Rural round-up


Alliance in good shape, Donald says – Sally Rae:

He’s been sitting around the board table at Alliance Group for 24 years but Murray Donald has finally called time.

Come December 17 and the Southland farmer will be gone, as he is standing down as a supplier representative at the company’s annual meeting in Oamaru.

Mr Donald (54), who farms near Winton, and fellow long serving director Doug Brown, of Maheno, who was elected in 2001, have decided not to seek re election. . . 

Exit from EU could cripple UK agriculture – Allan Barber:

A new report by agricultural consultancy Agra Europe entitled Preparing for Brexit suggests leaving the EU, to be determined by a referendum in 2017, could destroy the British farming sector. The authors have based their forecast on the Coalition government’s 2013 Fresh Start Policy document which theorised that British agriculture could imitate New Zealand and Australia’s success in surviving, even flourishing, in a post-subsidy world.

Not surprisingly there is plenty of scepticism about the realistic prospect of either of these scenarios eventuating. If British voters chose the Brexit option, it is most unlikely any government would eliminate all subsidies, while a cursory glance at the proportion of farm income from EU Common Agricultural Policy payments shows how laughable it would be to expect them to become suddenly profitable. . . 

Contest continues to hold appeal – Sally Rae:

Chris Pemberton was just a lad when he competed in the Young Farmers Contest.

It was 2005 and, at 17, Mr Pemberton was one of the youngest regional finalists in the contest’s then 36-year history.

He was still at boarding school at St Kevin’s College when he competed in the Aorangi regional final.

While unplaced, he performed creditably and was a favourite with the crowd. . . 

Spaans new DairyNZ head – Stephen Bell:

Waikato dairy farmer Michael Spaans has been elected the new chairman of DairyNZ.

The industry-good body held a special meeting of the board this weekend.

Spaans will serve an annual term as chairman, leading an eight-member board made up of five farmer-elected and three independent directors.
He replaced long-serving chairman and former Cabinet minister John Luxton who retired from the DairyNZ board last month after 12 years of service on dairy industry bodies. . . 

Yashili New Zealand’s Pokeno factory opens – Gerald Piddock:

Yashili New Zealand Dairy Co has opened its new state-of-the-art infant formula manufacturing plant in Pokeno, south of Auckland.

The 30,000m2 plant will employ 85 staff and have an annual production capacity of about 52,000 tonnes of formula product. It will produce formula under the brand ‘Super Alpha-Golden Stage Infant Formula’ with shipments to China expected to begin in early 2016.

Yashili New Zealand is a leading producer of infant milk formula for the domestic market in China. It was founded in July 2012 and is a subsidiary of Yashili International Holdings and Mengniu Dairy Co.  The new factory took three years to build and cost $220 million. The company’s goals were to produce the highest quality infant formula and raise the healthiest babies in China. . . 

Yashili, Arla and Danone sign agreement – Gerald Piddock:

Yashili International along with European dairy producers Arla and Danone have entered into global strategic cooperation agreement.

Signed at the opening of Yashili’s new infant formula plant at Pokeno on November 6, the agreement will see the three companies work closer together in supplying products into Arla and Danone’s markets.

“It is a significant agreement between these two great dairy producers who are each committed to the highest standard of food quality and safety,” Yashili International Holdings president Lu Mingfang said. . . 


Baa-rnstorming the Lourve


Visitors to the Louvre got more than they baa-rgained for yesterday:

It was more je ne sais baa than quoi at the Louvre museum this morning as a flock of sheep and their farmers stormed the Paris landmark.

The protesters were from the Farmers’ Federation, who carried banners reading “PAC’astrophe” in reference to the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy, which is under reform.

They were objecting to the effects of the industrialisation of agriculture, saying they feared for farmers’ jobs. . . .

Change is difficult but necessary.
We can be grateful that difficult as it was at the time, being thrust into the real world in the 1980s has made agriculture in New Zealand stronger.
Without those changes New Zealand would not be leading the developed world in economic growth nor would we be able to afford so much of the imports and social services which depend on export income.


NZ too hot, dry, UK too cold, wet


New Zealand farmers have all fingers and toes crossed that forecast rain will arrive in sufficient quantity to relieve the drought.

Their British counterparts have the opposite problem:

Feeding animals has become a crippling expense for some farmers after a wet, cold winter. Some are now relying on food vouchers in order to keep going.

The number of working farmers asking for emergency financial assistance has almost tripled since last year, a farming charity says.

The second wettest summer on record was followed by a harsh winter, flooded grazing land and ruined crops, all resulting in soaring feed prices many farmers struggle to pay.

The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) charity supports members of the farming community when they face hardship.

Farmer Kit Dean normally keeps around 80 cattle grazing in the fields of his North Yorkshire farm until mid-October. They have been inside since early June when his fields flooded.

“Some days you do wonder if you can carry on,” he says.

“There are times when I wonder if I’ve failed.” . . .

The rest of the story makes very sad reading.

Whether it’s too hot and dry or too cold and wet, farming is a tough business but the weather isn’t the only problem in the UK.

. . . Some economists, like former government farming advisor Sean Rickard, think that it is not just the weather that is having an adverse effect on British farming.

“We have a romantic view,” he says.

“The Cap [EU’s Common Agricultural Policy] maintains farmers in business no matter how inefficient they are and keeps the size of farms smaller than they should be.

“Many farmers are already hanging on by their fingertips and don’t have the spare income to put aside for a rainy day or to reinvest in the business. The larger the farm, the more efficient the farm, the lower the cost of production.” . . .

Hard as it is for farmers facing drought here, at least they don’t have the distortions of subsidies and quotas to worry about.

Fined for producing more


Milk production in Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands has been higher than expected.

That ought to be cause for celebration in a world we keep being told is short on food and where developing countries are hungry for protein.

But no, they will be fined a total of €221m because they exceeded their annual quota.

What makes it even sillier is that 14 countries produced less than their quota and total EU production was 6% lower than quota.

The quota system is to be phased out as part of reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy which aim to end government protection for the dairy industry.

The process of getting away from protection can be painful but this is a good example of what’s wrong with letting governments and bureaucrats interfere in trade.

Leaving the market to set the price is better for producers and consumers.

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