Rural round-up

September 19, 2018

North Island farmers lose 100,000 lambs after spring storm –  Gerard Hutching:

Farmers have suffered “devastating” lamb losses in eastern and central North Island over the last two weeks with an estimated toll of about 100,000.

At current prices of $144 per mature lamb, the economic hit could be $14.4 million.

By contrast Otago and Southland farmers are expected to escape lightly from the impact of snow that has fallen on Monday.

Federated Farmers high country chairman Simon Williamson said lambing would not begin in the areas where most snow had fallen until the beginning of October. . .

NZ maple syrup industry ‘possible and promising’ – Will Harvie:

Canada produces 71 per cent of world’s maple syrup and 91 per cent of that originates from the province of Quebec. But a clutch of New Zealand academics think this country could have a maple syrup industry, despite a mild climate and no sugar maple forests.

Their preliminary research has “determined that a plantation of maple saplings for use in commercial production of maple syrup is a possible and a promising endeavour in New Zealand”, according to a presentation to be given at a chemical engineering conference in Queenstown on October 1.

The most promising places for maple syrup production are roughly Molesworth Station and inland from Westport, both in the South Island, according to their paper.   . .

Local contract a big arable win :

A big multi-year supply contract to Countdown supermarkets for local wheat and grain is regarded by the arable industry as a breakthrough.

Until this year the in-house bakeries of the more than 180 Countdown supermarkets used premixed ingredients produced here and imported from Australia.

But in a deal Christchurch-based Champion Flour Milling business innovation manager Garth Gillam said is the culmination of years of effort, the supermarkets’ bakeries have switched entirely to premixes made using locally-grown products for all in-store baking of loaves, rolls, buns and scones. . .

Rembering your purpose – the big picture – Hugh Norris:

Farmers have told us that one thing that has helped them cope better with the ups and downs of farming, is to remember why they got into farming in the first place and to think about the contribution they make to their wider community.

Keeping the bigger picture of life in mind, and not just being caught up in the endless day-to-day tasks of farming, can be protection against burnout and loss of physical and mental health.

Having a sense of meaning and purpose in life has been shown in many scientific studies to be better for our mental and physical health and even help us live longer. . .

Deer milk brand gets two food award nods – Sally Rae:

New Zealand’s pioneering deer milk industry has received a further boost by being named a finalist in this year’s New Zealand Food Awards.

Pamu, the brand for Landcorp Farming, is a finalist in both the primary sector award and the novel food and beverage award.

Earlier this year, Pamu deer milk won the Grassroots Innovation award at the national field days at Mystery Creek. . .

M. bovis highlights need to improve, not scrap, rural Adverse Events Scheme

Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) highlights that a scheme deferring tax on income from forced livestock sales should be improved not scrapped, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) says.

“Ditching Inland Revenue’s Adverse Events Scheme would remove a valuable tool that farmers and rural businesses can use to smooth out the ups and downs of their income and expenditure after an adverse event,” said CA ANZ New Zealand Tax and Financial Services Leader, John Cuthbertson. . . 


Why are Foodstuffs blocking Macleans?

July 3, 2017

The last item on my shopping list was toothpaste.

I wandered down the aisle where it ought to be and saw several different brands and sizes but not the one I wanted.

I walked back up, looking more carefully and still couldn’t see the brand I’ve been buying for years.

I found several others, some I recognised and some I didn’t, but no Macleans .

A staff member was stocking shelves near by. I asked her if she could help me.

She said, sorry, the supermarket no longer stocked that brand. Foodstuffs had decided to replace Macleans with Oral B.

Bother, I thought. I could try the other brand but what if I don’t like the taste?

I had a vague memory someone once told me it tasted like liniment. Did I trust that vague memory or take a chance?

I might be pleasantly surprised by a new flavour. But then again I might not and I didn’t want several weeks feeling like I was cleaning my teeth with something better suited to a rugby changing room than the inside of my mouth.

The tube at home still has two or three weeks of teeth cleaning left in it. There is a Countdown in town and while it’s not as convenient to get to as the Four Square or New World supermarkets, I could make a detour for toothpaste before I ran out.

So I didn’t buy any toothpaste and next time I’m near another supermarket I’ll pop in to make the purchase.

I like the New World and Four Square stores I frequent. The staff are friendly and helpful, the stores are on my direct route in and out of town, and they usually have what I want.

So, Foodstuffs,  you’re not going to lose a customer because of this change but you will lose some custom because if I’m in the other supermarket for toothpaste, odds are I’ll buy something else as well.

You’re also going to worry me – if you drop one of my usual purchases from your range, what’s to stop you dropping more for what appears to be your convenience rather than your customers’ choice?

Your stores are usually pretty good at customer service and in my experience your staff generally act on the principle that the customer is always right.

Why then have you changed to the wrong toothpaste?

Stock the other one as well if you want to, but please bring back the right one for me too.


Rural round-up

August 18, 2016

Trade access landscape increasingly crowded – Allan Barber:

At the same time as the TPP is struggling to get across the finish line before the next American President takes over early next year, there are several signs of access to the USA freeing up for some of New Zealand’s competitors.

The announcement of greatest significance concerns access for Brazilian beef after 17 years of negotiations which will be permitted to begin in September. Admittedly Brazilian plants must still gain accreditation before they can export to the USA and, when they do, their entitlement will be included in the ‘other country’ quota of 64,800 tonnes at the same preferential tariff of 4.4 cents per kilo as New Zealand for its 213,402 tonne quota. However, there is a possibility Brazil’s eagerness to export, combined with its weak currency, will encourage it to sell at the 26.4% general tariff rate. . . 

The pros and cons of PKE – Keith Woodford:

In recent weeks, PKE has been in the spotlight.  The key reason for this has been the decision by Landcorp to phase out its use on the Landcorp farms. This has brought back into focus Fonterra’s 2015 recommendation to farmers to only use 3kg per cow per day. It has also given a platform for various other groups to promote their own perspectives.

Amongst the environmental groups, there are two polar perspectives. Greenpeace says we should stop using all PKE. However, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says that palm oil production is OK as long as it sustainable, and certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). . . 

A farming mum who loves helping others – Kate Taylor:

Regular visitors to the Facebook site, Farming Mums NZ, will be familiar with an online blogger whose zest for life seems never-ending. Kate Taylor reports.

There’s an element of irony about the name of Chanelle O’Sullivan’s daily blog, Just a Farmer’s Wife, because it couldn’t be further from the truth.

She is, actually, a farmer’s wife, but is also a mother of two, qualified vet nurse, blogger, project manager, 2016 scholar on the Kellogg Rural Leadership Course, guest speaker, online business woman, long-distance runner and admin for several flourishing Facebook pages.

Chanelle lives at Waitohi in South Canterbury with husband Dave, who is working on a farm on Rockwood Rd. He grew up near Timaru and has a Diploma in Farm Management from Lincoln University. . . 

Silver Fern Farms shareholders vote conclusively in favour – Allan Barber:

The long awaited special meeting finally took place this afternoon with the company’s desired outcome. 80.4% of shareholders voting voted in favour of the Shanghai Maling deal, a small reduction from the 82% that voted in favour last October.

At today’s meeting in Dunedin, as soon as the result was announced, it appears John Shrimpton who led the requisition group shook SFF chairman Rob Hewitt’s hand and agreed that democracy had had its say and the campaign was over. . . 

Clear vision for red meat sector in sight at last – Allan Barber:

After many years of relatively low levels of expenditure on market development and promotion, the red meat industry faces a major challenge in deciding how best to create the desired image to appeal to the world’s affluent consumers. Currently expenditure is divided between generic promotion, funded by farmer levies, and brand advertising by the meat exporters, with a small amount of joint funding in some of the less mature markets.

Delegates at the recent Red Meat Sector Conference heard about the importance of telling a believable and emotionally compelling story built on the heritage and healthy attributes of New Zealand and its farming sector. But they were also challenged to make sure this story is constructed on credible building blocks of environmentally sustainable farm, animal welfare and processing practices. . . 

New primary sector groups to support climate change goals:

Two new reference groups will help support New Zealand’s climate change goals and reduce emissions from the livestock and forestry sectors, Primary Industries Ministers Nathan Guy and Jo Goodhew have announced today.

“As part of ratifying the Paris agreement on climate change, New Zealand has set a target of reducing our emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. The primary sector will need to be an important part of that,” says Mr Guy.

“The Biological Emissions Reference Group will bring together a wide range of agricultural, horticultural and farming stakeholders to collaborate with Government and build a solid evidence base. This will ensure we have the best possible range of information on what can be done right now to reduce biological greenhouse emissions. . . 

Glass half-full for dairy after price lift – Alexa Cook:

Dairy farmers could finally have break-even milk prices this season, AgriHQ dairy analyst Susan Kilsby says.

This season’s forecast of $4.25kg/ms is the third season of prices below $5.

Most farmers need about $5kg/ms to cover their costs, which is about $US3000 a tonne for whole milk powder, the industry’s main export.

In the overnight Global Dairy Trade auction prices lifted by 12.7 percent and whole-milk powder surged 18.9 percent to $US2695 a tonne. . . 

Countdown Egg Producer Programme for Free Range and Barn launches today – Supermarket assures farmers their investment in free range and barn eggs will pay off:

Countdown has today launched an Egg Producer Programme to support free range and barn egg farmers to increase the supply available for Countdown stores and our customers.

The Egg Producer Programme provides farmers an opportunity to increase investment in free range and barn egg capacity, as Countdown will make a commitment to take future supply through individual partnership agreements.

Currently, just 18 per cent of eggs produced in New Zealand are free range. Countdown wants to put in place plans with farmers, to increase the availability of the free range and barn eggs.  . . 

Bill to streamline Food Safety passes first reading:

Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew is welcoming the Food Safety Law Reform Bill having passed its first reading in Parliament last night, with unanimous support.

The Bill is the final step in implementing the Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Inquiry recommendations, in particular those which require legislative change.

“This Bill is an important part of putting the false Botulism scare behind us. It illustrates the Government’s commitment to ensuring the safety and suitability of food, which is vitally important for the health of consumers – both in New Zealand and overseas – and our international trade reputation,” says Mrs Goodhew. . . 

Retirement of Fonterra Director:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced that Mr John Waller ONZM will be retiring as an Independent Director on the Fonterra Board with effect from 31 August 2016.

Fonterra Chairman John Wilson said that Mr Waller is retiring to reduce his workload after serving on the Fonterra Board since 2009. He chaired Fonterra’s Fair Value Share Review Committee, the Trading Among Farmers Due Diligence Committee and the Milk Price Panel, and was a member of the Audit and Finance Committee and the Risk Committee.

“John has been an outstanding director of our Co-operative and has made an invaluable contribution by combining his strong personal values, drive and leadership with commercial common-sense. I am pleased that after such a significant contribution John is finding the time to rebalance his commitments so that he can spend more time with his family and pursue his other interests. . . 


Rural round-up

March 2, 2014

CPW shocked by ECan’s mistakes on nitrate loads – Tim Fulton:

Environment Canterbury (ECan) has admitted critical mistakes in calculating the nitrate loads for newly irrigated land in the Central Plains Water scheme.

Central Plains Water (CPW) has been stunned by a recommendation to halve its nitrate allowance under a land and water plan for the Selwyn-Waihora catchment.

The allocation was adjusted three times as CPW sought commitment from farmers to its scheme. Even though irrigators had been advised the calculations were subject to change, the nitrate allocation has bounced from 520 tonnes to 850t and back to 434t. . . .

The Heilala Vanilla story – Caitlin Sykes:

John Ross got a whole lot more than he was expecting for his 60th birthday.

 

A retired dairy farmer, Ross’ birthday wish was to sail to Tonga on a boat he’d built himself, have a family holiday and indulge his passion for spearfishing.

 

But he fell in love with the place. So much so that when a cyclone ravaged the Vava’u island group the year after he’d stayed there, Ross rallied a group of Rotary club friends to travel back to Tonga to help with the clean-up.

 

In thanks, a local family gifted him a plot of land, in exchange for him using it to provide employment for those living there.

 

The gift sent Ross on a journey of discovery, travelling around the globe to learn all he could about vanilla – a crop that only grows naturally 20 degrees either side of the equator and is perfectly suited to growing conditions in Tonga. . . .

Preparing a winner beats milking cows – Mike Dillon:

John Morell is one of a rapidly dying breed – rural owners who train their own racehorse from a farm.

 

Not only is that a rare group these days but farming owners who send their horses to professional trainers to be prepared are also becoming as rare as Len Brown supporters.

 

When Hall of Fame champion trainer Dave O’Sullivan was a year or so from putting his feet up he declared he had just one horse in his stable who was owned by a farmer.

 

“A few years ago half my team was owned by farmers,” he declared at the time. . .

Countdown to the NZ Product Wars – Bruce Wills:

What Shane Jones told Parliament regarding Countdown will probably not be news to thousands of current and former Australian dairy farmers.  You see they’re the ones who have footed the real cost of Australia’s A$1 a litre supermarket milk war.

Last May, the head of Coles warned its suppliers Australians were paying too much for groceries at the same time a A$1.5 billion full-year profit was announced.  Several months later Woolworths, its arch rival, revealed a A$2.3 billion net profit.  Combined, the two groups were making a net profit of A$7,229 every minute.  I do not begrudge successful businesses given many pension funds rely upon success like this.  What I do begrudge is if high profits come from breaking smaller businesses through predatory, anti-competitive practices.  Something I see in the Australian dairy industry.

If the 2011 Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) investigation into the supermarket milk war is anything to go by, it may leave some people on this side of the Tasman feeling deflated with our Commerce Commission about to look into things.  . .

 

McNee to ring changes at LIC – Andrea Fox:

Big job changes and expansion are planned at LIC as Wayne McNee, the new chief executive of the genetics and information heavyweight, starts flexing his muscle.

McNee, formerly chief executive of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), is proposing structural change that could affect 56 jobs – many of them executive positions – and create 17 new roles.

His plan is expand LIC in the South Island, target international markets and focus the business on farmer needs for the future, instead of head office decisions. . .

$15 billion bonanza – Hugh Stringleman:

Record dairy prices and milk payout forecasts have a strong tail wind, which should carry them through the rest of the season.

Competing countries have their own weather woes and are unable to increase supply in response to the favourable worldwide demand.

Most New Zealand dairy farmers are seeing a double benefit – more production and the record prices– although some are contemplating a premature end to milking because of drought. . . .

Good turn-out at field days – Hugh Stringleman:

Northland Field Days filled all exhibitor spaces for the first time on its new home site as the regional economy recovers strongly.

Early last week Northland was reported by ANZ Bank to have the best economic activity numbers among 14 regions nationwide.

The activity index was up 2.4% in the fourth quarter of last year, following a similar-sized rise in the third quarter.

The six-monthly surge was the biggest since 2004. . . .

 

 

The Heilala Vanilla story


Com Com investigationg Countdown

February 15, 2014

The Commerce Commission has received a complaint about alleged anti-competitive behaviour by Countdown towards their suppliers and says confidentiality is available.

The Commission advises that anyone who has information relevant to the allegations can request that the Commission keep their identity and/or the information provided confidential. The Commission will not disclose the identity and/or information unless consent is given or the Commission is required to by law. If confidentiality is a concern then it should be raised when first contact is made with the Commission.

Anyone who has relevant information is encouraged to contact us on 0800 943 600.

Shane Jones made accusations against the supermarket chain under parliamentary privilege and Katherine Rich CEO of the Food and Grocery Council confirmed it had received complaints:

“We’re aware of a number of incidents where our member companies have been asked for retrospective payments. We have raised our general concerns about this practice with the supermarket chain involved,” Ms Rich said.

“This is a serious issue that is new to the New Zealand grocery sector and we view it as an unwelcome development.

“We have asked members to report further occurrences.”

Countdown has rejected the accusations and says it will co-operate with any inquiry.

Consumers benefit from competition between supermarkets but not the sort of behaviour that has been alleged which would make business too tough for suppliers and put them out of business.

 

 


Buy local here but not there

February 7, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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