Rural round-up

March 15, 2019

Farmers feeling nervous in regulatory environment – Sally Rae:

A high level of nervousness is apparent in the rural sector around the regulatory environment farmers are facing, Alliance Group chairman Murray Taggart says.

Both Mr Taggart and chief executive David Surveyor were at the Wanaka A&P Show last week, meeting farmers.

With strong commodity prices – apart from strong wool – and low interest rates, normally farmers would be quite positive, but they were not seeing that, Mr Taggart said. . . 

No land insurance means farmer pays in the aftermath of Nelson bush fire – Carly Gooch:

In the aftermath of the Pigeon Valley fires, one farmer’s land has been left a mess due to fire breaks covering the pasture – so who’s going to pay for the clean up?

Pauline Marshall was one of the first residents evacuated from her Teapot Valley home, along with her son, Simon Marshall. They were unable to return to their properties for 17 days, with the exception of getting access a few hours a day, at best. 

The Marshalls were “extremely grateful” to the fire crews for saving their homes, but after those unsettling times, now the Marshalls are facing the unknown cost of rehabilitating the pasture before winter hits.  . . 

Future Angus leader learns from conference – Ken Muir:

reminder that farming is not just about profit was one of the important takeaways for Rockley Angus stud farmer Katherine McCallum after she attended the GenAngus Future Leaders programme in Sydney in February.

”The programme is designed to support the younger Angus breeders in Australia and New Zealand to grow their business and develop the skills to become future industry leaders”, Mrs McCallum said.

”It was an honour to be chosen from among the New Zealand applicants.” . . 

Fonterra making a move to environmentally friendly fuel option

–  Angie Skerrett:

A new diesel biofuel made from an agricultural by-product is helping power Fonterra’s milk tanker fleet, and it’s hoped more transport operators will follow suit.

Z Energy has built New Zealand’s first commercial scale bio-diesel plant, using a process which turns an unwanted tallow product, usually exported to make soap and candles, to make the high quality diesel. . .

Red-fleshed kiwifruit to be tested in NZ – Maja Burry:

A red fleshed kiwifruit variety is being tested on New Zealanders.

As part of a sales trial, the kiwifruit marketer and exporter Zespri will release 30,000 trays of Zespri Red to both national supermarket chains and selected retailers over the next five weeks.

The company said it wanted to know what consumers and retailers thought about the shelf-life, taste and colouring of the kiwifruit before it decided whether to move to full commercialisation. . . 

130,000 bees go under the microscope :

Sampling has been completed for the largest and most detailed study of honey bee health ever undertaken in New Zealand.

More than 60 beekeepers have participated in Biosecurity New Zealand’s Bee Pathogen Programme.

Biosecurity New Zealand senior scientist, Dr Richard Hall, says the research will provide a wealth of valuable information to the beekeeping industry. . .

Air New Zealand, Contact Energy, Genesis Energy and Z Energy join forces in carbon afforestation partnership:

Air New Zealand, Contact Energy, Genesis Energy and Z Energy have today announced the formation of Dryland Carbon LLP (Drylandcarbon), a limited liability partnership that will see the four companies invest in the establishment of a geographically diversified forest portfolio to sequester carbon.

Drylandcarbon will target the purchase and licensing of marginal land suited to afforestation to establish a forest portfolio predominantly comprising permanent forests, with some production forests. The primary objective is to produce a stable supply of forestry-generated NZU carbon credits, but the initiative will also expand New Zealand’s national forest estate. These credits will support the partners to meet their annual requirements under the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme. . . 


Rural round-up

October 2, 2017

The wheat and chaff of synthetic food – Keith Woodford:

It has become fashionable for agri-food commentators to talk of disruptive change. In particular, in recent months there has been much talk about industry disruption that will supposedly occur from synthetic food, with much of that grown in a laboratory.

Until now, I have steered clear of discussing synthetic food, despite often being asked my opinion. But now, I have decided to venture forth.

The simple answer is that synthetic food does not need to be a big concern for New Zealand farmers. The important proviso is that New Zealand farmers, and the associated value chains connecting through to markets, need to focus on consumers who will pay premium prices for products that are the ‘real McCoy’. . .

Hawea Flat water table levels lowest on record:

The Upper Clutha Farmers Group are becoming increasingly concerned about the drain Contact Energy is having on the Hawea Flat water supply.

Lake Hawea’ s water level follows a seasonal cycle which is controlled by Contact Energy to provide electricity supply when demand is at its peak. The Group’s concern stems from Contact’s move to lower operating levels in lake Hawea to generate more electricity.

Traditionally spring is when the lake’s level is at its lowest, however the current level is the lowest since monitoring began. The farming community believe with Contact change of operating levels it is having a far greater effect on the ground water flows through the aquafers in the Hawea Flat region. . .

Westland Milk Products breaks even for 2016-17:

Westland Milk Products has recovered from a loss in the 12 months ended July 31, 2016, to post a break-even profit before tax for the 2016-17 financial year.

The company, New Zealand’s second largest dairy co-operative, said the result represented a total payout to its 342 shareholders of $338.7million, a net average cash payout of $5.18/kgms. . . 

Technology could change the future of food – Alexa Cook:

Rapid change in the food sector could mean eight out of the top 10 global food companies out of business in the next decade, a researcher says.

The Te Hono Stanford University Bootcamp is a week-long intensive programme and this year the focus was how to accelerate New Zealand’s food production in the global marketplace.

Plant and Food Research chief operating officer Bruce Campbell said the message from the US was clear.

“There’s quite significant disruption coming for the food sector. . .

NZ scientists aim to breed super berry – Alexa Cook:

Scientists are investigating the potential for a new commercial crop of a “super” hybrid blueberry.

Plant & Food Research is trying to breed a fruit that combines the taste and growing characteristics of blueberries with the colourful flesh of bilberries.

Bilberries are a small berry from Northern Europe with dark blue-red flesh, but with a thin skin they’re too delicate to grow commercially because the fruit is easily damaged in transit. . .

Ballance Farm Environment Awards give farmers place to share their good stories:

The environment, water quality and urban perception of farming is more important than it’s ever been, says 2017 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards finalist Lyndon Matthews.

“This election has been polarised around water quality. My belief is farmers are doing great stuff but we’re not so good at telling our story. That’s one of the reasons these awards are so important – telling the stories.

“Personally we’ve always been happy to put ourselves up for scrutiny. If it’s a good story we want to share it and if it’s not, we want to learn. Some people are worried about putting their head above the parapet but farmers have to be prepared to open ourselves to scrutiny. More farmers need to show what they’re doing.” . .

 


Rural round-up

July 26, 2017

Battle wounds and wisdom shared through Dairy Connect:

Seeking guidance from other farmers has helped Chloe and Matt Walker make the switch from city living to dairy farming – a move that came sooner than expected.

Back in 2012, Chloe and Matt were running start-up companies in Wellington and considering a move to Matt’s parents’ dairy farm near Taupo. However, after getting married in February 2013 and a change in the dynamics of their respective start-ups, they decided to take the plunge earlier than planned.

The Walkers left their city jobs and started afresh on the 133ha farm four seasons ago, with Matt taking up a role as farm manager. They had little on-farm experience but were quick to apply what they had learned in city jobs to their new careers. . . 

Deluge misses southern hydro lakes – Pattrick Smellie:

(BusinessDesk) – Last weekend may have been Oamaru’s wettest since daily rainfall records began in 1950, but the deluge that hit eastern coastal parts of the South Island over the weekend all but missed the southern hydro lakes, which remain at critically low levels for the time of year.

The managers of the southern catchments, Meridian Energy, Contact Energy and Genesis Energy, all reported either little or no additional rainfall, although national grid operator Transpower said lake levels now sit at 62 percent of the national average level for this time of year, compared with 58 percent before the weekend.

A Meridian Energy spokeswoman said the weekend weather “did not bring inflows  . . 

Otago $9m irrigation scheme given green light:

A new irrigation scheme in Otago will help transform dry, wasted land into productive land full of cherry trees and vineyards, the company behind it says.

But it comes at a time when questions have been raised about the sustainability of irrigation schemes in the region, in the face of expiring permits.

The $9 million Dairy Creek Irrigation Scheme, which will cover 1500 hectares of land in the Clutha catchment, has been given the green light. . . 

Blockchain the transformer – Eye2theLongRun:

Do yourself a favour and read this to “get it” about blockchain and why it matters… or try to make time stand still.

This from Kevin Cooney – ASB’s National Manager Rural:

It’s vital that New Zealand’s agri industry pays close attention to blockchain development and ensures we are well positioned to capture our share of new value this technology could unlock.

Mention blockchain and agriculture in the same breath, and the image of a heavy duty chain towing one farm vehicle behind another pops into my mind.

Turns out, that’s a handy analogy. Like a physical chain, blockchain connects parties directly with one another to enable fast, secure, and borderless transactions. . . 

‘Get on and do it’ culture contributing to farm accidents – Andrew McRae:

The high injury rate among farm workers has prompted a call for them to be more involved in health and safety decisions on the farm.

WorkSafe New Zealand’s farm sector analysis of injuries between April 2012 and March 2015 shows that for every 1000 employees, 20 suffered an injury requiring more than a week off.

For every 1000 employees in dairying 28 were injured, compared with 18 in sheep and beef, and 30 per 1000 in the shearing industry.

The sector leader for WorkSafe, Al McCone, said the figures were a result of the culture that has crept into the agricultural sector. . . 

New Zealand vanilla producer ensures steady supply in volatile market:

Soaring prices worldwide for vanilla beans have prompted New Zealand vanilla grower and manufacturer, Heilala Vanilla, to launch a new product to shield its customers from market volatility.

For the second year in a row, international prices have skyrocketed as demand outstrips supply. Spice traders predict the current market turmoil will continue into 2018. . . 


Three more years

August 3, 2015

Tiwai Point smelter will stay open for at least another three years:

The Tiwai Point aluminium smelter will stay open until at least 2018, with a new agreement reached between owner New Zealand Aluminium Smelters (NZAS) and electricity suppliers Meridian and Contact.

The revised contract will see 572MW of energy supplied to the smelter until 2030, with NZAS able to reduce the load or terminate the deal altogether from 2018, depending on market conditions.

“We have crossed a hurdle today and now have more certainty about our immediate future,” says NZAS chief executive Gretta Stephens.

“The agreement provides short-term security for the smelter and allows time for market fundamentals to improve.” . . .

Aluminium is a commodity and like many others, including dairy produce, it is in the midst of a downturn.

The announcement the smelter will stay open will be a relief to the hundreds of people working there, the businesses which service and supply it and the wider Southland economy.

It is probably good news for Meridian and Contact shareholders too. Even though the smelter gets power at a discounted price, losing such a big customer would have hurt the companies, though it might have meant lower power prices for the rest of us.


Rural round-up

November 22, 2014

The dairy robots are coming – Keith Woodford:

Milking cows is far from exciting. People milk cows for money and not for fun. What if it could all be done by robots?

Well, those days have come. Already there are at least 16 New Zealand commercial dairy farms with robot milkers and the number is increasing rapidly. In Scandinavia and the Netherlands in particular, but also elsewhere in Northern Europe, there are now thousands of these robots. They are also coming to America.

Robots are coming to Europe and the US faster than to New Zealand because of differences between their farm systems and ours. On Northern Hemisphere farms, it is typically just a wander down the barn of 50 metres or so for the cow to meet up with a robot. In contrast, on nearly all of our farms the cows graze pastures and it can be a kilometre or more back to the milking shed. For efficiency, each robot needs a steady supply of cows throughout the day and night, and does not want a whole herd turning up at the same time. . .

Business idea that turns pest pines into high-quality essential oils a winner:

Taking an environmental problem and turning it into a commercial success has seen Queenstown social enterprise team Wilding & Co awarded with the ‘most innovative idea’, the first of three $1,000 milestone awards from Contact Energy, co-principal partner of Ākina Foundation’s six-month accelerator programme, Launchpad.

Over the last century wilding pines, native to North America, have taken over much of the South Island and their eradication has become a focus not only for the government, but also for local communities in the area.

Wilding & Co plays its part by clearing and controlling the spread of wilding pines in the Central Otago region, distilling them into high-quality essential oils and finished products marketed for their scent, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. They have also secured orders for many tonnes of bulk oil from international buyers. . .

Frost-fighting gloves earn prize for innovation:

A project to keep green fingers warm in cold Southern winters earned Otago’s Sarah Fenwick a placing in yesterday’s Young Horticulturist of the Year innovation awards and a $2,500 scholarship.

Ms Fenwick – who qualified for the competition by winning the New Zealand Recreation Association (NZRA) Young Amenity Horticulturist of the Year award earlier this year – took out second place in the AGMARDT Market Innovation section for ground-breaking glove inners made of titanium lined limestone neoprene. Northland’s Patrick Malley took out first prize for a project to make kiwifruit traceable to the orchard of origin.

Ms Fenwick, a horticulturist working on Dunedin’s green spaces for infrastructure company Delta, says her project is “an innovative approach to guard against the loss of finger sensitivity. . .

 Patrick Malley Takes Out 2014 Young Horticulturist of the Year Title:

Whangarei kiwifruit grower, Patrick Malley, has taken out his third consecutive victory this year by winning the ‘2014 Young Horticulturist of the Year’ title at a ceremony in Auckland last night.

Earlier this year Patrick won the 2014 Bay of Plenty Young Fruit Grower competition in Mount Maunganui, and went on to win the NZ Young Grower of the Year at the national competition in Christchurch.

In addition to winning the overall title last night, Patrick also took out The AGMARDT Market Innovation Project Award; The Fruitfed Supplies Leadership Award; and The Primary ITO Career Development Award. . .

 ASB Farmshed Economics Report: A case of if, not when, for higher interest rates:

• Interest rates to stay low for longer
• Uncertain times ahead for dairy
• Meat prices continue to shine

Interest rates are staying lower for longer according to the latest ASB Farmshed Economics Report.

“Farmers have been keeping a close eye on the financial markets. With the RBNZ signalling a long pause on OCR rises in the current low inflation environment, it’s looking like interest rates will be staying lower for longer,” says ASB Rural Economist Nathan Penny.

“We expect the OCR to hold at 3.5% until September 2015 and now predict it will peak at 4%.”

It’s been a long hard road for dairy but whole milk powder prices may have finally hit their bottom. . .

New Commitment programme for Wools of New Zealand:

Wools of New Zealand has rolled out an annual wool commitment programme for its growers which it believes is an industry first.

The STAPLE® programme is the latest initiative for the grower owned wool marketing and sales company following implementation of its successful Direct to Scour (D2S) model and more recently, its Stable Price Mechanism, a model aimed at minimising wool price volatility between growers and clients.

Wools of New Zealand Chief Executive Ross Townshend says “the aim of the programme is to provide certainty of supply to customers direct from growers, allowing planning and confidence of meeting contracts. It’s an important tool in reducing price volatility and improving sustained, predictable returns and commercial certainty to our shareholders’ and customers’ businesses.” . . .

Growing dairy heifers – a focus on what good looks like:

A Northland heifer-rearing focus farm is being established along with four others around the country as part of a DairyNZ-led initiative to provide graziers with the tools, knowledge and resources to grow dairy heifers more effectively.

An open day will be held at the Northland focus farm in Okaihau, owned by Alister and Lyn Candy, on November 26 from 10.30am to 2.00pm.

Both graziers and dairy farmers are encouraged to attend with key topics including target weights and feed planning, animal health issues, managing the grazier-dairy farmer relationship and setting calves up for the run-off. . .

Qualified veterinarian and animal health executive joins Simcro as CEO:

Dr Roger Wakelin has been appointed as the new CEO of animal health delivery systems company Simcro. From December 1, Dr Wakelin will assume responsibility for all of the day to day operations. Current CEO Will Rouse will assume the role of Executive Chairman, while continuing to be a director and significant shareholder.

Dr Wakelin’s experience has spanned both production and companion animals. He worked for more than a decade in production and companion animal veterinary practices in New Zealand, Ireland, UK and South Africa. He moved into the animal health pharmaceutical industry and held technical, market development, marketing and senior management positions with companies such as Pitman Moore, Bayer and more recently Merial USA. Rouse says that Simcro’s Board of Directors are pleased and excited about their latest appointment. . .


No change good, change bad

March 19, 2014

Share market investors put their money on yesterday’s poll results:

The NZX 50 Index rose to a new record, following a global rally, paced by power companies after recent political polls put the government ahead, helping dispel fears the opposition parties will be able to overhaul the electricity sector. MightyRiverPower, Meridian Energy and Contact Energy rose.

The benchmark index rose 47.638 points, or 0.9 percent, to 5135.664. Within the index, 27 stocks rose, 12 fell and 11 were unchanged. Turnover was $167 million.

Better than expected US industrial production figures kicked off a global rally in equity markets which carried on into Asia. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.5 percent in afternoon trading, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index advanced 1.4 percent and Australia’s S&P/ASX was up 0.5 percent.

Power companies paced today’s gains after a New Zealand Herald’s DigiPoll survey put the governing National Party at 50.8 percent support ahead of the September election. Labour, the main opposition party, garnered 29.5 percent. A key election policy of the opposition parties is to regulate the electricity market, creating a single state-owned wholesale electricity buyer. . .

“The electricity sector is up, and I’m going to put it down to the Herald DigiPoll results which were published, because they’re up across the board,” said Greg Easton, investment adviser at Craigs Investment Partners. “If there is no change in government, then that sector could really outperform after the election.” . . .

If no change in government good the obvious implication is that a change of government would be bad – and not just for energy companies and the stock market.


Trashing family silver

October 24, 2013

The opposition harps on about selling the family silver when criticising the partial sale of a few state assets.

They’re wrong these energy companies are not national treasures.

They are however, investments for the state and individuals and Matthew Hooton points out that Labour and the Green Party are damaging them:

. . . No doubt as intended by Green/Labour, there has been vast destruction of value in these four companies and it is likely only to get worse if the polls continue to trend towards Green/Labour. Ironically for parties who tell us they want to save the family silver, the main loser from the destruction of wealth has been the state. All the wealth destruction so far in Meridian and Genesis has been suffered by the Crown and at least half of it in the case of MRP. Even with Contact, both ACC and the Cullen Fund are among the top 20. . . .

Labour and Greens regard SOEs as family silver but they’re not only trashing them they’re devaluing public and private savings.

It would also damage other companies:

If Labour and the Greens imposed their proposed power policy Contact Energy would be forced into a complete restructure, chief executive Dennis Barnes says.

Earlier this year, the parties announced plans to set up a single buyer, NZ Power, to buy all electricity generation at a fair price, promising to cut the average New Zealander’s power bill by up to $330 a year.

Speaking to The Press after the company’s annual meeting in Christchurch today, Barnes said the policy would require a structural change for Contact’s business and the electricity industry.

It would “change the face of Contact from a risk manager and a retailer to a business which has got the Government as its customer”, he said.

“It’s likely that a lot of the people we have working in the risk aspects of our business wouldn’t be needed anymore. I believe that innovation would stop and the Government would have to fund that.

“The biggest change is that the Government then becomes responsible for security of supply development of the industry rather than the market; that’s a whole different dynamic.”

Barnes indicated that power price increases in the last couple of years did not come from generators and retailers such as Contact Energy.

“A lot of the prices increases that you experience as a whole are transmission and distribution and charges that the generators and the retailers are not responsible for.” . . .

 

The threat of the policy is already doing damage, it would do even more damage should they try to implement it.


%d bloggers like this: