Rural round-up

November 29, 2012

Kiwi’s China dairy project receives first cows: Caleb Allison:

A Chinese dairy farm spearheaded by Kiwi dairy entrepreneur Howard Moore has received its first 3000 heifers from Australia.

Mr Moore – formerly technical manager at the Dairy Board and Kiwi Dairies – is the managing director of Taranaki Dairy Technologies, which is headquartered in Shanghai after he set it up two years ago. . .

Nearly 2 Million More Lambs But Third Smallest Lamb Crop:

An estimated 26.9 million lambs were tailed this spring – 1.9 million more than last year, according to Lamb Crop 2012, the latest report from Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Economic Service.

Even then, this will be the third smallest lamb crop since the early 1950s. Only the previous two years were lower.

This year’s increase was due to slightly more ewes mated (+0.6%) and the sheep being in good condition thanks to favourable feed conditions before mating. There was also an increase in the number of lambs born from hoggets, according to B+LNZ Economic Service Executive Director, Rob Davison. . .

The Hobbit can help New Zealand farming:

Federated Farmers is hopeful increased lamb production over 2012/13 may offset softer international prices and the high New Zealand dollar. It is also hopeful The Hobbit may also spur overseas demand for all things kiwi including wool.

“The 2012/13 Lamb Crop may be the third smallest since the 1950’s, but being up by 1.9 million on last season is a positive,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“While we currently need grass growth in some key areas, I am hopeful the increase in production may go some way to offset softer prices and that high Kiwi dollar. . .

Warning after livestock agent illegally tags cattle at saleyard:

 The conviction of a senior livestock agent in Blenheim serves as a warning that the illegal tagging of cattle will not be tolerated, says the Animal Health Board (AHB).

Richard John May, 66, and from Seddon, admitted two breaches of the Biosecurity Act after he “helped out a mate” by attaching three tags to a friend’s animals at the Blenheim public saleyard. The tags he used belonged to other farmers.

However, following a report from the on-site movement control and identification officer, the AHB’s own investigation led to May being prosecuted for the incident which took place in October last year. . . .

Wine industry profitability continues to show improvements in 2012:

Seventh annual financial benchmarking survey confirms gradual turnaround, but industry still has a long way to go

All but the largest New Zealand wineries have improved their profitability during the past financial year compared with results in 2011, according to a new survey.

Vintage 2012, the seventh annual financial benchmarking survey for the New Zealand wine industry, was released today by Deloitte and New Zealand Winegrowers. It tracks the results of survey respondents accounting for a third of the industry’s export sales revenue for the 2012 financial year. . .

Global Timber and Wood Products Market Update:

– a news brief from Wood Resources International LLC

Wood costs for pulp mills and sawmills in Brazil have fallen the past year and are currently among the lowest in the world, reports the Wood Resource Quarterly

Pulp mills and sawmills in Brazil became more competitive in 2012, because the costs for the wood raw-material, which accounts for about 70 percent of the production costs, have declined by over 20 percent since 2011, according to the Wood Resource Quarterly. . .

ANZ helps forge strong agriculture links between India and New Zealand:

NZ National Fieldays Society today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with The Confederation of Indian Industry – the industry organisation behind AGRO TECH, India’s largest agricultural technology trade event.

The Memorandum, which was brokered by ANZ, will provide the opportunity for collaboration between the two organisations – and their members – as they promote their international trade activities.

Jon Calder, CEO of NZ National Fieldays Society, and Sunil Kaushal, ANZ Head of India Relations, are in India as part of a business mission led by Minister for Primary Industries, Hon David Carter. The purpose of the mission is to forge closer economic relationships through the primary sector. . .

Why we need free trade – Gravedodger:

Stuff reports that 5400 horticultural producers are losing around 23 million dollars from tariffs being imposed as a precondition to foreign markets. . .

And a new use for milk which makes me wonder about the benefits of higher education:


New raw milk regs ok

November 15, 2012

When proposed changes to raw milk regulations were announced earlier this year Fonterra and many shareholders were less than impressed.

However, the proposals were just that and open to consultation which has produced changes most in the industry will accept as okay.

Primary Industries Minister David Carter today announced amendments to the Raw Milk Regulations, the rules by which independent milk processors can access raw milk from Fonterra.

“The Regulations ensure dairy processors can access raw milk when they are starting up and aim to support competition in domestic dairy products,” Mr Carter says.

“The changes follow an extensive consultation and review process on how best to achieve a fair and efficient dairy market in New Zealand.”

The key amendments are:

  • Large independent processors who collect a significant quantity of milk directly from farmers will have a three-season limit for accessing regulated milk;
  • The total quantity of milk available under the Raw Milk Regulations will be set at approximately five per cent of Fonterra’s milk supply, as provided for in the legislation;
  • A range of maximum quantities will apply to processors accessing milk under the Raw Milk Regulations in different months of the season to reflect the seasonal nature of milk production;
  • Processors who do not take much, or any milk, directly from farmers will be able to pay a fixed price for milk accessed under the Raw Milk Regulations and will not be subject to the “wash-up” process at the end of the season.

The aim of the changes was to foster competition without being unfair to Fonterra and I think that’s been achieved.


Regional councils out of balance?

November 8, 2012

Local Body and Primary Industries Minister David Carter has criticised the analysis about the economic impact of the Horizons Regional Council’s One Plan:

. . . A case study for the Manawatu catchment indicates farm profits could fall by 22% to 43% as a result of land use changes needed to meet water quality targets in the plan.

Mr Carter said he will wait for the outcome of High Court appeals from farming and horticulture bodies against the Environment Court ruling, but he’s concerned about the restrictions proposed in the One Plan.

Federated Farmers says it will be challenge the regional council’s cost-benefit analysis under the Resource Management Act.

Chief executive Conor English says the impact would go well beyond farming, causing income cuts and job losses right through the supply chain.

Balancing economic and environmental concerns isn’t easy but the consequences  of getting it wrong  has serious consequences.

The One Plan has been greeted enthusiastically by some people but with serious concerns by others who think it has gone too far in the environmental direction without giving sufficient weight to the economic and social impact it would have.

Horizons isn’t the only council upsetting its constituents.

Farmers are concerned about the Southland and Otago Regional Councils too:

. . . There had been an alarming increase in effluent-related prosecutions over the last year relating to incidents which were mostly unintentional, extremely minor and fixed immediately by farmers, the letter said.

Farmers, who in most cases asked the councils for help, got no support and were instead prosecuted.

“Why is it not possible for farmers and the councils to work together to improve farming practices on a consultative basis without the need to resort to prosecutions for the first time or minor offences?” the letter said.

Inspectors have been seen taking photos and flying over properties “looking for any breach possible,” the letter said.

Local councils had moved from being a pragmatic, solutions-focused body to a vindictive, prosecutorial body, it said.

The farmers asked that the focus of local councils be shifted to help them comply, rather than be prosecuted. . .

This could be a consequence of having one body set and enforce rules and also collect the fines for those who breach them.

The object should be improved practices on farms and cleaner waterways. That is far more likely to be achieved by co-operation and eduction than prosecution.

Prosecution might be reasonable for people who deliberately offend and cause serious pollution. But there needs to be tolerance and advice for minor offences and accidents with the aim of compliance, rather than punishment.


ECan commissioners to stay

September 7, 2012

Local Body and Environment Ministers David Carter and Amy Adams have announced that commissioners will continue to govern Environment Canterbury after 2013:

A Bill to extend Commissioner governance until the 2016 local authority elections, with a ministerial review in 2014, will be tabled in Parliament today.

“The Commissioners, under the leadership of Dame Margaret Bazley, have proved highly effective in addressing urgent problems with water management in Canterbury and in rebuilding key stakeholder relationships,” Mr Carter said.

“Their strong governance through the earthquake response and rebuild planning has been excellent and it is vital that this work continues. The disruption caused by the earthquakes has made the Canterbury situation unique, and the focus must now be on ensuring the region can maximise its full economic potential as Christchurch rebuilds.

“In the interests of Canterbury’s progress, and to protect the gains the Commissioners have made, the Government has decided the best option is to continue with the current governance arrangement,” Mr Carter said. . .

Environment Minister Amy Adams says it is imperative that Canterbury’s freshwater resources continue to be managed and governed effectively.

“The Canterbury region has significant economic growth potential but also faces significant challenges. It is critical for New Zealand that the planning governance structure for Environment Canterbury is stable, effective and efficient,” Ms Adams said.

“To keep the freshwater management work on track, we intend to retain the limited appeal rights on decisions made by Environment Canterbury on plans and policy statements relating to freshwater management.”

The Ministers thanked the Commissioners for their efforts over the past two years.

“In the face of enormous challenges, the Commissioners have done a great job of managing Canterbury’s vital freshwater and natural resources. We look forward to further progress for Cantabrians and the continued growth of the region,” the Ministers said.

One measure of the change at the council since commissioners took over governance is processing consents.

ECan had the worst record for processing consents under the dysfunctional council, it is now one of the best.

Postponing elections for another three years is a big step but it’s justified by the size of the task facing ECan.

The earthquakes have given the council a lot more work and made it even more important that it works well.

 


Rural round-up

August 22, 2012

Award for Omakau farmer :

Omakau farmer Jan Manson has been awarded the 2012 Rabobank business development award for her project to reposition her farming operation for future expansion.   

Mrs Manson received the award at the executive developmen programme graduation dinner, which celebrated the latest business management thinking in agriculture. . .

Sheep, beef sectors look at training – Sally Rae:

A steering group is investigating the possibility of    copying in the South Island the residential training farm model, following concerns about the low level of skilled, work-ready employees in the sheep and beef sector.   

Sarah Barr, of Kyeburn, is co-ordinating a feasibility      project, on behalf of the Central South Island Residential  Training Farm steering group, including conducting a survey  to ascertain if there is an issue and, if so, how it can best  be addressed. . .

Fonterra wraps up record End-Of-Season export quarter:

Fonterra’s record end-of-season quarter has been the Co-operative’s biggest ever May, June and July – with 620,000 metric tonnes of dairy products loaded on ships for export to over 100 markets around the world.

Fonterra NZ Milk Products Managing Director Gary Romano says the Co-operative has shipped 36 per cent more than the same period last year.

“The record milk production in the 2011/12 season has meant Fonterra has exported more product at the end-of-season than ever before. Our teams have done a great job collecting the milk, processing it, packing it, storing it, selling it and shipping it.

“If we were to lay the containers we have shipped this year end-to-end they would stretch from the top of the Bombay hills to Christchurch – which is around 1000 kilometres,” he says. . .

Financial treat for rural schools – Rebecca Ryan:

Five Forks Primary and Omarama School received a financial surprise, thanks to their local farmers.

More than 200 rural schools throughout New Zealand received much-needed money for resources such as books and sports equipment.

Five Forks Primary and Omarama School received some of the more than $4300 distributed to schools from the Hatuma Growing Minds Fund.

Hatuma marketing and sales Aaron Topp said the fund was well received by rural schools.

More than $15,000 has been distributed to rural schools in the past three years. . .

US boot camp tune-up:

A WEEK of high-powered brainstorming was expected to heighten ideas of collaboration among 25 of New Zealand’s leading chief executives from the primary sector. With them was Primary Industry Minister David Carter.  

This august group has been tucked away at a ‘boot camp’ at Stanford University, near San Francisco. They represent the dairy, meat, seafood, horticulture and viticulture sectors.

No ‘industry good’ organisations are there but it does include the chief executives of MPI and NZ Trade and Enterprise. . .

Buffalo and rhino make big money:

MAKING SURE none of the rhinoceros herd is poached during the night isn’t something New Zealand farmers have to worry about but it is typical for an increasing number of South African farmers diversifying into the lucrative game breeding industry.  

After several years of rapid growth, there are now estimated to be more than 10,000 commercial game ranches in South Africa breeding rare species for hunting, meat and conservation purposes.

Kirstie Macmillan of Farm To Farm Tours recently returned from escorting a group of New Zealand farmers through South Africa, Victoria Falls and Botswana. . .

Australia and New Zealand Arrangement to combat illegal logging:

Australia and New Zealand have today strengthened their long standing cooperation on forestry issues by signing the Arrangement on Combating Illegal Logging and Promoting Sustainable Forest Management. The signed Arrangement illustrates a shared commitment to working together to address illegal logging and promote sustainable forest management.

Australia’s Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig, and New Zealand Associate Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, signed the Arrangement during forestry talks which included discussions relating to the progress of Australia’s Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill 2011. . .

Wise Nutrient Use Rewarded In Ballance Farm Environment Awards

Former fertiliser consultant Jim Galloway takes a scientific approach to the application of nutrients on his Nireaha dairy farm, west of Eketahuna.

Jim and his wife Lynette bought the farm in 2006 and are milking about 170 cows this season on a milking platform of 70ha (effective). The Galloways also own a nearby run-off, supplementing milk income by rearing extra dairy replacements and farming carryover cows.

Jim and Lynette are both Massey University graduates and Jim worked as a fertiliser consultant for nine years before going farming. This experience in the fertiliser industry is valuable when deciding the farm’s fertiliser policy. . .

Zespri keeping tabs on vine bacterial infection of gold varieties:

 Zespri International, which controls exports of the nation’s kiwifruit, is keeping tabs on the spread of vine bacteria disease Psa-V which is showing signs of infection in new gold varieties.

Listed kiwifruit packer and grower Satara Co-operative Group has warned its shareholders of the potential adverse impact Psa-V could have on its business. Pseudomonas syringae PV actinidiae is again showing clear evidence in orchard vines, Satara managing director Tom Wilson said in a statement to NZX. . .

Grape growers are on target for improved profitability

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has today released an analysis of viticulture production and profitability as part of its annual Farm Monitoring Report series. The report is based on models of a Marlborough and a Hawke’s Bay vineyard and an overview of the financial performance of typical vineyards, based on information gathered from a sample of growers and industry stakeholders.

Grape growers experienced significant erosion in profit last season, with unfavourable weather in both Marlborough and Hawke’s Bay leading to a 20 percent drop in average yields. . .

NZX confirms slump in 1H profit; Agri information stands out as bright spot:

New Zealand’s stock market operator, posted a 28 percent drop in first-half profit as revenue growth stalled and expenses rose, squeezing its earnings margin.

Profit was $3.25 million in the six months ended June 30, from $4.5 million a year earlier, the Wellington-based company said in a statement. Operating revenue rose 1 percent to $26.5 million.

The first-half results confirm NZX’s Agri information unit as the biggest source of revenue, growing 8 percent to $6.2 million in the latest period, driven by growth in subscriptions, while advertising revenue was little changed at $3.76 million. The company expects subscription growth to continue in the second half, when it typically enjoys the benefit of a seasonal pickup. . .

Long-term investment in NZ kiwiberry industry:

Freshmax NZ Ltd is the holder of the exclusive New Zealand master kiwiberry license, granted by Plant & Food Research (PFR) to commercialise four of their proprietary kiwiberry varieties. This month, Freshmax welcomes the decision by select growers to advance these varieties into commercial production in New Zealand.

Over the last few years global demand for kiwiberry has continued to rise on the back of a sustained increase in market share for berryfruit. Freshmax has recognized this exciting opportunity for New Zealand growers to benefit from increasing demand, through investment in kiwiberry production. . .

Skip the sheep can shake a leg again – Sally Rae:

First Tarras had Shrek – and now Tapui has Skip.   

And if Skip the Romney ewe was a cat, she would probably be down to about seven lives.   

Farmer John Dodd did not think the little triplet, born on a  cold and frosty night in rural North Otago, would survive its first night if left outside and took her home. . .


Rural round-up

August 8, 2012

Efficiency with farm inputs – a recipe for productivity

An increasingly complex and volatile global farm input market is making it imperative for New Zealand farmers to have in place good purchasing strategies, while focusing on ways to conserve soil nutrients and input use, according to a new industry report.

The report, Efficiency with farm inputs – a recipe for productivity, by agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank, says more efficient use of farm inputs – including fertilisers, chemicals and fuel –will be essential in ensuring profitability, driving productivity growth and improving environmental sustainability of farm businesses into the future.

Report author, Rabobank senior analyst Michael Harvey says, with farm inputs a vital component of modern production systems, all farmers in New Zealand are exposed to the dynamics of procuring farm inputs. “In more recent times these markets have been evolving and becoming more sophisticated, which is altering the business landscape for farmers as end users,”he says. . .

Country life # 4 –  Quote Unquote:

Very late last night – me dozing off to the Economist, my wife dozing off to her novel – we heard a cow mooing, mooing for ages and we knew from which paddock. . .

Welcome to the Hotel van der Bijl – Shawn McAvinue:

More dairy farmers are building wintering sheds in Southland.  Shawn McAvinue  talks to one, who says those building them need to “do it once and do it right”.

The back rubs end abruptly when the music wanes. Then the stampede begins. 

    Car Wash, the 1970s disco hit by Rose Royce is playing to 750 cows and a party of about 20 curious farmers, who have come to see a new $4 million wintering barn in Dunearn, near Mossburn. 

    The $9000 wireless sound system is struggling to stay tuned to The Breeze radio station and the 24 speakers in the shed begin to crackle. Then the music stops. It’s like a gunshot fired in a packed nightclub. The cows get startled then stampede. Then there’s a crackle, the radio reception kicks in and Rose Royce returns: “Talkin’ about the car wash, yeah”. 

    The fickle cows are instantly content and return to chewing on feed or massaging their rumps.

Grand plans for NZ lamb in China – Shawn McAvinue:

The sleeping giant is wide awake and has a taste for our meat, say Alliance Group marketers from Southland. 

  Alliance Group staff went to China for 10 days to meet executives from Grand Farm, the largest single importer of New Zealand sheepmeat in China. 

    Alliance marketing development services manager Gary Maclennan said he was surprised how advanced the Grand Farm processing plant in northeast China was, “and how huge their plans are for target growth. They plan to double in two to three years.” . . .

Waikato cattle farmers at higher risk of fatal disease – Natalie Akoorie:

Waikato beef and dry stock farmers have higher rates of leptospirosis, a potentially fatal bacterial disease passed to humans through animals and infected water, according to a study in the New Zealand Medical Journal.

The farmers were probably more at risk because beef and dry stock cattle were less frequently immunised against the deadly disease, according to the report by Waikato District Health Board medical officer of health Dr Anita Bell and health population officer George Cowie.

The study, done over seven years, found the Waikato has one of the country’s highest annual rates of notified cases of the infectious disease, with the majority coming from the Waitomo district. . .

Online tool could enhance farm compliance –  Shawn McAvinue:

The former head of Environment Southland says new technology can ensure good farmers having a bad day are not unfairly prosecuted by compliance officers. 

    Former Environment Southland chief executive Ciaran Keogh said among the well-attended environmental conference in Auckland yesterday were Environment Minister Amy Adams, Primary Industries Minister David Carter and Nelson MP Nick Smith. 

    Mr Keogh was invited by the Environmental Defence Society to talk about new AG-HUB technology at Aotea Centre. . .

Scott seeks higher honours – Gerald Piddock:

Mid Canterbury arable farmer Andrew Scott is now be turning his attention to the Young Horticulturist competition after being crowned the country’s top young grower. 

    The 29-year-old beat three others to win the Young Grower of the Year title at Horticulture New Zealand’s annual conference in Auckland, 

    He earned his place in the competition after winning the Young Vegetable Grower competition earlier this year. . .

Lifestyle blocks a source of tension – Peter Watson:

Rural subdivision is about to come under the spotlight as the Tasman District Council reviews its rules and research shows the region losing some of its  best land at an increasing rate.   Peter Watson reports on what  is set to be a difficult debate. 

    Tasman and Nelson are losing their most productive land to lifestyle blocks and urbanisation at one of the fastest rates in New Zealand, sparking calls for councils to take a much tougher stance on rural subdivision. 

    Recent research by Landcare shows that 24 per cent of 16,000 hectares of high-class land in Tasman is now occupied by lifestyle blocks – the third highest level among regions and well above the national average of 10 per cent. Another 1 per cent of this land has gone on urban development, double the national rate. . . .

New wine frontman takes pride in region:

Richard Flatman describes himself as a “pretty passionate, outspoken bloke who loves Nelson” and good wine. 

    They are qualities that will come in handy in his new role as chairman of the Nelson Winegrowers Association. 

    The 41-year-old viticulturist at Neudorf Vineyards takes over from Mike Brown, who stepped down last month after six impressive years as industry spokesman. . .

Good Things Come in Eights for Misha’s Vineyard

Cromwell, Central Otago, 8 August 2012 – Misha’s Vineyard has announced a distribution expansion into eight markets around the world. The number eight, a lucky number in Chinese culture, has been an auspicious number since Andy and Misha Wilkinson first planted their vineyard on an old Chinese gold mining site on Bendigo Station, Central Otago, just eight years ago.

In the northern hemisphere the new markets are the Scandinavian countries of Denmark and Sweden through Gastro-Wine and across in the important US market, Misha’s Vineyard will be represented by Vindagra USA. . .


Labs join border patrol

July 22, 2012

Photo of the day:

 

Biosecurity Minister David Carter with one of the labs which has joined the biosecurity front line:

Primary Industries Minister David Carter was on hand today for the graduation of the first labradors to become biosecurity detector dogs.

Four of the five dogs are from a new Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) breeding programme, while the fifth dog joined the detector dog training programme from the Auckland pound.

“These dogs will play an important role in protecting New Zealand’s border. We have already seen the success of using beagles to detect biosecurity risk items at our airports,” says Mr Carter.

“Labradors have the advantage of being able to work in both passenger and mail pathways. However, I can reassure the public that MPI will continue to breed beagles.”

Mr Carter says MPI expects to have 11 new dogs graduate from its national training centre this year, eight of which will be matched with new handlers being recruited.

“The extra dogs will give MPI the ability to cover the majority of flights arriving at our main airports and to cover smaller airports when needed.

“Detector dogs and their handlers are an important part of our biosecurity frontline. The dogs’ visual presence at the airport is a big factor, they are great at detecting seeds and plants that x-rays may miss and they screen people faster than x-ray,” says Mr Carter. 

 

 


Rural round-up

July 17, 2012

Philanthropist meat industry pioneer dies:

Hawke’s Bay businessman and philanthropist Graeme Lowe has died after a 15-year battle with Parkinson’s disease. 

    His family said he died peacefully at his Havelock North home yesterday, surrounded by close family members, including wife Jenny, son Andy, and daughters Sarah Whyte and Kate Stace. 

    Andy Lowe said his 77-year-old father had lived his life to the full. 

    “We have lost a great husband, father, mentor and friend,” the son said. “He has touched the lives of so many, from all walks of life.” 

    A pioneer of the modern meat industry, Mr Lowe led Lowe Corporation from its inception in 1964. . .

PGP delivers on Government growth plan:

Primary Industries Minister David Carter has welcomed today’s announcement of a major investment partnership for New Zealand’s export beef sector.

The Government’s Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) is to fund half of a $23.7 million programme led by Brownrigg Agriculture and Firstlight Foods to produce high-value marbled beef for premium markets.

“The Government’s total investment so far of more than quarter of a billion dollars in PGP programmes demonstrates its firm commitment to boosting economic growth through primary sector research and innovation,” says Mr Carter. . .

Tapping into the halal economy – Richard Meadows:

The Muslim slaughtermen turns the stunned sheep to face Mecca, offering a prayer to Allah as he slits its throat and leaves the carcass to bleed out. 

    This bloody image is the face of halal in New Zealand, but business leaders will have to move past it if they want a piece of the largely untapped $2.3 trillion halal economy globally. 

    “Halal is not about ritual slaughtering of animals,” said Jamil Bidin, chief executive of Malaysia’s Halal Industry Development Corporation. . .

German Festival-Goers Flock to Eat New Zealand Lamb and Venison:

New Zealand lamb and venison were in such hot demand at Northern Europe’s biggest summer festival, the organisers had to get in extra chefs to satisfy the hungry queues.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Deer Industry New Zealand were invited to take part in this year’s Kieler Woche celebrations – the first time in the festival’s 130-year history New Zealand has been represented at the international market.

The market in Kiel’s picturesque main square is at the hub of more than 2,000 sports and cultural events which attract around three million visitors annually to a city with a population not much bigger than Hamilton’s. . .

Lifestylers to set rural rates – Alan Emerson:

I didn’t realise that New Zealand had a National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis but we do.

It is part of the University of Waikato in Hamilton. Its Professor of Population Economics is Dr Jacques Poot who has an impressive list of qualifications and is extremely approachable.

He gave a talk at the recent Fieldays at Mystery Creek and the news is largely bad for the rural sector and the family farm. I was surprised the talk didn’t receive more media coverage than it did.

Basically over the next 20 years the rural population will shrink and get older. . .

Move to NZ life-changing – Sally Rae:

Animal scientist Bruno Santos has no regrets about a    life-changing decision to move from Brazil to Dunedin.   

 Mr Santos, who moved to the city in February to work for  consultancy and new venture development company, AbacusBio,      was joined by his wife, Renata, and their two young childre last month.

He is no stranger to AbacusBio, having collaborated with the  company on business development and technical projects in Brazil. . .

New Zealand wine – a glass half-full:

A weather-affected 2012 New Zealand wine harvest has reduced bulging stocks and driven a small but significant lift in Marlborough sauvignon blanc (MSB) grape prices. This is leading many in the industry to once again “view the proverbial glass as half full rather than half empty” when it comes to New Zealand wine, according to a new industry report. In its Wine Quarterly Q2: New Zealand wine – a glass half full, agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank says an unseasonably cool and in some parts rain-affected 2012 New Zealand wine harvest of 269,000 tonnes (down 18 per cent on 2011) has reduced the high stock levels that had fuelled a surge in bulk wine exports and private label brands in recent years. . .


Rural round-up

May 29, 2012

Judging helps get best stock – Sally Rae:

Olivia Ross reckons the skills she has learned through entering stock-judging competitions will stand her in good stead.

A member of the Nightcaps Young Farmers Club, Miss Ross (24) competed in the New Zealand Young Farmers national stock judging competition at AgResearch Invermay yesterday and hoped to defend the national title she won last year.

Rabbits, water quality and the RMA – Sally Rae:

If there was a more virulent variety of rabbit haemorrhagic disease in Australia that could be useful in New Zealand, then the Government would not say it could not be introduced.

However, Primary Industries Minister David Carter told farmers at the deer industry conference they would have to “engage with the process” to introduce it. . .

Emerging demand for venison product – Sally Rae:

Markets are diversifying and there are untapped markets for venison and co-products – what is needed now is the product.

That is the message from James Palmer, the director of strategy, systems and science policy at the Ministry of Primary Industries.

Wool growers face ultimate contest – Che Baker:

New Zealand’s top wool growers will go head-to-head this week as they compete for the national Golden Fleece title.

The National Golden Fleece Awards, in its 42nd year, will be held in Ranfurly tomorrow. . .

Confident and among the best

It’s not about winning when you love what you’re doing. Shawn McAvinue talks to a Southland dairy trainee about being judged one of New Zealand’s best.

Winton dairy farmer Robert Ankerson, 23, was judged the second-best trainee in New Zealand at the Dairy Industry Awards in Auckland this month and took home $3000 in prizes.

Not that money had ever been the driving force for working in the dairy industry, Mr Ankerson said.

“You do it because you love it.” . . .

Young Farmers a cool group to belong to especially if you’re at Massey University – Pasture to Profit:

This week has been a huge week for Young Farmers & Young Farmer Clubs in New Zealand. The National Bank Young Farmer Contest has been completed & Michael Lilley from Tasman has won this prestigious competition & been crowned Young Farmer of 2012.

Michael is a Veterinarian working at Murchison on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. He is a recent graduate from the Massey University Vet School.  . .

 

 

Rural round-up

May 13, 2012

Cartels versus babies – Offsetting Behaviour:

Canada’s dairy cartel keeps milk product prices up. Baby formula is one pretty obvious example.
Here in New Zealand, a 900 gram can of baby formula (starter, for newborns) ranges in price from $15 for one that’s on special, to $20-$21 for the most popular brands, to $34 for the ones that give babies superpowers. We supplemented with the brand that’s now $21 per can. The NZ price range then, per kilo and in Canadian dollars at $1 NZ = $0.79 Cdn, is $13-$30; the one we typically bought was $18 Cdn. Unfortunately, the link might redirect to Countdown’s main site. A screenshot is below. . .

Omarama family wins clip of the year – Sally Rae:

The Sutherland family, from Benmore Station, has been awarded the Otago Merino Association’s clip-of-the-year title.   

Bill and Kate Sutherland, and Andrew and Deidre Sutherland,      from Omarama, received the award during The New Zealand Merino Company’s conference in Christchurch . . .   

Change a vital part of fine-wool revolution – Sally Rae:

Changes are inevitable. Not only is that now the motto of  luxury Italian woollen fabric manufacturer Reda, but it was    also a statement that was repeated during the New Zealand    Merino Company’s recent conference in Christchurch.   

The conference brought together about 600 growers and industry partners from around the globe. . .  

Farm holds long family history – Sally Rae:

 The Maclean family, of Omakau, will next year mark 60 years of breeding Southdown sheep.   

Don Maclean started the Bellfield Southdown stud in 1953 and the stud now encompasses 120 ewes.   

 Bellfield was one of 11 properties visited during the New  Zealand Southdown southern tour which was hosted in Otago and  Southland last week.   

 The property is farmed by Donny and Cathy Maclean, their  daughter Kate, and Mr Maclean’s parents, Don and Win . . .

Rates rises close to $5,000 – Gerald Piddock:

Waimate farmers are crying foul after being faced with a dramatic increase in rates for the 2012-2013 year.

The proposed increases will see some farmers pay out nearly $5000 more in rates than they did last year, Federated Farmers South Canterbury Waimate branch chairman Colin Hurst said.

“One farmer’s rates are increasing 37 per cent from just over $13,000 to around $18,000. . .

Barns to keep cows cosy in winter weather – Shawn McAvinue:

What prompts a 94-year-old dairy farm owner to build structures of biblical proportions to keep animals from the driving rain? Shawn McAvinue reports.

Eastern Southland dairy farm owner Dugald McKenzie, 94, looks up at the frame of one of the two wintering barns he is having built on his dairy farm near Edendale and estimates the size of the structure.

“It’s not quite as long as Noah’s Ark, but it’s slightly wider.”. .

Talleys immovable in dispute – Jon Morgan:

After 10 weeks of worker protests, punctuated by fruitless talks and exchanges of lock-out and strike threats, the Affco-meatworkers dispute is no closer to resolution.

The bitterness of the dispute – over pay and conditions for 1000 union workers at eight plants – comes as no surprise to anyone in the meat industry.

The protagonists, the Talley family on one side and the Meatworkers Union on the other, are an irresistible force coming up against an immovable object – or, as one industry source puts it, “a rock hitting a rock”. . .

“Manawhenua” the value placed upon land within the Maori culture – Pasture to Profit:

“Manawhenua” is one of the operating values of the Kapenga M Farming Trust. The exact English translation of “Manawhenua” is difficult to explain. However it relates to the pride and soul of Maori people & their attachment to traditional lands. Manawhenua is about creating links between the people & the land. The concept of ‘mana whenua’ has many layers of meaning. It tells of important relationships that Māori have with whenua (land) and of the value placed upon the land within the culture . . .

Sealord’s mussel farms up for sale:

Sealord Group is selling its last few South Island mussel farms and closing its Tahunanui factory, bringing down the curtain on what was once the biggest mussel operation in the South Island.

All 50 workers – 10 operating the farms and 40 at the Beatty St factory – are being offered new roles within Sealord.

The company announced yesterday that it wanted to focus more on its core fishing business. . .

Synlait Milk to supply colostrum to ASX-listed Immuron:

Synlait Milk, the Canterbury milk processor controlled by China’s Bright Dairy, has signed a deal to supply colostrum to ASX-listed biopharmaceutical company Immuron.

No value was put on the agreement.

Synlait spokesman Michael Wan said the company planned a production run of the “hyperimmune colostrum” in October.

While volumes would be small compared to Synlait’s total production, it was high-end in terms of value. . .

Primary industry working together to grow its people:

The Primary Industry Capability Alliance (PICA) was officially launched in Wellington last night.

The initiative was warmly received by an audience of influential leaders in the primary industry. The Minister for Primary Industries, Hon. David Carter presented at the launch along with several other speakers.

PICA is a collaboration between DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, New Zealand Young Farmers, AgITO, Lincoln and Massey Universities, Federated Farmers and the Ministry for Primary Industries. . .

High expectations met by North Island Farming to Succeed programme:

Daniel Baker says this year’s North Island Farming to Succeed programme has shown him that farm ownership is possible for his generation. Daniel is currently a sole charge farm manager milking 280 cows near Te Awamutu for the Ferris family.

“I’ve been dairy farming since I left school at 16,” says the 28-year-old. “I grew up with an agricultural background in sheep and beef, rearing calves, dairy farming and my father’s agricultural contracting business. I chose to go into dairy because of lifestyle reasons.”

He was motivated to apply for Farming to Succeed after hearing good things about the programme from previous attendees . . .


Bridges promoted to Minister

April 2, 2012

Prime Minister John Key has promoted Simon Bridges to the position of Minister outside Cabinet:

Napier MP Chris Tremain, who is currently a Minister outside Cabinet, will  move up to become a Minister in Cabinet at number 20 on the Ministerial  list.

Mr Key also announced a minor reshuffle of portfolios with the departure of Dr Nick Smith.

David Carter will assume the role of Local Government Minister in addition to his current portfolio of Primary Industries.

“The local government reforms announced recently remain an important part of the Government’s agenda. Mr Carter is an experienced Minister and I’m  confident he will drive these reforms along,” Mr Key says.

Amy Adams will take over as Environment Minister and hand the Internal Affairs portfolio to Mr Tremain.

Tim Groser will also become the new Minister for Climate Change Issues.

“Mr Bridges will be the new Consumer Affairs Minister and Associate  Minister of Transport, taking over from Mr Tremain. Mr Bridges will also be Associate Minister for Climate Change Issues,” Mr Key says.

The National caucus had strong intakes in 2005 and 2008 which means there are several candidates for any vacancy.

Simon had a promising career in law before he entered parliament and is a popular MP.

Tim was already Minister for Climate Change negotiations and a logical choice for the Climate Change Issues portfolio.

The NBR says:

 Mr Groser is believed to be less supportive of the emissions trading scheme (ETS) than his predecessor Nick Smith. As Climate Change Negotiations Minister, he is more aware than most that the while Kyoto system, on which the ETS is based, is likely to collapse at the end of this year. His record is of favouring more direct initiatives on the matter, such as the Global Research Alliance on agriculture that he set up, which has been the only real outcome from recent UN climate change summits and now boasts more than 30 countries as members.

Working on an initiative which could make a difference is far better than wasting time on an agreement which is the result of bureaucracy and politics triumphing over common sense.


Why all the fuss?

March 28, 2012

When proposed changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act were announced Fonterra’s strong and very negative  reaction was unexpected.

The company and many of its shareholders made submissions during the consultation period and it appears most of the issues which had caused concern have been addressed in the bill which was tabled yesterday.

Fonterra chair Sir Henry van der Heyden said in a newsletter to shareholders that the company is broadly comfortable with the changes though will be seeking some technical changes.

It makes me wonder why they made such a fuss in the beginning.

The bill details proposals to oversee Fonterra’s farm gate milk price setting and ensure a more transparent and efficient dairy market. Changes to raw milk regulations are still being considered.

Primary Industry Minister David Carter’s media release on the bill is here.

More details on the bill are here.


Top man picks top lamb

March 13, 2012

Prime Minister John Key helped 2011 Supercross World Cup Champion Sarah Walker, 2012 Beef + Lamb New Zealand Ambassador Chef Ben Batterbury and Chief Judge & Invercargill chef Graham Hawkes pick the country’s top lamb.

The arduous job of judging the best of the 20 best barbequed lamb samples in Beef + Lamb’s annual Glammies  (Golden Lamb Awards) took place at the Upper Clutha A&P Show on Friday.

John Key & Graham Hawkes

Watching the competition unfold, Minister of Primary Industries, Hon David Carter says that this competition shows the high quality of our New Zealand lamb.

“In my own experience, judging the Glammies has to be one of the toughest tasks around.  Luckily it’s also one of the tastiest!  The high standard achieved here today proves once again the supreme quality of lamb produced by our farmers.  It’s also great to see that this year’s competition attracted a record number of entries.”

Lamb fans - PM John Key and David Carter

 

Don Morrison of Gore with their Growbulk lamb was named 2012 Beef + Lamb New Zealand Golden Lamb Awards Grand Champion, taking home a cheque for $2000, the Glammies Grand Champion Trophy and a magnum of Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir. The winners of each class received $500 and a bottle of Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir, and each finalist won a plaque showing their placing.

Countdown South Island was awarded the Champion Meat Retailer trophy and Alliance Mataura was named the winning processor.

The 2012 Golden Lamb Awards (aka Glammies), sponsored by Pfizer Animal Genetics, attracted a record 150 entries which all underwent testing at Carne Technologies. Factors such as tenderness, colour and succulence were tested to determine the top twenty finalists tasted in Wanaka.

The full results were:

Class 1 – Dual Purpose

  • 1st: Don Morrison, Gore (Growbulk) processed at Alliance Mataura
  • 2nd: Pete Swinburn & Bruce Isles, Waipukurau (Composite/Perendale) processed at Silver Fern Farms Takapau
  • 3rd: Patrick Sherriff, Gisborne (Perendale/Coopworth) processed at Silver Fern Farms Takapau
  • 4th: Roger & Allison Thomas, Tuatapere (Perendale Texel X/Perendale) processed at Silver Fern Farms Finegand

Class 2 – Dual Purpose X Terminal

  • 1st: James Crutchley, Palmerston (Texel Romney X/South Dorset Down) processed at Blue Sky Meats
  • 2nd: Hamish Pavey, Christchurch (Romney/Suffolk Texel) processed at Silver Fern Farms Fairton
  • 3rd: Robert & Rosemary Gardyne, Winton (Perendale Texel X) processed at Alliance Mataura
  • 4th: Colin Lockhart, Lawrence (Romney/Texel Suffolk) processed at Alliance Mataura

Class 3 – Composite/Crossbreed X Terminal

  • 1st: Sarah Rodie, Amberley (Texel X/Texel) processed at Harris Meats
  • 2nd: Graeme Dodd, Tuatapere (Texel Romney X/Texel) processed at Alliance Mataura
  • 3rd: Murray & Jan Wards, Gore (Textra/Textra Suffolk) processed at Alliance Mataura
  • 4th: Wendy & Leon Black, Riverton (Textra/Texel) processed at Alliance Mataura

Class 4 – Open

  • 1st: William Oliver, Te Kuiti (Perendale Romney X/Landlord Romney) processed at Silver Fern Farms Waitotara
  • 2nd: Graham Clarke, Gore (Romney/Romney) processed at Silver Fern Farms Finegand
  • 3rd: Brian Thomson, Mosgiel (Perendale/South Suffolk Texel) processed at Silver Fern Farms Finegand
  • 4th: Matt Wyeth, Masterton (Highlander/Primera) processed at Silver Fern Farms Takapau

Class 5 – Retail

  • 1st: Progressive Enterprises Ltd (Countdown South Island)
  • 2nd: Harris Meats, Cheviot (Murray Downs)
  • 3rd: Progressive Enterprises Ltd (Countdown South Island)
  • 4th: Harris Meats, Cheviot (Murray Downs)

 


Who else would they vote for?

March 7, 2012

The Sunday Star Times was excited by the 100 emails Prime Minister John Key received from people opposed to the sale of the Crafar Farms to Shanghai Pengxin, calling it a heartland backlash.

One farmer said he had been a National supporter for 45 years but the agreement to sell the farms to Chinese interests ahead of New Zealanders was the “final nail in the coffin”.

Key received more than 100 emails or letters opposed to the sale, most within days of the announcement of the deal with Shanghai Pengxin.

“For many years I have voted for National and I believe in the philosophies. I am utterly disappointed at the decision to sell the farms to a foreign buyer … 2011 will be the last time I vote for National,” one said.

Another wrote: “We have always supported you, and National, but we aren’t with you on this. We have to let you know how strongly we feel about this.”

One wonders how much these people understand about the National Party’s philosophy and principles because there is nothing there that would restrict the freedom of people to sell their own land to the highest bidder nor is there anything that would support xenophobia.

Regardless of that, 100 emails isn’t many on a hot-button issue.

“Pretty much on any issue in New Zealand I’ll get 100 emails,      and sometimes I get 10,000 emails if it’s a significant      issue. So there’s a mixture of views, no doubt about that,”      he told TV One’s Breakfast show.   

Mr Key said the Crafar farms sale was not the main issue farmers raised with him.   

“Certainly I’ve been around a lot of rural events – the      Waimumu Field Days, the Golden Shears on Saturday night – and that’s not really the issue they’re coming up and talking  about,” he said.   

“Some farmers come up to me and say `Look, I own the farm, it’s my property right and I should be able to sell it to      whoever I like.’ Others say they don’t want the farmland going overseas. There’s definitely a range of views but I don’t see it hurting National support.”  

People who change allegiance on a single issue aren’t strong supporters to start with, and any farmers who think they’re not happy with National only need to look at yesterday’s debate on changes to pastoral lease rentals to see how much worse off they’d be with a Labour-led government:

The Crown Pastoral Land (Rent for Pastoral Leases) Amendment Bill will replace the land valuation basis for setting rents on  pastoral leases (on mainly high country farms) with a system based on the income earning potential of the  farm land.

Labour MP Raymond Huo said his party was opposing the bill because it was subsidising some high country farmers and did not reflect the real worth of the Crown owned land.

Agriculture Minister David Carter accused Labour of the politics of jealousy and envy and said their policies in Government had shown a “lack of care for the most fragile farming environment’’ in the country.

He said former prime minister Helen Clark had attempted to “drive’’ the farmers off the land and turn it into part of the conservation estate.

The Government now wanted to allow farmers to pay a rent based on the income they could take off the land while maintaining it for future generations. The Crown, he said, had proven to be a poor caretaker of the high country land.

The loss of tussock at the top of the Lindis Pass is a sad reminder of what happens when the Crown tries to replace the high country farmers who have looked after pastoral lease land for generations.

Another example of how poorly Labour understands farming was last year’s beat-up on how much tax they pay.

As Cactus Kate asks, if farmers aren’t going to vote for National, who would they support?

. . .  Labour who will tax the sale on their farm at 15% who along with the Greens will make them pay for their pollution and treat them as the rich pricks they deserve to be treated as?  NZ First…hehe…..

The small number of farmers who have their noses in a knot over the farm sales are shooting the wrong target.

I have nothing against the sale of the farms to foreigners but those who do should be directing the ire at the receivers who insisted on selling the farms as a job lot rather than individually.  That would have opened up a far larger number of would-be buyers and made it much easier for locals to make realistic offers.


Rural round-up

February 6, 2012

Richard Steele and his son, Dan, run an eco-tourism operation on their 1500ha sheep and cattle station near Owhango, which is south of Taumarunui and which borders the Whanganui River.

 They delight in showing visitors one of the river’s special dwellers, the whio, or blue duck. This area is one of the bird’s last strongholds, in part because the Steeles declared war on the stoats, rats and feral cats that drove the birds to the edge of extinction . . . .

Irrigation fund’s first project great news for Hawkes Bay – David Carter:

 This week’s announcement of the first project as part of the Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF) is great news for the Hawke’s Bay region.
The go-ahead for the project delivers on the Government’s promise to lift economic growth through efficient use of water storage.
The Government and the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council will jointly fund a $3.3 million feasibility study of the Ruataniwha Water Storage Project. . .

James Cameron is a Titanic opporutnity for farming:

With James Cameron stating to the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) that he not only intends to make New Zealand home, but that he intends to farm the two properties he has purchased, Federated Farmers believes it unlocks a titanic opportunity.

“This successful application by Mr Cameron shows why Federated Farmers position on overseas investment, is that the rules we have must be applied without fear or favour,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“The hope we have from skilled immigration is that it betters the whole community.

“One example of what I mean is Federated Farmers Board member, Anders Crofoot, who was a past Wairarapa provincial president.  Anders and his family moved from the United States to take over Castlepoint Station in the Wairarapa. . .

Rowath to lead agri-business:

Professor Jacqueline Rowarth, a regular NBR columnist, has been appointed Professor of Agribusiness at the Univerity of Waikato Management School (WMS).

“The Waikato is agribusiness heartland, close to the HQs for Zespri, Fonterra, Ravensdown, Ballance, TruTest and Gallaghers among others — and the University does a lot more with agribusiness than people realise,” she says. . .

Wool press on display – Sally Rae:

The latest in rural technology, equipment and ideas will be on display at the three-day Southern Field Days at Waimumu this month.   

More than 26,000 visitors are expected at the 16th biennial event, about 12km from Gore, from February 15 to 17.   

Among the technology will be the Mosgiel-designed and built Micron wool press, manufactured by P and W Engineering, which will be on display at the Elders site. . .   

Funding for bio farming:

THE DAIRY industry is funding a scoping study into biological farming systems.  

DairyNZ will sponsor the study by New Zealand Biological Farming Systems Research Centre (NZBFSRC). The study will identify research interests and needs on biological farming systems in New Zealand. This will be done by contacting farmers, firms and other research organisations who have been working in the area of sustainable farming. . .

New wheat cultivars anticipated from cereal breeding partner:

An expanded breeding programme will result in new varieties of wheat and barley being made available for New Zealand growers, delivering high yields and improved resistance to disease.

Plant & Food Research and Luisetti Seeds have signed an agreement to renew and expand their cereal grain breeding programme, the largest of its kind in New Zealand. The programme will focus on the breeding of new high yield wheat cultivars with good milling quality and dough properties, as well as new wheat and barley cultivars for animal feed. . .

Weather sweet for busy bees – Jacqui Webby:

Beekeepers in North Otago are having an  excellent season with the  reasonably mild start to the spring and timely showers of rain to keep the clover flowering.

Beekeeper Michael Lory, of Windsor’s Snow Crest Apiaries, said the honey season was still in full swing and it had been excellent. . .

Promoting excellence in irrigation:

Time is closing in on the search to find the best innovation in the New Zealand irrigation industry.

Innovation, discovery and achievement making a positive contribution to irrigation and efficient water management are set to be rewarded by the industry’s national body with an award that aims to uncover the industry’s progressive and exciting happenings.

Entries are due to close for the‘Innovation in Irrigation’ award being co-ordinated by Irrigation New Zealand in association with Aqualinc. . .


Fonterra opposes DIRA proposals

January 24, 2012

The government has opened consultation on its proposed response to reviews of Fonterra’s farm gate milk price setting and the Raw Milk Regulations.

Primary Industries Minister David Carter says comprehensive work by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, with input from economic, regulatory and legal experts, has resulted in a set of preferred options for amendments to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA) and the Raw Milk Regulations.

The review recommends:

  • embedding Fonterra’s current milk price governance arrangements in legislation
  • requiring Fonterra to publicly disclose information about its milk price setting
  • introducing an annual milk price monitoring regime to be undertaken by the Commerce Commission

And:

The preferred option for the revised Raw Milk Regulations recommends:

  • a three-season limit for independent processors who source raw milk directly from farmer
  • an increase in the total quantity of milk available under the Raw Milk Regulations to approximately 5% of Fonterra’s milk supply, as currently allowed for in the DIRA
  • a range of maximum quantity limits for independent processors accessing milk under the Raw Milk Regulations in different months to reflect the seasonal nature of milk production.

Fonterra is far from happy and says foreign-owned processors will benefit  at the expense of  farmers and domestic consumers:

Fonterra Chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden said the proposed changes to Raw Milk Regulations won’t work and will have New Zealanders subsidising increasingly foreign-owned dairy processors that don’t sell milk in New Zealand and who send their products and profits offshore.

“The Government’s move to require more raw milk to be handed over to increasingly foreign-owned dairy companies operating in New Zealand will impose nearly $200 million of additional costs over the next three years alone and work against our efforts to reduce the price of milk in New Zealand,” Sir Henry says.

“That’s because not one of the six other major dairy processors supplies milk to New Zealanders,” he says.

“The proposed changes will see windfall profits head straight into the pockets of increasingly foreign-owned dairy co mpanies and will hinder, rather than help, New Zealanders get access to affordable milk.”

The DIRA was supposed to protect domestic consumers and competitors from Fonterra’s dominant position. It wasn’t supposed to protect foreign competitors.


Labour/Green ag policies economic poker

November 10, 2011

Federated Farmers is warning the Labour and Green parties they are playing economic poker with their agricultural policies:

“While Federated Farmers is apolitical, it would be irresponsible not to warn the Labour and Green parties of the risk carried by their respective agricultural policies,” says Bruce Wills, President of Federated Farmers.

“The primary sector generates over half of New Zealand’s entire foreign exchange earnings so we cannot afford economic poker.

“The current policies of the Labour and Green parties also risk making the family farm a folk memory. The only farmers who’d flourish would be those capable of farming on an industrial scale and I don’t think Kiwis want that outcome.

The more costs imposed on farms the more expensive farming becomes so they will get bigger to gain economies of scale.

“As a former banker I am concerned at the overall risk to farm viability. Fast tracking farm biological emissions into the Emissions Trading Scheme and introducing ‘resource rentals’, could result in farm business failures.

“Since the introduction of the ETS in 2010, farm fuel and electricity expenses have increased. Yet it’s the way the ETS has worked its way into everything from freight costs to feed and even pest control, which has bitten the hardest.

“If farm biological emissions are forced into the ETS in 2013, Beef & Lamb NZ estimates it would cost each sheep and beef farm $40,000. The cost for dairy would be much higher.

“In this season, $40,000 represents 21 percent of the average sheep and beef farms forecast profit before tax. If biological emissions were in the ETS over the past ten seasons, farms would have generated less than the average household income for five while two seasons would have seen big losses.

“While $40,000 is a conservative estimate for dairy farms, it is 12 percent of this season’s average forecast profit before tax. If applied to past seasons, 2008/9 would have seen big losses and 2002/3 would have returned just $8,759 as the average profit before tax.

Unless and until there are viable ways to reduce emissions, the ETS is simply another tax which will increase the cost of production for no benefit and with absolutely no impact on emissions.

“Resource rentals on things like water create additional financial risk. With reduced profits rural land prices could be further weakened sparking a banking crisis of our own making. There are a lot of unintended consequences at stake here.

“Federated Farmers is asking both Labour and the Green parties to recognise there are few means to mitigate farm animal emissions, aside from reducing livestock. Fewer livestock mean fewer exports and reducing exports limits public spending choices.

“I believe most Kiwis want a flourishing export sector serving a world in need of more food. Exports create national wealth and national wealth creates options for everyone.

“How to grow these exports while reducing our environmental footprint are the agricultural policies we’d like to discuss,” Mr Wills concluded.

National’s  primary sector  policy will get a much more positive reception.

It includes the establishment of the Crown Water Investment Company with up to $400,000 million from the Future Investment fund.

New Zealand’s primary sector is an economic priority and National will put aside money from the Future Investment Fund for irrigation and water storage development, says Prime Minister and National Party Leader John Key. 

“Well-designed water storage and irrigation is a win for the economy and for the environment,” said Mr Key today at the release of National’s primary sector policy.

“Irrigation increases the productivity of our farm land, protects against droughts and takes the uncertainty out of water flows for farmers and recreational users.

“It also allows the more efficient use of water.  Storage allows us to capture water at times of plenty, for efficient use at times of need.

“It is also important to our environment.  More reliable access to water will lead to more efficient use of water, and provide for the replenishment of aquifers and the restoration of stream and river flows.

“National is committed to increasing New Zealand’s economic potential while balancing our environmental responsibilities,” says Mr Key.

Irrigation will do that and it also has social benefits, increasing rural populations and decreasing the average age of farming communities.

“Should National win the election, we will provide up to $400 million from the Future Investment Fund to confirm the funding for the second phase of our water priorities, to be called the Crown Water Investment Company.  Funding will be available from Budget 2013, and will carry on for the following four budgets.

“The scheme would operate through the Crown being a minority partner, and investing with the expectation of a commercial return on that investment.  The intention would be that the stake would be sold off over time.  It would not be a grant scheme.

This is not a hand out, it’s an investment which expects to make money and will be repaid.

“Because we are using the Future Investment Fund, which draws from proceeds of the mixed ownership model, we will not have borrow more at a time when financial restraint is needed.

“Government investment in large-scale irrigation schemes can deliver high quality projects, sooner, and give confidence to capital markets to invest.

“Our plan will be good for jobs, good for growth, and good for the economy.”

Agriculture Minister David Carter said:

The development of smart irrigation infrastructure will boost economic development and also contribute to the sustainable growth of our primary sectors.
NZIER research shows the fund could support 340,000ha of new irrigation which could boost exports by $1.4 billion a year by 2018, rising to $4 billion a year by 2026. But this is not about irrigation at all costs.
One of our greatest competitive advantages is water. It’s our “liquid gold”. But to date we have not done a good enough job of storing, allocating and utilising this wonderful resource.
The Irrigation Acceleration Fund provides an opportunity to develop new water infrastructure proposals that promote efficient water use and good environmental management.
Irrigation good practice is essential if we are to protect our vital water resource for tomorrow.

Central Plains Water is delighted with the scheme and points out the benefits will flow far beyond the farm gate. CPW general manager Derek Crombie said:

“Not only is today’s announcement a good one for the Canterbury farming sector, but also for Christchurch itself.  The city’s economic prosperity lies in the agricultural sector with an estimated 70% of the city’s wealth directly and indirectly having its roots in the farm.

“Canterbury already has 350,000ha of irrigated land and we know we can cater for up to 800,000ha across the Canterbury region without too much difficulty. With a direct economic impact of between $3 – $5 billion, this is almost equivalent to the total exports through the city at present,” he said.

The red and green policies  would add costs and risks to farming.

National’s policies are designed to help it, the communities it supports and the country prosper.


Money for irrigation and cleaner water

September 18, 2011

Agriculture Minister David Carter  has announced the opening 0f applications for the Irrigation Acceleration Fund:

“NZIER research suggests the fund could support 340,000ha of new irrigation, which could boost exports by $1.4 billion a year by 2018, rising to $4 billion a year by 2026.

“All successful projects will need to be committed to good industry practice that promotes efficient water use and environmental management, particularly around land-use intensification.  Irrigation good practice is essential if we are to protect our vital water resource for tomorrow,” says Mr Carter.  

The fund will support regional scale rural water infrastructure proposals that address:

  • regional rural water infrastructure
  • community irrigation schemes
  • strategic water management studies.

Mr Carter says the Government will contribute up to 50 percent through the fund to successful proposals.  Applications will be assessed by MAF, with input from a panel of independent experts.  The final decision will be made by the Director General of MAF.

The same day Environment Minister Nick Smith announced the criteria and assessment panel for the new fund to help councils and communities clean-up nationally significant water bodies that have been polluted.

That fund was one of the recommendations of the Land and Water Forum which has been engaged by the Government to progress the next stage of policy work on setting limits on water quality, quantity and allocation.

Progress on fresh water reform stalled for a decade because of highly polarised positions. The Land and Water Forum has done a great job bringing together farmers, environmentalists, industry and iwi to develop an agreed way forward. We are releasing today the Government’s high level response to the Land and Water Forum’s April report and are engaging the Forum to do further work on the complex issue of setting water limits and improving systems for allocation,” the Ministers said.

Federated Farmers says the announcements are about the cleaning up from the  past and looking after the future:

The Irrigation Acceleration Fund will help transform and future proof New Zealand agriculture on the same day another fund, the ‘Fresh Start for Fresh Water Clean Up Fund’, will help communities remedy the legacy of the past. . . .

Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers RMA and environment spokesperson said:

“There’s no coincidence that it is announced concurrently with the ‘Fresh Start for Fresh Water Clean Up Fund’. This is about the future every bit as much as the past.

“The $35 million Irrigation Acceleration Fund is a positive step forward to developing water as a resource. That’s because 95 percent of the water used in agriculture does not come from storage and when I use the term agriculture, I include horticulture and the wine industry too.

“Federated Farmers has enthusiastically pushed for a ‘new water’ policy because this is about storing what falls from the sky. Economic studies done on the Opuha Dam during the last Labour Government showed an 8:1 economic payback.

“The $35 million Irrigation Acceleration Fund could well unlock billions of dollars in benefits.

“What’s more, native fish and water fowl can’t prosper in dry river beds. Water also provides recreational and community gains. . . .

Those community gains are environmental, recreational and economic.

Water storage provides opportunities for fishing and water sports, it can enhance waterways to ensure they have a reasonable minimum flow during dry spells and also protect soils from wind erosion.

Storing water for irrigation safe-guards farms during droughts which ensures money keeps flowing through to the people and businesses who work for, supply and service farmers.

We had about 10 mls of rain yesterday, it’s the first significant precipitation since the two winter snow falls. Without irrigation we’d be starting to worry, with reliable water we know we can grow grass whatever the weather.

There is potential for more irrigation here and in other places. The Irrigation Acceleration Fund will help the development of new schemes while the work of the Land and Water Forum will ensure past mistakes are cleaned up and not repeated in the future.


Green could be competitive advantage

July 9, 2011

Being greener could bring both environmental and financial gains and this week Environment Minister Nick Smith and Agriculture Minister David Carter launched a green growth discussion document:

New Zealand needs to consider how it leverages off its clean green brand in global markets and how new technologies can be developed to reduce environmental impacts, Environment Minister Nick Smith and Acting Minister for Economic Development David Carter say.

The Ministers today launched the Advisory Group on Green Growth’s discussion paper in Wellington. The eight-member Advisory Group was announced by the Government in January to ensure the Government receives the best advice on green growth initiatives.

“There is significant work occurring internationally on green growth, green jobs, and clean technology. We need to ensure Government policy helps New Zealand take up the opportunities,” Dr Smith said. . .

Mr Carter said: “This is another part of the Government’s plan to build a faster growing economy. The world is looking for products and services that have lower environmental impacts and we want New Zealand to be well placed to take up these opportunities.

The government’s actions haven’t impressed Pure Advantage a group of business people who believe there’s a huge opportunity in enhancing New Zealand’s natural environment in order to improve our competitive positioning in the global shift to green growth.

We have developed a campaign to work with communities, businesses, Government and iwi to create sustainable economic growth, and assist New Zealand to become a leading exporter of high-value produce, renewable energy and clean technology, with a top-tier in-bound tourism industry.

The founding members have funded the campaign – there’s no corporate mandates or shadowy Government funding. Just successful Kiwis interested in seeing a lot more successful Kiwis.

The group wants to open the debate and fund research and discussion in the hope of getting broad agreement about the best way forward.

Once the way forward is understood, we will drive the change to make it happen.

Underpinning our goal will be robust economic research showing the scale of the challenge and why all New Zealanders must reach for the exciting opportunities arising from green growth.

Members of the group include Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe, former General Motors chief financial officer Chris Liddell, IceBreaker founder Jeremy Moon and brothers, Lloyd and Rob Morrison.

The environmental gains from being green are obvious, providing that is based on science and not emotion.

Pure Advantage and the government both also see the potential for financial gain.


Don’s final speech a vintage one

July 1, 2011

Don Nicolson made his final conference address as Federated Farmers president a vintage one.

Farming is the sunrise is worth reading in full. It highlights the contribution farming makes to the country, deals with some issues and also gives praise where it’s due:

I wish to acknowledge and publicly thank our Minister, the Hon David Carter.

At times I will admit there has been tension. As a lobby group we want things ‘our way’ while the Minister has to negotiate a byzantine Yes Ministerworld.

I’ve known the Minister for a number of years and he is an honourable man and a fine farmer.

I can honestly say that we agree many more times with the Minister than we disagree

We share the same view that agriculture is the sunrise and I value what he says and does for us all. He has pushed water storage up the political agenda and is leading the re-merger of MAF with the Ministry of Fisheries.

With 71 percent of New Zealand’s merchandise trade behind it, this Ministry for Primary Industries is the policy partner we seek. One that will have the swagger in Government to get what we need to build a future for New Zealand and all New Zealanders.

Can I also thank Tim Groser who is doing frankly an outstanding job on the trade front as well as Kate Wilkinson, who is realigning the Department of Conservation while looking hard at things that block sensible outcomes.

And of course, there is the dynamic duo of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance.

These two see agriculture as the sunrise. As the key to prosperity while unlocking the door to related industries and exports. Given pastoral imagery is used to sell New Zealand as a tourist destination, farming I can say, is a tourism ace too.

There are still outstanding issues and of course, the notion that the world’s gaze is on New Zealand single handily saving the planet by slashing a fraction off the 0.2 percent of the global emissions attributed to us.

At this point I can almost see Phil Goff re-tweeting his gibe that we’re the “Nats in blue gumboots”. At the time he said that, John Hartnell was meeting with Christchurch City Council for a combined Farmy Army and Student Volunteer Army effort in that battered city.

Mr Goff, it was an ill-timed, insensitive and frankly rude. Federated Farmers has not only invested huge amounts of resources in Christchurch and Canterbury, but meat and fibre farmers, meat processors and meat company workers have donated $325,000 to Christchurch in recent weeks.

Federated Farmers has been far more effective on agricultural issues than the opposition because we are apolitical. Or as our CEO Conor English rightly puts it, “we don’t care who is in power so long as they agree with us!”

I know Phil Goff and I like him but sir, you are a much better person than those comments.

Labour will one day form government so we must keep the lines of communication open as we did speaking at its 2009 conference in this city. As well as being the only major business organisation to participate in its shadow banking enquiry.

Today’s Opposition is tomorrow’s Government and we must play with a straight bat.

In case the message that Feds is apolitical, was missed here it is again:

Federated Farmers has been far more effective on agricultural issues than the opposition because we are apolitical. Or as our CEO Conor English rightly puts it, “we don’t care who is in power so long as they agree with us!”

That is how any lobby group should be. Working on behalf of and advocating for its members with all parties; doing its best to get governments, local and central, and other peole and agencies to agree with them – and accepting that won’t always be the case.


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