Rural round-up

May 30, 2020

Southland on the brink – Peter Burke:

Southland is teetering on the edge of a bad situation, according to DairyNZ’s lead consulting officer in the South Island, Tony Finch.

He says if they can’t get rid of cull cows soon and if the weather doesn’t play its part, current problems will get even worse.

Southland is facing a major feed shortage, but not because of the drought – because of too much rain. The problem is that farmers came out of a pretty hard winter and a very wet spring, which delayed any winter crops being put in the spring, says Finch. . .

Fonterra and Air NZ race emergency protein order to the US for Covid-19 patients – Andrea Fox:

Fonterra teams have scrambled to answer an emergency call from the US for a big supply of a specialised protein product for critically ill Covid-19 patients.

After racing to make the hydrolysate product at its specialist plant which was about to close down for the season, the big dairy company chartered an Air NZ 787 jet to fly the first batch – 24 metric tonnes – direct to Chicago to be used in a medical food formula for intubated Covid-19 patients.

The SoS from a long-time big American customer came as the only Fonterra processing site that makes the special whey protein hydrolysate, the Hautapu factory near Cambridge, was preparing to shut and most of its 220 staff either to take annual leave or start annual maintenance work. . . 

Scientists understand cattle not climate villains, but media still missing message – James Nason,:

FOR a long time emissions from cattle have been lumped in with emissions from other sources as the same destructive forces for the planet in the global climate change narrative.

However, through research overseen by scientists including Dr Frank Mitloehner (right) from the University of California Davis and Dr Myles Allen from Oxford University, scientific consensus is starting to build around the point that livestock-related greenhouse gases are distinctively different from greenhouse gases associated with other sectors of society (more on this below).

Dr Mitloehner, an internationally recognised air quality expert, explained to the Alltech One virtual conference on Friday night (Australian time) that the concept of accounting for methane according to its Global Warming Potential, as opposed to just its volume of CO2 equivalent, which showed that not all greenhouse gases are created equal, has now made it all the way to the International Panel on Climate Change. . . 

Deer sector ready for challenges – Annette Scott:

After several seasons of strong export returns New Zealand’s venison farmers are well positioned to overcome the severe trade disruptions of covid-19, Rabobank animal proteins analyst Blake Holgate says.

But the industry and venison marketers make no attempt to sugar-coat the difficult situation they are dealing with.

Holgate said venison producers have enjoyed a good run benefitting from healthy export sales into both established and new markets. 

“In the last five years we’ve seen significant export growth in the United States, partly due to increased demand for venison in pet food while we’ve also seen strong sales in long-standing European markets such as Germany and Belgium.”   . . 

Wool export contracts shaky – Nigel Stirling:

Foreign wool buyers are threatening to walk away from contracts with New Zealand exporters as they fight to survive the global coronavirus lockdown.

That was just one factor behind a savage 25% slump in crossbred wool prices at the first auction since the local lockdown ended at Napier on Thursday.

Exporter Masurel Fils managing director Peter Whiteman said many foreign buyers were being forced into desperate measures because of shut factories as well as a collapse in demand for the textiles they produced.

“We still sell a lot of wool to Europe and the UK for spinning to make carpets. Those customers are asking us for delays. . . 

NZ olive oil makes win big Kiwis encouraged to buy local:

Kiwis are being encouraged to support local and buy world-beating olive oil made by New Zealand growers, who have won seven Gold Medals at the 2020 New York International Olive Oil Competition.

Olive growers from Waiheke to Wairarapa and Kapiti and Nelson to Canterbury won top accolades at the competition, considered to be one of the most prestigious in the world. New Zealand punched above its weight, taking home its best ever results against 26 other countries.

Stephen Davies Howard, Owner of Loopline in the Wairarapa, won two golds, one each for his Picholene and Picual oils. He says if New Zealanders ever needed a reason to buy local, the time is now. . . 


Rural round-up

July 30, 2019

Leading the world and saving it, too – but let’s brace for a drop in our standard of living (and wellbeing) – Point of Order:

So  how  “transformational”  will  the   zero  carbon  legislation  prove to be?

Many  New Zealanders  have come to believe  global  warming  poses  a  real danger  to  their lives – but will the new legislation remove, or even lessen, the danger?

Under the legislation, agriculture   for the first time is brought into the emissions trading  scheme.  That’s won  support from Green lobbyists, but many  say it’s too little, too late –  “a  weak-ass  carbon  reform”.

On  the  other side,  the  criticism is  just as pointed.  There are  no tools to  measure  on-farm emissions and what  the  government proposes   could   shrivel  NZ’s growth rate  by  up to  $50bn   a year. . . .

Planting a billion trees by 2028:

What’s not to love about a billion trees?

Plenty, if you farm in rural New Zealand. For a start, trees require land.

And it’s the fear that farmland will be turned into pine forest that has some worried about the government’s ambitious target of getting a billion trees in the ground by 2028. . . .

Warning of green desert of trees – Tim Fulton:

Incentives for tree-planting credit schemes could create a great, green desert of radiata pine and trample native bush, officials have heard.

The Government proposes taxing farm livestock emissions and fertiliser emissions from 2025.

A Primary Industries Ministry public consultation meeting in Christchurch debated the policy linked to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), a closed, government-managed carbon credit market that’s changing agricultural land use. . . 

Small gains mount up – Colin Williscroft:

Taking small but simple steps on farms can help cut greenhouse gas emissions without biting too deeply into the bottom line, Tirau farmer Adrian Ball says.

With Parliament’s Environment Select Committee hearing views on the viability and fairness of agricultural greenhouse gas reduction targets in the Zero Carbon Bill and debate building on how best to move towards on-farm emission charging, what’s been missed is the work already done by farmers.

However, Ball and others are making incremental changes to reduce their emissions while keeping their eye on the bottom line. . .

Reduction of Johne’s disease possible – Sally Rae:

A case study involving Otago-based DRL Ltd has demonstrated that effective reduction in the prevalence of Johne’s disease is possible for New Zealand dairy farmers.

The study has been completed, in collaboration with Temuka veterinarian Andrew Bates, and a paper accepted for publication in the journal BMC Veterinary Research.

It described the control of Johne’s disease – a chronic wasting disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis – on a large South Canterbury dairy farm with an ongoing Johne’s problem. The farmer was culling between 80 and 100 cows a year on the 1200-cow farm. . . .

Outlook remains for sheepmeat producers -Sally Rae:

Sheepmeat prices are expected to stay at elevated levels over the remainder of this season and into the next, Rabobank animal proteins analyst Blake Holgate says.

Pricing levels out to the end of the season in October were expected to be at least as high as the mid $8 mark per kg seen last year and there could even be some “upside potential” on top of that.

Sheep meat supply from both New Zealand and Australia – the key exporters of sheepmeat to international markets – was expected to remain tight over the coming year.

New Zealand had limited capacity to lift domestic production, given where ewe numbers were at. . .

Women of the Irish food industry- Susanna Crampton, farmer and educator  – Katia Valadeau:

I first met Suzanna Crampton, at her farm, in leafy Kilkenny, a couple of years ago.  She was one of the first small food producers I visited when I started branching out from recipes. She welcomed me at her home and I was lucky enough to meet Bodacious, the wonderful Cat Shepherd and Ovenmitt, the cuddliest cat I’ve ever met. I wrote all about my visit to the zwartbles farm at the time. The hour at Suzanna’s kitchen table is an hour I often think about when I try to explain why I’m so passionate about small food producers in Ireland. 

I am still just learning about the many aspects of life of a farm, the sacrifices, the hard work, the rewards and the glorious food. The conversations I had that day with Julie of Highbank Orchardsand with Suzanna Crampton have stayed with me and I think of them as the true start of my education in all things Irish food. Before, food writing was a hobby. It has since become a full blown passion and has gone into all sorts of directions.  . .

 


Rural round-up

July 18, 2019

Suggestions definitely off the agenda – Neal Wallace:

Fonterra will not retain 50c of the milk payout, as suggested by commentators, or change the way it sets the milk price as part of its business reset, chief financial officer Marc Rivers says.

It is confident it can address its debt issue and strengthen its balance sheet without those measures.

The reset is on track to meet its target of $800m this year while reduced spending will boost its profitability.

“We’re both tightening our belts and looking for savings but also looking at our investment portfolio,” Rivers said. . .

Speculators push lamb prices up – Neal Wallace:

Speculators have pushed North Island store lamb prices 35c/kg above the same time last year despite winter slaughter prices being similar to last year.

Affco’s recent $9/kg contract for prime lambs appears to have hyped the store market even though AgriHQ analyst Nicola Dennis says other meat companies are offering winter slaughter prices that mirror last year’s at about $7.50 to $7.80/kg.

The contract is available only in August to Affco clients who have been regular suppliers and applies only to stock processed at North Island plants. . .

Grower group still busy after 100 years – Pam Tipa:

A group of vegetable growers centred on Pukekohe in South Auckland say regulatory changes could be do-or-die for their growing enterprises.

The Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association (PVGA) celebrated its 100th anniversary last year and vice president Kylie Faulkner says the advocacy role of the group is crucial.

“There are a lot of changes happening now with the Resource Management Act, the National Water Policy Statement and how the different councils are approaching those rules,” she told HortNews.  . . 

Vege growing nice addition to farming business – Peter Burke:

It’s easy to see what the small central North Island town of Ohakune is famous for. On the outskirts of the town is a huge carrot and a children’s play area based on this popular vegetable.

Peter Burke reports on a vegetable grower who has helped enhance the town’s great reputation.

Ron Frew started growing carrots in 1967, just after coming home to Ohakune from completing his university degree. Since then, he and his family have built up a huge farming business which includes growing carrots and potatoes.

They also have a dairy farm and a large sheep and beef property running 25,000 breeding ewes and 650 breeding cows.  . . 

Protein competition on the rise in China – Sally Rae:

Increased protein competition in China is being cited by Rabobank as something to watch as strong demand for beef from China drives up export returns.

In Rabobank’s latest Agribusiness Monthly report, animal protein and sustainability analyst Blake Holgate said the China Meat Association had announced the Chinese government would be expanding its sourcing of animal protein products in an attempt to replace the lost pork production that had resulted from the African Swine Fever outbreak.

That might include allowing imports of Indian buffalo and lifting the current ban on UK beef. There were also reports of an increase in the number of international meat facilities being accredited for export into China. . .

Why George Monibot is wrong – grazing livestock can save the world – L. Hunter Lovins:

George Monbiot’s recent criticism of Allan Savory’s theory that grazing livestock can reverse climate change ignores evidence that it’s already experiencing success

In his recent interview with Allan Savory, the high profile biologist and farmer who argues that properly managing grazing animals can counter climate chaos, George Monbiot reasonably asks for proof. Where I believe he strays into the unreasonable, is in asserting that there is none.

Savory’s argument, which counters popular conceptions, is that more livestock rather than fewer can help save the planet through a concept he calls “holistic management.” In brief, he contends that grazing livestock can reverse desertification and restore carbon to the soil, enhancing its biodiversity and countering climate change. Monbiot claims that this approach doesn’t work and in fact does more harm than good. But his assertions skip over the science and on the ground evidence that say otherwise. . .

 


OIO favours forestry over farming

May 23, 2019

A newsletter from 50 Shades of Green points out that Overseas Investment Office rules favour forestry over farming:

The unfair advantage.
Did you know, the threshold for farm sales approval is different for farms selling to farmers than it is for farms selling to forestry investors?Forestry doesn’t have to meet the jobs criteria.  Double whammy again, taking out valuable land and jobs at the same time, impacting local communities and displacing jobs.  Sheep + Beef estimate 7  jobs are displaced for 1 forestry job.
We  don’t think the general public is aware of the indications of 5 million hectares of pine trees, what that looks like in 40, 50 years time, and much of  it, with sink initiatives,  not likely to be harvested

 

It is ironic that Shane Jones the self-proclaimed savior of the regions who has the $3 billion provincial slush fund to throw around to create jobs, is also the Minister promoting the billion trees policy which will kill them.

The Paris Accord states that climate change policy should not conflict with food production but Alan Emerson writes that trees are being planted at the expense of food:

Every now and then we hear some idiot describing agriculture as being a sunset industry despite the fact we contribute 79.3% of the country’s wealth.

What we should be discussing is New Zealand becoming a sunset economy because it will be if the Government’s ad hoc response to climate change continues along the line it’s going.

For the record, I accept the climate is changing, human activity has done it and we need to do something to fix it.

What I don’t accept is all the Wellington centric crazy fixes that are, in the main, anti-farmer and without the benefit of solid science and economic calculations grounded in reality.

NZ won’t survive without agriculture.

It is still agriculture which earns most of our export income.

Its carbon footprint per kilogram of product is one of the lowest in the world and we’re producing a lot more with less input than we’ve ever done.

If you take nutrient density into account New Zealand farm produce stacks up even better.

In addition, as Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton said, pines are fine for mitigating methane emissions but not for carbon dioxide.

The people who criticize anyone who won’t accept the science on climate change won’t accept this science, nor will they accept the science on gene-editing that could help us reduce methane emissions.

So, why are we planting a billion trees?

Another question is where are we planting them? In Wairarapa we’ve recently lost seven good farms to forestry and that is a major issue.

At Pongaroa they’ve lost between 6000 and 8000 hectares to forestry.

It was interesting to read in last week’s Farmers Weekly Rabobank believes farm forestry will become more appealing. Sustainability analyst Blake Holgate said Government incentives make forestry a more appealing land use option at the cost of food production.

He also said forestry provides opportunity to generate income from area that has been unproductive.

I agree with both statements but was somewhat amazed by comments from Forest Owners Association president Peter Weir who claimed millions of hectares of land for forestry isn’t available. He suggested very little land is being bought for forestry, which I disagree with.

Simply put, my position is there is a lot of marginal land that could go into trees and provide extra income for farmers. That’s good.

Good, productive land and entire farms going into forestry at the expense of food production is bad.

The discussion takes me back to the Muldoon government in the 1970s with its Land Development Encouragement Loans.

Money was available to farmers to clear native bush with the aim of improving NZ Inc’s performance.

So 940,000 hectares were cleared and a massive amount of biodiversity was lost but much of it has since reverted and some has been planted in pines.

Some areas should never have been cleared in the first place and it makes both environmental and financial sense to replant them in trees.

But planting trees on land best suited to producing food will come at a high economic and social cost for no real environmental gain.

Simply, the subsidy didn’t work.

Now we have a subsidy to plant trees, millions of them.

Subsidies are an evil from the past and distort the market. They have no future in a modern economy.

While I applaud Regional Development Minister Shane Jones’ aim of revitalising the regions I believe his forestry initiative will achieve exactly the opposite.

He needs to change advisers.

Let’s look at the facts.

According to the NZ Forestry Bulletin Jones’ billion trees mean 50,000 hectares a year is taken out of production.

To achieve the Productivity Commission’s goals, however, would require 100,000 hectares to be taken out of production each and every year for three decades – a total of three million hectares.

That’s almost a third of our total farmland and it won’t be marginal but productive, food-producing country.

Wairarapa farmer and ram breeder Derek Daniell has done his sums.

For a start every thousand hectares of sheep and beef farms employs seven people each and every year. The same amount of forestry supports one.

That is six jobs lost for every farm that is converted to forestry.

What will that do to provincial NZ?

One retired meat company director told me the removal of stock for trees on the North Island’s east coast would mean the closure of one meat processing works.

What will that do to the provinces?

An economist suggested the value to the country of a hectare of sheep and beef is about $55,000.

At Pongaroa, taking the lowest figure of land out of production, that would mean a loss to their economy of $330m.

What will that loss achieve for the provinces?

Then we have trees harvested every 25-30 years. That’s a long time to wait for a pay cheque.

The money in the interim will be from carbon farming but according Upton that isn’t sustainable.

Further, what is to stop some political party changing the ETS, as has happened.

Relying on political whim for your pay cheque doesn’t spin my wheels.

When it comes to pollution and carbon footprints Daniell points to the cities and not the provinces

The problem is that even with the best of intentions from Jones that instead of forestry boosting the provincial economy it will destroy it.

The madness needs to stop.

You can read more from 50 Shades of Green and subscribe to their newsletter here.


Rural round-up

May 7, 2019

Research needed before tree-planting – Sally Rae:

Landowners considering planting trees need to question whether the benefits to their overall farming business are greater with the land in trees or in its existing use, RaboResearch sustainability analyst Blake Holgate says.

Government policy changes in forestry and climate change would make forestry a more appealing land-use option for some landowners. However, they should carefully consider a range of financial, strategic and environmental issues to ensure they made informed decisions, a new report by Rabobank said.

Mr Holgate, the report’s author, said there was “no one-size-fits-all” approach when deciding whether to plant trees.

It was important landowners gathered the appropriate information and sought expert advice to ensure the long-term implications of planting were well understood and any planting was done in the right place, with the right species for the right purpose. . . 

Farmers want clarity – Guy – Pam Tipa:

Farmers want policy certainty and are petrified about “kneejerk popular politics” similar to what the Government did with the oil and gas industry, says National agriculture spokesman Nathan Guy.

“The agriculture community is very concerned that they could be next,” Guy told Rural News at the Rabobank Farm2Fork seminar in Sydney. “I am picking up at this conference, talking to Kiwi farmers, that there are already headwinds.

So while prices are looking quite good for our farmers, there are very strong headwinds coming at them, to do with water quality, biological emissions, biodiversity and, importantly, capital gains tax and environmental taxes. . . 

First year a ‘learning curve’ for president – Sally Rae:

Simon Davies describes his first year as president of Otago Federated Farmers as a “learning curve”.

Mr Davies, a Toko Mouth sheep and beef farmer, took over from Phill Hunt last May. Now, he is preparing for his first provincial annual meeting in the top job.

It will be held on Friday at the function room at Centennial Court Motel in Alexandra from 4pm.

Part of that learning curve had been the diverse range of topics that he had been asked to comment on.

“It seems like an endless quantity of things that come along,” he said. . . 

Sound study makes water music – Richard Rennie:

Some avid gardeners swear playing music to plants helps accelerate their growth. Now researchers in Canterbury have found directing sound signals at soil could ultimately help improve its health, reduce nutrient losses and save farmers money. 

AgResearch senior scientist Dr Val Snow and Auckland University acoustics physicist Professor Stuart Bradley and have been leading work into better understanding the link between sound, water and run-off. They told Richard Rennie about their work.

A joint research project between AgResearch and Auckland University scientists at the leading edge of technology is using sound waves to determine optimal irrigation levels.

Known as the Surface Water Assessment and Mitigation for Irrigation (SWAMI), the technology is being used to define a relationship between how sound waves bounce off the soil surface and controlling irrigation applications. . . 

Health claims will sell goods – Richard Rennie:

Promoting New Zealand’s horticulture and agriculture sectors as low-input, extensive, often grass-fed sources of food has become a leverage point for the industry, particularly red meat and dairy. But Nuffield scholar and business development manager Andy Elliot challenges it as an aspirational Aotearoa story. He wants to look harder at how products can earn more value through understanding consumers’ dietary and nutritional needs. He spoke to Richard Rennie.

As admirable as New Zealand’s extensive grass-fed farming system might be it’s not enough of a selling point to continue improving margins in an increasingly competitive international market, Nuffield scholar Andy Elliot says.

A year spent examining NZ’s path to markets has left him convinced a better approach is to re-evaluate why people eat, what they hope to get from food and what NZ products offer that others don’t. . . 

$5.7m loyalty payments to top shareholders:

Meat co-op Alliance Group has distributed $5.7 million in loyalty payments to key shareholders.

The quarterly payments have been made to the co-op’s Platinum and Gold shareholders who supply 100% per cent of their livestock to the company. Farmers are paid an additional 10c/kg for each lamb, 6c/kg for a sheep, 8.5c/kg for cattle and 10c/kg for deer.

The payments cover the period January-March 2019. . . 

 


Rural round-up

June 6, 2018

Mycoplasma bovis: European semen is the likely culprit source – Keith Woodford:

It is now increasingly evident that European-sourced semen, imported legally but containing live Mycoplasma bovis that survived the antibiotic cocktail, is the likely source of the organism in New Zealand dairy.

The evidence suggests it struck first in Southland, but there is a likelihood that the same semen has struck on other farms, and then spread from there via progeny.

It is also likely that Mycoplasma bovis arrived in New Zealand via this semen by late 2014 or even earlier.  This is an important issue because so far MPI has only focused on events since the end of 2015. . .

Dairy sector told to look to success of alternative products – Sally Rae:

The time is right for the dairy sector to reflect on the success of alternative dairy products and consider applying those lessons to dairy, a dairy expert says.

In an industry report, Rabobank dairy senior analyst Tom Bailey said the key was understanding the consumer.

Marketers of dairy alternatives had been far more successful in connecting with consumers on an emotional level than traditional dairy marketers, he said.

In the past 10 years, global retail sales growth for dairy alternatives had soared at a rate of 8% annually. . .

Action plan accelerates waterway protection efforts:

The Good Farming Practice Action Plan for Water Quality is a tangible illustration of commitment by the primary sector, local and central government to work together to enhance our streams and rivers, Federated Farmers Environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“Our agriculture and horticulture industries are already a long way down the trail of environmental stewardship but this is an important step towards achieving higher standards,” Chris says. . .

No major impact from ‘M bovis’ cull – Sally Rae:

The long-term influence on the beef schedule from the Mycoplasma bovis cull is not expected to be significant, Rabobank New Zealand’s animal proteins analyst Blake Holgate says.

On Monday, the Government and industry announced phased eradication would go ahead, with a further 126,000 cattle to be culled over the next one to two years.

Given the number of cattle being culled represented only about 5% of New Zealand’s annual beef slaughter, and the cull was occurring over a prolonged period, the negative impact on prices should be limited when compared to external factors, such as export market demand, Mr Holgate said. . .

Young guy with autism believes more people with disabilities should be employed – Jill Galloway:

Palmerston North teenager Jeremy Price just wants to work on a dairy farm.

Diagnosed with autism and  attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) four years ago, he  believes more people with disabilities should be employed.

“Not just on farms, but in other industries as well. People think the worst of any people whose CV shows they have a condition. But most people can do the job and should not be labelled.”

Price,17,  is just a “normal” teenager, other than being open about living with his conditions. . .

Search on for forages that reduce nitrogen leaching – Tony Benny:

The Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching project is delivering better than expected results, says programme leader Ina Pinxterhuis. She talked to Tony Benny.

With public concern over the effect of dairy farming on the environment mounting, DairyNZ has taken the lead in finding ways to reduce farming’s negative effects while maintaining productivity and profitability.

Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching is an MBIE-funded collaborative programme by DairyNZ, AgResearch, Plant and Food Research, Lincoln University, Foundation for Arable Research and Landcare Research with the aim of cutting nitrate leaching losses by 20 per cent.

It combines field and animal experiments with computer modelling and trials on nine Canterbury monitor farms – four dairy, two sheep and beef, two arable and one mixed arable/dairy. . .

Farmer shoots dog attacking cattle:

A Northland farmer has shot two dogs caught mauling his cattle after the owner was unable to call her dogs off the panicking stock.

The attack showed even well-trained dogs could turn quickly without warning, Hikurangi farmer Stuart Clark said. If there was any doubt, the dogs should be kept on a lead, he added.

He said a couple had been walking two dogs at the Lake Waro Reserve recently when they strayed onto his land at the north end of the lake where cattle were grazing. . .

Trees on farms -DairyNZ:

With good planning and design, trees create a pleasant, diverse and interesting place in which to live and work.

Trees have the power to inspire awe and wonder. For generations they have been used to beautify the landscape.

Trees have many attributes. Plantings for timber, livestock shelter, shade, fodder, soil conservation and biodiversity can deliver significant benefits. Each adds capital value to your farm as well as character and visual appeal. . .

 

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Rural round-up

December 8, 2017

Dairy not all about milking it:

A Lincoln University pilot study is backing the importance of environmental and social responsibility, as well as the bottom line, to dairy farmers.

Seeing themselves as “guardians of their land” and adopting environmentally friendly ways of farming is a key component of the farmers’ personal convictions.

The study, What really drives dairy production systems: economic rationale or social and environmental responsibility? surveyed owners, share milkers and managers, to format a questionnaire for much larger sample of interviews with farmers, due to take place in January. . .

Day a chance to experience life on a farm – Sally Rae:

When Duncan Wells left secondary school, he was encouraged not to go farming.

It was during the farming downturn in the 1980s and his farming father suggested he get some other skills.

So he became an electrician and worked for a few years before giving in to his passion for the dairy sector.

Now Mr Wells and his wife Anne-Marie are sharing that passion with others – opening the gates of their Outram dairy business, Huntly Road Dairies, to allow the public to experience a taste of farm life.

On Sunday, Fonterra has organised an ”open gates” initiative, with 40 selected farms around the country opening for the day. . . 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand supporting sustainable hill country scientific programme:

A scientific programme aimed at improving the sustainability of hill country for sheep and beef farming is to be launched with the support of Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

The project, which is backed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Partnership Scheme, will look at ways to invigorate hill country by developing sustainable production systems.

A strategy and action plan to increase the sustainability of hill country farming (economic, environmental, social and cultural) will be one of the key pr iorities for the initiative.  . . 

NZ Beef prices expected to hold firm in the face of expanding global production:

New Zealand beef prices moved marginally higher in quarter three and are expected to hold relatively firm in the coming months despite expanding global beef production generating intense competition in global markets, according to Rabobank’s latest Beef Quarterly report.

Rabobank animal proteins analyst Blake Holgate said stronger-than-anticipated demand for New Zealand beef in key export markets, combined with restricted domestic supplies and a weakening New Zealand dollar, resulted in a marginal increase in New Zealand slaughter prices in quarter three. . . 

Focus on New Zealand brands needed in face of trade uncertainty:

Uncertainty over Brexit means New Zealand needs to urgently focus on developing brands and differentiating our agricultural exports.

Senior lecturer in Agribusiness Management Dr Nic Lees, said New Zealand produces some of the best fruit, wine, meat, seafood and dairy products in the world but around 70 per cent reaches the consumer with no identification that is sourced from here.

“Sudden changes such as Brexit remind us that relying on undifferentiated commodity exports leaves us vulnerable to sudden changes in government policies,” Dr Lees said.

“When consumers demand a branded product, it is difficult for governments to shut it out of the market.” . .

Fonterra imposes grading system on milk fat with ‘excessive’ PKE, Fed Farmers confirms – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group has followed through on its work into the impact of palm kernel expeller on the composition of fat in the milk it collects with a grading system that will start in September 2018.

The new system follows consultation with farmers and is the latest step in Fonterra’s efforts to reinforce its Trusted Goodness logo, which is designed to appeal to consumers who want sustainable and ethical practices in food production and is underpinned by New Zealand’s “natural, grass-fed advantage”. But Fonterra’s research has shown that PKE also has implications for dairy product manufacturing and sales in global markets of products such as butter. . . 

New PKE grading system warrants contractual clause change for farmers:

Federated Farmers is reminding dairy farmers and sharemilkers to update existing business agreements as they face joint liability to meet upcoming changes for using palm kernel (PKE) as feed.

Dairy co-operative Fonterra is introducing a grading system next September to measure milk fat composition, which changes with excessive use of PKE impacting on manufacturing capability and seasonal customer preferences.

Fonterra farmers who don’t comply with new recommended levels for cows’ PKE intake will be penalised. . . 

Synlait opens new Wetmix kitchen:

Synlait Milk  has today officially opened its new Wetmix kitchen, which will enable it to simultaneously run both large-scale infant formula spray dryers.

This will double the amount of infant formula powder which can be produced at the Dunsandel site, from 40,000 metric tonnes (MT) to 80,000 MT per year.

“We were at the point where our current Wetmix facility was at capacity, and our consumer demand was continuing to grow. Building this new Wetmix kitchen will relieve that pressure,” says John Penno, Managing Director and CEO. . . 

New arrangement simplifies meat exports to Egypt:

A new arrangement signed recently will simplify New Zealand’s meat product exports to Egypt, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said today.

Under the new arrangement, Egyptian authorities will no longer have to visit each individual meat premises that wishes to export to Egypt.

The arrangement was signed by MPI Director-General Martyn Dunne and Egyptian Deputy Minister for Agriculture Dr Mona Mehrez in Wellington. . . 


Rural round-up

June 30, 2017

Rural confidence trends remarkedly similar across sectors – Allan Barber:

The latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey shows the highest level of confidence among all agricultural sectors since the survey started in 2003 which is proof of the remarkable success of New Zealand agriculture and commodity prices. At a time when our dollar is also stronger against almost all, if not all, currencies over the same period, this is a surprising fact that most people would say is at least counterintuitive if not downright impossible.

57% of farmers surveyed now see a positive outlook for the next 12 months, up from 34% in the previous survey, in contrast to only 3% who think things will get worse. A net 41% of sheep and beef farmers see a positive outlook, up from just net 2% in the first 2017 survey, while a net 61% of dairy farmers and 38% of horticulturalists are also bullish. Not surprisingly improving commodity prices are the main reason for this burst in confidence. . . 

Rabobank Beef Quarterly Q2 2017: Market Disruption Changing Trade Flows:

The global beef complex has been characterised by a series of market disruptions through Q2, according to the Rabobank Beef Quarterly Q2 2017.

Political upheaval in Brazil, a new trade agreement between the US and China, and proposed bans on slaughter in India: All involve the major bovine-exporting nations of the world and have the potential to cause material shifts in global trade.

According to Blake Holgate, Rabobank Analyst Animal Protein: “While US exports continue to perform strongly (and have now reached record levels), reduced supply from Australia and New Zealand, along with potential shocks from Brazil and India, could see the balance in the beef market shift back to a supply-limited market.”. .

Farmers Feeling Less Stress From Their Banks:

Pressure on farmers appears to be easing a little on the back of an improved farming outlook, according to Federated Farmers’ latest Banking Survey undertaken in May by Research First.

The survey shows that 8.5%of farmers reported coming under ‘undue’ pressure from their bank over the past six months, down from 9.6% in the last survey undertaken in November 2016. . . 

Canada’s policies depress milk prices – Alexa Cook:

Ten global dairy industry organisations, including one from New Zealand, are fighting for Canada to remove milk policies they say are depressing milk prices.

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is part of the group, which includes dairy industry leaders from Argentina, Australia, EU, Mexico and the US.

DCANZ said Canada’s recently-implemented ‘Special Milk Class 7’ policies were facilitating the unfair export of highly subsidised Canadian dairy products onto global dairy markets, and at the same time increasing Canada’s barriers to dairy imports. . . .

Te Araroa trail contributing millions to regional NZ:

Business is booming for cafés, dairies, campsites and other enterprises along the length of New Zealand’s national Te Araroa Trail.

More than 550 people have completed the 3,000km trail over the past year, stopping to re-supply in urban centres and rural communities as they walk from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

Te Araroa Trust chair David McGregor said the record number of walkers had contributed an estimated more than $5 million to the economy, with walkers reporting an average spend of between $7,000 and $10,000 throughout their four to five month journey. . . 

War on Weeds gets half million regional boost:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says almost $500,000 extra will be spent on regional projects that target the country’s worst weeds.

“DOC will fund ten regional and district councils to do weed control projects in their communities, especially those that target our annual ‘Dirty Dozen’ weeds – identified as doing the most damage by smothering our natural landscapes and destroying the habitats of our native species,” Ms Barry says.

“The projects focus on weeds such as Old Man’s Beard or Spartina and intensifies efforts to keep them under control or totally eradicate them.” . . 

Nelson – Marlborough scallop fishery temporary closure for 2017 season:

Continued low scallop levels at the top of the South Island have forced a further temporary closure of the Southern Scallop fishery SCA 7, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

The 2017/18 season closure affects scallop fisheries in Golden Bay, Tasman Bay and the Marlborough Sounds. It also includes the neighbouring Port Underwood area. . . 

Wool Market Loses Further Ground:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s CEO, Mr John Dawson reports that today’s market was down due to a combination of slower demand and a slightly stronger New Zealand dollar.

South Island price levels have now come more into line with their North Island counterparts.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies compared to the last sale on the 22nd June was marginally stronger by 0.24 percent. . . 


Rural round-up

April 3, 2017

NZ red meat sector must pursue both ‘value and volume’ growth into China:

The New Zealand red meat sector must focus on creating greater value from its exports into China, as the rate of import growth slows in this major export market, according to new research from Rabobank.

In its recently-released report, China’s Animal Protein Outlook to 2020, the specialist global agribusiness bank says while Chinese imports of sheepmeat and beef will continue to grow out to at least 2020, the rate of growth will not be as rapid as it has been in the past.

In addition, says Rabobank animal proteins analyst Blake Holgate, as China has continued to open its market to New Zealand’s competitors in recent years, the NZ red meat sector no longer enjoys the same unique competitive advantage it had when it was the first developed country to enter into a free trade agreement with China in 2008. . . 

Rural doctor shortage: GPs considered ‘lesser beings’ – Joanne O’Brien:

For 25 years, Dr John Burton has been a lifeline for people in the isolated Waikato community of Kawhia, but, he says, GPs are considered “lesser beings” so job training is not producing good doctors for rural areas.

He said being the only doctor within an hour’s drive might deter some, but it made life fun.

“One of the things that often puts people off coming to a place like Kawhia is you’re always on call and anything can happen.

“Yet if I look back over the years I’ve had here, the times I’ll be remembering will probably be the times when, yes, I delivered a baby in the back of the ambulance or somebody was in a life-threatening condition.” . . 

Cows could infect humans with different strain of leptospirosis – Alexa Cook:

About 30 percent of New Zealand’s dairy herds pose a risk of infecting humans with a different strain of Leptospirosis not covered by the existing animal vaccine, a study has revealed.

People can pick up the disease if they come into contact with cow urine and rodents. It can lead to serious illness or death.

Leptospirosis is the most common zoonotic occupational disease for farm and abattoir workers. In the past year cases of the disease have jumped by nearly 50 per cent, compared to 2015.

The Massey University study, which started in 2015 and is government funded, collected blood and urine samples from 200 dairy farms. . . 

Fonterra produces a solid half-year set of results but it is not all plain sailing ahead – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra has produced a solid set of results for the first half of the 2016/17 season, with after-tax profit up two percent to $418 million.

Results were broadly in line with market expectations. Prices for Fonterra units had been drifting down on the NZX in the weeks prior to the announcement from a high of $6.39 to $6.20 and lost another five cents over the following two days down to $6.15.

As always, the half-yearly and annual reports from Fonterra are a masterful exercise in communication. It takes effort to scratch beneath the surface to figure out what the numbers are really telling us. . . 

Cervena to be marketed in Germany:

Cervena venison is to be marketed in Germany during the northern hemisphere summer as part of a market development trial.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) venison marketing manager Marianne Wilson says the trial, while relatively small, is symbolically very important. Traditionally, the deer industry has been heavily reliant on sales of venison to the German game trade which is highly seasonal, with demand and prices peaking in the northern autumn and winter, she says.

“Marketing Cervena venison there as a lighter summer eating option, suitable for grilling, is a challenge but it’s a journey we want to begin. Chefs across Europe are now showing more interest in innovative summer menu items, so the timing is positive.” . . 

NZ exporters gain access to international agfood innovations portal:

The FoodHQ Innovation Club has become a partner of World Food Innovations, an internationally recognised online portal that profiles innovative agfood solutions to attract global business.

The FoodHQ Innovation Club helps food and beverage companies tackle the multiple challenges associated with innovating their products and businesses to meet consumer demands in New Zealand and overseas. It provides one-door access to 2,200+ researchers, leading-edge knowledge, and innovation tools from internationally recognised research and innovation organisations.

WorldFoodInnovations.com, an initiative by Food Valley, the Netherlands, was established in 2016. Food Valley has built up a deep insight into the challenges of the agrifood industry and vast network of companies and knowledge institutions that can help to tackle these challenges effectively. . . 

Rabobank NZ annual profit falls 14% on higher provisioning for bad dairy debt – Paul McBeth

(BusinessDesk) – Rabobank New Zealand posted a 14 percent decline in annual profit last year as the rural lending specialist boosted its provisioning for bad debts in the face of the dairy slowdown.

Net profit fell to $89.5 million in calendar 2016 from $104 million a year earlier, the Wellington-based lender said in a statement. The decline in profit was largely due to the bank booking $15.1 million in impairment charges on bad debt. In 2015 Rabobank booked a $5.6 million gain, writing back the value on impairments. Net interest income edged up 2.6 percent to $251.3 million, outpacing a 2.2 percent increase in the size of Rabobank’s NZ net loan book to $9.65 billion. . . 

Dairy – the new cream of choice in China:

For chefs across China, it’s out with the old mock cream and in with the UHT cream as Fonterra ups capacity to meet growing demand.

UHT cream, one of Anchor Food Professionals top selling products, is fast becoming the cream of choice for chefs in China and other parts of the world as they look for a product that has the freshness of pure dairy, won’t over whip and holds its shape for longer.

Fonterra has recently completed a new one litre UHT line at its Waitoa site. However, with continued growth, the Co-operative has already begun construction on a second line which will produce an additional 45 million litres each year for consumers across Asia, the Middle East and the Caribbean. . . 


Rural round-up

February 22, 2017

New report shows importance of dairy industry:

A new report launched tonight confirms the dairy industry makes a major contribution to New Zealand’s economy, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

“According to the report dairy contributes $7.8 billion to New Zealand’s GDP, and is our largest good exporter. This is a timely reminder of just how important the dairy industry is,” says Mr Guy.

The report ‘Dairy trade’s economic contribution to New Zealand’ was commissioned from NZIER by the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) and released today.

“While the dairy sector has had a tough few seasons, in the year to March 2016 they still earned over $13 billion in exports for New Zealand.

“According to the report the dairy sector employs over 40,000 workers and employment in this sector has grown more than twice as fast as total employment, at an average of 3.7% per year since 2000. . . .

The full report is here.

Report finds New Zealand loses billions to trade barriers each year:

Trade barriers cost New Zealand billions of dollars annually, according to an NZIER report for the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ).

The report, titled Dairy trade’s economic contribution to New Zealand, highlights the strong contribution the dairy sector has continued to make to New Zealand’s national and regional economic development, even while it has been at the bottom of a price cycle, and despite global dairy markets remaining highly distorted.

“Trade barriers are a significant cost to New Zealand. Tariffs alone are suppressing the value of our dairy products by around 1.3 billion dollars annually,” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey. . . 

Red meat story about more than brand image – Allan Barber:

There has been a great deal of progress towards the development of the New Zealand Red Meat Story, but most of it has been happening under the radar. That is all about to change. B+LNZ is holding a workshop on 1st and 2nd March at which a wide group of industry participants – farmers, government, processors and exporters – will gather to start formulating the detail of the story, assisted by a strong line-up of guest speakers with international experience in brand development.

Over the last 18 months B+LNZ has focused on implementing its market development action plan arising from extensive consultation with levy payers. The most obvious change was to close marketing offices in mature markets like the UK, Japan and Korea where exporters already have much deeper relationships with customers and feedback from farmers and exporters suggested funds could be better spent in other ways and in developing markets with greater potential. . . 

Rabobank beefs up its animal proteins specialisation:

Leading agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank has appointed Blake Holgate to head up its research and analysis of New Zealand’s animal proteins sector.

Based in Dunedin, Mr Holgate joins the RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness division, a team of 90 analysts from around the globe focused on undertaking research into the food and agribusiness sector, including comprehensive reports on sector and commodity outlooks, latest market trends and future industry developments. . . 

Erin Atkinson crowned BOP Young Grower of the Year:

· First time in competition history that women have won both first and second place

· Top young talent have opportunity to demonstrate their horticulture skills

· Erin now to represent Bay of Plenty Young Growers in national competition

Erin Atkinson, 29, Technical Advisor for Apata Group Limited in Te Puke has been crowned Bay of Plenty’s Young Fruit Grower for 2017 at last night’s special gala dinner in Tauranga.

The day-long competition last Saturday, the 11th of February at Te Puke Showgrounds, followed by the gala dinner, saw six competitors battle it out in a series of practical and theoretical challenges designed to test the skills needed to run a successful export-focused business. . . 

Wool firms more:

New Zealand Wool Services International Ltd’s Marketing Executive Malcolm Ching, reports that of the original 15500 bales intended for sale from both centres, 2500 bales were withdrawn by growers prior to the auction with the balance of 13000 bales seeing 76.7 percent sold and most types firm to dearer.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was unchanged with the market reflecting more demand as client buying activity increases.

Mr Ching advises that some growers are holding back wool or refusing to accept below production cost returns, making volumes on offer further reduced, restricting supply in some categories.

Fine crossbred fleece and shears were firm to 5 percent dearer. . . 

Farming future on the agenda – Cally Dupe:

One of Australia’s biggest banks is hitting the road to host a one day seminar at Moora.

Farmers from across the Wheatbelt and further afield will converge at the town’s art centre on February 23 to discuss the future of farming in WA.

Coordinated by Bankwest, 2040 Farming – The Next Generation, includes guest speakers from Bankwest, AgAsset, Farmanco Management Consultants, Moora Citrus, Sandgroper Seed Potato and more.

The free event is targeted at younger farmers aged 20 to 40 but anyone is welcome. . . 

More on that here.


Rural round-up

April 14, 2015

That is indeed a beautiful sound – Gravedodger:

Since around 0645 we have had the sound of rain on the roof,  steady and after two hours, around 13mm.

Here in Akaroa we were not as desperate as many pockets  around North Canterbury, a friend from Cheviot next door to where we spent three years in the mid 60s, is saying it is so parched there is not even any green in gully floors where there is normally some hope of a lunch for a rabbit.

Another comment in Farmers Weekly said their bit of unirrigated country has moved from brown to white. . .

Uneven rules costly – Neal Wallace:

Steps to control agricultural nutrient discharge could add 10c a litre to the cost of producing milk and impose wide-ranging restrictions on land management.

But there is little uniformity in regional council rules.

Most of the county’s 16 regional authorities are still to complete their regional plans but early indications are that each council has its own approach.

Rabobank sustainable farm systems manager Blake Holgate has been following the development and release of environmental regulations and said even neighbouring regional councils such as Otago and Southland have differing rules, creating uncertainty for owners of multiple properties and unknown costs. . .

Heartland Forum shaping up as South Island farming event of the year:

A speakers’ lineup of the who’s who in the primary sector makes this month’s ‘The Future of Heartland Forum’ near Cheviot in North Canterbury, a must attend.

A farmer discussion in Cheviot late last year about the spread of Chilean Needlegrass has since grown into staging a premier forum on the future of agriculture industries in New Zealand.

The event will be held at Te Mania Angus Stud, Conway Flat, Friday, April 17.

Other than Government speakers, the lineup includes; Dame Margaret Bazley from Environment Canterbury, Winton Dalley the Hurunui Mayor, Peter Townsend the Chief Executive of the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce, Craige and Roz Mackenzie and Sam and Mark Zino, award winning farmers, Nicole Masters of the New Zealand Biological Farmers Association and Dr William Rolleston the National President of Federated Farmers New Zealand. . .

 Robotic milking can revive kids’ interest:

Robotic milking is coming of age in New Zealand and interest has surged in the last six months, DeLaval’s Grant Vickers says.

“I think it’s because a number of installations in New Zealand are working well,” he told Dairy News. “The perception of risk has probably lessened.”

The current inquiries, for robotics and barns, are from all sizes of farms and will result in installations in the North and South Island. 

Vickers spoke about robotic milking during a Dairy Women’s Network field trip to a 600-cow wintering barn as part of the organisation’s ‘Entering Tomorrow’s World’ conference. . .

What’s behind the longevity of Country Calendar? – Julian O’Brien:

Soon after I started producing Country Calendar, we had a minor crisis.

We thought we’d found a simple and elegant way to make new opening titles – but it quickly turned into a nightmare. 

We needed footage of people involved in typical rural activities, but to integrate the shots into our titles, they had to be shot against a neutral background – ideally a green-screen set up in a studio. 

Sheep in a studio? Achievable, but someone needs to be ready with a broom afterwards.

New Zealand’s top shearers in a studio? Impossible, if you want to keep the feel of a shearing competition – but we desperately wanted the shot.

As we pondered this, we had a crew shooting part of a story at the Taumarunui Shears – but there was no neutral background at the event to do a titles shot. . .

NZPork Annual Report 2014:

The NZPork Annual Report 2014, released today, reflects on the importance of the New Zealand consumer to the future of its business.

NZPork Chairman Ian Carter points out that it’s important to remember that our consumer is our neighbour and that we are touch with what consumers want and believe.

“We need to provoke interest in our product and our industry. We need to invoke confidence in our production standards and systems. And we need to evoke desire for our product,” said Ian Carter.

The report states the industry recognises that little is understood about pig farming in general amongst many New Zealanders, particularly the requirements of caring for its animals. In light of this, it is taking steps to be more transparent and advocate confidence to its consumers via its production systems and standards. . .

 Silage smells and what they mean – Ian Williams:

I grew up in town and one of my distinct memories of summer and autumn when we went to visit our farming friends was the smell of silage. 

As a kid, silage always seemed to stink and it is a smell which has been imprinted on my brain.

Now I work with the stuff. I even have a personalised number plate with the word SILAGE on it! Whenever I  introduce myself to people from town and they ask me what I do and I mention the word silage, they instantly screw up their noses and say something like “How can you work with that stuff, it stinks?” or they ask “Are you still married?” . .  .

How to install a ready-made food making business on your farm:

Making the transition from being a primary producer to processing and selling your own produce has become considerably cheaper, easier and less stressful thanks to an Anglo-French company that has created a new process that effectively builds a ‘barn inside a barn’.
Create-a-cabin has led a revolution in French farming by rapidly installing food-safe, highly flexible, and technically sophisticated food preparation rooms without the need for planning permission.
Across the Channel, Create-a-cabin’s custom-made, modular building shells have been erected quickly and cheaply for cheese-makers, poultry abattoirs, jam kitchens, meat packers, fish smokers and many more, allowing farmers to control at least one more link in the food production chain, as well as adding value to their product and thus  commanding a higher price. . .


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