Rural round-up

July 29, 2020

New farmer training programme being rolled out– Sally Rae:

Wanted — farmers to inspire the next generation of farmers to perform at their best.

That is what Growing Future Farmers (GFF), a training programme for young people interested in entering the sheep, beef and deer industry is looking for — providing a career pathway for farmers of the future.

A pilot programme has been held the Gisborne and Wairarapa regions and it will be rolled out to six regions next year, including two in the South Island.

The aim was to have 10 farmer trainers in each area.

Gisborne farmers Dan and Tam Jex-Blake spoke at information evenings in Winton and Kurow last week, outlining the programme to potential farmer trainers. . .

Ag contractors frustrated – David Anderson:

Agricultural contractors are becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of skilled workers available.

The frustration comes amid growing concerns for the industry and farm production in the face of a critical shortage of skilled machinery operators.

Industry body Rural Contractors NZ (RCNZ) is calling on the Government to allow overseas-based operators back into New Zealand to help alleviate the growing problem.

The end of a golden career :

Russell Lowe has spent almost 50 years selecting, observing, propagating and tasting kiwifruit at Plant and Food Research in Te Puke. Earlier this year Russell was recognised for his role in developing Zespri’s SunGold kiwifruit.

Forty-eight years ago, research scientist Russell Lowe moved to Te Puke to work at the DSIR’s new research orchard.

There was not a crop in the ground and Russell’s first job was to bang in posts so kiwifruit could be planted.

Now there are more than 40 hectares of fruit planted for research, greenhouses, eight coolstores, purpose-built labs, a packhouse and an office block on site. . . 

Pork surplus crisis averted by measures- Sally Rae:

It could have been an unmitigated disaster for the pork industry.

Covid-19 Alert Level 4 and 3 restrictions earlier this year meant independent butchers were not allowed to open fully for retail customers.

That meant a surplus of up to 5000 pigs on New Zealand farms every week and a looming animal welfare issue, the worst-case scenario being the euthanasing of pigs on-farm.

However, such a crisis was averted through various solutions, including an innovative food bank initiative. . . 

Feds applauds carpet maker’s wool focus:

Federated Farmers congratulates the leadership shown by New Zealand carpet maker Cavalier Corporation in announcing last week it will to return to its roots as a wool and natural fibres-only business.

Cavalier said in February that profit margins selling synthetic carpets were getting thinner but sales of its wool carpets were steadily rising.

“Choosing to concentrate on New Zealand-produced natural wool, with its superior durability, warmth, sound-dampening and fire-retardant qualities is a smart decision for any company,” Federated Farmers Meat and Wool Chairperson William Beetham says. . . 

Aroma NZ buys leading NZ flower supplier:

New Zealand’s biggest green-lipped mussel health food company has bought one of the country’s largest flower growing companies.

Aroma NZ has successfully purchased Moffatt’s Flowers, which has been growing roses and other flowers in their Christchurch glasshouses since 1949.

As one of the largest rose growers and flower wholesalers in New Zealand, Moffatt’s grows 35 varieties of roses in a network of more than 20,000 square metres of climate-controlled glasshouses. This results in an annual output of more than three million rose stems, along with other flowers.

Aroma NZ director Ben Winters says they have been looking to diversify into different industry sectors. .  .


Rural round-up

March 4, 2020

Austrian billionaire to convert farm to forestry:

An Austrian billionaire has been granted consent to purchase an $8m Hill Country farm.

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) has granted Wolfgang Leitner consent to buy a 800ha property located in Kotemaori, Wairoa and convert it to forestry.

The property known as Ponui Station currently has 714ha being grazed by sheep and beef stock.  . . 

They just don’t care – Trish Rankin:

Taranaki farmer and 2019 Dairy Woman of the Year Trish Rankin recently attended the annual agribusiness seminar at Harvard Business School in the United States. What she heard was astonishing. What she said shocked them.

New Zealand can be the possible solution for the impossible customer. 

That was my key takeaway from Harvard Business School’s agribusiness seminar.

The impossible customer wants food that is better for the planet, their health, animals and people. NZ products can be the answer. . . 

Scarab beetles provide agribusiness insights – Sally Rae:

“It’s time for the dung beetle”.

So says Dr Shaun Forgie, who admits he has been obsessed with the critters since the early 1990s.

But it was not until 2011 that an application to import 11 different scarab species — suitable for all New Zealand climatic conditions — was approved.

Dr Forgie, the co-founder of Auckland-based Dung Beetle Innovations, was in Dunedin on Friday to speak at a dung beetle seminar at John McGlashan College. . . 

Meat export prices hit record levels:

Export prices for meat, including beef and lamb, rose to their highest-ever level in the December 2019 quarter, boosting overall export prices, Stats NZ said today.

“Meat export prices have risen for three quarters in a row, on the back of strong demand towards the end of last year,” business prices manager Bryan Downes said.

Meat volumes rose 3.2 percent, and values rose 12 percent in the December 2019 quarter. . . 

Young, Jex-Blake re-appointed unopposed:

Richard Young and Dan Jex Blake have been re-appointed unopposed to the Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Board.

Chairman Richard Young said he was pleased the outcome provided continuity for the Co-operative and for Silver Fern Farms Limited.

“This outcome gives continuity for our Co-operative and both Dan and I recognise the responsibility we have as Directors to create enduring value for shareholders. . .

Muddy waters end cotton-pickin’ drought blues – Charlie Peel:

As Paul Brimblecombe looks out over the sea of water pouring into Cubbie Station’s vast dams for the first time since 2012, he sees more than just muddy liquid.

The Cubby Agriculture chief executive can visualise the station’s first crops in two years and the economic boom in the region around Dirranbandi near the Queensland-NSW border.

Floodwater coursing through southwestern Queensland has been pouring into the giant water reservoirs for the past week after massive downpours in the 136,014 sq km Balonne-Condamine catchment area. . . 

 


Rural round-up

July 30, 2018

More profit with lower impact – Neal Wallace:

The low milk price in 2013 was not the ideal time for a multimillion dollar dairy conversion let alone one writing its own blueprint. But, as Neal Wallace reports, North Otago’s John and Ruby Foley had a vision and a goal and they were determined to see it through.

There was no single dairy farm blueprint for John and Ruby Foley to follow. 

They had just a wish list underpinned by a philosophy that the value of the business had to be set by the enterprise not the cost of land.

In the back of the minds of the North Otago dairy farmers was the increased difficulty for young people to enter the industry because of the cost of land. . .

Shearing pay rises are showing results – Neal Wallace:

Higher pay rates appear to have stemmed the flow of shearers and shedhands heading offshore.

Shearing Contractors Association president Mark Barrowcliffe said a wage increase of up to 25% has been welcomed by woolhandlers and South Island contractors starting pre-lamb shearing have been told by staff the better wages are an attraction to stay here instead of heading overseas.

“We have just made New Zealand an attractive proposition for our transient staff,” he said. . .

 No regional development cash to breed the ‘perfect’ varroa-resistant honey bee – Joanne Carroll:

A West Coast beekeeper has been denied Government funding to breed bees he says are resistant to the varroa mite.

Gary Jeffery, a beekeeper in Westport, said he wanted to continue breeding mite resistant bees from his stock, but that his application for help from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund had been denied.

Jeffery has previously received $25,000 from Development West Coast and has had the backing of private investors, but was running out of money to feed his bees before the end of winter. 

In a letter declining his pitch for $150,000 to develop a breeding programme, the provincial development unit said there was no evidence as to how Jeffery’s proposal would boost the West Coast economy . . 

 

Hillside collapses to from New Zealand’s newest lake – Marty Sharpe:

“Um, I think you might want to have a look at this new slip,” the top-dressing pilot told Gisborne farmer Dan Jex-Blake on February 25.

“Yeah, I know about that one. Been there forever,” Jex-Blake said.

“Nah, I don’t think so. You need to see this,” the top-dressing pilot replied.

So the fourth-generation owner of Mangapoike farm, about 55km southwest of Gisborne, jumped on the plane.

He couldn’t quite believe what he was seeing.

Where there was once a grass-covered bluff was now a vertical wall, a massive scar of debris and mud, and where there was once the clear-flowing Mangapoike River was a fast growing lake. . .

City kid’s burgeoning farm empire; 6 leased lifestyle blocks and 160 ewes – Sophie Cornish:

Angus Grant’s younger sister Josie was not happy when he converted her playhouse into a chicken coop when he was eight-years-old.

But now it has all paid off. Angus and his schoolmate Nick O’Connor, won the national Teen Ag grand final, the high school version of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

The 16-year-old St Bede’s College student is a city boy hailing from Papanui who has been passionate about farming since he first watched Country Calendar when he was three. . .


Rural round-up

December 17, 2013

Canterbury suffers another blow:

Farmers are reeling from yet another blow, after a severe localised hail storm tore its way through the Mayfield area of Mid-Canterbury.

“As the year draws to a close and we are fast approaching harvesting season, Mid-Canterbury farmers are facing a financial nightmare after the hail storm yesterday,” says David Clark, Mid-Canterbury Grain and Seed Chairperson.

“This has been a mongrel year for farmers in Mid-Canterbury; we have gone from snow to wind storms to a very dry spring to now this. It is a horrible way to finish off the year, with radish and carrot crops shredded and wheat and barley crops having the stuffing knocked out of them. . .

A timely reminder:

Fonterra dropped a bombshell last week when it announced its latest consideration on its farmgate milk price.

For farmer shareholders in New Zealand’s largest company, it had been shaping up to be a particularly merry Christmas, with economists suggesting the milk price could be lifted as much as 40c.

Elevated prices, which have defied predictions and remained at very high levels – the GlobalDairyTrade price index was just 7% below its April high and about 50% higher than a year ago – raised expectations for the forecast to rise. . .

UK butter eaters lose taste for Anchor after dairy giant cuts NZ ties – Nicholas Jones:

British shoppers have noticed that their favourite Anchor butter tastes different – with the explanation being it’s no longer from New Zealand.

In Britain, the famous Kiwi brand is used by European dairy company Arla. Until recently, Arla had shipped over New Zealand butter made by Fonterra, but has now switched production to its British facilities.

The Arla logo has been added to block butter packs, but the company has faced a number of complaints from disgruntled customers who were unaware of the change. . .

How much dairying is too much in terms of water quality? – Daniel Collins:

On 21 November the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Jan Wright, released her second report on water quality. It warned that business-as-usual dairy expansion by 2020 would leave our lakes and rivers more degraded than they are now, even with improved mitigation. I’d now like to re-cap what the report concluded, how it got there, and how it was received.

The report

The purpose of the report was to illustrate how land use change could affect future nutrient runoff – nitrogen and phosphorus – based on a simple, business-as-usual scenario for 2020.

Motu used a combined economics-land use model called LURNZ to project what land use changes are likely by 2020, driven by commodity process and knowledge of land use practices and landscape characteristics. Sheep and beef farming were expected to give way to dairying, forestry, and even reversion to shrubland. . .

Director elections mean an exciting Red Meat Industry:

Federated Farmers looks forward to working with the Boards of the cooperatively owned Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group following their recent Director elections.

“Federated Farmers congratulates the new directors elected to our two largest cooperatives, Don Morrison at Alliance Group as well as Richard Young and Dan Jex-Blake at Silver Fern Farms,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“We also congratulate Alliance Group chairman Murray Taggart on his re-election.

“Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre wishes to formally thank Alliance Group’s Owen Poole and Jason Miller as well as Silver Fern Farms’ David Shaw for their service to shareholders. . .


Three MIE candidates on two boards

December 16, 2013

Three Meat Industry excellence group candidates have won election on to the Alliance Group and Silver Fern Farms’ boards.

MEAT INDUSTRY EXCELLENCE (MIE) endorsed candidates Dan Jex-Blake of Gisborne and Richard Young of Gore have been elected to the board of SFF.

The results of the election which closed on Friday (December 13) were: Richard Young, 36,155,094;

Dan Jex-Blake, 25,511,166, David Shaw, 19,435,482.

This follows Alliance shareholders also voting for a change last week with Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group-backed candidate Don Morrison, Gore, elected by a narrow margin.

The Silver Fern voter turnout was 26.76% of eligible voters, up from 16.70% in the previous election in 2010. . .

Voter turnout was also higher in the Alliance election.

Approximately forty-nine percent (48.83%) of eligible votes were exercised in the directors’ election.

Alliance Group Chairman Murray Taggart said that the forty-nine per cent turnout for the directors’  election was significantly improved over recent years and reflected the interest in the issue. . . .

In 2012 the turnout for the directors election was 25% compared with 42% in 2011 and 30% in 2010. . .

There is discontent in the industry and a mood for change but there are no easy answers.

Jason Miller, who lost his seat on the Alliance board to Morrison, was elected by the Meat Industry Action Group with a mandate for change in 2007.

Little has changed since then.

 


Rural round-up

November 27, 2013

Moment of truth for MIE and its board candidates – Allan Barber:

In the seven months since MIE’s first farmer meeting in Gore, there have been more meetings, discussions with meat companies and, most recently, nominations for the boards of Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group. Meat companies have tried and failed to find an acceptable solution to the problems raised by MIE.

Previous MIE executive members Richard Young and Dan Jex-Blake are standing for election to Silver Fern Farms’ board. Don Morrison has been nominated for the Alliance board as a farmer director, while a shareholder, Mark Paterson, has proposed a resolution to nominate Fonterra director John Monaghan for the independent directorship vacated by Owen Poole. This will be voted on by those members present at the AGM, but the result of that vote is not binding on the board.

Alliance Group’s AGM takes place on the 13th December and SFF’s on 18th. Therefore we will know before Christmas how many of these candidates have actually made it onto one or other of the cooperative’s boards. . .

Northland trust goes dairy with Te Tumu Paeroa:

A Northland Maori trust has entered into a partnership with land administrator Te Tumu Paeroa to turn a sheep and beef farm into a money-making dairy operation.

The Omapere Rangihamama Trust runs a farm near Kaikohe, which is currently used for forestry and maize, as well as sheep and beef.

But chair Sonny Tau says the Rangihamama Farm will soon be converted into a dairy farming operation, with 500 cows over 278 hectares. He says it will mean a better financial return on the land. . .

New x-rays and staff to strengthen border biosecurity:

New x-ray technology and more frontline staff will help to beef up New Zealand’s biosecurity defences at the border, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

Mr Guy today unveiled a new x-ray machine at Auckland Airport, one of 12 machines that have been installed around the country.

“The new machines will be more reliable than the Ministry for Primary Industries’ older x-ray units and will provide better image quality,” says Mr Guy.

“MPI will be able to screen baggage with greater accuracy and image quality. This means border staff will be better equipped to spot biosecurity risk items before they enter New Zealand. . .

Labour Inspectorate extending dairy farm visits to regions:

The Labour Inspectorate is extending its dairy farm visits to regions across New Zealand to check compliance with minimum employment rights.

Labour Inspectors began visiting dairy farms in Southland in August, with the work now being replicated in the Waikato, Hawkes Bay and Taranaki.

The visits are part of a long-term operation to identify breaches of employment law, with particular focus on a practice called seasonal averaging and the failure to keep accurate time and wage records. . .

AgResearch, Invermay and Genetics – Peter K. Dearden:

The opinions below are my own, and not necessarily those of the University of Otago, my employer.

You may be aware that AgResearch has decided to move its genetics/genomics team from Invermay near Dunedin, to Lincoln. This move has excited a great deal of attention in the Otago press, and some consternation around here. Genetics Otago  has been drawn into this as a centre of research excellence and hub for genetics and genomics that AgResearch is linked into, that they will lose the benefit of if they move. This has led to some unfortunate exchanges in the media, so I thought I would write something from my point of view.

AgResearch has had a long-term and excellent genetic/ genomics group at Invermay. Many of that group are members of Genetics Otago. Genetics Otago has over 200 members across the University of Otago, AgResearch, AbacusBio, and others (both companies and individuals) across Otago. AgResearch is a small, but important, part of that collaboration. . .

Herd TB status changes encourage testing:

Farmers and lifestylers are being encouraged to get their cattle and deer tested for bovine tuberculosis (TB) as soon as they have been registered with the TBfree New Zealand programme.

To ensure the programme’s testing requirements are as accurate as possible for all animals, some changes have been made to the TB status of herds.

The changes directly affect newly-registered breeding herds and non-breeding (dry stock) herds. All new herds now start off on a Suspended (S) herd TB status until they have passed their first whole herd test. . .

New Zealand’s Favourite Honey: Manuka Trumps Clover in 2013 National Honey Week Survey:

The popularity of Manuka honey has been confirmed in a recent national survey, which places it above Clover and other floral varieties. In the New Zealand-wide survey launched by Airborne Honey this month to celebrate the country’s first National Honey Week, 40% of Kiwis named Manuka as their favourite and 29% choose Clover. A number of other floral honeys featured further down the scale, including Vipers Bugloss (3%) and Rewarewa (2.26%).

The survey also revealed that the favoured way to eat honey in New Zealand is on toast (57%), followed by a sweetener in hot drinks (9%) and straight off the spoon for medicinal purposes (9%). Most New Zealanders eat honey once or twice a week with only 2% never eating honey at all. . . .

Brancott Estate Heritage Centre wins International Wine Tourism Award:

A New Zealand cellar door has won a 2014 International Best of Wine Tourism award with the Brancott Estate Heritage Centre in Marlborough being the only New Zealand cellar door to win this prestigious award.

The Brancott Estate Heritage Centre, home of Brancott Estate wines, is located at Brancott Vineyard, the site of the original Sauvignon Blanc plantings in Marlborough.

The Great Wine Capitals Global Network recently announced the winners of the 2014 International Best of Wine Tourism awards at a ceremony held at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus in St. Helena, California. The nine international winners were chosen from 53 local ‘Best Of‘ winners from nine Great Wine Capitals. In all, 350 applications were received this year. . .


Rural round-up

November 17, 2013

Materials made from natural New Zealand wool go hi-tech in China:

With concern growing in China about the health risks from air pollution, a Kiwi start-up is expecting keen interest in its wool-based filtration products when it exhibits at the China High-Tech Fair.

Auckland-based Texus Fibre specialises in next generation materials which harness wool’s outstanding natural functionality for use in a range of products. An early application for its technology is personal particulate respirators and filters for use in industry.

“Around the world, and particularly in China, people are increasingly worried about the increase in the quantity and toxicity of dust,” says Texus Fibre founder and director Nick Davenport. “The problem has grown to the point that the World Health Organisation recently classified outdoor air pollution as carcinogenic to humans. . .

Quad code urged for rural sector – Richard Rennie:

An experienced farm-safety tutor is urging the farming sector to develop a code of practice for quad-bike use to enforce safer use by farmers and their staff.

Northland FarmSafe instructor Robin Grieve’s patch was the focus of a coronial report on quad-bike deaths, prompted by a spate of accidents in 2010 and 2011. . . .

Merger divides co-op hopefuls – Tim Fulton:

Silver Fern Farms (SFF) director candidate Dan Jex-Blake says he will stand down after his first three years on the board if he doesn’t believe a merger of SFF and Alliance Group is likely by then.

Another candidate to come out of the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group, former chairman Richard Young, who is also standing for SFF, was not so definitive.

“I’d be silly to say I’m not standing on a platform for industry change around consolidation,” Young said. . .

Evening markets: biofuels reforms hammer final nail into soy – Agrimoney:

Which is more important for agricultural commodity investors – data on US exports, or on domestic demand? 

On the evidence of Friday’s performance in soybeans, trade statistics proved the more influential, hands down. 

The National Oilseed Processors Association came in with some strong data on the US soybean crush in October, pegging it 157.1m bushels – well above market expectations of a 154.3m-bushel result.  As an extra fillip, soyoil stocks were lower than expected too, at 1.36bn pounds, compared with a forecast 1.49bn pounds. . .

Eliminate the [water] bugs – Willy Leferink:

I am writing this from Vietnam as I look at how they farm.  For a communist country it seems pretty entrepreneurial but that’s come out of reality versus theory.  After reunification, in 1976, the purists collectivised rice production and collapsed output.  One decade later, Vietnam allowed its farmers to grow and sell their own rice, albeit, within boundaries.   Today however, Vietnam has become the World’s No. 1 rice exporter.

When it comes to rice production water is critical as it is back in New Zealand.

In our many discussions about water quality we often overlook the fact that livestock need good quality drinking water too.  Cows are mammals just like humans so good water is in farming’s own self-interest.  Given the marvels of modern communication, I managed to catch One News’ coverage of the proposed amendments to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. 

It may sound dry but it has massive implications for all Kiwis. . .

One of those years – Angela Dorie:

Out here on the area farms it has been another case of “one of those years”.

Crops were hard to get in, with the cold and wet weather playing havoc with timing for many.

Early planted corn was stressed by too much cold and rain while some later planted fields struggled to mature before the first frost in early September.

Some crop land displayed its low spots with either stunted, yellowed growth or nothing at all.

The soy planting, done after the corn, seemed to go better and combining is now in full swing with many farmers extremely pleased with the yields. The corn will no doubt be a different story for some.

The hay harvest, for the third year in a row, proved to be difficult, especially for those who make the small square bales. The June rains didn’t leave enough good weather in a row to cut, dry and bale the 10,000 or so first cut bales we make yearly, so the harvest dragged on through July and well into August. . . .

Hot to trot farmer makes trotting history:

Federated Farmers is saluting the success of arable and sheep farmer, Ricky May, who made the history books yesterday in the Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup.

“Becoming the most successful driver in 110 years, of the great race, takes a lot of talent and we are thrilled for Ricky who is a valued member of the Federation,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“It is humbling to see that even with the nation celebrating his success, when we spoke to him he was back out in the paddock spraying peas. . .


Rural round-up

November 7, 2013

DairyNZ ramps up investment in environmental area:

DairyNZ is boosting dairy farmers’ investment in the environmental area by 61 percent in this financial year, from $6.7 million to $11 million as part of its efforts to meet its commitments under the new Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord and the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management.

DairyNZ Chief Executive, Tim Mackle, says the environmental portfolio is helping farmers boost profits while lowering their environmental impact, supporting farmer-led waterway improvement projects and investing in nutrient management research and resources. “It also supports our industry’s new dairy farming strategy and our objective to have proactive environmental stewardship.

“Biosecurity is also a big investment at $16 million but even this funding has environmental benefits as we are the largest non-government funder of the TBfree programme that focuses a lot on possum control with clear biodiversity benefits,” he says. . .

Landcorp focus will stay at home – Alan Williams:

Landcorp is getting approaches to develop and manage farms overseas but is busy enough in New Zealand.

The magnitude of its work in NZ and the opportunities ahead made expansion offshore unlikely, new chief executive Steven Carden said.

Three months into his posting at the State-owned farmer, he is working through a strategy review with the board, taking stock of where they are and the opportunities ahead. . .

Challenges to food industry for feeding the world:

Finding innovative ways to utilise waste, a greater focus on consumer driven research, and increased Government investment are just some of the challenges facing the food industry in New Zealand according to Lincoln University’s Professor of Food Science, Charles Brennan .

Professor Brennan was speaking as part of the Foods for Now and the Future Forum held at Lincoln University last week. The forum was arranged by the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science and the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology.

On the subject of wastage in food production and consumption he noted that some 50% of packaged salad greens and 40% of bread and cereals may be discarded in some countries around the world. However, utilising smarter production methods and taking a more innovative approach when it comes to wastage could mean up to one billion people could be fed worldwide. . .

Fonterra Strengthens Its Position in Australia:

Fonterra has today further strengthened its position in the Australian dairy industry by acquiring the assets of Tasmanian yoghurt business, Tamar Valley Dairy.

Under the agreement, Fonterra will acquire the processing equipment, the related services, and intellectual property and trademark for the Tamar Valley Dairy brand. The acquisition is effective towards the end of November (subject to completion of the sale), with the exact date to be confirmed.

“Fonterra is a long-standing partner of Tamar Valley Dairy, and has supported and worked closely with the administrators of the family-owned business during what has recently been a difficult period for the Tasmanian business and its founders,” said Judith Swales, Managing Director, Fonterra Australia. . .

Aussie cattle empire sale fails, amid land wrangle:

A second huge Australian cattle operation has had trouble selling, with the North Australian Pastoral Company being withdrawn from the market, amid tough industry conditions and a growing debate over land ownership.

North Australian Pastoral Company’s ruling Foster family has taken down the for sale sign after six months of marketing the 58,000-square kilometre (14.3m acre) property – an area nearly twice the size of Belgium and nearly as big as the US state of West Virginia – failed to attract an “acceptable proposal”.

Besides the Foster family’s 61% stake in Napco, a 34% stake held by London-listed plantations group MP Evans was also up for sale. . .

New Directors Appointed to Board of Aotearoa Fisheries Limited:

Te Ohu Kaimoana (the Maori Fisheries Trust) has appointed three new directors to the board of Aotearoa Fisheries Limited.

Mr Anthony Hannon, a merchant banker with extensive experience in tax consulting, private equity and asset management, and Ms Liz Ward (Ngāti Porou), a former Chief Executive of Deep Cove Fisheries and Wellington’s CentrePort, have been appointed for a term of three-years. Mr Alan Gourdie, an Auckland-based consultant with international management and marketing experience as a chief executive and director, has been appointed for a two-year term from 1 November. . .

Nominations in for Silver Fern Farms’ Director Elections:

Three nominations have been received for the two positions on the Silver Fern Farms’ Board of Directors.

Eoin Garden and David Shaw retire by rotation at the Company’s 2013 Annual Meeting which is to be held in Dunedin on 18 December 2013.

Eoin Garden has advised he will not be standing for re-election and will therefore retire at the Annual Meeting. David Shaw has advised that he will stand for re-election.

The candidates for election are:

Dan Jex-Blake
David Shaw
Richard Young . . .


Rural round-up

October 31, 2013

Irrigation benefits all clear – Andrew Ashton:

The benefits North Otago communities continue to receive from local irrigation schemes have been highlighted to two Government Ministers.

The Waitaki Irrigators Collective (WIC) yesterday invited Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew to tour irrigation schemes across North Otago, and Mr Guy said the tour, which took in farms and irrigation schemes between Weston and Glenavy, had reinforced the ”huge benefits” of irrigation to North Otago. . . .

Another benefit to the area would be if New Zealand’s sharpest town, #gigatownoamaru becomes the Southern Hemisphere’s first #gigatown.

– Allan Barber:

When Eoin Garden retires as Silver Fern Farms’ chairman at the AGM in December, both cooperatives will have had a change at the top within three months of each other. So the big question is whether this will make any difference to the way they operate: will there be a significant change of culture and leadership from the top or will it be much the same as before?

The Meat Industry Excellence Group is obviously hopeful of getting its preferred directors elected to the SFF board with Richard Young, MIE’s chairman until recently, and Poverty Bay farmer Dan Jex-Blake resigning from MIE to stand for election in their respective wards.

There is also one MIE aligned candidate standing for the Alliance board, long time supplier Don Morrison, although Fonterra director John Monaghan was keen to stand, but was rejected by the Alliance board under the terms of the company’s constitution. MIE chairman John McCarthy says “this is a real slap in the face for Alliance shareholders” who want to see change and in his opinion “is typical of what’s wrong with the meat industry.” . . .

Irrigation progress welcomed in Otago and Rangitikei:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming new investment of $750,000 into irrigation projects in Central Otago, and $100,000 in the Rangitikei, coming from the Government’s Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF).

“There is major unrealised potential across the country for further irrigation development, and these two projects will help unlock that.

“This is about creating jobs and exports, particularly in provincial New Zealand. It will play a major part in realising the Government’s goal of doubling primary sector exports by 2025.”

The Central Otago funding will go towards backing the next stage of the Manuherikia Catchment Strategic Water Study. . .

Scientists redesigning orchards to increase fruit production:

Research that will literally shed more light on fruit trees could revolutionise the way crops such as apples are grown.

Plant and Food Research scientists are investigating new orchard planting systems, putting to the test the theory that trees and vines that receive more light could produce a lot more fruit.

Research leader Stuart Tustin says it could mean completely changing the way orchards are designed to allow more light to reach the trees’ canopies. . .

Dr Nigel Perry wins NZIC prize:

Plant & Food Research’s Dr. Nigel Perry has been awarded the 2013 New Zealand Institute of Chemistry Prize for Industrial and Applied Chemistry. Dr Perry was recognised for his focus on the discovery and development of biologically active natural products.

With his colleagues in Plant & Food Research and the Chemistry Dept of the University of Otago, he has combined fundamental chemistry knowledge with a drive to establish practical applications. Nigel works with medical and agricultural researchers, Māori groups, and New Zealand and international companies.

He is an inventor on six patents, including one on an insect attractant now in commercial use around the world. Much of this work is documented in confidential technical reports to clients, but he has also published many papers on applied chemistry, on three main themes: . . .

New funding for plant science:

Plant & Food Research has received funding for two projects in the latest Marsden fund which will study how plants grow and adapt, fundamental science that will ultimately inform future crop breeding and growing practices.

One of the projects will investigate how ancient plant ancestors may have adapted to an environment with high UV radiation, providing better understanding of how plants may respond to future climate change.

“The emergence of plants onto land was one of Earth’s major evolutionary events, but at that time the environment had a number of challenges, including high levels of damaging UV radiation,” says Dr Kevin Davies. “Our research will look at liverworts, the closest living relative of the first land plants, and study how these plants adapt the production of pigment molecules to counteract the effects of UV. This will, in turn, provide some understanding of how plants may adapt and respond to shifts in environmental conditions as a result of predicted global climate change.” . . .

Wakatipu partnership to target wilding pines:

A partnership between DOC, the Queenstown Lakes District Council, LINZ and the local community aims to clear thousands of hectares of wilding pines in the Wakatipu Basin over the next five years, Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“Wilding pines are a significant risk to the natural ecology of the Wakatipu Basin. This partnership is about stepping up the efforts to control these tree weeds and protect the landscapes that make Queenstown such an iconic visitor destination,” Dr Smith told a meeting of the Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group (WCG) in Queenstown this evening.

“This project illustrates the benefits of DOC’s new focus on partnering with others to deliver conservation gains. These tree weeds are as much of a problem on private and council land as they are on public conservation land. It makes sense that we have a co-ordinated effort to control their spread, maximise the use of new technology, and work together to roll back the infestation,” he says. . .


Rural round-up

October 21, 2013

Merger on agenda – Alan Williams:

Meat co-operative merger is back on the agenda for the election of directors at Silver Fern Farms (SFF) in mid-December.

Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group chairman Richard Young and executive member Dan Jex-Blake have stood down from their roles to contest the two seats up for grabs at the SFF annual meeting.

They will be campaigning for a merger of SFF with Alliance Group as a first step in meat-industry consolidation.

The MIE group is also expected to stand two candidates in the Alliance director election. . .

Changes to dairy welfare code

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) says it is addressing concerns about the long-term housing of dairy cattle.

NAWAC is seeking public consultation on proposed changes to the Animal Welfare (Dairy Cattle) Code of Welfare 2010.

NAWAC chair Dr John Hellström says that off-pasture management systems for dairy cattle, including purpose-built housing, are becoming increasingly common in New Zealand. . .

Visits part of celebrations – Ruth Grundy:

Angus cattle enthusiasts from around the globe began their month-long celebration of the breed in the South Island last week.

It is expected up to 500 will attend the four-day PGG Wrightson World Angus Forum and the celebration of 150 years of Angus cattle in New Zealand which began in Rotorua, on Sunday. It will be followed by a tour of prominent North Island studs and was preceded, last week, with visits to well-known South Island breeders. . . .

Study commissioned on renewable fuel for farms – Johann Tasker:

Scientists are looking at ways to increase the use of renewable fuels made from crops and agricultural waste in farm vehicles.

The Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) has commissioned a new report to study the potential for innovative low carbon transport technologies and fuels in rural areas and on-farms.

The study is called Re-fuelling the Countryside: Sustainable Farm and Rural Transport.

It will investigate the potential and practicalities of farm-sourced renewable fuels and innovative transport technologies using a mixture of industrial applications, research and case-studies. . .

Company’s strategy set out for shareholders:

”Exciting opportunities” have been outlined to Wools of New Zealand shareholders at a roadshow criss-crossing the country.

Chairman Mark Shadbolt updated the company’s progress since it was capitalised in March, with more than 700 applications for shares worth just over $6 million.

”The important thing is you now own Wools of New Zealand and we’ve got a vehicle to go forward with,” Mr Shadbolt told the 14 people at the Oamaru roadshow meeting on October 1. . .

Wool becoming more interesting – Sally Brooker:

Wool has a vital role to play in the European textiles market, an English expert says.

Camira Fabrics development director Cheryl Kindness spoke at the Wools of New Zealand roadshow in Oamaru on October 1. Her company makes fabrics for upholstery used in public places, including buses and trains.

With a testing and manufacturing site in Huddersfield, a plant in Lithuania and a Nottingham facility that makes ”knit to fit” covers for chairs, it has more than 600 employees and a turnover last year of 455 million ($NZ875 million). . .

New milk provides closer-to-farm-gate taste experience:

Lewis Road Creamery is expanding its premium offering down the dairy aisle with the launch of a range of organic Jersey milks that are a first for New Zealand and provide a ‘from-the-farmgate’ taste experience.

Lewis Road Creamery Organic Jersey Milk is the first 100 percent Jersey milk to be available on supermarket shelves. Jersey milk is renowned for being richer and creamier in taste and texture, and combined with being organic, whole milk that is free from both permeate and palm kernel expeller, delivers a top quality product that surpasses standard milk.

“It’s milk the way it should be,” says Lewis Road Creamery founder Peter Cullinane. . .


%d bloggers like this: