Rural round-up

June 12, 2019

Dairy law changes spur dissent – Sally Rae:

Changes to dairy industry legislation will bring some improvements to the sector but also represent “a missed opportunity”, both Fonterra and Federated Farmers say.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor yesterday announced changes to be made to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 (DIRA) and the Dairy Industry Restructuring Raw Milk Regulations 2012.

The changes include allowing Fonterra to refuse milk supply from new conversions and from farmers who did not comply with its supply standards. . . 

Crush protection for quad bikes very worthwhile option – Feds:

Federated Farmers is on board with WorkSafe’s decision to “strongly recommend” installation of a crush protection device (CPD) on quad bikes used for work purposes.

“We support WorkSafe’s policy clarification.  For some time Federated Farmers has been saying CPDs, or roll over protection as it used to be called, can be a very useful injury prevention option in many – but not all – farm settings,” Feds President Katie Milne says.

“There is still some debate about CPDs, including from quad bike manufacturers who say they are unsafe, and those who say the device itself can cause injury in some circumstances.  But like WorkSafe, Federated Farmers believes there is now enough evidence from credible sources to say that farmers should at least be considering Crush Protection Devices. . . 

Forest awards apprentices of the year a chip of the old block – Sally Rae:

Paige Harland was born to be in the bush.

Miss Harland (21) comes from a Southland family who have sap in their blood over three generations.

Named apprentice of the year at the recent 2019 Southern Wood Council Forestry Awards, she works for Harland Brothers Logging.

The business was established by her grandfather and great-uncle, later taken over by her uncle Peter and is now run by her cousins Jesse and Corrie Harland. . . 

Deer farmers set example:

Central Hawke’s Bay farmers Evan and Linda Potter have won the premier Elworthy Award in the deer industry’s 2019 environmental awards.

The Potters were praised by the award judges for their work in enhancing the environmental performance of their property.

They have owned the 640ha Waipapa Station for 20 years.

A bush clad gully on their Elsthorpe farm is a highly visible and attractive aspect of the Potters’ contribution. . . 

 

Decision to not front Lumsden meeting ’embarrassing’, MP says:

The Ministry of Health and Southern District Health Board decision not to meet with Southland midwives today has been described as a slap in the face.

The meeting was called to help midwives practice safely in the area after the former Lumsden Maternity Centre was downgraded.

It was cancelled after both organisations decided not to front up to midwives this afternoon.

National’s Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker said it was embarrassing that neither were prepared to meet with midwives for the good of the rural communities. . . 

Meet the midwives at Fieldays:

For this first time this year, midwives will have a stand at Fieldays at Mystery Creek in Hamilton.

Midwives play a vital role in the health and wellbeing of rural communities throughout New Zealand and the thousands of people who flock to the country’s premier agricultural show, will have an opportunity find out more about their work.

Out of New Zealand’s total population of 4.8 million, approximately 576,000* people live in rural areas. Around 55,000 women give birth annually in New Zealand; nearly a third of whom live in rural areas. . . 


Competition not sufficient to warrant deregulation

November 6, 2015

The Commerce Commission has found there’s not yet enough competition to deregulate the dairy processing industry.

The Commission began its review in June this year at the request of the Minister for Primary Industries as required under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 (DIRA).

Deputy Chair Sue Begg said the Commission’s draft finding is that, on balance, there is not sufficient competition at the farm gate and factory gate to consider full deregulation at this time.

“Our primary concern is that competition in the factory gate is very limited. Without the existing regulations, Fonterra would be able to increase the price of raw milk it sells to other domestic processors. This could in turn result in higher retail prices for dairy products in New Zealand,” Ms Begg said.

“While there are signs of competition and growth in the farm gate market, particularly in Canterbury, Southland and Waikato, Fonterra faces little competition as the dominant buyer of raw milk in most regional markets. However, it does not have the ability or incentive to reduce prices to farmers in this market due its co-operative nature and constraints from competitors.”

The Commission also concluded that Fonterra has limited ability and incentive overall to shut competitors out of dairy markets if the regulations were removed.

The Commission’s draft report has outlined options for transitioning to deregulation in the future and resetting the current market share thresholds that prompt a competition review. The recommendations include:
Taking a staged approach to amending the DIRA regulatory regime, beginning with a review of the Raw Milk Regulations with an eye to allowing a factory gate market to develop
Resetting the market share thresholds in both the North and South islands to 30 percent (up from the current 20 percent) as the trigger for a competition review of the dairy industry.
“Our analysis suggests that gradual relaxation of the Raw Milk Regulations may encourage the factory gate market to develop. Full deregulation currently poses a potential risk to domestic competition in goods such as fresh milk and cheese, where independent processors are dependent on regulated access to raw milk from Fonterra. Taking a staged approach to deregulation would mitigate this risk,” Ms Begg said.

“We recognise that any changes to the regime would need to be carefully managed and welcome submissions from interested parties. In particular we want to test the evidence on the likely costs and benefits of deregulation and whether our recommended approach of developing a more competitive factory gate market is appropriate at this time.”

Submissions on it are open until December 4th.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Paul Goldsmith have welcomed the Commerce Commission’s release of a draft report on the state of competition in New Zealand’s dairy industry today.

The report was commissioned by the two Ministers on 2 June 2015 as required under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001. That Act allowed the formation of Fonterra, and includes provisions to promote contestability in New Zealand’s farm gate and factory gate dairy markets to ensure their efficient operation.

“The Commerce Commission has formed an independent view based on its expertise as New Zealand’s primary competition regulatory agency. On balance, the draft report has found that competition is not sufficient to warrant deregulation at this point,” says Mr Guy.

Submissions on this draft report are open until 4 December 2015. Following a period for cross-submissions, the final report will be released by 1 March 2016.

“I intend to consult on a package of policy proposals in mid-2016, following receipt of the Commerce Commission’s final report.

“The dairy industry is a major part of our economy and this process will be helpful in assessing whether the Act is effectively promoting contestability, and in turn, the efficient operation of our domestic raw milk markets.”

“I would like to thank the Commerce Commission for their work to date, and I encourage all those with an interest in this area to consider the Commissions draft report carefully, and to make a submission if necessary,” Mr Goldsmith says.

The final report will help inform the Government’s policy decisions, in particular, whether or not to allow the default expiry of the pro-competition provisions of the Act in the South Island (the current expiry threshold was met in the South Island in the 2014/15 season).

The draft report is here.

Now that the expiry threshold has been met in the South island I hope that the Minister will allow the default expiry of the pro-competition provisions.


Rural round-up

December 15, 2014

Commission releases final report on statutory review of Fonterra’s 2014/15 Milk Price Manual:

The Commerce Commission today released its final report on its statutory review of Fonterra’s Milk Price Manual (the Manual) for the 2014/15 dairy season. The Manual sets out the rules for how Fonterra will calculate the amount it will pay dairy farmers for raw milk this season. This is called the base milk price.

The Commission is required to report each dairy season on the extent to which the Manual promotes the setting of a base milk price that provides incentives for Fonterra to operate efficiently, while providing for contestability in the market for the purchase of milk from farmers.

This is the first of two statutory reviews that the Commission is required to undertake each dairy season under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 (DIRA). . .

 

Fonterra back Mymilk for more milk:

Fonterra has today launched a separate milk sourcing subsidiary to grow market share in its New Zealand milk pool, and provide a new pathway to membership in the Co-operative.

Called mymilkTM, it will initially invite applications, from farms in the Canterbury, Otago and Southland regions that are not currently supplying Fonterra, for one year contracts, renewable for a maximum of five years, without the obligation to purchase Fonterra shares. At any time mymilkTM suppliers can apply to join the Co-operative, purchase shares and supply Fonterra directly.
Fonterra Chairman John Wilson said: “It is good for the Co-operative and the country for Fonterra to be the first name on the list for farmers considering their supply options. We know there are farmers who support the co-operative model, but are at the stage of development where sharing up is currently beyond their financial reach. . .

Fonterra Shareholders Council gives nod ‘with caveats’ to new milk supply plan – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – The Fonterra Shareholders Council is “broadly supportive” of plans for the cooperative to start sourcing milk from South Island suppliers who are not also shareholders, with a couple of caveats.

Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s largest dairy exporter, yesterday announced a new milk sourcing subsidiary, mymilk, which would try to get milk in the Canterbury, Otago, and Southland regions where competition for milk supply is most intense from new suppliers on contracts on up to five years without the obligation to purchase shares. The feedback, particularly from new farmers who have recently spent a large amount of money converting farms to dairy, is that they can’t currently afford to now buy shares in the cooperative but would do so at a later date.

Shareholders Council chairman Ian Brown said the competition for milk supply at the farmgate was one of the biggest changes he’d seen in his farming career. “It’s a changed mindset to how to attract suppliers whereas in the old days it was what to do with new supply. That’s a mindset shift.” . . .

 

Mymilk likely to get up noses of Fonterra shareholders – Allan Barber:

Fonterra has launched a new company called mymilkTM which is specifically designed to attract supply from South Island dairy farmers who don’t currently supply Fonterra. The website says it’s cooperative, but that’s a bit hard to see when the supplier has no obligation to buy any shares within five years and only has to sign a one year contract.

The website also says somewhat cutely the company is ‘backed’ by Fonterra, when it is actually a wholly owned subsidiary. This new venture is no doubt directed at tempting Synlait and Westland suppliers to jump ship without having to stump up with any share capital (at least for five years).

It promises competitive payment – competitive with whom? Fonterra or one of the others? But it is not clear exactly how mymilkTM will avoid paying the same price or even a higher one (shades of meat industry schedule premiums) to secure a new sign up. Under Trading Among Farmers, it is expressly forbidden for Fonterra to have different classes of shareholders and under cooperative principles equality of payment is sacrosanct. . .

RBNZ sees 44% bounce in whole milk powder in 2015 – Paul McBeth:

 (BusinessDesk) – The Reserve Bank expects whole milk powder prices to rise by about 44 percent next year as the slump in global prices this year prompts less competitive processors to scale back their production in the face of smaller returns.

The central bank expects whole milk powder, which is New Zealand’s dominant dairy export, to rise to US$3,200 a metric tonne by early 2016, from its current price of US$2,229/tonne as international producers who were lured by record prices last year are squeezed out by this year’s decline, governor Graeme Wheeler told Parliament’s finance and expenditure select committee after this morning’s monetary policy statement.

New Zealand’s advantage is that it’s the most competitive dairy producer in the world and can operate with lower prices than its rivals, he said. . .

 

Sponsors provide choice cuts for Gate-to-Plate competition:

Cabernet Foods is the latest Gate-to-Plate sponsor to offer competition organisers added value – over and above a core contribution.

The Gladstone-based company has said, for every lamb that any 2015 Gate-to-Plate contestant consigns direct to Cabernet Foods (from 21st February 2015 to 20th February 2016), the business will donate $1 to the Masterton A&P Association to help further develop the Gate-to-Plate competition.

Lyndon Everton, Cabernet’s Managing Director, says, “This competition has the ability to showcase the Wairarapa’s primary sector not only on local menus but also nationally.

“The Gate to plate attachment to the A&P show is a fantastic opportunity for the pastoral farmer to win the hearts and minds of their urban cousins.” . . .

Aotearoa Fisheries back in black in 2014 as Sealord returns to profit – Paul McBeth:

 (BusinessDesk) – Aotearoa Fisheries, which manages more than $530 million of fisheries assets for its iwi shareholders, returned to profit in the 2014 financial year after its major investment, Sealord group, was back in black after exiting its unprofitable South American business.

The Auckland-based company reported a profit of $21.9 million in the 12 months ended Sept. 30, turning around a loss of $6 million a year earlier, it said in a statement. That was largely due to a $12.7 million contribution from Sealord, which Aotearoa Fisheries jointly owns with Japan’s Nippon Suisan Kaisha. Sealord posted a loss of $44.3 million in 2013, reflecting a $46.9 million loss on the sale of its Argentine business.

“Aotearoa Fisheries own divisions were ahead of target which is pleasing under difficult operating conditions like the exchange rate and soft demand for paua in Asia,” chief executive Carl Carrington said. “This year our business will ramp up efforts in becoming a leader in sustainability which is wholly in line with our tikanga. There is no question that our long term future hinges on how well we perform in this area.” . . .

Wool Firm For Better Styles:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the 6,000 bales of North Island wool at auction this week saw a 95 percent clearance with good style wools holding their ground and poorer styles easing.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was 0.56 percent stronger but had minimal impact on the market with supply/demand factors being the current market driver.

Mr Dawson advises that full length Fine Crossbred Fleece was firm to 3.5 percent dearer with shorter types generally firm to 2 percent easier. . .

 

 


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