Rural round-up

April 9, 2014

North Island drought ‘worse than last year’:

Drought conditions are “worse than last year”, according to some North Island farmers.

Farmers across the North Island are desperate for rain after months of dry, windy weather, despite the Government saying the problem isn’t widespread enough for a drought to be declared, says forecaster WeatherWatch.

Some have had very little rain since the end of last year.

King Country farmer Dick Lancaster says conditions near Taumarunui are worse than last year’s drought.

“Natural stock water has dried up and northern-facing hills are becoming dusty and lifeless.” . . .

Blue Sky Meats strengthens Chinese ties after exporter pays premium for 11% of company  – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Blue Sky Meats has strengthened ties with China, its largest market by volume and value, after two Auckland-based businessmen paid a premium for 11 percent of the unprofitable meat processor.

Cook Huang and Qiang Zheng acquired the Blue Sky holding from Danish casings company DAT-Schaub Group for $2.33 million, or $1.80 a share in an off market share transfer, according to a Blue Sky statement to the Unlisted platform. Their investment vehicle, Blue Star Corp, is now the third-largest shareholder of Blue Sky. Its shares last traded at $1.10.

Huang exports New Zealand red meat, spring water, juice and chocolate to China through a separate company he set up in September, Everlast International, and with his business partner Zheng, he had been looking for a suitable investment.

Blue Sky had a good management team and produced quality meat and “we want to share” in its growth, he said. He expects it to make “good profits” in 2014. Huang also operates an immigration consultancy in Auckland called Everlast Consultancy. . .

Consent for new dryer welcomed:

Westland Milk Products welcomes the approval of its land-use consent application to the Westland District Council for a new dairy nutritionals dryer on its Hokitika site.

Subject to there being no appeals over the next 15 working days, Westland expects work on the $102 million project to commence almost immediately.

General Manager Operations Bernard May says Westland is pleased that the conditions imposed by the commissioner who heard the application are within the scope expected by Westland and, indeed, several are conditions the company itself suggested as part of its efforts to work with potential objectors to address their concerns. . .

Fonterra appoints interim MD International Farming Ventures:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited announced today the interim appointment of Henk Bles to the newly-created role of Managing Director International Farming Ventures.

Mr Bles has held leadership roles in the international dairy farming industry for more than 30 years, in dairy cattle, genetics and dairy development.

Henk is also a proven entrepreneur, who has established his own businesses: Bles Dairies Livestock BV; Bles Dairies Genetics / Eurostar Genes; and dairy development company The Friesian.  He also holds an advisory position with Semex Global and is a board member for the Dutch Cattle Association. . .

Farm company fined over tractor death:

Waikato company, Sundale Farms Limited, has been fined $25,400 over the death of a worker killed by a runaway remote controlled tractor.

Gursharan Singh was on his second day on the job harvesting broccoli in March last year when he was pulled under the wheels of a tractor at Sundale Farm’s Pukekawa farm.

Mr Singh was attempting to reach the tractor’s controls after it had accelerated unexpectedly from its normal speed of 0.3 kilometres an hour to 6.7 kilometres an hour. He was caught by the left hand rear wheel of the tractor and pulled to the ground and run over.

The tractor, which was towing a trailer for the loading of broccoli, was operated via a remote control system so that a driver was not required to sit at the controls. . .

NZ dairy awards finalists confirmed:

The search for the best in New Zealand’s dairy industry has been narrowed down to 33 finalists across three categories.

National awards convener Chris Keeping said many finalists were relatively new to the industry, having changed careers, and were tapping into the resources and knowledge available to boost their farm businesses and make rapid progress in the industry.

“Entering the dairy industry awards is one way they have identified they can improve their knowledge and skills, meet rural professionals and other like-minded farmers, lift their confidence, have some fun and enhance their reputation,” she said.

Award categories are sharemilker-equity farmer of the year, farm manager and dairy trainee.     . .

Generosity impresses dairy industry trainee:

The willingness of farmers to share their knowledge is one of the reasons a young Taranaki award-winner loves the dairy industry.

Ben Frost, who won the 2014 Taranaki Dairy Trainee of the Year title, works on the 130ha Upper Glenn Rd farm of James Murphy, near Kapuni.

Murphy, who won the 2007 Taranaki Sharemilker of the Year title with sister and brother-in-law Catherine and Chris Cook, said he was proud of Frost’s achievements and believed the 21-year-old’s attitude and willingness to learn gave him a big future in the dairy industry.

Frost, who loves farming and being in the outdoors, is progressing to a farm manager’s position in June on Murphy’s 450-cow split calving farm where he is currently second in charge and in the midst of calving 200 cows. . .

Ambitious new PGP programme for avocado industry:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming an ambitious new Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme for the avocado industry, which aims to triple productivity and quadruple returns by 2023.

‘Go Global’ is an $8.56 million programme, with $4.28 million coming from the Government via PGP funding. It will be a five year partnership between the Avocado Industry Council and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

“This is the first PGP programme involving the horticultural industry and will help the industry work together to capitalise on the growing demand here and overseas.

“Australia is currently the biggest market for New Zealand avocado, but this project will help expansion into Asian countries where there is major potential. . .

New Zealand Avocados set to “Go Global” with New Government Partnership:

The Avocado Industry Council announced today it will partner with the Ministry for Primary Industries in a new Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme called Go Global— a five year programme to increase the productivity and capability within the avocado industry to deliver significant additional returns for New Zealand.

Jen Scoular, Chief Executive Officer of Avocado Industry Council, says it is a landmark development for the avocado industry that will increase sales to more than a quarter of a billion dollars by 2023.

“This PGP programme will create significant value across the industry, helping position New Zealand’s avocado industry to capitalise on the growing demand domestically and in Asia, for premium, safe, and healthy produce. Part of this will involve developing a New Zealand avocado story to highlight the health and versatility of our avocados,” says Scoular. . .

 


120 cows dead in accident

December 10, 2012

The death of one cow is a blow to a dairy farmer, 120 at once is a catastrophe.

A Whakatane dairy farmer is rallying farmers across the country to help a South Taranaki couple who had 120 cows die on their farm this week.

About 15 vets rushed to the Oeo farm of Chris and Catherine Cook on Tuesday but could not save the dying animals, part of a herd of 600 and worth an estimated $400,000.

Vets are not saying what caused the deaths but had ruled out nitrate poisoning this morning. . .

Whakatane dairy farmer Rod McPherson is calling on fellow farmers to help the Cooks out.

McPherson had contacted Fonterra to arrange for anyone who wanted to donate a cow to help rebuild the couple’s livelihood to get in touch. . .

Mrs Cook’s brother, John Murphy, said this morning the family was not ready to speak but was grateful for all the support they had received.

The couple, who have a young family, said farmers had offered them cows and people were taking meals to their house. 

The wider community, including Fonterra and DairyNZ, was supporting the couple.

About 20 cows were still sick and were being looked after and milked only once a day. 

The rest of the herd was fine.

Murphy said he thought it would be a long time before the couple were ready to talk about their ordeal. 

Meanwhile, Newstalk ZB has reported this morning the cows died after a water trough was topped up with a portable tank used earlier to dissolve nitrogen.

But Taranaki Veterinary centre chief executive Stephen Hopkinson, of Hawera, said he would not release the cause without the permission of his clients.

“It’ll be up the family to make that decision – when they’re ready to discuss it,” he said.

“But to avoid scaremongering, I can say it’s not nitrate poisoning.”  . . .

The Cooks are former Taranaki Sharemilker of the Year winners.

Good sharemilkers know their cows individually. These deaths will be an emotional and financial blow to them.

We had TB in our herd a few years ago and had to kill a lot of stock. It was a very difficult time but at least compensation is available for that.

It’s too expensive to insure stock for accidental death and farmers accept the odd loss as inevitable but none would expect to lose 20% of their herd.

The Farming Show is seeking donations to help the couple.


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