Rural round-up

August 15, 2016

Unreliable rain reduces sheep numbers – Kate Taylor:

The seasons are changing at Patoka Station and less reliable rainfall is affecting the way it’s farmed. Kate Taylor reports.

It looks green but the grass is much shorter than normal for late winter on Patoka Station in Hawke’s Bay.

That picture is about to change, though owners Ben and Suzie Crosse are unaware of it as they discuss their upcoming lambing, starting from August 31. A storm is approaching the central North Island and will dump 190mm of freezing-cold rain on the 1200ha farm.

The farm has monthly records going back to 1948 but the rainfall hasn’t been reliable lately, Ben says. . . 

Biggest year’ ever for avocado growers

With avocados back on the menu, New Zealand growers are gearing up for their best season ever.

That’s according to John Carroll, director of the country’s largest exporter Avoco, who says his firm expects to ship off about 3.2 million trays of the fruit in the coming months.

In total, 5.1 million trays, about 28,000 tonnes, are predicted to depart our shores, mainly bound for Australia and Asia. . . 

Forest industry’s challenge to manage supply fluctuations:

The pan forest and timber processing industry organisation, the New Zealand Wood Council (Woodco) says there is a supply challenge for many regions in the domestic processing industry.

Woodco Chair, Brian Stanley says timber processors are being hindered by a current lack of logs, especially in the higher grades.

He says small scale woodlot owners are being enticed into quick export contracts instead, where the buyers are not providing the domestic processors with an opportunity to purchase these logs. . . 

Deputy PM Bill English visits Blue River dairy factory – Dave Nicoll:

It was a bit surreal for Deputy Prime Minister Bill English to see award winning cheeses named after places his mother grew up.

English made a special visit to the Blue River Dairy factory in Invercargill on Friday as part of a trip to the Southland region.

Blue River Dairy produced a number of award winning cheeses, and milk powder from sheep milk and has expanded into exporting sheep milk baby formula into China. . . 

Fonterra Announces New Palm Products Sourcing Standard:

Fonterra has adopted a new standard for sourcing of palm products as part of its commitment to sustainability.

The standard was developed in consultation with key supply partners, and it follows discussions with Greenpeace that began in December 2015 to strengthen Fonterra’s existing sustainable palm products sourcing procedures.

“The new standard requires us to purchase only segregated supply palm oil by 2018, and to work with suppliers of palm products to ensure that plans are in place for full traceability to plantation by 2018,” said Fonterra’s Director of Social Responsibility, Carolyn Mortland. . . 

Action to help farming productivity in Manawatu-Whanganui:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says $465,000 towards primary sector initiatives in the ‘Accelerate 25 Manawatū-Whanganui Economic Action Plan’ launched today will make a real difference to the region.

“Manawatū-Whanganui has the largest sheep flock and beef herds of any region in the country, and half of New Zealand’s lamb exports come from within two hours’ drive of Feilding. We need farming to do well to drive economic prosperity here,” says Mr Guy.

Speaking at Ross and Wendy Humphrey’s farm in Cheltenham, Mr Guy says much of the funding will be used for information sharing to lift productivity.   . . 

Report shows good results from flood recovery money:

A report on Government assistance to farmers following the June 2015 Taranaki-Horizons storm shows that good results were achieved, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

“These storms had a major impact on the region and caused widespread damage, so it’s pleasing to see that Government funding has made a real difference,” says Mr Guy.

“The storm on 18-20 June 2015 brought widespread heavy rainfall, flooding and erosion to the Taranaki and Horizons regions. Hill sheep and beef farmers were particularly affected by flooding of river margins and damage to tracks and fences, with damage also to dairy land and young forest plantations.” . . 

Wools of New Zealand well set for end of grower-funding

Wools of New Zealand (WNZ) Chairman Mark Shadbolt says the company is making strong commercial progress with an expected maiden profit for the 2016 financial year.

Shadbolt was responding to a recent shareholder comment in a local rural newspaper that the company would “almost certainly fail” without income from farmers’ Wool Market Development Commitment (WMDC).

“To the contrary, WNZ is making investments that are reducing the company’s reliance on the WMDC.” . .

Commission releases draft report on Fonterra’s 2015/16 base milk price calculation:

The Commerce Commission today released its draft report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2015/16 dairy season. The base milk price is the price Fonterra pays to farmers for raw milk and it is currently set by Fonterra at $3.90 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2015/16 season just ended. The report does not cover the forecast 2016/17 price of $4.25 that Fonterra recently announced.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s calculation each year at the end of the dairy season under the milk price monitoring regime in the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA).

Deputy Chair Sue Begg said Fonterra’s calculation of the 2015/16 base milk price is consistent with both the efficiency and contestability purposes of DIRA. . . 


Rural round-up

February 2, 2015

Blue River Dairy Sells Invercargill Processing Plant to Chinese Interests:

New Zealand’s leading sheep milk powder producer, Blue River Dairy, has sold its Nith Street, Invercargill processing plant to Blueriver (HK) Nutrition Company Limited (hereinafter referred to as ‘Blueriver Nutrition HK’) for an undisclosed sum.

The deal is effective from 1 February and no jobs will be lost at the plant. Conversely, significant new investment at the plant is planned by Blueriver Nutrition HK with the likely addition of a second drier and up to $40m in new development. This will likely create additional jobs in construction and production, both on-plant and on-farm, over the next five years.

Blueriver Nutrition HK will continue to process Blue River milk as part of the sale with Blue River, who will concentrate on expanding its milk production on-farm to meet growing demand. . .

NZ lamb wool price jumps to 3 1/2 year high on increased demand – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand lamb wool prices rose to a three-and-a-half year high at auctions this week on increased demand for the fibre used in clothing, as buyers benefited from a decline in the local currency.

The price for lamb wool in the North Island auction jumped 30 cents to $6.40 per kilogram, from last week’s North Island auction, while the South Island auction price rose to $6.25/kg on lower volumes, according to AgriHQ. The prices are the highest for lamb wool since July 2011.

The price for 35-micron clean wool, a benchmark for crossbred wool used for carpets and accounting for the majority of New Zealand’s production, rose to $5.05/kg in the North Island and $5.10/kg in the South Island, from $4.85/kg the previous week. Merino wool didn’t trade at the latest auctions. . .

Fonterra’s US licence blunder human error:

Fonterra has admitted human error has cost the dairy giant its multi-million dollar licence to export cheese to the United States.

In a statement the co-operative said it missed its deadline to apply for the licence, and will now have to sell its cheese to the US by arranging deals with other licenced New Zealand exporters.

“Due to human error, a deadline was missed which meant that Fonterra (USA) failed to apply in time for licences to import New Zealand cheese into the USA in 2015,” said Fonterra director global ingredients Kelvin Wickham. . .

Synlait revises forecast of market milk price to $4.40:

Synlait Milk has today revised its forecast of the market milk price for the FY2015 season down from $5.00 per kgMS to $4.40 per kgMS, along with a corresponding decrease in advance rates to farmers.

Synlait Chairman Graeme Milne said this revision is the result of several factors at play in the global market, which are causing continued downward pressure on milk prices.

“Low commodity prices are persisting as the global market struggles with the current over supply of milk products,” said Mr Milne. . .

 

 

Unless you're in the middle of a blizzard. Maybe wait a bit and *then* plant some trees. But that's totally your call. Thanks for the image, Give A Shit About Nature!

 

 


Rural round-up

July 24, 2014

 

 

Kiwi red meat really starting to sizzle – Graham Turley:

“When the first shipment of red meat sailed from Dunedin in 1882, it was a turning point for New Zealand’s economy. Now the red meat sector faces another turning point having lost out to dairy as NZ’s star export.

For the past two decades red meat’s low profits, lack of reinvestment, wide differences in performance between farms and a troubling misalignment between farmers, processors, and markets, have seen its glorious past recede into memory.

On-farm production figures show how the gap with dairy has grown. Between 1993 and 2013 dairy farmers increased per hectare output from just over 600kg of milk solids a hectare to over 1,000kg, while production of meat and fibre per hectare was almost flat, averaging about 130kg. . . .

The dominant role of agribusiness co-operatives – Keith Woodford:

Last week I wrote about the Farmlands co-operative which, together with other co-operatives dominate the farm supplies sector. I suggested that farmers have a natural affinity for co-operatives. This is because these co-operatives, which are owned by the farmer members, exist for the purpose of working in farmers’ interests.

Whereas Farmlands and similar co-operatives such as RD1 and Ashburton trading Society (ATS) are merchant traders who have their own retail stores, there is also a range of other farmer co-operatives that supply specific and specialist inputs, either directly to farmers or through the merchants.

Most notable of the specialist supply co-operatives are the Ravensdown Fertiliser and the Ballance Agri-Nutrients co-operatives. They are of similar size, each with about $1 billion of annual revenue. Between them, they have over 90% of the fertiliser market. . .

 Speech to GIA signing with NZ Pork – Nathan Guy:

It’s great to be here today to witness the signing of the Government Industry Agreement Deed by the New Zealand Pork Industry.

This is a historic day. It’s the result of the hard work over several years of both industry and government to realise the benefits of working in partnership. 

There is a simple but important principle behind the GIA: by working together, we are stronger.

This agreement means we can share our expertise, experience and knowledge to make joint decisions on biosecurity readiness and response.

Those with a direct stake in biosecurity can now be directly involved in decision making and funding.

In May this year, the Kiwifruit industry became the first signatory to the GIA Deed. I’m very pleased to have the pork industry onboard as the first animal sector industry into GIA. . .

 

Is the future for our sheep their milk? Peter Kerr:

Being the farm raised boy I am, I’m keen on the idea of clever new and profitable products from our ability to convert sunlight, soil and water into them.

So, Blue River Dairy, the sheep milk products company which is over 10 years old, is something to keep an eye on.

It is the creation of Keith Neylon, a 60-something entrepreneur, who has had previous lives in deer recovery (owned 10 helicopters at one stage) and salmon farming (co-pioneered its development in NZ) among other things.

He was semi-talked into exploring sheep milk potential by a meat company chairman – and saw opportunity. . .

Looking for a home where the buffalo roam? – Nick Heydon:

A PROPERTY that previously grew bananas and was more recently home to cattle has been transformed over the past couple of years into what is a highly unusual rural listing – a wildlife retreat home to deer, buffalo and a range of other species.

Some cattle do still remain on the 311 hectare (770ac) Queensland property “Mountain Creek”, abut 30 kilometres south west of Gympie, but when current owners Michael and Kate Read purchased the grazing land they decided to fulfil a dream of building up a wilderness retreat.

Selling reluctantly for health reasons, the Reads have decided to offer the property on a walk-in walk-out basis with animals included in the sale, meaning buyers can take advantage of much of the hard work that has gone into selecting species for this rare offering. . . .

 


Rural round-up

April 1, 2014

Venison industry at the crossroads – Keith Woodford:

In recent years the venison industry has gone backwards. Total farmed deer numbers declined from about 1.8 million in 2005 to 1.1 million in 2011. The most recent 2013 annual slaughter statistics show that 53% of slaughtered animals were females. This is a sure sign of ongoing retreat. So what has gone wrong and what can be fixed?

Back in the 1980s, AgResearch data from Invermay Research Station suggested that red deer were more efficient at converting grass to meat than non-deer species. We now know that on an overall farm system basis that notion was wrong.

The female deer reproductive system has been designed by nature to only produce one progeny per year. This productive disadvantage would not matter too much if the price premium was large, and for a long time this was the case. . . .

New conservation fund announced:

A Community Conservation Partnership Fund to support the work of voluntary organisations undertaking natural heritage and recreation projects was launched today by Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith at the opening of the new Hoddy Estuary Park in Nelson.

“Thousands of New Zealanders contribute to conservation by building tracks, controlling pests, planting trees, and restoring native wildlife. This new fund is about the Government providing finance for the plants, traps, poisons, equipment and coordination to support this voluntary work,” Dr Smith says.

The new fund of $26 million over the next four years is to be distributed to community organisations in an annual contestable funding round of between $6 million and $7 million a year. Projects may be funded over multiple years, reflecting the time it takes to complete projects of this sort. . .

Chatham Rock, would-be seabed phosphate miner, files second EEZ marine consent application:

(BusinessDesk) – Chatham Rock Phosphate, which wants to mine phosphate nodules from the seafloor on the Chatham Rise, has submitted a draft marine consent application to the Environmental Protection Authority.

The application is the second to be submitted under new EEZ legislation. TransTasman Resources, which wants to hoover ironsands off the seafloor more than 20 kilometres off the coast from Patea is currently going through the first ever hearings under the new regime.

CRP’s application comes after more than four years’ work and $25 million of investment in environmental impact assessments, market evaluation, and development of relationships with mining partners, most notably Dutch dredging firm Royal Boskalis. . .

Investment over decade shows merit of ewe’s milk – Alison Rudd:

A decade ago, Southland businessman Keith Neylon did not know the first thing about sheep’s milk.

Now his company, Blue River Dairy, milks more than 10,000 ewes daily; runs a factory turning out butter, five cheese varieties, ice cream and milk powder; exports products to seven countries; and has just launched sheep’s milk infant formula on the New Zealand and Chinese markets.

Reporter Allison Rudd spoke to the agricultural innovator.

Keith Neylon nurses a cup of coffee in the cafe and tasting room at the Blue River Dairy factory, formerly the Invercargill town milk supply plant. He’s in the middle of an interview, but he still has his eye on his customers. . .

Pilot training course in deer handling to start :

A training course in how to manage and handle farmed deer has been developed, with a pilot run starting in Southland next month.

For several years, training opportunities had been very limited so a 12-month level 3 training course had been developed to ”fill the gap”, Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) producer manager Tony Pearse said.

A pilot block course is being held at Netherdale deer stud at Balfour on April 9, followed by one in South Canterbury in the spring. After that course ended, there would be courses in the North and South Islands in response to a hopefully increasing demand, Mr Pearse said. . .

Fake products risk NZ honey exports:

A Waikato University scientist says there is a risk that fraudulent products will wreck the international reputation of New Zealand honey exports.

Associate Professor Merilyn Manley-Harris says it is extremely urgent that New Zealand sets up standardised labelling of honey, especially the lucrative manuka variety.

New Zealand produced more than 16,000 tonnes of honey in 2012 and 2013 and in 2012 honey exports were worth $120 million with manuka honey making up about 90 per centof that.

The Ministry of Primary Industries has formed two working groups to come up with a robust labelling guideline for manuka honey – one made up of scientists and one from the industry. . .

 


Rural round-up

September 25, 2011

Rural contractors say review needed – Sally Rae:

Rural Contractors New Zealand has welcomed a review of    transport rules affecting agricultural contractors, describing    it as “great news”.   

Associate Transport Minister Nathan Guy said the Government      was about to begin a review. It wanted to make sure the rules      ensured public safety without imposing unnecessary red tape . . .

Arable farming career excites graduate – Sally Rae:

Hannah Priergaard-Petersen reckons she has the perfect    first job. Ms Priergaard-Petersen has been employed as a trials    officer at the Foundation for Arable Research (Far), following    her stint as a Far summer scholar in 2010-11.   

Brought up in a farm in northern Southland, she recently      completed a bachelor of science degree at the University of      Canterbury, majoring in biological sciences . . .

Young stock judge tackles Australia – Sally Rae:

A great learning experience” is how young Otago stock judge Will Gibson describes representing New Zealand at the Royal      Adelaide Show in Australia.   

 Will (18), a pupil at John McGlashan College, competed in the junior merino judging competition earlier this month, against      the six Australian state finalists.   

 He was among a small group of young New Zealanders who participated in stock judging and handling competitions at      the show.   

 New Zealand Young Rural Achiever Cath Lyall, from Raes Junction, also represented New Zealand at the event.  

New focus sought for Waituna – Kimberly Crayton-Brown:

Farmers in the Waituna catchment fear they may lose their farms, meaning talk must focus on solutions and not problems, a senior Environment Southland staff member says.

Council chief executive Ciaran Keogh said people needed to be thinking about a response, not a threat. “We have got a problem and we need to get people talking about answers which we are not doing at the moment. People are starting to feel threatened so let’s lift the discussion out of the confrontational things.”

Mr Keogh said at the moment farmers had this great fear they were going to lose their farms . . .

Sheep milking operation continues to expand – Collette Devlin:

Losing his seat at the general election this year could be enough for Deputy Prime Minister Bill English to return to a farming life, with sheep milking one option.

Southland’s leading sheep milking operation Blue River Dairy hosted Mr English last week, including a visit to the milking shed run by Keith Neylon in Antler Downs.

Blue River Diary has another milking operation in Brydone, Invercargill. Both farms milk non-stop for 12 months . . .

Demographics alter consumer demand patterns – Allan Barber:

Demographic changes will present challenges for the red meat sector in spite of apparently unstoppable world population growth. Several speakers at the Red Meat Sector Conference made reference to the possible effects of these changes over the next 40 years, some of which will be positive, like the growth of the Indian and Chinese middle class, and others negative.

The most obvious challenge will be the ageing of the population in first world countries, because older people eat less and require more single portion meat cuts . . .

RMSS conference reveals templates to learn from:

THE RED Meat Sector Strategy report, issued in May, said what needed to be done. Now Beef + Lamb NZ and the Meat Industry Association have run up another clutch of signal flags.  

Others in agriculture are seen to be doing some of the things the RMSS report suggested, so they were invited to tell their stories at a recent conference. Their successes stemmed from growers and consumers being in harmony . . .

Merino meat next on the menu – Owen Hembry:

A new sheep industry initiative aiming to replicate the branding success of high country merino wool with premium priced meat products is heading to high-end restaurant plates.

The New Zealand Merino Company and processor co-operative Silver Fern Farms have formed a joint venture and launched a premium brand called Silere Alpine Merino, which will sell for about 10 to 15 per cent more than normal meat . . .

Choose good tucker and chew slowly – Alan Emmerson:

I was really intrigued with the statistics as to how many of the world’s people were starving and how many were obese. Out of a world population approaching seven billion people, one billion are hungry.

Similarly one billion are overweight with 300 million classed as obese. In the United States with a population of 311 million, 10 million are starving and 105 million are obese. Obesity is a massive problem, not much is heard of it and, worse, New Zealand is the third most obese nation in the world. It is, indeed, a crisis . . .

Seeking farmer contorl of wool – Tony Leggett:

A new company formed to raise capital to invest in the wool sector is already shrouded in controversy.

The New Zealand Wool Investment Company (to be known as WoolCo) is a 50:50 joint venture between the farmer-owned and listed wool innovation firm Wool Equities Limited (WEL) and Christchurch merchant bankers Ocean Partners.

It announced plans last Friday to attempt to raise $40 million capital to buy the 65% stake in Wool Services International (WSI), formerly held by two companies associated with Allan Hubbard but now controlled by a receiver . . .

Crafar not guilty in dirty farming trial

Reporoa dairy farmer Glen Walter Crafar has been found not guilty by a Rotorua District Court  jury of one charge of dirty dairying . . .

Farmers fearful over rustler raids – Greg Stack:

Stolen livestock and gunshots on the wild west coast have Waikato farmers fearing for their safety, with one stopping vehicle access to a popular fishing spot in response.

Livestock rustling, a problem more common in a Western film, has hit Waikato’s west coast as the tail of the recession squeezes the isolated farming community . . .

Divisions over apple marketing – Gerald Piddock:

Waipopo Orchards is taking a wait and see approach following a split in the apple industry over the best way to exploit the newly opened Australian market.

The split came following the results of a recent postal ballot that showed while 73 per cent of growers with 72 per cent of the export crop voted to support adopting a Horticultural Export Authority (HEA) model for the Australian market, just 37 per cent of exporters with 43 per cent of the fruit backed the proposal . . .

Farm sales on the rise – Gerald Piddock:

Farm sales nationally for the year to August topped 1000 for the first time in almost two years, according the Real Estate Institute.

“The underlying trend is rising. We are seeing enquiry emerging for quality properties,” rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said.

The improvement was based on expectations for commodity prices to hold or in some cases firm slightly as the season progressed, he said . . .

Herbal pasture clovers challenge our concept of what a dairy pasture looks like – Pasture to Profit:

The dawning of a new age OR a Storm of Innovation? A group of very innovative pasture based dairyfarmers in the UK are challenging our concept of what a pasture looks like. Farmers are experimenting with Herbal Clover pastures. Lots of different mixes of herbs with white clover to provide the nitrogen. Over the past two weeks I’ve been very lucky to work with 2 French groups (one farmer group from Brittany & an Organic Dairy Advisers group from Normandy) visiting SW England. We were on both conventional & organic pasture based dairy
farms . . .


Palm oil out of chocolate, camel milk in

August 17, 2009

Consumers rule – Cadbury has bowed to pressure  from customers upset by the company’s decision to add palm oil to its chocolate.

They’re dumping the oil and reverting to the original recipe which uses cocoa butter.

They are also sticking to the glass and a half of milk of which they boast and as far as I know that’s dairy milk.

On the other side of the world that’s not the case. Al Nassma  a Dubai-based company is producing camel milk chocolate.

If the good people of Dubai can do it with camels, why can’t we do it with sheep?

Whitestone and Blue River Dairy both produce tasty sheeps milk cheese, Blue River also makes sheeps milk ice cream.

There might be a niche for sheeps milk chocolate too – it would have to be good for ewe 🙂

Hat Tip: The NZ Week.


Cheesemakers may be allowed to keep the bugs

May 23, 2009

The Chesdale Cheese featured in the previous post is at one end of the gastronomic spectrum.

New Zealand also has some very fine examples from the gorumet end, produced by boutique cheese makers such as Whitestone and Blue River.

However, cheese aficionados claim that these cheeses lack the x factor because they have to be made from pasteurised milk and the pasteurisation process which kills the bad bugs also kills the good bacteria which produce the finest flavour.

This may be about to change.

The Food Safety Authority  has mooted a change to allow some cheeses to be produced from unpasteurised milk.

NZFSA’s technical standards and systems assistant director Scott Crerar says under current food regulations, only a small range of unpasteurised milk products are imported and sold. The proposed rules released today for discussion would allow the production, sale, export and import of unpasteurised milk products that have an acceptable bacterial safety level.

“Many local manufacturers support the plan to address inconsistencies in the law that allow some raw milk cheeses made overseas to be imported whilst domestic manufacturers may not make their own equivalent products,” Scott says. “There is also support for the system from consumers who relish the thought of being able to enjoy a wider range of these products.”

. . . The proposed framework recognises some unpasteurised milk products can be produced so they pose a low food safety risk to the general population. However, vulnerable consumers – such as babies and toddlers under three, the frail elderly, expectant mothers and people with weakened immune systems – need to avoid eating them. The proposals include strategies to manage risks for vulnerable consumers by making them aware unpasteurised milk products can pose a higher risk than traditional pasteurised products.

The cheese group which poses no more health risk than pasteurised cheese, including extra-hard grating Parmesan-style raw milk cheeses, can be produced under existing dairy requirements.

The group which includes Roquefort, don’t pose much risk to the general population so could be produced with awhat they call a strategy to manage the risk to vulnerable people and we’d call warnings.

 A third group cannot currently be produced to an acceptable level of safety for the general population so will not be allowed to be produced in New Zealand, or imported.

Products able to be made under the proposed system would have special physical or chemical characteristics and/or be subjected to processing techniques that mean any surviving bacteria would be at safe levels.

The FSA plans to hold workshops in June to outline the proposals and they’ve got a discussion paper with more details.

One concern is that any  problems with gourmet cheese could impact on the reputation of our dairy produce in general and threaten exports markets.

But if other countries manage to produce cheese with unpastuerised milk without endangering their citizens, we ought to be able to find a way to do it here.


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