Rural round-up

20/05/2021

Farmers may not get much from the Budget but prospects are looking good in export markets – Point of Order:

The agriculture sector may not get the recognition it deserves in this year’s budget, nor much assistance along  the  road  to  reducing  methane emissions — but  at  least farmers  can take  satisfaction (as New Zealand  emerges into  the  post-Covid  era)  that  returns   for the  bulk of the  sector’s output  have  been  strong.  The prospects are that high prices for  most products will be  sustained  next season.

The latest  Global  Dairy Trade  auction this week saw prices  easing  slightly—but  for  the product  that bears  the  greatest influence  on Fonterra’s  farmgate milk price, whole milk powder, it is still 54%  higher  than  at this time  in the  previous season.

Analysts are confident it will stay around that  level next season.

The other encouraging sign for primary producers  is  that  prices  in the  meat  sector  are  buoyant.  This  week  Westpac lifted its farmgate lamb forecast to at least $8/kg, and sees it possibly rising to over $9. . . 

2021 New Zealand Dairy Industry Award winners demonstrate perfect progression pathway:

The 2021 Share Farmers of the Year are driven, professional and high-achieving siblings who benchmark excellence within the industry.

Manoj Kumar and Sumit Kamboj from Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa were named the 2021 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year, Waikato’s Christopher Vila became the 2021 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Ruth Connolly from Waikato was announced the 2021 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. They shared prizes from a pool worth over $210,000.

Share Farmer head judge, Jacqui Groves from Westpac, says Manoj and Sumit impressed the judges with glowing reports from current and past employers and employees.

“They have amazing relationships with two sets of owners, who really believe in them and are following the boys’ dream.” . . 

The occupation – Bill Morris:

Wallabies may have evolved in Australia, but they’re so well suited to life in New Zealand that they have reached plague numbers for the second time in a century, eating their way through the landscapes of Canterbury and the Bay of Plenty and escaping from the containment zones created to hold them back.

FOUR-WHEEL DRIVES MODIFIED with custom-built shooting cages and heavy bull bars rumble off State Highway 1, lining up at a roadside reserve near the South Canterbury town of St Andrews. Gorse-scarred men and women drag a cargo of carnage from the vehicles.

Severed wallaby heads are dumped by the sack-load onto the ground to be counted, then turfed into a trailer for disposal. Wallaby carcasses are disembowelled with an axe before being weighed. The sickly reek of death drifts across the reserve, intensified by the late-summer heat. The flames of a stubble fire crackle in a nearby paddock, casting a thick pall of smoke and an orange hue across the scene. . . 

Fonterra’s restructure proposal risks the co-operative – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s decision on 6 May to present an alternative capital structure has opened a can of worms.  The shares have dropped around 15 percent and investor units are down 13 percent. There are no immediate cash implications, but Fonterra’s capital value has declined by more than $1 billion. This transfers through to farmer balance-sheets.  Given that this is just a proposal, the market response is remarkable.

There is close to zero chance that the proposals will be implemented in their present form. But the worms cannot be simply put back in the can. Fonterra has made it explicit that its current structure is no longer fit for purpose.  Those are not the exact words that Fonterra is using publicly, but they are the exact words coming in on the breeze.

Prior to the proposals being announced, there was no immediate need for action. Fonterra could have kicked the can down the road for several years and left it for another governance team, but they decided to front-foot it.  To that extent, their actions are laudable. But shooting themselves in both feet was not needed. . . 

Rating title dilemma for Waitomo farming blocks – Andy Campbell:

Rating changes introduced by the Waitomo District Council six years ago are to be reversed because of demand for rural land.

Councillors were told at last week’s audit, risk and finance committee meeting that the Office of the Valuer General (OVG) would be taking a special interest in farming properties on the outskirts of townships that had smaller titles.

Because of demand for residential land, the OVG said the smaller titles should constitute separate rating units – which may reverse some property amalgamations the OVG required as part of the 2015 revaluation.

In 2015, smaller titles used as part of a single farming unit were amalgamated to reflect the one farming unit. . .

Luxury treehouse – a dairy farm-stay with a difference:

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Or in the case of this Hakataramea Valley farm, if it ain’t broke – think bigger and think differently.

South Canterbury farmers Liz and Andy Hayes are the sixth generation to farm their beautiful part of the country, and it’s gone through several evolutions over the years (including a conversion from beef and sheep to dairy in 2013) and the latest one was their way of holding on to their farming past, but expanding into different, more adventurous territory.

That’s come in the form of a luxury treehouse accommodation which has just started taking bookings.

It was partly driven by a love for storybook fantastical fun, partly from a desire for diversification and partly them just extending a rural welcome – it was the Hayes’ way of opening their farm for others to enjoy. . . 

Supply and demand report reveals the bulls and bears – Nick Robertson:

As we get close to the end of May, vast tracts of Australia’s cropping area are enjoying favourable conditions.

Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales growers have been the recipients of some very good rain throughout autumn, and are well positioned as they finalise their winter sowing programs.

But it is a different story for Victoria and South Australia, where big parts of those regions are yet to get an autumn break.

It is not too late, but time is running out and crop yields may start to be cut from analysts’ production estimates. . . 


Rural round-up

25/01/2020

Innovation for the future – Samantha Tennent:

When the call of the land became too strong Mat Hocken answered by swapping his business suit for overalls and gumboots to champion the agricultural sector and agricultural innovation. Samantha Tennent reports.

Manawatu farmer and Nuffield Scholar Mat Hocken believes innovation will help the agricultural sector unlock some of the issues and concerns it faces.

So when he received a Nuffield Scholarship in 2017 he chose agri-innovation as his research project.

The scholarship is a prestigious rural leadership programme with a global focus, designed to fast-track the development of emerging leaders in the agri-food sector. Each year up to five scholarships are awarded to people who are expected to assume positions of greater influence in their field in the future. . . 

Scientist says methane from farming should be treated differently to CO2 – Kevin O’Sullivan:

It does not make sense that Ireland is regarded as producing more greenhouse gases than Los Angeles, a city of 13 million people, a US scientist has told a conference on climate action in agriculture.

Prof Frank Mitloehner from the University of California, Davis, told the Irish Farmers’ Association event in Dublin that the case for methane arising from farming being treated differently to long-lived greenhouse gases, such as CO2, was undeniable.

He said that methane, the main greenhouse gas in livestock production, only lasts in the atmosphere for 10 years, whereas CO2 persists for up to 1,000 years, he said. Methane was short-lived but carbon from fossil fuels was “a one-way street” to rising emissions. . .

Central Otago farmer comes up with simple idea to help firefighters in an emergency – John McKenzie:

It’s a simple idea that could save both lives and property across Central Otago.

Otago farmer and regional councillor Gary Kelliher has started fitting fire hose fittings to his farms irrigation scheme, in hopes other farmers will follow suit.

“My goal is right across certainly Otago, but even further afield across New Zealand where it’s dry and where we have irrigation schemes,” he said.

The fittings are quick and easy to install, costing just a few hundred dollars. . . 

Marlborough dairy farmer fears logging operation will destroy property – Tracy Neal:

A recently widowed Marlborough dairy farmer says a logging operation that has sprung up on a neighbouring property is likely to destroy her farm.

Lone Sorensen, who farms in a valley between Havelock and Blenheim, is enraged that a paper road through her property could become a major transport route for trucks and heavy vehicles.

The Marlborough District Council said it was doing what it could to smooth the pathway for all. . . 

Valley of the Whales –  Bill Morris:

The North Otago limestone country holds one of the world’s most important fossil cetacean records, a coherent story of how whales and dolphins evolved in the Southern Ocean. It’s a story that one small rural community has embraced as its own.

BURNS POLLOCK AND I stand in the Valley of the Whales, a deep gulch cut by the Awamoko Stream through the North Otago limestone. Formed on the floor of an ancient sea, this terrain is now far from the ocean, its thin skin of agriculture desiccated by drought.

I’ve often been fascinated by the dramatic contours when travelling through this valley. But it also holds narratives, bound into the cliffs and sculpted recesses—Waitaha rock art hundreds of years old, and the story of evolution embodied in the stone itself. I’ve brought Pollock here because I want to see the place through the eyes of someone who knows it as well as he does. He grew up in this district and has farmed here all his life. He is also a noted artist and his work—sere vistas cradling broken fragments of human endeavour—is unmistakably rooted in this landscape. . . 

Eight young Fruit Growers vie for title

• Emily Crum, Orchard Manager, Total Orchard Management Services, Whangarei
• Bryce Morrison, Technical Services and Innovation, Fruition, Tauranga
• Aurora McGee-Thomas, Trainee Orchard Manager, Strathmurray Farms, Tauranga
• Melissa van den Heuvel, Industry Systems Associate, NZ Avocado, Tauranga
• Katherine Bell, Avocado Grower Representative, Trevelyans, Katikati
• Megan Fox, Orchard Technical Advisor, Southern Cross Horticulture, Tauranga
• William Milsom, Machinery Operations Manager, Oropi Management Services, Oropi
• Harry Singh, Orchard Manager, Prospa Total Orchard Management, Opotiki . . 


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