Rural round-up

November 9, 2015

Alliance in good shape, Donald says – Sally Rae:

He’s been sitting around the board table at Alliance Group for 24 years but Murray Donald has finally called time.

Come December 17 and the Southland farmer will be gone, as he is standing down as a supplier representative at the company’s annual meeting in Oamaru.

Mr Donald (54), who farms near Winton, and fellow long serving director Doug Brown, of Maheno, who was elected in 2001, have decided not to seek re election. . . 

Exit from EU could cripple UK agriculture – Allan Barber:

A new report by agricultural consultancy Agra Europe entitled Preparing for Brexit suggests leaving the EU, to be determined by a referendum in 2017, could destroy the British farming sector. The authors have based their forecast on the Coalition government’s 2013 Fresh Start Policy document which theorised that British agriculture could imitate New Zealand and Australia’s success in surviving, even flourishing, in a post-subsidy world.

Not surprisingly there is plenty of scepticism about the realistic prospect of either of these scenarios eventuating. If British voters chose the Brexit option, it is most unlikely any government would eliminate all subsidies, while a cursory glance at the proportion of farm income from EU Common Agricultural Policy payments shows how laughable it would be to expect them to become suddenly profitable. . . 

Contest continues to hold appeal – Sally Rae:

Chris Pemberton was just a lad when he competed in the Young Farmers Contest.

It was 2005 and, at 17, Mr Pemberton was one of the youngest regional finalists in the contest’s then 36-year history.

He was still at boarding school at St Kevin’s College when he competed in the Aorangi regional final.

While unplaced, he performed creditably and was a favourite with the crowd. . . 

Spaans new DairyNZ head – Stephen Bell:

Waikato dairy farmer Michael Spaans has been elected the new chairman of DairyNZ.

The industry-good body held a special meeting of the board this weekend.

Spaans will serve an annual term as chairman, leading an eight-member board made up of five farmer-elected and three independent directors.
He replaced long-serving chairman and former Cabinet minister John Luxton who retired from the DairyNZ board last month after 12 years of service on dairy industry bodies. . . 

Yashili New Zealand’s Pokeno factory opens – Gerald Piddock:

Yashili New Zealand Dairy Co has opened its new state-of-the-art infant formula manufacturing plant in Pokeno, south of Auckland.

The 30,000m2 plant will employ 85 staff and have an annual production capacity of about 52,000 tonnes of formula product. It will produce formula under the brand ‘Super Alpha-Golden Stage Infant Formula’ with shipments to China expected to begin in early 2016.

Yashili New Zealand is a leading producer of infant milk formula for the domestic market in China. It was founded in July 2012 and is a subsidiary of Yashili International Holdings and Mengniu Dairy Co.  The new factory took three years to build and cost $220 million. The company’s goals were to produce the highest quality infant formula and raise the healthiest babies in China. . . 

Yashili, Arla and Danone sign agreement – Gerald Piddock:

Yashili International along with European dairy producers Arla and Danone have entered into global strategic cooperation agreement.

Signed at the opening of Yashili’s new infant formula plant at Pokeno on November 6, the agreement will see the three companies work closer together in supplying products into Arla and Danone’s markets.

“It is a significant agreement between these two great dairy producers who are each committed to the highest standard of food quality and safety,” Yashili International Holdings president Lu Mingfang said. . . 


Rural round-up

October 22, 2015

Dear Consumer: They tell me not to get angry.  But If I am honest, sometimes I do. – Uptown Girl:

Dear Concerned Consumer,

The marketing research tells me that I should focus on the positive when I address you.   I shouldn’t talk about the environment, or the health of my soil – they say you do not care about those things.

They tell me not to discuss the challenge of feeding the world.  I should not detail the challenges of feeding my own family on a farmer’s income, with ever rising input costs, unpredictable weather patterns and buyer preferences that change with the direction of the wind.  They tell me this doesn’t register with you. . . 

Dairy downturn costs NZ economy $4.8 billion – Gerald Piddock:

The full scale of the dairy downturn nationally has been revealed after new statistics showed a $4.9 billion fall in dairy-related income from the 2014-15 season.

The statistics from DairyNZ showed the value of milk production to the national economy dropped from $18.1b in 2013-14 to $13.2b in 2014-15.

Waikato has taken a $1.8b loss in dairy revenue, from $4.2b to $2.4b over the same period. . . 

Good practice – good farm – Andrew Hoggard:

The Sustainable Dairying: Workplace Action Plan launched last week at Lincoln is the roadmap to achieving the dairy industry’s work environment objectives.

It is part of  an original initiative developed in 2013 by Federated Farmers and DairyNZ and aims to encourage good employment practice by dairy farmers

Whether we like it or not the dairy industry suffers from a perception problem when it comes to employment practices.

Some of that perception is based on the fact that it’s a dirty job and you need to get up early. We can’t do much to change that. . . 

Hilgendorf legacy marked:

Charlotte Hilgendorf, left, Prue Frost, Jane von Dadelszen, and Henrietta Scott, a granddaughter and three great-granddaughters of pioneering New Zealand plant scientist, Lincoln University’s Professor Frederick William Hilgendorf, were given the plaque from the campus building named after him which is being demolished, at a lunch last week at the University.

Some of the history and architectural features of the building was presented to the family members, as well as some stories from those who worked in it. . . 

Minerality mysteries remain:

Ongoing wine research by Dr Wendy Parr of Lincoln University indicates that while minerality is not a figment of tasters’ sensorial imagination, the source of the perception remains a mystery, and the description should be used with caution in formal wine tasting and judging situations.

Minerality’ is used by wine professionals to describe the character of certain wines, with vague references made to wet stones, crushed rock and soil. Regarded variously as a taste, a smell, a trigeminal (mouth-feel) sensation, or all three, until now there’s been little agreement on what is actually meant by this common but enigmatic term, or whether it even exists. 

Intrigued by the lack of scientific knowledge and the plethora of anecdotal evidence around minerality, Dr Parr collaborated with scientists in France and at Plant and Food Research in New Zealand to investigate what the concept means in Sauvignon Blanc wines, and whether there are cultural differences in perceptions of minerality. . . 


Rat detected on Ulva Island:

A rat has invaded predator-free Ulva Island/Te Wharawhara off the coast of Stewart Island, the Department of Conservation says.

Rat prints were first detected on a tracking card near the Post Office Bay houses as part of a routine tracking card and trap check.

Rodent detecting dog Gadget and her handler Sandy King found signs of a rat in two areas after checking the island. . . 

Rural city living in Gore – Tracy Hicks:

In late 2013 Gore district councillors, still feeling pretty chuffed with the results from the local body elections, gathered for the traditional post-election retreat.

With our three-year term stretching ahead of us, little did anyone realise that what we were about to hear would significantly impact on our decision making.

A talk by leading demographer Prof Natalie Jackson was the catalyst we needed to stop talking about what we could do to make a difference to our future, and actually start doing something. . . .

Rural round-up

October 12, 2015

SFF challengers challenged – Neal Wallace:

Those backing an alternative capital underwrite for Silver Fern Farms have been accused by the company’s board of playing a dangerous and irresponsible game.

Chairman Rob Hewett said the board had not been provided with any details on the proposal in which a group of agribusiness leaders have allegedly agreed to underwrite a rights issue of up to $100 million of new capital for SFF.

“The board has not received a proposal. We do not know any details, we do not know who the mystery underwriters are, nor who the supposed bank is. . . .

Dangerous game to stare down bankers, warns SFF chairman – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Silver Fern Farms chairman Rob Hewett says the company’s banking syndicate has become tired of its relationship and it would be “a dangerous game” to test lender support in the event farmer-shareholders don’t support selling a half stake to Shanghai Maling Aquarius this week.

Hewitt was responding to calls from shareholders opposed to the deal to look at alternative funding, which could keep New Zealand’s biggest meat company in local hands. The cooperative that now owns SFF would be showered in cash if the Chinese deal goes ahead. As well as $261 million that would be injected into the business, leaving it debt free with funds to upgrade plant and pursue global growth ambitions, the farmers will get a dividend of 30 cents a share, or $35 million, and the cooperative’s board would get $7 million for its costs – enough to keep it going for seven years at current rates. . . 


New action plan to attract the workforce dairy farmers need:

Attracting the skilled dairy workforce that farmers need to run their businesses is the goal of a new joint workplace action plan launched with the Minister for Primary Industries in Canterbury today by Federated Farmers and DairyNZ.

DairyNZ chairman John Luxton says one of the aims of the industry’s 10-year strategy is to see 90 percent of dairy farm businesses having quality work environments by 2020.

“We have put actions and commitments in this new plan to ensure we achieve that part of the strategy. We are competing with all the other career opportunities on offer across the globe. We’re not always the most attractive choice for many young people these days and we need to be if we want to develop and retain the workforce we need,” he says. . . 

Free lease for pub with no proprietor – Rhys Chamberlain:

Are you looking for an opportunity, a change, a slower way of life?

Then the Macraes community needs you.

Stanley’s Hotel, a registered historic place, is without a proprietor and the Macraes Community Trust is on the hunt for the community’s next publican.

Trust member Mat O’Connell is keen to get someone signed up to keep the pub open after failing to attract a lessee over the past year. . . 

A2’s successful capital-raising raises $40m for growth – Dene Mackenzie:

The management of A2 Corporation could now focus on delivering growth following the successful capital-raising announced yesterday, Craigs Investment Partners broker Peter McIntyre said.

A2, which markets milk with a protein variant said to have health benefits, raised $40 million in a discounted share placement to help fund working capital in its burgeoning infant formula business.

The Auckland firm sold 58.8 million shares at 68c apiece in the placement, which was over-subscribed. . . 

Changed lives taking new turn – Stephen Bell:

Five years after their lives were irrevocably changed Jo and Bryan Guy are stepping back from farming, ending nearly a century of family involvement in daily milk supply.

“Someone in the family has been responsible for milking the cows every day,” Bryan says.

It started when Cecil and Mary Guy began dairying in Feilding after World War I.

They milked 20 cows year-round to supply milk at the farmgate for local residents.

In 1954 their son Grahame and his wife Winifred bought the farm and continued to milk every day, supplying town milk with fresh liquid for bottling. . . 

From a single vineyard grew a family dynasty – Russell Blackstock:

For 100 years, the Babich family have stayed true to the ideals of their patriarch.

David Babich has a view from his office window to die for. Twenty minutes after battling through traffic from his home in Auckland’s bustling suburb of Pt Chevalier, he is relaxing at his desk at his family firm in a lush city oasis.

The 47-year-old is general manager of Babich Wines, one of New Zealand’s oldest family-owned wineries.

Today he is raising a glass to the company being in business for 100 years. . . 

Bangladeshi scientists ready for trial of world’s first ‘Golden Rice’ – Reaz Ahmad:

Bangladeshi rice scientists are all set to conduct field tests of the world’s first vitamin A-enriched rice, popularly known as Golden Rice, before taking the variety to production phase.

The success in vitamin A-rich rice comes in quick succession of the world’s first three zinc-rich rice varieties that Bangladesh released over the last couple of years.

Upon completing a successful trial of the genetically engineered Golden Rice in its transgenic screen house, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) is now taking the variety — GR-2 E BRRI dhan29 — to confined field trials in the coming Boro season this November. . . .

Rural round-up

October 2, 2015

Chinese deal vital, SFF says – Sally Rae:

Silver Fern Farms could be facing insolvency if shareholders do not approve a 50:50 joint venture with Chinese company Shanghai Maling.

Voting has opened on the proposal before a meeting of shareholders at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium on October 16.

Shanghai Maling, a subsidiary of state owned food giant Bright Food Group, is proposing to take a 50% stake in Silver Fern Farms, in return for an investment of $261million. . . 

Hold off on Silver Fern vote, farmers urged –  Sally Rae:

Farmers are being urged to hold off voting on the Silver Fern Farms joint venture deal with Shanghai Maling, with hints that ”concrete” alternatives will emerge.

Voting is under way and closes at 10.30am on October 14, before a special meeting in Dunedin on October 16, where two resolutions will be voted on.

As well as the Shanghai Maling proposal, the meeting will also consider the shareholder resolution, promoted by Heriot farmer Allan Richardson and John Cochrane, from Clinton, seeking full analysis of the benefits and risks of a merger with Alliance Group. That resolution was not supported by Silver Fern Farms’ board. . . 

Bright lets sparks fly – Alan Williams:

Bright Dairy group is an excellent strategic investor in Synlait Milk, the latter’s chairman Graeme Milne says.

“It’s more than just money they bring.

“They’ve got the knowledge and capability to help us make good decisions.”

Shanghai Maling, the proposed new investor for Silver Fern Farms, is part of the wider Bright Dairy-Bright Foods group. . . 

Super-drone sprayer comes with risks -Robin Martin:

The first unmanned helicopter certified to spray chemicals in New Zealand could ultimately save back-country farmers thousands of dollars but it comes with a hefty price tag – and a safety warning. 

The Yamaha RMAX is a beast by drone standards, powered by a 260cc engine and weighing in at close to 100 kilograms.

Yamaha business development manager Geoff Lamb and his team put the chopper through its paces for a gathering of curious farmers, spraying contractors and radio-controlled aircraft enthusiasts at a Lepperton farm in Taranaki this week. . . 

Fonterra boss offers $4m salary freeze:

The chief executive of Fonterra has asked for his multi-million dollar salary to be frozen this year as the co-operative goes through major cost cuts and slashes hundreds of jobs.

Theo Spierings requested the freeze on his base salary on the same day Fonterra announced it was slashing hundreds more jobs as part of a business shake-up, taking total layoffs to 750.

That came just days before the company released its annual result.

A spokesman said Mr Spierings went to a meeting of Fonterra’s people, culture and safety committee on 21 September and requested that his base salary of about $4 million for the 2015/16 year be frozen. . . 

Nutrient loss under the spotlight:

New Zealand’s shift from a pasture-based model to high feed-input dairy farms will come under the microscope in a joint research project involving Ballance Agri-Nutrients, AgResearch, DairyNZ and Tatua, in partnership with the Government’s Sustainable Farming Fund initiative.

The two year project, led by AgResearch’s Dr Stewart Ledgard, will use case study farms varying in intensity of feed use to examine effects of their system changes over the last decade on emissions, production and profit as well as testing options for improving their sustainability.

“Locally there is strong interest in understanding implications for water quality of dairy intensification through increased use of supplementary feeds and how effects can be minimised, while internationally there is a desire for food products to be produced with efficient use of resources and reduced wider environmental impacts”, says Dr Stewart Ledgard. . . 

Aussies nab heaviest fleece record:

Well it’s official New Zealand has been fleeced by the Australians ..who now hold the world record for the heaviest fleece shorn off a merino.

The Australians were quick to yell they had found a wild merino near Canberra in early September with a fleece which weighed in at 40 kilograms.

Otago’s ‘Shrek the sheep’ held the record up until last year when another wild merino – dubbed Big Ben – was found in the Mackenzie Country with a fleece weighing 28.9 kgs. . . 

Steady wool market:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s C.E.O, Mr John Dawson reports that the more restricted wool type offering in the North Island sale of 6,165 bales saw a 97 percent clearance and a generally steady market.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies firmed 1.66 percent compared to the last sale on 24th September only impacting on the finer end of the offering.

Mr Dawson advises that the stronger New Zealand dollar and limited interest in the Fine Crossbred longer wools saw prices ease 2 to 4 percent with shorter types better supported with pries 1 to 3.5 percent softer in local terms. . . 

Rural round-up

September 30, 2015

Deer, sheep and cattle spread the risk in uncertain times – Kate Taylor:

Diversification is one of the keys to success for Central Hawke’s Bay sheep, beef and deer farmer Matt von Dadelszen on Mangapurakau Station.

Combining breeding deer, velvet stags, bull beef, breeding ewes and finishing lambs gives the von Dadelszens a mix of stock classes on the property at any time of the year… and a buffer when prices drop in one sector.

“The way we’re set up it’s easier to react,” he says. “Changes can be made quickly for different markets. Every year is a good solid year thanks to the diversity of the farm. We’re not at the mercy of one market.”

Matt and Paula von Dadelszen farm in partnership with Matt’s parents Ponty and Jane on the 1000-hectare property in the Flemington farming district, south of Waipukurau. They are on the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s southern boundary with Horizons Regional Council with two-thirds of the farm in Hawke’s Bay. It is a summer-safe farm with an altitude of 370 metres above sea level up to 620m and an annual rainfall of about 1250mm. . . .

Cold winds bring death to East Coast farms – Kate Taylor:

Hawke’s Bay farmers still in the middle of lambing are counting the costs of this week’s rain deluge.

More than 400mm of cold rain fell at Trelinnoe, the Te Pohue property farmed by former Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills and his brother Scott. They started lambing the day before the rain began.

“There is hardly a lamb surviving,” Bruce Wills said. “It’s not good … finding it hard to find a live lamb anywhere. It’s frustrating and annoying to do all the work all year and then, flipping heck, Mother Nature comes and does her thing.

“A week ago we were talking drought. On our country once we get 350mm, even with all of our 15,000 trees and all our good work, Mother Nature takes over.” . . 

Farmers ‘would really struggle’ without Filipinos:

A North Canterbury dairy farmer who helps support migrants when they move to the area says she’s not surprised to hear Filipino workers falsified documents to secure visas.

Hundreds of Filipino workers on dairy farms are under scrutiny after authorities in the Philippines revealed dozens have arrived on visas based on false documents.

They are also looking into claims some of the men paid as much as $1,500 to a recruiter who falsified work experience and qualifications in a bid to get them a better job.

Sharron Davie-Martin is based at Culverden, North Canterbury and said there’s about 70 Filipinos working on local dairy farms and without them, farmers would really struggle. . . 

Concerns about water quality computer-modelling:

Waikato Federated Farmers is warning that there would be a massive impact on the local economy if computer-modelling to improve water quality in the region was followed through.

The modelling has been produced to look at the impacts of implementing changes, such as land-use and in particular moving away from dairying.

It is estimated it would cost anywhere between $1 and nearly $8 billion over a 25-year period to clean up the Waikato and Waipa rivers and their tributaries.

It is based on scenarios ranging from making the rivers suitable for swimming, fishing and healthy biodiversity, to no further water quality decline, but with some improvements, or just holding-the-line with no further degradation. . . 

$10k Rates Club Raising the Bar

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the formation of Federated Farmers $10k Rates Club – an informal grouping of members who share the unwelcome bond of payment more than $10,000 a year in general rates.

“The club has been a way for us to capture stories, gauge the trends in general rates and add another string to our lobbying bow,” says Senior Policy Advisor Nigel Billings, who helped found the club back in 2005.

The club remains strong but times have changed – and, as Nigel admits, it might be time for a rebrand.

“Unfortunately, $10,000 rates notices are not as rare as they used to be for those in our rural communities. We’re thinking we might need to change the name to the $15k Rates Club. It may even need to be $20k.” . . .

Rural theft is gut wrenching – Chris Irons:

Rural crime is getting out of hand and something has to happen or we may need armed defender callouts to rural communities. The recent spate of thefts in the Waikato has been sickening especially for sharemilkers who are doing it tough trying to stay afloat with the downturn in dairy prices.

Huntly farmer Philip Thomas had his four- wheeler stolen in broad daylight and then suffered the indignation of watching the thieves ride off brazenly out his farm.

As most farmers know quad bikes are key part of the daily running of our business, it’s not a toy, more a necessity. The Huntly farmer had all his aids and ropes stored on his bike which he needed for calving. . . 

NZ Dairy Awards Develops Future Leaders:

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards is proving to be a breeding ground for future industry leaders.

Six of the 10 candidates currently seeking election to the Board of Directors of DairyNZ cite their participation in the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards on their curriculum vitae.

Two candidates, Ben Allomes, a Director seeking re-election, and Elaine Cook are former New Zealand Sharemilkers of the Year while another candidate Greg Maughan is a former longstanding chair of the Awards executive organising committee and former regional winner in the Sharemilker of the Year competition.

Another former regional Sharemilker of the Year winner is seeking election, Murray Jamieson, while Steve Hines is a past entrant and judge. Grant Wills has judged entrants in the awards. . . .

Treble Cone’s busiest ever snow season:

Treble Cone Ski Area (Wanaka, New Zealand) celebrated the Closing Day of a successful snow season that achieved a number of key milestones last Sunday.

This winter Treble Cone received it’s highest ever visitation since forming as a company in 1968 and installing the first rope tow in 1969, with a record number of skier visits in 2015.

The momentum and vibe at Treble Cone has been building over recent years, with stability in pricing coupled with tweaks and improvements across the guest experience.

Anticipation prior to this season was fantastic, with record online interaction and engagement, and increases in early bird season pass and pre-season lift pass sales.

Leading into winter 2015 Treble Cone introduced additional groomed intermediate trails in the Saddle Basin through summer earthworks and snow fencing which proved very popular. . . 

Rural round-up

September 29, 2015

PM announces Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary:

Prime Minister John Key has announced the creation of a 620,000 km2 Ocean Sanctuary in the Kermadec region, one of the most pristine and unique environments on Earth.

“The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary will be one of the world’s largest and most significant fully-protected areas, preserving important habitats for seabirds, whales and dolphins, endangered marine turtles and thousands of species of fish and other marine life,” Mr Key says.

“It will cover 15 per cent of New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone, an area twice the size of our landmass, and 50 times the size of our largest national park in Fiordland. . . 

John Key's photo.

“Pretty damned exciting news” say Kermadec campaigners:

Champagne corks popped as the news was released that the Kermadec region has become an ocean sanctuary. Kermadec campaigners Forest & Bird, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and WWF-New Zealand were together when they heard the news.

The Prime Minister John Key made the momentous announcement at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The creation of the Sanctuary once again puts New Zealand at the forefront of marine protection on the international stage.

The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary is located in the South Pacific Ocean about 1,000 km northeast of the Bay of Plenty New Zealand. The area is one of the most geologically diverse in the world. It contains the world’s longest chain of submerged volcanoes and the second deepest ocean trench with a depth of 10 kilometres. . . .

Proposed Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary:

With no forewarning from Government the industry needs time to consider the full implications, Seafood New Zealand Chairman George Clement said.

“The seafood industry is committed to rational and effective marine conservation measures. These include a representative network of BPAs (Benthic Protected Areas) established at the industry’s behest and implemented throughout 30 per cent of the Exclusive Economic Zone, covering an area larger than the Kermadecs. . . 

Tatua Cooperative beats market with $7.10/kgMS payout for 2015 – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Tatua Cooperative Dairy Co, the Tatuanui-based dairy company founded 100 years ago, set the 2015 payout for its farmer suppliers at $7.10 per kilogram of milk solids, the highest of any New Zealand processor, while affirming a drop in payout for 2016.

Revenue rose to $286 million in the 12 months ended July 31, from $266 million a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Earnings before milk payout, retentions and tax fell to $121.2 million, from $136.4 million a year earlier.

Chairman Stephen Allen said the decline in pretax earnings reflected an increase in overall milk collection from farmers in the latest year and the “dramatic decline” in dairy prices. It equates to a payout $7.73/kgMS before retentions and tax. The company retained 63 cents/kgMS before tax. . . 

Migrant worker scam uncovered:

More than 30 Filipino workers reportedly paid $15,000 to obtain false documents clearing them to work on New Zealand dairy farms.

Immigration New Zealand has confirmed multiple Filipino workers have provided false and misleading information when applying for visas here.

Immigration NZ assistant general manager Peter Elms said the department started scrutinising visas more closely after discovering multiple issues, relating to claimed work experience and qualifications.

The department has not confirmed the number of cases that it is aware of, nor whether it was investigating, but the Philippine government said it was investigating at least 30 cases. The Philippine government’s Overseas Employment Administration is also looking into the claims. . . 

Alliance says merger with Silver Fern would risk creating ‘beached whale’ as rival tackles over-capacity – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Alliance Group chairman Murray Taggart says any merger with Silver Fern Farms risks creating a “big beached whale” of the New Zealand meat industry because its rival needs the capital offered by China’s Bright Food just to rationalise plant capacity and reduce its debt burden.

Bright Foods’ Shanghai Maling Aquarius unit has offered to invest $261 million cash in Silver Fern Farms (SFF) to become a 50-50 partner with the Dunedin-based meat company in a deal that would leave the business debt free and with funds to upgrade plants, spend more marketing higher-value meat products and provide a new route into China.

The injection of funds has stoked speculation a stronger SFF could subsequently dictate terms for a tie-up with Alliance, something the two firms have failed to achieve in a decade of sporadic talks. Alliance says it made an offer to SFF prior to the rival embarking on its capital-raising process and had “worked hard to engage with SFF and discuss opportunities for industry consolidation” over the past 10 years. . . 

Partnering with China – Keith Woodford:

This last week I have been in Beijing at the NZ –China Council Forum. Led by Minister Steven Joyce and co-chaired by Sir Don McKinnon, it has been all about building partnerships.

There were about fifty New Zealanders there, including industry folk and staff from the relevant Government ministries – Trade and Enterprise, Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Primary Industries. And there was a similar number of Chinese people from industry and their government.

Now to some people, the idea of building partnerships with China is anathema. Ten days ago I was involved in a passionate debate in Wellington about just that topic. It is all right to trade with the Chinese, so the argument went, but we should not think of partnering. The Chinese are different, and we should not in any way imply support for their way of doing business. . . 

Surge in water data for World Rivers Day:

To mark World Rivers Day this Sunday, regional councils are releasing their latest water quality data on the Land, Air, Water, Aotearoa website, which this year includes lake quality monitoring.

Launched in March 2014, began reporting water quality results at 1100 river sites. Since then, it has expanded into coastal bathing beaches and water allocation, tripling the number of monitoring sites for which data is available.

From this weekend, users will also be able access water quality data for monitored lakes, providing a more complete picture of the quality of New Zealand’s freshwater.

Stephen Woodhead, chair of the regional sector group of Local Government New Zealand, said that public debate showed that rivers and lakes were  important to New Zealanders and regional councils took their role in water stewardship very seriously. . . 

Drought-hit farmers sow grass seed donations – Annabelle Tukia:

Ten north Canterbury farmers are about to get some relief from the drought that has plagued their region for the past year after a group of business owners got together to try to ease the financial burden of the dry spell.

It’s been a tough 12 months on Damian Harrison’s Cheviot farm.

“This drought has been like driving in a tunnel, and you drive and drive and drive and never see daylight at the end,” says Mr Harrison.

But today at last there was a little ray of hope, in the form of Murray Stackhouse and his tractor and drill. The local contractor, along with a machinery company, have got together and are re-sowing grass onto 10 drought-stricken north Canterbury farms for free. . . 

Indonesia reopens door to NZ beef imports:

Indonesian media are reporting that trade officials there have done a u-turn on efforts to cut down imports of beef from New Zealand.

The Indonesian Trade Ministry has issued permits for the State Logistics Agency to import as much as 10,000 tonnes of beef from New Zealand.

The ministry said it wanted to stabilise meat prices in the country, and New Zealand was chosen because the price of beef from here was lower than the cost of Australian meat. . . 

NZ Honey fights MPI over alleged health claims on Manuka Doctor, Manuka Pharm branding – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand Honey International, the closely-held honey products maker, wants a judicial declaration on whether its trademarks Manuka Doctor and Manuka Pharm amount to health claims after the Ministry of Primary Industries withdrew export approvals, blocking the firm’s sales into certain markets.

MPI has been cracking down on the manuka honey industry amid international criticism there was more manuka honey coming out of the country than New Zealand actually produces. With no industry consensus on what constitutes manuka honey, MPI introduced an interim labelling guideline in July 2014 to give the industry clarity and protect consumers from false claims, as well as to try to improve credibility of the manuka products. . . 

Calf collection paves way for fertility project:

A huge logistical exercise that involved collecting hundreds of calves from farms all over the North Island has set the scene for a ground-breaking research programme aimed at lifting fertility rates in the dairy industry.

In recent weeks, heifer calves from 619 farms across Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Manawatu and Hawke’s Bay have been collected so that they can be reared and milked together as one herd. The “Animal Model” research herd will comprise equal numbers of Holstein Friesian calves with very high and very low fertility genetics, carefully selected from contract matings in spring last year and purchased from farmers by DairyNZ. . . 

Rural round-up

September 26, 2015

Beef exports hit $3 billion in record season:

The value of total goods exported was $3.7 billion in August 2015, up $197 million (5.6 percent) compared with August 2014, Statistics New Zealand said today. Meat and fruit exports led the rise.

Beef exports continued to rise, up 46 percent ($61 million) in August 2015 compared with the same month last year. The beef export season runs from 1 October to 30 September.

“With one month to go in the 2014/15 beef export season, beef exports are at a new high of $3 billion,” international statistics senior manager Jason Attewell said. “So far this season, 404,000 tonnes of beef have been exported, and if we export at least 18,000 tonnes next month we’ll surpass the peak 2003/04 season for quantity exported.” . . 

June floods cost the primary sector $70 million says MPI:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has today released a report on the economic impacts to the primary sector of the heavy rain and flooding that affected the western North Island in June.

The total on-farm cost of the June storm affecting Taranaki and Horizons regions has been assessed at approximately $70 million with up to 800 rural properties affected.

MPI Director of Resource Policy, David Wansbrough, says the greatest impact of the storm was on sheep and beef farms, due to landslides and damage to infrastructure.

“Around 460 sheep and beef farms were affected, some with significant levels of infrastructure damage and lost productive capacity. The on-farm economic impact to sheep and beef farms is estimated to total $57.6 million. . . 

People power:

When Lyn Neeson, who farms near Taumaranui, saw the Whanganui and Ohura rivers rise rapidly in June, she figured this spelled trouble for farmers downstream and she was right. 

Since July she has been working four days a week in Whanganui as the coordinator for the RST. She has the task of assessing the reports coming to her from farmers and people such as Harry Matthews and Brian Doughty who know the region and the farmers. 

A major problem is damage to fences, she says. . . 

Origin of Beef Informs Shopper Decisions:

Consumer research shows 89 per cent of supermarket shoppers in key international beef markets consider “country of origin”, when deciding which beef product to purchase.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Scott Champion says this insight informs how the organisation works on the ground to boost sales of New Zealand origin beef.

“We use a three-pronged approach that gives consumers reasons to buy New Zealand beef ahead of other countries. We tell the New Zealand story – including environment and animal welfare aspects – and highlight our food safety systems, as well as the health and wellbeing attributes of New Zealand beef.” . . .

Dissapointing 2014/15 result for farmers, encouraging signs for coming season:

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Duncan Coull, said the final payout for the 2014/15 season of $4.65 for a fully shared-up Farmer is a disappointing result for the Co-op’s Farmers.

Mr Coull: “While it is encouraging to see the improvement in Fonterra’s performance in the second half of the season Farmers will be disappointed with the 25 cent dividend which was at the lower end of their expectations.

“Farmers had an expectation the business would have been able to take greater advantage of the low Milk Price environment.”

Mr Coull was encouraged by the Co-op’s improved second-half performance which saw many parts of the business operate at a high level. . . 

Wool Market Firm:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s C.E.O, Mr John Dawson reports that the South Island sale this week saw a strong market with steady support.

Of the 9,250 bales on offer 84.4 percent sold.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was down 0.72 percent compared to the last sale on 17th September, helping hold up local price levels.

Mr Dawson advises that in line with other Merino growing markets, local prices for Merino Fleece 18 to 23.5 microns compared to when last sold on 10th September, saw a slight easing with prices 2 to 6 percent cheaper. . . 

Waikato modelling results show high costs to farmers and region:

DairyNZ is encouraging Waikato dairy farmers to get involved in regional policy development processes after the release of new information highlighting the potential for high costs to their businesses.

Commenting on new modelling released<> today by a group of technical experts, DairyNZ’s strategy and investment leader for productivity, Bruce Thorrold says the analysis shows there is potentially a very high economic and community cost to the region of changing land use and management practices. Estimates range from $1.2 billion to $7.8 billion depending on the degree of improvement in water quality modelled.

“That’s not surprising given the size and importance of the pastoral industry in the Waikato,” he says. . .

Best Sauvignon Blanc in the World for Rapaura Springs in London:

Rapaura Springs Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2015 has impressed the judges and taken home the Sauvignon Blanc Trophy at the prestigious International Wines and Spirits Competition (IWSC) in London.

The IWSC was established in 1969 and is one of the world’s pre-eminent wine competitions, held in high regard with consumers and wine trade alike. The formidable reputation of its judging process, and judges themselves, set the standard for wine competitions globally. . . 


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