity

When #gigatownoamaru becomes the Southern Hemisphere’s first gigatown we’ll be contributing even more to the nation’s prosperity.


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