Rural round-up

July 4, 2016

Drought conditions in South Island continue:

The impact of ongoing dry conditions on the eastern South Island means the medium-scale drought classification will be extended until the end of the year, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“Extra funding of up to $88,000 will go to drought recovery coordination and the five Rural Support Trusts in the area, with $30,000 of this going to the North Canterbury Rural Support Trust,” says Mr Guy.

The announcement was made by Mr Guy at a meeting with local farmers in North Canterbury today, his fifth visit to the region since April last year.

“This will mean the area has been in drought for nearly two years, since its initial classification on 12 February last year. This will be the longest period of time a classification of this type has lasted for.” . . 

Jobs and land galore in Kaitangata:

Kaitangata has a jobs problem perhaps unique among small New Zealand towns – there are too many.

There are only two people without jobs in the entire town of 800, but at least 100 vacancies waiting to be filled.

Three-bedroom standalone houses are now being offered for only $230,000. There are currently 30 sections available, with the houses being built to order.

Clutha District Mayor Bryan Cadogan says they come with “stunning views out over the delta”. . . 

Past, present and future of the meat industry (part 3) – Allan Barber:

The future

There are two diametrically opposing views on the meat industry’s future outlook: either the world is short of protein and has an insatiable appetite for what we produce or meat will be replaced by artificial or synthetic proteins, much cheaper and easier to produce.I can’t predict just where on the continuum between these two extremes actual reality will settle or which direction the trend will move. But it’s probably worth hazarding a guess that the top end of the market will continue to prefer the real thing, produced and presented to a high quality, while the poor who are unable to afford much if anything will be happy to accept the cheaper, artificial version. It is also quite possible the increasingly global craze for fast food, especially hamburgers, could be met by synthetic beef, but here again there would be a premium end of the market demanding the real thing. . . 

MPs urged to back no-tillage farming – Alexa Cook:

An international soil scientist is urging the government to reduce carbon by promoting “no-tillage” farming to the primary sector.

The method is a way of growing crops or pasture from year to year without disturbing the soil through tillage, which results in carbon being captured in the soil instead of released through ploughing.

Scientist John Baker met with Labour MPs this morning as part of his crusade to get the message across that New Zealand has the machinery and technology to transfer carbon into the soil and keep it there. . . 

Silver Fern Farms announces contract extension and new special meeting date – Allan Barber:

Silver Fern Farms have issued two new media releases announcing a revised completion date for the contract with Shanghai Maling and a new date for the shareholder requisitioned meeting.

The revised date of 30th September for meeting the one remaining condition of the contract has been agreed in principle by both parties and is subject to agreement of both boards. SFF’s CEO Dean Hamilton said “We needed to allow more time to answer the further information requests from the OIO and to then provide sufficient time for the OIO and then Ministers to consider the application. We continue to believe that the investment will be approved given its substantial merits.”

“The agreement to the new date reflects positively on the ongoing commitment of both parties to the transaction.” . . 

  – Allan Barber:

ANZCO Foods has just released its annual result for the 15 month period ended 31 December which shows a reduced profit compared with its 12 month 2014 performance. Pre-tax net profit was $5.702 million ($7.128 million in 2014) while NPAT was $4.49 million, down more than 50% on the equivalent 2014 result which included part of the tax benefit from the 2012 loss.

Notable features of the result were a large increase in inventory and in current bank debt which can be partly explained by the purchase of the remaining 50% of Five Star Beef and the effect of the December quarter. However these factors do not seem to explain fully the extent of the increase. . . 

Super Fund swoops on Southland dairy farms – Mel Logan:

The New Zealand Superannuation Fund (NZSF) is actively buying up dairy farms in Southland, clinching deals on seven properties with more to follow.

The new acquisitions come under a dark industry debt cloud and take the NZ Super Fund’s farm portfolio to 21, following two recent dairy purchases in Canterbury. 

NZSF says while the dairy sector faces some difficult short term challenges, it continues to have strong long-term potential. . . 

Fonterra Enhances Pre-Season Preparation:

A single-minded focus on effectiveness, efficiency and innovation across all aspects of Fonterra’s winter maintenance programme is delivering savings for the Co-operative as it gets match-fit for spring.

Director of NZ Manufacturing Mark Leslie said this “winter shut” period is an important time of year for manufacturing teams as all assets across Fonterra’s network of sites are fine-tuned to ensure they are ready for the season ahead.

“Each year we process around 18 billion litres of milk, with the bulk of this carried out in the spring months. The work we’re doing now will help us get match-fit for that peak period.” . . 

Fonterra Launches The Switch To Z Biodiesel:

Fonterra has taken another step forward in its commitment to environmental sustainability, today launching its switch to new Z biodiesel – as a foundation customer for the ZBioD fuel.

Fonterra and Z were joined by Minister of Energy and Resources Hon. Simon Bridges, Whakatane Mayor Tony Bonne and other dignitaries today in celebrating the partnership at the Co-operative’s Edgecumbe site.

Fonterra Chief Operating Officer Global Operations, Robert Spurway said the shift to biodiesel is part of a move towards greater efficiency and sustainability across all operations, and helping Z make cleaner burning biofuel available in New Zealand. . . 

New Zealand Pork, Bacon and Ham Lovers Pay Attention!:

New Zealand pork, bacon and ham lovers pay attention – the ninth annual judging of the 100% New Zealand Pork, Bacon & Ham Competitions kicks of this Friday (1 July) in Wellington.

The Competitions celebrate New Zealand’s finest home-grown pork products and assist customers to identify and appreciate sustainable pork, bacon and ham which is PigCare™ Accredited*. The competitions support our pig farmers, who raise pork solely for New Zealanders.

This year an impressive 210 entries from butcheries nationwide will be scrutinized by an expert and independent panel of 34 judges comprising leading chefs, food connoisseurs and master butchers. The judges will blind-taste each entry to select New Zealand’s best pork, bacon and ham. . .  . . 


Jobs go jobs come

October 31, 2013

Jobs go.

It’s hard for everyone involved but for all sorts of reasons businesses change and the number of people they employ does too,

Sometimes it’s because of the introduction of more automation or the introduction of new technology which improves productivity but reduces the need for so many staff.

Sometimes it’s because a business loses customers or fails completely.

Fortunately while jobs go they also come and there’s good news for the Clutha District with 40 new jobs for Finegand from new casings plant.

A new added value casing facility at Silver Fern Farms’ Finegand plant will see 40 new roles created in the Clutha region.

Silver Fern Farms’ Chief Executive Keith Cooper says the million dollar facility will take previously exported part-processed “green lamb runners” through to a processed sausage casing stage for export markets across the world.

“This development will create 40 new full time roles across our Balclutha – Finegand operations. It will create value from a product that will add to the profitability of our sheep meat business in the short-medium term,” Mr Cooper says.

Clutha District Mayor Bryan Cadogan, who previously worked in a casing plant, says the move is good news for Balclutha’s Ready Steady Work programme.

“We have a Mayor’s Taskforce for Jobs initiative for Clutha, which is aiming for zero unemployment for youth in the Clutha District. Silver Fern Farms have been a supporter of this programme from the start. These 40 new roles in our district will be a great help for our ambitions of realising this goal,” Mr Cadogan says.

Green casings will be brought to Finegand from four Silver Fern Farms’ plants across the country, making it one of the larger casing facilities in New Zealand Mr Cooper says.

“The plant will be operational year-round so our customers can have a reliable and high quality source of clean, salted casings.”

Previously the green runners had been exported in part-processed form to China for further processing.

Finegand previously had a casing facility which closed in 2005 due to the then demand for green runners. The new facility has a process which is forecast to use less than half of the water requirements of the previous system.

Forty new jobs is significant for a small town.

It’s good news for the people who will get jobs and the wider district.

This time next year one town or city in New Zealand will get a boost that will lead to more jobs when it becomes Chorus’s #gigatown.

New Zealand’s sharpest town, Oamaru, is doing it’s best to become the Southern Hemisphere’s first #gigatown – #gigatownoamaru.


Rolls down, schools to close?

October 5, 2008

The wholesale closure of rural and provincial schools by then Education Minister Trevor Mallard was a major contributer to the Labour losing so much support in the provinces at the 2005 election.

By then the government had put a moratorium on school closures, but it was too late. Children were having to travel much further to school, classrooms were overcrowded, communities which lost schools also lost their focus and those affected made their feelings clear at the ballot box.

Because of that the ODT headline Southern school rolls to plummet  will have been greeted with no enthusiasm at all by the government.

The story which follows shows Ministry of Education roll projections based on birth numbers from Statistics New Zealand:

. . . the number of 3 to 4 year-olds will decline in the Waitaki (-0.4%), Dunedin (-2%), Southland (-2.7%), Clutha (-5%) and Gore (-8.8%) territorial authorities between June this year and 2011 . . . 

The drops contrast with a predicted nationwide rise of 9.4% in the number of pre-schoolers.

A decline in pupil numbers of up to 8.8% will impact on schools. However, this time the suggestion that some might have to close isn’t coming from politicians or bureaucrats:

New Zealand Principals Federation president and Balclutha School principal Paddy Ford said Otago and Southland schools needed to take heed of the figures.

“They might need to look at amalgamation. It doesn’t go down well with schools to say this, but we do have to look at ways of providing the best education we can deliver.”

Talk of school closures usually produces more heat than light and it is often those who no longer have pre-school or school age children who protest most strongly. Those whose offspring are at or nearly at school tend to look at what’s best for the children and sometimes that means school closures and amalgamations.

Schools can reach a tipping point because when the roll drops so does the number of teachers. Parents then decide their chidlren are better off at a bigger school even if it means longer on a bus to get there and the roll drops further until the school is no longer viable.

The concern in rural areas though is that roll projections based on birth numbers don’t necessarily reflect the reality, especially if there is a lot of dairying which has a big change in staff at the end of one season and start of another.

Some schools have more than a 30% change in their rolls over Gpysy weekend at the end of May and a few families moving in or out of a school catchment can have a big impact on pupil numbers.

While schools can provide a focus for a community that’s not a reason to keep a school open if a roll decline means its no longer meeting the educational needs of its pupils. The difficulty is that the Ministry has to work on historical figures and projections which don’t always paint the whole picture.

However, if the projections are accurate, Paddy Ford says declining rolls wouldn’t be all bad news because there is a shortage of teachers.

And while the projections for some southern districts are for falling rolls, huge increases are forecast for the Queenstown Lakes (29.7%), Central Otago (14.2%) and Invercargill (11.4%) areas.


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