Rural round-up

July 20, 2017

Woman of the land counts herself lucky – Rose Harding:

Kate MacFarlane has always known what she wanted to do.

She grew up on Waiterenui Angus Stud at Raukawa so is a farm girl “to her DNA” and considers herself lucky in her life.

Lucky that her parents, Will and Viv, told her to follow her dreams, lucky she was able to travel and gain experience overseas, lucky she got the jobs she wanted and lucky with all the “amazing people” who have helped her. . . 

The mysteries of grass-fed milk – Keith Woodford:

Here in New Zealand, we live the notion that milk from grass-fed cows is superior to milk from cows fed other rations. Supposedly it is better for health. And supposedly the cows are happier if they can dance around in the sunshine doing what comes naturally. And supposedly it makes us more cost-efficient than our international competitors.

There is an element of truth to all of the above notions. But more often than not there is lots of myth intertwined with truth. Here, I want to tease out what is truth, what is myth, what depends on specific context, and some things that are still unknown. . . 

Sunless season dries up olive oil production – Susan Murray:

New Zealand’s olive oil producers have had a tough production season.

Harvesting is just ending, and for some growers their fruit volume and oil production is less than half last year’s.

Andrew Priddle is a Wairarapa olive grower and harvester and said there has been a lack of sunshine hours in summer and autumn, and the crops had matured three weeks later than usual.

He said the late crops led to more bird damage and coincided with an “off” year for the biennially producing trees. . . 

“Nightmare’ kumara season for farmers:

A kumara famer has described this year as a nightmare, with horrendous weather cutting the yield of red kumara by up to 45 percent.

The low yield of all varieties has had a big impact on prices as Statistics New Zealand reported kumara hit a high of more than $8 a kilo last month.

John Adolf from the kumara co-operative Delta Produce, said this year had been a shock for farmers after last season’s bumper crop.

A wet, cold spring, a long dry summer and heavy downpours through autumn caused major headaches for farmers, he said. . . 

$300,000 to help preserve native bush and fauna:

The Forest Bridge Trust has been awarded $300,000 from the Community Environment Fund, Associate Environment Minister Scott Simpson announced today.

“The vision of The Forest Bridge Trust is to create a connected landscape of healthy forest and flourishing indigenous wildlife from the Kaipara Harbour in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east. They plan to achieve that vision by connecting up bush remnants, fencing, planting and doing weed and pest control throughout the area,” Mr Simpson says. . . 

CropLogic plans A$8 mln IPO in ASX listing – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – CropLogic, the agricultural technology company, has launched its prospectus and is planning an A$8 million capital raising before listing on the ASX.

The Christchurch-based company is offering 40 million shares at 20 Australian cents each with a minimum subscription of 25 million shares, or A$5 million. The capital will be used to fund market development, research & development, ASX listing costs and working capital, it said. In May, it completed an A$2 million pre-initial public offering funding round. . . 

Polluted waterways issue widens town and country divide:

The contentious issue of our polluted waterways is deepening a country and town divide, with many farmers saying they are being unfairly blamed by city folk.

“We get lambasted by these allegations for polluting the rivers when in Canterbury we have very few polluted rivers whatsoever,” Canterbury dairy farmer Willie Leferenk said.

Further north sheep and beef farmer Lydia Murchison has noticed that townies seem to have lumped all farmers together. . . 

Farm sales and prices inch down in three months to June on year – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – The number of farms sold in the three months inched down on the year as did the median price per hectare for all farms, pointing to a softening tone in the rural real estate market, the Real Estate Institute said.

There were 459 sales in the year ended June 2017, 13 fewer than the same period a year earlier, or a decline of 2.8 percent. The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to June 2017 was $25,992 versus $26,361 in the same period a year earlier, a decline of 1.4 percent.

Eight regions recorded increases in sales volumes on the year in the three months ended June. Otago recorded the largest increase in sales, with 13 more sales, followed by Gisborne where nine more farms were sold. . . 

Nominations for Fonterra Board of Directors’ Election Open Monday:

Nominations for the Fonterra Board of Directors’ Election open Monday, 17 July with an election to be held for three farmer-elected Directors.

The Independent Nomination process will be run first with nominations needing to have been received by the Returning Officer, Warwick Lampp of electionz.com by 12 noon on Monday, 7 August 2017.

The Returning Officer will announce the Independent Nomination process candidates on Monday, 11 September 2017. . . 

Autogrow announces global first API Solution for indoor agriculture:

Autogrow has become the first of the established players to launch an API (Application Programming Interface) for indoor agricultural growers; greenhouses, vertical urban, containers, plant factories, offering access to data traditionally not available to them.

Called MyData(v0.2), this is the first release in a series of cloud-based solutions offering a universally accessible API to recent and historical growing data including light and relative humidity, wind speed, pH and EC. With a 24-hour data refresh and 180-day historical data available, growers will be able to utilise their information to discover operational insights or even custom-build or develop their own data solutions, services or apps without limitations. . . 

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Rural round-up

May 15, 2015

Is life down on the farm about to change forever? – James Stewart:

Farmers deal with change all the time. We become obsessed with sun, rain and everything in between which is what happens when your whole livelihood depends on the natural elements. This is part of the volatile world we deal with. All you need to do is throw in commodities and exchange rates and it can make for an extremely challenging environment. This is an accepted fact of life for a farmer.

To add to the abyss of unknown, farmers are anxious about what the health and safety reform will bring and the new challenges that lay on the horizon. We all want to come home from work alive. Unfortunately this will not always happen as you just can’t eliminate all of the risk out of farming.

My own personal experience of a fatality on my own farm still haunts me to this day. Going through a police and OSH investigation was nothing compared to the emotion of meeting the parents the following day to try and explain what may have happened. I take every practical step to prevent accidents happening, but the world we live in is not perfect and accidents happen. . .

One in four dairy farmers in negative cashflow this season, Wheeler says – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Another year of sagging dairy prices would be a concern for New Zealand’s economy and especially for the 25 percent of farmers currently carrying debts above 65 percent of the value of their assets and currently trading in negative equity, says Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler.

Expanding at a parliamentary hearing on this morning’s release of the central bank’s six monthly financial stability report, which imposed new macro-prudential restrictions on lending on Auckland housing, Wheeler said “another year of low prices, that would be a worry for the economy, no question, and also that would be a worry for farmers in terms of their debt capacity.” . . .

Step up, Foterra told – Sally Rae:

Fonterra’s strategy needs to start delivering or its market share will shrink further, Federated Farmers Otago dairy chairman Stephen Crawford says.

The results of small Waikato-based dairy co-operative Tatua and West Coast-based Westland Milk Products’ might well ”far exceed” Fonterra, so it might eventually need to front up and stop blaming volatility, which was experienced by all players in the market, Mr Crawford said in his report to Federated Farmers Otago’s annual meeting in Dunedin yesterday. . . 

 

Horowhenua vegetable growers hit by wet weather again – Gerard Hutching:

Vegetable growers in Kapiti and Horowhenua have been hit by wet weather for the second year in a row.

Woodhaven Garden grower John Clarke, based in Levin, said it was shaping up to be as difficult a season as last year, when autumn had been the wettest he had seen in 31 years of growing.

“It’s starting to trend the same way. It has certainly impacted on what we’ve been able to plant. One day recently we had a hit of 125 millimetres [of rain] and the day before 50mm,” Clarke said.

Metservice figures show 157mm has fallen in the Levin region over the past month. It forecasts rain to continue for the next 10 days, with little prospect  of sunshine. . .

Taranaki rural crime issues reach the top – Sue O’Dowd:

Taranaki farmers who highlighted rural crime have been invited to be part of a national committee looking at a rural policing strategy. 

An inaugural meeting in Wellington on Wednesday among representatives of police, Federated Farmers, Ministry for Primary Industries, Neighbourhood Support, Community Patrols and Rural Women NZ aimed to formulate a consistent approach to rural crime prevention throughout the country. 

Co-ordinator of community policing Alasdair Macmillan, of Wellington, has been working for months on increasing the awareness of what he calls “rural crash and crime”. 

“I came across this group in Taranaki,” he said. “These guys are up and running. What have they got? Do we need some tips from them?” . . .

Fonterra expansion take mozzarella to the world:

Work is complete on a new mozzarella plant at Fonterra’s Clandeboye site, doubling production of the world-famous cheese and creating enough mozzarella to top more than 300 million pizzas a year.

Work is complete on a new mozzarella plant at Fonterra’s Clandeboye site, doubling production of the world-famous cheese and creating enough mozzarella to top more than 300 million pizzas a year.

The mozzarella – one of the Co-operative’s most sought after cheeses – is destined for global pizza and pasta restaurant chains across China, Asia and the Middle East. . .

Rural Equities accepts Webster takeover offer for stake in Tandou – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Rural Equities, the farming group majority-owned by the Cushing family, will sell its 6.4 percent stake in ASX-listed Tandou into a takeover offer from Australian agricultural and water company Webster.

Webster’s shares have jumped 26 percent on the ASX this year and the stock is rated a ‘strong buy’ based on a Reuters survey of analysts.

Webster is Australia’s biggest vertically integrated producers of walnuts, accounting for more than 90 percent of the nation’s export crop. It has been on an acquisition spree, buying water entitlements and more than 45,000 hectares of land known as the Kooba aggregation for A$116 million in December and making an A$124 million offer for Bengerang, a large-scale NSW cotton farmer with its own portfolio of water entitlements. . .

Mainman insecticide application approved:

An Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) decision-making committee has approved with controls an application from ISK New Zealand Limited to manufacture or import the insecticide Mainman, which contains the new pesticide active ingredient flonacamid.

Mainman is intended to be used for the control of aphids and psyllids on potatoes and possibly other specific pests associated with horticultural crops. The application is for Mainman to be used by commercial growers and contractors on vegetable crops. . .

 


Rural round-up

November 19, 2014

Peony growers’ business blooming – Sally Rae:

When Rodger and Cindy Whitson decided to get into the cut flower industry back in 2000, they started with a bare paddock and no horticultural knowledge.

They trialled gentians, viburnum and peonies before deciding peonies were best suited to their property, near Mosgiel.

Peony plant numbers have since swelled from 2000 to about 10,000, with plans for more plantings. . .

 Profitable harvest of Jersey Bennes – Sally Brooker:

North Otago’s most famous produce is being harvested for the new season.

Rows of Jersey Benne potatoes are coming out of paddocks in the Totara area just south of Oamaru, renowned for the tarry, fertile soils that produce exceptional early spuds.

A workforce boosted by tertiary and secondary students as they finish their exams is picking and packing the Jersey Bennes.

Organic horticulturist Marty Quennell said his harvest started early this year – the week before Labour Weekend. That meant he had the market to himself for the first three weeks, when a premium price was being paid. With others growers now getting going, the price would drop back, he said. . .

NZ tractor sales set to match records this year on buoyant farming – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand tractor sales are expected to match record highs for the modern farming era this year, as farming incomes are boosted by high milk prices and good growing conditions.

Sales of tractors of at least 40 horsepower, the most common measure for farm tractors, have reached 2,536 in the first nine months of this year and are expected to climb by year’s end to match the 3,515 total for 2005, the highest level since the Tractor and Machinery Association began gathering the data in 1990. Some 60 percent of the nation’s farm tractor sales are estimated to relate to the dairy industry.

Farmers had more cash this year to buy farm equipment such as tractors after Fonterra Cooperative Group paid out a record $8.40 per kilogram of milk solids and the agriculture sector generally benefited from good growing conditions which meant farmers could boost production without having to divert funds into areas such as extra stock feed. . . .

 Ambitious predator-free plan launched:

A group of prominent individuals and private businesses has joined forces with the Department of Conservation in a plan to eradicate all pests from mainland New Zealand.

The Predator Free New Zealand Trust unveiled its vision of an Aotearoa free of rats, stoats and possums at the Place To Live conference in Whanganui today.

Trust chairman Devon McLean said that the secret weapon in the battle against pests would be the thousands of New Zealanders already dedicated to controlling predators.

China-Australia FTA milks NZ’s – Nigel Stirling:

Australia’s new trade agreement with China could give it an edge in milk powder exports unless New Zealand can invoke a clause in its own agreement to get similar tariff concessions.

The two countries yesterday announced the end of ten years of talks for a free trade agreement which Australia says is superior to NZ’s 2008 deal which allowed for the full elimination of tariffs on dairy products by 2019.

Australia’s deal allows for the elimination of tariffs on dairy products within eleven years, but crucially does not include the use of special safeguards by China to protect its farmers from surges of imported skim milk powder from Australia. . .

A2 Milk to list on ASX in 1Q 2015 – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co, the milk marketing company, is planning to list on the Australian stock exchange next year, where it has 9 percent of the fresh milk market sold in grocery stores.

The Auckland-based company doesn’t plan to raise any new capital in a float on the ASX and will keep its New Zealand incorporation and NZX listing, it said in a statement. It has hired Goldman Sachs New Zealand and DLA Piper Australia to manage the listing, and hopes to join the Australian bourse in the first quarter of 2015.

In August, managing director Geoffrey Babidge called the Australian market A2’s “big cash generator”, and said it will bankroll its push into new markets. The company reported annual sales rose 17 percent to $111 million in the year ended June 30, of which 96 percent came from Australian sales. A2 reported a drop in annual profit to $10,000 from $4.1 million a year earlier, as the strength of the kiwi dollar against its Australian counterpart weighed on sales. . .

Ballance helps farmers better weather the weather:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients has joined forces with NIWA to bring advanced hi-resolution weather, climate and environmental forecasts to farmers via the co-operative’s Ag Hub online farm management system.

Announcing the partnership, Ballance General Manager AgInformation Graeme Martin said farm profitability and sustainability are increasingly affected by variable weather patterns, growing conditions and the availability of water.

“Farmers are looking for the best possible support to make operational decisions. NIWA’s advanced forecasting systems and its national climate station network are at the leading edge of weather and environmental information. . .


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