Rural round-up

24/11/2015

2016 Zanda McDonald Award Shorlist Announced:

Six of agriculture’s most innovative young professionals have been shortlisted for the 2016 Zanda McDonald Award. The six – three from New Zealand and three from Australia – were selected for their strong leadership skills, being visionary and inspirational within their industry and for clearly demonstrating an unwaivering passion for agriculture.

Dean Rabbidge, 30, is a Southland dairy, beef and sheep farmer from Wyndham currently managing the family farm. Dean is also Vice Chairman of the national Young Farmers Competition and twice a grand finalist.

Erica van Reenen, 31, is an agricultural and environmental consultant with AgFirst, based in Manawatu. Erica is also a trustee of the Te Araroa national walkway from Cape Reinga to Bluff and a Huntaway Festival committee member.

Zach Mounsey, 25, is a dairy farmer and an economist with DairyNZ. He is also Chairman of the Otorohanga Federated Farmers group. Last month, Zach travelled to Argentina; he was selected by the Minister of Primary Industries to represent New Zealand together with Malborough farmer, Doug Avery. . . 

Results Announced for the 2015 Fonterra elections:

Returning Officer Warwick Lampp, of electionz.com Ltd, has declared the final results of the 2015 elections for the Fonterra Board of Directors, Directors’ Remuneration Committee and Shareholders’ Council.

Shareholders voted to re-elect incumbent Directors John Wilson and Nicola Shadbolt. They will be joined by new Director Ashley Waugh. Blue Read, Greg Maughan and Murray Beach were unsuccessful. . . 

Record voter participation sees one new director, two new shareholders’ councillors elected

Today, following the close of voting in the 2015 Fonterra Elections, which saw record Shareholder voting, it has been confirmed that one new Director and two new Shareholders’ Councillors will take office following the Fonterra Annual Meeting on Wednesday.

Newly elected Director Ashley Waugh and incumbents John Wilson and Nicola Shadbolt were the three successful Director candidates. . . 


Rural round-up

02/11/2015

Dairy prices, lamb returns drive optimism – Dene Mackenzie:

Some encouraging signs have emerged from the latest ASB Farmshed Economics report with dairy markets moving back towards normal and lamb a quiet achiever.

ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley said dairy farmers had reined in production to better reflect current demand, reducing oversupply.

Dairy prices reflected the better balance. Overall prices had lifted more than 50% and whole milk prices more than 70% since August. However, supply and prices still had more work to do. . . 

Prestigious Nuffield scholars for 2016 named – Gerard Hutching:

Four young primary sector leaders have been awarded prestigious Nuffield scholarships.

In the 60 years since the scholarship programme began, more than 140 New Zealanders have been handed the opportunity to travel and study at first-hand the latest international primary sector developments.

The scholars for 2016 are Wellington-based government agriculture development manager Jessica Bensemann, Te Puke dairy farmer Richard Fowler, environmental management adviser turned Central Hawke’s Bay shepherd Samuel Lang and orchard and sheep and beef farm owner Tom Skerman, from Hastings. . . 

Fonterra reaped 25% gain from Bega shares driven to record by Blackmores tie-up – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group reaped a 25 percent gross gain on its two-year investment in Australia’s Bega Cheese shares, which jumped to a record last week after announcing a partnership with Blackmores that will compete with the New Zealand dairy exporter in China’s infant formula market.

Fonterra spent about A$60.7 million to build a 9 percent stake in Bega in November 2013, which it sold last week for A$74 million. It also received about A$1.6 million of dividends. Fonterra is in the process of transforming its Australian business, having taken a $108 million writedown of its yoghurt and dairy desserts assets across the Tasman in 2015. The gain on the Bega shares compares to a 5 percent return on capital from its Oceania consumer and food service business in 2015.

The sale wouldn’t affect Fonterra’s commercial relationship with Bega, which includes a licence on the Bega brand and a supply contract for cheese, said chief financial officer Lukas Paravicini. The sale was the best use of the capital, he said. . . .

Could drones, apps and electrical tape measures feature in the future of the horticultural industry?:

Kiwi ingenuity is alive and well and at its cutting edge best in the local horticultural industry as some startlingly innovative ideas – featuring everything from apps to drones – have begun to emerge from the innovation leg of this year’s Young Horticulturist of the Year Competition’.

The finalists, five young men and one woman, come from all over New Zealand – all winners of their individual sector competitions – and are going head to head to decide who will be named ‘Young Horticulturist of the Year 2015’ after the grand final, which is held over the two days of November 11 and 12 at the Auckland Botanic Gardens in Manurewa. . . .

Voting for the 2015 Fonterra Elections Underway:

Voting is now open for the 2015 Fonterra Board of Directors’ Elections and the Shareholders’ Councillor Elections in four wards.

This year there are six candidates standing for the Board of Directors. They are Murray Beach, Greg Maughan, Blue Read, Nicola Shadbolt, Ashley Waugh and John Wilson.

Fonterra shareholders have the opportunity to meet and ask questions of the Director candidates at the eleven Directors’ Election Candidate Roadshow meetings which run from Sunday, 8 November to Friday, 13 November 2015. . . .

Increased rebate for DMS’ growers:

Bay of Plenty Kiwifruit management company, DMS, has announced it has increased its shareholder rebate for the 2015/2016 year by 10 cents to 30 cents for Grower shareholders, an increase that is attributed to increased profitability of the business.

DMS is a Bay of Plenty owned and operated orchard management and post-harvest operator, with two major packhouse sites in Te Puke and Te Puna.

DMS Director, Craig Greenlees, says the rebate increase demonstrates the recent growth enjoyed by DMS, plus implementing strategies that focuses on fruit quality from orchard management to packing. . . 

Conservation Week 2015: Healthy Nature, Healthy People:

Conservation Week 2015 is a chance to get active outdoors and look after New Zealand’s natural world, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says.

“The theme for 2015 is ‘Healthy Nature, Healthy People’ and it’s about the link between looking after our special natural places and the tangible health benefits you can enjoy from experiencing them.”

“We want New Zealanders to get out into our conservation land, whether it’s for exercise, relaxation, getting away from it all or helping out with one of the hundreds of different groups doing great work to protect our natural heritage.” . . .


Fonterra inquiry team includes external members

12/08/2013

Fonterra’s inquiry into the whey protein concentrate contamination will include two people from outside the company.

Today Fonterra Chairman John Wilson announced that Fonterra’s Board has established the WPC80 Inquiry Committee, and charged them to oversee an independent review into the circumstances giving rise to the affected whey protein concentrate (WPC80) and subsequent chain of events.

Mr Wilson said he had complete confidence that Fonterra’s CEO, Theo Spierings, had made the right decisions and is continuing to do everything to manage this complex issue, but that there are serious lessons that need to be learnt.

“It is critical that we identify these lessons quickly so our farmers, governments, customers, consumers and unit holders can again have full confidence in Fonterra and its products.

“With this in mind, the Board has confirmed the Committee will be chaired by Independent Director, Sir Ralph Norris, and will include two external independent members who are not Fonterra board members.”

The Committee is comprised of:
·         Sir Ralph Norris (chair) – Independent Director
·         Simon Israel – Independent Director
·         Dame Judith Potter – External Independent Member
·         Blue Read – Farmer Elected Director
·         Nicola Shadbolt – Farmer Elected Director
·         John Waller – Independent Director

An eminent and respected scientist will also be appointed to the Committee over the coming days as the second independent member.

Commenting specifically on Dame Judith Potter, a retired High Court judge and fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Directors, Mr Wilson said that her appointment to the Committee demonstrates the Co-operative’s commitment to a full and independent inquiry.

“Dame Judith brings with her a breadth of legal, judicial and board experience, and a reputation for being decisive and commercially astute.”

The Committee has appointed Jack Hodder, QC of Chapman Tripp, to undertake the review into the events leading up to and following the WPC80 concerns. Mr Hodder will  report back  to the Committee.

As part of this, Mr Hodder will have access to all necessary independent experts and advisers, and the WPC80 Inquiry Committee is currently seeking an internationally recognised industry expert on the manufacturing and safety of foods to work alongside Mr Hodder.

“The inquiry will start immediately and it is the Board’s intention to have it completed within six weeks. However, the emphasis will be on a full and thorough investigation.

“The Board has given the Committee a far-reaching remit. It will not only review the circumstances and principle decision points relating to the affected WPC80 product, it will also look more broadly at Fonterra’s business procedures, systems and practices,” Mr Wilson said.

Two well qualified external members, three independent directors and two farmer elected ones provide a good mix for the committee.

A full inquiry into not just the contamination and how it was handled but the broader view of the company’s procedures, systems and practices is necessary to find out exactly what went wrong and why it was so badly handled.

Only then will the company be able to improve what it does and how it does it and from that foundation rebuild its reputation.


Rural round-up

19/12/2012

We are the picture that a child draws of a farm – SticK:

A child draws a picture of a farm.

The sun is shining, the water is clean, the animals are happy.

A question could be, ‘What is the name of that picture?’

Our farms, done correctly, are that picture. There’s a heck of a lot of science to validate it as well.

But, like the picture, we’ve never given a name to what and how we do things.

Without a name, we’re undifferentiated from factory farming. . .

Chatham rock phosphate use would drastically reduce farm run-off, says CRP

The solution to run-off of phosphate into waterways lies in more use of direct application rock phosphate fertiliser, according to Chatham Rock Phosphate chief executive Chris Castle.

Mr Castle said a range of scientific studies over many years has shown direct application rock phosphate offers strong environmental benefits.

CRP has evaluated some of the studies undertaken which compare the use of rock phosphate and super phosphate on New Zealand and international farmland. . .

Harvard sells down Kaingaroa stake to Canadian Pension fund, NZ Super fund:

Harvard Management Company, which manages Harvard University’s US$30.7 billion endowment fund, has sold down its stake in the central North Island Kaingaroa forest.

Canada’s public sector pension fund picking up the bulk and the New Zealand Superannuation Fund taking a small bite.

Canada’s C$64.5 billion Public Sector Pension Investment Board will take a 30 percent stake in the 178,000 hectare forest, while the NZ Super Fund lifted its share 1.25 percentage points to 41.25 percent. Harvard Management will keep a 28.75 percent stake in the forestry company. . .

Rabobank’s latest Agribusiness Review for Australia and New Zealand.

Prepared by the bank’s Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory division, the report provides monthly commentary on Australian and New Zealand agricultural conditions.

Key highlights:
• In New Zealand, a tornado triggered by a series of intense thunderstorms caused extensive damage to parts of Auckland on December 6. In Australia, according to the Bureau of Meteorology, the first ‘normal’ summer since 2005/06 is expected. Meanwhile, the Murray-Darling Basin Plan passed through parliament in November and is scheduled to begin transitional implementation in 2013.

• Much of the attention in global markets is focussed on the US fiscal cliff. Despite some positive employment data in the US, consumer and business confidence has been dragged lower by uncertainty surrounding the impact of the fiscal cliff. . .

Dairy herd up – an extra 370 bottles of milk each :

The number of dairy cattle in New Zealand continues to surge, and is up by more than a million since 2007, Statistics New Zealand said today. At 6.5 million, there are 1.2 million more dairy cattle in 2012 than in 2007.

“Dairy numbers have been booming in the last five years. The extra production equates to about 370 2-litre bottles of milk a year for everyone in the country,” agriculture statistics manager Hamish Hill said.

These provisional numbers are from the latest five-yearly agricultural production census. . .

Background for newly elected Fonterra Board member Blue Read:

The newly elected Fonterra board member, North Taranaki dairy farmer Blue Read, is a passionate champion for the cooperative business model.

As chairperson of the Cooperative Business New Zealand (CBNZ), Mr Read led New Zealand’s celebration of the UN International Year of Cooperatives. This included a Parliamentary launch, and crowning Ashburton the Cooperative Capital of New Zealand, along with national and international speaking engagements.

CBNZ executive director Ramsey Margolis said there had been a noticeable surge of interest from start-up businesses opting for the cooperative model over the last year. A number of existing businesses were also looking at converting to a cooperative. . .

Shareholders Vote In Favour Of Board Resolutions At Fonterra Annual Meeting

Fonterra shareholders have voted overwhelming in favour of a resolution to lock in protections around the size of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund and the integrity of the Farmgate Milk Price. . .

Fonterra Protection Voted In

Federated Farmers has welcomed the 89.51 percent vote in favour of constitutional safeguards around Trading Among Farmers (TAF).

“We can finally put the ghost of June’s TAF vote to bed where the concept was backed but not the constitutional safeguards,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson.

“A 89.51 percent vote is nearly as comprehensive as you can possibly get and Fonterra shareholders have shown good judgement. . .

Wools of New Zealand Extends Offer Deadline:

Wools of New Zealand has extended the deadline for its share offer to wool growers to 5:00 pm, 25 February 2013 to ensure growers have been given as much time as possible to consider and connect to the offer. The directors are committed and determined to start.

Mark Shadbolt, chairman of Wools of New Zealand, said the extension had been made to provide every opportunity for growers to take advantage of the offer, which to date had attracted positive support though remained short of the minimum level required of $5 million. The offer aims to raise $10 million from growers to pursue the Wools of New Zealand international marketing and sales strategies. . .


Thanks Henry

18/12/2012

Sir Heny van der Heyden stepped down as chair of Fonterra at the company’s AGM yesterday.

In his final address as chair he said that decisions made by farmer shareholders over the last decade have laid a strong and durable foundation for future growth:

 Taking stock of the changes within the industry over the past 10 -15 years, Sir Henry reflected on the important decisions that had strengthened Fonterra’s global position and returns to farmers.

 “It’s been one huge year after another and every one of them has made us stronger.

 “Together we’ve turned a collection of co-ops into the world’s top dairy exporter.

 “Creating Fonterra was a massive leap of faith on two levels.  We put our faith in a single integrated model – and we put our faith in it succeeding in an entirely deregulated market.  I can say without a shadow of a doubt that we pulled it off,” he said.

 “Fonterra came out of the blocks with $11.8 billion in assets.  We have grown that by 28 per cent to $15 billion.  That’s an outstanding performance.

 “We have done what we set out to do – grow farmers’ wealth ¬– and that’s come through in the value of your land, your shares and your earnings on the farm.”

 Sir Henry said global demand for dairy was the strongest it had ever been and was growing.

 “We need to use all of our muscle to push ahead and stay ahead.  But we will do it our way.  History has shown we are not afraid to make the big calls and make big changes without trading what is really important.”

 Chief Executive Theo Spierings  said since Fonterra’s formation in 2001, the Board and farmer shareholders had made the tough decisions required to position the Co-operative for growth.

“Establishing a Fair Value Share, achieving a transparent Milk Price, and introducing a dividend policy were the first three hurdles.  This year, Trading Among Farmers has delivered permanent share capital and a stable capital base.

 “Looking ahead, our business strategy is to grow volumes, grow value, generate more cash and improve our return on capital. To deliver on this, our future priorities are to:

  • Shift more ingredients sales direct to customers and generate prices higher than Global Dairy Trade;
  • Grow consumer and foodservice volumes;
  • Align our costs and spending so we have the money to invest in areas that will generate growth; and
  • Maintain a balance between environmental, economic and social sustainability.

“We have to start thinking differently about cost – and have already started doing this with our focus on reducing costs by $60 million this financial year.”

 Building a durable co-operative for the future meant Fonterra had to align spending, to make sure resources were directed to the right priorities, said Mr Spierings.

Sir Henry said  that when he took the job on, he wanted to make a difference and leave the Co-operative in a better position at the end of his tenure.

He has done that and its not only shareholders who have benefited from that.

Fonterra also makes a very significant contribution to New Zealand’s economy.

Its milk in schools programme is beginning to make a valuable contribution to education and health.

New chair John Wilson and the other incumbent director Nicola Shadbolt were re-elected to the board. The other vacancy was filled by former Shareholders’ Council chair Blue Read.


Ashburton crowned Cooperative Capital

16/07/2012

Ashburton has been crowned the Cooperative Capital of New Zealand:

The NZ Cooperatives Association has awarded Ashburton the Cooperative Capital title as part of the United Nations 2012 International Year of Cooperatives, which is being recognised by cooperatives around the world.

Cooperative Association chairperson Blue Read says Ashburton’s cooperatives provide for virtually every farming, business and household requirement a community could ever want or need. . . “

Local farmer Jack Allan is a Fonterra milk supplier and a former chairman of the Ashburton Trading Society, now branded ATS. He likes the idea of Mid-Canterbury and Ashburton being branded the cooperative capital.

“Just look at what cooperatives have done for the region and even nationally.” Mr Allan said. “Cooperatively-owned buying groups like ATS have been the catalyst for competitive prices in the rural supplies sector for the entire Canterbury Province and even further afield.” 

“When ATS started we didn’t advertise for members. Farmers saw the benefits and just joined. Most farmers would have recouped their membership fee with their first fertiliser order,” he said. “For farming to be successful we rely on keeping our costs in check and maximising the sale of what we produce.”

Cooperatives are more prolific in rural areas, which is put down to the community knowing their neighbours and a greater readiness in the country to help each other out. . .

Ashburton District Council Mayor Angus McKay said he was delighted with the “Cooperative Capital” title, and is a member of several local cooperative businesses. He is particularly proud of Ashburton Electricity which returns $3 to $5 million (depending on profitability) to the community each year. This includes between $100 and $140 in free line charges for low income families. . .

With more than 40 cooperatives, Ashburton has earned the title of capital.


Fonterra opening forecast up and may go higher

25/05/2010

Fonterra’s opening payout forecast, before retentions,  for the 20 10/11 season is $6.90 – $7.10. That’s a 50 cent increase on this season’s payout.

That includes a milk price of $6.60/kg of milk solids and a distributable profit of 30 – 50 cents a share.

Fonterra chair Sir Henry van der Heyden said if prices and currency stay where they are now for the whole season it’s possible that the payout could be more than $8, however, he warns there’s a lot of volatility in the market.

Experience shows us it would be wise until the money is in the bank before getting too excited about that and budgets should be based on similar prices to those we’ve got this season.

The company is on track to achieve the forecast of $6.50 – $6.60 before retentions.

Fonterra’s Shareholder Council  chair Blue Read issued a media release welcoming the news: 

“With many farmers still feeling the impact of the recent drought this strong forecast cashflow will be most helpful,” said Mr Read. . .

“The positive forecast for next season will be welcomed by Fonterra suppliers but as always, farmers will be remaining vigilant in their farm business management,” said Mr Read.

It will also be welcomed by banks and the people who work for and service dairy farmers.


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