Rural round-up

November 28, 2013

Good Environmental Management No Add-On, Say Farming Ambassadors:

“Sustainability must be built into everyday farming, not bolted on”, was one of the key messages delivered to agribusiness and industry leaders by Canterbury farming ambassadors Roz and Craige Mackenzie.

National Winners of the 2013 Ballance Farm Environment Awards, the Mackenzies recently met with key industry stakeholders to promote good environmental practices and swap ideas on how to improve environmental management.

The five-day trip in November was organised by the New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust and included an address to the Primary Production Select Committee.

The Mackenzies also met with sponsors of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards and were impressed with how these organisations had taken the sustainability message to heart. . .

Equity partnership options to buy into a farm:

Equity partnerships offer an opportunity for young farmers and smaller investors to take part in the rise in farm values driven by high dairy payouts and continuing confidence in the long-term future of agriculture, says Justin Geddes, Crowe Horwath’s Dunedin-based Principal.

“Equity partnerships are a great vehicle to grow your own wealth for both farmers and investors,” said Mr Geddes.

The capital cost of running an economic farm unit runs to several million dollars, and one of the pressing issues facing the rural sector is how to get young farmers into farm ownership. . .

Fonterra Australia finalises purchase of Tamar Valley Dairy assets:

Fonterra Australia today finalised the purchase of the assets of Tasmanian yoghurt business, Tamar Valley Dairy. The Tamar Valley Dairy business is now under full Fonterra ownership and management.

Under the terms of the sale, Fonterra has acquired the processing equipment, the related services, and intellectual property and trademark for the Tamar Valley Dairy brand. Fonterra worked closely with Deloitte Restructuring Services to achieve the completed sale.

Importantly, 122 positions of the Tamar Valley Dairy workforce will now transition to Fonterra to ensure the right skill-set and expertise are available to ensure continuity of operations and the long-term sustainability of the business. Regrettably, 18 roles are not required and have been made redundant by the Administrator. . .

Fonterra Wins National Accounting Award:

Two of Fonterra’s senior finance managers picked up the 2013 Innovation of the Year Award at last night’s New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants Awards in Auckland.

Patrice Wynen, Director, Finance Delivery Centre, and Ken Stephens, General Manager Reporting Services, were recognised for a new month-end financial acceleration projects that reduced Fonterra’s group reporting time by 50 per cent.

Through the project, Fonterra’s group month-end financial close was reduced from six days down to just three. The reduction was achieved in less than eight months and without any form of technology change. . . .

Comvita posts 1H loss of $790k on margin squeeze – Paul McBeth:

Comvita, which makes health products from Manuka honey, reported a first-half small loss as its margins were squeezed by expensive honey and as trading conditions in Australia and the UK were stretched by stiff competition.

The Te Puke-based company made a loss of $790,000, or 2.7 cents per share, in the six months ended Sept. 30, from a profit of $2.39 million, or 7.95 cents, a year earlier, it said in a statement. Sales fell 4.6 percent to $43.4 million.

That was in line with guidance last month, and Comvita affirmed its annual forecast to beat last year’s profit of $7.4 million and sales of $103.5 million, with about 60 percent of revenue expected to come in the second half. . .

ANZ Young Farmer Contest sets sights on Taupo:

The ANZ Young Farmer Contest is pleased to announce the 2015 Grand Final events will be held in Taupo.

The decision comes after a unanimous vote by the ANZ Young Farmer Contest Management Committee.

The ANZ Young Farmer Contest alternates between the North Island and the South Island each year. This year it was held in Auckland and the upcoming 2014 Grand Final will be in Christchurch, 3-5 July.

“After three Grand Finals based in larger metropolitan areas, I think the 2015 ANZ Young Farmer Contest Grand Final hosted in an increasingly agricultural area will go down as one of the most exciting and well-run events in the history of New Zealand Young Farmers,” said Terry Copeland, New Zealand Young Farmers CEO. . .

Trust announces Christmas present for the New Zealand wine industry:

Directors of Wine Competition Ltd, the company that owns and organises the Spiegelau International Wine Competition and Marlborough Wine Show, have established a Trust to fund initiatives designed to enhance the success of the New Zealand wine industry.

Margaret Cresswell and Belinda Jackson established Wine Competition Ltd in 2011as an independent company that owns and organises wine competitions and associated events in New Zealand. Knowing that there were a significant number of unopened bottles following the judging process, the pair decided to establish a Trust to which these bottles were donated. The Trust then auctions the wine with the objective of returning the ensuing funds to the industry.

Trustee, Belinda Jackson explains, “Producers pay to submit their wines for the judging process and send us samples. Though we request the least number possible – just three bottles, we feel strongly that those not used should be returned to the industry somehow.” She continues, “The easiest way is to monetise them and then offer that money back in the form of funding for industry grants and scholarships.” . . .

Queenstown trophy station on market Chris Hutching:

Sothebys in Queenstown is marketing Homestead Bay overlooking Lake Wakatipu on Remarkables Station next to Jack’s Point golf resort.

The trophy property has been owned by three generations of the Jardine family after being founded in 1861 by Queenstown’s first European settler William Rees. The 45ha site comes with development potential for a resort village plus 27 less intensive building sites.

The station is a working farm that descends down terraces to the lake. . . .

Exporting New Zealand forward:

Federated Farmers is buoyed by surging primary exports that has turned in the lowest trade deficit for an October month since the mid-1990s.

“These export trade figures when coupled with the New Zealand Institute for Economic Research’s outlook for 2014 tells me we are turning the corner,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“The primary industries have got our collective foot to the floor and in the month of October by value alone, dairy exports surged an incredible 84.7 percent, followed by logs (26.2 percent), red meat (9.4 percent), fish (5.7 percent) and wine (3.2 percent).

“Of our big six primary exports fruit admittedly did go backwards but the trend overall is positive. . .

NZ winery first in southern hemisphere to trade with bitcoin:

A small high-end winery in North Canterbury is set to become the first wine business in the southern hemisphere to accept bitcoin payment to make transactions easier for its strong domestic and international customer base.

Pyramid Valley Vineyards, Waikairi, produces collectable wines in New Zealand and sees the new currency as a development in line with its innovative approach to business.

“It’s exciting times we live in and bitcoin is a movement that is gaining huge international traction as a currency that is borderless,” says Caine Thompson, managing director of Pyramid Valley. “We’re increasingly getting requests from our international customers to be able to pay with bitcoin, particularly for our exclusive Home Collection wines. They don’t want to be worried about exchange rates and costly transaction fees.” . . .

Record year as NZ Racing Board continues transformation:

At the NZ Racing Board AGM, held at the Head Office in Wellington today, the NZ Racing Board reflected on a record-breaking financial year and outlined its ambitious vision and goals for the future.

Financial achievements in 2013 included a record turnover of $1,956.8m, and record distributions of $147.7m to the racing industry and sporting organisations.

Speaking at the AGM, NZ Racing Board Chair Glenda Hughes said the organisation and the industry still faced significant challenges, and ongoing transformation and a collaborative approach is key to further, sustained success for an industry that contributes almost 1% of GDP. . .


Rural round-up

August 2, 2013

Debt puts pressure on large companies to achieve solution – Allan Barber:

If there was ever a compelling reason for the meat companies to sort out the problems of procurement competition and excess capacity, the debt levels on the balance sheets of the big three at the end of last season provide one.

Between them they stacked up combined current and non-current borrowings of $710 million, 45% of these on Silver Fern Farms’ books, 28% on Alliance’s and 27% on ANZCO’s. No wonder they can’t afford another loss-making year like 2011/12 which makes this year so important for getting back into as healthy a condition as possible.

The forecast livestock volumes, especially sheep and lambs, for the next four years place a great deal of pressure on the companies to find a solution urgently before procurement competition breaks out yet again. MPI’s Situation and Outlook Report which came out in June predicts a gradual recovery in values, but livestock numbers and export tonnages are virtually static or declining, because of the effects of the drought, herd and flock rebuilding and the impact of dairy on land use. . .

Ballance pays record rebate after record performance:

 Ballance Agri-Nutrients shareholders are in line for a record rebate and dividend of $65/tonne, along with a recommended 60 cent increase in the value of their co-operative’s shares to $8.10.

The rebate averaging $60.83 per tonne and a fully imputed dividend of 10 cents per share will be paid out nearly six weeks earlier during mid-August, with Ballance Chairman David Graham saying the payment has been brought forward to reward shareholders and assist them with cash flows at the start of the season.

“The drought may be over but the financial impacts are not, so we are fast-tracking the payment for shareholders in recognition of that so they can gain the full benefits of a good year for their co-operative as quickly as possible.” . . .

AgResearch creating the ‘Silicon Valley of Food’

 With food being to New Zealand what ‘Silicon Valley’ is to the United States’ technology sector, Federated Farmers is backing AgResearch’s strategic move to create two major research campuses supplemented by two smaller ones.

“Federated Farmers is backing AgResearch in what is an important strategic move for it and New Zealand,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President.

“Its masterplan is about supporting primary exports to reach $64 billion by 2025.

“We cannot deny there is a human element to this change and while 40 positions are slated to go, the actual number will be low given this is a four- year transition. That said, it will require a number of staff and their families to consider where their long-term futures lie.

“Federated Farmers is encouraged to see that no staff will be required to relocate until 2016. . .

Reduce nitrate leaching with mobile milking system – Milking on the Moove:

Unconventional ways to reduce nitrate leaching

Part 1 
A few weeks ago I explained how agroforestry is a farming system that is able to reduce nitrate leaching.

Part 2
Today I will talk about how a dairy farming system based around a mobile cowshed is able to reduce the level of nitrate leaching.

A traditional cowshed is in a fixed location. The cows have to be within walking distance of the cowshed because they need to get milked twice a day.

The main cause of nitrate leaching on dairy farms in the cows urine patch.

For this reason, the cows are always grazed on the same block of land surrounding the cowshed. . .

Honouring the unsung young heroes of the Hawke’s Bay wine industry:

Moore Stephens Markhams Young Viticulturist of the Year Competition Friday 2 August 2013.

Hawke’s Bay is internationally renowned for its wine. The local wineries and winemakers are household names, with exceptional reputations in New Zealand and further afield.

Less well known, but just as crucial to the crafting of world-beating wine, are the viticulturists. They are intimately involved in all aspects of vineyard management; their extraordinary knowledge ensuring winemakers have the best possible grapes to work with after each harvest.

The region’s best up-and-coming viticulturists are being honoured on Friday 2 August at the Moore Stephens Markhams Young Viticulturist of the Year Competition. This is being held at Mission Estate – their viticulturist Caine Thompson took out the Hawke’s Bay competition in 2009. He went on to win the national awards, before being named New Zealand Young Horticulturist of the Year. . .

Technology could be future boon for kiwifruit growers:

A new online system is being developed that might one day help kiwifruit growers make decisions on when to spray orchards for pests and diseases. The system is in the early stages of development in a joint project between the University of Waikato and Plant & Food Research (PFR).

The web-based tool is should help reduce time and costs associated with pest monitoring in kiwifruit orchards and spray application.

The current process of physically monitoring pest levels is time consuming, says University of Waikato summer research scholarship student Michael Fowke.

“Spraying is a necessary exercise for growers and a lot of time is spent trying to identify when or whether spraying is needed,” he says. “It will need a lot more testing in the field but potentially this system could cut that time down considerably.” . .

Iwi Suggests To Pull Plug on Dam:

At a Hui an Iwi held at Matahiwi marae last night, Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated was asked by several Heretaunga hapū to oppose the Ruataniwha Dam project on their behalf.

The main reasons given were inadequate consultation, selective information release, and the failure by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to recognize and acknowledge the Tino Rangatiratanga that hapū had exercised over rivers and water bodies from time immemorial. . .

Keen-To-Learn Farmer Turns to Ballance Farm Environment Awards for Information and Inspiration:

Returning to the family farm five years ago was an in-the-deep-end experience for Waikato farmer James Bailey and his wife Ella.

‘Momona’, a 440ha (effective) Tirau sheep and beef farm, had been in the Bailey family for five generations, so James was eager to start off on the right foot. While he was mindful of the work performed by past generations, he was also keen to improve the environmental sustainability of the business.

James, a keen surfer, is co-founder of Sustainable Coastlines – an award-winning registered charity that organises coastal clean-ups, educational programmes and riparian plantings. . .


Rural round-up

October 16, 2012

Bacteria Are Smart Survivors, Including PSA – Sue Edmonds:

The PSA bacteria (Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae) isn’t just attacking New Zealand kiwifruit vines. Now considered a pandemic, it has spread to twelve countries.

First recorded in China in 1984, attempts to curtail its spread are not working very well here, with affected vines being removed, and copper and streptomycin sprays proving ineffectual.

Fred Harvey of Te Puke, a relatively small grower who has been using biological methods focused on soil and vine health, had heard reports from Italy that things were improving there. Although his orchard has some PSA infection, he wasn’t convinced that the advice being given to New Zealand growers was the total answer. So he took a trip to a major Italian growing area south of Rome, and spent four days interviewing kiwifruit orchardists whose revised systems were showing both lowered rates of infection and increased harvests. . .

Mission Estate’s revolutionary new technique could minimise major economic threat to New Zealand’s vineyards:

It’s the often-invisible virus that lowers vineyard yields and affects wine quality, making it arguably the most economically damaging threat to the New Zealand wine industry.

Now, a world first indicator grafting technique developed by Mission Estate Viticulturist Caine Thompson and Professor Gerhard Pietersen from the University of Pretoria, South Africa could identify leaf roll virus in white varieties before it takes hold. . .

If we imagine beyond the actuality of how we produce – Pasture Harmonies:

Science has served New Zealand agriculture extremely well. It should and needs to do so in the future.

It is also that pragmatic rationale approach that has delivered and developed a wonderfully integrated on-farm representation of responsible pastoralism.

Put another way, we’ve engineered a farming solution that makes best use of the temperate climate and relatively thin, bony, young soils of New Zealand.

We are one of the few countries in the world where farmers aren’t peasants.

We tend to take it so much for granted, that what we have, what we project from (most of) our farming, is ‘normal’. In doing so we forget what it looks like. . .

Ministry for Primary Industries’ Strategy 2030 – Allan Barber:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has set itself an ambitious strategy to 2030 with the subtitle ‘Growing and protecting New Zealand.’ In its introduction, the Ministry asks ‘Why this strategy?’ which it answers by saying a re-balancing of the economy towards more productive sources of growth is required and New Zealand must trade itself to greater growth and prosperity.

When one considers that 71 cents in every dollar of merchandise export earnings come from the primary sector, there are no prizes for guessing where most of this is expected to come from. The Government’s strategic growth agenda contains the goal of increasing the ratio of exports to GDP from 30% to 40% of GDP by 2025, so clearly agriculture will be expected to generate the majority of this increase. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand support Café Challenge

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is teaming up with NZX Agri on an initiative to create a greater understanding of the agriculture sector.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive Officer, Dr Scott Champion said the two organisations were working together on the Café Challenge, a light hearted initiative to get rural publications onto the magazine racks of city cafes.

“We want to share positive farming stories with city folk and a great way to do that is to ensure rural publications are among the magazines they read in city cafes.” . . .

Hey, Farmer man, What Are You Doing? that’s Not Your Land. NZ’s State-Run Farms – Life Behind the Iron Drape:

I’m in the process of penning a piece regarding Tyler Cowan’s interesting Great Stagnation Thesis, as it may apply to farming in New Zealand, and much sooner than might be thought with a Labour/Green government artificially stopping on-farm innovation and taxing the last life out of the sector from 2014 – for the good of the environment, of course – however, in the interim, there is one frightening connection between farming in New Zealand and China, that has nothing to do with the Labour/Green/NZ First xenophobia regarding Chinese investment, that may also feed into this: it’s the out-of-control, indebted state, again, and it’s destruction of private property rights as a means for its survival. . .

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