Rural round-up

03/03/2021

Covid 19 coronavirus: Golden Shears cancelled for first time in 61-year history :

The 61st Golden Shears, which were scheduled to be held in Masterton this week, have been cancelled.

The decision was made at an emergency executive meeting this morning, following the overnight announcement of a return to Covid-19 alert level 2 across most of the country and the escalation to level 3 in Auckland.

Confirming the decision, Golden Shears said entry fees and tickets would be refunded.

Tickets purchased online through Eventfinda will be refunded, competitor entries done online will be refunded online through PayPal, and those having entered non-website are being asked to email competitor name and bank account details to office@goldenshears.co.nz. . . 

A woolly great idea – Sally Rae:

Phenomenal” is how South Otago farmer Amy Blaikie describes watching the processing of Bales4Blair wool at a Timaru scour — and seeing the piles of donations from around the country.

Bales4Blair was launched in memory of Winton man Blair Vining, whose petition to create a national cancer agency was signed by more than 140,000 New Zealanders.

The wool was given by farmers to be made into insulation for the new Southland Charity Hospital.

The initiative was started by Mrs Blaikie, who pitched the idea to a couple of friends, Eastern Southland farmers Brooke Cameron and Sarah Dooley. . . 

’Stormy fruit’ provides ray of sunshine from Motueka hailstorm – Tim Newman:

A Nelson apple company is hoping its new product will bring a ray of light out of the gloom brought on by the Boxing Day Hailstorm.

Over the weekend Golden Bay Fruit launched its new “Stormy Fruit” brand, comprised of apples which suffered cosmetic damage in the hailstorm but were otherwise unaffected.

Golden Bay Fruit chief executive Heath Wilkins said while the company had been mulling over the concept for several years – the hailstorm had significantly increased the amount of fruit that would fall into the new product line.

He said a significant portion of the fruit was severely damaged by the hail and had to be immediately picked and discarded, but there was another portion of fruit that just received small indentations on the surface. . .

Want to earn at least $22 an hour? Kiwifruit packhouses up rates – Carmen Hall:

Kiwifruit packhouses are offering workers more money and flexible shifts in a desperate effort to avoid a labour crisis as another record-breaking harvest looms.

The harvest is expected to kick off within the week with 23,000 seasonal workers needed nationally – including about 20,000 in the Bay of Plenty.

Packhouses spoken to by NZME are offering major incentives – including flexibility across shifts alongside roles that could lead to fulltime employment.

Starting rates will be $22.10 an hour compared with last year’s average hourly packhouse rates of $19 to $20. . . 

Avocados from Oaonui on your toast – Catherine Groenestein:

A tiny coastal Taranaki community known for dairy farms and a natural gas production station could one day become known for its avocados.

Oaonui, 8 kilometres north of Opunake, was identified in last year’s Taranaki Land and Climate Assessment as an area suitable for growing the fruit.

The report was part of the two-year Branching Out collaboration between economic development agency Venture Taranaki and the food and fibre sector to investigate new commercial opportunities for the region.

Next month, representatives from the avocado industry will be in New Plymouth for a seminar on growing the fruit commercially. . .

Beef demand volatile but there are green shoots – Shan Goodwin:

WITH many of Australian beef’s largest destinations still well in the grip of COVID, and tightening supply of cattle at home putting a hefty price tag on product, the demand outlook could not be described as anything other than volatile.

However, there are some solid fundamentals in place that suggest the outlook is not all doom and gloom.

Global beef consumption is still forecast to grow, Australia enjoys a reputation for safe, high quality, consistent beef and a key lesson from last year was that stable, well-established markets shine through in times of turbulence. . . .

 


Rural round-up

29/09/2015

PM announces Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary:

Prime Minister John Key has announced the creation of a 620,000 km2 Ocean Sanctuary in the Kermadec region, one of the most pristine and unique environments on Earth.

“The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary will be one of the world’s largest and most significant fully-protected areas, preserving important habitats for seabirds, whales and dolphins, endangered marine turtles and thousands of species of fish and other marine life,” Mr Key says.

“It will cover 15 per cent of New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone, an area twice the size of our landmass, and 50 times the size of our largest national park in Fiordland. . . 

John Key's photo.

“Pretty damned exciting news” say Kermadec campaigners:

Champagne corks popped as the news was released that the Kermadec region has become an ocean sanctuary. Kermadec campaigners Forest & Bird, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and WWF-New Zealand were together when they heard the news.

The Prime Minister John Key made the momentous announcement at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The creation of the Sanctuary once again puts New Zealand at the forefront of marine protection on the international stage.

The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary is located in the South Pacific Ocean about 1,000 km northeast of the Bay of Plenty New Zealand. The area is one of the most geologically diverse in the world. It contains the world’s longest chain of submerged volcanoes and the second deepest ocean trench with a depth of 10 kilometres. . . .

Proposed Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary:

With no forewarning from Government the industry needs time to consider the full implications, Seafood New Zealand Chairman George Clement said.

“The seafood industry is committed to rational and effective marine conservation measures. These include a representative network of BPAs (Benthic Protected Areas) established at the industry’s behest and implemented throughout 30 per cent of the Exclusive Economic Zone, covering an area larger than the Kermadecs. . . 

Tatua Cooperative beats market with $7.10/kgMS payout for 2015 – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Tatua Cooperative Dairy Co, the Tatuanui-based dairy company founded 100 years ago, set the 2015 payout for its farmer suppliers at $7.10 per kilogram of milk solids, the highest of any New Zealand processor, while affirming a drop in payout for 2016.

Revenue rose to $286 million in the 12 months ended July 31, from $266 million a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Earnings before milk payout, retentions and tax fell to $121.2 million, from $136.4 million a year earlier.

Chairman Stephen Allen said the decline in pretax earnings reflected an increase in overall milk collection from farmers in the latest year and the “dramatic decline” in dairy prices. It equates to a payout $7.73/kgMS before retentions and tax. The company retained 63 cents/kgMS before tax. . . 

Migrant worker scam uncovered:

More than 30 Filipino workers reportedly paid $15,000 to obtain false documents clearing them to work on New Zealand dairy farms.

Immigration New Zealand has confirmed multiple Filipino workers have provided false and misleading information when applying for visas here.

Immigration NZ assistant general manager Peter Elms said the department started scrutinising visas more closely after discovering multiple issues, relating to claimed work experience and qualifications.

The department has not confirmed the number of cases that it is aware of, nor whether it was investigating, but the Philippine government said it was investigating at least 30 cases. The Philippine government’s Overseas Employment Administration is also looking into the claims. . . 

Alliance says merger with Silver Fern would risk creating ‘beached whale’ as rival tackles over-capacity – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Alliance Group chairman Murray Taggart says any merger with Silver Fern Farms risks creating a “big beached whale” of the New Zealand meat industry because its rival needs the capital offered by China’s Bright Food just to rationalise plant capacity and reduce its debt burden.

Bright Foods’ Shanghai Maling Aquarius unit has offered to invest $261 million cash in Silver Fern Farms (SFF) to become a 50-50 partner with the Dunedin-based meat company in a deal that would leave the business debt free and with funds to upgrade plants, spend more marketing higher-value meat products and provide a new route into China.

The injection of funds has stoked speculation a stronger SFF could subsequently dictate terms for a tie-up with Alliance, something the two firms have failed to achieve in a decade of sporadic talks. Alliance says it made an offer to SFF prior to the rival embarking on its capital-raising process and had “worked hard to engage with SFF and discuss opportunities for industry consolidation” over the past 10 years. . . 

Partnering with China – Keith Woodford:

This last week I have been in Beijing at the NZ –China Council Forum. Led by Minister Steven Joyce and co-chaired by Sir Don McKinnon, it has been all about building partnerships.

There were about fifty New Zealanders there, including industry folk and staff from the relevant Government ministries – Trade and Enterprise, Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Primary Industries. And there was a similar number of Chinese people from industry and their government.

Now to some people, the idea of building partnerships with China is anathema. Ten days ago I was involved in a passionate debate in Wellington about just that topic. It is all right to trade with the Chinese, so the argument went, but we should not think of partnering. The Chinese are different, and we should not in any way imply support for their way of doing business. . . 

Surge in water data for World Rivers Day:

To mark World Rivers Day this Sunday, regional councils are releasing their latest water quality data on the Land, Air, Water, Aotearoa website, which this year includes lake quality monitoring.

Launched in March 2014, www.lawa.org.nz began reporting water quality results at 1100 river sites. Since then, it has expanded into coastal bathing beaches and water allocation, tripling the number of monitoring sites for which data is available.

From this weekend, users will also be able access water quality data for monitored lakes, providing a more complete picture of the quality of New Zealand’s freshwater.

Stephen Woodhead, chair of the regional sector group of Local Government New Zealand, said that public debate showed that rivers and lakes were  important to New Zealanders and regional councils took their role in water stewardship very seriously. . . 

Drought-hit farmers sow grass seed donations – Annabelle Tukia:

Ten north Canterbury farmers are about to get some relief from the drought that has plagued their region for the past year after a group of business owners got together to try to ease the financial burden of the dry spell.

It’s been a tough 12 months on Damian Harrison’s Cheviot farm.

“This drought has been like driving in a tunnel, and you drive and drive and drive and never see daylight at the end,” says Mr Harrison.

But today at last there was a little ray of hope, in the form of Murray Stackhouse and his tractor and drill. The local contractor, along with a machinery company, have got together and are re-sowing grass onto 10 drought-stricken north Canterbury farms for free. . . 

Indonesia reopens door to NZ beef imports:

Indonesian media are reporting that trade officials there have done a u-turn on efforts to cut down imports of beef from New Zealand.

The Indonesian Trade Ministry has issued permits for the State Logistics Agency to import as much as 10,000 tonnes of beef from New Zealand.

The ministry said it wanted to stabilise meat prices in the country, and New Zealand was chosen because the price of beef from here was lower than the cost of Australian meat. . . 

NZ Honey fights MPI over alleged health claims on Manuka Doctor, Manuka Pharm branding – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand Honey International, the closely-held honey products maker, wants a judicial declaration on whether its trademarks Manuka Doctor and Manuka Pharm amount to health claims after the Ministry of Primary Industries withdrew export approvals, blocking the firm’s sales into certain markets.

MPI has been cracking down on the manuka honey industry amid international criticism there was more manuka honey coming out of the country than New Zealand actually produces. With no industry consensus on what constitutes manuka honey, MPI introduced an interim labelling guideline in July 2014 to give the industry clarity and protect consumers from false claims, as well as to try to improve credibility of the manuka products. . . 

Calf collection paves way for fertility project:

A huge logistical exercise that involved collecting hundreds of calves from farms all over the North Island has set the scene for a ground-breaking research programme aimed at lifting fertility rates in the dairy industry.

In recent weeks, heifer calves from 619 farms across Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Manawatu and Hawke’s Bay have been collected so that they can be reared and milked together as one herd. The “Animal Model” research herd will comprise equal numbers of Holstein Friesian calves with very high and very low fertility genetics, carefully selected from contract matings in spring last year and purchased from farmers by DairyNZ. . . 


Rural round-up

13/08/2015

Strong outlook for primary sectors – Nathan Guy:

There’s been much talk about the dairy sector in recent days.

Last week, our largest dairy company Fonterra announced a new reduced forecast payout for farmers. This isn’t particularly surprising as it reflects the ongoing volatility in the international dairy price, but clearly it will have a significant impact on the dairy industry.

Times will be a bit tougher for dairy farmers over the next few months and it will have a flow-on impact in regional communities.

However, this volatility in dairy prices is expected to be short-term. The medium to long-term outlook for our dairy sector, and indeed all primary sectors, is very positive, and expected to grow by 17 per cent to more than $41 billion over the next four years. . .

 

Farmers to get higher wool price:

Marketing and sales company Wools of New Zealand has bumped up the price it’s offering farmers for lambs wool.

It will pay farmers a contract price of $7.50 per kilo for 28 micron to 31.5 micron lamb’s wool produced this season.

That is a 15 cent per kilo increase on the price it was offering at the beginning of July, which the farmer-owned company said reflected positive movements in the exchange rate, with a falling New Zealand dollar increasing export returns. . .

Hefty prices predicted for NZ beef:

 The Meat Industry Association says prices for New Zealand beef will be kept high, fuelled by Asia’s strong demand for protein.

Chief executive Tim Ritchie said although the United States, the country’s biggest beef market, was rebuilding its cattle herd numbers after drought, it too remained a very firm market and he expected it to stay that way for some time.

Mr Ritchie said the outlook for the country’s beef prices and exports was very positive, as many Asian countries were urging their people to eat more protein. . .

Milk payout cut undoes three years hard work – Sue O’Dowd:

Having to borrow back hundreds of thousands of dollars paid off their loan in the last 2½ years is leaving a Hawera couple bitterly disappointed.

Amanda and Bryce Savage, 50:50 sharemilkers on a 134ha farm for Maori incorporation Parininihi ki Waitotara, raised a loan to buy their first farm, a 74ha property near Stratford, in 2013.

Fonterra’s revised dairy payout of $3.85 kilogram milksolids (kg MS), down from $5.25, means they feel they’re going backwards because they’ll have to borrow back all the money they’ve repaid off that loan. . .

First Threatened Species Ambassador appointed:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has today announced New Zealand’s first Threatened Species Ambassador is Nicola Toki.

The Ambassador will be a high-profile role within the Department of Conservation for all of the country’s threatened species, working to build partnerships and encourage New Zealanders to become involved in conservation efforts.

“As a nation, we face a major battle to save our threatened species. Our unique native wildlife is besieged by introduced pests and other threats,” Ms Barry says. . .

Bluegreen programme of improved environmental management outlined:

A programme of stronger national direction and guidance on key environmental issues was announced today by Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith at the Environmental Defence Society’s conference in Auckland.

“A key problem with the Resource Management Act is that there has been too little central government direction on major issues. We are stepping up our programme of National Policy Statements, National Environmental Standards and national guidance to get better environmental results at less cost,” Dr Smith says.

Dr Smith today released the Ministries for the Environment and Primary Industries’ new guide on implementing the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. . .

Half Share for Sale in Large New Zealand Pastoral Farming Portfolio:

Half the shares in a large pastoral farming operation, New Zealand Pastures Ltd (NZP), are being offered for sale.

NZP is a private company that owns seven properties in Otago and Canterbury with a combined value over $100 million. Its portfolio comprises two partially irrigated and five dryland farms, ranging in size between 958ha and 7,533ha that have been predominantly managed as lamb and beef grazing and finishing units. Combined land area is 23,500ha with an assessed carrying capacity around 140,000 stock units. . .

BioGro Introduces New Organic Service:

BioGro Ltd, New Zealand’s leading organic certifier, has introduced a new Initial Contact Meeting service to help make it easier for anyone looking to ‘go organic.’

The Initial Contact Meetings are designed to inform and assist producers interested in organic production and certification.

Since the programme launched in November 2014, the meetings have proven popular with over 20 farmers and producers across New Zealand taking part so far. . .


Rural round-up

19/04/2015

DOC and New Zealand Fur Council agreement a win-win – except for possums:

Greater conservation and economic benefits will follow an agreement signed by the Department of Conservation (DOC) and New Zealand Fur Council (NZFC) today.

DOC already works with individuals who wish to hunt and trap on conservation land, but this Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the collective voice of the possum fur industry will make it easier for Fur Council accredited hunters and trappers across the country to gain access to public conservation land for fur recovery operations.

“We need more possum fur to increase the market size for New Zealand’s unique blended Brushtail possum yarns and garments,” says Neil Mackie, chairman of the New Zealand Fur Council. .

An iwi-based farming initiative:

A large Māori farming corporation in Whanganui is using a marae homestead near Waiōuru to train young adults from its iwi to run all of the incorporation’s farms.

The Awhiwhenua Land Based Training Farm School based at Ngā Mōkai Papakainga, under the shadow of Mount Ruapehu, is Ātihau Whanganui Incorporation’s third iteration of a training programme that its trust funds.

Chair of Te Ātihau Trust, Toni Waho, said that while its goal is to have uri (descendants) running all its farms, he admitted that the course was lacking a cultural and kaitiakitanga (guardianship) component. . .

Export statistics for the first half of the 2014-15 season:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand compiles lamb, mutton and beef export statistics for the country. The following is a summary of the first six months of the 2014-15 meat export season (1 October 2014 to 31 March 2015).

Summary
Strong demand and a weaker New Zealand dollar against the US dollar led to record high returns for beef in the first six months of this season, with the average per tonne value up 28 per cent, compared to the same period last season. Meanwhile, the total value of lamb exports rose slightly, despite lower export volumes.

October 2014 to March 2015 exports

 . . .

US burger demand bodes well for NZ beef farmers, economist says: – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – A trend towards eating out in the US, which saw sales at restaurants and bars overtake spending at grocery stores for the first time last month, bodes well for New Zealand farmers who produce beef for hamburger patties, an economist says.

The US is New Zealand’s largest beef market, accounting for 51 percent of the nation’s $2.65 billion of beef exports in the year through February, according to the latest trade data from Statistics NZ. Retail sales data released in the US yesterday showed younger Americans are more likely to eat out at fast-food restaurants, helping restaurant and bar sales overtake grocery for the first time since the data began in 1992, Bloomberg reported. . .

Minister meets four-legged border protectors:

Customs Minister Nicky Wagner acknowledged the valuable assistance the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) Detector Dog Breeding and Training Centre has provided New Zealand Customs, on a visit to the Centre in Melbourne.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet the hardworking Customs staff – both four-legged and two – at the Detector Dog Centre,” Ms Wagner says.

“New Zealand Customs has been working with the ACBPS Detector Dog programme since 2002. The ACBPS provides up to five dogs a year under an agreement that has seen 27 dogs join NZ Customs since 2008. . .

How bad was this summer’s drought? – Andrew McMillan:

There are two interesting questions in regard to this summer’s drought. Firstly, how bad was it compared to other years. And secondly, how bad was it on a regional basis.

To answer these two questions, I grabbed some rainfall data from NIWA’s CliFlo Database and carried out the following analysis. . .

Waitomo-based Footwhistle Glowworm Cave celebrates 100 years guiding:

It is a momentous occasion for the team at the Footwhistle Glowworm Cave Tour in Waitomo as they celebrate a combined 100 years of Guiding. The small Family team of Four Guides have over 100 years of guiding experience between them.

“This is quite an achievement considering we only opened this cave tour in 2010,” says Kyle Barnes, owner-operator of the Footwhistle Glowworm Caves.

“Footwhistle Glowworm Cave is one of the largest systems in the Waitomo area and thanks to conservation measures and careful native planting over the past 20 years our system now supports some of the best Glowworm displays too,” he says. The absolutely stunning cave system is made up from stalactites, stalagmites and other cave formations growing from water dripping from the ceiling or flowing over the walls and leaving behind limestone deposits. . . .

 


Rural round-up

05/10/2013

Mild confidence boost in NZ beef sector – Rabobank:

Much improved climatic conditions throughout the winter and a favourable weather outlook for spring have certainly boosted confidence across the New Zealand beef industry, particularly after the challenging drought conditions of summer and autumn, according to agribusiness specialist, Rabobank.

Rabobank’s Beef Quarterly report says that, in line with the seasonal low point in beef supply – which occurs towards the end of winter and into spring – farmgate prices have improved, while average export returns have also seen some encouraging upwards movement.

Rabobank animal proteins analyst Matthew Costello says the decline in the New Zealand dollar against the US dollar, which has eased around seven per cent between April and the end of August, was also helpful in boosting confidence in the Kiwi beef sector. Unfortunately, the currency has since rebounded to the highest level since May, putting downward pressure on schedules and challenging New Zealand’s price competitiveness in the export markets. . .

Farmers with the real smarts:

The Dalrymple brothers, Hew and Roger, farming just out of Bulls, have a second pair of eyes looking over their property.  Actually the word is ‘i’ – as in smartphone technology. Peter Burke reports on the technology in use and the savings that result.

FOR SIX generations the Dalrymple families have farmed in Manawatu and slowly built their land base. 

The current 2200ha freehold plus 200ha leased property is diverse – forestry, cropping, horticulture, sheep and beef trading and some specialised stock business, mainly managing dairy heifers prior to export to China and elsewhere.

Roger runs the sheep and beef, Hew looks after cropping.  This year they’ll plant at least 450ha in maize, 30ha in potatoes, 10ha in onions, 40ha in squash, 120ha in barley and 14ha in wheat. 

Lamb trading numbers vary each year, usually about 25,000, plus up to 10,500 cattle and about the same in dairy heifers. They also contract-finish, making it a big, complex operation. . .

Fonterra Appoints New Managing Director of Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APMEA):

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited announced today the appointment of Pascal De Petrini as Managing Director of its Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa (APMEA) business unit.

The APMEA business unit comprises all of Fonterra’s consumer operations across Australia, New Zealand, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Mr De Petrini will join Fonterra at the beginning of November and takes over from Johan Priem who has been Acting Managing Director APMEA since May.

Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings said, “Pascal is a strong, strategic people leader with a proven track record in delivering significant growth as well as turnarounds in Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) businesses. He has more than 25 years’ experience across the markets of APMEA and in senior leadership roles at Danone which will greatly benefit our consumer, nutritional and foodservice growth in Asia. I am delighted that we have someone of Pascal’s strengths and experience joining Fonterra. . .

Canterbury irrigation firm plans storage ponds:

A Canterbury irrigation scheme that has been taking water from the Waimakariri River for 15 years wants to build a large storage pond so it can continue to operate when water restrictions are in force.

Waimakariri Irrigation Limited is a run-of-river scheme that supplies water to about 200 properties, ranging from dairy farms to lifestyle blocks, covering 18,000 hectares on the northern side of the river.

It is seeking a land use consent to build a double pond combination on a site it owns near Oxford.

Manager Brent Walton says the ponds will allow users to continue irrigating during dry periods when the river level is low and there are restrictions on taking the water. . .

Never too old for new ideas

ADVERSITY MAKES you struggle, so think and look for answers, say horticulture industry pioneers and innovators Fay and Joe Gock.

The pair, both in their 80s, have for 60 years wheeled out good ideas: they were the first in the world to put stickers on fruit, they’ve grown seedless watermelon, and they pioneered using chilled polystyrene boxes to export broccoli.

They were winners this year of the horticulture industry’s highest honour, the Bledisloe Cup. And they won an award from the Dominion Federation of NZ Chinese Commercial Growers “in recognition of your lifetime of innovation and contribution to the horticulture industry”. . .

US Government shutdown warning to our farmers:

The budgetary deadlock, which has sections of the United States Government shutting down, should serve as a warning to New Zealand farmers to run conservative farm budgets.

“Following record milk price forecasts and increases in the ANZ Commodity Index across the primary industries, farmers may be very bullish about the current 2013/14 season,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President.

“The optimism is most welcome since the ANZ Commodity Index has hit its third highest level. Meat and Fibre farmers will be relieved to see the international price of wool, our green and renewable fibre, increase 13 percent in a month. Yet it is right across the primary board, from red meat to apples and logs, we just seem to be in an export sweet spot.

“Some may be tempted to anticipate outstanding forecasts for this season by taking on debt. . .

Entries open for New Zealand’s Prestigious Royal Show:

The Royal A and P Show New Zealand promises to be an affair for the whole family featuring entertainment, sideshows and livestock exhibits from some of New Zealand’s elite farmers.

The countdown has begun and entries are now open as Feilding and the wider Manawatu gear up to host the most prestigious A and P show on the calendar – the Royal A and P Show New Zealand.

Entries are now being taken for this spectacular event across all livestock sections ranging from Alpacas to equestrian classes to beef and dairy cattle, pigs and everything in between. . .


Rural round-up

09/07/2013

Call to take multi-party approach – Sally Rae:

The state of the red-meat industry was, not surprisingly, a major topic of conversation at Federated Farmers national conference in Ashburton last week.

A session entitled ”Culture Change: The New Beginning In The Meat Industry” was a focus of the meat and fibre meeting, as agribusiness reporter Sally Rae reports.

Former PPCS chairman Reese Hart believes a merger between the co-operative (now Silver Fern Farms) and Alliance Group is not a priority.

”I simply think there are more important things to be done. I think the merger will happen some day but probably not for the reasons we wanted it to happen five years ago,” Mr Hart told Federated Farmers meat and fibre meeting in Ashburton last week. . .

Beef prices expected to firm

New Zealand beef prices are expected to firm over the next quarter, partly in response to tighter supplies resulting from the drought, but also to forecasts of a wet winter encouraging producers to retain stock, Rabobank said.

The specialised agribusiness lender said seasonal pressures still exist, but have since improved from the poor conditions in the first quarter.

Most regions received some good rainfall, with temperatures still warmer than average, which has enabled some good pasture growth, the bank said. . .

Debacle carries big implications for farmers – James Houghton:

While Christchurch was taking in the revelations about its council’s chief executive, former Hamilton City Council CEO Tony Marryatt, farmers were discussing the big issues facing agriculture at Federated Farmers’ national conference in Ashburton.

Fittingly, these discussions included a plenary session featuring Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend, Selwyn District Mayor Kelvin Coe and Ashburton District Mayor Angus McKay, looking at local government and its implications for some of its biggest contributors, the rural sector.

Christchurch City Council has hit some serious credibility issues, with International Accreditation New Zealand withdrawing its ability to issue building consents. It is clear council staff were not meeting the required building code standards. It is also clear they were not meeting the required standards of professionalism needed. . .

Soil health key component of farm economics – Gerald Piddock:

Future farm systems can achieve environmental and economic sustainability, but there are no quick-fix solutions for reaching that goal, a DairyNZ scientist says.

Getting there would require a balance between environmental and production- driven goals, DairyNZ senior scientist Pierre Beukes told scientists and farmers at the New Zealand Society of Animal Production Conference in Hamilton.

Farmers would have to build strong system fundamentals based around soil health, nutrients and cows to withstand the future challenge of farming within limits. . .

Healthy pipfruit profits expected – Peter Watson:

The Nelson economy is in for a much-needed boost with the pipfruit season shaping up as the best in five years.

After losing money in three of the last four years, growers expect to bank a modest to healthy profit this year on the back of record prices for many varieties in Europe and Britain and steady growth in Asia.

They have been aided by a shortage of fruit in key markets and a weakening kiwi.. .

New Zealand shearing team has first win:

New Zealand’s shearing test team has tasted success for the first time on its Northern Hemisphere test tour, levelling the eight-match series at one-a-piece.

Golden Shears champion Rowland Smith, from Hastings, and Rakaia’s Tony Coster combined to beat an English test pairing by three points at the Lakelands Shears in Cumbria. . .

Hawkes Bay Winery scoops four medals at San Francisco International Wine Competition:

Hawkes Bay boutique winery Mangapapa Estates has scooped four medals at the prestigious San Francisco International Wine Competition with its Chateau Waimarama branded wines.

More than 4,500 wines were judged at this year’s competition and out of the four wines entered, all Chateau Waimarama wines attained medals, a Gold Medal, two Silvers and one Bronze.

The Gold Medal was for Chateau Waimarama’s 2009 Hawkes Bay Cabernet Sauvignon. . .


Traceability counter to horsemeat scandal

15/02/2013

The introduction of the traceability for New Zealand sheep and beef hasn’t been universally popular but the horse meat scandal in Ireland and the UK shows how important it is.

With New Zealand beef traceable under the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme, Federated Farmers believes the current horsemeat scandal in Europe provides an opportunity for NAIT to deliver on its value-add promise for our farmers.

“The horsemeat scandal in Europe provides an acid test for the NAIT concept of traceability,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“Europe was held up as the gold standard for traceability but in reality, it is New Zealand that now has one of the most rigorous systems on earth.

“I know Kiwi beef farmers are shocked by the almost daily revelations that stretch from Ireland to Romania. We keep asking how systems designed to ensure traceable meat there could have broken down so spectacularly.

“Aspects of European meat procurement resemble something out of an Ian Fleming novel.

“While our beef exports to the European Union are small, at over 12,000 tonnes, it is a lucrative market worth $149 million in 2011/12. This uncertain climate regarding European beef must surely make our traceable beef stand out; especially at the premium end.

“It is time for the NAIT value-add promise to deliver for farmers and don’t we need it. It may also be a golden chance to cement ‘NZ Inside’ European premium processed food products too,” Mrs Maxwell concluded.

NAIT has added effort and costs to production. The horse meat scandal might prove its worth.

Consumers will be even more anxious to know where their meat comes from now. NAIT makes it easy which provides an opportunity for New Zealand beef.


Protection, subsidies incentivise meat cheats

11/02/2013

The discovery of horse meat in burgers in Ireland has been followed by news that up to 100% of meat in some lasagne came from horses too.

Liberty Scott points out that protection and subsidies incentivise the meat cheats:

This is fraud, and should be treated as such.  However, secondary to this are the market distortions created by the Common Agricultural Policy.  Meat moves freely and tariff free within the EU.  However, the EU imposes strict quotas on beef from outside the EU, such as a limit of 1,200 tonnes a year from New Zealand.  It also imposes a 20% tariff within that quota.  Although it allows outside quota beef in, it must have a tariff of around 100-250%.  All NZ beef imported into the EU must meet strict labelling and traceability conditions, unlike the subsidised EU beef.

 
There are obvious pressures to source cheap beef for low priced products, but the EU Common Agricultural Policy prevents this by propping up inefficient producers in the EU.  The quotas on imports should be abolished immediately, and tariffs abolished, so that beef can be imported at low cost and high quality.  It wont stop fraud happening, but reduces the pressure to substitute real beef for cheap alternatives due to trade protectionism.
EU residents pay higher taxes to subsidise inefficient producers and consumers pay more for food, some of which is of lower quality, because of tariffs and reduced competition.

Horse meat is widely eaten in Europe so it might not be a food safety issue though it does call into question the effectiveness of strict food labelling requirements.

Whether or not it’s a food safety issue though is no excuse for fraudulently labelling horse meat as beef. However, there would be a lot less incentive for this if the EU had freer trade with countries outside its borders.


Rural round-up

27/01/2013

Maori Trust beats 1080 opponent in court:

A veteran oponent of using 1080 poison to kill possums has lost his latest bid in the courts to stop a Maori organisation using the compound.

David Livingston asked for a review of the Lake Taupo Forest Trust, after the Maori Land Court previously refused to grant an injunction against the trustees . . .

The use of dicyandiamide (DCD) to control nitrogen pollution in NZ – Bob Wilcock:

For the last 20 years New Zealand has been undergoing a rapid expansion in dairy farming, driven by commodity prices. New Zealand’s dairy exports, although small on a global scale of production, comprise 30-40% of internationally traded dairy products and are a major component of our gross domestic product (roughly 3%). Dairy farming is an intensive form of agriculture and its expansion into areas that were previously used for sheep and beef farming, combined with increased stocking rates in established dairy farming regions, has resulted in much greater leaching of nitrate to groundwater, and to surface waters receiving inputs of groundwater. . . .

Cargill to idle Plainview, Texas, beef processing plant; dwindling cattle supply cited:

Cargill today announced that it will idle its Plainview, Texas, beef processing facility effective at the close of business, Friday, Feb.1, 2013, resulting primarily from the tight cattle supply brought about by years of drought in Texas and Southern Plains states.  Approximately 2,000 people work at the Plainview facility, and they will receive company support.  Federal, state, county and city government representatives, as well as Cargill customers, suppliers and other key stakeholders were informed today of Cargill’s decision, concurrent with Cargill employees being notified.

“The decision to idle our Plainview beef processing plant was a difficult and painful one to make and was made only after we conducted an exhaustive analysis of the regional cattle supply and processing capacity situation in North America,” said John Keating, president of Cargill Beef, based in Wichita, Kan.  “While idling a major beef plant is unfortunate because of the resulting layoff of good people, which impacts their families and the community of Plainview, we were compelled to make a decision that would reduce the strain created on our beef business by the reduced cattle supply.  The U.S. cattle herd is at its lowest level since 1952.  Increased feed costs resulting from the prolonged drought, combined with herd liquidations by cattle ranchers, are severely and adversely contributing to the challenging business conditions we face as an industry.  Our preference would have been not to idle a plant.” . . .

Brazillian beef imports doubled in 2012 – Gemma Mackenzie:

UK imports of Brazilian beef doubled during 2012, but trade restrictions mean import levels are still 85% lower than in 2007, said Quality Meat Scotland.

Speaking at a recent “EU Imports and CAP” seminar in Bridge of Allan, QMS head of economic services Stuart Ashworth said that since trade restrictions were placed on Brazil in 2008, beef imports to the UK fell by 80% between 2007 and 2008, and continued to fall until 2011.
 
The European market was shielded from these imports as a result of significant import tariffs, however if trade restrictions were lifted, Scottish farmers faced the prospect of lower and more volatile beef prices, he warned. . .

Fonterra CFO announces retirement:

 One of the chief architects of Fonterra’s successfully launched listed units, chief financial officer Jonathan Mason, is to leave the co-operative.

The softly spoken former senior executive for the American wood products giant International Paper first came to New Zealand from 2000 to 2005 to be cfo at Carter Holt Harvey, which IP owned at the time, before returning to the US. . .

And a media release from the Pasture Renewal Charitable Trust:

Competition to boost awareness of pasture renewal:

Over 80% of New Zealand dairy farmers intend to renew run-out pastures this season, regardless of their financial outlook, reports a dairy farm survey released recently from CINTA.

This result highlights farmers know that annual pasture renewal is vital to their operations and yet actions do not always follow those intentions.

To encourage more action on pasture renewal, agribusiness organisations have the opportunity to get alongside farmers to discuss and encourage their annual pasture renewal programmes through the “Win a Free Paddock” campaign which runs from 20 January through until the closure date of 28 February.

Open to all farmers (from both the dairy and sheep/beef/deer sectors) the three prizes, valued at $8,000 each, will be drawn on 5 March 2013. The prizes consist of products and technical advice used in the pasture renewal process and may be redeemed direct from the winners’ nominated rural retailer.

On-line entries are encouraged at http://www.pasturerenewal.org.nz. Entry forms are also available from most rural retailers or direct from their representatives. Winners will have the option to undertake their pasture renewal in either autumn or spring depending on their farming system and location.

Run by the Pasture Renewal Charitable Trust (PRCT), the competition is an excellent chance to be “in the money” and “do something about the difference” between the best producing paddock on farm and the worst”, to boost overall farm productivity, says PRCT project manager Nicola Holmes.

“PRCT recognises the importance of trusted, long-term working relationships between rural retailer representatives, contractors, consultants and farmers and having them plan programmes and timing of pasture sowing to ensure the best results,” says Nicola.  “Right now plans for autumn pasture renewal activity for 2013 will be well underway on many North Island dairy farms.”

Farmers not committed to an annual pasture renewal programme miss the chance to significantly improve pasture quality on their farm, which in turn will ensure greater productivity, increased returns, improved animal health and more farm management options.

Nicola says The CINTA survey of 600 dairy farmers nationwide shows cropping programmes, not finances, are the biggest barrier to increased areas of pasture renewal on New Zealand dairy farms.

Around New Zealand the total percentage of pasture renewal falls well behind the 10-12% annually recommended by the Trust. Dairy farmers renew around 6-7% annually and the sheep and beef sector 2-3%.


Dairy price up 7.8%

16/08/2012

This morning’s GlobalDairyTrade auction showed a welcome reversal of this year’s trend  for dairy prices with a 7.8% increase in the trade-weighted index.

The price paid for anhydrous milk fat increased 14%; buttermilk powder was up 10.2%; cheddar was up 8.8%; milk protein concentrate increased by 15.4%; rennet casein was up 4.7% skim milk powder increased 7.3% and whole milk powder increased by 7%.

This increase takes the price back to around the long term average.

One reason for the increase could be the drought in the USA. That usually depresses the price of beef because the market is flooded by farmers culling stock, and increases dairy prices because of a decrease in supply.


National Roast Day

05/08/2012

It’s National Roast Day.

Almost every Sunday was roast day when I was a child. It was usually mutton but occasionally beef, put on to slow cook before we went to Sunday School and church.

Chicken was reserved for very special occasions like Christmas.

It would be accompanied by roast potatoes, boiled carrots and in winter swedes.

I loved it and enjoyed Monday’s lunch of cold meat sandwiches just as much.

How things have changed. I can remember roasting only once this year.

We have had plenty of meat but we generally barbeque or grill it and neither is on the menu today.

Dare I confess, more often than not, Sunday is meat-free unless we’ve got guests for a meal.


Grass-fed beef is best

20/05/2012

British researchers have concluded what New Zealand farms have been saying for years: grass-fed beef is better :

Feeding cattle on grass throughout their lifecycle is the most environmentally sustainable way to rear beef, according to new research for the National Trust.

One of the biggest global challenges is how to increase food security whilst reducing the environmental impacts of food production.

Livestock – like cattle and sheep – produce high levels of methane as part of the process of digesting grass. This has led to suggestions that intensive production methods – where cattle are fed largely on cereals, producing less methane – should be preferred over more traditional grass-fed livestock farming.

However, in this report, research at 10 Trust farms shows that while the carbon footprint of grass-fed and conventional farms were comparable, the carbon sequestration contribution of well-managed grass pasture on the less intensive systems reduced net emissions by up to 94 per cent, even resulting in a carbon ‘net gain’ in upland areas. The farms that had recently converted to organic status showed even greater gains. . .

The research found that grass-fed beef is better for the environment and human health:

“The debate about climate change and food often calls for a reduction of meat consumption and a more plant based diet, but this often overlooks the fact that many grasslands are unsuitable for continuous arable cropping.

“Grasslands support a range of ecosystems services including water resources, biodiversity and carbon capture and storage. Grazing livestock not only contributes to their maintenance but also turns grass into human-edible food.”

Other recent research found that the health benefits of beef (and lamb) are greater when animals are fed totally on grass – their natural food. Omega 3 fatty acids – recognised as essential to good physical and mental health – are higher in meat from grass and the levels of saturated fat are a third of grain fed beef.

Hat Tip: Tony Chaston


Beef back in favour

04/01/2012

Lean beef  could gain a place as an acceptable ingredient in a low cholesterol diet, after a study at the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Pennsylvania State University.

People using a diet centered on fruits and vegetables to lower their cholesterol may be able to introduce lean beef and get similar results, suggests a new study.

The findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, are similar to those of past research that found red meat may be fine in moderation.

Lean and  moderation appear to be the key words.  That’s not always easy to achieve when dining out but isn’t too difficult to do at home.

Apropos of this, the Listener’s cover story (not yet online) on the secret to weight loss discusses the importance of protein for satisfying hunger.

The protein-leverage hypothesis of Massey University nutritional ecology professor David Raubenheimer and colleagues suggests a lean beef steak for lunch might not be a bad thing. their theory is that humans have a dominant appetite for protein and when our food supply has a lot ratio of protein to fat and carbod=hydrate we tend to overeat, and this consumption of excess energy promotes obesity. . . 

Raubenheimer . . . said studies . . .  suggest that when faced with nutritionally unbalanced diets, we prioritise our protein intake. In other words we keep on eating until we’ve ingested enough protein.  . . 

Raubenheimer’s calculations suggest if the amount of protein in our food supply drops by just 1.5% and our carbohydrate and fat intake rise accordingly by 1.5% we are likely to over consumer carbohydrates and fats – eating about 14% more – to maintain our protein intake.

When we’re on holiday my farmer often has a cooked breakfast which isn’t usually low in fat but is higher in protein than the toast and fruit I usually eat. By late morning I’m usually hungry again but he can go a lot longer before wanting to eat.

Last July when we were in the  USA and Canada I decided to try having more for breakfast and ordered an omlette most days. It worked – keeping me satisfied until at least early afternoon and sometimes longer.

It wasn’t as easy to eat healthily and be satisfied in the evening. Servings of meat in most restaurants might have been lean but were  anything but moderate and the Presbyterian in me objected to paying for a lot more than I could eat.

However, a Holiday Inn in Vancouver offered a healthy option with a small portion of lean meat and very generous serving of lightly steamed and deliciously seasoned vegetables.

The waitress told me it was one of their most popular meals which makes me wonder why more restaurants and cafes don’t offer something similar.


Look at retailers not producers

03/08/2011

Federated Farmers and Fonterra are both pleased that the Commerce Commission has decided it has no basis for a price control inquiry into milk.

However, it’s not ruling out a further inquiry  into how Fonterra sets the price it pays farmers and what it charges other processors.

Sue Chetwin from Consumer is calling for a milk commissioner and  Labour and Green MPs want the Commerce select committee to launch another inquiry.

If they’re doing that, should look at the whole supply chain.

The Commerce Commission report said there was enough retail competition between  two major supermarket chains, dairies, service stations and other retailers.

I’m not so sure about that. Almost everything is more expensive at dairies, service stations and other small retailers. Those are the places you go for emergency supplies, not normal grocery shopping.

That leaves the supermarket duopoly.

It is difficult comparing prices here with those overseas because of the exchange rate and different taxes, but our observation at restaurants and supermarket during our recent trip to the USA and Canada was that food there seemed to be cheaper than it is here.

Some prices in a Walmart in Canada were: beef mince $9.50/kg; T bone $16.22; sirloin $11.10; stir fry $15.06; roast beef $12.06; bacon $10.44; pork tenderloin $10.96; pork chops $8.80.

I don’t have local comparison for these, but a  New Zealand boneless leg  lamb was selling for $14.92/kg  at Walmart, I saw it priced at $29.99/kg at a New World  here yesterday.

A frozen leg of New Zealand lamb was $13.62/kg.

It looked good but beside it were Walmart’s own brand of frozen loin chops selling for $20/kg. The bag was full of ice and had they been a tenth the price we might have contemplated buying them for dog meat.

Eggs were $2.98/dozen; skim milk cost $1.38/litre, full cream milk was $2.77/litre..

Cheddar cheese cost $13.43/kg which, taking the exchange rate into account, wouldn’t be much different form here.

The only thing that was far more expensive – and to our admittedly biased taste buds, not nearly as nice – was ice cream. A small cone cost $5.

Prices recorded at one supermarket and the gut reaction from purchases at other supermarkets and restaurants aren’t much to build a case on.

But our overwhelming impression was that food was cheaper and we wondered how much that had to do with greater competition between supermarkets there in contrast to the duopoly which operates here.

If there’s to be an investigation into food prices it needs to be a thorough one which includes retailers not just producers and processors.


Bank the gains, budget conservatively

04/02/2011

When was the last time prices for lamb, wool, beef, milk and grain were all reasonable at the same time?

I can’t remember.

In the last decade or two if returns for one product was up the rest were usually down.

But this year, in spite of the high dollar, all commodities are receiving better prices.

Even Federated Farmers , is chirpy:

While appreciating commodity prices will be positive for the New Zealand economy, it is only part of the cost equation for goods for all farmers, whether you’re producing cheese or lamb.

“Global commodity prices are up. Whole Milk Powder (WMP) prices have doubled in the last 12 months, and butter is at 20 year highs because of constrained supply,” says Lachlan McKenzie, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“Wool and meat are also showing positive signs and the positive economic contribution of agriculture is benefiting every New Zealander, every day.

“These are sustainable prices because food is the new black. About 70 million people join the human race each year as the global population heads towards 6.9 billion.

“We are seeing strong price signals from the ANZ Commodity Price Index and from Fonterra’s GlobalDairyTrade auction yesterday.  Food is no longer a plentiful low cost good but is now starting to reflect the real cost of production and its scarcity.

Feds is warning there could be volatility ahead and advises farmers to bank the gains and budget conservatively.

If the grapevine in our area can be taken seriously, that is what most are doing. Memories of the crash from peak prices in 2006 are too fresh for anyone sensible to think what comes up can’t go down.

McKenzie also points out that higher prices are only part of the story.

“Farmers don’t get the retail shelf price. We have to meet the full cost of production and input costs are up. Last year dairy famers had on average only 70 cents profit out of the $6.10 milk price left over for debt, taxes and in dividends.

“It’s the compliance costs we have the least control over.  In the past year we’ve had increases in local authority rates, ACC levies and particularly the impact of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) on fuel and electricity.

“Dairy farmers in particular have greater environmental expectations upon them and we have to be in the black to be green,” Mr McKenzie concluded.

Many of those costs are fixed ones which we face regardless of whether prices for our produce are going up or down. We must make hay while the financial sun is shining and this time it isn’t just food that is receiving better prices, fibre is too.

We got $4.80 a kilo for crossbred lambs’ wool last week, sold some more this week and received an extra 20 cents.

My farmer thinks it’s at least 20 years since wool was earning that sort of money.

That’s a very welcome turn around from the last few years when we were lucky if the price paid for wool did anything more than cover the cost of shearing it.

Timber too is finally worth more than the cost of felling the trees.

We’ve got a plantation of pines planted about 30 years ago. Any time we’ve looked at selling the timber in recent years we’ve been told the only market would be fire wood. But now the price has gone up we’re cutting them down, cover the costs of that and replanting and still have a bit left over.

As an investment over 30 years the return wouldn’t be particularly good, but the trees were planted on a steep hillside which wouldn’t have been good for much else anyway.


Customers’ bargain farmers’ bad news

27/09/2010

Whole rump, aged for tenderness, the blurb on the vacuum pack said.

It was selling for just $62.49 or just $10.99 a kilo. That was cheaper than the mince beside it in the chiller.

I hope the supermarket was selling the meat as a loss leader, accepting a far lower price than it paid for it to encourage shoppers to buy more.

If not that bargain for customers is very bad news for farmers.


Lamb demand high but prices not

10/09/2010

  Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s  Sheep & Beef New Season Outlook 2010-11 PDF File is predicting good demand for our beef and lamb will continue.

In spite of that expected export receipts and farmgate returns don’t make cheerful reading.

B+LNZ  . . .  sees beef and lamb export receipts totalling $4.7 billion, 1.6 per cent less than last year. The decrease predominantly reflects a 3.5 per cent decrease in meat shipments to world markets, while lamb prices per tonne held on last year and beef prices lifted 3.0 per cent. . .

As always, the exchange rate will have a big influence on incomes.

B+LNZ Economic Service Director, Rob Davison says

. . . Based on a more optimistic exchange rate assumption than today of a 68 cents/US$ exchange rate and its associated cross rates, all classes average sheep and beef farm profitability before tax is estimated to average $54,000 per farm for 2010-11, down 5 per cent on 2009-10.

“At a less export favourable exchange rate of 72 cents US to the NZ dollar this would see sheep and beef farm profitability fall to $34,000 per farm.”

This continued dismal outlook underlines the importance of the red meat sector strategy and farmers are encouraged to fill out an on-line submission form.


Bigger or better?

24/06/2010

Bigger or Better? was the theme of Baker & Associates annual Winter Seminar in Masterton yesterday.

My farmer was one of the speakers and had been asked to address large scale sheep and beef farming.

You know all the stories about men teaching their wives to drive? We could tell a few about women helping their husbands with speeches. In spite of my help/hindrance with the preparation, his speech was very well received.

Bigger and better aren’t mutually exclusive. One of my farmer’s points was that it’s possible to get better without getting bigger but if you get bigger without getting better you’ll get in to trouble.

He also said lessons he’s learned from dairying have made him a much better sheep and beef farmer. This includes the value of growing and utilisation of new grass, the use of nitrogen to extend the shoulders of the seasons, the value of sharing of information and how that helps in growing your business.

Another point he made was the importance of NFOs – Non Financial Objectives. Even if you love your work and reckon life’s one long holiday when you enjoy what you’re doing, it’s not healthy if that’s all you do.


Figures favour dairying

15/06/2010

The average gross return from dairying is $9,000 a hectare, costs are about $5,ooo to $5.500 a hectare which leaves $3.5 to $4,ooo a hectare in profit.

Cropping returns around $4,000 a hectare with costs of about $2.5,ooo leaving $1,500.

Sheep grosses $1,500 a hectare with costs of $800 – $900 leaving just $600 a hectare in profit.

These figures show why cropping and sheep farmers are converting to dairying.

One of the consequences of that is less stock for the meat industry which is why no-one is surprised that Silver Fern Farms is likely to close its lamb cutting plant in Christchurch and its Belfast beef plant.

There is over capacity in meat processing and more conversions to dairying will only make it worse.

Land which is suitable for cropping  is generally fine for dairying but not all sheep and beef farms are suitable for conversion. Some farmers who choose not to, or can’t, convert  do dairy support instead – growing supplementary feed or grazing young stock and carry over cows.

But that’s not an option for all sheep and beef farmers. Many of these have been farming for capital gain and as land prices have slipped back they’ve been eating into their equity. That may be okay in the short term but it’s not a financially viable policy in the long term.

Forecasts for next season are cautiously optimistic about lamb prices but wool, pelts and other by-products are still in the doldrums and returns won’t come near those from dairying.


8 sheep and a cow each

10/02/2010

The sheep population has dropped and the  dairy cow population has climbed according to Statistics NZ’s latest animal production survey.

Total dairy cattle numbers hit a record high of 5.8 million in 2009, 4 percent higher than in 2008. Since 1979, numbers in the overall dairy herd have doubled according to the annual survey, which collects information on livestock and arable farming, horticulture, forestry, and selected farming practices, including fertiliser and cultivation.

At 4.6 million, the 2009 milking herd, identified as cows and heifers in milk or in calf, was 250,000 larger than in 2008. This expansion was due to both dairy conversions and growth in the number of milking cows in existing herds. “Increased numbers in the milking herd have resulted in there being one milking cow for every New Zealander”, said agriculture statistics manager Gary Dunnet.

The increase in dairy cows was one of the reasons the sheep population dropped –  down 5 percent on 2008 to 32.4 million in 2009. that’s below the peak of 70 million reached in 1982.

The beef cattle population at 4.1 million was similar to the previous year and the 1.2 million deer was 6% fewer.

If you divide the human population by that of farm animals we’d all have just under 8 sheep, a dairy cow, a beef cattle beast and 1/4 of a deer each.

It’s only a couple of decades ago that a design-a-tee-shirt- contest was won by one with the slogan: NZ, we’re “ewenique”, 60 million sheep can’t be wrong.

But New Zealand’s not the only country with a declining number of sheep. In Australia drought and conversion to cropping have led to a big drop in the ovine population. It was about 120 million in 1997, now it’s around 70 million.


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