Rural round-up

July 3, 2012

Agribusiness Man of the Year shares secrets of his business success – Caleb Allison:

Craig Hickson had no idea he would win agribusiness person of the year at the Federated Farmers awards in Auckland this week.

The Hawke’s Bay sheep farmer wasn’t there to receive the award as he is in Australia attending a lamb industry conference, but he told NBR ONLINE winning is a pleasant surprise nonetheless.

Modestly, he says he doesn’t know why he won, but says innovation has long been a focus of his company, Progressive Meats, which he started with his wife in 1981.  . .

Outlook is green for primary industries – Burce Wills:

Today, I am going to take a look at where we might be in the year 2020 and touch on some challenges ahead. 

A lot can change in eight years but much can also stay the same. 

In 2004, eight years ago, the Iraq war was one year old and Afghanistan was in turmoil.  Despite this petrol was under $1.10 a litre.  Meanwhile exporters faced a Kiwi dollar that was US$0.67 in January but ended 2004 at $US.71.  Some things never change.

For the year ending June 2004, our agricultural, horticultural and forestry exports came to around $18.5 billion.  In the year to March 2012, exports for the primary industries came to almost $32 billion. . .

That is a remarkable increase of almost 73 percent. 

Environmentally good practice wins – Sally Rae:

Blair and Jane Smith might have won the 2012 national Ballance Farm Environment Awards – but they reckon their    farming journey is just beginning.   

The North Otago couple were awarded the Gordon Stephenson Trophy during a function at Parliament Buildings that celebrated people farming in a manner that was environmentally, economically and socially sustainable. . .

Dairying needs to connect – Sally Rae:

Public perceptions of dairy farmers are probably better than farmers might think, but there is still room for improvement, DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says.   

A panel discussion, entitled Perception is Your Reality, was  held as part of the South Island Dairy Event in Dunedin.   

Public perceptions were important and DairyNZ surveyed the      New Zealand public twice a year and also held focus groups in the main urban centres. There was still “a fair amount of support out there for us”, Dr Mackle said.   

But farmers must “get things right” on the farm. . .

Horsing around serious pastime – Sally Rae:

Ask Tara McConnell how she fits everything into her day    and the answer is simple – with a head-light.   

Miss McConnell (24), of Flag Swamp, works as a shed-hand for      a shearing gang four days a week, but the rest of her time is      consumed with horses. . .

Key Opens New Zealand’s Advanced New Infant Dairy Formula Facility to Supply Global Demand:

After over 12 months preparation, New Zealand’s most advanced pharmaceutical grade infant dairy formula production facility opens to supply soaring demand overseas. .

The new facility was officially open by Prime Minister John Key on Friday 29th July 2012 and addresses a rapid increase in global demand and a shortage of high quality wet dairy infant formula products. By the end of 2012 it expects to annually produce over 20 million cans of infant formula for the export market.

Building a facility that provides pharmaceutical standard dairy formulas on a scale large enough to meet international demand was not easy.  It required over a year’s planning and a large investment in infrastructure, experience and technology. GMP pharmaceuticals already New Zealand largest pharmaceutical manufacturing and testing facility specializing in health supplements, was in a good position to meet the significant logistical requirements. . .

Harvest disaster hits wine price – Greg Ninness:

The days of quality Marlborough sauvignon blanc being available for less than $10 a bottle are ending as this year’s disastrous grape harvest starts to push wine prices higher. 

This year’s sauvignon blanc harvest was down 19 per cent on last year’s, and total production of all varieties in Marlborough, the country’s main wine region, was down 23 per cent. 

There are signs that this year’s much smaller vintage is already starting to lift wine export prices from recent lows. . .

Court slams Te Awamutu farm for illegal effluent discharge– Aaron Leaman:

A Te Awamutu farming company has with been hit with almost $32,000 in fines for dirty dairying after a helicopter monitoring flyover raised red flags with their operation. 

    Wyebrook Farms Ltd, owner of a farm in Candy Rd, west of Te Awamutu, has been fined $31,875 and ordered to pay $491 costs following a hearing in the Hamilton District Court. The company pleaded guilty to two Resource Management Act charges. . .

Fourth time lucky for Central Otago viticulture competition winner:

Central Otago viticulturist David Salmon took the honours at the regional Markhams Young Viticulturist of the Year competition on Friday (29 June).  This was Mr Salmon’s fourth attempt at the title, finishing runner-up last year, and was “over the moon” to win the competition.

“It has been an ambition of mine for a long time,” says Mr Salmon (30).  “This was my last attempt as I’ll be too old for the competition next year.  I’ve fought hard for this and it’s been my dream to represent Central Otago at the nationals,” he says.

Mr Salmon, who works at Kawarau Estate, Cromwell, took out the award against seven other local wine industry hopefuls, competing in a range of activities including wine taste-testing, pruning, hanging gates, fixing irrigation, testing their machinery handling abilities and finally delivering a speech on a given topic.

Michelle Dacombe from Felton Road Wines came second, improving on her third placing last year, and third place went to Jake Tipler from Peregrine Wines.  This was Mr Tipler’s first entry into the competition. . .

Pesticide programme pays off:

A research project to reduce the use of chemical pesticides on apple orchards has had a huge pay-off for the pipfruit industry.

Analysis by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research has shown that the Apple Futures programme has been worth up to $113 million in export earnings in the past four years, for a research cost of just over $3 million. . .

The March edition of Countrywide is online here.

Aussie farm blogs many styles, many perspectives – Talking Fairleigh links to 50 farm blogs.


Winning over public vital

April 4, 2012

Farmers are hard-working, entrepreneurial risk taking business people.

That’s how most of us in the industry see them. But that this isn’t necessarily the general perception because the biggest enemy for farming is emotion:

Dairy farmers need to win the emotions of the public if they are to reach their potential, says a top manager at DairyNZ.

About 300 farmers, investors and researchers heard the latest on dairying at the NZ Dairy Business Conference in Palmerston North last week. The conference was organised by dairy farmers for farmers.

DairyNZ’s manager of sustainability Rick Pridmore said a major threat to dairying was poor perception, which could restrict future growth, and its reputation on the international market.

“How do we turn that into an opportunity – the biggest enemy is emotion,” he said.

“Public perception is largely based on emotion.”

The way to combat that was to remove poor performers and to deal with things such as animal welfare, nutrient run off and effluent management.

Just how strong those emotions are is illustrated by the editor’s note in this month’s Countrywide (not yet online).

Terry Brosnahan wrote about a conversation with a passenger on a plane which was civil until Terry said he edited a farming magazine:

At that point his demeanour changed and from him came a tirade of abuse towards farmers. to him farmers were greedy polluters who profiteered from the high price of milk and meat. They had little regard for struggling Kiwi families even though farmers had received millions in handouts from taxpayers for adverse climatic events. . .

This anti-farming rhetoric is nothing new (though never as intense). A growing number of city dwellers are expressing anti-farming sentiments as economic times get tougher and jealousy rears its ugly head. these are struggling middle-income earners.

They read about high farm product prices and think farmers are rolling  in drought. they know little of the sacrifices farmer s make and the capital they risk, that it takes good management skills to run a successful farming business . . .

That doesn’t matter because as Dr Pridmore said, emotion beats facts.

There are plenty of good news stories about farming but they’re generally on the rural pages of newspapers, and in specialist publications or programmes.

Country Calendar is the exception, a rural focussed television programme that airs in prime time and highlights good farmers and farming practices.

But too often the only farming stories which hit the headlines in general media are the negative ones which feed the stereotypes and fuel the anti-farming emotions.


Rural round-up

October 2, 2011

Tense tri-nations shearing – Sarah Marquet:

It was a Tri-Nations test like no other – it was tense, there was a grandstand packed with spectators, a commentator,      national anthems and officials scrutinising the competitors’ every move. The only thing missing was a rugby ball.   

Instead, in a makeshift shearing shed in Molyneux Stadium,  Alexandra, New Zealand, Australian and South African teams      competed in a test match for the first Tri-Nations fine wool shearing competition as part of the 50th New Zealand Merino      Shearing and Woolhandling Championships . . .   

‘Showing off’the good:

Entries for the 2012 Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards open on Monday.

Winners of the LIC Dairy Farm Award this year, Geoff and Jodelle Clark, are encouraging other farmers to enter the award, which they would like to participate in again.

Mr Clark said they were surprised and thrilled to win the award and to be named finalists.

“Even if we hadn’t won anything, we would still be happy because we got so much out of being part of the competition. . .

Markets favourable for NZ sheepmeat – Collette Devlin:

New Zealand sheepmeat producers can expect high prices and favourable overseas market conditions to continue in the year ahead, a new report says.

The Rabobank global focus report, New Zealand sheepmeat – how long will the fairytale last said the substantial lift in 2011 farm-gate prices brought the country’s sheepmeat producers a level of buoyancy not seen for about a decade, and this was likely to continue into the coming year.

Report author, Rabobank analyst Rebecca Redmond, said as the “fairytale” 2010-11 season drew to a close, the future continued to look bright.

Millions being left on table – Marie Taylor:

Millions of dollars are being left on the table without a national standard for carcase trim, says Federated Farmers’ Jeanette Maxwell.

Maxwell, the chairperson of Federated Farmers’ meat and fibre section, is endorsing the new Beef + Lamb Suretrim standard designed to see farmers get full value for their product.

Beef + Lamb chairman Mike Petersen estimates that for a million lambs, farmers could be losing $1.5 million in value.

He said there was considerable merit in having a point in the chain where farmers have a standard measurement.

Silviculture not the way to get rich – Steve Wyn-Harris:

At the beginning of the year I reported in a column that I was about to harvest my first of our forestry blocks and was getting quite excited at the prospect. After all, 30 years is a long time to wait, so there’s nothing wrong with some eager anticipation.

They were both small blocks by forestry standards, a total of 2.5ha but all I had to offer the industry until my other 25ha comes on stream in another decade . . .

Keeping it local from grass to glass:-

One of New Zealand’s leading food packaging companies has teamed up with one of the country’s largest independent milk producers to deliver the ultimate ‘grass to glass’ dairy nutritional products. 

GARDIANS, (Greenfields, Agricultural Research, Dairy Innovation and Nutritional Systems) combines two Kiwi family businesses, both with a passion for keeping the value and the product integrity in New Zealand.

Sutton Group, who have built a total nutritional solutions business serving the dairy and wider food and beverage industry, have joined forces with Dunedin based dairy farmer Grant Paterson to form GARDIANS . . .

Country school gets innovative  – Carly Tawhiao:

A downturn of organic suppliers in Franklin has customers, solely through word of mouth, travelling far and wide to Drury Christian School.

The independent school is part of Drury Church, which has farmed its Sutton Rd property for 20 years.

There is also a market garden on the 40ha site with a popular shop that sells the community’s surplus produce . . .

Merino meat gains place on menu – Sally Rae:

Merino is on the menu at Pier 24. The Dunedin restaurant is featuring Silere Alpine Origin Merino, a joint-venture meat    brand between Silver Fern Farms and The New Zealand Merino Company.   

 The partnership has been described as an important component      in the aspiration to double the current $150 million merino      industry over the next five years by unlocking the value of      merino meat and co-products, such as leather and lanolin,      alongside New Zealand Merino’s initiatives to add value to fibre . . .   

No rain =no pasture: situaiton now critical in Midlands – Pasture to Profit:

The very dry conditions in the UK Midlands, is currently very serious for pasture based dairy farmers. Little or no rain has fallen in Shropshire, Staffordshire, Herefordshire, Derbyshire or Nottingham for months. On farm pasture is critical & farmers are heavily feeding. Winter feed supply is critical. A look at the monthly rainfall patterns in the UK each month is very revealing . . .

Workshops promote diverse benefits of trees on farms:

A new three year programme of regionally-based workshops launching this November will help pastoral farmers and their advisors identify the economic and environmental benefits of planting trees on their properties and how best to incorporate appropriate species into their land use strategies.

The workshops break new ground with their“whole farm” approach and region-specific content. They are supported by the Sustainable Farming Fund, hosted by local branches of the NZ Farm Forestry Association and draw heavily on the expertise and practical local experience of knowledgeable farm foresters.

New Fonterra CEO aims to boost pride – Andrea Fox:

New Fonterra chief executive Theo Spiering says, like the All Blacks, his aim for the dairy giant is to bring “the pride back to New Zealand”.

It’s his third day in the job and the tall Dutchman is already talking like a Kiwi, aglow about the Rugby World Cup, “loving” this country and determined to raise Fonterra’s image in New Zealand to what he calls its envied position in the world.

He says Fonterra, New Zealand’s biggest company and the world’s leading dairy exporter, has an important role to play as an economic powerhouse and employer, but equally it must be a champion for the environment and corporate responsibility. . .

Sorting out sheep and all that jazz – Jon Morgan:

Today I want to talk about the wonderful merino sheep. But first, hep cats, reap this righteous riff.

The unlikely conjunction of jazz and merino sheep took place a couple of years ago when I was introduced to Gordie McMaster on one of the few North Island merino farms, near Whanganui.

He is a sheep classer, and comes across from New South Wales each year to look over the merino flocks of his 30 clients in the North and South Islands . . .

Hop shortage hits brewers -Jono Galuszka:

Local brewers have been forced to cut products from their ranges due to a lack of American-grown hops, a key ingredient in the popular American pale ale style.The problem stems from a hop glut in 2006, which led American farmers to rip out hop vines in favour of more profitable crops such as soy or grain.

But a bad season in the US and multiple warehouse fires in Yakima, Washington State, which destroyed more than $US7 million ($9m) worth of hops, sent demand soaring above supply. After the fires, larger breweries pre-paid for hop crops years in advance to guarantee supply, leaving none for smaller companies to buy on the open market. . .

Singapore salmon sales

 “You need a good palate to tell the difference between Akaroa salmon and its competitors,” says director Duncan Bates. It is a difference appreciated by world-class chefs.

Akaroa Salmon NZ began exporting to Singapore after the Christchurch market collapsed with the earthquake on February 22.

“Overnight we lost 23 per cent of our custom,” said Bates. . .

 Silverfern Farms purchases Frasertown sheep plant:

Silver Fern Farms has purchased the Frasertown sheep processing plant in the Northern Hawkes Bay for an undisclosed sum, effective immediately.

This single chain sheep meat plant currently processes about 3750 sheep per week and will complete Silver Fern Farms processing footprint throughout New Zealand.

Silver Fern Farms Chairman, Eoin Garden says “The acquisition will reduce livestock transport distance’s which is positive from both an animal welfare and carbon emission perspective and will allow suppliers in Wairoa and Gisborne a true local alternative.

The digital version of Countrywide’s September edition is now available here.


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