Not as ungreen as painted

August 28, 2018

Mainstream and social media has had lots of stories about opposition to plans for a dairy farm at Simons Pass.

Neal Wallace provides some balance showing the plans aren’t as ungreen as they’re being painted:

. . . The Murray Valentine portrayed by critics of the dairy farm he is building on Simons Pass Station near Lake Pukaki is an uncaring, heartless capitalist, devoid of any ethics who plans to milk 15,000 cows on the most environmentally sensitive land in the South Island.

The Murray Valentine who occupies an orderly but busy office in Dunedin’s central city is genial, reserved, studied, methodical and who, true to his accountancy profession, makes decisions on fact not emotion.

He is not going to milk 15,000 cows on Simons Pass. . . 

Of the 800,000ha in the Upper Waitaki catchment, about 250,000ha is flat to rolling country that can be farmed. There is sufficient water allocated to irrigate about 25,000ha.

Valentine’s plans, which have never been a secret, are to irrigate 4500ha.

“Not many people who oppose me, I believe, have read the consent.”

Many of the people who oppose this and other similar plans tend to be driven by emotion not facts.

Valentine said critics demand he rip up his consents but that is not an option given the long, drawn-out process to secure them, dating back to soon after 2004 purchase of the property by his family trust.

He now has all the consents needed and started milking 800 cows this season.

That will progressively grow over seven years to about 5000 cows through three sheds.

Forty centre pivots will irrigate the 4500ha, of which about 1500ha will be the dairy platform. The rest will be dairy support, dairy-cross beef finishing and a halfbred sheep breeding unit.

Valentine said Simons Pass will be a closed unit worked in conjunction with a 2000-cow dairy farm he owns in North Otago.

He has made several significant and costly concessions including agreeing to control weeds and pests on 2500ha of ecologically-significant land he set aside for conservation as part of his irrigation consent.

The retired land dissects his farm in a large S shape and Valentine will protect it with 30km of rabbit fencing at a cost of $11.50 a metre.

That’s more than $300,000 of fencing alone.

A further 1300ha of land closest to Lake Pukaki was retired to the Crown under a tenure review agreement. . .

His consent requires annual monitoring of water quality at his boundary.

He intends doing it monthly to ensure he gets an accurate picture of the quality of water leaving the property and can respond quickly to any issues.

Technology measuring irrigation rates, soil moisture and the weather will help decision-making while drones will monitor the centre pivots and stock troughs.

Water for the small area of irrigation the previous owners and neighbour had consent for came from the Maryburn Stream but Valentine has invested $8 million in an 8km pipe delivering water from the Tekapo hydroelectric canal to his boundary, allowing the Maryburn consent to be retired.

“I believe I have shown enough responsibility on the conservation side. I am not shirking my responsibility.”  . . .

Many of those opposing the development paint the area as an unspoiled wilderness, but it’s not and one of the things spoiling it is hieracium.

The invasive weed hieracium is encroaching over much of the basin, killing tussock and causing soil loss through erosion.

Photos taken on Simons Pass in the 1970s showed tussock at hip height but 20 years later the weed has rendered the land barren.

“Most people would describe it as a desert.”

Cultivation and fertiliser in recent years have restored vegetative cover. . . 

Keeping invasive weeds at bay is costly in financial terms. Not doing it is expensive in environmental terms.

The Lindis Pass, which is not far from the Mackenzie, used to be covered in tussock. Year by year hieracium has taken over and hillsides which once waved with tussocks are now bare and erosion-prone.

If Fonterra wasn’t required to pick up milk from anyone who wants to be a supplier it’s possible that dairying in the Mackenzie wouldn’t be viable.

But unless, and until, the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act is changed to allow Fonterra to say no to would-be suppliers, the company has no choice about where suppliers farm.

Opposition to the plans has got personal, overlooking the fact that Valentine has spent six years and a considerable amount of money getting consents.

If those opposing the plans have grounds for their concerns they should be aiming at the consenting authorities and process, not the man.


Rural round-up

August 15, 2018

Appeal decision a win for irrigators but more work needs to be done:

An appeal to Environment Canterbury’s Plan Change 5 nutrient modelling rules has been resolved with a major win achieved for irrigators, says IrrigationNZ.

A Hearings Panel on the Plan Change proposed a new requirement that would have effectively required that all older spray irrigation systems in Canterbury be replaced with new ones by 2020. It was estimated that this change would cost irrigators $300 million.

All parties to the appeal agreed that an error in law had been made when the Hearing Panel introduced this as a new requirement because no submitter had asked for this change.

INZ carried out testing on 300 irrigation systems in Ashburton and Selwyn districts over two summers recently which found that older spray irrigation systems can achieve good levels of water efficiency if regular checking and maintenance is carried out

First M bovis case confirmed near Motueka in Tasman – Sara Meij:

The first case of M. Bovis has been confirmed in the Nelson region.

Biosecurity New Zealand said on Tuesday a property near Motueka, in the Tasman district, had tested positive for the bacterial cattle disease.

Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) said the affected property was a mixed sheep and beef farm.

The farm was identified through tracing animals from known infected farms and it was now under a Restricted Place Notice, which meant it was in “quarantine lockdown”, restricting the movement of animals and other “risk goods” on and off the farm. . .

At the grassroots: farmers contribute too – John Barrow:

I recently returned a little disappointed from the Local Government New Zealand conference in Christchurch.

From a dairy farmer’s perspective I was disappointed at the lack of recognition of the cost of farming and issues we are facing – all the emphasis was on urban.

The conference theme was We are Firmly Focused on the Future: Future Proofing for a Prosperous and Vibrant NZ. . .

Draft report on review of Fonterra’s 2017/18 base milk price calculation:

The Commerce Commission has today released its draft report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2017/18 dairy season.

The base milk price is the average price that Fonterra pays farmers for raw milk, which was set at $6.75 per kilogram of milk solids for the season just ended.

The report does not cover the forecast 2018/19 price of $7.00 that Fonterra announced in July.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s calculation at the end of each dairy season under the milk price monitoring regime in the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA). . .

Four does go into one – Sonita Chandar:

Teamwork is the secret to success for the Southland farm judged the best dairy business in the land. Sonita Chandar reports.

Despite three of the four partners living in the North Island the success of a Southland farming business can be attributed to exceptional teamwork and good clear lines of communication.

Each partner brings strengths to the table but no one is above the others. They are all equals, make decisions as a group and share in the spoils of their collective success.

MOBH Farm, an equity partnership made up of Kevin Hall, Tim Montgomerie, Jodie Heaps and Mark Turnwald, won two category awards as well as being named the supreme winner at the 2018 Dairy Business of the Year awards (DBOY). . .

Farmers rally around Cancer Society fundraiser at Feilding Hogget Fair – Paul Mitchell:

The rural community is banding together to get behind the Cancer Society, with personal connections running as deep as their pockets.

The annual Hogget Fair at the Feilding Stockyards on Wednesday is one of the biggest in New Zealand. For the second year running, farmers will donate sheep to help those who are doing it tough.

The money raised from selling the sheep will go directly to supporting Manawatū-Whanganui cancer patients. . .

Rare heifer triplets thriving on Taieri farm – Sally Rae:

Holy cow – it’s a girl. Or in the case of a heifer calving on a Taieri dairy farm last week, it was a gaggle of girls, handful of heifers.

The first-calver produced a very rare set of heifer triplets on the Miller family’s farm at Maungatua. Andrew Miller and his father Jim had never encountered triplet calves before.

Andrew was particularly amazed the Kiwi-cross calves had all survived and were now doing well in the calf shed. . .

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Business not Minister’s business

June 14, 2018

NZ First MP Shane Jones has stomped with his clod hoppers where he has no business to be again:

Regional Development Minister Shane Jones has climbed into the leadership of dairy giant Fonterra, calling for chairman John Wilson to follow chief executive Theo Spierings out the door.

Jones said he told the company it should stop being political and instead focus on its business.

Says the Minister who uses personal attacks instead of polite discourse and ought to be focusing on politics not meddling in business.

They should focus less on interfering in politics and more on justifying the money they’ve lost overseas. I believe that they have become disconnected from the farming community.”

Jones said he had suggested to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor whether it was time to restructure the dairy co-op, and singled out Wilson for special mention.

Doesn’t he know that the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA), under which Fonterra was created, is under review already?

The leadership of Fonterra, I believe, starting with the chairman, is full of its own importance and has become disconnected.”

He said there was an absolute absence of accountability for the “enormous amounts of dough” that the current chairman had presided over.

This sounds very like a minister full of his own importance presiding over a billion dollar slush fund with little accountability.

The CEO has gone, well that’s only one party of the double-Dutch we’ve had to put up with in Fonterra over the last nine years. I thoroughly believe this … that as the CEO leaves Fonterra, the chairman should in quick order catch the next cab out of town.

Double-Dutch? Is this a xenophobic reference to the retiring CEO Theo Spierings and past chair Sir Henry van der Heyden who stepped down nearly a decade ago?

“I’ve been bloody disappointed that Fonterra, in my view, the leadership has not accepted that there’s a new Government and there is a new narrative and I’ve had a gutsful of them believing they are bigger then what they really are.” . .

Believing they’re bigger than they are? That’s rich coming from the party with far more power – and voter money – than its voter support at the election entitle it to.

This sort of tirade does nothing to reassure  businesses which are already very wary of the policies and directions of the government.:

The time has come for the Prime Minister to step in and discipline her Regional Economic Development Minister who repeatedly seeks publicity by attacking business leaders, National’s Regional Economic Development spokesperson Paul Goldsmith said today.

“Business confidence in New Zealand is plummeting and the reasons for that are mounting.

“The Government’s low growth policies like higher taxes and stronger unions are causing businesses to hire fewer people and invest less in growth and it has them concerned about the future of New Zealand and who can blame them?

“Because on top of that you have a loudmouth Regional Economic Development Minister who’s putting his own ego and need for publicity ahead of the interests of New Zealand.

“Shane Jones’ attacks on Fonterra’s leadership are the latest burp from a man who is fast losing any respect he once had.

“He says Fonterra’s leadership is ‘full of their own importance’.  That sounds like a more apt description of himself.

“He even added he’s ‘worried about the absolute absence of accountability for the enormous amounts of dough that the current Fonterrra chairman has presided over’.

“This is startling hypocrisy from the same man who defended his own region getting the lion’s share of funding from his billion-dollar Provincial Growth Fund by stating ‘to the winner goes the booty’.

“Well it’s not his booty and it’s clear Shane Jones has no idea what accountability means.

“This Government has decided to spend $3 billion over the next three years on regional economic development, including roundabouts and church restorations. It’s critical the responsible is up to the job and focused on doing his job well.

“At the moment, all he seems good for is attacking business leaders whenever a few days have gone by without some of the media coverage for which he craves.

A friend who was at the KPMG breakfast at which Jones launched his tirade said it was entirely inappropriate, and a very poor reflection on the MP and the government.

Fonterra is a co-operative. The performance of the company and its chair are the business of its shareholders not an MP.

There is some dissatisfaction and there are concerns but this season’s  milk price is the third highest since the company was formed.

Shareholders could well be more concerned about the MP who has no business interfering in their business than the chair’s performance.

So Jones’s loose lips could well strengthen the position of Wilson who is up for re-election this year.


Rural round-up

May 13, 2018

Farming programme empowers Maori women in Northland – Bayley Moor:

A programme aimed at upskilling and empowering Māori women in the farming industry has seen its first cohort from Northland graduate.

Graduates from across Tai Tokerau with backgrounds as private farmers, trustees on Māori land and working in the dairy and beef industries were presented with their certificate after completing the Agri-Women’s Development Trust’s Wāhine Māia, Wāhine Whenua programme. 

Wāhine Māia, Wāhine Whenua is an intensive programme providing participants with skills from industry experts including measuring farm performance and potential, business planning, finding and accessing financial information – all condensed down into three, full-day workshops, to make it more accessible for time-poor women.  . .

DIRA distorts Fonterra decisions – Hugh Stringleman:

The review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act is well overdue considering the degree of added competition recently, which has implications for the open entry rule, Fonterra says.

“The industry has become highly competitive with a relatively large number of new entrants often backed by deep capital and global businesses,” it said.

“Open entry limits our farmer-shareholders’ and the industry’s ability to maximise value.

“It distorts investment decisions and leaves Fonterra’s farmers underwriting risk for competitors, who cherry-pick their suppliers.” . . 

Farmers want rules for agents – Nigel Stirling:

Mulitple lawsuits being brought by farmers against a South Island livestock firm looks like being the catalyst for regulation of the industry.

Five civil claims against Rural Livestock and a Serious Fraud Office investigation into a former employee of the Christchurch firm have prompted Federated Farmers to call for livestock agents to be licensed in a similar manner to their counterparts in the real estate industry. . . 

Scoring carbon emissions – Brian Easton:

A powerful social law suggests we often explain or do things the wrong way. This may be particularly true when we try to address Global Warming.

Gilling’s Law, one of the most powerful laws in the social sciences, states that the way you score the game shapes the way it is played.* A simple example is that once rugby was boring with a typical score of 9 to 6 – three penalties to two. Later the score for a try was raised from three points to five, bonuses were given for scoring a lot of tries (and also to a loser who gets close to the winner). The changed incentives led teams to take risks to score tries with the result of much bigger scores and a livelier game. . . 

Low cattle pressure, yet an environmental problem in New Zealand – Robert Bodde:

Mark and Pennie Saunders are milking 2,000 dairy cows on the New Zealand South Island. Due to the scale, the cost price is lower than average despite the solid financing. The entrepreneurs see availability of labor and environmental measures as the biggest threats.

Their cows and young cattle older than two months walk 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in the meadow. Mark and Pennie Saunders have therefore invested little in buildings. At the home location in Ashburton, 90 kilometers south of Christchurch, there are three pilots, one of which is out of use. One is for the housing of sober calves, and one contains some tractors and machines. The 4 tractors from 45 to 120 hp are 20 to 45 years old. They are, according to Mark, not worth more than € 165,000, including the tools.

The 80-stall rotary milking parlor, an outdoor fancier from 2004, has also been depreciated. In the first years, 1,200 cows went through twice a day. After an increase in business in 2007, 1,650 per day, 10 months per year. Since 2015, there are only ‘1,450’. That year they bought 130 hectares of the neighbor and they started a new location with 600 dairy cows on a 54-stall rotary milking parlor. “The decision to start at the second location was prompted by the scarcity of capable people”, says Mark. “It is certainly financially more attractive to milk for longer in the 80 stands. But with 1,650 cows, the employees were milking for nine hours a day. Then you will not keep your people. You can only bind them to you if they have varied work. ” . . .

(This was translated from Dutch, as internet translations do, it doesn’t get every word right).

Texas ranches manage cattle to improve pasture and watershed health – Sandra Postal:

The following is an edited excerpt from Replenish: The Virtuous Cycle of Water and Prosperity by Sandra Postel, published by Island Press.

Few animals get as bad a rap these days as cattle do. They are blamed for soil erosion, water depletion, overgrazed rangelands, greenhouse gas emissions, and, when eaten, human heart disease. Often missing from such indictments of the mooing, tail-wagging, and, yes, methane-emitting bovine, however, is our role. How we choose to manage cattle determines their environmental impact, not the animals themselves.

“Ninety percent of people think cattle are bad,” said Robert Potts, president of the Texas-based Dixon Water Foundation. “But grasslands need well-managed grazing to stay healthy. We need to educate people about that.” . . 


Rural round-up

August 15, 2017

Labour’s water plan ‘dangerous, deceitful’, says Marlborough grapegrower – Oliver Lewis:

A Marlborough grapegrower has blasted Labour’s irrigation policy as “dangerous” and “deceitful”.

Wine Marlborough deputy chairman Simon Bishell said it was populist electioneering that would “drive a deeper wedge between the rural and urban divide”.

The Caythorpe Family Estate grower said international wine markets were incredibly competitive and any extra charge would put New Zealand exporters at a disadvantage. . . 

Concern for Hawke’s Bay farmers, growers over “water tax” – Victoria White:

Concerned members of Hawke’s Bay primary sector have waded into the debate on a Labour Party proposal for a royalty on commercial water.

Yesterday Labour leader Jacinda Ardern revealed their freshwater policy, which included charging an unspecified royalty on commercial water, with the revenue going to local regional councils to be used to clean up rivers, lakes and streams.

This royalty would include water bottlers, and farmers taking water for irrigation schemes. . . 

Horticulture New Zealand Responds to Scaremongering Claims:

Reacting to claims yesterday from Labour’s water tax spokesperson David Parker that its level of “scaremongering around this would make Donald Trump blush”, Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says this is a disappointing way to start a policy discussion about water and land use.

“Since Labour announced last week that it planned to tax fruit and vegetable growers’ use of water, I have been contacted by many of our growers asking that Horticulture New Zealand speak out about this tax and its direct impact on the cost of healthy food,” Chapman says.

“The tax confuses water users with water polluters – they are not one and the same – and implies that people on municipal water supply already pay for water, when in fact nobody pays for water. The costs they are talking about relate to the infrastructure required to source water. . .  

Positive perception important to farmers – Sally Rae:

Dean Rabbidge is an advocate for telling the good stories in farming.

Mr Rabbidge (32), a Glenham sheep, beef and dairy farmer, is intent on not only growing his own farming business, but also defending what he views as a “bad rap” that farming receives from some.

He recently became a trustee and member of the Three Rivers Catchment Group, which was established to engage with all sectors of the community and educate around the management of fresh water.

The group comprised about 12 trustees, who were all farmers and who wanted to engage with the community around water quality issues. The catalyst for its formation was Environment Southland’s proposed Water and Land Plan.

Mr Rabbidge encouraged people to “do the right thing” and showcase best management practice. He wanted to “get some good noise” out there with all the good stuff that was happening, he said. . . 

Understanding meat behind marketing – Sally Rae:

When it comes to marketing meat, Wayne Cameron is in the enviable position of having experienced first-hand all aspects of the chain — from producer to restaurateur.

Mr Cameron has been heavily involved with the Silere alpine origin merino meat brand  established six years ago.

Originally a joint venture between the New Zealand Merino Company and Silver Fern Farms,  SFF later withdrew from the venture and Alliance Group took it up.

Mr Cameron’s latest role is as marketing manager premium products at Alliance Group, overseeing not only Silere but also Te Mana lamb, and other yet-to-be launched products, including a beef label due to be rolled out soon. . . 

NZ sheep numbers decline at a slower annual pace as farmers rebuild flocks –  Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – The steady decline in New Zealand’s sheep numbers continued at a slower pace over the past year as farmers in some areas rebuilt their flocks following drought, natural disasters and the impact of facial eczema.

Sheep numbers reduced to an estimated 27.34 million as at June 30 from 27.58 million a year earlier, according to the latest survey from the Economic Service of farmer-owned industry organisation Beef + Lamb New Zealand. The annual 0.9 percent decline compares with last year’s 5.3 percent drop, and marks the fifth consecutive fall since 2012 when sheep numbers rose 0.4 percent. . . 

Farmers taking a hammering with One Plan, gorge closure :

“We won’t survive,” was Tararua District mayor Tracey Collis’ reaction to the Environment Court directed One Plan presented to Horizons Regional Council’s strategy and policy committee yesterday.

“The report is really scary,” Mrs Collis, an Eketahuna dairy farmer, said.

“We’ve seen the damage a loss of 30 per cent of business has meant to Woodville, with the close of State Highway 3 through the Manawatu Gorge. A drop in dairy farmer’s profit will be felt throughout our community,” she said. . . 

Otematata wetland project gets funding boost – Elena McPhee:

Volunteers are fencing, clearing willows, and planting 2200 native plants before spring for a wetlands restoration project at the head of Lake Aviemore. 

Another $15,000 has been granted for the conservation project as part of an ongoing Environment Canterbury initiative to fund biodiversity projects around the district. 

The Otematata Ratepayers Association received the grant from the Upper Waitaki Water Zone Committee to enhance another section of the 50 hectare Otematata Wetlands at the head of Lake Aviemore. 

The wetlands site is a popular recreation area, and is being restored by the community-led group.  . . 

Draft Report on Fonterra’s Base Milk Price Calculation:

The Commerce Commission has today released its draft report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2016/17 dairy season.

The base milk price is the price Fonterra pays farmers for raw milk, which is set at $6.15 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2016/17 season just ended. The report does not cover the forecast 2017/18 price of $6.75 that Fonterra announced in July.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s calculation at the end of each dairy season under the milk price monitoring regime in the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA).

Commission Deputy Chair Sue Begg said with the exception of the asset beta component of the cost of capital estimate, Fonterra’s calculation of the 2016/17 base milk price is consistent with both the efficiency and contestability purposes of DIRA. . . 

Teacher resources bring primary industries into the classroom:

A new set of online resources will provide teachers with the information they need to help their students learn about New Zealand’s animal welfare, biosecurity and food systems, says Associate Minister for Primary Industries Louise Upston.

“The curriculum-linked resources are being rolled out so that teachers can help students to learn key knowledge and skills while also discovering how these key systems underpin the primary industries and play an important role in our economy, our environment and our way of life,” Ms Upston says. . . 

First female president of Agcarm:

Agcarm, the industry association which represents crop protection, animal health and rural supplier businesses, has appointed its first female president.

Dr Pauline Calvert heads the production animal business for MSD Animal Heath in New Zealand and was elected president at Agcarm’s annual meeting on July 27.

Under her presidency, Agcarm will continue to focus on promoting the responsible use of products, sustainable agriculture, environmental preservation, and sensible science-based regulation of crop protection and animal health products. . . 

Interesting Facts And Figures About The 2017 Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year National Final:

With the Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year 2017 National Final looming closer (29th August 2017 at Villa Maria) the contestants are well into study mode, researching their projects, writing budgets, revising a wide range of subjects such as pests & diseases, soil nutrition, pruning, trellising and tractor skills to name but a few. Each of them is very determined to be this year’s winner.

Here are some interesting facts about the competition:

• 2017 will be the largest national final to date with SIX contestants . . 


Rural round-up

October 25, 2016

Golden harvest from Fiordland farm – Sally Rae:

Growing saffron and Fiordland might sound an unlikely combination.

But Te Anau couple Steve and Jo Daley have big plans for their fledgling organic operation with an ambitious goal of becoming world-renowned for the costly spice.

“It’s just so damn exciting, the product, and people are so interested in what we’re doing,” Mr Daley said.

Mr and Mrs Daley have 1.5million crocus corms on their property and their intention is to  increase that  to 50million, which would make them the biggest saffron producers in New Zealand.

With a day job as a fencing contractor, Mr Daley, while stationed behind the post driver, got thinking about other ways to make a living.  . . 

Sand and milk: Dairy farming in the desert – Sally Rae:

For Clayton Buckley, the past 12 years working for Almarai — the world’s largest vertically integrated dairy company — have been quite an experience.

Suffice to say, it was ‘‘not like farming here’’, he said during a recent visit home. 

Mr Buckley (35) was brought up in North Canterbury, where his father Russ was a ‘‘part-time’’ deer farmer.

He used to head south during school holidays to stay with his aunt and uncle Gail and Trevor Meikle and help on their farm, near Oamaru.

He enjoyed it so much that when he was about nine, he announced to his parents he was going to buy Mr and Mrs Meikle’s farm, he recalled. . . 

Quad bike deaths at record high – Catherine Hutton:

The number of deaths from quad bike accidents has reached a record annual high of 14, and an agriculture expert says the rate is predicted to rise.

A quad bike accident in Taupō on Saturday night left one person dead and another with moderate injuries, bringing the number of deaths from quad bikes this year to 14, a record for a single year.

The former director of Lincoln University’s Telford campus, Charley Lamb, said the deaths were occurring as a result of crush injuries, which research showed roll bars would prevent.

“Very few bikes have roll over protection, which of course they should do. Whether people want to debate that and argue that, they can. But they used to do the same about safety frames on tractors and they did the same about seatbelts in cars.” . . 

DIRA changes don’t go far enough – Neal Wallace:

Fonterra has criticised proposed changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act as not going far enough because they continue to impose constraints on the co-operative that help its competitors.  

The proposed changes to DIRA announced by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy provided a mixed bag for Fonterra which its Farm Source chief operating officer Miles Hurrell labelled a “lost opportunity to address artificial constraints”.  

While an end was in sight for the requirement to sell milk to its largest competitors, Hurrell said Fonterra was still obligated to accept and process all milk produced which meant shareholders having to invest in stainless steel. . . 

Age ousts three directors – Sally Rae:

Three directors, including founder and chairman Graham Cooney, have stepped down from the board of Blue Sky Meats due to an age-related clause in the company’s constitution.

A letter sent to suppliers of the Southland-based meat company this week, signed by chairman Scott O’Donnell and directors Peter Carnahan and Andy Lowe, said Mr Cooney, Peter Houlker and Malcolm McMillan were unable to continue as the constitution precluded any individual from being a director once they reached 65. . . 

Don’t blame staff – Annette Scott:

Agri businesses are bad at attracting the right staff rather than being victims of a shortage of skilled and experienced people, Synlait Milk chief executive John Penno says.  

“Effectively, I’m saying our primary industry business models are not strong enough to compete for the right people.  

“We need leaders growing up in our businesses and we need businesses growing these leaders.”  Penno focused on the challenges of knowledge and skills for land-based industries towards 2030, in a presentation to an Agricultural and Horticultural Science Institute forum.  

“This really made me think,” Penno said. . . 

A changing of the guard for DWN:

Dairy Women’s Network has a new skipper at the helm after today’s AGM, with incumbent chair Justine Kidd stepping down and Cathy Brown of Pahoia being warmly welcomed into the role.

A crowd of about 60 DWN members, staff and sponsors gathered at Wintec in Hamilton today to celebrate another successful year for the 9000-strong not-for-profit organisation that is dedicated to supporting and inspiring women to succeed in the business of dairying.

Brown has been involved with DWN since the late 90s, first hearing about the organisation when she worked at CRV Ambreed. She quickly became a member of what was at that point a largely internet based network and attended the organisation’s first conference in 2001. . . 


Cathy Brown (left) with Justine Kidd.

‘Good dog’ makes dog training easier – Anna Holland:

Two words I find invaluable when training dogs are “good dog”.

The secret to their effectiveness is understanding, timing and correct usage; overuse them and their power is lost.

Not only do you need to understand when and how to use “good dog”, but the dog needs to understand the meaning. I once commented to someone, “You never say ‘good dog’.” And the next thing he was like a stuck record with the words; the trouble is he may as well have been speaking a foreign language because the words had no meaning for his dogs. . . 


DIRA improvements

October 25, 2016

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced changes to the  Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 (DIRA):

“When Fonterra was formed as the dominant market player, DIRA was established to ensure an efficient and innovative dairy industry to promote the long-term interests of farmers and consumers,” says Mr Guy.

“A report from the Commerce Commission earlier this year found that competition is not yet sufficient to warrant deregulation at this point. Once sufficient competition is in place, competitive pressure, rather than the DIRA regulatory provisions, should drive the efficiency of New Zealand dairy markets. Competition helps keep businesses efficient, giving individual dairy farmers more options and choice.

“Around 100 submissions were received on the Government’s subsequent proposals to amend DIRA. These were split between those who wanted further deregulation of Fonterra and those who said Fonterra was still in a dominant position.

“Having considered these submissions, the Government has now agreed to a number of changes to the DIRA regulatory regime.”

The changes are:

  • Prevent the efficiency and contestability provisions of the DIRA from expiring in the South Island, and require that the next review of the state of competition in the New Zealand dairy industry commence during the 2020/21 dairy season (20 years since DIRA began).
  • Enable ongoing monitoring of dairy markets.
  • Allow Fonterra discretion to accept applications to become shareholders from new dairy conversions from 2018/19.
  • Alter who is eligible for regulated milk from Fonterra, and the terms that it is available on. Specifically:
  • Fonterra will no longer be required to sell regulated milk to large, export-focused processors from the start of the 2019/20 season.
  • All processors purchasing regulated milk will have reduced flexibility in forecasting the volume of regulated milk they intend to purchase from Fonterra from the start of the 2018/19 season.

“Consultation provided new information about risks of some of the originally proposed changes to regulated milk – particularly for downstream markets and consumers. The Government is therefore deferring the consideration of those potential changes to regulated milk for Goodman Fielder and small or domestically focused processors.

“Officials will start a body of work to understand the complexities in this area and any outcomes will inform the next review.

“The next review will commence by the 2020/21 season – 20 years since DIRA was created. The scope of this review will be wider than just competition policy to take into account any impacts from the work on downstream milk markets,” says Mr Guy.

An Amendment Bill is likely to be considered by the Primary Production Select Committee in early 2017. The Select Committee process will provide further opportunity for public input. Changes to the Raw Milk Regulations will be made via Order in Council. . . 

The wrong question on business formation has been asked if government legislation is the answer.

However, the legislation was passed 15 years ago and the change to allow Fonterra to turn down applications from new suppliers is a welcome one.

The requirement to accept all applications from new suppliers has forced the company to pick up milk from farms in far-flung places. Without that requirement many of these farms would not have converted which would have been better for the company and possibly the environment.

This requirement has also forced the company to over-invest in processing.

No longer requiring Fonterra to supply the larger exporters which are its competitors will be better for it without harming them as they are well able to get alternative supplies.


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