Rural round-up

20/05/2015

Better returns trump loyalty – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra must put more effort into understanding why it is losing market share and therefore its shareholder capital is being diluted, major supplier Trevor Hamilton says.

Family-owned TH Enterprises (THE), which has 10 big dairy farms in the North and South Islands, has “driven a bus through Trading Among Farmers (TAF)”.

Founder and chief executive Hamilton said THE directors, including two independents, had exposed the weaknesses of TAF by making perfectly reasonable and sound business decisions over the past 30 months to cash in shares, to buy more farms and divert half of the milk supply to other processors. . .

TAF delivers what it promised – Hugh Stringleman:

Trading Among Farmers (TAF) has delivered what farmer-shareholders wanted in the way of more flexibility as well as capital security for Fonterra, equity analysts have said.

The 2012 restructure created a new generation of hybrid co-operative in which farmers were able to sell the economic rights of supply shares into the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund (FSF) but retain co-operative control and voting rights.

The fund had grown to $713 million at the interim balance date January 31 with the economic rights of just under 122m shares. . .

 Sheep numbers down but productivity up – Jamie Mackay:

News last week our national sheep flock had dropped below 30 million for the first time since 1943 probably surprised no one but, regardless, it’s a damning and telling statistic for a once all-conquering industry.

When I was a kid growing up on a Southland sheep farm, two things stuck in my head from my final year of primary schooling in 1972. . .

 Apple harvest appears positive – Alan Williams:

Scales Corporation subsidiary Mr Apple is busy packing this season’s apple crop and isn’t expecting a dramatic impact on yields from hail in Hawke’s Bay earlier this year.

The harvest was due to finish about now but packing operations would continue through to the end of June, Scales managing director Andy Borland said.

The incidence of hail damage would be revealed during the packing process. Borland estimated a “bit of an impact” but many of the orchards avoided the hail altogether, a benefit of the group strategy to spread the orchard across the fruit-growing region. . . .

New Zealand Young Farmers educating Tasman teens at Stock Skills Day:

New Zealand Young Farmers is providing an educational day for Canterbury teens wanting to learn more about stock judging and handling on Sunday 24 May at the Canterbury Agricultural Park.

Members of New Zealand Young Farmers High School Clubs, commonly known as TeenAg Clubs, in the Tasman region have been invited to take part in a hands-on, interactive one day program which aims to introduce students to a different aspect of the agriculture industry.

Students will participate in groups of twelve and move through modules as they would through a typical day of competition at an A & P Show; from prepping and handling through to judging and prize giving. Prizes will be awarded to the most engaged students. There will also be a clipping and shearing demonstration. . .

RailBike adventures begin pedalling into the Forgotten World:

The visitor industry in the central north Island is set to surge once again with the introduction of the country’s first tandem RailBike experience.
Operating along what is arguably known as New Zealand’s most scenic decommissioned railway; Forgotten World Adventures has added the RailBike product to its already impressive list of seasonal rail based adventures using converted golf carts, also known as RailCarts.

Waikato Farmer and Forgotten World Adventures founder and Managing Director Ian Balme believes the introduction of the RailBike is a timely step for a business that has seen exponential growth since it was launched in 2012.

“This season we’ve provided over 6,000 clients with an outstanding experience through the historic Forgotten World and I am thrilled that we’re now in a position to build on our existing range of tours by introducing what will undoubtedly become a must-do kiwi adventure for groups of up to ten people” says Mr Balme. . .

10 reasons we don’t need organic food:

1. Organic crops do not increase yield.

GMOs have increased yields by 22% with even greater success in developing nations.

2. Organic crops increase pesticide use.

GMOs have decreased pesticide use by 37% with even greater success in developing nations.

Organic herbicides only kill the plant tissue that it touches, requiring more to be sprayed, and more repeated spraying. Glyphosate, on the other hand, attacks a specific enzyme that is only found in plants. Farmers using glyphosate don’t need to cover all of the weed to kill it, and they don’t need to spray as often. . .

New Horizons for regional South Island:

A new fund has been announced this morning to help regional South Island tourism operators capture the tsunami of opportunities from the growing China market.

The ‘New Horizons Fund’ is a regional economic development programme initiated by Christchurch Airport, as part of the “South” initiative, which sees all 15 South Island regional tourism organisations working collaboratively in tourist markets.

The programme kicks off with a budget of $100,000 and aims to support a minimum of two South Island tourism operators into the China market each year. . .


Canada Geese from protected to pest

19/03/2011

Minister of Conservation Kate Wilkinson’s announcement that permits will no longer be required for the shooting of Canada Geese is a welcome one.

“As the population of Canada geese continues to increase so does their risk to aviation safety and the damage they inflict to pasture and crops,” Ms Wilkinson says.

“The current status where the geese populations are managed as a game bird is not working.

“Farmers have been getting increasingly frustrated with these birds fouling pasture and damaging crops.

“They also pose an aviation hazard due to their large size and this change will allow for the birds to be more effectively controlled where they pose a risk to aircraft safety.”

Ms Wilkinson says there are tens of thousands of Canada geese across the country and recreational hunting opportunities will remain.

“I expect Fish and Game to continue to work with landowners to assist with managing populations around the country.

“The geese are well established and on top of that farmers will have an incentive to provide hunting access to reduce their goose control costs.”

Fish and Game isn’t happy:

But Fish & Game is calling the decision an “own goal” for Federated Farmers, which lobbied for the change.

“The small group within Federated Farmers who lobbied the minister so hard on this issue will probably spin this as a win,” says chief executive Bryce Johnson.

“Ironically though, the minister’s decision will foist the considerable expense of goose control onto their membership and, indeed, all farmers if the expected push for ratepayer-funded regional councils to take responsibility for control happens.”

This just shows how little Fish & Game knows about farmers, many of whom are forced to fund the organisation through hunting and fishing licences.

Federated Farmers is pleased that Canada Geese have been removed from the protected species list and can now be regarded as the pest they are.

“Federated Farmers has long been campaigning for the Canada Goose to be declared a pest. It’s not native, it spoils the environment and is even an air traffic hazard,” says Donald Aubrey, Federated Farmers game and pest animal management spokesperson.

“Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson’s announcement was inevitable, the population was getting out of control. For example, South Island Canada Goose Management Plan in 1995 set a population limit of 20,350. In 2008 that figure was 35,000.

“We applaud her for having the courage to make this decision after five years of consideration and following extensive lobbying by Federated Farmers.

“The Canada Goose was introduced to New Zealand as a game bird and has provided many landowners with nothing but trouble. It puts huge pressure on the environment, damaging crops, spoiling waterways with excrement and outcompeting native birds for resources.

“It adds thousands of dollars to the costs of doing business in the South Island especially.

“This ruling finally allows farmers to defend themselves against Canada Geese.

Christchurch Airport also supports the change in the birds’ status:

Christchurch International Airport Ltd (CIAL) has come out in support of the change in protection status of Canada Geese.

“This bird is a hazard to aircraft,” said CIAL Chief Executive Jim Boult. “Canada Geese are large and cumbersome birds which can cause a great deal of damage if they collide with aircraft.”

Jim Boult pointed out that the Canada Geese population had steadily increased in Christchurch city over the last few years, which raised the risk of bird strike to aircraft. “We want to keep the population of Canada Geese to manageable levels, which will help keep the airspace as clear as possible.”

Fish and Game’s management of the species allowed the bird population to grow.

Airports, councils and farmers can now declare open season on the pest to make airspace safer and reduce the negative impacts the birds have on the environment through pollution of waterways, competition with native species and damage to crops.


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