Rural round-up

March 29, 2017

Health risk concerns for orchard workers – Pam Jones:

Cromwell orchardists are concerned about the public health risks of continued freedom camping by fruitpickers.

While no cases of illness have been reported, the summerfruit industry body says it has serious concerns about the conditions in which some orchard workers are living and the possibility of a breakout of transferrable disease.

Summerfruit New Zealand chairman and Cromwell orchardist Tim Jones said the possible impact on export crops was discussed at Summerfruit’s board meeting last month and about five Cromwell orchardists were concerned. . . 

New leader steps up in agri-tech – Sally Rae:

Tracmap’s new chairman says it is an exciting time for the Mosgiel-based agri-tech company.

Chris Dennison, who farms at Hilderthorpe, in North Otago, replaces Pat Garden, from Millers Flat, who has stepped down after just over a decade.

TracMap was established by Colin Brown in 2006 after he identified a gap in the market for a rugged and easy-to-use GPS guidance and mapping system, specifically designed for New Zealand conditions.

He initially saw the opportunity in ground spreading and the application was pushed wider as it had been developed. . . 

Competition provided impetus – Sally Rae:

Winning the Southland Otago Sharemilker Equity Farmer of the Year title gave Jono and Kelly Bavin so much more than a trophy.

Mr and Mrs Bavin, now regional managers for Southland Otago in the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, won the regional title in 2015, which coincided with the dairy downturn starting ”to bite”.

But because they had entered the competition, and really evaluated their business and where it was going, that helped them get through the next two years.

”There’s not many times in your life you pick up your business, throw it on the ground and rearrange it again. That’s what we did,” Mr Bavin said.

Had they not made the decision to enter the competition, then ”things could have been totally different” for the Southland couple. . . 

Calamity on the Coast – Peter Burke:

A ghastly period: that’s how DairyNZ West Coast consulting officer Ross Bishop describes the situation facing the region’s dairy farmers.

They are deeply frustrated and struggling to maintain faith in their dairy company Westland Milk Products, he says.

The company is in a financial mess and chief executive Toni Brendish has the unenviable task of trying to return it to a reasonable financial footing. Already she has made clear there will be a lower payout for farmers and job losses at its factories. . .

Digging into low productive results:

Failure to meet its own goals for reproductive performance (industry targets) has been much talked about at Lincoln University Dairy Farm (LUDF).

Farmers at a February 23 focus day debated the analysis presented and anecdotal comparisons with other farms in the region.

Taking a long term view, particularly if the current season is excluded, reproductive performance has improved on the farm over the past 13 years. But drilling into the detail reveals the farm only once met the industry target of 78% six-week in-calf rate (2013 mating period). Since then the trend in six-week in-calf rates has declined, raising many questions about what is limiting performance. . . 

Our Pinot is pushing the boundaries:

Allen Meadows is a self-confessed, “obsessive” Burgundy lover. So much so that his life is spent compiling advice and information on the world’s foremost Pinot Noir region.

His quarterly reviewBurghound.com was the first of its kind to dedicate itself to the wines of a particular region – and has become the go-to for lovers of the variety.  

While his reviews offer regular updates on Oregon and Californian Pinot, it is not often that other New World countries are included in his extremely popular review. Hence a tasting of 221 wines from New Zealand was an amazing achievement, organised by NZW’s Marketing Manager USA, David Strada. Just getting Meadows to a tasting was an accomplishment – but the end results which featured in Issue 64 of Burghound.com (October 2016) were even more so. . .

More timber trees for planting 2017:

A rise in the number of timber tree seedlings being produced indicates a recent decline in plantation forest replanting may be reversing.

An MPI survey of all 28 commercial forest nurseries in New Zealand shows stock sales in 2016 for planting this year were 52.2 million seedlings, compared with 49.5 million the year before.

Forest Owners Association Chief Executive David Rhodes says the increase in seedling sales is a positive sign the industry is gearing up for increased production, even if the trees planted now will not be harvested for about another 30 years. . . 


Labour doesn’t understand business

March 1, 2016

Labour said it’s worried about jobs which will disappear but is complaining the increase in the minimum wage isn’t high enough.

The minimum wage is just that, the minimum. It’s a floor not a ceiling.

Any business which can afford to pay its workers more than that can and many will.

But not all work is worth more than that and imposing higher costs on businesses without lowering other costs or increasing returns will put other jobs and whole businesses at risk.

It will also increase the move to replacing people with machines which is supposedly one of Labour’s big worries.

In another example of Labour’s lamentable lack of understanding of business principles, the party wants to force forests to sell logs to local mills.

Forest owners responded:

Forest owners say they are keen to sell their logs to local mills, so long as the terms of sale match those from export markets.

Forest Owners Association chief executive David Rhodes says there have been cases where local mills have been unwilling to do this.

“It’s not just about price. It’s also about the payment risk, the length of the contract and the quality of the logs on offer. Many modern mills have tight specifications for log supply. Logs that don’t meet those specifications are usually exported. This will always be the case,” he says.

Responding to a call from Labour Party MP Stuart Nash that “foreign forest owners” should be forced to sell logs to local mills, Mr Rhodes says owners of forests – foreign, corporate, private companies, iwi, partnerships or individuals — look for terms and conditions that give them the best overall returns.

“In many cases they get only one chance to do this, having spent 27 years growing their trees. This is crucial – forestry is not a one-way bet. Just ask those forest owners, particularly in Northland, who are not replanting after harvest, because log prices are not high enough to justify re-investment.”

Mr Rhodes says it is unfair to single out overseas owners of large plantations as the reason for mill failures.

“It may appeal to the emotions, but does not advance public understanding one iota. Overseas owned forestry companies are among the leaders of the industry. They make significant investments in jobs, worker safety and the environment.”

 

He says forest owners understand the importance of New Zealand having a viable wood processing industry and are partners in the Wood Council which is committed to having more value added to logs in NZ.

“We are talk regularly with politicians from the various political parties about policies that will assist the forest and wood processing industries remain vibrant, viable industries providing employment in the regions. Mr Nash’s proposed policy is not one of them.”

Forestry is a risky business with a long time between planting and payment.

Forest owners aren’t charities. They’re businesses and need good returns to if they’re going to continue in business and employing their own staff.


Rural round-up

November 6, 2015

Lochinver Station sells to New Zealand buyer:

One of New Zealand’s largest farms, Lochinver Station in the central North Island, will remain in New Zealand ownership following its sale for an undisclosed sum to privately owned New Zealand farming group Rimanui Farms Ltd.

It will take over the ownership of the 13,843 hectare sheep and beef station, upon settlement of the sale in March next year, from one of New Zealand’s largest private companies, Stevenson Group Limited, which has owned it for more than half a century.

Bayleys Real Estate recommenced marketing the property last month after the Government announced it had turned down an Overseas Investment Office application from Chinese company Shanghai Pengxin’s subsidiary Pure 100 to buy the property. . . 

IrrigationNZ calls for 350,000ha more land to be irrigated – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – IrrigationNZ is calling for a dramatic escalation in irrigation, saying New Zealand could bring water to an additional 350,000 hectares by 2025, boosting agricultural production and providing a buffer against weather events such as El Nino-induced drought.

The lobby group wants a 50 percent increase in irrigated land in the next 10 years, according to its industry snapshot released today. New Zealand currently has about 720,000 hectares of irrigated land, and IrrigationNZ has produced a map showing where irrigation could be expanded, pushing total watered land to more than 1 million hectares.

Chief executive Andrew Curtis said New Zealand’s primary production growth is being hampered by a lack of a reliable water supply, which ultimately holds back economic growth. . . 

No jobs?  move to the regions, urges govt:

Unemployed people are being urged to look to the regions for work by the government, after the unemployment rate broke the 6 percent mark yesterday.

The rate is now at its highest point in two years and economists have predicted that it is likely to rise further.

Listen to more on Morning Report ( 4 min 32 sec )

But Steven Joyce, Minister of Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment told Morning Report it was a “multi-regional story”, with lot of shifts around the country.

He said that in some regions such as Otago and Northland, there were shortages of people applying for jobs, and unemployed people should consider moving if they could. . . 

Forestry joins GIA biosecurity agreement:

The forestry industry has become the sixth industry group to join the Government Industry Agreement (GIA) biosecurity partnership, Primary Industries Ministers Nathan Guy and Jo Goodhew have announced today.

“It’s great to have the New Zealand Forest Owners Association (FOA) onboard, working with the Ministry for Primary Industries to manage and respond to the most important biosecurity risks,” says Mr Guy.

“A growing number of industries have now signed up to work together with the Government through the GIA.” . . 

Forest defence bolstered by agreement with government:

The Forest Owners Association says having a biosecurity agreement with the government is a vital part of the forest industry’s defence system.

FOA chief executive David Rhodes and primary industries minister Nathan Guy today signed what is known as a Government-Industry Agreement at Parliament. The agreement defines where responsibilities and costs will fall in the event of an outbreak of a serious forest pest or disease.

“For 50 years we have had a forest health surveillance scheme that is seen by overseas experts as one of the best in the world. But being ‘best’ is not good enough, we need it to be as near to perfect as we can make it,” says Mr Rhodes. . . 

FMG's photo.


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