Rural round-up

May 31, 2019

Employment model tipped on head – Richard Rennie:

As dairy farmers struggle to hire and keep staff Woodville farmer and DairyNZ director Ben Allomes has tipped his farm employment model on its head. 

He and wife Nicky aim to attract and retain people in an environment that recognises effort and nurtures potential while recognising a work-life balance.

The challenges in attracting and retaining good people and a need to restructure their business two years ago presented the Allomes with a chance to look at how they employ people on their 750-cow operation.

“It also came from a realisation that if I was in this industry for the long haul and was relying upon key people then I had a duty to make it work for them.  . . 

Wellbeing Budget should have worked with farmers on conservation:

The 2019 Budget has left Federated Farmers questioning why the Government’s first Wellbeing budget has left a critical gap in its commitment to conservation.

There is no additional funding for the QEII National Trust or the Ngā Whenua Rāhui Fund. Plus, woefully inadequate funding for the control of wilding conifers, Feds Arable and Biosecurity spokesperson Karen Williams says.

The extremely modest increase in funding for the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme means its work will be going backwards in terms of managing this out-of-control pest.  

“We hoped to see the wilding conifer programme receive more like $25 million per year.  . . 

Farmers milk new technologies – Luke Chivers:

Winton dairy farmers Billy and Sharn Roskam believe tapping into modern technologies is the key to an efficient dairy operation. They spoke to Luke Chivers.

It is 7am.

As daylight breaks on the Southland Plains, Winton dairy farmers Billy and Sharn Roskam’s morning milking is well under way.

Their 36-bail rotary is filled with the steady hum of modern machinery – from automated cup removers to automated teat sprayers and heat patches. 

“It’s all about labour and efficiency,” Sharn says.  . . 

Taieri couple can stay and seek residency – Sally Rae:

A Taieri couple’s future in New Zealand is looking much more certain after they were told they can apply for residency.

Last year, nurse Pawan Chander faced deportation to India after her application for a work visa was declined by Immigration New Zealand, as her husband Harrie’s employment as herd manager on a Woodside was deemed “lower skilled”.

Following publicity about the couple’s plight, Mrs Chander was granted a 12-month visitor visa to line up with Mr Chander’s work visa, which expired this month. . . 

Innovation rewarded – Yvonne O’Hara:

John Falconer’s hydraulic, remote-controlled deer crush, which he designed, was one of the reasons he and wife Mary won the Gallagher Technology and Innovation Award at the 2019 Deer Industry Environmental Awards last week.

“The crush has been a game-changer for us,” Mr Falconer said.

Mr and Mrs Falconer, of Clachanburn Station, Puketoi, won the award for their use of “farming technologies to improve productivity and manage resources”.

They also won the Duncan New Zealand Award for “vision and innovation while mastering a demanding environment”. . . 

Costs up as farmers reinvest back into business:

DairyNZ’s newly-released Economic Survey 2017-18 shows farmers have taken advantage of increased milk income to catch up on deferred farm maintenance and revisit capital expenditure, previously delayed due to lower milk prices.

DairyNZ senior economist Matthew Newman said the annual farmer survey shows the largest increases in spend during 2017-18 (1 June 2017 to 31 May 2018) were on feed, repairs, maintenance and labour. But, it is likely expenditure has increased further in 2018-19.

“The 2017-18 season was difficult due to a dry spring/early summer for all regions. That affected pasture growth and peak milk production. It’s also the season that Mycoplasma bovis was discovered,” said Matthew. . .

Living off the grid for almost 80 years – Ciara Colhoun:

Margaret Gallagher has lived off-grid for almost 80 years.

When she was was born – near the Irish border in County Fermanagh in 1942 – it was not unusual for families to live without electricity and running water.

Margaret’s neighbours only began to update their homes in the late 1940s and 1950s.

But her family missed the opportunity to join the trend due to her mother’s death, when Margaret was 10, and her father’s ill health. . . 


Subsidies ignore science

May 29, 2019

The Carbon Zero Bill isn’t being led by science when it comes to methane:

Farmers should be able to use forests to offset methane and nitrous oxide emissions, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton says.

And he says fossil fuel emitters should not be allowed to use forest to offset their gas.

That will lead to better quality land use change.

Upton was responding to farmers’ concern the Government’s Zero Carbon Bill will lead to wholesale afforestation with inevitable land use change in response to climate change.

But the shape of that land use change can be better managed by farmers working together and taking a landscape approach to establishing forests rather than blanket planting by those seeking to simply offset their emissions, Upton said.

“That’s the bit I think needs to be thought about a bit harder.” . . 

Farmers are more than concerned about this.

We’re all exhorted to follow the science on climate change but the government is going against the science in allowing fossil fuel emitters to offset their gas with forests.

It’s doubling the damage by not allowing farmers to offset methane emissions with trees.

It’s also going against the Paris Accord which said emissions mitigation shouldn’t come at the expense of food production.

The sale of productive farmland for forestry is already having a negative impact or rural communities:

Subsidies for forestry are distorting the market for farmland, killing jobs and the science says it won’t work to offset fossil fuel emissions.

Politics, bureaucracy and emotion trump science and facts again and farmers and rural communities will pay the cost.


Rural round-up

March 25, 2019

Being solutions-focused key part of the role  – Sally Rae:

A rural career always beckoned for Selina Copland.

Growing up on a sheep, beef and cropping farm in Mid Canterbury, she was always out on the farm with her siblings.

At school, while she was interested in agriculture, the topic was never really pushed as a career which was disappointing, she said.

Originally, Ms Copland hoped to get into rural banking and she completed a BComAg, majoring in rural valuation at Lincoln University. . . 

Introducing the 2019 Sheep Industry Ambassadors:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand have selected two Sheep Industry Ambassadors to represent this country at the Australia – New Zealand – United States Sheep Industry Ambassadors programme (formerly known as TriLamb). They are Tom Whitford from Northern Waikato and Cameron Russell from Southland. New Zealand will be hosting the 2019 programme and the Ambassadors will be touring New Zealand in late March. This week we meet Tom Whitford.

Industry needs to raise the bar

Narrowing the gap between this country top operators and those at the other end of the scale is one of the challenges facing this country’s sheep industry.

This is according to B+LNZ’s 2019 Sheep Industry Ambassador Tom Whitford who says while this country has some outstanding sheep farmers, there are still a lot of average producers and lifting their performance can only be better for the industry as a whole. . . 

Dry weather cutting dairy production boosting costs – Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand milk production fell from year-earlier levels for the first time in 11 months in February due to dry weather.

The country’s dairy farmers produced 165 million tonnes of milk solids in February, about 0.1 percent less than the same month last year, according to Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand data.

The decline was the first since March last year and trims the production gain for the season that started in August to 4.9 percent. . .

Oregon couple living the dream despite problems with predators – Sally Rae:

Bill and Sharon Gow reckon they are living the dream. The American ranchers, who were holidaying in New Zealand recently, run a cow-calf ranch in Roseburg, Oregon.

The operation was recently taken over by their son, Colton, although they still remain involved. The couple are first-generation ranchers.

Neither comes from a farming background, although it was Mr Gow’s lifelong dream from when he was a child. . . 

How can. Self-awareness and self-reflection ignite a farmer’s motivation to engage in leadership  – Ben Allomes:

Changing economic and social pressures in the rural sector mean farmers need to change the way they act and react to challenges if they want to survive and thrive. Strengthening rural leadership has been identified as a key opportunity to help famers to respond and adapt to their changing environment both on-farm and with in their wider sector. From the findings of my research, self-awareness and self-reflection are two recognised traits that show strongly in farmers who are performing well in leadership positions. The link between self-awareness and leadership is strong (Musselwhite, 2007), but the understanding of this link by farmers is limited.

By understanding their past, their experiences and actions, and connecting that with their personality type and leadership style, farmers will be more empowered and prepared to step into the leadership roles that are required to ensure the agriculture sector remains vibrant and adaptable in the future. When a farmer makes time to learn about and reflect on their past experiences, it creates a lightbulb moment. . . 

Food Crime Unit pledges tougher action on food fraud – Felicity Hannah:

Businesses that commit food fraud in order to lower costs or boost supplies could soon face criminal prosecutions.

The National Food Crime Unit’s new chief, Darren Davies, wants to see firms that fraudulently use cheaper substitutes criminally prosecuted.

Food fraud rarely makes the news. The last major one was the 2013 horsemeat scandal. Goods prone to substitution also include olive oil and coffee. . . 


Rural round-up

January 2, 2019

The good, the bad, and the ugly — 2018 year in review – Rural News editorial team:

As we bid farewell to another year it’s time for the annual review of 2018 in the primary sector as seen by the Rural News editorial team.

The good:

The great start award: to outgoing Zespri chairman Peter McBride for his level-headed, down-to-earth approach on taking up Fonterra directorship. An independent thinker and experienced hand. Is he the next Fonterra chair in waiting?

Straight talking award: kumara grower and Vegetables NZ chairman Andre De Bruin for honest opinion on drugs and employment issues – rather than the usual PR massaged ‘never say anything controversial’ comment that does not face issues head-on. . . 

Sodden, mouldy fruit dumped after rainfall destroys Canterbury harvests – Maddison Northcott:

Southern berry growers are feeling the squeeze as hundreds of kilograms of sodden, mouldy fruits are thrown away after the most devastating season in decades.

Paul Tapper, from Tai Tapu’s Tram Road Fruit Farm, said the unseasonably heavy rain throughout November and December destroyed crops and caused up to 300kg of strawberries to go mouldy before they could be collected. . . 

Japanese farmers set to face-off against NZ imports :

Japanese farmers are set to compete with cheaper agricultural products imported from New Zealand and Australia as the first tariff cuts under the re-jigged Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal take effect tomorrow.

Tokyo’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper reports that tomorrow Japan will axe tariffs on kiwfruit, grapes and melons, and cut tariffs on imported beef from the current 38.5 percent to 27.5.

It reports the number of stores selling New Zealand beef are likely to increase and a big company – Itoham Foods – is planning to sell more beef from its New Zealand subsidiary. . .

Fonterra strives for better year in 2019 – Samesh Mohanlal:

South Canterbury’s dairy industry has experienced a turbulent year with an increasingly “impaired” public perception adding to its woes, but Fonterra’s head of Farm Source for Canterbury, Marlborough and Tasman, Charles Fergusson plans to take the bull by the horns and clear the air in 2019.

The biggest hurdle of the year, the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis proved devastating for individual farmers, businesses and the wider community, and Fonterra posting its the first ever loss this year has also kept Fergusson busy.

“The year 2018 has been a tough one for the co-operative,” Fergusson says. . .

Extra production does not necessarily mean extra dollars – Pam Tipa:

The extra and hidden costs of bringing in feed can often mean increased milk production, but not increased operating profit.

In fact, sometimes producing the extra milk can cost money, DairyNZ research scientist Dr Jane Kay told a Northland Dairy Development Trust field day at Wellsford. . .

NFU brings industry together to discuss no deal Brexit:

The NFU brought more than 70 representatives from the agri-food supply chain together in London in December to discuss the impacts of the UK leaving the EU without a deal in place.

The NFU has been clear that the UK leaving the EU without a deal would be ‘catastrophic’ and is ‘not an option’ for UK agriculture.

The whole supply chain was represented – from seed to shop shelf – representing from pre and post farm gate. . .


Rural round-up

December 6, 2018

Dairy product prices climb as whole milk powder gains – Margaret Dietz:

(BusinessDesk) – Dairy product prices rose at the Global Dairy Trade auction, stemming a decline that began in May.

The GDT price index gained 2.2 percent from the previous auction two weeks ago. The average price was a US$2,819 a tonne, compared with US$2,727 a tonne two weeks ago. Some 36,450 tonnes of product was sold, down from 42,966 tonnes two weeks ago.

Whole milk powder climbed 2.5 percent to US$2,667 a tonne. . . 

Dairy bosses are best employers:

In the first-ever Primary Industries Good Employer Awards dairy farmers Ben and Nicky Allomes won the top accolade, the Minister of Agriculture’s Award for Best Primary Sector Employers.

Woodville dairy farmers Ben and Nicky Allomes have been named the Best Primary Sector Employers. 

The couple, who own Hopelands Dairies, also won the Innovative Employment Practices award. . . 

Fonterra reaches provisional deal with Beingmate:

Fonterra Cooperative Group has reached a provisional deal with Chinese partner Beingmate Baby & Child Food to unwind their Darnum joint venture in Australia.

The joint venture – 51 percent owned by Beingmate and 49 percent Fonterra – produced infant formula products at the Darnum plant in Australia for Beingmate’s Chinese customers, and was a key component of Fonterra’s plan to expand its reach into China’s second and third-tier cities. . . 

Voting for the 2nd Fonterra Directors’ Election is underway:

Voting is now open for the 2018 Fonterra Board of Directors’ Second Election.

Only two candidates from the first election, Leonie Guiney and Peter McBride, obtained more than 50% support from voting shareholders. The Rules of the first election state that if not enough candidates obtain more than 50% support, there must be a second election. . . 

Dairy loan done on a handshake, details to follow:

It beggars belief that the Government has dispensed a $9.9 million low-interest loan to a dairy company without having finalised the terms, National’s Economic and Regional Development spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“The Minister in charge of the Provincial Growth Fund couldn’t tell the House what terms he had in mind when he undercut commercial lenders to provide debt funding for a new processing plant.

“I wouldn’t blame any business like Westland Milk for accepting a cheap loan from a secure lender. . . 

Apple producer’s underlying profit looks to be at top end:

Apple producer Scales has had a bumper year with a record export crop lifting profits to the top end of guidance.

The company’s underlying profit was likely to be at the top end, or slightly exceed, the current guidance range of $58 million to $65m, in the year ending December.

Managing director Andy Borland said it was an excellent performance for the group, with all business units performing well over the year. . . 

New Landcorp chair appointed:

Dr Warren Parker has been appointed as Director and Chair of Landcorp, the Minister of Finance Grant Robertson and Associate Minister of State-Owned Enterprises Shane Jones announced today.

Dr Parker is a former Chief Executive of Scion (the NZ Forest Research Institute) and Landcare Research, and was previously Chief Operating Officer of AgResearch. He currently holds a number of board roles including on Predator Free 2050 Ltd, Farmlands Cooperative Society, Genomics Aotearoa and is the Chair of the Forestry Ministerial Advisory Group. Until recently he was Chair of the New Zealand Conservation Authority. . . 

Landcorp out of touch with real farmers:

Landcorp’s submission to Sir Michael Cullen’s Tax Working Group (TWG) is a kick in the guts to rural communities, National’s Nathan Guy and David Carter say.

“Landcorp’s sneaky submission to the TWG proposing a water tax, nitrogen fertiliser tax and not opposing a capital gains tax proves how out of touch the state-owned company is with farmers on the ground,” Mr Guy says.

“With 6700 other submissions, why was Landcorp pressured to put in a submission that was more than a month late? The reality seems to be that the TWG are hell-bent on introducing environmental taxes and a capital gains tax, so they leaned on Landcorp to submit supporting more taxes and levies. . . 

New president and vice president elected to HortNZ board:

The Horticulture New Zealand board elected Barry O’Neil as its new President and Chairman at a meeting today. Mr O’Neil replaces Julian Raine, who has been President and Chairman for six years and who has made a significant contribution to horticulture for New Zealand. Mr Raine has stood down to pursue other business interests.

Bernadine Guilleux was elected Vice-President, with both positions effective from 1 January 2019. . . 

Busy orchardist advises small businesses start payday filing:

A Hawke’s Bay orchardist is advising fellow small businesses to be ahead of the game on payday filing.

This is the mandatory requirement from April next year for employers to file their payroll information to Inland Revenue every time they pay their staff.

Te Mata Figs owner Helen Walker has been paying her five staff fortnightly and sending across their details using the online entry method in myIR. . . 


Rural round-up

October 2, 2018

Fonterra’s China farms are a target for asset sales – Keith Woodford:

This is the first of a two-part series putting Fonterra’s China Farms under scrutiny. In this first part, the focus is on the origins of how Fonterra managed to entrap itself in its loss-making China Farms project.

Fonterra’s new leadership team of Chair John Monaghan, CEO Miles Hurrell and CFO Marc Rivers has made it clear in recent farmer meetings that debt reduction is a priority.  All options are supposedly on the table. However, the only way to achieve rapid debt reduction is by selling non-strategic assets. In that context, Fonterra’s China Farms must surely be lined up in the cross wires.

Fonterra’s China Farms have been loss-making for at least four years. Accumulated losses over that period, using market prices rather than internal transfer prices, total NZD $179 million EBIT.  These losses are before any contribution to Fonterra’s unallocated overheads of nearly $500 million per annum or paying interest on the borrowed capital. More detail on that in Part 2 of this series. . .

Planting a billion trees – Primary Land Users Group:

How does that relate to the Waikato Region under PC1?

The Government has set a goal to plant one billion trees over 10 years (between 2018 and 2027).

Why plant 1 billion trees? The short answer is because trees absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and turn it into wood, which holds carbon for as much as hundreds of years. Trees absorb CO2, protect the soil, improve water quality and create wildlife habitat. The long answer is because New Zealand has committed to reduce greenhouse gas levels which contribute to climate change. It has three reduction targets – for 2020, 2030 and 2050.

Urbanitess keen for a career in dairy :

One in five of all people wanting to take up a dairy apprenticeship is coming from New Zealand’s biggest city, and Primary ITO chief executive Linda Sissons says many more will be needed where they came from. Primary ITO (industry training organisation) and Federated Farmers are celebrating the first year of the joint Federated Farmers Apprenticeship Dairy. . .

Have your say on the dairy herd management scheme:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) wants to hear from the dairy industry and people with an interest in how the dairy herd improvement regulatory regime can help to ensure that New Zealand’s dairy industry remains world leading.

The dairy herd improvement regulatory regime has not been comprehensively reviewed since it was established in 2001, says Emma Taylor, MPI’s Director of Agriculture, Marine & Plant Policy. “It’s important the dairy herd improvement regulatory regime reflects the changing needs of the dairy industry. It’s timely to look at how the regulatory settings can better support industry both now and into the future. . .

Consuming milk at breakfast lowers blood glucose throughout the day :

A change in breakfast routine may provide benefits for the management of type 2 diabetes, according to a new study published in the Journal of Dairy Science. H. Douglas Goff, PhD, and the team of scientists from the Human Nutraceutical Research Unit at the University of Guelph, in collaboration with the University of Toronto, examined the effects of consuming high-protein milk at breakfast on blood glucose levels and satiety after breakfast and after a second meal. Milk consumed with breakfast cereal reduced postprandial blood glucose concentration compared with water, and high dairy protein concentration reduced postprandial blood glucose concentration compared with normal dairy protein concentration. The high-protein treatment also reduced appetite after the second meal compared with the low-protein equivalent.

“Metabolic diseases are on the rise globally, with type 2 diabetes and obesity as leading concerns in human health,” Dr. Goff and team said. “Thus, there is impetus to develop dietary strategies for the risk reduction and management of obesity and diabetes to empower consumers to improve their personal health.” . .

Capacity crowd expected at inaugural ‘Beyond Bovis’ seminar:

 Hundreds of farmers and rural professionals are expected to attend the inaugural ‘Beyond Bovis’ seminar in Hamilton next month Held in conjunction with the Waikato A&P Show the event is, according to the Director of Showing Waikato, Doug Lineham, the first of its kind in New Zealand, its goal being to rebuild and strengthen the New Zealand cattle industry in the wake of Mycoplasma Bovis (Mb).

The impact of (Mb) has extended beyond the breeding and animal containment strategies of individual farms to a widespread impact on the movement of all cattle,” Doug Lineham said. . .

 

Do the bullies drink milk, eat ice cream?

May 24, 2017

The increasingly strident anti-dairy campaigns are hitting dairy farmers’ children:

Children of dairy farmers are being bullied at school, just because of the work their parents do.

This was revealed by DairyNZ director Ben Allomes, speaking at a dairy farmers’ forum in Manawatu recently.

Allomes says such behaviour is terrible, and it seems the campaign against dairying is being ramped up as the September election draws near.

Dairy farmers are becoming very sensitive to criticism and feel ‘got at’ by the mainstream media, he says.

“When we start hearing more of the negative media stories it impacts more on us and we are more critical of ourselves and more aware of the impact.

“When you read and hear nothing but negative media stories it brings you down and you are more sensitive to it.

“Farmers get out of bed to do their best for their family and the rest of their country but then get cut to pieces. It isn’t pleasant… especially for kids at school being bullied.” . . 

Do the children bullying dairy farmers’ children drink milk, eat cheese, ice cream or yoghurt?

Do the adults who swallow the anti-dairying messages eat dairy products and do they realise how much poorer the country would be and how much less there would be to spend on social services and infrastructure if it wasn’t for the billions of dollars in foreign exchange which dairying earns?

The economic contribution doesn’t excuse poor environmental practices.

But contrary to too much of the media coverage, most farmers are not environmental vandals and are working very hard to ensure are farming sustainably and, especially, that they are looking after water ways.


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