Rural round-up

October 5, 2016

The rise of China’s agriculture – Keith Woodford:

Although it leaves many New Zealanders uncomfortable, there is a stark reality that the future of New Zealand’s agricultural industries, and hence the overall economy, is highly dependent on China. The reason is very simple: there is no-one else in the world who needs and wants our agricultural products at the levels we produce those products.

If action were driven by logic, then we would spend a lot of effort in trying to understand China.   We would want to understand Chinese consumers, we would want to understand Chinese government policy towards agriculture, and we would want to understand what is happening on the ground in rural China.

We do know something about all of these things, but we don’t know enough.  In particular, we know very little about what is happening within Chinese agriculture itself.

New meat strategy positive – MIA:

 Beef+Lamb NZ’s new red meat marketing strategy results from a step-up in collaboration by the wider red meat sector, says Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie.

And the new approach is not without valuable precedent. The refocused strategy, with BLNZ directing promotional efforts to new markets, is similar to decades ago when North American and Japanese markets were targeted after Britain joined the European Union (then known as the Common Market), Ritchie says. . . 

Dairy-specific science facility secured for Southland:

A new dairy research and demonstration farm being developed in Southland will ensure the local dairy sector continually has access to the latest science and innovation, Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce says.

The Southern Dairy Hub is being funded by AgResearch, DairyNZ and the Southern Dairy Development Trust, which represents the region’s dairy farmers.

The investment recognises the scale and importance of dairying in the Southern region and aims to address the unique significant localised issues faced by Southland dairy farmers. . . 

Wilson urges farmers to back changes:

One week out from an important vote for New Zealand’s biggest company, Fonterra Chairman John Wilson is urging farmers to back changes to the cooperative’s governance and representation.

This would mean Fonterra can stay focussed on making the most from farmers’ milk and growing farmers’ wealth, he says.  

“Over the past eight months there has been a lot of good discussion on the unique governance structure of the cooperative,” Wilson says. . . 

Access to food essential to better urban planning:

Access to staples of the New Zealand food basket, such as carrots, potatoes, onions and leafy greens, must be a consideration on the table in urban planning, says Horticulture New Zealand Chief Executive Mike Chapman.

Horticulture New Zealand has made a submission on the Productivity Commission’s draft report Better Urban Planning.

The draft report suggests different ways of delivering urban planning in New Zealand to meet changing demands. . . 

International butchery at its best – Rod Slater:

 I headed over to Australia last month with our national butchery team, The Pure South Sharp Blacks, and four of our most talented young butchers. Our mission: To compete in the World Butchers’ Challenge – a three hour cutting test match between four nations; Australia, France, the UK and New Zealand.

The curtainraiser was an incredible showdown between an international group of young butchers and butcher apprentices.

The event unfolded with a week touring the best butcher shops in both Sydney and the Gold Coast and as always upon visiting Australia, our delegation was truly impressed by what was on offer. . . 

Image may contain: cloud, sky and outdoor

Farm girl to do list: wake up, kick butt, repeat.

 


Rural round-up

April 26, 2015

China’s illegal meat trade hugs – Alan Williams:

As much as 80% of China’s meat imports could be taken in through the so-called Grey Market, dwarfing the level of New Zealand shipments sent in through highly-regulated official channels.

Most of the grey trade is beef and about half of it is from India, shipped in via Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand or Cambodia, international reports indicate.

The illegal trading has come to light again after about US$1 billion of food, including meat, was seized by Chinese authorities and 100 people were arrested.  . .

Kumera are transgenic – Grant Jacobs:

Kumara have a long history in New Zealand, being brought here by early Polynesian settlers and are well-known to Kiwis.[1]

They’re a crop that has been cultivated in South America for about 8,000 years that have been spread to other parts of the world.[1]

Research just published show that they are transgenic plants, plants with genes from other species in them. . .

Farm Prices Steady but Sales Volumes Falling in March Quarter:

Summary

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 47 fewer farm sales (-10%) for the three months ended March 2015 than for the three months ended March 2014. Overall, there were 425 farm sales in the three months to end of March 2015, compared to 464 farm sales for the three months ended February 2015 (-8.4%) and 472 farm sales for the three months to the end of March 2014. 1,802 farms were sold in the year to February 2015, 2.2% fewer than were sold in the year to March 2014. . .

Mint bull to go down in history on hall of fame:

An elite artificial breeding bull that has delivered a significant contribution to dairy farms nationwide will forever be recognised as one of the very best after being inducted into LIC’s prestigious Hall of Fame last week.

Fairmont Mint-Edition, a Holstein-Friesian sire bred by Barry and Linda Old of Morrinsville, is the 53rd animal to be recognised on the Hall of Fame in more than 50 years of artificial breeding in New Zealand. . .

 

Dairy Awards Finals Judges Clock up the Km’s:

Final judging in the 2015 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards is underway, with judges set to travel thousands of kilometres and the length and breadth of the country to select the winners.

“There’s a lot at stake for the finalists as success in any one of the competitions can open up considerable opportunities and be career and life-changing,” national convenor Chris Keeping says.

“It’s also a time when both the finalists and judges gain from participating in the awards – through learning about their farm business, defining goals and identifying opportunities to make improvements.” . . .

New general manager appointed at DairyNZ:

DairyNZ has appointed Andrew Reid as its new general manager of extension, the role that leads the industry body’s regional consulting officer teams.

Andrew will start in the position on 4 May.

Andrew was previously general manager of sales with Ballance Agri-Nutrients, leading a field team of 120. . .

 

 

Last Grand Finalist Confirmed in ANZ Young Farmer Contest:

Douglas McGregor is the seventh Grand Finalist to be named in the 2015 ANZ Young Farmer Contest.

The thirty year old dairy farmer took first place at the Northern Regional Final in Dargaville on Saturday 18 April after a very tense and closely scored competition.

Mr McGregor went home with a prize pack worth over $10,000 including cash, scholarships and products and services from ANZ, FMG, Lincoln University, Ravensdown, AGMARDT, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone.
This was Douglas’s second attempt at Regional Final level of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest. Douglas is a very active member of the Bay of Island Young Farmers Club and is the Northern Region Vice-Chairman. Douglas was competing against 26 year old Anna Simpson, who doubles as the winner’s partner. . .

 

Food safety reaches new heights as AsureQuality moves its IT to the cloud

Global food safety and biosecurity services company AsureQuality has completed a successful move to the TechnologyOne Cloud, reducing IT risk and positioning itself for future growth.

New Zealand-based AsureQuality is owned by the New Zealand Government and was already using TechnologyOne’s enterprise software in an on-premise environment.

TechnologyOne Executive Chairman Adrian Di Marco said TechnologyOne’s Software as a Service (SaaS) solution had empowered AsureQuality to prepare for a cloud-first, mobile-first world. AsureQuality is also using TechnologyOne’s new Ci Anywhere platform, which allows the firm’s employees to access their information anywhere, anytime using smart mobile devices. . .

 


Rural round-up

May 6, 2014

Growing US dairy industry shouldn’t be ignored:

Dairy farmers are being urged not to ignore the growing United States dairy industry as it starts to muscle in on this country’s traditional export markets.

The US is now New Zealand’s second biggest dairy competitor.

David McCall from DairyNZ says large-scale farms with feedlots of up to 30,000 cows makes for a much cheaper operation.

He says that, until recently, most American dairy products were consumed domestically, but that’s now changing.

“They’ve made some changes to set up their dairies and some of their processing factories directly to produce export product, is one thing that they’re doing. And they’re producing the sort of products now that Chinese and other markets are demanding. . .

Forest owners seek safety solutions:

Forest owners and contractors say they aren’t sitting on their hands while an independent review panel carries out its investigation into the high death and injury toll from forestry accidents.

They have responded to strong Council of Trade Union criticism of safety standards by urging the umbrella group to take any evidence backing its concerns to the review panel.

Forest Owners Association president Paul Nicholls says the panel will need input from everyone in the forestry sector to come up with practical solutions to improve work safety.

He says steps to reduce the accident rate had started years before the review was launched in March and those are continuing while the review panel and the Coroners Court carry out their investigations. . .

 NZ to join foot & mouth exercise in Nepal:

A New Zealand team of vets and industry representatives will go to Nepal later this year to get first hand experience of dealing with foot and mouth disease.

It’s part of a new agreement between New Zealand and Australia to work together more closely on measures to combat this livestock disease.

Primary industries minister, Nathan Guy said a team of about 10 New Zealanders will be join an Australian foot and mouth training programme in Nepal, which is one of the countries battling the disease.

“It makes sense for us to be working closely with Australia because they know as a pastoral based economy that it would cause a huge amount of damage to the Australian economy if they ever got FMD and the same here in New Zealand. . .

Horticulture now 8% of New Zealand’s exports:

.Horticultural products now account for 8% of New Zealand’s total merchandise exports, according to the latest edition of the industry publication Fresh Facts.

In the year to 30 June 2013, the horticulture industry generated more than $3.6 billion in export revenue, with the major products being wine ($1.2 billion) and kiwifruit ($934 million). The biggest gains were seen in onion exports, which increased by 47% over 2012 values to a total $90 million, and apple exports, which increased by 40% to $475 million.

Total produce from the horticultural industry was valued at $6.7 billion, including $770 million of domestic spend on New Zealand grown fruit and $1.09 billion on vegetables.

“The success of New Zealand’s horticultural exports has been founded on a keen understanding of market needs and a passion for delivering high quality product that commands a healthy premium,” says Plant & Food Research CEO Peter Landon-Lane. . .

China temporarily bans British cheese imports:

China has temporarily banned imports of British cheese after the country’s food inspectors complained about hygiene standards at an unnamed UK dairy.

The Chinese officials were reportedly dissatisfied with its maintenance and storage, raw milk transport temperatures and air sanitisation.

However, the dairy they visited does not export its produce to China.

UK farming minister George Eustice has called for restrictions to be lifted “as soon as possible”.

“British cheese is the best in the world and produced to the highest safety and quality standards, so it is disappointing that China have put a temporary block on cheese imports,” he said. . .

Farm Environment Trust Assembles Top Panel for National Winner Judging:

The New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust has welcomed two new judges to the panel responsible for choosing the National Winner of the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Comprising six people with a broad range of skills and experience, the National Winner judging panel will select the next holder of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy from the ten regional Supreme winners of the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA). The winner will be announced at a National Sustainability Showcase in Christchurch on June 26.

The 2014 National Winner judging panel is chaired by Simon Saunders, deputy chair of the NZFE Trust, and includes Jamie Strang, BFEA National Judging Coordinator, Warwick Catto, Head of Research and Environment, Ballance Agri-Nutrients, and Paul Lamont, Regional Manager, Rabobank. Newcomers Charmaine O’Shea and Bruce Wills have joined the panel this year. . .

Snow Sports NZ and Cardrona Alpine Resort Sign Partnership Agreement:

Snow Sports New Zealand and Cardrona Alpine Resort Limited have signed a Partnership Agreement which will see Cardrona become the official resort partner of Snow Sports NZ, the naming rights sponsor of the New Zealand Park and Pipe Team and the naming rights sponsor of the NZ Freeski & Snowboard Junior National Championships.

Cardrona Alpine Resort and Snow Sports NZ have a positive long-standing partnership and the national freeski and snowboard team do all of their halfpipe and slopestyle training at the resort throughout the southern hemisphere winter. Cardrona also hosts key events such as the NZ Freeski Open, NZ Winter Games and an international spring training camp after the resort closes to the public.

The purpose of the formal agreement is to recognise the growing importance of the partnership and cement the relationship. A four year term has been agreed, subject to satisfactory annual review, during which time Cardrona will be recognised as the official resort partner of the NZ Park and Pipe Team and the team will be called the Cardrona NZ Park and Pipe Team. . .

Sanford agrees to buy assets of Greenshell NZ, Greenshell Investments from receivers:

(BusinessDesk) – Sanford, the listed fishing company, agreed to buy the assets of Greenshell NZ Limited and Greenshell Investments from the receivers of the mussel farming and processing group.

No price was disclosed in a statement from Sanford. Chief executive Volker Kuntzsch said the assets “were a strategic fit for Sanford’s aquaculture business as they allow for improved supplies from a wider geography.”

Receivers Brendon Gibson and Grant Graham of KordaMentha were appointed last November by Rabobank after depressed prices for the shellfish over a number of years culminated in a “significant” operating loss in 2012. . .

 


Wrong side of the line

March 23, 2014

Opposition parties have to tread a fine line between attacks aimed at the government and those which could damage anyone, and anything, caught in the crossfire.

Has Labour got on the wrong side of the line with their on-going fuss over Judith Collins and Oravida while Prime Minsiter John Key ahs been in China?

But the Opposition has been determined to try to ensure Key does not get to politically bank the positives from the deepening bilateral relationship.

This is a mistake, especially given Labour’s own groundbreaking role in forging bilateral ties with China.

Helen Clark – with her profound understanding of international politics and intuitive approach to cementing deals with political leaders of a vastly different ideological mindset – played the diplomatic pathfinder role.

It was Clark’s Government that took the political risk of hurting New Zealand’s relationship with that other great power, the United States, by making significant concessions over China’s “market economy status” to negotiate the free trade deal. Clark Government ministers Phil Goff and Jim Sutton were at the cutting edge. Their negotiations enjoyed bilateral support from then Opposition trade spokesman Tim Groser.

It is a great pity that this “New Zealand Inc” approach has now been deliberately thrown out the window by Opposition politicians out to make domestic political advantage in election year. . .

National and Labour used to have a fair degree of consensus over trade and its importance. In the past week Labour has put political opportunism first.

New Zealand exporters were pleased Key was able to make time after his Xi dinner for photo opportunities with their Chinese clients at Wednesday night’s Celebration of Dairy dinner.

The event kicked on – as they tend to – elsewhere at the Four Seasons hotel and in various nightspots around Beijing.

Here’s the thing: New Zealand exporters are scathing of the Opposition’s timing of the Oravida revelations. Beijing expats retain deep suspicions that in the first place, some “low-level” Foreign Affairs official leaked details of Cabinet minister Judith Collins’ off-schedule meetings with Stone Shi’s Oravida in October, and that the Opposition sat on the issue until the eve of the Prime Minister’s China trip to inflict maximum political damage while he was overseas.

Political foes might be fair game but exporters are not and this timing looks suspiciously like it wasn’t a coincidence.

The upshot is that, yet again, a positive diplomatic foray by Key has been overshadowed by domestic politics.

Collins’ links with the company of which her husband is a director needs to be examined.

But Labour’s decision to rain on Key’s parade is not only short-sighted but mean-spirited.

If Labour wins the next election it will be the beneficiary of Key’s China-related diplomacy in the same way that the Prime Minister has benefited from Clark’s visionary moves.

Reflect on that.

There’s not just political benefits for whichever parties are in government after the election, there’s trade gains to be made with the economic and social gains that come from that which political opportunism from the opposition could have derailed.


Front page news

March 21, 2014

It’s not unusual for Prime Minister John Key to be front page news in New Zealand.

It is something of an accomplishment, and an honour, to be front page news in China, a country with a population of 1.3 billion.
Making front page news in China – not bad in a country with 1.3 billion people

The Prime Minister also had a dinner with President Xi Jinping and the visit has helped strengthen links between our countries:

Prime Minister John Key says agreements entered into with China at his meeting with Premier Li Keqiang highlight the continuing strength of the relationship between our two countries.

Mr Key and Premier Li Keqiang met at the Great Hall of the People. Mr Key’s visit to China marks the third time the countries’ top leaders have met in less than 12 months.

The meeting emphasised the value both countries place on the political, trade and economic relationship which, has continued to grow rapidly.

New Zealand and China are well on track to achieve a shared goal, agreed by the Prime Minister and Premier Wen Jiabao in 2010, to double two-way trade to NZ$20 billion by 2015. Two-way trade is currently worth over $18 billion.

“My meeting highlighted the mutually beneficial nature of the bilateral trade, with China becoming our number one goods export market, and remaining the number one source of imports for New Zealand,” says Mr Key.

The Prime Minister said that he was pleased to see the particularly strong growth in dairy exports to China, which reached nearly NZ$5 billion in 2013, an increase of 75 percent.

“My meeting provided the opportunity to brief Premier Li on the outcomes of the Whey Protein Concentrate Contamination Incident Government Inquiries, emphasising that they underline that New Zealand is a producer of high quality food, with world class regulatory systems,” says Mr Key.

The Prime Minister and Premier Li discussed New Zealand and China’s shared interest in strengthening financial sector cooperation, as well as cooperation in the areas of agriculture and food safety.

Six new initiatives have been agreed at the meeting, including:

  • The launch of direct trading of the New Zealand dollar against the Chinese Renminbi.
  • Agreement to renegotiate the 1986 Double Tax Agreement.
  • Implementation of an electronic equipment Mutual Recognition Agreement that will enable New Zealand to become the first country in the world to test, inspect and certify electrical products outside of China.
  • Enhanced agricultural cooperation in dairy herd improvement, agricultural management, veterinary training scholarships and professional development exchanges.
  • Improved food safety cooperation including the launch of a scholarship programme in food safety and risk management.

“The financial sector offers great potential for further cooperation between New Zealand and China. Today’s announcements will make doing business with China easier by reducing compliance costs and contribute to the wider expansion of the economic and financial cooperation between the two countries,” says Mr Key. . .

This visit and a stronger relationship will bring benefits to New Zealand:

China is important to New Zealand. We are on track to achieve the goal of doubling two-way trade to $20 billion by 2015. This week President Xi Jinping and I set an ambitious new goal for trade to reach $30 billion by 2020.

Our growing trade with China is a shot in the arm for New Zealand exporters and industry. It is one of several reasons the New Zealand economy continues to grow strongly.

Figures released today showed GDP increasing by more than 3 per cent in the past year – making New Zealand one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

This is great news for families.

A stronger economy means more jobs, higher incomes, and more opportunities for young people. It means we can invest more in important public services like schools and hospitals.

If we continue with National’s successful programme, New Zealanders can lock in the economic gains we’re starting to see.

That if depends on another National-led government because as  Bill English said during Question Time yesterday, the job isn’t finished:

. . . New Zealand’s growth rate is better than that of quite a few developed countries, but, of course, the real measure of its success is whether it is providing more jobs for New Zealanders and higher incomes for New Zealanders. The good news is that forecasters are generally expecting that New Zealand’s growth rate will be maintained through 2014. This, however, is no cause for complacency or for a fiscal lolly scramble. This country has a lot of work to do yet to ensure that every New Zealander who can work can get a job, and that all those New Zealanders who have a job are paid in a manner that they regard as appropriate. . .

The economy is growing and the free trade agreement with China, has played an important role in that.

With growth improvements in other indicators which depend on that including education, employment and health  are following.

But there is more to do.

The government has laid a strong foundation and it needs another term to build on that.


China changing one child policy

December 30, 2013

China has been forced to change its one child policy:

Earlier today, China announced that it would finally loosen its decade old one-child policy. This policy has had a disturbing affect in China in the form of skewed demographics.

It’s well known that China’s population is ageing rapidly, causing the workforce to shrink. And without siblings, children are under tremendous financial pressure as they have to care for their own aging parents. But those aren’t even the most disturbing trends, wrote BI’s Mamta Badkar citing a 2011 report from Nomura.

“Perhaps the more alarming concern for population sustainability is the large imbalance between baby girls and boys,” wrote the Nomura analysts.

For every 100 girls born there are 120 boys and a couple of years ago there were 51 million more men than women in the country.

fm births

The one child policy is unsustainable.

One of its tragic consequences has been the abortion and infanticide of female babies.

There are now far too many young men and not enough young women.

It will take decades to get the population back in balance and will need a change in attitude to value girls as highly as boys.


China culls 2m cows

December 30, 2013

We know dairying is big in New Zealand, but it’s even bigger in China.

China’s dairy herd has shrunk by two million cows in the past year.

There has been a mass exodus of small dairy farmers due to high production costs and record beef prices.

Dairy Australia industry analyst John Droppert says China has killed more cows this year than the entire Australian dairy herd.

That’s about 20% of New Zealand’s dairy herd.

“Basically it means production in the country is in a hole, in short,” he said.

“But you are certainly seeing a reduction in production, I think they are talking 10-15 per cent this year.

“Effectively that means at the broader level they have a bigger gap.

“Demand is growing and at the same time supply is shrinking.”

This is the main reason demand for milk from New Zealand is so strong and is likely to remain so which is good for the whole economy.


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