Rural round-up

January 12, 2014

Getting red meat sector ‘back on its feet’ – Sally Rae:

Over the fence and across the kitchen table, the state of the red meat sector and calls for restructuring dominated farmer discussions last year, as sheep numbers continued to shrink and dairy conversions and moves to dairy grazing continued.

Back in March, Beef and Lamb New Zealand chairman Mike Petersen told farmers attending the organisation’s annual meeting in Wanaka that the sector was at a ”critical junction”.

While he spoke of how volatile returns were a threat to the industry’s future and farmers were questioning whether the industry had a future, the organisation’s economic service estimated farm profit before tax for the 2012-13 season would fall 54% on the previous season because of sharply lower lamb prices and widespread drought. . . .

World food prices dropped last year – Neena Rai:

World food prices fell by 1.6% in 2013, down 8.8% from their all-time peak in 2011, driven by falling international prices for grains, sugar and palm oil, according to the United Nations’s Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization Thursday.

The Food and Agriculture Organization’s monthly index measures the monthly change in international prices of a basket of food commodities and is the global leading economic indicator for food prices.

While the most recent food price spike in 2011 was triggered by a lack of cereal supply, the recent fall in food prices is mainly due to higher expected supplies of corn and wheat this year. . .

Shelter from the storm – Sally Rae:

Mustering huts still play an important role on some high country properties, like the Hore family’s Stonehenge, in Maniototo, but hut life is a little more comfortable these days, as Sally Rae reports.

It was April, 1959 when Dave McAtamney first slept in Deep Creek Hut.

At only 15, it was his first mustering trip in the area and he was ”dead keen” to take part.

Riding an old part-draught mare called Ginger, he was part of a much more experienced mustering crew that included his father and two uncles, and it was the start of a long association with the hut.

”I had quite a bad cold, if I remember rightly. I was coughing a bit in the night and Dad got out of bed, went over to the whisky bottle and poured a big whisky into me. It was the first time I’d ever drunk a whisky.” . . .

Good times ahead – Stephen Bell:

Sentiment in the primary industries is at an all-time high and commentators say the optimism is backed up by reality.

Business confidence across the economy is booming, say bank analysts, who add the caveat a surge in activity means a tight lid will have to be kept on inflation.

However, companies are upbeat and their profit expectations and employment intentions are the highest in two decades, confidence surveys show.

Agrifax senior analyst Nick Handley said there was good cause for optimism in agriculture.

“The outlook is good across all the major sectors, with none of them really staring down the barrel of a below-par year,” he said. . .

Beaumont rising: developments look set to turn fortunes – John Gibb:

Once a fading rural backwater, the township of Beaumont now seems destined for a much brighter future.

People who have lived near the inland Otago township, on the Clutha River/Mata-au, for 20 years or more will remember earlier sometimes divisive and frustrating conflicts over proposed big hydro-electric dams, which would have flooded the area.

One proposal, by the Electricity Corporation of New Zealand (ECNZ) in 1992, was to build a dam at Tuapeka Mouth that would have flooded 3000ha, including all of Beaumont. But among a series of more promising developments the long-delayed replacement work involving the nearby 19th century Beaumont Bridge is at last due to start next year. . .

Positive results at Point Pearce – Gregor Heard:

A JOINT venture between the Point Pearce indigenous community on the Yorke Peninsula in SA and a local farming family continues to go from strength to strength and provide strong training and employment opportunities for the community.The project, in which the Wundersitz family leases the Point Pearce farm, has been running since 2010.The Wundersitzes, based at nearby Maitland, were looking to expand their farming business, Anna Binna, when the Aboriginal Lands Trust advertised for a new tenant for the Point Pearce farm. . . .

Farmers need more for flat milk supply:

The Western Australian dairy industry is calling for reform to the state’s milk pricing structure in 2014.

Representative body WA Farmers argues that if the state’s dairy processors require a year-round flat supply of milk from producers, they should be expected to pay accordingly.

“Ideally, the processors would like about the same amount of milk rolling in each day. Because we are basically a drinking milk state, the daily requirement for WA is pretty even,” says WA Farmers dairy section president, Phil Depiazzi.

“If they do want flat supply, that means they’re going to have to pay a higher price to achieve that.” . . .

Where will you build your next dairy? – Catherine Merlo:

Milk prices aren’t the prime attraction for moving to a new area

The heartland between the Rockies and the Mississippi River appears to offer the most dairy-friendly resources and long-term future for those looking to build new or satellite dairies.

That was not only the professional assessment of a dairy relocation consultant but the personal experience of three dairy producers who spoke at the Dairy Today Elite Producer Business Conference in Las Vegas this past November.

Dairy relocation consultant Tom Haren and dairy producers Linda Hodorff, Rein Landman and Mike McCarty comprised a panel that discussed, “Where Will You Build Your Next Dairy?” . . .


No more Clutha dams

May 2, 2012

The grapevine has been saying for several months that Contact Energy no longer wanted land along the Clutha River.

The logical conclusion from that was that the company was giving up its plans to build more dams on the river and that has been confirmed:

The energy company has spent the past three years investigating the options at four sites, Luggate, Beaumont, Queensberry and Tuapeka Mouth.

It says the costs were much higher than the expected $300 million to $1.5 billion per dam, meaning none of the options are viable in the foreseeable future. . .

Other factors contributing to the decision include the unease within communities living along the Clutha and the cost of transmission, including future upgrades of the Cook Strait cable.

The company has bought land along the river. This decision could mean there will be several farms for sale.


Contact’s eyeing the Clutha

August 9, 2008

Contact Energy is investigating more dams on the Clutha River.

Contact Energy’s Wellington-based communications manager Jonathan Hill said the power company was “taking a close look again” at old proposals which had been on the back burner, such as those involving sites at Beaumont, Luggate and Queensberry.

… Mr Hill said Contact did not have any firm plans in place and was simply looking at all of its options.

“However, we have a clear preference that any new hydro developments should be on rivers that already have hydro schemes on them, to avoid altering virgin rivers.”

Beaumont, Luggate and Queensberry on the Clutha River had all been proposed as possible sites.

Mr Hill said they were the only river schemes that Contact was actively looking at as the plans had already been drawn up by the previous owner, ECNZ.

“I think its a very important point to make that if we do identify a project that we would like to advance, the first steps will be to discuss it with local communities.

“The role of new, large-scale hydro projects will be particularly important in an environment in which there is growing concern around climate change and sustainability and in which traditional thermal fuels such as gas are becoming increasingly expensive,” he added.

The increase in thermal generation has been a major contributor to the increase in our carbon emissions. But the difficulty of getting through the Resource Management Act makes the development of new wind and hydro generation a long, involved and expensive process.

The Environment Court appeal against Meridian Energy’s  application consent for its Project Hayes windfarm in the Lammermoor Range has been adjourned until January.

Its Project Aqua on the south of the Waitaki River never got to the consent stage but the company is now looking at a scheme on the north bank.

This winter’s power crisis was avoided by conservation measures and timely rainfalls, but at great cost to businesses and the economy.

Conservation measures can only do so much, if we want to be a first world country with a first world economy so we can afford first world social and environmental initiatives, we need first world power supplies and that means more generation.

If the past is any guide there will be fierce oppostion to more dams on the Clutha. But if we have to reduce carbon emissions and nuclear generation is neither popular nor practical then we have to accept more wind and/or hydro schemes.


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