Rural round-up

March 23, 2019

Canterbury farmer credits advances in technology with revolutionising farming – Emma Dangerfield:

A North Canterbury farmer says advances in technology will help him pass on a thriving legacy to his daughters.

Mike Smith and his family began their farming partnership in Eyrewell in 2010 and had been able to improve land production by making use of new technology.

It allowed him to make informed decisions and had reduced the farm’s environmental impact, he said. . . 

China will be hungry for NZ meat – Pam tipa:

African swine fever’s huge impact on China’s pork production this year will be a huge opportunity for New Zealand’s meat industry.

Rabobank’s global strategist for animal protein Justin Sherrard believes the market hasn’t yet fully picked up on the impacts the disease will have.

“This has become a major issue in China,” he told Rural News.  . . 

Sunflowers used to regenerate soil – Yvonne O’Hara:

Mark and Madeline Anderson are trialing a pasture mix that includes sunflowers as a method of soil regeneration and as an alternative polyculture forage on their Waiwera Gorge dairy farm.

They are also looking forward to see their first Normande-cross calves on the ground in August.

They have a 580ha (effective) dairy farm and run 750 milking cows, along with another 300 to 400 young stock.

Mr Anderson said he had sown 50ha using a pasture mix of sunflowers, kale, plantain, phacelia, vetch, buckwheat, various clovers including Persian clover, oats, ryecorn, prairie grass and linseed to create a polyculture rather than the monoculture like ryegrass. . . 

Big wetland bush block opens to public after 500,000 crowd-funding effort  – Mike Watson:

An endangered forest wetland in Taranaki, saved from farmland development by a public fundraising drive, is ready to be opened up to the public.

The 134 hectare Mahood-Lowe reserve, near Kaimiro, 20km south east of New Plymouth, included rare kamahi, northern rata, tawa and totara as well as lichens and mosses.

There is also burgeoning populations of kiwi, whio and falcons. . .

Hectic period for pioneer in deer AI – Sally Rae:

Lynne Currie has the distinction of probably artificially inseminating more deer than anyone else in the world.

Mrs Currie, who lives near Wanaka, is in the middle of a short but hectic season as she travels the country helping deer farmers to diversify the genetic base of their herds.

The first farm was programmed for March 15 and the last on April 8 and much work goes into planning the logistics, including coordinating both vets and farmers. . . 

Dollar a litre demise good news for milk’s nutritional appeal – Andrew Marshall:

A significant flow-on benefit from the past month’s 10 cents a litre rise in prices for supermarket labeled two- and three-litre milk lines will be a restoration of milk’s nutritional and value perception in the eyes of consumers.

Dairy Connect chief executive officer, Shaughn Morgan, described the latest announcement by Coles and Aldi as a valuable initiative in what remains a long journey ahead to find structural solutions to the industry.

“We have long argued that part of the great damage done by $1 a litre milk discounting was to undervalue dairy farmers, the dairy industry and the nutritious fresh milk by denigrating its significant nutritional contribution to human health,” he said. . . 

 


Rural round-up

February 11, 2014

Australian milk war becomes the NZ product war:

Federated Farmers of New Zealand believes Australian consumers will ultimately decide it’s not fair dinkum to remove New Zealand products from the shelves of Coles and Woolworth supermarkets in Australia.

“It seems like the Australian milk wars, which so badly affected the viability of many Australian dairy farmers, is fast becoming the New Zealand product war,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President and its trade spokesperson.

“My take on this is that Australian consumers will see a lessening of choice and quality as being not fair dinkum.

“Australia is New Zealand’s second largest export market behind China so what goes on there does matter.

“This seems less a reaction to consumer demand and more a new chapter in Australia’s supermarket war.  Coles and Woolworths are cynically trying to proclaim themselves truer than blue Aussie companies. . .

 

A tale of two spills – Willy Leferink:

What would you say if a dairy farmer took full responsibility for the actions of his relief milker and copped a $45,000 fine in the process?  All the while, human and industrial effluent leaks almost daily into our major rivers and harbours with very little mention. 

Wairarapa dairy farmer Selwyn Donald accepted that as the farm owner, the buck stopped with him. There’s something wrong with a picture where a farmer or business gets pinged but council sewerage spills are either covered by “emergency discharge consents” or a slap by the wettest of wet bus tickets.

Last July, Hamilton City Council was “sentenced” after it released about the same volume of human effluent into the Waikato River as happened on Mr Donald’s farm.  Did Hamilton cop the $600,000 fine the media talked about?  Did the guy at Hamilton responsible get charged just like Mr Donald did?  No way.  That was all traded down to stream restoration, planting and fencing near to where the council spill took place.  Restorative justice.  The guy fingered saw all charges “dropped” against him because Hamilton pleaded guilty. . .

Vehicle tracking programme taking off – Sally Rae:

It was while driving a tractor in Australia that Andrew Humphries came up with the idea of a software system to track farm vehicles.

After growing up on a sheep and beef farm near Gore, he headed to the University of Canterbury where he spent a year studying computer engineering.

He then returned to the farm for four years, flying to Western Australia each year to drive seeding rigs during the April-June seeding season. . .

We don’t’ like seeing animals suffer – James Houghton:

In light of the recent story around the footage of a farmer in Chile euthanizing some calves, there has been a lot of uproar and emotion. To me it is understandable because I know just how awful it feels to have to euthanise an animal and how bad things look with limited information.

It is no fun shooting an animal, and anyone who has done it can tell you that it is not an easy job either in the practical or emotional sense. But if you are to work with animals you need to have the strength to take responsibility for that animal and be there for them when they need you. Recently, I found a cow in the paddock with a broken leg and I had to put her down. It was horrible, but what would have been worse is if I had left her and waited for a vet to come, which could have been the following day. On some properties the farmer can be over an hour’s round trip from parts of the farm. So when you encounter an animal in pain and distress, such as a botched attempt at poaching, then you need to have a means to end their suffering. Banning emergency measures would be wrong but neither should it be the first measure.

We have rules and guidelines around what we can and cannot do, for this very reason, so that farmers do not have to let an animal suffer. These rules have to be realistic and practical otherwise farmers won’t be able to do what is right and help put the animal out of its misery. . .

NZITO and Primary ITO join forces:

On Saturday, 1 February 2014 the New Zealand Industry Training Organisation (NZITO), the industry training provider for the meat processing, dairy manufacturing and seafood sectors, officially merged with the Primary Industry Training Organisation (Primary ITO) as the Government’s strategy to amalgamate ITOs continues. Primary ITO provides industry training across the agriculture, horticulture, equine, water and sports turf industries.

The two organisations share a natural synergy and the move will help to strengthen and enhance the links between the producer and processor sectors. The merger also means Primary ITO is now officially the largest ITO in the country.

As well as training the workforce involved in the production and processing elements of the food chain, Primary ITO also provides qualifications for people working in the service sectors connected to the primary industry. While these sectors are not export focused, they still have an important role to play.

NZITO Chairman, Graeme Sutton, says “we’ve created an organisation that offers the complete primary industry training package. There’s enormous capacity for training and education to raise global and national awareness of New Zealand’s primary industry.” . . .

And a media release:

Ambitious young Māori dairy farmers urged to enter Ahuwhenua competition:

This is the final call for all candidates to submit their entries for this year’s Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer of the Year competition. Entries close on Friday 14 February 2014.

Sponsored by Primary ITO, Te Tumu Paeroa and Allflex, the competition alternates between dairy and sheep and beef farming and will for the second time recognise the skill and proficiency of young Māori employed in the dairy farming sector.  It is free to enter and open to those aged 16-25 who are currently enrolled in or have completed a National Certificate in Agriculture Level 3 or higher in the last year.

“The judges will be looking for ambitious young Māori with initiative and industry knowledge,” says Fred Hardy, General Manager of Strategic Business Development at Primary ITO. 

Fred, who acts in an advisory capacity, says those who enter the competition will be rewarded with ample opportunities to build their profile within the industry.

“The competition gives you access to a network of industry professionals and expert feedback, so it is necessary for entrants to have clear goals in mind.” He continues, “It’s also important that they demonstrate a commitment to Māoritanga.”

The finalists will be announced in April and are invited to attend the Ahuwhenua awards ceremony in Tauranga in June, where the winner will be announced and awarded a cash sum of $3000. 1st and 2nd runners up will each receive $1000.

Previous winners, dairy farmer Tangaroa Walker and sheep and beef farmer Jordan Smith, have both embarked on successful farming careers and look back at the competition as a key stepping stone in their journey to success.

For detailed information about the Young Māori Farmer of the Year competition click here.

Entry form here.


Rural round-up

February 10, 2014

Staff vital part of dairy farm –  Sally Rae:

At Willowview Pastures in North Otago, staff are considered an integral part of the business.

Owners Geoff and Katrina Taylor run the dairy farm on the lower Waitaki Plains near Waitaki Bridge.

Employees were given responsibility for particular on-farm tasks, described by Mr Taylor as their on-farm ”niche”, but still kept up with what was happening farm-wide. . .

Homeopathy and farming; let’s do better, media – Grant Jacobs:

Today Fairfax NZ News published at Stuff.co.nz an article titled, Homeopathy key for dairy farming couple. Unsurprisingly this has been spread to other sites, including pro-homeopathy sites.

Unlike many (most?) articles at Stuff, no means of commenting on this article are available.

Let’s quickly look at key problems in this story.

We might use as inspiration the TED slogan, “ideas worth sharing”, altering it to fit our purposes “information worth sharing”, considering ‘information’ and ‘news’ to be synonymous.

It carries with it a catch: if the information isn’t sound, it’s not worth sharing – not worthy of a place in a newspaper or news website. . .

Welsh shearers learn by competing in NZ – Helena de Reus:

Competing in New Zealand is a chance for Welsh shearers to learn from the best.

Welsh shearing team manager John Davies is touring the country with shearers Gareth Daniel and Richard Jones to contest the four-test Elders Primary Wool series between New Zealand and Wales. The series reached Balclutha at the weekend.

”New Zealand have the best sheep shearers in the world, so it’s good to learn from them and compete against the best.” . . .

Wool titles go far and wide:

Young shearers and woolhandlers fought for three titles at the Otago Shearing and New Zealand Woolhandling Championships in Balclutha yesterday.

The three winners of yesterday’s competition once again hailed from outside Otago, with Erica Reti (Gore) winning the New Zealand junior woolhandler title, Carlton Aranui (Raupunga, Hawkes Bay) winning the Otago junior shearing, and Dylan McGruddy (Masterton) taking the intermediate shearing title.

Two South Island woolhandling circuit titles were also awarded, with Liv Gardner (Southland) winning the junior section and Juliette Lyon (Alexandra) taking the senior. . .

Hort NZ to lobby on labelling:

The national horticulture body says it will continue to keep a close watch on moves by Australian supermarkets to remove New Zealand food products from their shelves, even though nothing has come from political talks on the issue.

The two big supermarket chains in Australia, Coles and Woolworths, are backing the Buy Australian campaign and as part of that, say they’ll stop stocking New Zealand products in their house brands.

Prime Minister John Key raised the issue at a meeting with his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott last week, but was told it was a commercial decision for the supermarkets and did not breach the Closer Economic Relations (CER) free trade agreement between the two countries. . .

Drought roadshow starts:

Farmers in Hawke’s Bay, East Coast and Bay of Plenty – areas still recovering from last year’s drought – will attend a roadshow this week to find out how they can drought-proof their farms.

They’ll hear from Marlborough farmer Doug Avery, who’s been inspiring farmers around the country with the story of how he and his family rescued their farm from collapse after a series of droughts in the 1990s. . .

 


Buy local here but not there

February 7, 2014

The chief executive of one of Australia’s big supermarket chains told an agribusiness dinner in Melbourne about its strategy to buy local produce.

It was, he said, a response to customer demand for Australian goods.

The supermarket was also going to go direct to producers, eschewing buyers in between.

It would, he said, be good for customers and producers.

The New Zealanders in the audience saw the danger in this and even the Australians weren’t entirely convinced of the scheme’s merits.

They liked the idea that they wouldn’t be competing with overseas producers but they’d seen how hard dairy farmers had been squeezed by milk wars.

Many of them were exporters and they recognised the risk, and hypocrisy, in supporting buy local at home when they would be wanting customers in other markets to do the opposite.

The Australian-made strategy is now hitting New Zealand producers as supermarkets stop buying are fresh and processed food.

New Zealand products are being stripped off supermarket shelves across the Tasman because of the aggressive Buy Australia campaign, says an organisation promoting local goods.

Buy NZ Made executive Scott Wilson says big Australian supermarket chains Coles and Woolworths are “systematically removing New Zealand-produced goods from their house brand labels simply for being non-Australian”.

Mr Wilson says frozen foods, cheese and fresh vegetables are among products affected.

“We have no intention of taking a protectionist stance by suggesting people avoid products that aren’t New Zealand made,” he said.

New Zealand supermarkets aren’t copying the Australian strategy – and given one is Australian-owned, it’s unlikely to. But there’s a very fine line between saying buy Kiwi-made and don’t buy imported goods.

. . . Prime Minister John Key addressed the issue today, which he says is against the spirit of trade relations with New Zealand.

“Even if it’s legally not [a breach of CER], it’s arguably a breach of the spirit of CER, and we’re going to be raising that with Tony Abbott,” says Mr Key.

“The whole spirit of CER is an integrated Australasian market, and we feel that the big companies in Australia should actually observe that. We can always retaliate but their market’s five or six times bigger than ours, so that doesn’t help us much.” . . .

Labour is huffing and puffing about the issue, but what would they do if Tony Abbott tried to tell supermarkets here what to do?

It is a contravention of the spirit of CER which has created a free market between Australia and New Zealand.

But removing tariffs is a government decision, it doesn’t impose requirements on businesses to buy imported goods or stop them only buying local produce.

New Zealand producers could organise a boycott of Australian-owned supermarkets here but there’s little else they can do.

The Aussie supermarkets are trying to sell the scheme as being better for customers and producers but it won’t be in the long run.

Australian customers will have less choice when they shop and that could eventually lead to having to pay higher prices.

They will  also less certainty of supply when, for example droughts or floods, affect production. When supply drops, prices rise.

Producers will find themselves locked into contracts as the weaker partner which will eventually lead to them having to accept lower prices.

There are good things to be said for buying local, and I do it when I can if there’s little difference in price and quality.

But that’s my choice and the Aussie supermarkets are taking that choice away from their customers.

There are also many good things to be said for free trade, for customers and producers who will be the losers if the supermarkets continue to swim against that tide for their own ends.

There is a lesson in this for the Buy NZ Made campaign too – it’s arrant hypocrisy to say buy local here but not there.


Do customers really want to buy local?

October 17, 2012

Coles supermarkets have upset customers by dropping the Mainland cheese brand from its supermarkets in favour of Australian products.

Two months after withdrawing Mainland from its cheese lineup in August, Coles has been forced to explain the move following customer complaints, which continue on the company’s website. Coles said the decision was part of commitment to Australian-made products. It aims to stock 90 percent locally made groceries.

“In a recent review, we set to ensure the vast majority of our cheese range is Australian-made and as a cheese manufactured in New Zealand, Mainland was one of the brands we replaced with an Australian-made option,” Melbourne-based Coles said on its website. “Coles Brand cheese is also now 100 percent Australian following a new contract with Bega.” . . .

The supermarket wants to stock 90% locally made groceries but at least some of its customers are less concerned about where their cheese comes from, they want Mainland.

Feedback on the Coles website suggests Australian customers sympathise with the sentiment, but not the decision.

An indicative comment, from a customer named Valerie, said: “I prefer buying local produce where possible, but Mainland is a superior product. We’ve always shopped at Coles in the past but will now have to go to Woolies to get a decent cheese.”

Buy local is a marketing ploy but where something is produced is only one factor customers consider. The quality of a product can be more important than its country of origin. Price will also be a consideration.

Fonterra isn’t concerned about Coles’ action.

Bega was licensed to Fonterra in 2001 and other supermarket chains are still stocking Mainland products.


Aussie milk wars to spawn new co-op

August 12, 2012

Supermarket wars in Australia have led to sharp falls in the price of milk and  farmers have been paying for it in reduced returns.

However, the supermarkets might have gone too far. Farmers are planning to establish a rebel trading company to compete with the dominant processor, Lion, and supermarkets:

Documents obtained by The Australian show the Dairy Farmers Milk Co-operative — representing 780 dairy farms in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia producing a billion litres of milk a year — has proposed to its members they consider quitting supplying Lion.

Instead, DFMC is launching a rival co-operative to compete with its own Lion-bonded supply arm.

Instead of being contracted to sell milk only to Lion processing plants — and having to accept the prices Lion offers — the new breakaway group will be free to trade milk across Australia to the highest bidder.

The move follows Lion’s shock announcement last week that it is cutting prices to dairy farmers for off-contract milk supplied to its popular Pura, Dairy Farmers and Big M milk brands to just 12c and 13c a litre in Queensland and northern NSW respectively, and 15c in other parts of NSW, Victoria and South Australia. . .

Farmers in New Zealand are paid for kilos of milk solids and the current forecast payout for this season is  $5.95 – $6.05.

The forecast payout of  $7.50 k/ms in May last year was equivalent to about 66 cents a litre. Someone whose maths is better than mine is welcome to convert this season’s payout to cents a litre, but you don’t have to do it exactly to understand it is still more than 12 to 15 cents even when converted to Australian currency.

That price is simply unsustainable for farmers as one who left a letter to Coles supermarket explained:

A LETTER to Coles posted on its Facebook page by a NSW dairy farmer went viral at the weekend, attracting more than 73,448 “likes” and 4500 comments before it was blocked by the supermarket giant.

But the action by Coles backfired badly, with dozens of online supporters of 31-year-old teacher and farmer Jane Burney re-posting the letter online.

In her letter, Ms Burney, who milks 400 cows at Oxley Island near Taree with her husband says the discounting $1/L milk price war waged by Coles and Woolworths is ” killing the lifeblood of our dairy industry”.

“The ramifications of it are finally rearing their ugly head, 13c per litre of milk is not sustainable; the only winner is the supermarket,” she wrote. . .

Your latest ad campaign sprouting that you support Aussie growers is insulting and misleading; eventually all the Aussie growers, all dairy farmers who work 7 days a week, 14 hours a day, who have been dairy farming their whole life, will have to stop farming as it is no longer economically viable to continue.” . . .

Consumers here complain that too little competition between supermarkets is keeping the price of milk too high.

In Australia the competition has been too fierce for farmers who’ve been caught in the crossfire.

There might be enough of them to make the new co-operative a success but it will have to be strong to stand up to the existing players.


Commerce Commission looking at investigating dairy prices

March 31, 2011

The Commerce Commission is doing preliminary work to determine if a price control enquiry into the retail price of milk is warranted.

A number of parties have laid specific complaints with the Commission about the retail price of milk and are calling for the Commission to hold a price control inquiry. . .

“A price control inquiry is undertaken in order to ascertain whether to recommend price regulation of a good or service. Goods or services may only be regulated under the Commerce Act if there is little or no competition, and if the benefits of regulation materially outweigh the costs of regulation. We do not undertake such inquiries lightly,” said Dr Mark Berry, Chair of the Commerce Commission.

There are potentially three market levels involved in the production of milk: the supply of raw milk to milk product processors, the manufacture and supply of milk products, and the retailing of milk products.

“The Commission intends to review the operation of each of these levels and consider whether it should hold a price control inquiry,” said Dr Berry.

The Dairy Industry Restructuring Act aims to ensure that independent processors are able to obtain raw milk from Fonterra at the price which Fonterra pays to its own farmer suppliers. This legislation plays an important role in ensuring contestability in dairy markets. The existence of that legislation would be an important consideration in any decision to commence a price control inquiry. Also important would be whether the increased prices reflect increases in the international price of milk products rather than a lack of competition in New Zealand.

In deciding whether a price control inquiry is warranted the Commission would also need to consider the level of competition between the two major town milk processors and the two major supermarket chains. The Commerce Act requires that there be little or no competition between these parties before regulation can be imposed. Such an inquiry would also need to address the likelihood of potential new competition.

It’s only a week since the Commission said it wouldn’t be looking into the price of milk but the change of mind isn’t a bad thing.

It isn’t launching an investigation, merely doing preliminary work to see if there should be an inquiry.

Dairy products, or alternatives, are important in balanced diets, especially for children, and the Commission’s findings will determine if there should be an inquiry.

Dairy prices are largely influenced by the international market. Higher prices mean we’re getting more for exports which is good for the economy though not so good for people shopping on tight budgets.

Federated Farmers research shows farmers get between 15 and 35% of the retail price of milk which doesn’t look like creaming it to me.

Meanwhile on the other side of the Tasman Coles and Woolworths are facing a Senate inquiry into the milk wars which started in January when Coles dropped its own-brand milk price to $1 a litre.

Hat Tip: Interest.co.nz


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