Rural round-up

September 14, 2017

Maniototo farmers challenge Ardern to visit them on water tax

A group of Central Otago farmers are challenging Jacinda Ardern to visit their farms to discuss Labour’s water tax plans.

The group of women, known as Water Maniototo, say they cannot afford a royalty on irrigated water, planned at one to two cents per thousand litres of water, and it could drive some off their land.

Francine Hore, who farms sheep at Patearoa, says she supports fixing up the nation’s waterways, but many farmers are doing everything they can already. . . 

Lambs hit $7/kg – Annette Scott:

Low global stocks pushing lamb markets above the odds for this season is positive news for the New Zealand sheep industry but farmers are not yet jumping with excitement, Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairman Miles Anderson says.

Latest trade statistics revealed average export prices for both chilled and frozen product were tracking well above any prices seen in recent years, including 2011, the last time NZ saw such strong global demand for lamb.

Demand for chilled lamb had held solid in recent months, driven by the tight supply with chilled prices reaching historically high levels. . . 

Broken business makes comeback – Annette Scott:

From a business that was “essentially broken” to one recording a modest profit in less than 12 months, NZ Yarn is now poised to add value for New Zealand woolgrowers.

Over the past year the Canterbury yarn processor has spun its own turnaround project.

Getting back on its feet to lift returns for farmers and shareholders had been the focus of NZ Yarn’s reinvention, chief executive Colin McKenzie said.

“A year ago the business was essentially broken.

“We have reinvented, repositioned and resized operations and moved from making sizeable losses to recording our first modest profit in July,” McKenzie said. . . 

Millions tune in watch start of fresh NZ milk sales to China through Alibaba – Gerald Piddock:

Milk New Zealand’s trade agreement with global online retailer Alibaba has been launched with millions of Chinese consumers tuning in to watch the event.

The Chinese-owned company’s Collins Road Farm is just south of Hamilton and its 29 New Zealand farms will supply Alibaba with fresh milk to be sold on its online platform.

Organisers of the launch rented a satellite facility for the day to enable it to be live streamed directly to China. In attendance were 10 of China’s biggest social media influencers including Yuni and Joyce, who are known as the Chufei Churan twins in China.

The pair are considered the Chinese Kardashians with social media follower numbers larger than New Zealand’s entire population. They and other influencers videoed the event and the farm directly to their followers in China. . . 

Water royalty point of divergence – Nicole Sharp:

Water and the environment are two of the key talking points for Southern Rural Life readers this coming election. As voting day fast approaches, reporter Nicole Sharp talked to the candidates in the rural electorates of Waitaki and Clutha-Southland about these two issues that will affect rural voters.

Water is crucial to the agricultural sector and all candidates and their parties standing in the Waitaki electorate this upcoming election want to do all they can to preserve water quality now and in the future, they say.

Current Waitaki MP and National candidate Jacqui Dean said National’s new policy statement on freshwater, which was announced last month, would pursue a target of 90% of rivers and lakes swimmable by 2040. . .

 

Canterbury cropping farmer embraces environmental limits – Tony Benny:

Third-generation Canterbury cropping farmer David Birkett isn’t phased by tougher environmental regulations and says they can even lead to an improved bottom line. He talked to Tony Benny.

David Birkett’s farm is near Leeston, not far from what has been called New Zealand’s most polluted lake, Te Waihora/Ellesmere, and he’s well used to close scrutiny of the environmental effects of farming there by the regional council, members of the public and media.

“There’s a bit of pressure on farmers but they gain out of it, that’s the silly thing. I can’t understand someone who doesn’t bother to try to do the best they can because your bottom line is going to be better,” he says.

“Doing some measuring and making sure you know what’s needed, most of the time you’re actually financially better off than what you’d previously been doing.” . . 

Adding value more than just adding cost – Nigel Malthus:

The term ‘value added’ is too often used as a vague generic, and farmers need to consider specific strategies for adding value, says Rabobank analyst Blake Holgate.

Speaking at the recent Red Meat Sector conference in Dunedin, Holgate noted that most lamb was still exported frozen, returning $6906/tonne instead of chilled at $11,897/t.

“By and large we’re still treating sheep meat as a commodity market, so the lower value frozen export market still makes up about 80% of what we export, while the higher value chilled market, that’s worth nearly twice as much per tonne, is only 20%. . .


Rural round-up

February 18, 2016

Landcorp forecasts bigger loss this year, no dividend – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Landcorp Farming, the state-owned farmer, won’t pay a dividend to the government for a second consecutive year as low milk prices erode earnings from its dairy business.

The company expects to post a net operating loss of between $8 million and $9 million in its current financial year ending June 30, chief financial officer Steve McJorrow told parliament’s primary production select committee in Wellington. That’s a bigger loss than the $1 million to $6 million it forecast in December, and compares with a net operating profit of $4.9 million last year. The projected loss means Landcorp won’t pay a dividend for the year, McJorrow told BusinessDesk after the select committee meeting. . . 

Drought relief in the pipeline for North Otago – Rob Tipa:

Farmers in the North Otago downlands between Duntroon, Enfield and Herbert will be happy to leave behind the stresses of desperately dry summers when the taps are opened on an expanded irrigation scheme covering an extra 25,000 hectares next spring.

In December, this region was shaping up for a summer from hell as farmers were forced to destock quickly with predictions of an El Nino long, hot summer drought.

The North Otago Irrigation Company, which currently supplies about 100 shareholders with irrigation water from the Waitaki River, was running at full capacity in November and December to cope with demand. . . 

North dairy farms lift collective environmental record:

Northland’s dairy farms are collectively lifting their environmental compliance performance with record numbers achieving full compliance last season.

Joe Carr, chairman of the Northland Regional Council’s Environmental Management Committee, says 65 percent of the more than 900 farms inspected over four months from mid-August last year had achieved full compliance, the highest rate ever recorded.

Councillor Carr, an Okaihau-based beef farmer and forest owner who represents the council’s Hokianga-Kaikohe constituency, says 944 farms were visited by the council or its contractor last season. . . 

Wall to wall sky – it’s a big country – Kate Taylor:

Most travellers drive around the South Island looking up at the picturesque high country. Kate Taylor jumped at the opportunity to experience the views up close with four-wheel-drive company NZ Adventures.

Asking how four-wheel-drive a four-wheel-drive trip will be is probably not a good start for my 1250-kilometre high country safari down the South Island.

Usually I would class myself as a good vehicle passenger – chatty, happy and with not an ounce of carsickness. But I think my hosts receive the occasional message about my state of mind… a tight grip on the door handle, mouth firmly shut and eyes to the upward view.

The trip caters for people with their own 4WD vehicles and preferably drivers with 4WD experience. Certainly, some of the places driven in the tour are not for the fainthearted, with sheer drops on the side of the tracks or long, steep inclines up to spectacular views and back down again. . . 

Journey to the top of the world – Kate Taylor:

Kate Taylor concludes her three-part series about a 4WD high country safari from Blenheim to Cardrona. The final days of the six-day journey are more familiar territory for the Otago farmer’s daughter.

Standing beside the monstrous Leaning Rock high above the Cromwell Gorge, I assume the tour guide is joking when he says I can see the Blue Mountains where I grew up.

After all, we had already been on top of one Blue Mountain in North Canterbury and driven through part of Blue Mountain Station in Mid Canterbury.

But there they are – no bird’s eye view of West Otago but undoubtedly the Blue Mountains in the distance. . .

I couldn’t find part 2 of this series, if you come across it please post the link in comments.

 

Is Fonterra’ strategy outdate – Jacqueline Rowarth:

More developments in dairy processing operations, this time in Northland, are yet another nail in what must not be allowed to become Fonterra’s coffin.

The dairy farmers in the region will, potentially, have a choice of which company to supply. The dilemma for them is whether they continue to support their co-operative or move to a new company promising good returns.

The promise is based on the demand in China for UHT milk and ice cream: China is now believed to be the biggest ice cream market globally. Chinese spending on ice-cream increased over 50% between 2009 and 2014. Furthermore, consumption is still under a quarter of that consumed by Americans, giving plenty of room for further increases. The new company should be onto a winner. . . 

Canterbury farmer unofficially tops world crop record – Monique Steele:

A Canterbury farmer with a wheat crop yielding above the world record missed out on glory because it was never officially recorded.

Leeston farmer David Birkett harvested 16.7 tonnes a hectare from his feed-wheat crop which would have topped the existing record of 16.519t/ha held in the United Kingdom.

He suspected he was heading for a personal best, but decided against bringing in officials to verify a Guinness world record attempt. . . 

Southern Dairy Hub site found:

Southern Dairy Hub (SDH) chair Maurice Hardie says the vision of a southern research and development dairying centre is much closer to being realised with a conditional agreement on two properties now having been reached pending the satisfaction of a number of minimum requirements for both parties.

“This is an important milestone in our plan to build a facility that is a partnership between local farmers, DairyNZ and AgResearch; the new farm will enable local dairy farming issues to be researched on southern soils in southern conditions,” he says. . .


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