Rural round-up


Tool built to stop rogue spray incidents – Adriana Weber:

Winegrowers in Central Otago have developed a new tool to prevent agri-chemicals drifting and damaging their crops.

The Central Otago Winegrowers Association has created a map designed to stop rogue spray incidents.

Its past president, James Dicey, said spray drifting cost winegrowers millions of dollars every year in lost production.

“Grape vines are remarkably difficult to kill but they are ridiculously sensitive to some of these chemicals, so they can take a bit of a hit for a couple of years and that can have a downstream effect on the volume of grapes and the volume of wines that’s produced off those grapes,” he said. . . 

Westland Payout on the Way Up:

Westland Milk Products has reached a milestone in its efforts to offer shareholders a sustainable and industry competitive payout with confirmation of next season’s forecast payout.

Westland is forecasting a net payout range (after retentions) of $6.40 to $6.80 for 2017-18 season – a substantial improvement on the two previous seasons. The industry-competitive forecast comes after ten months of analysis and systems change under its new Chief Executive Toni Brendish and new Chair Pete Morrison, resulting in changes at both managerial and board level to better position the company for success in a changing and challenging global dairy market. . . 

Funding a boost for quake affected farmers says Feds:

Federated Farmers is delighted that a joint application made to the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Earthquake Recovery Fund has been successful.

The Federation led the application towards a Farm Business and Land Recovery Programme, which will give direction to recovery research following the Hurunui-Kaikōura earthquake. . . 

Mid-range option considered for Manuherikia water – Alexa Cook:

A new option is on the table for a water scheme in central Otago.

Crown Irrigation Investments is putting $815,000 funding into the Manuherikia Water Project, which will allow a Falls Dam proposal to move forward.

The dam is about an hour north of Alexandra and, with water permits expiring in the next five years, farmers want reliable irrigation for the future. . . 

Crown Irrigation provides funding for Orari-Temuka-Opihi-Pareora Irrigation Scheme:

Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd (Crown Irrigation) has agreed development grant funding of $339,875 for the Orari-Temuka-Opihi-Pareora (OTOP) irrigation conceptual design and costing project, which Environment Canterbury (ECAN) is managing. The South Canterbury area and particularly the greater Opihi catchment has long suffered from water shortages and drought, and numerous water reticulation and supply options have been considered over the years. . . 

New irrigation funding welcomed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed new grant funding of over $1.1 million for two irrigation projects in South Canterbury and Central Otago.

Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd has agreed development grant funding of $339,875 for the Orari-Temuka-Opihi-Pareora (OTOP) irrigation conceptual design and costing project, which Environment Canterbury (ECAN) is managing. . . 

Agricultural Aviation Recognises Outstanding Performance:

The New Zealand Agricultural Aviation Association is pleased to confirm the winners of two awards presented at the Aviation Leadership Gala Awards Dinner in Hamilton on Tuesday 25 July.

‘These awards recognise operational excellence and outstanding industry leadership in agricultural aviation,’ said Alan Beck, Chairman of the NZ Agricultural Aviation Association (NZAAA). . . 

Biosecurity heroes recognised at Parliament:

Biosecurity heroes from across the country were recognised in Wellington tonight with the announcement of the 2017 New Zealand Biosecurity Award recipients.

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy says the winners of these inaugural awards have shown a real commitment to protecting New Zealand.

“Biosecurity is my number one priority as Minister and crucial in protecting our economy and way of life. These awards recognise that it is a shared responsibility for all New Zealanders, and celebrate the efforts of people who are doing their bit for biosecurity every day. . . 

Extra boost for Bay of Plenty farmers:

Flood-hit farmers in the Bay of Plenty region will have a further opportunity to apply for a grant to help with clean up and recovery, say Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy.

The $100,000 Primary Industries Flood Recovery Fund is part of a package of additional support totalling $295,000 for farms and orchards who suffered damage following the floods. 

“The Government is committed to ensuring communities in the Bay of Plenty have the support they need to recover from the April floods,” says Mrs Tolley. .  .

Zespri wins top award for US trade:

Zespri won the Supreme Award as well as Exporter of the Year at the AmCham-DHL Awards in Auckland last night, recognising the investment made to grow kiwifruit sales across the United States.

Zespri Chief Operating Officer Simon Limmer says the company is growing strongly across North America, with most of this growth coming from the new gold variety Zespri SunGold. . . 

Ngāi Tahu Seafood appoints new directors:

Ngāi Tahu Seafood Limited is pleased to announce the appointment of two new directors, Jen Crawford and Ben Bateman, bringing the total of Ngāi Tahu directors on the board to four out of six.

Ms Crawford has 20 years’ national and international legal experience in project consenting and planning, along with governance experience in the Canterbury region. She has previously worked in leading law firms in New Zealand and the UK, including a partnership at Anderson Lloyd. . . 

Seafood industry congratulates its stars:

New Zealand’s seafood stars have been recognised at the industry’s annual conference in Wellington today.

Chief Executive of Seafood New Zealand Tim Pankhurst said the conference, titled Oceans of Innovation, was a celebration of the exciting developments in the industry over the past few years, most of which were not well known.

“Some of the recipients of the Seafood Stars Awards played a significant part in the world-leading, cutting edge technology that is making a real difference to the way commercial fishing targets what it needs and is lessening its environmental footprint,” said Pankhurst. . . 

One stop source for New Zealand seafood information launched:

A one-stop source for information on New Zealand seafood was launched at the New Zealand Seafood Industry conference in Wellington today.

OpenSeas is a third-party verified, broad-based transparency initiative designed to enable customers of New Zealand seafood, primarily international customers, a single, comprehensive source of information about the environmental, social and production credentials of the New Zealand seafood industry. . . 

Commercial fishing industry worth more than $4 billion to NZ economy – BERL:

A report from economic researchers, BERL shows New Zealand’s commercial fishing industry is worth $4.18 billion.

Chief Executive of Fisheries Inshore New Zealand, Dr Jeremy Helson, says the report confirms the importance of commercial fishing to New Zealand.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries says exports alone are expected to reach $2.3 billion by 2025. Add the contribution to the domestic market through jobs, investment in infrastructure and the sectors supporting the industry and you have a significant contributor to the New Zealand economy,” said Helson. . . 

Name Change for New Zealand’s Top Performing Sector:

The apple and pear industry has a new name, New Zealand Apples and Pears Incorporated, a change from Pipfruit New Zealand.

The unanimous decision was made at the industry’s annual general meeting held in Napier today.

New Zealand Apples and Pears chief executive, Alan Pollard, said the new name tells exactly what the industry is “apples and pears” and takes advantage of the strong global reputation of “brand New Zealand”. . . 

Mataura Valley Milk on track for August 2018 production start:

Southland farmers are expressing significant interest in becoming Mataura Valley Milk shareholders and the company expects to fill its supplier requirements, general manager Bernard May says.

The company is striving to be the ‘World’s Best Nutritional Business’ manufacturing and producing premium infant milk formula mainly for export from its purpose-built nutrition plant at McNab, near Gore, Southland. . . 

Update on China Infant Formula Registration Process:

Synlait Milk Limited  and The a2 Milk Company Limited  are confident with the progress of their application to export a2 Platinum® infant formula to China from 1 January 2018.

The CFDA requires manufacturers of infant formula to register brands and recipes with them in order to import products from 1 January 2018. . . 


Greens can’t read Budget


Oh dear, the Green Party has been trying to claim it’s economically responsible but it can’t even read the Budget:

Russel Norman and the Greens have again confirmed they cannot read Budgets, repeating incorrect claims that the National-led Government is planning multi-billion dollar cuts to health and education spending over the next three years.

“If I was Russel Norman, I’d ask BERL to cancel the invoice for their latest report on behalf of the Greens,” National Party Finance Spokesman Bill English says.

“The forecast health and education numbers they quote for future years exclude allocations yet to be made from future annual operating allowances for discretionary spending and they also exclude capital investment allocations.

“These decisions are made by ministers just before each Budget – as they have done under successive governments.

“Typically health and education receive most of this extra discretionary operating spending.”

In Budget 2013, the Vote Health allocation for 2014/15 was in the accounts at $14.1 billion. After Budget 2014 decisions, the total health budget, including discretionary spending and capital investment, was actually $15.6 billion.

“This process happens every year, but Dr Norman obviously doesn’t know that – yet he wants to be finance minister one day.

“Although the Greens are again wrong with their numbers, they also fail to understand that it is the results of spending that matter for New Zealanders – such as lower crime and higher educational achievement.”

The Green Party like others on the left put more emphasis on the amount of spending than the effect.

They measure success by the quantity spent rather than the quality of the spend.

It’s not how much that’s spent it’s how well it’s spent that is helping National make a positive difference and show it’s working for New Zealand.

Oil and gas ‘unethical like tobacco’?


Yesterday’s ODT quoted a Dunedin City Councillor’s view on the news Shell will be drilling in the Deep South Basin:

Cr Jinty MacTavish agreed, saying the city would not spend money to try to attract the ”unethical” tobacco industry, and should avoid the oil and gas industry for the same reasons.

”It’s an unethical business and I wouldn’t like to see Dunedin setting out to attract it.”

Even for someone with very strong concerns about climate change this is an extreme view.

I am sure she doesn’t smoke but like all of us she uses and benefits from products of the oil and gas industry – and exploration could bring significantly more to the city and province.

Today’s paper reports Dunedin and Otago could reap billions from a game changing gas boom.

The first taste of petroleum money could be just weeks away in Dunedin, as Texas-based oil giant Anadarko prepares to move its state-of-the-art drilling ship into Otago waters, it has been confirmed.

A natural gas boom worth billions of dollars to the regional economy could follow in the ship’s wake, with thousands of jobs potentially created across Otago, it has been suggested.

As arguments for and against the industry’s arrival in Dunedin continue, a report by economic analyst Berl has outlined the possible regional benefits of an oil or gas strike anywhere in the South Island.

It calculated a large offshore gas field could be worth $8.1 billion to the economy of any region hosting the industry, and $3.1 billion in regional GDP, while creating 11,540 jobs.

The report was prepared in March 2012 for the Ministry of Economic Development, but had not previously been seen by Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull.

He told the ODT yesterday the report did not allay public concern about fossil fuels and climate change, but the economic benefits – if applied to Dunedin or Otago – would be ”more than significant”.

”It could be a game-changer in terms of the economy.”. . .

The DCC has been lamenting job losses in the city and calling on government to help.

Now there’s an opportunity for significant inwards investment and job creation and the mayor and some of his councillors are still reluctant to grasp it.

Growing grass, growing economy


Increasing the quality and management of pastures could increase pastoral farming’s contribution to the economy from $16 billion to $19 billion a year:

The farm-gate value of dairy, sheep and beef products grew by 58% from $10.2 billion in the 2006/2007 season, to $16.3 billion in the 2010/2011 season – but greater investment in pasture renewal could have boosted growth even further. 

“Pasture-based farmers are making a very significant contribution to the economy,” says Pasture Renewal Charitable Trust (PRCT) chairman, Murray Willocks.  “But if we can increase the quality and management of our pasture crop, pastoral farming can make an even greater contribution to New Zealand’s GDP – and deliver higher farm incomes and more jobs.

Mr Willocks was commenting on the release of an economic analysis of the value of pasture by Business and Economic Research Limited (BERL). The report was commissioned for the (PRCT).  The analysis concluded that sustained investment in pasture renewal has the potential to increase the farm gate value of pastoral products from $16 billion per annum to $19 billion and boost direct and indirect full-time employment associated with pastoral farming from 334,000 jobs to 390,000.

“Pasture is the crop on which our dairy, beef, sheep, and deer sectors rely,” “But we’re not investing as much as we should to maintain the quality and productivity of our pastures. 

“BERL’s report confirms that while there has been an increase in the proportion of dairy pasture being renewed in recent years, overall investment in pasture renewal in New Zealand remains low.  BERL’s $19 billion projection can only be achieved if the proportion of sheep, beef, and deer pasture continuously renewed rises from just 2% per annum at present to 8%, and dairying pasture renewal rises from 6.6% to 12%.”

PRCT says decisions about where to invest in pasture renewal are best made by individual farmers. The return to individual farmers will vary according to region, and the specific paddocks renewed on each farm.

“Farmers know their land best, and need to know which paddocks will give the greatest return on investment.  Trials have shown response rates following pasture renewal can vary widely within one property, with a significant difference in performance between the lowest and highest performing pastures.”

“The challenge for each farmer is to take advantage of hardy modern ryegrass and white clover cultivars within a programme of improved pasture management. We understand the pasture renewal process and its follow-up management needs careful planning, and a close eye needs to be kept on pasture development in the first two years.”

“Quality pastures are the foundation of productive, sustainable farming.  We cannot afford to take them for granted if we want pastoral farming to remain a cornerstone of the New Zealand economy for generations to come.

“The goal of encouraging increased investment in pasture renewal and management is to achieve an economically and environmentally sustainable increase in the quantity of product produced per hectare through optimal management of the feedbase.”   

Note:  Total GDP contribution from the pastoral sector is estimated at $24.5 billion – one eighth or 12.2% of GDP – compared with $17.5 billion from the tourism industry (under 9%). Using a simple ratio, if the tourism industry were to generate the same $24.5 billion a year of GDP as pasture does, short-term overseas visitor numbers would need to rise from around 2.5 million today, to around 3.5 million. 

Good farmers produce more grass and better stock and pasture quality is one of the factors that make a difference.

The full BERL report is here.

Sun set, sun rise


The 2010 Agriculture return showed small increases in sheep and dairy cattle numbers, deer remained stable and beef cattle numbers dropped.

Favourable weather conditions with no major lambing losses helped the national sheep flock register a small increase in 2010. The national flock had 32.6 million sheep, 180,000 more than in 2009. This increase follows drought-affected losses of 1.7 million in 2009 and 4.4 million in 2008. The increase in 2010 occurred in the South Island, which had a total of 16.5 million sheep. The North Island number was stable, at 16 million.

Favourable weather with no major lambing losses? What about the blizzards in Southland and cold, wet weather in the lower North Island?

The lambing percentage was 127 percent in the year ended 30 June 2010, after recovering from the two previous years.  This level was last recorded in 2006.

Ah – this return isn’t for the calendar year but the 12 months to June so it’s 2009’s lamb drop not last year’s.

Between 2009 and 2010 the national dairy herd increased by 50,000 to 5.9 million. In 2009, the dairy herd had increased by 280,000, and in 2008 by 320,000.

“The 2010 increase occurred in the North Island, which had close to 3.9 million dairy cattle in 2010. Unlike in recent years, the South Island number did not increase in 2010, remaining at 2.1 million,” agriculture statistics manager Hamish Hill said.

That surprises me. Dairy conversions slowed in the south when prices dropped but they didn’t stop.

Beef cattle numbered 3.9 million, down 4 percent since 2009. The number of deer was stable, at 1.1 million. The North Island is home to over 70 percent of all beef animals, while deer farming is concentrated in the lower South Island.

The area of exotic forest harvested increased by 9 percent, to 43,800 hectares, during the year ended 31 March 2010. This increase was driven by the strong international demand for New Zealand logs. Over 70 percent was harvested in the North Island – mainly in the Bay of Plenty, Waikato, and Northland regions.

I’d expect an increase in forest harvests in the current year too. Prices have gone up and farmers with mature plantations have taken the opportunity to get a return from them.

The agricultural sector, including horticulture, accounts for two-thirds of merchandise exports.

When a former Prime Minisiter (was it Lange?) referred to agriculture as a sunset industry he forgot that the sun always rises again.

Thank goodness it has – primary industry is one of few bright spots amid the economic gloom.

We’re seeing its influence in the Waitaki District which an economic profile by BERL shows did better than the country as a whole in 2010.

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