Rural round-up

February 3, 2016

Booklet kicks off Fonterra structure review – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s farmer-shareholders have received a preliminary booklet on the co-operative’s governance and representation, raising many questions but not providing answers.  

It begins a five-month journey to a revised structure more appropriate for Fonterra’s size, complexity and global ambitions.  Farmer-shareholders will be expected to contribute to the review and vote on the final proposal in May. . . 

Rabobank announces new head of Food & Agri Research:

Rabobank Australia & New Zealand Group has announced the appointment of Tim Hunt as new General Manager of its Food & Agribusiness Research (FAR) division.

Mr Hunt takes on the role after five years with Rabobank in New York, where he served in the international position of Global Strategist – Dairy.

In his new role, Mr Hunt will lead Rabobank’s highly-regarded food and agri commodities research team – comprising 10 specialist analysts – in New Zealand and Australia. . . 

Alliance drafter has eye for winner – Sally Rae:

Warwick Howie received a little good-natured ribbing when he won the Paddock to Plate competition at the recent Otago-Taieri A&P Show.

Mr Howie, a drafter for Alliance Group, laughed that he had ‘‘copped a bit of flak” following the victory.

The competition, which attracted 41 entries, has become an annual fixture at the show, with proceeds going to the A&P Society. . . 

Course already tidy for Legends – Sally Rae,

When it comes to maintaining the Tokarahi golf course, greenkeeper Marty McCone has the same philosophy as for his farm – he likes it tidy all the time.

So preparing for this month’s PGA Legends Tour, which is returning to Tokarahi for the second year, did not require an extraordinarily massive effort.

‘‘I try and keep the course up to speed all the time. There’s a lot of little things you do to have it really tip-top,” Mr McCone said. . . 

Synlait revises milk price forecast to $4.20:

Synlait Milk has revised its forecast milk price for the 2015 / 2016 season from $5.00 per kgMS[1] to $4.20 per kgMS.

Chairman Graeme Milne said the revision is driven by the sustained low global commodity prices since September 2015, and a view that the recovery will be slower than anticipated.

“Our previous forecast of $5.00 kgMS expected prices to recover somewhat by this stage in the season, however this hasn’t happened and our revised forecast reflects this,” said Mr Milne. . . 

World Wetlands Day celebrated:

World Wetlands Day is a chance for New Zealanders to find out more about some of the country’s most important natural treasures, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry and Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner say.

To mark the day the Department of Conservation has released a new online resource,Our Estuaries, to help people explore and look after the wetland environment.

“New Zealand has more than 300 estuaries, and they are home to a wide range of native plants, fish and birds,” Ms Barry says. . . 

Rethink needed over dairy farm planting incentives:

The cost and benefits of planting trees to help mitigate environmental effects of dairy farming need to be shared by us all for it to succeed, a new study says.

Evaluation of an agri-environmental program for developing woody green infrastructure within pastoral dairy landscapes: A New Zealand case study says Government incentive programs are ineffective in overcoming barriers to planting such as the higher cost and slow growth of native plants, and the perception of planting being of little direct benefit to farmers’ operations.

Lead author, Lincoln University Landscape Ecology Senior Lecturer, Dr Wendy McWilliam, says the Government and the dairy industry need to work closely together to develop and maintain a landscape-scaled woody vegetation network on both private and public land. . .

Forestry show NZ way to better safety:

A sharp drop in forestry deaths and serious injuries after a massive safety overhaul in 2014 shows what can be achieved when an industry joins together to make improvements, the Business Leaders’ Health and Safety Forum says.

The fall is welcome and sets an example for other industries to follow, says Forum Executive Director Francois Barton.

“Forestry has shown us some of the things that need to be done to bring down high fatality and serious injury rates in an industry,” Francois says. . . 

Good Progress – But More Work to Do to Make Forestry Safe:

A reduction in deaths and serious injuries in forestry since 2013 is encouraging but there is more work to be done yet, the Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC) says.

WorkSafe figures show serious injuries halved to 78 in 2015 from 160 in 2013, FISC National Safety Director Fiona Ewing says.

“The trend is going in the right direction but we can’t rest on our laurels. Three forestry workers died in 2015. That’s well down on the 10 who died in 2013 but it’s up from just one in 2014.. . .

Irrigation scheme loan approved:

An $8 million loan from the Selwyn District Council means design of stage two of a multi-million dollar irrigation scheme can go ahead.

The council approved the loan to Central Plains Water last month, with the money expected to transfer over next week.

But a community group told RNZ News rate payers should not be lending money to fund a private shareholder scheme. . .

Ruataniwha Dam: Investor mix still being finalised:

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s investment company (HBRIC) says work on getting farmers to sign up to buy water from the proposed Ruataniwha Dam is on hold until the project’s investor mix becomes clearer.

HBRIC has been looking for institutional investors to put money into the dam since Trustpower and Ngai Tahu pulled out in early 2014, saying the risks surrounding the dam were too high and the returns too low.

The company said it had countersigned contracts for 31 million cubic metres of water with a minimum of 45 million cubic metres needed to be sold to make construction financially viable.

It said finalising the investor mix for the Ruataniwha Dam was its current focus. . . 

Global slump in fert prices benefits NZ farmers:

New Zealand farmers stand to benefit from significant savings on their farm nutrient inputs with Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ latest round of price reductions, effective 31 January.

The price review sees urea drop $50 to $525, DAP reduce $25 per tonne, sulphate of ammonia by $15 and potash by $10. These changes will flow through to product blends.

Ballance CEO Mark Wynne says the move comes on the back of a global slump in fertiliser prices, driven by strong supply and soft demand. . . 

Lowest urea price since 2007:

Farmers stand to benefit from a $50 per tonne saving for urea from 1st February, when Ravensdown will drop its prices.

Chief Executive Greg Campbell says he is pleased that Ravensdown is again leading on a price reduction for farmers who are facing increasing costs in many aspects of their business whilst their returns are under pressure.

“We said it not long ago, with our recent superphosphate cap,” Greg says, “that we are about delivering all-year value to our shareholders, and we’re demonstrating it again with urea and other products.” . . 


Rural round-up

June 5, 2015

Central Plains Water moves to Stage II planning:

Central Plains Water is proceeding with planning for an enlarged Stage 2 of the $375m project on the back of fresh funding from the Ministry of Primary Industries’ (MPI) Irrigation Accelerator Funding (IAF).

The $3.5 million investment from the IAF will allow CPW to proceed with the first phase of the Stage 2 design. This investment is one of two that the IAF has committed to CPW, which must match the commitment dollar-for-dollar. . .

Rabobank New Zealand announces appointment of new general manager Country Banking:

Rabobank New Zealand has announced the appointment of Hayley Moynihan to the new role of general manager Country Banking.

Subject to regulatory approval from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, Ms Moynihan will commence in the role from July 2, 2015.

Reporting to Rabobank New Zealand chief executive officer Ben Russell, the general manager Country Banking will be responsible for leadership of Rabobank’s rural banking business throughout New Zealand.

 

Farmers urged to have their say on future plans for fighting bovine TB:

New Zealand cattle and deer farmers are being urged to get involved in how the fight against bovine TB is carried out, with a review of the Bovine Tuberculosis Pest Management Plan underway.

Since the start of 2000, New Zealand has spent more than $1.2 billion fighting bovine TB and controlling the pests (especially possums) that spread the disease.

Independent Chair of the Plan Governance Group (PGG) Chris Kelly said, “To protect the health of farmed cattle and deer and our good international trade reputation around animal products, it is critical we continue to build on this large investment and maintain the low TB rates we see today.” . .

Research findings a promising start for PhD student:

Preliminary findings from a research project at the University of Waikato could mean good things for farmers dealing with the effects of ongoing drought.

Increasing drought resilience
Doctoral student Jack Pronger’s research focuses on identifying approaches to increase pastoral drought resilience by using more diverse mixes of pasture species. He’s comparing the seasonal water use of mixed-sward pasture systems (a combination of different grass, legume and herb species) with more traditional ryegrass/clover systems under dairy grazing. . .

Healthy thinking workshops for rural people:

A 1980s era ambulance will be on the road soon, helping to bring practical advice to farmers and others in the rural community about looking after themselves.

It is part of a new programme, Farmstrong, that rural insurer, FMG and the Mental Health Foundation have launched.

It is taking a different approach to other rural mental health initiatives, by promoting well-being, with advice on subjects such as nutrition, managing fatigue, exercise, and coping with pressure. . .

Growing value – an uncertain future:

The uncertain future of the dairy sector is currently top-of-mind for many primary sector leaders, reports KPMG New Zealand.

That was a key theme arising from the KPMG Agribusiness Agenda 2015, titled “Growing Value”.

KPMG’s Global Head of Agribusiness, Ian Proudfoot, says conversations about the dairy industry’s future have “changed dramatically in the last year”.

“The extent of the downturn in milk returns for the 2014/2015 season was not expected. The belief that prices had moved to a new plain, driven by insatiable Chinese demand, has disappeared.”  . . .

Farmers score with new DairyNZ app launching at Fieldays:

A tool to allow farmers to perform one of their most important jobs on a smartphone will soon be available when DairyNZ launches its new free Body Condition Scoring (BCS) App at the National Agricultural Fieldays next week in the Waikato.

The app gives farmers the opportunity to body condition score cows on their smartphone using DairyNZ’s Body Condition Scoring Made Easy field guide.

DairyNZ animal husbandry specialist Andrea Henry says condition scoring cows is such an important job, DairyNZ wanted to make it as easy as possible. . .

Blocks help minimise metabolic disorder risks in herds:

It’s the calm before the calving season and a bit of planning now will help herds get through without the risk of metabolic disorders, such as milk fever, which can lead to downer cows or impact future milk production.

The disorders are prevalent just before or after calving, triggered by an inability to mobilise enough calcium. Subclinical cases of milk fever can be hard to pick up, with industry data indicating that for every downer cow it is likely that between 10 and 15 others in the herd will have early stage milk fever symptoms.

“It’s estimated that the cost of a clinical case of milk fever can reach up to $1,500 per cow* – including lost milk production, reduced fertility, and increased likelihood of culling due to other diseases such as mastitis. Not only is the risk a costly one, it’s also unnecessary,” says SealesWinslow Product Development Manager, Jackie Aveling. . .


Rural round-up

October 24, 2013

Many avoiding discussions on meat industry – Sally Rae:

Wider meat industry discussions over its structure are involving too small a group and there are ”a whole lot of people” not bothering to attend, Alliance Group chief executive Grant Cuff says.

Addressing a shareholders-suppliers meeting in Oamaru this week, Mr Cuff said it seemed an ”awfully big chunk of the industry just doesn’t want to discuss it any further”.

”Those of us that are willing and trying to talk still do, but you can’t do it in isolation,” he said. . .

Critical deadline for Central Plains Water scheme:

For the Central Plains Water Ltd irrigation project to proceed, it needs a minimum shareholder commitment to irrigate 18,000 ha of Stage I of the 60,000ha scheme by October 31.

After 13 years of development, CPWL aims to raise $45 million from shareholders of which $35 million will be used to construct Stage I of the scheme and the remaining to fund the design for Stage II and Stage III and also to contribute to the building of extra capacity in the Stage I headrace to allow for the future stages.

“The deadline is 5pm on October 31 to commit to Stage I Construction Shares and Stage II & III Pre-Construction shares. We need this commitment not only for the viability of the project but also to get on with the tendering process for the scheme construction,” said CEO, Derek Crombie. . .

Even in bad dairy news there is good – Willy Leferink:

Part of my volunteer work at Federated Farmers is handling some tricky stuff from time to time and there’s none trickier when one of our guys let the side down.  I mean of course when a dairy farmer takes the wrong fork in the road and rightly gets nabbed for it.  I’ve heard heaps of stories that farming is like some secret society in that, nudge nudge, wink wink, we look after one another and look the other way.   That view is wrong.

We have a good story to tell given water quality is trending in the right direction according to the Ministry for the Environment.  There are plans to light the after burners on what we do environmentally given positive payout forecasts.  I’ve also read that a group of scientists writing in Nature say pastoral agriculture helps to form clouds.  Given clouds reflect the sun’s energy and trap moisture they help to keep the earth a temperate place to be.  Could our cows, sheep, goats and crops be climate heroes; that’s effectively what one environmental professor at Auckland University wrote in the NZ Herald.

But you cannot shout from the rooftops about what we do well without owning what we don’t do so well.  . .

Radio NZ journalist takes Rongo Award:

Radio New Zealand’s Country Life programme came up trumps at this year’s Agricultural Journalism Awards.

Susan Murray won the TBFree New Zealand Rongo Award for two programmes that featured in Country Life.

That’s the top award for agricultural journalists in the country. . .

Primary Growth Partnership delivering major results:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming more success stories from the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) scheme, with five major projects announcing breakthroughs this month.

“The programme ‘Transforming the Dairy Value Chain’ is helping to develop a patented technology for developing frozen mozzarella cheese in one day rather than the previous two months. Last week Fonterra announced a new $72 million investment into its Clandeboye plant near Timaru to expand production of this cheese.

“It has also helped DairyNZ and Rezare Systems, with support from Beef and Lamb NZ, to develop the ‘Pasture Growth Forecaster’. This is an online tool to predict pasture growth up to 15 days and two months ahead, which will be a great tool for many farmers. . . .

Forrest Wines recognised in Asia for outstanding quality:

The John Forrest Collection Waitaki Valley Pinot Noir 2010 has added another accolade to its name receiving a gold medal at the Decanter Asia Wine Awards.

Co-chaired by Jeannie Cho Lee MW, the first Asian Master of Wine and a Contributing Editor to Decanter, and Steven Spurrier, Chairman of the Decanter World Wine Awards and Decanter’s Consultant Editor, the Decanter Asia Wine Awards aims to recognise quality wines and provide consumers across Asia with a trusted source of recommendations.

The John Forrest Collection range celebrates the best of New Zealand wine from family owned land in key wine producing regions, made from carefully selected grapes and only in the best years. The Waitaki Valley in North Otago is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with for premium Pinot Noir production, offering a unique style. . . .

Amisfield Wine Company Pinot Noir Wins Top Asia Trophy:

Queenstown’s Amisfield Wine Company has beaten stiff competition to take out a top trophy in the largest wine competition in Asia.

The company’s 2010 Pinot Noir has been awarded the New Zealand Regional Pinot Noir Trophy, Best in Show and a prestigious Gold Medal in the Decanter Asia Wine Awards (DAWA) announced today (October 23).

Judging took place in Hong Kong late last month, with over 40 top wine experts from across Asia joining the judging panel.

DAWA is the continent’s largest wine competition in its second year running with over 2,300 entrants from all over the world. . .

Cattermoles Butchery in Kaiapoi has won the Supreme Gold Award in the 100% NZ Ham Competition:

Just in time for Christmas New Zealand’s finest ham has been revealed following the 100% New Zealand Ham Competition. Cattermoles Butchery in Kaiapoi, Canterbury has taken out the supreme award for their sugar cured, leg ham on the bone.

The competition celebrates the finest bone-in and boneless hams crafted by New Zealand butchers using only 100% New Zealand pork. The four judges of the ‘Grand Final’ round were unanimous that Cattermoles delivered the most “ham-tastic” experience of aroma, texture, taste and all-important colour.

With nearly twenty years as Cattermoles Butchery owner, Chris Beach is absolutely delighted to step up to the supreme award, after coming away with Silver in 2012. . . .


Rural round-up

June 1, 2013

Dairy company looks to process all year round:

Westland Milk Products says its move into higher value nutritional products is paying off with increased orders.

The company makes a range of protein products, buttermilk powder and anhydrous milk fat (AMF).

The dairy co-operative commissioned a new infant formula plant at its Hokitika base last year which will continue processing through June and July to meet the orders it is getting.

The company is also encouraging some of its farmers to milk all year round to make better use of its processing facilities. . .

Central Plains water users to raise $56m

Shareholders of Central Plains Water, set up to draw water for irrigation from Canterbury’s Rakaia and Waimakiriri rivers, have indicated their commitment to the equity component of a looming $140 million capital raising.

The equity component has not yet been finalised but is likely to be 30 percent to 40 percent of the total, chief executive Derek Crombie says. That means shareholders would be tapped for up to $56 million. The company expects to lodge a prospectus by the end of June.

“We’ve approached all the shareholders and have indicative commitments at the 95 percent level,” Mr Crombie told BusinessDesk. The final funding split will depend on feedback from banks and other financiers “but indications from banks are that it’s do-able”. . .

Salmonella hits southern farmers – Annette Scott:

An outbreak of salmonella has left hundreds of sheep dead and many Southland farmers devastated.

“This has been very debilitating for the farmers whose farms have been hit. It is a frustrating thing to get caught in, demoralising and gutting for farmers already struggling with low returns,” Gore sheep and beef farmer Andrew Morrison said.

Morrison’s farm has not been affected but two neighbouring properties have.

“And that leaves farmers asking the question, what have I done wrong? They have done nothing wrong. That is the nature of farming – it can be hellish,” Morrison said. . .

Joe Ludwig launches national food plan to grow industry – Samantha Hawley:

Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig has unveiled a new plan designed to grow the local food industry and put Australia on the world food map.

First promised in the 2010 election campaign, the National Food Plan includes a multi-million-dollar research fund to help Australian producers capitalise on the so-called Asian “dining boom”.

There is also funding to better brand Australian food exports.

“It’s about helping domestic opportunities find connections in Asia,” Mr Ludwig said. . .

Finding Francoise – Moon Over Martinborough:

“Jared, I have bad news for you,” CJ said.  “Francoise is missing.”

I stared at CJ in disbelief. I had just come back to the property after a week away for work. “Francoise? Missing? What do you mean?”

CJ shook his head. “I’ve looked everywhere. I haven’t seen her in two days.”

“That’s impossible. She can’t just be gone. I mean, chickens don’t just disappear without a trace.” . .


Rural round-up

November 30, 2012

On the hoof – Sally  Rae:

The West Coast, where tradition and time appear to stand still, folk heroes are born, and the compelling scenery in all directions is as attention-grabbing as the sandflies, and where the annual Haast cattle sale is a firm fixture on the farming calendar. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae and illustrations editor Stephen Jaquiery went along for a look.

Looking to the future, John (J. J.) Nolan believes eventually there might not be a cattle sale at the Turnbull saleyards at Haast.

With the advent of modern technology, he reckons 1000 head of cattle could potentially be sold one day in a video sale, in the pub, over a cold beer. But he hopes that he never sees that happen.

For the Nolan family – household names in Westland since first arriving at Jackson Bay in 1885 – have been taking their cattle to sales for generations. . .

Stud proves a winner – Sally Rae:

Stud breeding is in Wayne Williams’ blood.

Mr Williams and his wife Maggie own Glacier Horned Herefords at Fox Glacier, continuing a tradition that started back in the 1940s when his grandfather established a Hereford stud, then named Bluedale stud.

Slideshow: Haast cattle sale

After he moved to Canterbury and took some of the cattle with him, Mr Williams’ father took over the farm and the stud name was changed to Glacier Horned Herefords.

Sustainability efforts awarded:

Taranaki laundry and dry cleaning operation La Nuova Apparelmaster and Wairarapa farming business Aohanga are among those honoured in the 2012 Sustainable 60 awards, announced in Auckland this evening.

The Sustainable 60 awards recognise firms which incorporate sustainable practices into the operation and management of their businesses. . .

Sheep, beef and forestry agribusiness Aohanga takes out the award for Strategy and Governance.

It is a Maori incorporation with a firm focus on the future. The hapu has continuously held its land in the Northern Wairarapa since pre-European times, and has written a 100-year business plan taking it to 2100. . .

Rabobank 2013 Commodities Outlook: Agri markets to remain volatile as fundamentals ‘rebalance on a tightrope’:

Volatility in agri commodity prices looks set to continue into 2013, according to a report from Rabobank’s Agri Commodity Markets Research department. This will be particularly true for grain and oilseeds markets, with a supply squeeze in the first six months expected to push prices higher, before an expected production rebound leads to a weakening in prices in the second half of the year. The report says soymeal is the commodity likely to show the largest price decline by the end of 2013. In contrast, Rabobank analysts expect palm oil to be the strongest performer, as Chinese imports and biofuel demand drive prices higher after the sell-off in 2012. The soft commodity markets should continue in the same vein as this year, with prices expected to be relatively range bound.. . . 

BEEFLAMBNZ.COM Wins Prestigious Website Award:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand scooped the hotly contested prize for best private sector website at this year’s WriteMark New Zealand Plain English Awards.

The annual awards honour the organisations and people who are trying to make the world a better place by banishing jargon and gobbledygook.

The judges said: “This is certainly the best entry in the category. Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s farmer website shows a strong commitment to plain English. The purpose is really clear and the pages show plain language, active verbs, and short sentences. Useful summaries and clear navigation help site visitors quickly find what they need.” . .

Fonterra Australia-NZ boss leaves after regional rejig – Paul McBeth

Fonterra Cooperative Group’s Australia New Zealand managing director John Doumani will leave the dairy exporter after the company rejigged its regional boundaries.

The cooperative, fresh from raising $525 million through its shareholders’ fund to reduce shareholder redemption risk, has reorganised its consumer businesses to combine Australia and New Zealand with the ASEAN/Middle East/North Africa unit, it said in a statement. Sydney-based Doumani signalled he will leave the dairy exporter in March next year due to the restructuring, it said. . .

Dairying women prepare to challenge their boundaries at annual conference:

Hundreds of women who work in the dairy industry will be tackling some of the big issues that affect today’s farmers including the rural/urban divide, environmental constraints and developing future leaders, when they get together at the Dairy Women Network’s annual conference in March 2013.

The line-up of high calibre keynote speakers includes Olympic rowing gold medal winner Mahe Drysdale.

The two-day conference at Nelson’s Rutherford Hotel, starting on 20 March 2013, is themed ‘Taking down the boundary fences’. . .

Chairman of Central Plains Water steps down

Pat Morrison, chairman of Central Plains Water Ltd since 2003, has retired from the position but will remain on the board as a director.

An integral part the project since its inception in 2000, he believes the time is now right to hand over the reins.

“Having been involved right through the resource consenting phase, and with the scheme now moving into the design and construction stage, it is an appropriate time to hand over the role to CPWL Director and newly appointed Acting Chairman, Doug Catherwood who has been deputy chairman. . .

Three Months, Three Trophies, One Wine:

Coopers Creek’s Select Vineyards Albariño 2012 has won its third Trophy in three months.

It’s been dubbed “The Wine of the Summer”.

Back in late August at the New Zealand wine industry’s Bragato Conference, Coopers Creek Select Vineyards Gisborne Albariño 2012 was awarded its first Trophy. This was a surprising and impressive result for a young wine, new to this country and only in its second vintage. Just over a month later, in early October, the “Bell-Ringer” as it’s affectionately known, secured its second Trophy at the International Aromatic Wine Competition. Then last weekend at the celebration dinner for the country’s most prestigious competition, the Air New Zealand Wine Awards, the news of a third Trophy for the Albariño! . .


Central Plains irrigation scheme no go

April 5, 2009

Commissioners for the Central Plains Water hearing have indicated they will be turning down large parts of the consent application for the $400 million plan to irrigate 60,000 hectares of land.

It is easy to sit at a distance and see the benefits of irrigation not just for farmers but the wider community and national economy. The lake would also provide opportunities for fishing, swimming and boating.

But I can also see how people who would lose their homes and farms would be opposed to the scheme.

However, what concerns me most is that people have had their lives on hold for eight years while the planning and consent process grinds expensively on and the waiting is not over yet.

There has to be a better, cheaper and faster way than this regardless of whether you are for or against the scheme.


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