Rural round-up

September 7, 2013

Fonterra crisis: could have done better – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s operational review of the botulinum food-safety scare has identified opportunities when the mess might have been avoided.

Group director of strategy Maury Leyland and her in-house team have also come up with several ways of preventing something like this happening again.

Fonterra said its world-class manufacturing facilities, quality systems, and robust testing regimes were all stress-tested by the incident.

“Overall our systems worked well, while some aspects showed room for further improvement,” Leyland said. . .

Government inquiry critical for New Zealand:

Federated Farmers welcomes the Government’s confirmation of an independent inquiry into the handling of Fonterra’s contamination incident.

“It is critical this inquiry is held to the highest standard and that it remains independent, robust and comes up with meaningful recommendations,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson.

“New Zealand’s reputation as a credible and trusted supplier of food both domestically and internationally, demands this if we are to move forward. It is crucial that we repair any damage to our well deserved reputation as world leader in food safety and trade. . .

Lamb supply model based on dairy industry – Alan Williams:

A new supply offer to lamb producers is a bid to replicate the payment system in the dairy industry, South Canterbury livestock agent Peter Walsh says.

His company, Peter Walsh & Associates (PWA), is offering farmers advance payments of $8 a lamb a month, from the start of lambing through weaning and for a maximum four months.

The total $32 a lamb payment would help farmers with much-needed cash flow, the company said in a note to clients.

The Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) farmer group had concerns about the third-party involvement between farmer and processor, chairman Richard Young said. . .

Canterbury irrigation project wins $2.4m Govt grant:

Canterbury’s vast Hurunui irrigation project has received a shot in the arm with a $2.4 million grant from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ irrigation acceleration fund.

The money will go towards feasibility work on the Waitohi irrigation and hydro scheme, a crucial part of the project that will irrigate the plains and valleys in the Hurunui and Waipara Rivers through four storage reservoirs.

The project is the first to emerge from the Canterbury Water Management Strategy and if the initial study shows the dams can be built. further investment will be required to take the scheme to full feasibility stages. . .

Genomics can fast track tree breeding:

The forest industry is investigating new tree breeding techniques that could more than halve the time it takes to develop new varieties of pine.

The Government is contributing half the cost of a $5 million research programme by the Radiata Pine Breeding Company.

Chief executive John Butcher said using established selective breeding techniques can take up to 30 years to reach the stage of planting new tree varieties. . .

Stratford farmer in breach of Minimum Wage Act:

A Stratford farmer is to pay a former worker wage arrears after the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Labour Inspectorate identified breaches of minimum employment rights.

The case follows Labour Inspectorate action in the dairy sector focussing on employer maintenance of accurate time and wage records.

The Labour Inspectorate found the worker’s pay was averaged across seasons and didn’t meet the minimum wage rate. . .

Seeka first-half profit plunges 92 percent on Psa impact:

Seeka Kiwifruit Industries, the fruit grower and coolstore and packhouse operator, reported a 92 percent dive in first-half profit as the outbreak of Psa-V vine bacteria takes its heaviest toll on certain kiwifruit varieties.

Net profit sank to $672,000, or 5 cents per share, in the six months ended June 30, from $8.5 million, or 59 cents, a year earlier, the Te Puke-based company said in a statement. Revenue dropped 16 percent to $67 million on declining kiwifruit volumes. The most dramatic was the slump in Zespri Hot16A gold to production of just 155,000 trays, compared with 1.2 million trays a year earlier. . .


Rural round-up

August 28, 2012

More milk. less impact achievable – Hugh Stringleman:

The technology exists to lift milk production and manage the environmental impacts of dairy industry development, according to soil scientist Ross Monaghan and environmental consultant Ciaran Keogh, both frontline speakers to the annual Environmental Defence Society conference session called Greening Farming.

Farmers need clear signals from industry leaders and strong extension networks to adopt best practice for environmental sustainability, according to AgResearch senior scientist Ross Monaghan.

“As a technocrat, I believe we have good management options and systems to manage our resources, grow our industries and yet reduce our environmental footprints, he said. . .

Ministry Formally Warns Growers Following Misuse Of Chemical Spray

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has completed an investigation into the misuse of the antibiotic streptomycin on kiwifruit, and 26 growers who admitted using the chemical outside the strict use conditions have been sent a formal warning letter.

The misuse of the compound constitutes a technical breach of the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines (ACVM) Act 1997.

MPI Director Compliance Dean Baigent says MPI approved the use of streptomycin on kiwifruit under strict use conditions to avoid any possibility of chemical residues occurring in fruit. The conditions included a maximum of three spray treatments onto leaves prior to vine flowering. . .

Hunterville Farmer Is The 2012 B+LNZ Young Rancher

Hunterville farmer Peter Fitz-Herbert has been awarded a Beef + Lamb New Zealand agricultural scholarship that will take him to the Five Nations Beef Alliance and Young Ranchers Programme being held in British Columbia, Canada next month.

Peter, who is the stock manager on the Fitz-Herbert family farm, will accompany Beef + Lamb New Zealand Northern North Island Director, James Parsons to the Five Nations Beef Alliance. It is made up of producer organisations from Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the United States and meets annually to discuss global issues and opportunities for the beef sector. . .

Risk expert: banks left farmers in dark –  Rob Stock:

Risk and derivative experts say banks, including ANZ National Bank and Westpac, should not have sold complex interest rate swaps to farmers.

Claims are also emerging that though swaps were sold as “interest rate risk management” tools, unsophisticated farmers lacked the expertise and tools to monitor their position, and were provided with little or no ongoing support or advice to manage their interest rate risks.

One of New Zealand’s best-known risk advisers, Roger Kerr from Asia-Pacific Risk Management, said he believed at least a proportion of the swaps were sold to farmers who did not know what they were buying. . .

Farmers’ bid to revisit divorce deal rejected – Matt Nippert:

A New Plymouth farmer has lost a Court of Appeal bid to recalculate his divorce settlement after judges ruled his sudden recovery from a brain injury and a rapid rise in farm property values could not have been anticipated.

Neil Johnston had been appealing a decision ruling against his claim against a law firm and his court-appointed property manager claiming a five-year delay in settling his divorce left him $780,000 out of pocket. . .

Kiwifruit executive has his hands full – Jamie Ball:

Not even six months in the job but it’s been a week of reckoning for Barry O’Neill, Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) chief executive.

But, cometh the hour cometh the man. The discovery ofPsa-V in two Waikato orchards last week might have taken the wind out of many a sail, but not Mr. O’Neill. It is, after all, what the independent pan-industry organisation was established to minimize in 2010.

With a lengthy career in the biosecurity sector within New Zealand and overseas behind him, Mr. O’Neill, is taking the Psa challenge head-on. . .

Data to be shared in sheep measles’ fight

Confidential information about sheep and deer farmers collected for stopping the spread of sheep measles is about to be shared to strengthen biosecurity in New Zealand.

Ovis Management project manager Dan Lynch said 20,000 sheep and deer farmers’ contact details were obtained from meatworks and held in a confidential database to help control the spread of sheep measles.

The Primary Industries Ministry managed FarmsOnLine and wanted the database details so there could be a swift response in the event of an exotic disease outbreak, such as foot and mouth, he said. “The benefits far outweigh the issues.” . . .

Poppy crop trials continuing – Gerald Piddock:

Australian company Tasmanian Alkaloids is still two to three years away from deciding whether to push for growing pharmaceutical poppies on a commercial basis.

The company has conducted trials of several varieties of the poppies in Canterbury at an undisclosed location, beginning in 2009.

The trials are moving slowly and that decision was still being evaluated, Tasmanian Alkaloids operations manager Rick Rockliff said. . .

Many queries still over plan – Gerald Piddock:

A group of South Canterbury farmers have been left with plenty to ponder as they come to terms with the implications of Environment Canterbury’s Land and Water Plan.

The plan would see new limits brought in on water quality established at a regional and sub-regional level through the zone committees of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.  . .

Rain enough for all but Southland – Annette Scott:

Paddling a kayak out to check on cows has been just one of the challenges faced by southern farmers coping with the rain deluge over the past couple of weeks.

While many regions of the South Island, including Southland, were facing drought conditions following the extreme dry of June and July, that has been rectified at least in Canterbury and Otago.

With up to 300mm of rain recorded in North Otago over the past three weeks, 250mm in South Canterbury and 200mm in Mid Canterbury, most farmers are ready for the sun to dry up sodden farmlands. Southland has capacity for more rain with just 3mm recorded in Gore and 7mm in Invercargill. . .


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