Rural round-up

August 3, 2016

DairyNZ: break-even cost pared back as farmers lift efficiency:

Industry body DairyNZ says the increased dividend and the maintained $4.25 per kg MS Fonterra Farmgate Milk Price is some good news for farmers with shares.

But another positive is also emerging – New Zealand dairy farmers have sharpened their systems and reduced costs through this sustained low milk price period.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says while the milk price will continue to keep pressure on farmers this season, the industry’s performance in cost-cutting on-farm means break-even costs have been reduced. . . 

TB Differential Levy:

New Zealand’s meat processors have for some years collected a single uniform biosecurity levy on beef and dairy cattle at meat processors to pay for the costs of TB eradication. Following a review undertaken last year, the Government and DairyNZ agreed that dairy farmers shall pay for a greater share of their share contribution to TB eradication via a differential levy paid on dairy cattle at meat processors.

Meat processors opposed this differential levy on dairy cattle at meat processing. Meat processors believe that it is contrary to good public policy for costs to be charged at the point of production where they do not arise – in this case, costs incurred by dairy farmers should have been met by a charge on their dairy production, rather than through a complex system of differentiating dairy and beef cattle at meat processing. . . 

Walker First Woman to Walk Away with Rural Real Estate Award:

Katie Walker accepts her award from Brennon Skipper (CEO of realestate.co.nz).

Taumarunui farmer Katie Walker, is the first woman to receive the coveted REINZ Rural Rising Star of the Year award.

Katie has made her mark, after her first year in the traditionally male dominated rural sector of the real estate industry. She joined the Property Brokers rural team three weeks after her second baby was born. “I had been in rural retail trade for years, left to have a family and wanted to come back to something more flexible,” she said.

“I went for the interview and I knew this was it.”

Independent travellers bring tourism dollar to new regions:

A new report into New Zealand’s tourism sector says travellers are looking to regional New Zealand for a more ‘authentic’ Kiwi experience.

In its latest report on the tourism sector, consumer behaviour analysts Marketview has looked at the spending patterns of tourists around the country, and Managing Director Stephen Bridle says the results mean good news for regional New Zealand.

“Our figures show confident, independent tourists want unique and authentic experiences centred on specific interests. Those here for cycling, golf, fishing and even shopping can find something uniquely Kiwi almost anywhere in the country.” . . 

Wood and carbon values boost forest interest:

Significant rises in New Zealand carbon prices and positive prospects for exported timber may signal a renaissance for forest plantings, with new opportunities for landowners and investors alike in coming years.

Since April the value of carbon prices in New Zealand have almost doubled to $18/tonne after languishing as low as $2.50 a tonne only two years ago.

Meantime log prices have remained relatively firm, sitting $15 a tonne above their five year average with some strong price signals over the past year coming from traditional markets including China and increasing market share to India and South Korea. As of May export values were up 6% in value on a year to year basis. . . 

Agcarm President Mark Christie to the 69th Agcarm Annual Conference:

New Zealand farmers and growers have been exporting food and fibre for over 150 years. Our primary industry export revenue is estimated to reach over $36.7 billion in the year ending June 2016.

Over this time innovation and research based science has allowed New Zealand farmers and growers to become world leaders in productivity and quality – with New Zealand well placed to help feed a growing global population.

These gains are increasingly at risk due to the politicising of science which is leading to its marginalisation. So arguing for sensible science is one of our industries greatest challenges. . . 

Production imminent at NZ’s first commercial scale biodiesel plant:

New Zealand’s first commercial-scale biodiesel plant today received its first delivery of inedible tallow, which enables the beginning of biodiesel production.

Z Energy’s $26 million biodiesel plant at Wiri, Auckland, is now in the commissioning phase and will start to produce high quality, sustainable biodiesel later this month. At the plant’s peak of production it will produce 20 million litres of biodiesel, which will be supplied as a biodiesel / mineral diesel blend to both commercial and retail customers across much of the upper half of the North Island.

Z’s General Manager of Supply and Distribution, David Binnie, said the delivery of tallow was a milestone which has been years in the making. . . 

Ten Year Milestone for Central Otago Wine Industry Ambassador Programme:

Telling the world about Central Otago’s wines and proving to people who sell those wines just how spectacular they are, is the job of Central Otago Pinot Noir Ltd (COPNL).

COPNL’s latest group of brand ambassadors flew out of Queenstown airport at the end of last week, marking the completion of COPNL’s tenth iconic ‘E’Sensual’ event.

E’Sensual has been part of the Central Otago wine industry’s event calendar each year since 2007, and is targeted at international and national wine specialists who enjoy a first-hand taste of what the region’s wine industry has to offer. The 2016 E’Sensual marked the tenth anniversary of the event and celebrated the 150th E’Sensual guest hosted in the region. . . 

PGG Wrightson says annual profit rose about 20%; shares gain –  Paul McBeth

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson shares gained 4.5 percent after it said full-year profit rose about 20 percent and operating earnings beat guidance, which had already been upgraded on the strength of the horticulture and beef sectors.

The Christchurch-based company today said trading beat expectations “due to a variety of factors” and that operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation exceeded $68 million in the year ended June 30. Wrightson raised its earnings forecast in June, predicting ebitda of between $65 million and $68 million in the year, though down from $69.6 million in 2015. . . 


UN warns biofuels do more harm than good

April 4, 2014

The United Nations has admitted that growing crops to make “green” biofuel harms the environment and drives up food prices.

A leaked draft of a UN report condemns the widespread use of biofuels made from crops as a replacement for petrol and diesel. It says that biofuels, rather than combating the effects of global warming, could make them worse.

The draft report represents a dramatic about-turn for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Its previous assessment on climate change, in 2007, was widely condemned by environmentalists for giving the green light to large-scale biofuel production. The latest report instead puts pressure on world leaders to scrap policies promoting the use of biofuel for transport.

The summary for policymakers states: “Increasing bioenergy crop cultivation poses risks to ecosystems and biodiversity.”

Biofuels were once billed as the green alternative to fossil fuels, but environmental campaigners have voiced concern about them for some time.

They note that growing biofuel crops on a large scale requires either the conversion of agricultural land used for food crops or the destruction of forests to free up land, possibly offsetting any reduction in carbon emissions from the use of biofuels.

Other concerns include increased stress on water supplies and rising corn prices as a result of increased demand for the crop, which is fermented to produce biofuel. . .

Growing plants especially to make biofuels is an example of a supposedly environmentally   friendly practice which isn’t, and it makes food more expensive too.

Z Energy’s plans to make biofuel from beef tallow might stack up better.

Z Energy has announced plans for a $21 million biodiesel plant that will produce fuel from inedible tallow feedstock.

The listed company said the investment would be made over the 2015 financial year and would produce 20 million litres of sustainable biodiesel a year.

It would be manufactured from inedible tallow feedstock, essentially beef fat, and satisfy New Zealand and European fuel specifications.

The plant would be built in Auckland. . .

Tallow is used for making candles and soap not food.

 

 

 


Rural round-up

January 26, 2014

Girls rule on South Otago dairy farm – Sally Rae:

Who needs a man?

For South Otago dairy farm manager Kara-Lee Clark (33) and farm worker Ashleigh McKechnie (19), assisted by two other female relieving staff when needed, being part of an all-women team is just normal.

The diminutive duo milk 340 cows on a 120ha property, owned by the Clark family near Milton. They are particularly proud of the herd of predominantly large Friesians.

”We get a bit of a hard time about that. They are big cows and we’re not the biggest of people,” Miss Clark said.

Being a female farm manager at the local Milton farm discussion group was quite a rarity, although she was not sure how unusual it was further afield.

When she embarked on a career in the dairy industry, after spending nine and a-half years working as a veterinary nurse at Clutha Vets in Balclutha, Miss Clark admitted she had a lot to prove to her family. . .

Initial trapping survey results in:

The first trapping results for Queensland Fruit Fly in Whangarei have shown no suspect flies detected in all 83 traps in Zone A and in all 90 lure traps from outside the controlled zones.

MPI Deputy Director-General Compliance and Response, Andrew Coleman, says “It’s a good early result but it’s important not to get complacent. We have still got a number of days to go before we know for sure whether there is a breeding population or not.”

The Whangarei community has been hugely supportive and to date has placed 180kgs of restricted produce in bins in Zone A and 70kgs in Zone B.

“We are very appreciative of this support,” Mr Coleman says. “It is vital that material that could contain the fly is not taken out of the zone, just in case there is a breeding population present in the area, which takes in Parihaka, Riverside and parts of central Whangarei.”

This insect is an unwanted and notifiable organism that could have serious consequences for New Zealand’s horticultural industry. It can damage a wide range of fruit and vegetables.

Insecticide ruling brings challenge – Richard Rennie:

The clock is ticking for researchers trying to find an alternative for a broad-spectrum insecticide destined to be phased out by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

Following a reassessment of the use of organophosphates and carbamates in New Zealand’s crop and pastoral sector a number are scheduled to be phased out, because the authority considers their impact on human and environmental health to be unacceptable.

A key insecticide set to go by July 2028 is diazinon, which plays a critical role in controlling grass grub in pasture.

The authority issued its ruling on diazinon’s phase-out in the middle of last year but the long lead time to develop alternative chemicals to combat grass grub has researchers scrambling to develop alternatives. . .

Fast soil makes for bigger sink:

Rapidity in the natural world is relative; yet, while the latest findings from a research collaboration between Lincoln University and the University of Washington can hardly speak of comet-like quickness, it does shatter prevailing views, with implications for climate change as well.

Samples collected from western slopes of the Southern Alps have revealed that soil – the chemically and biologically active skin on the Earth’s surface – can be produced from mountainous bedrock almost twice as fast as previously thought. A subsequent proportional increase in chemical weathering of the soil was also observed.

The findings are important, as eroding mountainous regions account for over half of the world’s sediment production. If that sediment is produced by the formation of soil, rather than just slabs of bedrock collapsing off slopes as landslides, there is much greater potential for atmospheric carbon to be stored. This is significant because mountains play the role of carbon sinks – natural reservoirs that can accumulate and store atmospheric carbon. . .

Diesel from dust: using low fertility soils for biodiesel crops:

The escalating issue around peak oil in the context of the far-reaching global demand for fossil fuels is nothing new. Likewise, the increasing pressure this demand places on sourcing alternative fuels is also well established. One option is biofuels.

Producing biofuels comes with its own problems. There can be issues around an inability of supply to meet demand (such as is the case with tallow), but there can also be resistance to using productive land for biofuels instead of using it for growing food.

To meet these challenges, and in the interest of accelerating the young biodiesel industry in New Zealand, Professor of Ecology,  Steve Wratten at the Bio-Protection Research Centre has been heading up a research team to explore ways of growing plants suitable for biodiesel. More specifically, however, the aim is to find ways to grow these plants on low fertility soils and in such a way as to require minimal fertiliser inputs. . .

My old friend is telling me his twilight time is coming near #horses – Mad Bush Farm:

My old friend I’ve had for over eight years has grown very old. Over the last few days his walk has become slower, and the sparkle in his eye is gradually being replaced by that look that says “I’m tired and soon I will go to my forever sleep” I called him this morning from the other side of the farm. Usually, he would be the first one to arrive at a gallop, knowing he would be put onto some lush grass for the day . The ponies do not need it, but old Ed at over 30 years of age needs the best possible pasture each day. Today though, it took him a very long time, longer than usual. He had stiffly made his way back to where I was. I took him nearly 20 minutes to reach me. All four legs have developed arthritis in the last few weeks, and he’s lost some condition. Why? The answer is very simple. He is just very, very, old. It means now for me, I may have to say goodbye to a loyal equine friend I love very deeply. . .


Grain Price Rises Pushes Food Prices Up

July 12, 2008

Good news for producers is bad news for consumers because rising international prices for grain will push domestic food prices up again.

Bread prices are predicted to rise 10c a loaf and pork and bacon prices $2 to $3 a kg.

Food producers face new grain contracts – $100 a tonne, or 30%, higher than last year.

Farmers say contracts for next season’s harvest, which are about to be signed, reflected those higher prices.

Pig and poultry producers say price rises are inevitable to cover higher feed costs.

Foodstuffs (South Island) chief executive Steve Anderson agrees, and warns costs will continue to increase across the board.

He could not quantify the size of any increase, saying that was up to suppliers, but he doubted there would be any price correction in the immediate future.

“We’re not planning on seeing a reduction in commodity prices in general.”

The price for meat and wool is also driven by the price of grain and that in turn is driven by the price of energy. The combined shortage of food and high fuel prices will push the price of all food up.

Grain prices were so volatile, milling wheat growers were not signing contracts at $500 a tonne, claiming the price was still $100 a tonne below the international price and higher-yielding feed wheat.

“It is a rising market. On a falling market, everyone would be signing,” Federated Farmers grains council chairman Ian Morten said.

Demand from dairy farmers had also driven up cereal prices. Growers have been encouraged to plant higher-yielding feed varieties instead of milling wheat, which gave them leverage against the mills.

Grain growers had this year resumed exporting to take advantage of higher international spot prices, something they had not done for many years, which reduced the availability of domestically-grown cereals.

On top of this is the competition for land from the misguided policy which changes land use from producing food for people to the production of fuel for vehicles.

Farmers and food producers also blamed Solid Energy for higher prices, as it has contracted 5000ha of predominantly cropping land to grow oilseed rape for biodiesel production this year.

Solid Energy plans to increase that production to between 20,000ha and 25,000ha within three years.

Mainland Poultry chief executive Michael Guthrie said international issues had driven grain prices up 80% for his egg business in the past 18 months.

Drought in Australia had decimated world grain production; there had been floods and biofuel production in the United States; growing demand for grain from China and India; low world grain stocks; and dairying had taken over cropping land in New Zealand.

Mr Guthrie said egg prices had been stable for the past two years. He expected prices to rise, but could not say by how much.

Pork Industry Board chairman Chris Trengrove said New Zealand was six months behind the rest of the world on feeling the impact of higher grain prices.

Pork and bacon prices would need to increase about $1 a kg to the farmer to cover rising costs, which translated to between $2 to $3 a kg to the consumer.

Production and transport costs are also rising for fruit and vegetables and that too will impact on retail prices.

Repeated competition from rabbits persuaded me to abandon my vegetable garden but now it has been securely fenced this seems like a good time to get it ready for spring planting.


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