Rural round-up

July 23, 2020

Synthetic products ‘kick int he guts’ – Alice Scott:

When it comes to supporting the New Zealand wool industry, East Otago sheep and beef farmer Georgie McGregor reckons there needs to be a new hashtag started for synthetic apparel: #senditback.

“The big farm retailers not only stock synthetic clothing and hats but they also run these promotions and send what is essentially a plastic bush shirt to us for buying a certain product in bulk.

“It’s one thing to stock this cheap synthetic product, but to give it away to farmers who are out there every day trying to make part of their living out of wool, well it’s a kick in the guts really.

“I just think we should all start sending back this plastic stuff they give us and make it their problem. If we don’t say anything, nothing will change,” she said. . . 

No place for Tom, Dick or Harry :

Migrants are a critical and valued part of dairying in New Zealand, filling skills shortages on farms when there aren’t enough local workers available.

The sector currently has about 4000 migrants on work visas (18% of total sector employees) and another 1500 on resident visas (mostly employees but some employers).

The NZ Government, like other governments around the world, is facing a growing unemployment queue thanks to Covid-19. They are under pressure to employ locals. But it isn’t as simple.

All those out-of-work Queenstown baristas are hardly likely to give up and move sticks to the Waikato, don an apron and start milking cows.

Cost control the biggest influence for farmers in latest survey – Gerald Piddock:

DairyNZ’s latest economic survey reveals that cost control continues to be a key driver for New Zealand dairy farmers as the industry faces ongoing challenges in both production and profitability.

The survey for the 2018-2019 year showed that operating profit per hectare for owner-operators was $2154. This is down on the previous year’s total of $2238, but above the average for the previous decade of $1696, DairyNZ principal economist Dr Graeme Doole said.

 Dr Doole says that volatility will remain a significant challenge for farmers to manage.

Feed continues to be a farmers largest expenditure area at 28.5% of total expenditure. It has been farmers’ expenses category since 2007-2008. . . 

Five southern farmers grade-free for 10 years – Yvonne O’Hara:

Five Fonterra suppliers have earned blocks of cheese and plaques as recognition for being grade free for 10 years or more, for the past season.

Thirty-four suppliers nationwide earned the plaque, five of whom are in Otago and Southland.

In addition to the Weir family, of Inch Clutha, there are the Chalmers family of Kaitangata, the Morrisons, of Kaitangata, the Rutter/Hannah families, of Kaka Point, and the Cricketts of Otautau. . . 

Bees to help elephants and tribes thrive in Africa: a powerful new partnership to help save the wild:

Comvita, New Zealand’s largest producer of UMF Mānuka honey, has today announced a new multi-year partnership with wildlife charity Saving the Wild, which will see the two organisations work together on global projects to help protect ‘nature in need’.

As the major Sponsorship Partner of Saving the Wild, Comvita will be acting upon its founding values, with the mission to connect people to nature at the heart of the partnership.

Established in 1974, Comvita and came to life in a counter-culture movement built on respect for nature and humankind. Saving the Wild was founded in 2014 by Jamie Joseph, with a mission to protect endangered African wildlife and ultimately the priceless biodiversity of the planet. . . 

Livestock birth-management companies for sale provide fertile opportunities for new owners:

Two livestock birth-management firms enabling New Zealand farmers to be among the most productive primary producers in the world has been placed on the market for sale.

Cattle pregnancy testing company Ultra-Scan was established in 1994 to examine the fertility rate of pregnant cows. Ultra-Scan now has 20 franchises throughout New Zealand – with 14 in the North Island and six in the South Island. The majority of the company’s North Island franchise operations are located in the Greater Waikato and King Country districts.

While initially founded to deliver cow gestation scanning services, Ultra-Scan’s service offering has subsequently gone on to include similar pregnancy tests for sheep, deer and goats, as well as the de-horning of young calves aged between four days and 10 weeks of age – in a Ministry for Primary Industry-approved practice known as ‘disbudding’ on calves – as well as DNA sampling, electronic calf tagging for identification, and teat removal. . . 


Rural round-up

June 8, 2019

New machine to help export traceability:

AgResearch is developing a method of giving New Zealand exports a “unique fingerprint” that scientifically proves their provenance and could be used to deter supply-chain fraud.

The technology is so accurate that it can differentiate New Zealand, English and Welsh lamb using a measurement that only takes a few seconds. It can also detect what feed – such as grain, grass or chicory – a carcass was reared on, an increasingly important trait driving consumer spending. . . 

Click here for more: https://vimeo.com/340251207/7367c5e18b

Dr Alastair Ross said the new rapid evaporative ionisation mass spectrometer (REIMS) machine being used at AgResearch’s Lincoln campus detects the “molecular phenotype” of a sample, a unique “fingerprint” made up of molecules resulting from the interaction of genes and the environment. This measurement, which previously took over an hour of lab work, can now be done in seconds on samples of meat, milk, plants and wine. . . 

Farmer submissions encouraged on ZCB:

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle is encouraging dairy farmers to speak up and make a submission on the Government’s proposed Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill.

“DairyNZ welcomes the opportunity to engage constructively and share our perspective on this Bill and are encouraging dairy farmers right across New Zealand to do the same” says Dr Mackle.

“The potential implications of this legislation, in particular the targets for methane reduction, are huge for our sector. That’s why farmer engagement is so important. . .

New Zealand women’s meat industry group launched – Angie Skerrett:

A group for women working in the meat industry in New Zealand has been launched, in an effort to attract more women into the sector.

The New Zealand launch of Meat Business Women (MBW) is the latest in a rapid expansion of the organisation which was started in the UK.

The group held its inaugural meeting in Napier, to outline their vision for a positive future for the sector. . .

Farmer satisfaction with banks continues to slide:

Farmers’ overall satisfaction with their banks remains strong but it is declining steadily, the Federated Farmers 11th biennial banking survey shows.

Satisfaction rates are at their lowest since the survey began in August 2015.

“More than 1300 of our farmer members responded to the survey we commissioned from Research First and overall satisfaction with banks has dropped over the last six months from 74% to 71%,” Federated Farmers economics and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says. . . 

Proceed with caution on speed limit changes:

Safety of people on our roads is a top priority but any move to reduce speed limits should not be an excuse to skimp on road maintenance and upgrading, Federated Farmers says.

“There are some rural roads which are too windy, narrow and bumpy to drive on safely at 100 km/hr,” Feds transport spokesperson Karen Williams says. “It may indeed be wise to post a lower speed limit on such routes, though the overriding rule ‘drive to the conditions’ springs to mind.”

However, the blanket and widespread speed limit reductions being suggested in the wake of data from a new NZTA mapping tool could cause far more harm than good. . .

Comvita CEO to step down, Hewlett to lead strategic review Jenny Ruth:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita’s chief executive for the past four years, Scott Coulter, is stepping down in September and, while it searches for a replacement, former CEO Brett Hewlett is taking on a temporary executive role to review the company’s underperforming assets.

Coulter will retain a governance role in the manuka honey products company’s business in China business.

“Scott’s commitment to Comvita since joining the company in 2003 has been outstanding,” says chair Neil Craig. . .


Rural round-up

June 3, 2019

Townies ringing the changes on rural folk – Nigel Malthus:

Decisions are being made about and for New Zealand’s rural communities by the 80% of the population who live in urban areas, say the authors of a new book on rural change.

Current trends favour a market led, business focussed approach to regional growth, but these trends downplay social and community considerations, and that needs further thought, the authors say.

Heartland Strong: how rural New Zealand can change and thrive finds that rural communities have enormous strengths which could be enhanced and maintained even in the face of inexorable change. . .

Debt problems rise only slightly – Nigel Stirling:

The number of dairy farmers struggling with high debt has risen slightly, according to the Reserve Bank’s latest stock-take of the health of the financial system.

In its twice-yearly Financial Stability Report it said the number of non-performing dairy loans reported by the trading banks has increased slightly.

“The dairy sector is continuing to recover from the two major dairy price downturns in the past decade. . .

Plan needed for competing wood demands – Fonterra – Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – Wood is a viable industrial fuel but greater effort may be needed to ensure that new demand from processors doesn’t strip supplies from existing users, Fonterra says.

Co-firing the firm’s Brightwater milk powder plant near Nelson on a wood-coal blend shows that wood is a viable means to reduce emissions from process heat, Tony Oosten, the firm’s energy manager, says.

Capital and fuel costs for new wood or coal boilers are now very close and the company could – were it to be building its Darfield 2 dryer in Canterbury again – do that with wood. . . 

 

World leading scientist teaming up with Fonterra on sustainability:

Professor Ian Hunter is a serial entrepreneur. Born in New Zealand, he started his first company at age nine and published his first scientific paper at age 10.

Now living in Boston, he’s the Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT, the co-founder of 25 companies, and has more than 100 patents to his name.

He’s also working on a new project – a partnership with Fonterra to solve some of dairy farming’s biggest sustainability challenges.

Kakariki Fund to help horticulture starts accelerate growth:

A wholesale investment offer being launched this week is aimed at helping the emerging stars of the New Zealand horticulture sector accelerate their growth.

Kakariki Fund Limited, which is seeking $100 million, will invest in orchards, vineyards, plantations and farms to be co-managed by leading horticulture processors and exporters including apple growers Rockit Global and Freshmax, Sacred Hill wines, craft beer hop grower Hop Revolution, Manuka honey producer Comvita and kiwifruit grower and packer DMS Progrowers.

Kakariki is targeting annual investment returns of 10%*, which will be made up of earnings from the sale of crops through the partners and any increases in land values.  . . 

Meat is magnificent water, carbon, methane & nutrition  – Diana Rodgers:

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – John Muir

There was a recent article in The Washington Post entitled “Meat is Horrible”, once again vilifying meat, that was full of inaccurate statements about the harm cattle impose on the land, how bad it is for our health, and how it should be taxed. Stories like this are all too common and we’ve absolutely got to change our thinking on what’s causing greenhouse gas emissions and our global health crisis.

Hint: it’s not grass-fed steak

In the few days since the story originally came out, I’ve been brewing up some different angle to write. I’ve written here, and here about the benefits of red meat, and how Tofurky isn’t the answer to healing the environment or our health. I keep saying the same thing over and over. Recently, I posted this as a response to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new claims that a plant-based diet is optimal. I also wrote about Philadelphia’s sugar tax here, and I don’t think a meat tax is any better of an idea, especially when the government is subsidizing the feed. I’m feeling quite frustrated. . . 


Rural round-up

April 11, 2019

Dairy loses gloss – Neal Wallace:

Political and banking uncertainty appears to be taking some of the gloss off the dairy industry with just seven farms in Southland and Canterbury selling in the last six months.

From October to the middle of March just two dairy farms in Canterbury and five in Southland were sold but a broader lack of buyer confidence has eased national dairy land prices by up to 15%.

Real Estate Institute spokesman Brian Peacocke says a perfect storm has taken the wind out of the sector’s sails but he notes activity has started to pick up.

Rules governing the sale of land to foreign buyers have been tightened, banks are viewing lending to dairying less favourably, tax changes are possible, the introduction of environmental taxes and regulations are expected and borrowing costs . . .

Dire worker shortage in orchards – Richard Rennie:

Hawke’s Bay and Bay of Plenty orchardists are grappling again with a seasonal labour shortage, with a shortfall of thousands of workers expected as kiwifruit and apple harvests reach their peak.

The shortage has horticultural heads exasperated at the need for greater understanding from the Government of how dire the situation has become.

The Social Development Ministry declared a seasonal labour shortage for kiwifruit early this month and extended the already declared labour shortage hitting Hawke’s Bay. 

Shortfalls in staff numbers have increased over last year’s with Bay of Plenty’s deficit of 1400 likely to push 3800 at the mid-April harvest peak. Last year the region was short by 1200 staff at this stage of harvest.  . . 

Fruit rotting, workers suffering amid Hawke’s Bay labour shortage

Fruit is rotting on the ground in Hawke’s Bay amid a massive worker shortage and orchardists warn that overworked pickers are suffering more accidents.

The official labour shortage first declared for Hawke’s Bay six weeks ago – with 192 tourists granted approval to work in orchards – expired on Friday.

It was immediately extended, but growers say it’s too little too late.

Phil Paynter from Johnny Appleseed Holdings had to say goodbye to 22 hard-working pickers last week and says that with a little more warning, he could have kept them. . . 

Guy Trafford looks at two current on-farm issues, pointing to some recent relevant history for controlling feral goats, and to the battle of the science over glyphosate – GUy Trafford:

Some farmers are feeling let down by government after the recommendations from the select committee on military-styled weapons have been announced.

The particular piece that they are at odds with is that only .22 calibre rifles (or less) are allowed to be semi-automatic and with a magazine capable of holding 10 shells or less. Any larger calibre rifles are only to be used by licensed contractors.

To be fair to the government, from my recollection, at no point did they indicate that higher calibre semi-automatic rifles would be allowed, and it would have been incredibly naive to think otherwise. The only animals needing these weapons are likely to be goats with possums and rabbits quite able to be culled by .22 or shot guns . . 

Comvita to take full control of China JV – Rebecca Howard:

 (BusinessDesk) – Honey company Comvita has entered a conditional agreement to acquire the remaining 49 percent of its China joint venture, Comvita Food and Comvita China, for about $20 million.

Comvita will acquire the JV by issuing 4.05 million new Comvita ordinary shares at $4.35 per share and an additional cash payment of $3.19 million. The acquisition will be earnings accretive immediately on a per share basis, it said.

“This completes the ‘final piece of the jigsaw’ with respect to our China Strategy, which we have been working on for a number of years,” chief executive Scott Coulter said. . . 

Students inspired by agricultural science at UWA Future Farm:

Breaking the city-country divide, Year 12 Geography students from Penrhos College recently had their third annual field day at The University of Western Australia’s Ridgefield Farm in Pingelly.

The UWA Ridgefield Farm is home to the Future Farm 2050 project, which facilitates multidisciplinary research and development of sustainable and economically viable farms at local, national and international levels.

Professor Phil Vercoe from The UWA School of Agriculture and Environment and The UWA Institute of Agriculture introduced the students to the Enrich project, which was part of the Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) investigating the benefits of planting native perennial shrubs as livestock feed. . .


Rural round-up

November 25, 2018

Love of cattle leads to stud – Fritha Tagg :

Determined 14-year-old Waikato girl Tayla Hansen who is putting her stamp on the Speckle Park beef breed is quite possibly once of the youngest stud owners in the land.

Hansen, who lives with her mum Brenda, dad Andrew and siblings Cooper, 12, Alexis, 9, and Mitchell, 7, on a small lifestyle block at Orini near Huntly is the proud owner of Limited Edition Speckle Park stud.

As a young girl attending a country school she always had a calf for calf club but had to give them back to the farmer. She wanted a calf of her own that she could keep.  . . 

Science and complexity a great challenge – Barbara Gilham:

Creating the perfect cow for New Zealand herds is at the heart of LIC’s work. Barbara Gilham reports.

THERE are three things Wayne McNee looks for in a job – complexity, challenges and science.

As the chief executive of Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) he is in charge of overseeing the nation’s herds and their reproductive performance so deals with all three daily.

Add to that about 700 staff throughout New Zealand, increasing to 2500 during the peak dairy breeding season and LIC’s offices in Britain, Ireland, Australia and the United States and agents in South America and South Africa and he has plenty to keep him occupied. . . 

Meet DairyNZ’s biosecurity team:

Diversity and reach come to mind when talking about DairyNZ’s biosecurity team, as each member comes from a different background and works with many others from DairyNZ and beyond. We put our biosecurity senior adviser Dave Hodges under the spotlight.

What does your team do and why?

There are four people in our team: Liz Shackleton started as biosecurity manager last month, based in Wellington, while Nita Harding and I are in Hamilton, and Katherine DeWitt is in Invercargill.

We work across science, policy and farmer engagement, focusing on insect pests, weeds and diseases and preventing new organisms getting into New Zealand. We talk directly with farmers and work with (and are supported by) DairyNZ staff across the business, plus others in the sector and elsewhere. . . 

Large scale mānuka investment a first for New Zealand:

Comvita has partnered with rural investment company MyFarm to offer New Zealanders the opportunity to own mānuka plantations for honey production.

MyFarm chief executive Andrew Watters said the collaboration was the first large scale mānuka investment of its kind in New Zealand and signalled a new era for North Island hill country profitability for specific locations.

“This partnership and investment opportunity ticks all the boxes. It will increase export returns from high value mānuka honey and generate excellent returns for investors. From an environmental perspective, we are storing carbon, reducing soil sediment loss and improving biodiversity. We don’t foresee a more green investment than this.” . . 

Achieving target weights in hoggets:

Veterinarians and farmers working together to improve stock performance must emphasise two aspects of hogget growth, say the authors of a guidebook published by Massey University Press.

These are, firstly, regular recording of bodyweight from weaning to first mating; and secondly, the monitoring of animal health and feed requirements.

Guessing the thrift and weight of ewe lambs and hoggets is not reliable; many a farmer who claims to have a ‘good eye’ for stock has been astonished when confronted with ‘hard data’ of weighed sheep. . . 

Red meat’s structure “a burning platform” – Shan Goodwin:

THE possibility the way the red meat industry is set up and run could be driving division between sectors of the supply chain is what has fuelled a review of the document that governs it, the Memorandum of Understanding.

In a rare and comprehensive insight into what is behind the forming of a high calibre taskforce to pick through the structure and operations of the industry, the man at the helm of industry umbrella body the Red Meat Advisory Council has spoken candidly about how resources and investment levels are perhaps being constrained.

Don Mackay says it is supply chains that produce food for customers, not farmers or processors operating in isolation. . . 


Rural round-up

August 23, 2018

Calf rearer changes tactics after Mycoplasma bovis battle – Heather Chalmers:

Farmers who believe they can live with Mycoplasma bovis need to think again, say a Southland couple who are finally clear after eight months battling the bacterial cattle disease. 

Lumsden couple Ben Walling and Sarah Flintoft are now “gun-shy” of returning to their calf rearing business, knowing the risks involved. 

They had bought 1600 calves to rear last spring before being “clobbered” with M. bovis. Their farm was confirmed clear of infection by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in early August.  . . 

New research into animals that give off less nitrogen:

New research may hold the key to lowering our emissions, by breeding animals that naturally excrete less nitrogen.

Utilising the genes of animals that produce less nitrogen could provide farmers with a breakthrough in managing on-farm greenhouse gas emissions.

Two research projects are currently looking to see if there’s a link between the nitrogen content of milk and animal emissions and whether it’s possible to identify and then replicate genes in animals that might control how much nitrogen an animal gives off. . . 

A2 Milk shares rise 4.4% as company doubles down on US, Asia – Sophie Boot:

 (BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk’s shares rose 4.4 percent following the milk marketer’s annual results this morning, but are still well off record highs seen earlier this year.

The company more than doubled net profit to $195.7 million in the June 2018 year, as it widened margins and increased infant formula sales. Revenue rose 68 percent to $922.7 million and earnings before interest, tax, deprecation and amortisation also more than doubled to $283 million. A2 already gave that revenue figure last month, just beating its $900 million-to-$920 million forecast from May, and at the time said ebitda was about 30 percent of sales, implying a figure around $277 million. . .

Milking it: I spent a day on the farm and my nose may never recover – Anuja Nadkarni:

NZ is known for its dairy products, and is home to one of the biggest dairy companies in the world. In this Stuff special investigation, we examine how the price of milk is set and explore the industry behind our liquid asset.

I milked two cows last week.

A bog standard Auckland millennial, milked two cows in my jeans, puffer and rubber boots on a dairy farm.

Being the typical city slicker I am, for a moment I arrogantly thought to myself, “yeah, I could do this”.

Could I though? . . 

Sheepmeat and beef levies to increase:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Board has decided to proceed with the proposed increase in the sheepmeat and beef levies following significant support from farmers.

From 1 October 2018 the levy for sheepmeat will increase 10 cents to 70 cents per head and the beef levy by 80 cents to $5.20 per head. This is 0.4 per cent of the average slaughter value for prime steer/heifer, 0.7 per cent cull dairy cow, 0.7 per cent of lamb, and 1.1 per cent of mutton over the last three years.

The additional levies will be invested in accelerating four key programmes: the international activation of the Taste Pure Nature origin brand and the Red Meat Story, helping the sector lift its environmental performance and reputation, telling the farmer story better, and strengthening B+LNZ’s capability to address biosecurity risks. . .

Comvita hones focus on biggest growth drivers as it seeks to bolster profits – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, New Zealand’s largest producer and marketer of honey and bee-related products, is reducing its risk and positioning itself for future growth by honing in on where it can get the most bang for its buck.

The company’s shares are the worst performer on the benchmark index this year after earnings were hurt by two consecutive years of poor honey harvests. Its honey supply business lost $6.2 million in operating profit in its 2018 financial year and $6.6 million in the 2017 year. . . 

Guy Trafford looks at what the future might hold for Lincoln University, and how consumer perceptions might change feedlot operations – Guy Trafford:

Lincoln University staff were called to a briefing on Tuesday this week from Chancellor Steve Smith and Acting Vice Chancellor Professor James McWha on what the future holds for the University.

For several years rumours and stories have been doing the rounds regarding Lincoln not helped by the issues surrounding the recently appointed and then moved-on Vice Chancellors.

The crux of the announcement revolved around the fact that Lincoln had signed a memorandum of understanding with University of Canterbury to form a joint future together. Considerable effort was spent reassuring staff that, whatever the future holds, Lincoln will retain its brand and culture and its autonomy to operate its multidiscipline programmes with their land-based programmes. . . 

Farmers protest California water plan aimed to save salmon :

Hundreds of California farmers rallied at the Capitol on Monday to protest state water officials’ proposal to increase water flows in a major California river, a move state and federal politicians called an overreach of power that would mean less water for farms in the Central Valley.

“If they vote to take our water, this does not end there,” said Republican state Sen. Anthony Cannella. “We will be in court for 100 years.”

Environmentalists and fishermen offered a different take on the other side of the Capitol to a much smaller audience. . . 

 


Rural round-up

August 2, 2018

Farmers seek off-farm income to counter rising costs – Heather Chalmers:

A farming leader says it is no surprise that farms are increasingly reliant on off-farm income.  

A Lincoln University survey has shown just over a quarter of farms obtained 30 per cent or more of their income from off-farm sources.

Farmers were struggling to keep up with the mainly inflation-caused price squeeze, the survey found. But the authors said some families found the rural lifestyle compensated for tight finances. . .

Dairy farm effluent compliance in Tasman District coming up roses – Cherie Sivignon:

Tasman district deputy mayor Tim King says the result of the 2017-18 dairy farm effluent compliance survey is a “good story all round”.

It revealed 90 of the 96 farms inspected were fully compliant for effluent management. The other six, graded non-compliant, comprised five with minor ponding and one that failed to adhere to setback rules.

In a report on the matter, council compliance and investigation officer Kat Bunting says all six instances of non-compliance were considered a minor breach of the rules that resulted in “no adverse environmental effect”.

Formal written warnings with directions for improvements were sent to those six farms and return visits found full and continued compliance. . .

Rabobank Global Dairy Top 20 – A Shuffling of the deck chairs:

Dairy price recovery in 2017 has positively affected the combined turnover of the top 20 global dairy companies, which, in 2017, was up 7.2% on the year in US dollar terms and 5.1% in euro terms, according to RaboResearch’s latest Global Dairy Top 20 – A Shuffling of the Deck Chairs report.

“For the second consecutive year, there were no new entrants to the Dairy Top 20 list, with the USD 5bn threshold difficult to achieve due to a scarcity of large acquisitions or mergers.” says Peter Paul Coppes, Senior Analyst – Dairy. “However, while the names have remained the same, the order shifted in 2017.” . . 

UK’s Daily Mail urges Theresa May to listen to Kiwi trade expert– Point of Order:

Brits who may be despairing at the lack of progress on Brexit, as Britain’s political class trade blows and the process becomes bogged down in politicking, have been told “there is a small corner of a government department that they can turn to for cheer”.

This is the office of New Zealand’s Crawford Falconer, Chief Trade Negotiation Adviser at the Department of International Trade, described by the Daily Mail as

“… a man of immense experience in such matters. And, in contrast to the doomsayers, his message about Brexit is one of almost unbounded optimism.”

 The article goes on to say: . .

Comvita touted as potential bidder for Manuka Health company – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, the NZX-listed manuka honey company, declined to comment on whether it is interested in making a bid for honey company Manuka Health New Zealand which has reportedly been put up for sale by its Australian owner Pacific Equity Partners.

The Australian newspaper suggested Comvita or its largest shareholder China Resources Ng Fung as possible buyers of Manuka Health, which was put on the market about six weeks ago for more than A$200 million by PEP and advisers Luminis Partners. Manuka Health was reportedly sold to the Australian private equity firm in 2015 for $110 million. . .

 

Inter-club challenge still going strong:

The last hurrah for the Canterbury dog trial season, the annual Inter-Club Challenge, was held at Waihi Station, home to the Geraldine Collie Club, on July 1.

The day turned from a ”rugged-up” winter’s morning to a balmy northwest afternoon.

The Canterbury Centre is one of the largest centres in New Zealand,comprising 18 club trials stretching from Cheviot in the north to Mackenzie in the east and Levels (Timaru area) in the south, encompassing all areas in between.

In its 25th year of competition, the trial attracted a strong gallery of spectators and team supporters from throughout the province, testament to the strength and popularity of the sport. . .

Strong interest expected with vacant governance roles on Ballance board:

 A “genuine and rare governance opportunity” has opened up with one of New Zealand’s industry-leading rural co-operatives with Ballance Agri-Nutrients announcing that two farmer-elected directors will be stepping down from its Board this year.

Ballance shareholders are currently being notified of the vacancies created by the decisions of Gray Baldwin not to seek re-election, and Donna Smit who is standing down in the North Island Ward (N). Murray Taggart is retiring by rotation (as required under the Co-operative’s Constitution) and seeking re-election in the South Island Ward (S). . .

MyFarm launches $17.6m Hop Garden investment

MyFarm has launched a $17.64 million investment into what will become New Zealand’s largest hop garden.

The opportunity to invest in Tapawera Hop Garden Limited Partnership includes the purchase of a 96-hectare property and the lease of a second 50-hectare property which will be developed into a 116 canopy (effective) hectare garden. Half of the garden will be planted this spring alongside other development such as building hop picking and drying facilities and worker accommodation. . . 


Rural round-up

June 22, 2018

Chinese eggs not all in one basket – Fonterra – Sudesh Kissun:

China’s digital world is second to none, but Fonterra isn’t putting all its eggs in one basket in selling fresh and packaged food.

Fonterra chief operating officer global consumer and foodservice Lukas Paravacini says the co-op is embracing e-commerce and traditional brick-and-mortar as its sales strategy.

Speaking at a recent New Zealand China Business Council conference in Auckland, Paravacini outlined lessons Fonterra has learned over the last five years while building a $3.4 billion business in China. . .

Communication seen as key in eradication – Sally Rae:

A Mycoplasma bovis-affected farmer’s heartfelt plea for communication brought a round of applause at a meeting in North Otago yesterday.

About 100 people attended the MPI roadshow at Papakaio, including Waimate farmer Martyn Jensen, who described himself as “farm No39 infected”.

He addressed the meeting reluctantly, as a dairy support farmer who was grazing heifers for a farmer whose herd was confirmed with having M. bovis.

In April, the farmer contacted Mr Jensen to tell him of the infection and, several weeks later, he was contacted by MPI.

What made it harder was they were “perfectly good” heifers and there had not been one clinical sign of the disease. . . 

‘M. bovis’ concerns aired at MPI meeting – Tom Kitchin:

Government officials say they are doing all they can to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis but there are still major concerns from farmers in the Central Otago region.

About 80 people attended a meeting held by the Ministry for Primary Industries in Alexandra yesterday.

A woman in the audience said she thought the ministry was “struggling”. . .  . . 

Rabbits not dying like flies – Nigel Malthus:

Scientists say although the new rabbit calicivirus is working as expected, farmers are not seeing the knockdown they may have hoped for.

The new strain of rabbit haemorrhagic virus disease, RHDV1-K5, was released several weeks ago at 150 sites.

Manaaki Whenua (Landcare Research) has monitored release sites since then. . .

Comvita buys 20% stake in Uruguay’s Apiter for US$6.25M to secure propolis supplies – Jonathan Underhill

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita said it has acquired 20 percent of Uruguay’s Apiter for US$6.25 million and signed a long-term supply agreement to secure another source of propolis for sales into Asia.

The purchase price is comprised of US$5.65 million in cash and milestone earnouts and US$600,000 of Comvita shares, with settlement due on July 2, Te Puke-based Comvita said in a statement. Propolis is made by bees from plant resins to protect and sterilise their hives. . .

New Zealand’s ultimate steak connoisseur judging experience:

We found New Zealand’s Ultimate Steak Connoisseur, Gretchen Binns and brought her along to help determine the country’s tastiest and most tender steak at the PGG Wrightson Steak of Origin competition. Here is her experience of the day:

Foul weather, farmers, red bands galore, Field days 2018!

The ultimate day of all days…well it was for this steak connoisseur.  And no doubt for a nervous farmer or three whose paddock to plate skills were being put to the ‘taste’.

PGG Wrightson/Beef and Lamb NZ’s Steak of Origin finals time. . .

Steady volume at end of season:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (REINZ) shows there were 71 fewer farm sales (-13.8%) for the three months ended May 2018 than for the three months ended May 2017. Overall, there were 443 farm sales in the three months ended May 2018, compared to 418 farm sales for the three months ended April 2018 (+6.0%), and 514 farm sales for the three months ended May 2017. 1,453 farms were sold in the year to May 2018, 18.8% fewer than were sold in the year to May 2017, with 4.0% more finishing farms, 1.7% fewer dairy farms, 36.3% fewer grazing and 34.3% fewer arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to May 2018 was $26,219 compared to $27,212 recorded for three months ended May 2017 (-3.6%). The median price per hectare fell 4.0% compared to April. . .

 Get out of farmers’ way: In the end government interventions end up sustaining, not reducing, rural poverty – Sanjeev Sabhlok

While most other sectors were liberalised in 1991, agriculture was not. Indian farmers arguably remain among the most unfree in the world.

Some claim India won’t be able to feed itself without the government playing a hands-on role in agriculture. But countries like New Zealand and Australia with liberalised agriculture have become more productive. Each Australian farmer produces enough to feed 600 people, 150 at home and 450 overseas. Liberalisation of agriculture in 1991 in India could well have made us a middle-income nation by now. Instead, our small farmers remain under chronic stress.

Another argument, sometimes made, is that farmers are frequently seen to agitate for government support. That’s not necessarily true. Farmer organisations like the Kisan Coordination Committee and Shetkari Sangathana have for decades opposed government intervention in agriculture. After their leader Sharad Joshi passed away in 2015, new leaders like Anil Ghanwat have vigorously argued for the government to leave farmers alone. . .


Rural round-up

March 3, 2018

Hauraki Plains dairy farmer elected to oversee the creation of Auckland educational farm:

A respected Hauraki Plains dairy farmer will lead the board overseeing the development of a new educational farm in Auckland.

Julie Pirie has been elected to chair the five-member Donald Pearson Farm Board.

The 74-hectare dairy farm in South Auckland was gifted to NZ Young Farmers by the late Donald Pearson last year. . . 

Slim pickings: Worker shortage leaves apple farms frantic – Anusha Bradley:

Apple growers in Hawke’s Bay are preparing to work around the clock to cope with what’s being described as an extreme shortage of seasonal workers.

Orchardists said they have less have than half the workers they need, and despite a recruitment campaign, are failing to attract the usual hordes of backpackers they rely on.

Hastings-based Bostock is the largest producer of organic apples in the country.

Bostock human resources manager Vikki Garrett said usually they’d hire about a 100 or so backpackers, but had only managed to recruit 10. . . 

Bug’s impact on horticulture devastating, report says:

An economic report, released today, says if the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) establishes in New Zealand it would dramatically impact New Zealand’s gross domestic product (GDP) as well as export revenues from horticulture.

Prepared by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER), Quantifying the economic impacts of a Brown Marmorated Stink Bug incursion in New Zealand, shows GDP falling between $1.8 billion and $3.6 billion by 2038, and horticulture export value falling between $2 billion and $4.2 billion by 2038. . . 

Agriculture exporters meet to discuss issues:

Key stakeholders in the agro-export market today gathered to discuss possible solutions to address pertinent issues faced by exporters in the export pathways.

While officially opening the Agriculture Exporters Symposium at the Tanoa Plaza Hotel this morning, Permanent Secretary for Agriculture, Mr. David Kolitagane said the objective of the workshop was to address constraints in the agro-export pathway as the impact of the contribution of agricultural exporters was integral to economic development.

“The rationale for organizing today’s symposium is to address constraints in the export pathway, collate information and make appropriate and . . .

Farmers left in limbo as Mycoplasma Bovis takes hold:

With just one month to go until a decision will be made, farmers will understandably be left confused and anxious about whether the Government is going to eradicate the crippling cattle disease Mycoplasma Bovis, National’s Primary Industries spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) officials appeared before the Primary Productions Select Committee at Parliament this morning to answer questions about how the Government plans to contain the spread, compensate farmers for their losses and ultimately to eradicate it. . . 

Tractors lead agricultural imports:

Tractor imports have remained at high levels in January 2018, continuing the trend for the last year, Stats NZ said today.

The value of imported tractors rose $27 million (191 percent) in January 2018 from January 2017. For the year ended January 2018, values were up 51 percent compared with the January 2017 year.

“Imports of tractors can be an indicator of confidence in the agriculture industry,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said. “The last time we imported this many tractors was in 2014 when dairy prices were at their peak.” . . 

Deborah Marris joins Synlait leadership team:

Synlait will welcome Deborah Marris to the Executive Leadership Team in the role of General Counsel and Head of Commercial on Monday 5 March.

“Deborah’s outstanding legal and commercial background makes her the perfect person to join our team. Our rapid growth requires strong leadership in this area and Deborah has the skills, foresight and international experience to support us well,” says John Penno, Managing Director and CEO.

Ms Marris’ role will encompass legal affairs, risk, corporate governance, insurance and commercial matters, including customer and supplier contractual relationships. . . 

NZ King Salmon sees weaker second half on hot summer; 1st-half profit soars 81% – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand King Salmon says the “extraordinarily hot summer” has cut survival rates at its fish farms in the Marlborough Sounds and it expects weaker second-half earnings after profit in the first half soared 81 percent.

Profit rose to $15.7 million in the six months ended Dec. 31 from $8.7 million a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Sales climbed to $87.7 million from $63.6 million. . . 

Seeka annual profit falls 44% on lower kiwifruit volumes, impaired banana business – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Seeka posted a 44 percent decline in annual profit as Australasia’s biggest kiwifruit grower booked a $2 million charge on its banana sourcing unit while managing a decline in kiwifruit volumes.

Net profit fell to $5.8 million, or 34 cents per share in calendar 2017, from $10.4 million, or 62 cents a year earlier, the Te Puke-based company said in a statement. The year-earlier figure was bolstered by a $3.1 million gain on an insurance payment. Revenue fell 2 percent to $186.8 million. . .

Comvita swings to first-half profit, reiterates full-year guidance – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, the mānuka honey company, swung to a first-half profit on strong sales growth and a recovery in the “grey” or informal sales channel into China and reiterated its full-year earnings guidance despite bad weather hitting the 2018 honey season.

The Te Puke-based company reported a net profit of $3.7 million, or 8.31 cents per share, in the six months to Dec. 31 versus a loss of $7.1 million, or 17.18 cents, in the prior period. In January the company said net profit would be more than $3 million. Sales reached $83.6 million versus $57.7 million in the prior year. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were $9.9 million versus an ebitda loss of $2.8 million in the same period a year earlier. . . 


Rural round-up

February 17, 2018

Disease has two hubs – Annette Scott:

Cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis has been in New Zealand for at least two years and is spread wider than first thought, Southland veterinary clinic Vet South says while Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor says there are now two infection hubs.

The Winton practice sent an email to clients on Thursday urging people whose stock or properties might have been linked to Southern Centre Dairies to come forward.

Southern Centre Dairies, the hub of infected properties in Southland, is owned by Gea and Alfons Zeestraten.

Vet South director veterinarian Georgette Wouda said Ministry for Primary Industries surveillance work indicated the disease was limited to a relatively small group of farms but more needed to be known.

“Down in our region all of the infected properties to date have links with Alfons Zeestraten’s farms. . .

Lamb and wool marketers confident – Sally Rae:

Farmers visiting Alliance Group’s tent at the Southern Field Days had mostly one burning question — how long could lamb prices be sustained.

And the response? “We feel market fundamentals around the world give us some confidence,” chairman Murray Taggart said.

The North Canterbury farmer acknowledged that his position was a “bit easier” than what it was when he first took on the role.

The mood among farmers was “pretty positive” and, despite climatic conditions, he was “really chuffed” with market prices.

“You’ve done a bloody good job,” a long-time shareholder told Mr Taggart on the way past, but Mr Taggart said the company was not resting on its laurels. . . 

Momentum grows in understanding of farming, farmers – Sally Rae:

Federated Farmers national president Katie Milne believes there is real momentum building for farming — “and in the right way”.

The straight-talking West Coast dairy farmer — who last year broke a 118-year history of male leadership of the rural lobby organisation — has been at the Southern Field Days in Waimumu this week.

Joking that she had left her partner unsupervised around the many machinery sites, she helped a Federated Farmers team to victory over FMG in a tug-o-war competition.

Ms Milne, who is known for her down-to-earth and no-nonsense approach,  said the leadership role was “really exciting” and it was a privilege to be a voice for farmers. While she knew it was a big job, it had surprised her the places that she ended up and the people she had met.

It had been somewhat of a baptism by fire, with the general election  being held straight after she came into the role. . . 

Honey season better but patchy – Richard Rennie:

With parts of Northland and Bay of Plenty grappling with major rainfall while parts of Taranaki and Otago remain parched, honey producers are reporting mixed results for the season’s honey collection.

Comvita, one of the country’s largest honey producers, has already informed investors this season has been a successful one, largely thanks to more favourable conditions in December and January. 

However, severe weather in early January hit Northland and Waikato hard at a critical flowering period, pushing yields down towards a more average season.

Comvita chief executive Scott Coulter told investors if the above-normal temperatures remain for the rest of this summer, Wairarapa, Whanganui, East Coast and Hawke’s Bay are expected to have an above average season. . . 

Big toy has price tag to match – Sally Rae:

If you’ve got a spare $625,000 sitting in the wallet, then a Fendt 1050 tractor could be just the ticket.

The world’s largest conventional tractor was attracting plenty of interest at JJ Ltd’s site at the Southern Field Days.

There are only three of the 500hp tractors — described by JJ’s staff as being in a “class of its own” — in New Zealand, two demonstrator models and one that had been bought by a North Island contractor. . . 

NZ Well Positioned to be global player in alternative protein market – producer:

Eco conscious millennial consumers are reshaping demand for alternative sources of protein according to the country’s largest manufacturer of vegetarian foods.

Mark Roper spokesperson for Life Health Foods – which makes plant based Bean Supreme and recently launched Alternative Meat Co. products, says growing concern for the environment is leading this demographic to seek out other options to integrate into their diet.

A nationwide survey commissioned by the company has found that millennials aged 18-34 are the most likely demographic to adopt a mostly meat-free lifestyle in the next decade. . . 


Rural round-up

February 1, 2018

Let ideas flow on water management – Andrew Curtis:

Andrew Curtis is chief executive of IrrigationNZ, a national not-for-profit membership organisation for farmers and growers who use irrigation. It carries out training on efficient water use.

As year’s went, 2017 was a fairly dramatic one. In February, one of the biggest fires in New Zealand history ignited on the Port Hills amid tinder-dry conditions, causing thousands of residents to be evacuated. In March, the Upper North Island was soaked, Auckland experienced its wettest March day in nearly 60 years, and more than 300 homes were flooded.

July brought flooding to Otago and Canterbury, with snow and strong winds in other areas. The end of the year saw a marked change, with many regions experiencing record low levels of rain in November. . .

Remembering rain will come – Sally Rae:

Central Otago farmer Donny Maclean has a saying – ”we’re a day closer to rain than we were yesterday”.

It was important to keep remembering that, he said, as the searing heat continued to beat down on his Omakau farm, reaching temperatures up to 36degC on Monday.

”Central Otago will never let you down. It’ll take you right to the edge [but] it’ll come right in the nick of time,” he said.

Bellfield has been the Maclean family for 125 years and it was the longest period of continual heat Mr Maclean (56) had experienced during his years of farming.

”We’ve never been this hot this long,” he said yesterday. . . 

Long term effect on farmers considered – Simon Hartley:

The public and businesses are being urged to take a long-term view of the drought affecting Otago and Southland, given the compounding factors being faced by all farmers.

The lack of water, rising irrigation costs, failed crops, diminished feed stocks and crop replacement are just some of the issues being faced by farmers in the months ahead, Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan said, after a medium-scale adverse drought event was declared in parts of Otago and Southland yesterday.

”This drought is going to affect crops for some time yet, going into autumn and winter,” he said, when contacted, yesterday. . . 

Mycoplasma outbreak highlights flaws:

The formation of an action group to provide a voice for and to assist Southland farmers understand and deal with Mycoplasma bovis is a positive move.

It is good to see farmers, veterinarians and other members of the industry working together in the quest to eradicate the bacterial cattle disease.

Eradication remains the focus of the Ministry for Primary Industries and so it should, given the implications of the disease not only for New Zealand’s rural sector, but also the country as a whole. . . 

Exports and imports hit new highs in 2017:

Both exports and imports reached new highs in 2017, as New Zealand earned more from agricultural products and bought more cars and computers, Stats NZ said today.

“The previous high for the value of goods exports in a calendar year was 2014,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said. “The previous high for imports was 2015.”

Annual exports were valued at $53.7 billion for the year ended December 2017, up $5.2 billion (11 percent) from 2016. Dairy products led the rise, up $2.8 billion to $14.0 billion. Meat rose $706 million to $6.6 billion. Logs, wood, and wood articles rose $546 million to $4.7 billion. . .

Monthly exports reach new record in December:

Exports of milk powder, butter, and cheese lifted total exports to a record $5.6 billion in December 2017, Stats NZ said today. Monthly exports were $1.1 billion higher than in December 2016.

“Record export values of dairy products drove total exports to their highest-ever monthly value,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said. “The previous highest values for both dairy exports and total exports were recorded in the 2013/14 dairy export season, when dairy prices were at a high level.” . . 

Comvita will report 1H profit over $3M, confirms annual guidance on normal honey harvest – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita expects to report a “significant turnaround” in its first-half results, with net profit over $3 million, and says it is tracking in line with its full-year guidance after good weather in December and January boosted the honey harvest.

The Te Puke-based company, due to report its earnings for the six months ended Dec. 31, 2017, later this month, said the honey season has progressed to a point where it has early estimates of an average or normal harvest season, though it won’t have full visibility of the crop until April/May. The company’s chief executive Scott Coulter said it was a “welcome return to generally favourable weather conditions conducive to producing honey, compared to the extremely poor season in 2017.” . . 

The changing face of Agritech:

Industries rise, fall and evolve under the constant development of new and innovative technologies. Refrigeration changed how food was supplied, the lightbulb enabled us to utilise more hours in the day, the telephone connected people and the internet distributed information far better and quicker than ever before.

A new a wave of digital technologies is here. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoTs), blockchain, big data, robotics and automation are just some of the technologies currently impacting business. No matter whether it’s banking, engineering, retail or agriculture, these innovations are changing how each sector operates. . .


Rural round-up

August 10, 2017

Farmers to Labour: “Tell Us Your Numbers”:

Federated Farmers’ challenge to Labour is: “Tell us what numbers you have in mind.”

Labour yesterday announced proposals for a tax on water for large commercial users, including farmers who rely on irrigation water, but in the absence of detail some eye-watering numbers in the billions of dollars have been floated.

Federated Farmers water spokesman Chris Allen said the pledge to consult with those affected if Labour is part of the new government is appreciated, but it still means voters are sailing blind into the election. . .

Seven farm tests show  no disease – Sally Rae:

The first test results from seven of Van Leeuwen Dairy Group’s farms have returned negative for cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

The bacterial disease has previously been confirmed on two VLDG properties in the Waimate district, the first time the disease had been detected in New Zealand.

In an update yesterday, response incident controller Eve Pleydell said two further rounds of testing would be required on those seven farms before they could be declared free of the disease. Results were pending for the remaining seven VLDG properties.

Good progress was made during the weekend, as laboratory teams continued to test thousands of milk and blood samples from VLG farms and neighbouring properties, Dr Pleydell said. . . 

‘No evidence’ imported frozen semen cause of mycoplasma outbreak:

Key points
MPI has confirmed no evidence that of resistance to mycoplasma in imports of bovine semen.
World Wide Sires – marketing arm of the largest dairy farmer owned cooperative in the world Select Sires/Accelerated Genetics – reinforce all bulls and semen free of the disease.

The New Zealand arm of the largest dairy farmer owned cooperative in the world – and one of the globe’s major semen companies – is pleased MPI has confirmed there is no evidence that resistance has developed to mycoplasma in imported bovine semen*. . . 

Horticulture election manifesto asks for land and water protection:

Horticulture New Zealand has launched its 2017 Election Manifesto with five key priorities for the new Government, to be elected on 23 September.

“Keeping unique growing land and having sensible policies around access to water are critical to New Zealand’s ongoing supply of safe, healthy, fresh fruit and vegetables,” Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says.

“One of our main asks for a new Government will be a food security policy for New Zealand. This may sound redundant in such an abundant land, but there are a host of challenges to our food supply including urban encroachment on unique growing land, emotional battles over water, changing weather patterns, access to enough people to grow and harvest our food, and increasing border traffic meaning more potential biosecurity risks. . . 

New national standard for plantation forestry:

A new nationwide set of environmental rules for managing New Zealand’s 1.7 million hectares of plantation forestry will better protect the environment and deliver significant savings in compliance costs, Minister for the Environment Dr Nick Smith and Associate Minister for Primary Industries Louise Upston say.

“Forestry is New Zealand’s third largest primary industry but its efficiency is hampered by the confusing mix of planning rules across New Zealand’s 86 councils. The strength of this national approach is that it will better protect the environment while also improving the productivity of the forestry sector by applying consistent environmental standards to reduce operational costs,” Dr Smith says. . . 

What’s gone wrong with New Zealand farming? – Glen Herud:

New Zealanders were once proud of our farming heritage. But at some point, as agriculture intensified and started spilling into our other source of pride, our clean green image, trust was lost, writes GLEN HERUD.

To the general public, it looked like farmers were getting greedy.

But like Auckland housing, farming has changed from an every man’s game. And the answer is not to tweak the regulations or adjust nitrogen inputs with new technology. These are both fine. The answer is a whole new system.

The number of dairy herds in New Zealand is decreasing but the size of each herd is increasing.

A graph from Dairy NZ shows that in 1986 there were 16,000 dairy herds with an average herd size of 140 cows. Today we have 11,500 herds with an average herd size of 420 cows. . . 

The great food disruption: part 4 – Rosie Bosworth:

Milk without the cow, meatless burgers that bleed, chicken and shrimp made from plant matter, and now foie gras without a force-fed goose in sight. A new food revolution enabled by science and biotech is brewing and, if it succeeds, animals will have little to do with the future of food. For some, that future looks rosy, but, as Dr. Rosie Bosworth writes in part three of a series, the implications for New Zealand’s agricultural sector could be less than palatable.

Tyson Foods – one of the biggest meat producers in the world – sent its principal scientist, Hultz Smith, to the Modern Agriculture Foundation’s Cultured Meat and Path to Commercialisation Conference in Israel this year to learn from the world’s top-tier cellular agricultural and tissue engineering scientists, researchers, academics and industry leaders. A proponent of cellular agriculture, Hultz even openly supports cultured meat research, viewing it as a viable substitute to current meat production and one that gives consumers a broader choice. And in late 2016 the company launched a $150 million venture fund zeroing in on the alternative protein – including cellular agriculture – space. “This fund is about broadening our exposure to innovative, new forms of protein and ways of producing food,” said Monica McGurk, Tyson executive vice president of strategy, at its launch. . .

Australia’s Capilano Honey profits bolstered from capital gain in asset sale to Comvita JV – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Australian honey maker Capilano Honey’s joint venture with Comvita has had an immediate, if unrealised, benefit for the Queensland-based company’s bottom line.

The two honey companies teamed up last year to create Medibee Apiaries in Australia to produce Leptospermum honey, commonly known as manuka, for medical and natural health products. In July last year, Capilano realised a capital gain of A$2.1 million following the sale of its manuka beekeeping assets into the joint venture with no tax attributable to the capital gain on the asset sale, it said. The total assets it sold into the joint venture were worth A$9.2 million. . . 

PGG Wrightson full-year profit gains 5.7% as lower debt costs offset stalled revenue growth –  Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson posted a 5.7 percent gain in full-year profit, meeting its guidance, as the rural services company benefitted from lower interest costs, offsetting stalled growth in revenue.

Profit rose to $46.3 million in the 12 months ended June 30, from $43.8 million a year earlier, the Christchurch-based company said in a statement. Sales fell to $1.13 billion from $1.18 billion. . . 

Young Grower of the Year decided next week:

The winner of the New Zealand Young Vegetable Grower and four regional Young Fruit Grower winners will compete next week for the national title Young Grower of the Year 2017.

On August 16 and 17, at the Sudima Airport Hotel in Christchurch, the five finalists will test their horticultural skills and knowledge. This year’s entrants are:

New Zealand Young Vegetable Grower 2017 – Scott Wilcox, Pukekohe
Hawke’s Bay Young Fruit Grower 2017 – Jordan James, Whakatu
Central Otago Young Fruit Grower 2017 – Ben Geaney, Waimate
Nelson Young Fruit Grower 2017 – Ralph Bastian, Appleby
Bay of Plenty Fruit Grower 2017 – Erin Atkinson, Te Puke . . 


Rural round-up

May 8, 2017

Finding alternatives to dairy – Keith Woodford:

New Zealand dairy production has increased by 80% since Year 2000. This has come almost equally from both more dairy hectares and more production per hectare. However, the limits to pastoral dairying in New Zealand have largely been reached. Where do we go from here?

First, there is a need to recognise the two reasons why pastoral dairying has largely reached its limits.

The most important reason is that society is no longer willing to accept the effects of cow urine leaching from pastures into waterways and aquifers. Huge progress has been made in fencing off livestock from waterways, and in tree planting alongside the streams, but that does not solve the problem of the urine patch. This 2013/14 year is therefore the last year of large-scale conversion of sheep and beef farms to pastoral dairying. New environmental regulations have effectively closed that door. . .

Lifting water quality and profit too – Nicole Sharp:

Southland farmers are continuing to be proactive when it comes to changing regulations within Environment Southland’s Water and Land Plan. Mid-Oreti and Hedgehope farmers held a catchment field day recently to discuss the plan and what more they could do on farm to continue to improve water quality. Nicole Sharp reports.

How can you make looking after the environment profitable?

That was the hot topic at the mid-Oreti and Hedgehope catchment field days recently, where farmers gathered to discuss Environment Southland’s Water and Land Plan and what more they could do. . . 

Farmers hold back wool from auction in weak market  – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – Less wool than forecast was offered at New Zealand’s weekly auction as farmers held back bales from sale in a weak market.

Just 6,821 bales were put up for sale at yesterday’s South Island auction after 11 percent of the expected bales were withdrawn before the sale started, according to AgriHQ. Even with the low number of bales on offer, the clearance rate fell 2 percentage points from last week’s auction to 73 percent, lagging behind last year’s levels, AgriHQ said. . . 

Comvita shares slump 9.4% on Deutsche Bank downgrade, news of Myrtle Rust in NZ  – Paul McBeth:

 (BusinessDesk) – Comvita shares sank 9.4 percent as investment analysts cut their valuation for the manuka honey products maker, coinciding with yet another problem out of the Te Puke-based company’s control with the discovery of Myrtle Rust in the Far North.

The shares fell as low as $6.07 in early trading today, the lowest since Jan. 23, and were recently down 65 cents to $6.25 after Deutsche Bank cut its price target for the stock to $7.05 from a previous target of $9. Deutsche Bank owns a stake in broking and research firm Craigs Investment Partners, whose executive chairman Neil Craig also heads up Comvita’s board. .. 

New South Wales agricultural region showcased to leading New Zealand and Australian farmers:

Puketapu beef finisher Rob Pattullo was one of nearly 50 leading farmers from across New Zealand and Australia to tour North-western New South Wales recently.

Hosted by specialist agricultural bank, Rabobank, the tour group gathered to visit some of the region’s most progressive farming businesses. . . 

Harraway Sisters Help Celebrate 150 Years of Harraways Oats

New Zealand’s iconic oats company, Harraways, is celebrating 150 years of providing Kiwis with delicious oats.

Since 1867, Harraways has been operating from its original site in Green Island, Dunedin and remains privately owned.

With humble beginnings as a small family business producing flour for the growing population of Dunedin, oats weren’t the company’s sole focus at the time. Replacing the old method of stone grinding flour with an oat roller milling plant in 1893, a thousand tonnes of oats were produced in the first year, expanding Harraways into the breakfast cereal producer that they are well-known as today. . . 

Star gazing tours and new pools are ‘hot’ attractions at Tekapo Springs:

The introduction of star gazing tours married with the launch of new pools have put Tekapo Springs firmly on the global tourism map. 

Star gazing tours in one of the world’s top ‘clear sky’ locations was launched by Tekapo Springs in New Zealand’s Mackenzie country just two months ago, taking viewing the Southern night sky to whole new levels. . . 

 Manuka Health unveils $3.5 million Wairarapa Apiculture Centre
Minister for Food Safety officially opens state of the art processing plant:

Leading honey manufacturer Manuka Health has today officially opened its expanded national apiculture business after a $3.5million build that will significantly expand the organisation’s export capacity.

Joining CEO John Kippenberger, the Minister for Food Safety Hon David Bennett opened the Manuka Health Wairarapa Apiculture Centre in an event attended by MP for the Wairarapa, Alastair Scott; Mayor John Booth of Carterton District Council; Chief Executive of Carterton District Council, Jane Davis; industry and government representatives; neighbours; beekeeper partners; site design and build companies; and Manuka Health staff. . .


Rural round-up

January 24, 2017

Young farmer’s wife (33): ‘He kissed me goodbye, told me that he loved me… but then my whole life was ripped apart’:

 The wife of a young farmer who was killed in a freak farm accident has appealed to farmers to slow down and work safely.      

Diane Banville, whose husband Kevin died on the family farm in Newbawn, New Ross last year said her “whole life was ripped apart” just ahead of the couple’s first wedding anniversary.  

Kevin was killed when a silage bale fell on him on March 17th, just one month after Diane had given birth to the couple’s second child. . .  

Farm thinking to build supercity Glenys Christian:

After leaving school at 17 Bill Cashmore started at the bottom of the farming ladder and worked his way up.

Then six years ago he thought the creation of Auckland as a supercity could cause problems for rural people so he got into politics and again started at the bottom and worked his way up so he’s now second in charge. He told Glenys Christian about his aim to be not just a voice for rural people but to take a New Zealand Inc approach to the job.  

When Bill Cashmore built fences on his Orere Point farm he made certain they would be around in 50 years time by using eight wires and plenty of battens.  “You mightn’t put up so many but you were sure they would last,” he said. . . 

Comvita warns annual earnings to slump on weak honey harvest, slow China sales – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita shares sank 14 percent after the manuka honey products maker warned annual earnings will tumble by about two-thirds as the nation’s unseasonably wet and windy weather saps the honey harvest and slow sales via China’s informal trading channels.

Te Puke-based Comvita expects after-tax operating earnings of between $5 million and $7 million in the year ending June 30, having previously predicted it would be in line with 2016’s earnings of $17.1 million. However, the company’s sale of its Medihoney brand and shareholding in Derma Sciences will bolster the bottom line, with net profit expected to be between $20 million and $22 million. . . 

Water woes for CHB farming couple – Nicki Harper:

Central Hawke’s Bay’s Helen Powley checks the rain gauge every day at her and husband Matthew Powley’s property near State Highway 50 on Smedley Rd.

Her record shows they’ve had 10mm of rain so far this month.

This time last year they’d had 130mm.

It’s dry, but making matters worse is that for the first time since they have farmed the 160ha property, their 200ft well dried up last April.

In addition, a pipe they had installed to take water from the Mangaonuku Stream as of last weekend is no longer supplementing stock water because the access point on the stream has also dried up. . . 

Ewes flock to annual Hawarden fair – Amanda Bowes:

The number of sheep on offer at the upcoming Hawarden Ewe Fair has surprised stock agents and has resulted in a two day sale this week.

Livestock agent for Rural Livestock Kevin Rowe says after a meeting of agents it was decided to split the sale.

“There is around 33,000 ewes on offer and realistically the sale yards can hold about 19,000 so the sale will be on the Tuesday and Friday.” . . 

 

Hawkes Bay kiwifruit farm sells for $40.2mn Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s kiwifruit industry continues to surge ahead and a recent orchard sale underscores confidence in the sector.

A 66-hectare kiwifruit orchard in the Hawkes Bay area recently sold for $40.2 million, something PGG Wrightson Real Estate general manager Peter Newbold said was unusual.

“Not many of this size come on the market. Kiwifruit orchards normally sell in the 100s of thousands or single digit millions,” he said. . . 

Beyond Jamaica’s beaches – a day on a Jamaican farm – Uptown Farms:

We have just returned from a week trip to paradise, also known as Jamaica. While there, we had the opportunity to spend a day off the resort at a farm, learning about the agriculture on the island.

The island itself is the third largest of the Caribbean islands (square miles of land), measuring approximately 4200 square miles with a population approaching 3 million people. Forty-five percent of the population lives in rural areas of the island with only 51% of those people having access to potable water.

Comparatively, our home state of Missouri measures over 69,000 square miles and has a population of just over 6 million with only 30% of us living in rural areas. . . 

 


Rural round-up

January 13, 2017

Global milk production downturn bodes well – Simon Hartley:

The global downturn in milk production bodes well for New Zealand’s dairy farmers for much of 2017 and is increasing the likelihood of a boost in estimated payouts.

Between the key whole milk powder prices rising 45% during the past six months and six of the seven major dairy-producing countries reporting production declines, Rabobank’s dairy quarterly report paints a reasonably positive outlook for 2017.

However, recovery may become the catchphrase of the current season, as opposed to outright profitability, and the US currency may yet have a major impact, and on various markets.

Co-author Rabobank dairy analyst Emma Higgins said the recent rally in global dairy prices heralded further positives as global efforts to increase overall production would take time. . . 

A woman valued and connected within the dairy industry – Anne Boswell:

Anne Boswell talks to an Atiamuri dairy farmer who can’t sit still, busy with family, friends, land and organisations helping farming women succeed.

Connection – to one’s family, friends and like-minded people – is fundamental to personal wellbeing but can be challenging for farmers, says Atiamuri dairy farmer and Dairy Women’s Network trustee Karen Forlong.

“Fundamentally we are hard-wired to need to belong to something, to feel a connection to something over and above ‘I am what I work at’,” she says. 

“Farming’s a business, but it’s so much more than that, and equally, the success of my farm does not define me as a person.” . . 

Ryan looks forward to challenges:

The New Zealand Farm Environment Trust’s new General Manager James Ryan is looking forward to the challenges the new job will bring.

Christchurch-based James Ryan, a former policy manager with DairyNZ, was appointed in October this year.  

He says the Trust will play a crucial role in guiding farmers through an era of increasingly complex sustainability issues. . . 

Fonterra & LIC Set to Release Farm Performance System – Agrigate:

Fonterra and Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) are in the final stages of developing an online tool, Agrigate, designed specifically to help farmers improve their farm performance through the use of their existing data.

Agrigate has been developed by the two farmer-owned co-operatives to make it easier for farmers to:

• access key information about their farming business in one place

• identify areas where they can benchmark their performance on a scale that they have not been able to in the past

• make smarter and faster decisions

• manage their environmental information (e.g. nutrient management) . . 

NZ commodity prices rise for eighth month, buoyed by dairy recovery – Rebecca Howard

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand commodity prices rose in December, the eighth consecutive monthly gain, as dairy prices continued to improve.

The ANZ Commodity Price Index advanced 0.7 percent in December to 277.3 and was up 16.5 percent on an annual basis. In New Zealand dollar terms the index increased 2 percent in the month and rose 9.4 percent on an annual basis as the kiwi eased against the greenback and the British pound.

Dairy was the standout performer as tight global milk supplies and improved Chinese import demand continued to be the main drivers, said ANZ agri economist Con Williams. . . .

Comvita expects to realise $30M from sale of Medihoney, shares in US partner – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, the manuka honey products company, has sold its Medihoney brand to US partner Derma Sciences for about $19 million, and will reap a further $11 million selling Derma shares in a takeover offer of the Nasdaq-listed company.

The gross proceeds of the Medihoney deal will amount to US$13.25 million, with a US$5 million earnout payable on sales milestones being achieved, Comvita said in a statement to the NZX. Comvita also owns 1.1 million shares in Derma Sciences, which announced on Jan. 10 that it will be acquired by Nasdaq-listed Integra LifeSciences for US$7 per share by the end of March. That values Comvita’s stake at about $11 million, it said. . . 

Fonterra extends sway over Aussie dairy industry with Bellamy’s ‘poison pill’ – Brian Robbins:

Fonterra is in the box seat to control the future of Australian company Bellamy’s Organic under an effective “poison pill” arrangement that can be triggered if a shareholder group controls more than 30 per cent of Bellamy’s capital.

The troubled infant formula group outlined details on Wednesday of a new arrangement with Fonterra that allows the New Zealand group to terminate a key supply deal if a shareholder group controls more than 30 per cent of the Tasmanian company’s capital.

The disclosure, along with news of the replacement of Laura McBain, the chief executive of Bellamy’s, by another senior executive, Andrew Cohen, on an interim basis, came as part of a trading update to investors. . . 

Tasmanian dairy company Bellamy’s CEO Laura McBain to leave after price plummet – Caitlin Jarvis:

Launceston-headquartered dairy company Bellamy’s has replaced chief executive Laura McBain.

The embattled baby formula company announced to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) that Andrew Cohen has been appointed acting chief executive.

The announcement was made by the organic dairy company’s chairman Rob Woolley. . . 

Bid to heritage list Brumbies – John Ellicott:

Brumbies may be protected for their cultural heritage value in new legislation being drawn up and already, according to the proponents, met with approval by NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro.

With  the expected release soon of the new Wild Horse Management Plan, lobby groups are fighting to preserve substantial brumby populations in national parks, especially  in Kosciuszko National Park.

The Snowy Mountains Bush Users Group wants to prevent a culling of brumbies, which may form part of the new management plan – with ground shooting touted as the most likely form of control. . . 

North And South Island Wool Auctions Receive Varied Support:

New Zealand Wool Services International ltd’s CEO Mr John Dawson reports that the wool auctions in the North and South Islands this week produced considerable price variations for comparative types with the North Island levels well below the South’s.

Of the 19500 bales on offer, 7804 percent sold with the weighted currency indicator, compared to the last sale on 21st December was 1.62 percent higher, adding more downward pressure on local prices.

Mr Dawson advises that the South Island sale compared to when last sold on 15 December saw; . .. 

Image may contain: one or more people

Only a farm kid ‘gets’ this.


Rural round-up

August 23, 2016

Young Maori woman brings important cultural perspective to dairy farming:

Lincoln University student Ash-Leigh Campbell, 25, is one of the bright lights of Maori agribusiness in New Zealand.

Recently named as a finalist in the prestigious 2016 Ahuwhenua Young Māori Dairy Farmer Award – the first ever woman to make the finals of the dairy category – Campbell, who is of Ngāi Tahu descent, is passionate about bringing a Maori perspective to the dairy industry.

She graduated with a Diploma in Agriculture from Lincoln University earlier this year, and is currently studying towards a Diploma in Farm Management at Lincoln University. Her sights are set on doing a Bachelor of Commerce and Agriculture next year. Campbell is also an active member of the Dairy Women’s Network Lincoln University branch, and is involved with other industry groups. . . 

Irish Ag role mooted– Peter Burke:

New Zealand banks may have to play a social role with farmers, as do European governments, claims Professor Alan Renwick of Lincoln University.

Renwick says in NZ, with its free market approach, there is an expectation that banks, not governments, will see farmers through troubled times.

He says the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), though much criticised for supposedly keeping farmers on the land when they should not be, in fact has other good points which help manage some of the volatility in the market. . . 

Wool stoush positive – Pam Tipa:

An attack on Wools of New Zealand by its former chief executive has turned out to be a positive, claims chairman Mark Shadbolt.  

He says plenty of backing has emerged to keep going.  

“We have had a strong acknowledgement of support not only from growers, but from the industry in NZ and globally,” Shadbolt told Rural News. . .

Synlait Milk And the A2 Milk Company Reaffirm Infant Formula Supply Arrangements:

Synlait Milk Limited (Synlait) and The a2 Milk Company Limited (a2MC) are pleased to announce a new supply agreement between the two groups for the production of a2 Platinum® infant formula.

The agreement strengthens the current business relationship between a2MC and Synlait by providing certainty around medium term growth plans.

Current production volumes remain the same, but appropriate provisions allowing for increased scale to meet market demand in the medium term have been made.

“We are very pleased to have concluded negotiations in relation to our supply relationship with Synlait. We’ve maintained appropriate flexibility to assess new product and market opportunities as they arise,” said Geoffrey Babidge, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of a2MC. . . 

Comvita posts 15-month profit of $18.5M, lowers dividend ratio to pursue ‘opportunities’ – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, the manuka honey products company, posted a 15-month profit that broadly met its guidance while lowering its dividend payout ratio to chase “growth opportunities”.

Profit was $18.5 million in the 15 months ended June 30, after Comvita changed its balance date, from $10.2 million in the 12 months ended March 31, 2015, the Te Puke-based company said in a statement. Comvita reported profit of $17.2 million in the 12 months ended March 31, 2016, and had said that as the April-June quarter was typically Comvita’s quietest the 15-month result was likely to be in line with the 12 months to March 31. . . 

Wine industry converges in Marlborough:

Around 500 grape growers, winemakers, and industry leaders will converge in Marlborough this week to learn, discuss and network at the wine industry’s annual Romeo Bragato Conference.

“In the past year we’ve seen continued strong demand in our key export markets,” said New Zealand Winegrowers CEO, Philip Gregan.

“This year Bragato is all about working to protect the reputation for quality we’ve attained, and gaining a clear understanding of key market and production trends.” . . 


Rural round-up

May 26, 2016

Record-breaking 2015/16 kiwifruit season: volumes, returns grow:

The 2015/16 kiwifruit season broke records for the industry and Zespri with the biggest-ever total return to growers, highest-ever Green return per hectare and record sales volumes for both Zespri Green and Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit.

Zespri Chairman Peter McBride explains total sales revenue for the season also grew to hit $1.9 billion, up 21 percent from the previous season. The total fruit and service payment to growers for New Zealand-grown fruit increased 22 percent on the previous year to $1.143 billion, with average return per hectare reaching a record $60,758. . . 

FMA concludes assessment of complaints against Silver Fern Farms:

The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) has concluded its assessment of complaints received about Silver Fern Farms Limited (SFF) and will be taking no further action.

The FMA received a small number of complaints in April 2016 relating to Silver Fern Farms Limited and documents released to its shareholders in September 2015. A complaint was also made about the resolution approving the transaction with Shanghai Maling Aquarius Co. Ltd (Shanghai Maling).

The FMA considered whether information sent to SSF’s shareholders could be substantiated and concluded that SFF’s Notice of Meeting and Shareholder Information Pack, dated September 2015, was not misleading or deceptive. . . 

International Campaign Set to Boost NZ Dairy Exports:

A new multi-million-dollar marketing campaign has begun to educate Australian, Chinese and ultimately U.S consumers on the health benefits of New Zealand’s grass fed dairy products.

The international campaign has been launched to raise awareness of the benefits of consuming milk products from grass fed cows over those raised organically. It’s all part of the introduction of new Munchkin Grass Fed™ milk-based formula and toddler drinks. Milk matters because it is the key ingredient in infant formula and toddler milk drinks, constituting up to 65% of the powder. . . 

Higher fruit exports offset dairy fall:

Goods exports rose 4.0 percent in April 2016, up $166 million to $4.3 billion, Statistics New Zealand said today. Fruit exports led the rise, up $59 million (16 percent), offsetting a similar fall in dairy values.

Gold kiwifruit rose $53 million (53 percent), but was partly offset by a fall in green kiwifruit, down $38 million (35 percent). Apples rose $39 million (29 percent), with apple exports to Taiwan up $16 million (91 percent). Taiwan was New Zealand’s top destination for apples in April 2016, beating out the United States and the United Kingdom.

Among other export commodities, untreated logs, foodstuffs such as dietary supplements and savoury fillings, and beef and lamb all rose in value this month. . . 

Comvita to beef up honey supply in new joint venture – Sophie Boot

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand manuka honey products maker Comvita is linking up with Blenheim-based apiary operator Putake Group to form a South Island-based honey business to meet global demand for manuka honey.

The companies have signed a memorandum of understanding to form a 50:50 joint venture, named Putake Group Holdings, which would develop a wholesale honey business in the South Island, Te Puke-based Comvita said in a statement. Putake owns 1,200 hives and manages another 2,800 hives through separate joint venture arrangements. . . 

Advisory boards can offer guidance for farmers during a period of uncertainty:

As the agricultural sector grapples with high levels of dairy debt and increased volatility, Crowe Horwath’s Head of Agribusiness, Neil McAra, says farmers need to look at getting sound governance support.

McAra is a strong advocate for advisory boards which can assist farmers with the ability to make better decisions and can help improve business governance.

The value, scale and complexity of New Zealand farming operations have increased significantly over the last two decades. . . 

Rural Contractors annual conference coming up:

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) is encouraging all of its members – and any others interested in the agricultural contracting sector – to attend its annual conference being held in the Bay of Islands later next month.

Chief executive Roger Parton says this year’s RCNZ annual conference is being held at the Copthorne Hotel and Resort, in Paihia, from June 27-30.

“The conference is now only a month away and for those who have not registered yet; now is the time to do so,” he explains. “We will be unable to hold any accommodation past the end of this month, so if people want come they need to get their registrations in now.” . . 


Rural round-up

January 26, 2016

Westland Milk’s man-on-the-ground in China says the anxiety over China has been exaggerated – especially as it relates to their dairy appetite – Gregg Wafelbakker:

In recent weeks there has been a lot of negative media about economic conditions in China.

In particular the slowing growth, a volatile share market and a decrease in dairy imports.

The potential impact of much of this has been exaggerated. Given the value of China to Westland, indeed the whole of the New Zealand dairy industry,  it is important that we understand what is happening. . . 

Volume,not value, gets record red meat returns – Sally Rae:

Total red meat export revenue might have reached a record high in the first quarter of the 2015-16 meat export season, but average per-tonne values were down.

More shipments were responsible for the increased revenue in beef and veal, lamb and mutton, analysis by Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Economic Service showed.

Beef and veal exports generated $682 million in the first quarter, up 14% compared with the same period last season. . . 

Comvita’s share price soars as more honey equals more money – Fiona Rotherham:

BusinessDesk) – Comvita, the manuka honey and health products maker, is riding the crest of a consumer push for health and wellness products with its share price having risen 124 percent in the past year.

The Te Puke-based company attributes the soaring share price to its improved financial performance and a big surge in demand for manuka honey products. Australia’s Capilano Honey and vitamin and health supplement company Blackmores have also seen their share prices go through the roof in the past year – 151 percent and 424 percent respectively, on the back of rising sales in China in particular.

Comvita now derives half of its revenue from China for its overall range, which includes products from manuka honey, olive leaf, and fish oil. . .

Economic terrorism, count the cost and weep – Gravedodger:

Lake Sumner.

Not many of us have been there, possibly most would not even know where it is.

Plenty of us have an image that fresh water in this bountiful country is under serious threat due to the massive growth in irrigation.

The East coast of the South Island has gazillions of acres of flat to rolling arable land that has for ever suffered summer dry that inhibits productive activity. . . 

Ashburton Zone Water Management Committee focuses on proposed land-use rules:

The Ashburton Water Management Zone Committee will meet for the first time this year on Tuesday 26 January to discuss how new land-use rules will affect local land-users.

The committee will receive a report from Environment Canterbury on the Nutrient Management and Waitaki Plan Change to the Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP).

The proposed Plan Change includes new region-wide nutrient management rules relating to land used for farming, and the zone committee will consider how it affects land-users in the Ashburton zone.

It requires land-users to implement Good Management Practices, and farming activities requiring resource consent will need Farm Environment Plans. The Plan Change also addresses phosphorus management and is expected to be notified for public consultation in February. . . 

A new food resolution for 2016:  Support family farmers! – Uptown Farms:

Statistics show that over 30% of all new year’s resolutions have to do with food – most often, eating less of it. Stats also indicate that by this time of year 1 out of 3 have already given up on those resolutions

So let me challenge you to a new kind of food resolution for 2016. Instead of just worrying about how much of it and what types of it you consume, I challenge you to also start caring about the people who are raising it – the family farmers. Below is a list of things you can do to support family farmers!

1. Stop determining the quality of farmer by the size of the farm! . . .

What farmers wish you knew about farmers – Pink Tractor:

From ‘farming is easy’ to ‘farmers are rich,’ there are a million things consumers think they know about farmers. We asked our amazing farm community what the one thing they wish people knew about farmers. These are the responses.

Farmers are smart! They have to be everything – plumbers, carpenters, mechanics, scientists, vets and more. Every day!

Farming is a lifestyle, not a job. It’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Every day of the year. It’s almost impossible to take a vacation, especially if you have animals. . .


Rural round-up

October 17, 2015

Progressive Meats founder Craig Hickson wins entrepreneur of the year – John Anthony:

A Hastings businessman who started a meat processing company more than three decades ago has taken out New Zealand’s top entrepreneur award.

Progressive Meats founder Craig Hickson was selected from a field of six New Zealand entrepreneurs to be named EY Entrepreneur of the Year for 2015 at a dinner in Auckland on Thursday.

Hickson and his wife Penny started Progressive Meats in Hastings in 1981 with six staff working in a lamb processing facility.

The company now employs more than 300 staff and has processing facilities for lamb, beef, venison and rams. . .

Share register challenge for SFF – Dene Mackenzie:

Silver Fern Farms faces a new problem of how to manage its share register after the Dunedin meat company yesterday received overwhelming support for its joint venture with China’s Shanghai Maling.

The co-operative received 82% votes in favour of the proposal. Shanghai Maling, a listed company in China, will vote on the deal on October 30.

But with the Chinese Government-controlled Bright Food Group owning 38% of Shanghai Maling, and supporting the deal, the vote is expected to easily pass. . . 

TPPA will advance globalisation of agriculture, trade minister says – Gerald Piddock:

Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) negotiations will trigger more liberalisation of world wide agricultural trade, says Trade Minister Tim Groser.

Once started, the trade process would be difficult to stop, Groser told journalists at the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists Congress in Hamilton.

“We are in my opinion…in the early stage of the globalisation of world agriculture,” he said.

However, he acknowledged that removing agricultural subsidies would be a difficult task for developed  countries. . . 

NZ Merino, on quest to add value to commodities, increases annual profit 21% – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand Merino Co, a wool marketer which aims to develop higher-value markets for sheep products, posted a 21 percent lift in full-year profit and said it’s on track to double the value of the business in the three years through 2016.

The Christchurch-based company said profit increased to $2.3 million in the year ended June 30, from $1.9 million in 2014, and $405,000 in 2013. Revenue fell 6.1 percent to $109.4 million from the year earlier, while cost of sales fell 7.7 percent to $98.4 million and expenses slid 4.2 percent to $12.8 million. It will pay shareholders, including 536 wool growers, a dividend of $1.2 million, up from $942,000 a year earlier. . . 

Americans are biggest investors in NZ dairy land:

United States investors were the largest investors in our dairy land during 2013-2014, analysis by KPMG has revealed.

In the report on Overseas Investment in New Zealand’s Dairy Land, KPMG has analysed Foreign Direct Investment (FID) decisions by the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) for the 2013-2014 period.

It shows that the US was the largest investor in dairy land during that two-year period – accounting for 54.4% of the freehold hectares sold, and 26.5% of the consideration paid. . .

Manuka honey lobby devises test to prove authenticity – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – The UMF Honey Association says it has found the solution to fake manuka honey products, developing a portable device which tests for the nectar of Leptospermum Scoparium, the native manuka bush.

The manuka honey industry group, working with Analytica Laboratories and Comvita, presented the primary production select committee with a portable fluorescent test which can easily indicate whether a product is genuine manuka honey, and research defining the premium honey. Analytica executive director Terry Braggins said the development of a chemical fingerprint, based on the presence of the native bush’s nectar, could distinguish monofloral honey made by bees foraging on manuka flowers from other blended or imitation honey. . . 

 


Rural round-up

August 4, 2014

Award accepted as tribute to young farmer – Alison Beckham:

Southland dairy farmer Stefan Zeestraten should have been accepting an award at the 2014 Southland Environment awards on Thursday recognising the positive environmental practices he promoted on his family’s three central Southland farms.

Instead, there was a minute’s silence as the 300 people attending paid tribute to the 24-year-old, killed on Monday when his vehicle left the road and hit a power pole north of Winton, about 3am. . .

Young farmers there to support others – Nicole Sharp:

Waimea Valley farmers Andrew and Katherine Welsh are never ones to shy away from a challenge, especially when it comes to farming.

Moving to the Waimea Valley, near Mandeville, six years ago, the pair joined Balfour Young Farmers.

Mr Welsh had previously spent 11 years with the Thornbury club. But what they arrived to took them by surprise.

The Balfour club was nearly closed and had about five members.

It was in recession, and the task for the Welshes was simple: to get the club up and running again. . .

Biodiversity grant enables nursery at wetlands – Hamish Maclean:

A plant nursery should be the focal point for visitors to New Zealand’s largest privately owned wetland by this summer.

A biodiversity funding contribution of $9600 from the Clutha District Council means work can begin immediately on a nursery at Sinclair Wetlands (Te Nohoaka o Tukiuau), wetlands co-ordinator Glen Riley says.

Mr Riley said the wetlands had benefited from 1000-plus volunteer hours already this year. . .

In sheep farming for the long haul – Annette Scott:

Canterbury farmer Chris Allen grew up on a sheep-and-beef farm in Waikato.

He is a licensed aircraft engineer but 20 years ago the farming in his blood lured him back to the land.

He and wife Anne-Marie headed south and bought a 360ha sheep-and-beef property near Mt Somers.

Despite the growing challenges behind the farmgate Allen is upbeat about the red-meat sector’s revival.

“Either you do what you do or you sell out,” he said.

“Dairy is a whole new level of investment that doesn’t interest me, so I do this.  . .

Taking the sting out of honey cowboys:

Comvita chief executive Brett Hewlett is hopeful new labelling rules for manuka honey will flush out what he says are cowboys who are giving the product and industry a bad name.

The interim labelling guidelines, which come into effect in January 2016, will ensure New Zealand is producing quality manuka honey for export.

Comvita chief executive Brett Hewlett said good brands had been using a quality standard, the Unique Manuka Factor, for a number of years but rogue elements within the industry had put it in jeopardy. . . .

Viability of G9 kiwifruit under question:

There are fears a newly developed kiwifruit variety could be a lemon.

An industry leader said there were concerns about the long-term commercial viability of the gold kiwifruit variety known as G9.

G9 was first commercialised, along with another gold variety, G3, in 2010 in response to the bacterial disease PSA which has virtually wiped out the former variety of gold kiwifruit.

About 150 hectares of G9 is grown, much less than G3’s 4000 hectares. . .

Realignment of Fonterra and Nestlé’s Latin American Alliance Takes Effect:

The first step in the realignment of Fonterra and Nestlé’s Latin American alliance has taken effect.

As announced in May this year, Fonterra and Nestlé have revised their 10-year-old Dairy Partners Americas (DPA) joint venture to better reflect each company’s respective strategies.

Fonterra now has a 51 per cent controlling stake in DPA Brazil, with Nestlé holding the balance; and, together with a local partner, Fonterra has taken over Nestlé’s share of DPA Venezuela.

Fonterra’s Managing Director of Latin America, Alex Turnbull, says: “This is an exciting next step for Fonterra and the people in these businesses as they are formally welcomed to the Co-operative.” . . .

 


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