Rural round-up

March 16, 2014

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Board elects a new Chairman:

Northland farmer and Northern North Island Farmer Director for Beef + Lamb New Zealand James Parsons has been elected Chairman of the farmer-owned organisation.

Parsons was elected Chairman at a meeting of the board that followed the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Annual Meeting in Feilding yesterday.

Parsons said he was honoured to have the opportunity to contribute to the sheep and beef sector through the work of Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

“Beef + Lamb New Zealand is a vehicle for farmers to invest as a group, in work that they couldn’t do alone. Much of the core research and information we need in order to achieve greater profitability on our farms simply wouldn’t exist without farmer investment through Beef + Lamb New Zealand.” . . .

Fonterra needs more capital – Keith Woodford:

This is an outstanding year for dairy farmers with record farm-gate milk prices. Barring another major drought, national milk production records will also be set. But for Fonterra it is not a good year.

The problem is that Fonterra itself lacks fundamental profitability. Indeed if Fonterra were this year to pay its farmers the price which Fonterra’s Milk Price Manual calculations say it should be paying, then Fonterra would make a big loss.

Fonterra’s solution for 2014 is to build capital by retaining some 70c per kg milksolids (i.e. per kg of fat plus protein) from the theoretical milk price. This will see about $1 billion retained in Fonterra’s bank account, which in turn will avoid major new borrowings. . . .

Giant DHL moves on from fracas – Tim Fulton:

South Island farming giant Dairy Holdings Ltd believes it has emerged stronger on the other side of an ownership dispute involving titans of New Zealand farming. Chief executive Colin Glass talks to Tim Fulton about DHL’s approach to its 300 staff, its governance and industry outlook.

Dairy Holdings Ltd (DHL) could strictly be classed as a corporate, although its chief executive Colin Glass squirms at the word.

The business owns more than 50 farms and milks about 40,000 cows on more than 14,000ha but prides itself on another statistic – the number of staff it has helped into farm ownership.

Making the step from contract milker or sharemilker to outright farm ownership was difficult but not impossible, Glass said. . .

Where next for the badger cull? – Philip Case:

The future of the badger cull in England has been cast in doubt after a leaked report concluded the pilots in the South West were not effective.

Details of the long-awaited independent scientific assessment of last year’s trial culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset, seen by the BBC, claimed they fell short of their targets .

The Independent Expert Panel (IEP), which was appointed by DEFRA to evaluate the pilots, has apparently also concluded they failed the test for humaneness, after 5% of culled badgers took longer than five minutes to die.

On public safety, however, it is understood the panel will report there were no issues. . .

Dairy Industry Winners Focused On Debt Reduction:

The winners of the 2014 West Coast Top of the South Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year competition, Chris and Carla Staples, are focused on reducing debt and increasing equity.

The couple, who won $11,300 in prizes, are positioning themselves to take the next step to farm ownership.

The other major winners at the 2014 West Coast Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards were Jason Macbeth, the region’s Farm Manager of the Year, and Amy White, winner of the Dairy Trainee of the Year title. . . .

Weather or weevils? It pays to check:

Is it the weather or is it weevils? That’s the question farmers should be asking if poor pasture growth is threatening on-farm productivity.

Clover root weevil is being reported across the country and especially in the Lower South Island where its prevalence is particularly high this summer. Nodules on clover roots fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and provide a ‘free’ form of nitrogen fertiliser. Weevils feeding on them disturb the nitrogen fixing with subsequent damage to foliage and pasture quality.

“Many farmers may be putting slower pasture or animal growth rates down to lack of sunshine and overcast weather given the mixed summer we have had. However clover root weevil may also be an issue on their properties and is often a hidden cause of poor pasture productivity,” says Ballance Agri-Nutrients Research and Development Manager Warwick Catto. . .

NZ Whisky proclaimed one of the world’s best:

He’s believed to have visited more whisky distilleries than anyone on earth and Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible boasts over 4,500 whiskies. But few score 94 points or higher, so Murray has created a special symbol for the handful of whiskies that earn the status ‘Liquid Gold.’

In a great start to 2014 for the New Zealand Whisky Company, Jim Murray’s latest edition hot off the press in London, sees the South Island Single Malt 21 y.o. scored at 95 points, placing it in the highly coveted category. This is the first time ever that a New Zealand whisky has scored so high and been anointed ‘Liquid Gold’.  

“This is a salute to the craftsmanship of the Dunedin distillers,” says company CEO Greg Ramsay. “Being recognised as one of the world’s great whiskies by Jim Murray, that’s the ultimate endorsement of your dram and all the Dunedin distillers like Cyril Yates can be proud that what they were doing in the 80s and 90s in New Zealand, was every bit as good as what the Scots were doing over in Speyside and on Islay.”  . . .


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