Rural round-up

July 11, 2013

X-ray transfer system offers biosecurity boost:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the beginning of trials for the use of x-ray images to screen airline baggage before it arrives in New Zealand.

The trials are a world-first and involve the transfer of aviation security x-ray images from Melbourne Airport to Auckland for passengers on Air New Zealand flights, while the passenger is on the flight. Passengers will still be subject to clearance requirements prior to boarding the plane.

“This technology will allow biosecurity staff to assess the x-ray images before the plane touches down. Any bag containing biosecurity risk items will then be matched with the passenger, who will face further scrutiny by officials upon landing,” says Mr Guy. . .

Plenty of hope but no solutions yet – Allan Barber:

The Red Meat Sector Conference, held in Auckland on Monday, was very well attended by 320 people from all parts of the industry.

There were interesting presentations from overseas and local speakers. The former spoke eloquently about the outstanding global prospects for the red meat sector, while the latter had plenty of statistics to illustrate their concerns about sheep and beef farming debt and shrinking livestock numbers.

The Prime Minister opened the Conference with an upbeat talk about an $8 billion industry of great importance to the country. While acknowledging farmer dissatisfaction with the status quo, he said it was up to the industry to drive change, but the government was sympathetic and supportive. . .

New Zealand red meat sector welcomes Economic Cooperation Agreement with Taiwan

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) say the signing of the Economic Cooperation Agreement (ECA) between New Zealand and Taiwan is a significant outcome for the New Zealand sheep and beef sector.

Eliminating all tariffs on beef within two years and sheepmeat within four years is important news B+LNZ Chairman, Mike Petersen and MIA Chairman, Bill Falconer said.

“This ECA will eliminate tariffs with Taiwan and it complements New Zealand’s existing free trade agreements with China and Hong Kong,” Petersen said.  .  .

ExportNZ welcomes economic cooperation agreement between New Zealand and Taiwan:

ExportNZ welcomes the announcement that New Zealand and Taiwan have signed an economic cooperation agreement.

Executive Director of ExportNZ, Catherine Beard, says this will be positive for both economies since they are very complementary, with Taiwan’s exports to New Zealand being dominated by high tech manufactured goods and New Zealand’s top exports to Taiwan being agricultural products. . . .

New Zealand – Taiwan Economic Cooperation Agreement positive for seafood trade:

Seafood New Zealand welcomes today’s announcement of the signing of an Economic Partnership Agreement (ANZTEC) between New Zealand and Taiwan and congratulates the Trade Minister, Tim Groser, and his team of negotiators for completing a negotiation that first started under the watch of the previous Labour-led administration.

All of New Zealand’s seafood trade interests with Taiwan have been fully included in the Agreement. All seafood items will be able to enter Taiwan tariff free within eight years – with many products benefitting much earlier. . .

‘ASEAN tigers’ offer growth opportunities for New Zealand’s dairy sector:

Burgeoning demand for dairy among consumers in the ASEAN-6 group of countries is creating substantial trade opportunities for dairy export countries including New Zealand, according to a new industry report.

In the report Dairy – Milk for the ASEAN-6 Tigers, global agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank says the ASEAN ‘six majors’ (the six largest economies of the Association of South East Asian Nations – Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam) should be part of all dairy exporters’ global growth strategies, but particularly for New Zealand given its competitive advantage in these markets. . .

Latest Agreement gives New Zealand wine tariff-free access to Taiwan:

New Zealand Winegrowers welcomes the signing of the Agreement between New Zealand and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Cooperation (ANZTEC). The Agreement will give New Zealand wine tariff-free access to the Taiwan market as soon as it comes into force.

“This is an important trade advantage for New Zealand wine exporters. Taiwan is a small but developed market that is well suited to the premium wine styles that New Zealand offers. Asia is an increasingly important destination for New Zealand wines. This Agreement will make New Zealand the only wine exporter with tariff-free access to China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.” said Dr John Barker, general manager advocacy and trade for New Zealand Winegrowers. . .

Latest research delivers encouraging signs for oyster industry ahead of AGM:

A collaborative research programme to breed oysters resilient to a virus that three years ago devastated New Zealand’s Pacific oyster industry is starting to deliver promising results.

Scientists at Cawthron Institute, together with industry partners, have been working towards breeding Pacific oysters resilient to the ostreid herpes (OsHV-1) virus that almost wiped out the country’s Pacific oyster stocks in 2010.

Cawthron Institute has today reported promising results from the latest research trials which it will present at the New Zealand Oyster Industry Association AGM this weekend (6 July).

“We have identified oyster families with a very high survival rate when exposed to the oyster virus, which decimated stocks in 2010,” Cawthron Institute Chief Executive Charles Eason says. “These recent findings are most encouraging. They suggest that selective breeding has great potential to address the current crisis.” . . .


Rural round-up

December 13, 2012

Agricultural producers and food processors call for full trade liberalisation through the Trans Pacific Partnership

Farmers and food processors from Australia, New Zealand and Canada are calling on Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries to conclude a 21st century trade agreement in 2013 that liberalises trade across all goods and services.

At the 15th round of TPP negotiations taking place in Auckland, New Zealand, agri-food groups from across the TPP region are meeting together and call for negotiators to uphold a high level of ambition in the trade talks. . .

TPP negotiations need to deliver for agriculture:

New Zealand’s red meat sector is encouraging all negotiating parties in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to work tirelessly to ensure this agreement can be completed by October 2013. Key outcomes from the completion of TPP must be the elimination of agricultural trade barriers and the opportunity for greater economic integration across the Asia Pacific region, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) say.

The B+LNZ and MIA chairmen, Mike Petersen and Bill Falconer (respectively) reinforced the need for reduced barriers to agricultural trade, including the elimination of tariffs and other technical barriers as a priority. Achieving that would create benefits and opportunities for all TPP members exporting red meat products. . .

$2.5 million for irrigation project a welcome potential boost for jobs and the environment

The government’s announcement that it is funding half of the $2.5 million Wairarapa Water Use Project to investigate the feasibility of developing water storage, alongside the Greater Wellington Regional Council, is warmly welcomed by Federated Farmers.

“Water is the lifeblood of farming, which is why Federated Farmers welcomes Primary Industries Minister David Carter’s announcement this morning that the government will add this funding from the Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF) to look at the feasibility of this project,” says Federated Farmers water spokesperson Ian Mackenzie.

“This announcement means Wairarapa is potentially a huge step closer to securing a brighter economic future for its farmers and everyone else in the region. . . .

New Zealand Winegrowers explores the science of Sauvignon blanc

New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) has commissioned UK wine writer Jamie Goode to publish The Science of Sauvignon blanc. The book is based on the results of a six year multidisciplinary research initiative that explores the key aroma and flavour compounds in Sauvignon blanc wine and how they relate to viticulture and winemaking.

“In our research programme we wanted to understand the unique characters of New Zealand Sauvignon blanc” says Dr Simon Hooker, General Manager Research at New Zealand Winegrowers. “What are its sensory attributes? Can they be linked back to viticultural management? Are they generated in the vineyard, through winemaking processes or by the yeasts? This book presents an overview to these questions in a very user friendly way that has given the industry new tools for driving flavour”. . .

Rapaura Springs Judged No2 New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc:

The Rapaura Springs 2012 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc has been named one of the two best Sauvignon Blancs in the country by Cuisine Magazine’s judging panel.

Owner Brendan Neylon says achieving number two rank, as well as a five star accolade, denoting “outstanding quality” in a wine, is an excellent result from such a prestigious tasting, and perfectly timed for Christmas. . .


Rural round-up

July 23, 2012

Heaps of grass has helped agriculture grow three times as fast as the overall economy. Doug Steel wonders if this may even understate how well the rural sector is doing, given how the numbers were analysed in 2007/08 – Doug Steel:

Like blood to the body, agriculture is critical to the NZ economy.

The sector makes economic contributions in direct and indirect ways, although measurement of such can be a tricky business.

The latest national accounts show agriculture GDP growing 7.5% through the year to March 2012. This supported the 2.4% expansion in the New Zealand economy over the same period. . .

Massive Chinese market for red meat market – Sally Rae:

The importance – and potential – of China as a market for the red meat industry was reiterated during the recent red meat sector conference in Queenstown.   

 Arron Hoyle, McDonald’s senior director and head of strategy in China and Hong Kong, said the dragon was redesigning  global trade and global prices.   

He spoke of the “unprecedented” urbanisation in China, the emergence of mega cities and the significant opportunities      the fast food chain saw. It was bullish and very excited      about those opportunities. . .

Sector strategy shows encouraging signs – Sally Rae:

Meat Industry Association chairman Bill Falconer believes the red meat sector strategy has been “settling down extremely well” since its launch 14 months ago.   

The strategy, initiated by the MIA and Beef and Lamb New  Zealand, was aimed at improving the sector’s viability and      increasing its earnings from $8 billion to $14 billion by  2025. . .

Aim for first place: chairman:

NZPork chairman Ian Carter has challenged those attending the  industry’s annual conference to recognise themselves as “the best little pig industry in the world”.   

    “Pork is the world leader in animal protein, but only number three in New Zealand.   

    “Our target must be first place,” Mr Carter, a North Otago farmer, said. . .

Clutha dairy earnings climb – Shawn McAvinue:

Sheep and beef farmers were the biggest agricultural earner in the Clutha district but dairy farmers were a close second.

The latest statistics from the Clutha Agricultural Development Board (CADB) says sheep and beef farming earned $313 million and dairy farming $276m for the year ending June 2011.

However, a steady five-year growth spurt in dairying had the Clutha herd increasing by 30 per cent to 98,543 cows. In the same period sheep numbers dropped 14 per cent to about 2.17m. . .

2013 Ballance Farm Environment Awards Opening Soon:

Entries for the 2013 Ballance Farm Environment Awards open on August 1, 2012.

Administered by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFE) and operating in nine regions, the annual competition promotes sustainable land management by showcasing the work of people farming in a manner that is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.

Entry forms for the 2013 competition are available from the NZFE website at http://www.nzfeatrust.org.nz

NZFE chairman Jim Cotman says this website has been upgraded to make it easier for farmers to find information on the Ballance Farm Environment Awards and the Trust’s other activities. . .


Trade makes new friends of old enemies

November 15, 2010

We were the first country in the world to get a free trade agreement with China and are now the first to begin free trade talks with Russia Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Negotiations on a free trade agreement between New Zealand and Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan will start early next year, Prime Minister John Key announced at the APEC Summit in Japan today.

“Free trade deals offer real benefits for jobs and economic growth in New Zealand and I am very pleased to be able to announce the start of negotiations on this FTA,” says Mr Key.

. . . “Russia is also one of the world’s emerging powerhouses, with Brazil, India and China.  It is the 12th largest economy in the world and the world’s fifth-largest food importer, with food imports reaching US$30 billion in 2008.

“An FTA with Russia would give us an improved position in that market.  New Zealand’s exports to Russia grew 267 per cent from NZ$51 million to NZ$187.1 million between 2000 and 2009. There is further strong growth potential, not only in food and beverage exports but also in agritech, specialised manufacturing and clothing.”

It’s good news for New Zealand in general and the primary sector in particular.

The Meat Industry Association and Beef + Lamb NZ  say improved market access in Russia will provide exciting opportunities.

B+LNZ Chairman, Mike Petersen said while Russia is currently a relatively small market for the New Zealand red meat industry, it’s a country with a substantial population of red meat consumers. They have increasing incomes and the potential to support significant market growth.

Over the last five years, the New Zealand red meat industry’s exports to Russia have been around $30 million annually, mainly consisting of sheepmeat and beef offals.

Exports peaked at $56 million in 2008 before the impact of the global financial crisis softened Russian demand for imported meat last year.

MIA Chairman, Bill Falconer said that while Russian imports of red meat have been volatile, the expectation is that Russian demand for red meat will continue to increase and that a significant proportion of this increased demand will have to be met by imports.

An arrangement with Russia would be significant if it provided genuine improved access into the market.

Securing an FTA with Russia is important because it’s not just about eliminating tariffs, it’s also about addressing non-tariff barriers that restrict trade, he said.

The Chairman of the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand, Malcolm Bailey, said the FTA talks with Russia and its Customs Union partners, Belarus and Kazakhstan, as great news for the New Zealand dairy industry.

“New Zealand is really picking up pace in the FTA game” said Bailey.  “Adding Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan to our growing list of FTA partners should mean new market opportunities for New Zealand dairy exporters.  Russia is already a significant butter market for New Zealand and reducing trade restrictions will only lead to further growth and diversification in the future,” he said.

Bailey said it was also a smart strategy to place New Zealand as one of the first countries to negotiate an FTA with Russia.  “Russia is a vast country with an economy that promises to continue to grow in the coming years.  Projections are for very significant growth in dairy consumption met by imports in the medium term.  Integrating our export industries with expanding Russian wealth and consumption is a good place for New Zealand to be.”

Russia is the world’s largest market for imports of butter and cheese.  New Zealand exports last year were around 33,200 tonnes, mostly butter and cheese, worth approximately $120 million.  New Zealand has the largest share of butter imported into Russia, last year supplying 28,600 tonnes which was over 50% of Russia’s internationally imported butter.

It’s not very long ago that China and Russia were cold war enemies. It’s much better not just for the economy but for security to be friends.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be careful about dealing with people who have different cultures and different values from us. But trade is a very good way to develop positive relationships from which both sides can benefit.


Meat sector strategy urgent

July 27, 2010

Returns to sheep farmers seem to be defying the normal rules of supply and demand.

Sheep numbers have dropped and the demand for lamb is high which ought to mean good returns to farmers but although they’re not as bad as they were they’re not as good as they ought, and need, to be.

The relatively high exchange rate and dismal returns from wool, pelts, tallow and other by-products are partly to blame. Other factors include over capacity in the meat industry and changes in eating and cooking trends.

The result is a difference between profits of $600 a hectare from sheep farming and $3,500 to $4,000 for dairying which is encouraging more dairy conversions.

However, not every sheep farm is suitable for conversion and not all farmers who could change to dairy want to. They’ll be hoping that the meat sector strategy delivers.

The initiation of the meat sector strategy is a critical step towards improved profitability within the sector, according to project Co-chairs Meat Industry Association (MIA) Chairman, Bill Falconer and Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Chairman, Mike Petersen.
 
Mr Petersen says the concept of developing an overarching strategy for the meat sector was championed by the organisation previously known as Meat & Wool New Zealand during last year’s referendum debate, when farmers expressed frustration at volatile and marginal profitability.
 
“We are delighted that through the Meat Industry Association, the processor/exporter part of the sector also sees the need to do this, and is prepared to work alongside farmers in identifying the opportunities for step-change improvement.”
 
B+LNZ, MIA, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and MAF have agreed terms of reference and funding for Phase one of a two stage strategy process, which entails an overarching ‘umbrella’ study of the issues and opportunities across the sector from market to farm. Mr Petersen and Mr Falconer are optimistic that there will be a number of ‘quick-wins’ identified from that Phase one process.
 
In Phase two, willing industry participants will collaborate to adopt and implement initiatives to drive change. These may include research & innovation, market development or whole of supply-chain initiatives.
 
Mr Falconer expects Phase one to be complete in the first quarter of 2011.

Federated Farmers is backing the strategy:

“There’s a hell of a lot hinging on the meat industry strategy for New Zealand’s meat farmers,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“The really important thing is that farmers and the marketers are both seeing the highest ever in-market prices for Kiwi lamb, but they’re not benefiting from those prices. 

“The meat companies tell me they could sell double the lambs we currently produce and at these record prices too, but that’s where a massive disconnect between ‘there’ and ‘here’ kicks in.

“On-farm, sheep farmers are exiting the industry because there’s little or no profitability.  Sheep farmers are voting with their business plans in order to survive.

“We’ve now got a consensus among farmers and the processors that the industry is broken and it needs shape and form to go forward.

B+LNZ is forecasting a lamb crop of only 21 million – two million fewer than forecast last December.

That’s not only concerning for farmers because the meat industry still plays an important role in the eocnomy:

  • The New Zealand meat industry (lamb, beef, mutton, veal and co-products) is unique in the world with the great majority of production exported to overseas markets (more than 90 per cent of lamb and over 80 per cent of beef exported).
  • The New Zealand meat industry generated $5.8 billion in export revenue in 2009 – 15 per cent of New Zealand’s merchandise exports.
  • In 2009, New Zealand meat products were exported to 119 different countries.
  • Total meat production (on a bone-in basis) was 1.2 million tonnes for year ended 30 September 2009.
  • Total labour employed in the New Zealand meat industry is 72,000, which is 5 per cent of the total labour force (according to New Zealand’s 2006 Census).
  • It’s very unlikely we’ll get back to the days at the height of subsidies when we had 70 million sheep, but if  the strategy succeeds we could look forward to modest improvements in the sheep population. 

    That will  come on the back of better returns for farmers which will in turn help those who service and support them, people involved in processing and the wider economy.


    Australia dealys ETS, Select Committee deliberates in NZ

    May 4, 2009

    Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced his government’s Emissions Trading Scheme will be delayed a year.

    Back here, the Select Committee reviewing our ETS has started hearing submissions.

    Federated Farmers have asked for the scheme to be scrapped or substantially altered.

    “The road to economic hell will be paved by an ill conceived ETS, because New Zealand doesn’t need the ETS to meet its Kyoto obligations,” said Don Nicolson, President of Federated Farmers.

    Federated Farmers favours repeal of the ETS and non-punitive policy measures to transition New Zealand to a low-carbon economy. The Federation’s interim solutions put to the Select Committee include:

    • New Government-funded forest plantings via land leasing regimes, land purchases or other viable partnership arrangements. This will not just develop new permanent forestry sinks but also generate employment opportunities. This concept was also put to the Prime Minister’s Job Summit held earlier in the year;
    • A low-level carbon charge set at a rate that recovers just enough revenue to account for any emissions deficit;
    • Government purchasing the cheapest Kyoto emissions units available to meet New Zealand’s future liabilities, until the Kyoto Protocol lapses in 2012;
    • Lead internationally by advocating for each country to allocate a percentage of GDP towards climate change initiatives; and potentially,
    • Non-compliance, akin to the Canadian Government’s approach since 2005.

    Feds’ other option was a substantial rewrite of the ETS to exclude primary food production and introduce economic tests.

    “The primary production of food has no place in any emissions trading scheme,” Mr Nicolson continued.

    “Precedent for this comes from Denmark. The Danish Government in March moved to specifically exclude the primary production of food from its Kyoto response.

    Meat & Wool NZ and the Meat Industry Assocation  also want a rethink of the scheme.

    They say including livestock in the scheme when no other country does puts farming at a signifincant risk and would have severe financial, social and environmental impacts.

    They are using two case studies to show the affect the scheme would have. One of these is Southland farmers Julie and David Marshall:

    Mr Marshall said the cost of paying for his emissions would equate to an extra $43,000 a year from about 2017 onwards.

    The alternative would be to plant enough trees to offset his carbon footprint but, because of the unsuitable growing conditions near the coast, he would have to plant enough pine to cover half his 247ha property, he said.

    MIA chair Bill Falconer said:

    New Zealand’s 15,000 commercial sheep and beef farmers and about 80 processing plants collectively generated export earnings of $6.8 billion a year, which was in jeopardy under the current legislation.

    “We could only contemplate an ETS for livestock if it properly incentives farmers to use proven mitigation technologies but leaves them no worse off compared to their overseas competitors,” he said.

    The ETS is about politics and bureaucracy not the environment.

    It is irrseponsible to impose significant costs on primary industry with the consequent social and economic impacts of that when there will be no environmental gain and possibly an increase in emissions.

    There is no point in reducing emissions here if it will only lead to an increase somewhere else. We’ve signed the Kyoto Protocal but that doesn’t mean we have to sabotage our economy with an ETS which far exceeds what other countries are contemplating.

    New Zealand and the environment would be better off if the energy and money going into the ETS was diverted to research  instead.


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