Rural round-up

April 14, 2015

That is indeed a beautiful sound – Gravedodger:

Since around 0645 we have had the sound of rain on the roof,  steady and after two hours, around 13mm.

Here in Akaroa we were not as desperate as many pockets  around North Canterbury, a friend from Cheviot next door to where we spent three years in the mid 60s, is saying it is so parched there is not even any green in gully floors where there is normally some hope of a lunch for a rabbit.

Another comment in Farmers Weekly said their bit of unirrigated country has moved from brown to white. . .

Uneven rules costly – Neal Wallace:

Steps to control agricultural nutrient discharge could add 10c a litre to the cost of producing milk and impose wide-ranging restrictions on land management.

But there is little uniformity in regional council rules.

Most of the county’s 16 regional authorities are still to complete their regional plans but early indications are that each council has its own approach.

Rabobank sustainable farm systems manager Blake Holgate has been following the development and release of environmental regulations and said even neighbouring regional councils such as Otago and Southland have differing rules, creating uncertainty for owners of multiple properties and unknown costs. . .

Heartland Forum shaping up as South Island farming event of the year:

A speakers’ lineup of the who’s who in the primary sector makes this month’s ‘The Future of Heartland Forum’ near Cheviot in North Canterbury, a must attend.

A farmer discussion in Cheviot late last year about the spread of Chilean Needlegrass has since grown into staging a premier forum on the future of agriculture industries in New Zealand.

The event will be held at Te Mania Angus Stud, Conway Flat, Friday, April 17.

Other than Government speakers, the lineup includes; Dame Margaret Bazley from Environment Canterbury, Winton Dalley the Hurunui Mayor, Peter Townsend the Chief Executive of the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce, Craige and Roz Mackenzie and Sam and Mark Zino, award winning farmers, Nicole Masters of the New Zealand Biological Farmers Association and Dr William Rolleston the National President of Federated Farmers New Zealand. . .

 Robotic milking can revive kids’ interest:

Robotic milking is coming of age in New Zealand and interest has surged in the last six months, DeLaval’s Grant Vickers says.

“I think it’s because a number of installations in New Zealand are working well,” he told Dairy News. “The perception of risk has probably lessened.”

The current inquiries, for robotics and barns, are from all sizes of farms and will result in installations in the North and South Island. 

Vickers spoke about robotic milking during a Dairy Women’s Network field trip to a 600-cow wintering barn as part of the organisation’s ‘Entering Tomorrow’s World’ conference. . .

What’s behind the longevity of Country Calendar? – Julian O’Brien:

Soon after I started producing Country Calendar, we had a minor crisis.

We thought we’d found a simple and elegant way to make new opening titles – but it quickly turned into a nightmare. 

We needed footage of people involved in typical rural activities, but to integrate the shots into our titles, they had to be shot against a neutral background – ideally a green-screen set up in a studio. 

Sheep in a studio? Achievable, but someone needs to be ready with a broom afterwards.

New Zealand’s top shearers in a studio? Impossible, if you want to keep the feel of a shearing competition – but we desperately wanted the shot.

As we pondered this, we had a crew shooting part of a story at the Taumarunui Shears – but there was no neutral background at the event to do a titles shot. . .

NZPork Annual Report 2014:

The NZPork Annual Report 2014, released today, reflects on the importance of the New Zealand consumer to the future of its business.

NZPork Chairman Ian Carter points out that it’s important to remember that our consumer is our neighbour and that we are touch with what consumers want and believe.

“We need to provoke interest in our product and our industry. We need to invoke confidence in our production standards and systems. And we need to evoke desire for our product,” said Ian Carter.

The report states the industry recognises that little is understood about pig farming in general amongst many New Zealanders, particularly the requirements of caring for its animals. In light of this, it is taking steps to be more transparent and advocate confidence to its consumers via its production systems and standards. . .

 Silage smells and what they mean – Ian Williams:

I grew up in town and one of my distinct memories of summer and autumn when we went to visit our farming friends was the smell of silage. 

As a kid, silage always seemed to stink and it is a smell which has been imprinted on my brain.

Now I work with the stuff. I even have a personalised number plate with the word SILAGE on it! Whenever I  introduce myself to people from town and they ask me what I do and I mention the word silage, they instantly screw up their noses and say something like “How can you work with that stuff, it stinks?” or they ask “Are you still married?” . .  .

How to install a ready-made food making business on your farm:

Making the transition from being a primary producer to processing and selling your own produce has become considerably cheaper, easier and less stressful thanks to an Anglo-French company that has created a new process that effectively builds a ‘barn inside a barn’.
Create-a-cabin has led a revolution in French farming by rapidly installing food-safe, highly flexible, and technically sophisticated food preparation rooms without the need for planning permission.
Across the Channel, Create-a-cabin’s custom-made, modular building shells have been erected quickly and cheaply for cheese-makers, poultry abattoirs, jam kitchens, meat packers, fish smokers and many more, allowing farmers to control at least one more link in the food production chain, as well as adding value to their product and thus  commanding a higher price. . .

Rural round-up

December 3, 2014

Rabobank Agri Commodity Market Research: Outlook 2015:

The fundamentals in the agri commodity markets appear more balanced through 2015. In their 2015 Outlook, the Rabobank Agri Commodities Markets Research (ACMR) analysts, expect narrower trading ranges for many commodities versus 2014. On the demand side, growth has slowed in recent years. However, lower price levels should now encourage consumption growth, which will support prices. Key variables to watch in the year ahead include US dollar strength, uncertain Chinese demand growth, slowing biofuel demand and oil price weakness.

Stefan Vogel, Global head of Rabobank (ACMR) said, “All in all, 2015 will be another interesting year for agri commodities. Macro drivers remain very much in play and price swings from supply and demand shocks are still likely, given that the stocks for most commodities are not yet at levels necessary to provide an adequate buffer.” . . .

NZ tractor sales hit decade high in Q3 on record dairy payout, high kiwi – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand tractor sales hit their highest level in a decade in the third quarter as farmers benefiting from this year’s record milk payout and the high local currency bought new equipment.

Tractor registrations rose 8.8 percent to 925 in the three months through September, from the same quarter a year earlier, according to Land Transport Safety Authority figures published by Statistics NZ. The three-month period would have captured orders from the NZ National Agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek in Hamilton in June, helping tractor registrations rise to their highest since the December 2004 quarter when they reached 970.

Farmers have been increasing their spending on equipment such as tractors, farm bikes, milking machines, irrigators, ploughs and harvesters this year as cash flows were boosted by Fonterra Cooperative Group’s record payout to dairy farmers of $8.40 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2013/14 season. Also helping drive sales was the higher value of the local currency, with the kiwi touching a record 82.03 in July when measured against a basket of major currencies on a trade-weighted basis, reducing the price of imported farm machinery. . .


Former Gordon Stephenson Trophy-Holders Reflect On Busy But Successful Year:

Winning the National Winner title in the 2013 Ballance Farm Environment Awards opened up a whole world of opportunity for Canterbury farmers Craige and Roz Mackenzie.

The Mackenzies handed over the Gordon Stephenson trophy to fellow Cantabrians Mark and Devon Slee in June 2014, but they are still as busy as ever.

Over the last 18-months they have hosted a string of national and international visitors on their intensive arable farm near Methven. As ambassadors for sustainable agriculture they have also travelled widely, spreading the sustainability message throughout New Zealand and overseas.

Earlier this year they toured Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, where they studied arable farming, dairying and beef production. A key aim of the trip, facilitated by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, was to exchange views on topics of crucial interest to New Zealand farmers and to showcase New Zealand’s stance on agricultural sustainability. . .

Shareholders pleased with Synlait Milk results:

Shareholders who attended Synlait Milk’s Annual Meeting of Shareholders today were pleased with the company’s solid financial performance and continued progress in the 2014 financial year.

Managing Director Dr John Penno discussed the annual results and outlined the focus for the 2015 financial year (FY).

“We’re pleased that we delivered on the promises we made last year by meeting our prospective financial information (PFI) forecasts. Our $19.6 million net profit after tax (NPAT) was in line with our PFI forecast of $19.7 million, and that’s a good result for our shareholders,” said Dr Penno. . .


A budget for farm wages always worth the effort – Chris Lewis:

There has been a lot of comment in the media and by the trusty keyboard warriors on what farmers should be paying staff and whether they are paying enough.

This week we are going to show farmers one correct way of paying staff, but this is only an example. No one size fits all and you may need to make changes to suit your individual circumstances and employees.

Before you start to hire staff, do a staff budget like you do for feed budgets showing deficits and surplus’s each period. If your staff requirements are anything like mine you will have found a need to hire additional staff for spring to manage the additional workload and time off needed through calving. . .

Consultant appointed to investigate Bee Industry restructure:

New Zealand’s bee industry has appointed a consulting firm to advise the industry on how best to unify under one peak representative body.

To date the industry has been represented by several bodies and membership

organisations, a situation that is inefficient and that stifles industry development said Kim Singleton, Chair of the Interim Industry Working Group established to manage this project.

“This process is about exploring options that provide a more effective and better resourced industry organisation and to do that we need an outside look in.  That’s why we’ve brought in a consultancy firm.” . .

Entries Closed in 2015 Dairy Awards:

A total of 539 entries have been received in the 2015 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, including the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions.

“It’s a great result and we are really thrilled with the response,” national convenor Chris Keeping says. “Given the circumstances with a lower forecast milk payout, a challenging spring in some parts of the country and a change to the timing of entries being accepted we are really pleased.

“The numbers ensure strong competitions will run in each of our 11 regions and that is great for the entrants, for the competitions and for us as organisers of the awards.” . .

Rural round-up

September 21, 2014

Diversity of services competing for awards – Sally Rae:

Three diverse Southern businesses are among the entrants in this year’s Rural Women New Zealand Enterprising Rural Women Awards. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae finds out a little more about them.

A line-up of work boots outside Riversdale accountancy firm Hammond Davidson is not an unusual sight.

”There’s boots out there at the moment,” partner Kylie Davidson laughed yesterday, as she glanced at the front door of the business, where about 80% of the client base are farmers, farming support businesses or contractors. . .

One-stop irrigation know-how shop – Maureen Bishop:

A pilot project on 14 farms in Canterbury and North Otago has shown there is considerable scope to improve the efficiency of energy used in on-farm irrigation systems.

The pilot project was a partnership between Irrigation New Zealand (INZ), the Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority and the electricity lines companies of Canterbury and North Otago. It considered where there was an opportunity to improve the energy efficiency of on-farm irrigation systems and their operation and, if so, what the scale was. . .

Business with a twist in final – Sally Brooker:

A Timaru business is a finalist in this year’s Enterprising Rural Women Awards.

Irricon Resource Solutions Ltd is an environmental consultancy co-owned by Keri Johnston and Haidee McCabe. It is based at Washdyke but works throughout the South Island, offering services including designing dairy effluent systems, preparing and auditing Overseer nutrient budgets and farm environmental plans, water quality monitoring, aquifer and irrigation tests, ecological assessments, and resource consent advice.

Clients range from smallholdings to corporate farms. . .

  GM on the agenda at Roundtable – Tim Cronshaw:

The challenge of feeding another two billion people will go on the shoulders of Ashburton farmers Craige and Roz Mackenzie when they attend the Global Farmer Roundtable next month.

Craige Mackenzie became the first Kiwi to be invited to join farming leaders at the roundtable talks two years ago and was asked back to the event, which is part of the World Food Prize meetings in Iowa, United States. Roz has been officially invited after informally attending the last meeting.

The focus is on providing enough food for 9 billion people by 2050 through trade and technology and the subject of genetic modification (GM) to improve agriculture production – controversial in New Zealand – will be freely discussed. . . .

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Rural round-up

September 13, 2014

Farmer keen to give something back – Andrea Fox:

When you are nudging 65 and co-running a 900-cow herd, a 1600-dairy goat operation and developing a forestry venture after more than four decades of farming, what is left to achieve?

Plenty, if you are north Waikato farmer John Fransen and want to give back some hard-earned knowledge and the wisdom invested in you by other farmers. 

So Fransen, a Tauhei farmer, has made himself available as a mentor in DairyNZ’s Connect programme. . .

National’s freshwater fund gets support – Annette Scott,

Environmental compliance is inescapable. Annette Scott looks at progress in the country’s newest dairy regions.

Federated Farmers has been working with DairyNZ to analyse the $100 million freshwater fund policy announced recently by the National Party.

The outcome has been positive, with both parties agreeing the fund could deliver improved water quality around New Zealand.

Federated Farmers believes NZ Landcare Trust and Queen Elizabeth II National Trust can both play key roles in delivering the new fund. . .

Nats to focus on Maori farmland – Alan Williams:

Giving more control to owners of Maori farmland to boost productivity is one plank in the National Party’s plan to boost the value of primary sector exports to $64 billion from the current $38b by 2025.

Research showed more than one million hectares of freehold Maori land was not being farmed to its potential, the party said in its primary sector election policy. 

Encouraging Maori economic development and farm productivity improvement could create up to 3600 extra jobs and provide about $8b in additional exports, it said. . .

Study of South American Agriculture Good Reading for Kiwi Farmers:

A report produced by Gordon Stephenson trophy-winners Craige and Roz Mackenzie gives a fascinating insight into South American agriculture, says Simon Saunders, acting chair of the NZ Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust.

In April this year the National Winners of the 2013 Ballance Farm Environment Awards travelled to Argentina, Chile and Uruguay to study arable farming, dairying and beef production.

Facilitated by NZFE Trust, the 28-day tour was the official offshore component of Craige and Roz’s role as ambassadors for the Ballance Farm Environment Awards. The primary focus of their trip was to promote New Zealand’s position as a leader of sustainable farming techniques and to gain “an understanding of South American farming systems and the impact new farming technologies are having nationally and within the farm gate”. . .

Triple treat calving surprise

Maria Franklin got the surprise of her farming career when she checked on her springer cows yesterday.

The Dargaville farmer was pleased to see one calf lying on the ground a couple metres away from its mother, while the cow was in the process of giving birth to another.

”Pleased” turned into great surprise when she noticed black hair behind a mound of grass which turned out to be a second calf.

”I had to look around to check for any other cows but I already knew they were all hers,” she says. . .

Rabobank appoints environmental sustainability specialist:

Rabobank New Zealand has announced the appointment of environmental sustainability specialist Blake Holgate. Rabobank head of business development New Zealand, Karen Kenny said Mr Holgate brought considerable resource management expertise to help Rabobank clients achieve their business and sustainability goals. Ms Kenny said Mr Holgate’s appointment – to the position of rural manager Sustainable Farm Systems – was among a range of initiatives the bank was undertaking to assist clients and the wider agricultural sector meet the challenges of maintaining competitiveness while adjusting to current and future environmental regulation. . .

Rural round-up

January 6, 2014

Top 10 reasons being a farmer rocks – Fastline:

In case you ever need a reminder as to why you have the best job in the world as a Farmer, check out our list we put together! Think we forgot one? Let us know in the comments with your favorite part of being a Farmer.

10.Outdoors – there’s nothing like the smell of fresh air, or even better, the smell of fresh cut hay!

9.Fun Equipment – What other job do you get to drive large tractors, combines, sprayers or anything else?

8. Weather – You always know the weather, even when you don’t want to.

7. You’re your own boss – Well besides mother nature – but she’s another story. . .

New proposals for red meat industry – Stephen Bell:

Copying Uruguay’s meat industry and Anzac alliance and a north-south hemisphere collaboration are among “pick and mix” proposals Federated Farmers has put up for reform of the red meat section.

Uruguay’s system involves its National Meat Institute (Instituto Nacional de Carnes or INAC) being responsible for all meat processing including beef, sheep, poultry, swine, rabbits, horses, goats and game.

“We promote, co-ordinate and monitor the whole process from production and processing to marketing, storage and transportation,” Inac chairman Luis Alfredo Fratti Silveira says. . .

Diagnosing mycotoxicosis a challenge – Anne Boswell:

Leading animal nutrition consultant and researcher Dr Lucy Waldron says one of the biggest challenges when dealing with mycotoxicosis in farm animals is simply making a diagnosis.

Dr Waldron, who has been involved with mycotoxin research in grazing animals since 2002, said there were many challenges facing practitioners seeking to make field diagnosis, including the non-specific nature of many of the symptoms, and that mycotoxins almost never present as single toxins.

Mycotoxins are substances naturally produced by moulds and fungi that are normally present as some form of defence for the organism. . . .

 Farming a passion for Massey’s top student – Collette Devlin:

A Southland student who won the top agriculture student award at Massey University plans to continue his studies to research water quality for sheep and beef farmers.

Cameron Black, 21, who completed a bachelor of agricultural science at Manawatu, was awarded the accolade for his high academic achievement and was also judged by staff and his peers to have made the largest contribution to the wellbeing and reputation of their fellow students in agriculture.

Mr Black will now complete an honours degree in agricultural science, which will focus on a soil agronomy research project for sheep and beef farmers in hill country. . .

Constable survives his first wacky race – Jo McKenzie-McLean:

The experience of bolting down a racetrack with nothing to hold on to but a saddle was almost like confronting an armed offender, a Queenstown constable says.

Constable Feleki Urhle was a reluctant participant in the Double Banking Race at the Glenorchy Races on Saturday, where thousands turned out for the annual 10-race event run by the Lakeside Rugby Club.

The day includes the long-standing tradition for the most junior-ranking police officer on duty to ride with seasoned jockey Callum Grimmer – also a St John Ambulance paramedic.

Mr Urhle said his only experience on a horse had been a slow-paced trek ride about 10 years ago.

“So to ride behind someone, not in a saddle and without my feet in stirrups bolting down a track was pretty freaky stuff. It compares to confronting an armed offender almost.” . . .

Year in review – July – Rebecca Harper:

Heavy snow in the South Island caused sleepless nights for many farmers as they battled to get feed and water to stranded stock and free those trapped by the snow.

Precision agriculture propelled Canterbury arable farmers Craige and Roz Mackenzie to the top of the class for sustainability, proving intensive land use can be sustainable, in taking out the 2013 Ballance Farm Environment Award. . .

Year in review – August – Rebecca Harper:

Fonterra directors said they intended to even out dividends paid on milk supply shares and listed fund units by looking beyond the current year’s earnings expectations and to give more market commentary.

The aim was to provide a longer-term view on any potential volatility in earnings.

Silver Fern Farms started to collect the blood protein from bobby calves processed at its Fairton plant in a bid to add value to a co-product and fruit and berry grower Julian Raine was named as the new president of Horticulture New Zealand at its annual conference. . .



Rural round-up

November 28, 2013

Good Environmental Management No Add-On, Say Farming Ambassadors:

“Sustainability must be built into everyday farming, not bolted on”, was one of the key messages delivered to agribusiness and industry leaders by Canterbury farming ambassadors Roz and Craige Mackenzie.

National Winners of the 2013 Ballance Farm Environment Awards, the Mackenzies recently met with key industry stakeholders to promote good environmental practices and swap ideas on how to improve environmental management.

The five-day trip in November was organised by the New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust and included an address to the Primary Production Select Committee.

The Mackenzies also met with sponsors of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards and were impressed with how these organisations had taken the sustainability message to heart. . .

Equity partnership options to buy into a farm:

Equity partnerships offer an opportunity for young farmers and smaller investors to take part in the rise in farm values driven by high dairy payouts and continuing confidence in the long-term future of agriculture, says Justin Geddes, Crowe Horwath’s Dunedin-based Principal.

“Equity partnerships are a great vehicle to grow your own wealth for both farmers and investors,” said Mr Geddes.

The capital cost of running an economic farm unit runs to several million dollars, and one of the pressing issues facing the rural sector is how to get young farmers into farm ownership. . .

Fonterra Australia finalises purchase of Tamar Valley Dairy assets:

Fonterra Australia today finalised the purchase of the assets of Tasmanian yoghurt business, Tamar Valley Dairy. The Tamar Valley Dairy business is now under full Fonterra ownership and management.

Under the terms of the sale, Fonterra has acquired the processing equipment, the related services, and intellectual property and trademark for the Tamar Valley Dairy brand. Fonterra worked closely with Deloitte Restructuring Services to achieve the completed sale.

Importantly, 122 positions of the Tamar Valley Dairy workforce will now transition to Fonterra to ensure the right skill-set and expertise are available to ensure continuity of operations and the long-term sustainability of the business. Regrettably, 18 roles are not required and have been made redundant by the Administrator. . .

Fonterra Wins National Accounting Award:

Two of Fonterra’s senior finance managers picked up the 2013 Innovation of the Year Award at last night’s New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants Awards in Auckland.

Patrice Wynen, Director, Finance Delivery Centre, and Ken Stephens, General Manager Reporting Services, were recognised for a new month-end financial acceleration projects that reduced Fonterra’s group reporting time by 50 per cent.

Through the project, Fonterra’s group month-end financial close was reduced from six days down to just three. The reduction was achieved in less than eight months and without any form of technology change. . . .

Comvita posts 1H loss of $790k on margin squeeze – Paul McBeth:

Comvita, which makes health products from Manuka honey, reported a first-half small loss as its margins were squeezed by expensive honey and as trading conditions in Australia and the UK were stretched by stiff competition.

The Te Puke-based company made a loss of $790,000, or 2.7 cents per share, in the six months ended Sept. 30, from a profit of $2.39 million, or 7.95 cents, a year earlier, it said in a statement. Sales fell 4.6 percent to $43.4 million.

That was in line with guidance last month, and Comvita affirmed its annual forecast to beat last year’s profit of $7.4 million and sales of $103.5 million, with about 60 percent of revenue expected to come in the second half. . .

ANZ Young Farmer Contest sets sights on Taupo:

The ANZ Young Farmer Contest is pleased to announce the 2015 Grand Final events will be held in Taupo.

The decision comes after a unanimous vote by the ANZ Young Farmer Contest Management Committee.

The ANZ Young Farmer Contest alternates between the North Island and the South Island each year. This year it was held in Auckland and the upcoming 2014 Grand Final will be in Christchurch, 3-5 July.

“After three Grand Finals based in larger metropolitan areas, I think the 2015 ANZ Young Farmer Contest Grand Final hosted in an increasingly agricultural area will go down as one of the most exciting and well-run events in the history of New Zealand Young Farmers,” said Terry Copeland, New Zealand Young Farmers CEO. . .

Trust announces Christmas present for the New Zealand wine industry:

Directors of Wine Competition Ltd, the company that owns and organises the Spiegelau International Wine Competition and Marlborough Wine Show, have established a Trust to fund initiatives designed to enhance the success of the New Zealand wine industry.

Margaret Cresswell and Belinda Jackson established Wine Competition Ltd in 2011as an independent company that owns and organises wine competitions and associated events in New Zealand. Knowing that there were a significant number of unopened bottles following the judging process, the pair decided to establish a Trust to which these bottles were donated. The Trust then auctions the wine with the objective of returning the ensuing funds to the industry.

Trustee, Belinda Jackson explains, “Producers pay to submit their wines for the judging process and send us samples. Though we request the least number possible – just three bottles, we feel strongly that those not used should be returned to the industry somehow.” She continues, “The easiest way is to monetise them and then offer that money back in the form of funding for industry grants and scholarships.” . . .

Queenstown trophy station on market Chris Hutching:

Sothebys in Queenstown is marketing Homestead Bay overlooking Lake Wakatipu on Remarkables Station next to Jack’s Point golf resort.

The trophy property has been owned by three generations of the Jardine family after being founded in 1861 by Queenstown’s first European settler William Rees. The 45ha site comes with development potential for a resort village plus 27 less intensive building sites.

The station is a working farm that descends down terraces to the lake. . . .

Exporting New Zealand forward:

Federated Farmers is buoyed by surging primary exports that has turned in the lowest trade deficit for an October month since the mid-1990s.

“These export trade figures when coupled with the New Zealand Institute for Economic Research’s outlook for 2014 tells me we are turning the corner,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“The primary industries have got our collective foot to the floor and in the month of October by value alone, dairy exports surged an incredible 84.7 percent, followed by logs (26.2 percent), red meat (9.4 percent), fish (5.7 percent) and wine (3.2 percent).

“Of our big six primary exports fruit admittedly did go backwards but the trend overall is positive. . .

NZ winery first in southern hemisphere to trade with bitcoin:

A small high-end winery in North Canterbury is set to become the first wine business in the southern hemisphere to accept bitcoin payment to make transactions easier for its strong domestic and international customer base.

Pyramid Valley Vineyards, Waikairi, produces collectable wines in New Zealand and sees the new currency as a development in line with its innovative approach to business.

“It’s exciting times we live in and bitcoin is a movement that is gaining huge international traction as a currency that is borderless,” says Caine Thompson, managing director of Pyramid Valley. “We’re increasingly getting requests from our international customers to be able to pay with bitcoin, particularly for our exclusive Home Collection wines. They don’t want to be worried about exchange rates and costly transaction fees.” . . .

Record year as NZ Racing Board continues transformation:

At the NZ Racing Board AGM, held at the Head Office in Wellington today, the NZ Racing Board reflected on a record-breaking financial year and outlined its ambitious vision and goals for the future.

Financial achievements in 2013 included a record turnover of $1,956.8m, and record distributions of $147.7m to the racing industry and sporting organisations.

Speaking at the AGM, NZ Racing Board Chair Glenda Hughes said the organisation and the industry still faced significant challenges, and ongoing transformation and a collaborative approach is key to further, sustained success for an industry that contributes almost 1% of GDP. . .

Rural round-up

October 22, 2013

SFO confirms preliminary Zespri investigation:

 (BusinessDesk) – The Serious Fraud Office has confirmed it’s looking at legislated export marketing monopolist Zespri International, though is being tight-lipped on any further details.

The white-collar crime investigator has opened a preliminary investigation, but won’t say what it’s looking at or indicating what powers the SFO has to compel Zespri to release information.

“Zespri has not been contacted by the Serious Fraud Office and has no details of the scope or substance of an investigation,” it said in an emailed statement. “Zespri will cooperate with any investigation the Serious Fraud Office may undertake.”

Kiwi Kids Lap Up Fonterra Milk for Schools:

The numbers are in – more than 1000 schools around New Zealand are now enjoying the taste of dairy every school day thanks to Fonterra’s Milk for Schools.

From Southland to Northland, the programme has moved full steam ahead rolling out in eleven regions and reached Auckland today.

Fonterra Chief Executive Officer, Theo Spierings, said over the past five months there has been significant community support for the national rollout.

“Milk is one of the most nutritious foods there is and we want to do what we can to make sure Kiwi kids grow up drinking it every day,” said Mr Spierings. . .

Fonterra investigated over creating lake of buttermilk

The Waikato Regional Council is looking into the dumping of a milk by-product near Taupo by dairy giant Fonterra.

An unknown quantity of buttermilk has been disposed into a lake for storage at an Atiamuri farm, as the dairy giant struggles to keep up with record milk production.

Waikato Regional Council spokesman Rob Dragten says the council is looking into issues around authorisation, but says there’s no immediate threat to the environment. . .

New kids on the block take out Rural Women NZ Journalism Award:

The joint winners of this year’s Rural Women NZ Journalism award are Sarah Perriam and Tony Glynn of Rural Media.

The Rural Women award was one of twelve awards for rural journalism and photography presented at the Guild of Agricultural Journalists’ annual dinner in Wellington on Friday evening.

“Our award sets out to encourage journalism that recognises the important contribution women make either to the farming sector or to rural communities,” says Rural Women NZ national president, Liz Evans. “We congratulate Sarah and Tony, who are offering a fresh approach to producing and sharing stories about rural life, through video as well as broadcast TV.”

Sarah Perriam works on the production side, while Tony Glynn directs, acts and presents programmes for Rural Media, under its Rural TV banner. Their aim is to make rural folk ‘way more famous’. . .

Farmax offers farmers the power of bespoke pasture growth forecasts:

Farmax is the first company to offer sheep, beef and dairy farmers the ability to harness the power of the industry’s newly launched Pasture Growth Forecaster database at a more detailed level.

Farmax has launched a service called My Forecast where farmers provide the address of their property to get customised short-, medium- and long-term pasture growth forecasts specific to their own farming operation.

Farmax General Manager, Gavin McEwen said “To maximise pasture usage, farmers not only require accurate measures of current pasture cover, they also need accurate forecasts. Farmax’s My Forecast service is a powerful tool for assisting with feed planning and budgeting decisions.” . . .

 Farming for the Future….NZ is not supporting Innovation by Leading Farmers – Pasture to Profit:

 Craige & Roz MacKenzie, are the Canterbury Farm Environment Award winners 2013. Very deserving winners….Congratulations.
The MacKenzie family (including daughter Jemma) are one of the most innovative, creative, Push-The-Boundaries, Farm & Research businesses I’ve ever seen. 
GreenvalePastures Ltd Facebook page
Andy MacFarlane (MacFarlane Rural Business) last week chaired a very successful Ballance Farm Environment Award fieldday at Greenvale Pastures farm near Methven in Canterbury, New Zealand.
 Ballance Farm Environment Awards. The Regional Winners . . .
Rotorua to host International Forest Safety Summit on 26 & 27th November:

The past 12 months has seen forestry in the media spotlight to two main reasons – both good and bad. Since the global financial crisis hit, forest products exports, led by log exports, have proven once again to be counter-cyclical. While other industries have suffered, forest production has soared to record levels. With the record high log out-turn, from both the small and large forests up and down the country, has come a tragic toll in worker deaths. Heightened awareness driven by the Pike River mine disaster has brought a change in public attitudes to workplace risks. Safety improvement is now top-of-mind for everyone in the forest industry. While serious harm accident numbers and deaths remain much higher in farming than forestry, it is the public perception of workplace risk, underpinned by an well-funded union media campaign of self-interest, that has changed a lot of attitudes towards people working in the bush.

These combined issues have resulted in a focus by the key players in the New Zealand forest industry to drive an in-depth review of forest workplace safety. . .

Leisure and adventure tourism growth spurs backpacker lodge sale:

Capitalising on the growth of tourists’ passion for eco’ tourism, the Tailor-Made-Tekapo Backpackers is on the market for sale

The opening of two major new tourist attractions and the growing popularity of deep space star-gazing are being seen by a long-time South Island tourism operator as the ideal catalyst to retire from the business.

The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail which opened earlier this year in the Central South Island; the Tekapo Springs thermal resort, ice skating rink and snow park which opened in 2012; and Earth and Sky tours at Mt John Observatory, are jointly forecast to substantially increase visitor numbers to the Central South Island region.

The cycle trail is a 300 kilometre four-six day ride from Aoraki Mount Cook to Oamaru via the townships of Twizel, Omarama, Kurow and Lake Pukaki. . .


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