Rural round-up

August 18, 2018

A New Zealand farmer looks at subsidies through a different lens – Craige Mackenzie:

A $12-billion “assistance package” to American farmers sounds like a great deal, at least for the recipients: a one-time payment that is intended to soften suffering caused by trade wars and low commodity prices, from a White House that sincerely wants to help.

I have a different perspective. As a farmer in New Zealand who once received government subsidies and then lost them, I speak from experience when I say that agriculture is much better off when governments stay out of our business and let us grow our food without interference.

The federal assistance package is in fact a devil’s bargain: It would deliver short-term benefits but also create long-term problems for American farmers. . .

Law to get tough – Neal Wallace:

Primary Industries Ministry officers now have greater search and surveillance powers than police, lawyers say.

The new law passed under urgency by Parliament strengthens the National Animal Identification and Tracking Act and allows officials to enter farms unannounced without a warrant to search for and seize items.

Penalties under the changes vary from infringement fees of $400 up to fines of $200,000 and five years in jail. 

Ashburton law firm Tavendale and Partners partner Kirsten Maclean said the powers contradict claims MPI wants to work with farmers over the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak. . .

YFC champ adds dairying venture – Hugh Stringleman:

The Kidd family has expanded its farming interests in the Auckland province with the purchase of a medium-sized dairy farm and some adjacent leased land for grazing at Shelly Beach on the south Kaipara Head. Hugh Stringleman went to hear about the new venture.

The Kidds have gone to Philadelphia, in the United States, for the wedding of son Hamish, a New York-based investment banker, to an American woman.

Conversations on the long flights and while away among parents Richard and Dianne, of Whenuanui Farm, Helensville, their three sons and their respective partners will feature the latest expansion of the family farming enterprise. . . 

Drought proofing a dry continent – Viv Forbes:

Earth is a blue watery planet.

70% of its surface is covered by oceans of salt water, some of which are extremely deep. These oceans contain about 97% of Earth’s water. Another 2% is locked up in snow, ice caps and glaciers. That leaves just 1% of Earth’s surface water in inland seas, lakes, rivers and dams. We have plenty of water, but not much to drink.

In addition to these vast surface water supplies, water vapour is the fourth most abundant gas in the atmosphere, after nitrogen (76%), oxygen (21%) and Argon (1%). Moisture in the atmosphere varies from almost zero over deserts and ice caps up to 4% over the wet tropics. (Carbon dioxide is a miniscule 0.04%). . .

Wrightson posts record earnings, lowers dividend and eyes reinvestment options – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson, which is selling its dominant seed and grain business, posted record full-year earnings but lowered its final dividend payment to shareholders, saying it was eyeing reinvestment opportunities.

Operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose to a record $70.2 million in the year ended June 30, in line with its forecast for earnings at the top end of its guidance range of $65 million to $70 million, and ahead of $64.5 million a year earlier, the Christchurch-based company said. One-time items pulled net profit after tax down to $18.9 million from $46.3 million. . .

Zespri launches industry realignment process:

World leading horticultural company, Zespri Group Limited lodged several key documents to support its strategically important industry realignment initiative today, with MinterEllisonRuddWatts advising on the targeted share issue and buy-back.

Zespri’s Product Disclosure Statement, Disclose Register Entry and the Buy-Back Disclosure Document were today submitted to the Registrar of Financial Service Providers for review by the New Zealand Financial Markets Authority, as well as lodged on the USX Share trading platform. . .

Frankie Goes to Wellywood – and Deer Milk stars in the show:

Frankie Goes to Wellywood – and Deer Milk stars in the show

Deer Milk was up in lights last night at the first of three special evenings that chef Frank Camorra from Melbourne restaurant MoVida is presenting in conjunction with Wellington restaurant Logan Brown and Visa Wellington on a Plate.

In his first trip to the capital, Camorra’s menu features the ingredient that is lighting up fine dining in New Zealand. . .


Orchardists ambassadors for sustainable farming/growing

June 8, 2018

The Ballance Farm Environment Award has been won by orchardists for the first time:

Bay of Plenty Kiwifruit Growers Mark and Catriona White Are the New National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing.

The New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFET) runs the Ballance Farm Environment Awards and announced the Recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy at an awards function at Te Papa in Wellington on Thursday night – chosen from 11 regional supreme winners gathered from throughout the country.

Ten years ago, the Whites embarked on a quest to find an improved lifestyle for their family away from the city and found it on a bare block of land near Opotiki. Their work and passion has transformed a 5.85ha section of a former organic dairy farm into the Coastal Kiwis Orchard it is today.

Former national ambassador Dianne Kidd from Helensville, who chaired the judging panel, says the Whites demonstrate an excellent understanding of all aspects of sustainable food production.

“They are outstanding strategic and agile thinkers on the key issues for New Zealand and have strong primary sector and community leadership qualities. They communicate and operate exceptionally well as a team and are natural leaders with a wealth of knowledge and experience and a willingness to impart this to others.”

She says Mark and Catriona show a respect for the Maori principles of kaitiakitanga – acting as guardian, protector and conserver – within their kiwifruit orchard management.

“They are strong users of evidence-based science and technology in their business and orchard and demonstrate a broad global market understanding and a real energy to be agents of change. They come from diverse careers into the primary sector bringing their expertise and capital to their chosen horticultural business and the community in Opotiki.”

Catriona’s family has been on the farm for four generations. Although they initially did not know much about kiwifruit, the couple did most of the physical development work themselves, keeping costs down and learning by their mistakes. Mark also did a National Certificate in Horticulture.

The orchard is BioGro certified. It has 3.19 ha of Zespri Organic Green kiwifruit, producing in 2017 a total of 23,483 trays of kiwi-start fruit. Zespri Organic SunGold (G3) is currently grown on 2.65 ha producing 38,362 trays. This production was achieved in a “challenging growing year” which included various cyclones and a very wet and windy autumn. Recently developed blocks of SunGold have come into production this season.

Alongside Kidd on the national judging panel were Warwick Catto from Ballance Agri-Nutrients, NZFET’s Jamie Strang, George Murdoch from Rabobank and Julia Jones from KPMG.

“New Zealand can be proud of the global leading achievements of our farmers and growers,” Kidd says.

“New Zealand media needs to help tell these great stories about our outstanding food producers. A common theme from this year’s supreme regional winners is a focus and clear understanding there is a need to connect with our consumers – a real market focus.”

The supreme winners of 11 regional awards were invited to the Showcase in Wellington to be considered for the trophy named in honour of Waikato farmer and noted conservationist, the late Gordon Stephenson. As a national award it is separate to the regional programme and judged under different criteria.

Chair of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, Joanne van Polanen, says she is looking forward to supporting the Whites fulfil their ambassadorial duties including an overseas study tour. “Catriona and Mark will do the country proud as food producers of the highest quality.”


Rural round-up

June 30, 2016

Farmers on the cusp of unprecedented change:

KPMG’s Ian Proudfoot says significant change is coming to New Zealand’s primary sector and “farmers that ignore it do it at their peril”.

Mr Proudfoot was speaking this morning at Federated Farmers’ National Conference Meat and Fibre AGM.

The world was on the cusp of a fourth industrial revolution and this would mean thinking more globally.

Kiwi farmers who could tell their unique story would prevail as the global consumer became more discerning about what they eat and where it came from.

“There is a fusion happening where digital, physical and biotechnological products will redefine how we live and farm,” he said. . . 

Abandoning challenge, not my way – Rick Powdrell:

There is one thing in life that never changes. The moment you overcome one challenge, there is sure to be another. Once in a while a challenge crops up that might be easier to abandon, but that’s not my way.

You guessed it, that last reference is to the New Zealand red meat industry.

At our February meeting we discussed our role going forward. The emphasis was on continued dialogue with key players, notably Beef + Lamb, the Meat Industry Association, Meat Industry Excellence Group and other parties keen to engage.

There have been plenty of people willing to engage, some notable for their commercial self-interest, and others to talk about specific elements within the industry. All have relevant ideas and the passion and desire to see the industry move forward. But until key players come together with a common goal, the quantum shift required will not occur. . . 

Address to Federated Farmers Dairy Industry Group –  Andrew Hoggard:

Good morning colleagues, observers, media, and of course all the keyboard warriors and trolls waiting in anticipation.

Another season has gone by and whilst there are some positive noises out there around potential market improvements, the prices we all face are still below the break even point for many of us. The expectation is that the financial implications of this downturn will see us in pain for a few years to come.

Much of the commentary over the past few days has been around the Brexit, and the fallout from it. One might ask, what this means for New Zealand Dairy? It really is all up in the air at the moment, our exports presently to the UK are pretty minimal. . .

Recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy:

Richard and Dianne clearly share a deep passion for their family’s show piece farm on the edge of Auckland city. Their beef breeding and sheep breeding and finishing operation runs 4820 stock units on 331ha (effective) with a pine woodlot established on 18.5ha and 15.3ha of regenerating native bush.

Richard and Dianne, who have three adult sons, have farmed the flat to easy-rolling property since the late 1970s.

They are pragmatic about protecting the environment for future generations. All waterways have been fenced, and large areas of raupo act as sediment traps to capture nutrients. Biodiversity corridors link the upper catchment areas to the bush, and bush remnants have been planted with native species such as kauri, rimu and pohutukawa.

Whenuanui runs 300 Angus breeding cows and a Coopworth ewe flock. Mixed-age ewes lambed at 162 percent last year, with hoggets achieving an impressive 129 percent. All lambs are sold prime under the “Kaipara Lamb” brand. . . 

Call out to Young New Zealanders to share in success of the booming apple industry:

New Zealand’s world leading apple industry is putting a call out to school leavers and graduates across the country to come share in its success.

Pipfruit New Zealand’s new capability development manager Erin Simpson has been charged with growing and retaining young people into Zealand’s apple and pear industry.

“New Zealand apples are leading the world, the industry is dynamic, innovative, and going places and so can young New Zealanders,” said Mr Simpson . . 

Bayer Marlborough Young Viticulturist of the Year 2016 announced:

Congratulations to Brenton O’Riley who became the Bayer Marlborough Young Viticulturist of the Year 2016 on Friday 24 June.

O’Riley has worked at Giesen Wines for the last few years as Viticultural Technician and credits his time and experience there as helping him gain some of the high level knowledge and skills required to win the competition. He is due to start a new job at Pernod Ricard in a grower liaison role at the beginning of next month.

This is the second time O’Riley has won the Marlborough competition, previously in 2014, so he will be even more determined this year to win the National Final taking place locally at Villa Maria in August. . . 

Irish approach may be better than New Zealand’s–  Allan Barber:

The Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s (DAFM) 10 year strategy report named Foodwise 2025 contains a lot of the same features as MPI’s ambition to double agricultural exports over a similar timeframe.

As an agricultural producer Ireland also has many of the same characteristics as New Zealand: a rural economy based heavily on grass-fed production and produce from the sea, a small domestic market and heavy reliance on exports, an expanding dairy herd and an ageing farmer profile. The agri-food industry contributes a greater proportion of export revenue than non agri-food production which is equally true of New Zealand.

Obviously there are differences, notably the impact of the EU common agricultural policy on Irish farm incomes, the destination of exports, the lower efficiency and smaller scale of farms, and the variation of production volumes. . . 

NZ sheepmeat, tourism may be hardest hit by Brexit as pound weakens, market volatility jumps –  Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s sheepmeat exports and tourists from the UK may be the hardest hit from the Brexit with the most immediate impact likely to be on British tourists suddenly finding the spending power of the pound against the kiwi is the weakest in almost three years.

The European Union is the biggest market for New Zealand sheepmeat, taking $1.4 billion of product last year and almost half of that 228,000 tonnes of quota is taken by the UK. Total red meat exports to the EU amount to $2 billion, making it the single most valuable market. However, the biggest impact for New Zealand would be the UK’s loss of zero-tariff access for its own sheepmeat into Europe, where it currently sends 90 percent of production, leaving more in its domestic market. . . 


Rural round-up

June 24, 2016

Prestigious Farm Environment Trophy Awarded To Helensville Couple:

Auckland farmers Richard and Dianne Kidd are the National Winners of the 2016 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Their win was announced at a gala dinner in Northland on June 22.

Richard and Dianne own a 376ha sheep, beef and forestry unit, Whenuanui Farm, on the edge of Auckland city. Their breeding and finishing operation runs 4820 stock units on 331ha (effective) with a pine woodlot established on 18.5ha and 15.3ha of regenerating native bush. . . 

Gisborne station marks fiver generations of farming – Kate Taylor:

Wendy Loffler points across the hills at a long fence line, reminiscing about rolling the posts down the steep ridge as the fence was built when she was a child.

Wendy was born on the property she farms with husband Brett, son Joe and his wife Sally on the Gisborne hills between Ngatapa and Rere. She’s full of stories about how the farm was developed and subdivided and the fascinating stories behind the names of the “new” paddocks, including Ngaio, which no longer grows any ngaio, and Dead Dog Paddock, although the exact location of the dead dog’s final resting place is still under friendly debate.

Piritaha Station was settled in the late 1880s by Johnny Hutchinson, whose sister married Frank Sherriff and it has been in the Sherriff family ever since. Joe and Sally’s children are the fifth generation to live on the property. . . 

Anchor Helping Ethiopian Children Reach Their Full Potential:

Anchor has launched a new consumer campaign in Ethiopia to help local children reach their full potential.

Anchor entered the emerging Ethiopian market in August last year with Anchor Fortified Milk Drink, a milk powder developed by Fonterra and the Food and Nutrition Society of Ethiopia to provide children with essential nutrients they may be missing from their daily diet. 

Now, as part of a brand-awareness programme, Anchor is giving away 100 school savings accounts to help pay for a year’s worth of school fees. . . 

Smart farm technology proves popular with farmers at Fieldays 2016:

Vodafone NZ is providing a launching pad for rural entrepreneurs to grow their ‘smart farm’ innovations as seen at this year’s Fieldays.

Innovation was the centerpiece of this year’s Fieldays, with farmers from across the country descending on Mystery Creek to see how technology is making farming smarter, easier and more cost effective.

More than 130,000 people walked through the gates at Mystery Creek near Hamilton for the 48th annual agribusiness event, with many heading straight for the Premium Pavilion where three of Vodafone NZ’s Smart Farm Innovation Partners were based. . . 

Notice of hearing for insecticide application method change:

A hearing is scheduled on an application to allow the insecticide Exirel to be applied aerially. Exirel is an insecticide whose active ingredient – cyantraniliprole – controls caterpillars and aphids in brassica crops used as fodder

Exirel was initially assessed and approved for use by the EPA in June 2013 for ground-based application with a maximum of three applications per year and a minimum interval of seven days between applications.

The applicant, DuPont Limited, is looking to move to aeriAal application for use on uneven terrain and in wet conditions. DuPont has proposed an aerial application rate of 15 g ai/ha, a maximum of three times per year, within a minimum interval of 14 days between applications. This is lower than the currently approved maximum application rate of 50 g ai/ha for ground-based methods. . . 

Horticulture Welcomes Bruce Wills As New Board Member:

Former Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills has been appointed to the position of independent board director for Horticulture New Zealand.

The Hawke’s Bay hill country farmer was appointed after an extensive selection process. Bruce joins the board of seven elected grower representatives and one other independent director.

He has been appointed for a three year term which starts from 1 July 2016. . . .


Rural round-up

April 28, 2016

Farming salaries holding firm despite tough conditions:

Dry stock farmers’ salaries have seen strong growth in the last year, according to Federated Farmers and Rabobank’s 2015/2016 employee remuneration report.

Despite tough times and low inflation, most sheep, beef and grain farmers have been able to provide higher average salaries on a year ago – illustrating real income increases for many farm workers at all levels of experience and responsibility.

Salaries in the dairy industry have remained stable, but for the first time there has been a very small decrease in the value of extras farmers provide their staff, such as firewood and internet access, pushing the total value of their package (TPV) down. . .

Farm Environment Competition Produces Great Crop Of Supreme Winners

Left to Right: Roger Landers and Matt Kelbrick (Taranaki), Graham and Marian Hirst (East Coast), Shane Gibbons and Bridget Speight (Southland), Joe and Suz Wyborn (Canterbury), Richard and Dianne Kidd (Auckland), Daniel and Reidun Nicholson (Greater Wellington), John Hayward and Susan O’Regan, (Waikato), Brendon and Paula Cross (Otago), David and Adrienne Hopkins & Ben and Belinda Price (Horizons), Dennis and Rachelle O’Callaghan (Northland), Leighton Oats and Matt Nelson (Bay of Plenty).The 2016 Ballance Farm Environment Awards have delivered an outstanding line-up of Supreme winners from the eleven regions participating in the prestigious competition.

Auckland is the latest region to join the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, with Helensville sheep, beef and forestry farmers Richard and Dianne Kidd claiming the region’s first Supreme title. Fellow sheep and beef farmers Dennis and Rachelle O’Callaghan, Taipa, were Supreme winners in Northland, with large scale kiwifruit operation BAYGOLD Ltd, Paengaroa, winning in the Bay of Plenty. . .

Federated Farmers thrilled Ruataniwha scheme now in position to proceed:

Federated Farmers is thrilled the Ruataniwha Water Storage scheme in Hawkes Bay has made another significant step towards hitting the go button, after it was confirmed sufficient water sign-up will make the scheme cash positive.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) announced yesterday it has 196 Signed Water User Agreements, the numbers needed for the project to proceed.

Federated Farmers Hawkes Bay Provincial President Will Foley says the dam will preserve the inter-generational nature of family farming in the Hawkes Bay. . . 

Dog stays with dead farmer:

The body of an 87-year-old farmer who went missing in rugged Far North bush was found after searchers spotted a dog which had stayed near his side all night.

The man was last seen about 1pm on Monday when he left home on his quad bike to check farm equipment on his Topps Access Rd property, just south of Kaeo.

Family, friends and neighbours began a search when neither he nor the dog returned. They called police when there was still no sign of the pair by 8pm.

The cattle dog, which was described as small and normally timid, was understood to belong to the man’s daughter but followed him everywhere he went. . . 

Love of farming is in the DNA – Kate Taylor:

University student Olivia Ellis works every time she goes home for a visit. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

Home is a 320-hectare farm, Papawai, on State Highway 50 between Onga Onga and Tikokino in Central Hawke’s Bay… home also to parents Richard and Helen Ellis.

They’ve been there since 1995 when Olivia was a toddler, along with big brothers William, who after qualifying as a builder is now shepherding near Timaru, and the late George, who worked for WaterForce in Ashburton before a truck crash in 2014. . . 

GlobalDairyTrade moves to 24/7 online trading:

The global dairy trading platform owned by Fonterra is to expand further into online trading.

GlobalDairyTrade (GDT), though owned by Fonterra, acts independently as one of the world’s leading dairy trading platforms.

As well as its fortnightly auction, the company offer a new way for customers to trade in the 66-billion litre international dairy market. . . 

Dairy co-op Murray Goulburn cuts milk prices, MD Gary Helou departs – Nikolai Beilharz:

Australia’s largest dairy processor Murray Goulburn has announced it will cut its milk price for suppliers, with managing director Gary Helou also announcing his departure.

The dairy co-op says it is no longer feasible to pay $5.60 per kilogram of milk solids, and now expects to pay between $4.75-5 per kilogram, a drop of around 10 per cent.

MG says it will introduce milk support payment programs to give suppliers an equivalent milk price of $5.47 per kilogram. . .

What farmers in other countries get paid for milk – Charlie Taverner:

The dairy crisis is hurting farmers across the world, as production far outstrips any rising demand.

Farmers Weekly looks at the farmgate prices and milk production levels around the world and considers how milk producers are coping in different countries.

See a snapshot of farmgate prices in the graphic and read the detail for each country below.

See also: How UK dairy producers can compete globally

UK

The UK’s strength is a big liquid market — but that means dairy farmers are divided.

The average milk price of 23.13p/litre in January hides a great split. . . .

Soils big win buried in the science – Mike Foley:

AUSTRALIA’S approach to soil must dig deeper if our agriculture sector is to keep pace with its competitors.

Government policy has for too long taken a narrow focus on soil, prioritising funding for research aimed at enhancing environmental outcomes, as opposed to research that delivers productivity gains.

That’s according to soil researcher Andrea Koch, formerly of the United States Study Centre’s soil carbon initiative. . . 

 


Rural round-up

April 27, 2016

What makes a good farmer? – Bryan Gibson:

It seems that everyone has an opinion on the qualities that make up the perfect food producer, especially at the moment when times are tough.

Judging by the number of emails I’m getting detailing roadshows and information days, it appears the average farmer isn’t short of advice.

Whether they are bankers, consultants or other support company staffers or even other farmers, the range of opinion can be overwhelming.

Now, New Zealand farmers are already good at what they do.

But this dairy downturn means almost every farmer will be looking at his or her balance sheet and strategy and looking to make positive changes. . .

Environmental showcase ‘good farm practice’ – Pam Tipa:

Environmental initiatives began as just good farming practice for the first-ever supreme winners of the Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).

Richard and Dianne Kidd, of Whenuanui Farm, Helensville, began fencing and planting about 35 years ago for stock health and farm management. But enthusiasm also grew for the environmental side as they started to see the benefits.

The BFEA judges described the Kidd family’s 376ha sheep, beef and forestry unit, as “a showpiece farm on the edge of Auckland city”. . . 

Farmers fear rights being eroded – Glenys Christian:

Changes to the Resource Management Act and freshwater management proposals might force farmers to increase consultation, Auckland Federated Farmers fears.  

The Resource Legislation Amendment Bill, now at select committee stage, will make it mandatory for councils to involve iwi authorities in the appointment of hearing commissioners as well as in the critical stages of preparing council plans, Auckland Federated Farmers president Wendy Clark said.  

While she agreed consultation with iwi before plan notifications was appropriate, she argued there should be consultation with anyone directly affected by the plans. . . 

Base labeling on science not superstition:

The left can be quite smug about its allegiance to science. And quite selective, too. That’s particularly true of the environmental movement’s relentless and often hysterical attacks on genetically modified food.

The nation’s food industry is locked in a battle with Vermont over a state law set to go into effect July 1 that will require the labeling of all food products to indicate whether they contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Agricultural and grocery associations have a pending federal lawsuit claiming state-by-state labeling requirements will make mass distribution of food nearly impossible. They’re also concerned, rightly, that the unwarranted fear campaign pressed by opponents of GMOs will drive consumers away from the products. . . 

Extra payment as Miraka grows :

Milk processing company Miraka will set its own price for the 2016/17 season starting on June 1.

The company, which is owned by Maori and overseas interests, already pays its suppliers in the central North Island 10 cents more than Fonterra for every kilogram of milk solids.

Chair Kingi Smiler says there will be an additional premium paid for suppliers who meet Te Ara Miraka farming excellence standards. . . 

Do you eat? Then you should care about agriculture policy – Adam Diamond, Garrett Graddy-Lovelace, Danielle Neirenberg:

Even though only 2 percent of Americans live on farms in 2016, agricultural policy remains extremely important. Why? Everyone has to eat.

It is unsettling to observe that, while Iowa’s caucuses in February forced presidential candidates to pay lip service to agricultural policy, the subject quickly receded from their radar. Food and farm issues may be hard to package in 30-second sound bites, and they certainly do not lend themselves to cutting debate repartee, but that does not mean they should dwell in the shadows of this 2016 election season. Far from it.

Today, Americans are more concerned than ever before about what they’re eating, how it was grown, where it was grown and by whom. And just as those vying to lead our executive branch need to have a basic grasp of foreign affairs, they also need to understand the basics of the farm and nutrition policies that touch us all, every day of the year, in the most visceral way. . .

Farmers United - We love our animals's photo.


Rural round-up

April 1, 2016

Nutritional Sales Underpin Half Year Underlying Profit of $12.3 Million:

Synlait has reported an underlying net profit after tax (NPAT) of $12.3 million for the first half of the 2016 financial year (HY16).

In contrast to $0.4 million in HY15, this improved performance is primarily the result of increased nutritional sales in canned infant formula.

“We’re glad to deliver a solid result for the first half of FY16. Our significant investment in customer and product development, people, plant and operating systems in recent years is beginning to transform our earnings,” said Chairman Graeme Milne. . . 

European market conditions depress Westland’s payout prediction:

Global market conditions for dairy products point to at least two more seasons of low milk payouts in New Zealand, Westland Milk Products told shareholders today as the co-operative revised its predicted payout for the 2015-16 season to $3.90 – $4.00 per kilogramme of milk solids, down from last month’s prediction of $4.00 – $4.10.

Westland CEO Rod Quin said the major driver of the revised payout remains the global oversupply of milk, compounded by the ongoing high availability and aggressive approach by the European dairy market.

Quin and Westland Chair Matt O’Regan have recently returned from Europe where they met with customers, farmers, processors, traders and industry advocates. . . 

Fonterra makes best of a bad job – Allan Barber:

The PR spin has been pretty active signalling a much improved half yearly result which was duly delivered this morning. The company confirmed a 40 cent dividend for the full year with the interim dividend being paid next month as usual and the final dividend being paid in two tranches in May and August instead of October.

This improvement in cash flow will do something, but not a lot, to comfort farmers labouring under a debt burden. Unfortunately it will do absolutely nothing to support sharemilkers who will have to rely on their share of the milk payout. Predictions for the rest of 2016 are notable for their conservatism, probably in recognition of a disappointing track record when forecasting the extent of the current downturn. . . 

Fonterra’s six-month results – good news but some underlying issues – Keith Woodford:

As expected, Fonterra has announced a greatly enhanced six-month profit for the period ending 31 January 2016. The profit of $409 million (NPAT; i.e. net profit after finance costs and tax) is up 123% from the same period in the previous year.

The expected full year profit of 45-55c per share implies an annual profit of about $800 million compared to $506 million for the full year 2014/15.

These figures are all very much in line with expectations . The reason for this is that when milk prices to farmers are low, then Fonterra has low input costs. Accordingly, there is more scope for corporate profit. . . 

Keep sharing the load by talking about it:

No matter which branch of farming you are in, you will face tough times, says Nelson farmer and Horticulture NZ President Julian Raine. When that happens, don’t be too proud to ask for help.

Speaking to the Farming Show’s Jamie Mackay as part of the Getting Through Adversity radio series, Julian said that even with the best planning, erratic weather events can cause mayhem. Jamie suggested that growing fruit crops is arguably one of the riskiest pursuits in farming: “One adverse event at the wrong time and suddenly your whole crop is wiped out. If you are a sheep farmer, for example, you at least have lambing spread over three weeks, or if you are dairy your risk is spread over nine months of milking.” . . 

Meat exporters ready to reap benefits of TPP:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement eliminates all tariffs on beef into our biggest market, the United States, within five years of coming into force.

Trade Minister Todd McClay, speaking at the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce this morning, says New Zealand exported meat products worth over $2.8 billion to TPP countries in 2015 and the gains once TPP comes into force will be significant.

“Our beef into Japan currently attracts a 38.5 per cent tariff. That has made it extraordinarily hard for our exporters to compete with other countries with lower tariffs. . . 

Ongoing market challenges weigh on New Zealand farmers, with confidence close to 10-year low:

The significant and persisting challenges in market conditions continue to weigh heavily on the nation’s farmers, with New Zealand’s rural confidence at the second lowest level recorded in the past 10 years, the latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey has shown.

Completed earlier this month, the survey found more than half of farmers surveyed (53 per cent) had a pessimistic outlook on the agricultural economy over the coming 12 months. This was significantly up from 30 per cent with that view in the previous survey, in late 2015. . . 

Dairy downturn: councils prepare to tighten belts:

Councils in rural areas might be forced to cut spending if the dairy downturn lasts for a long time, Local Government New Zealand head Lawrence Yule says.

A Westpac-McDermott Miller regional economic survey has shown big falls in confidence in major dairy areas including Waikato, Taranaki, and Southland.

Mr Yule said the businesses in many rural towns were already hunkering down as farmers tightened their spending, and that could spread. . .

NZX to teach farmers about new milk contract:

NZX expects to receive regulatory approval for the new fresh milk futures and options product within two weeks.

Chief executive Tim Bennett said there was a demand for the fresh milk contracts product after Fonterra scrapped its guaranteed milk price product for the upcoming season. . . 

NZ helping to restore Fiji’s dairy sector after Winston:

The New Zealand government says it will help restore Fiji’s dairy industry which is losing thousands of litres of milk and was devastated as a result of last month’s cyclone.

New Zealand announced additional aid to help Fiji’s recovery on Wednesday.

A lot of that money is going into the continuing infrastructure rebuild led by the New Zealand Defence Force. . . 

Helensville Farmers First To Claim Supreme Title In Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

“Environmental champions” Richard and Dianne Kidd are Supreme winners of the inaugural Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

At a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on March 30 (2016), the Helensville couple was also presented with the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award and the Farm Stewardship Award in partnership with QEII National Trust and New Zealand Farm Environment Trust.

BFEA judges described Whenuanui Farm, the Kidd family’s 376ha sheep, beef and forestry unit, as “a show piece farm on the edge of Auckland city”. . . .

From paddock to packet: The family behind NZ’s most successful independent chips – Ryan Bridge:

You’re about to meet a family of potato farmers who beat the odds to grow one of the country’s most successful independent chip businesses.

The Bowans are from Timaru and not only do they grow spuds, they transport them to their own factory and make the chips too.

Together they are Heartland Potato Chips.

It all started when Raymond Bowan decided to grow his own potatoes as a teenager. His son James Bowan has taken over running the family potato farm and unlike his old man, he doesn’t do it by hand anymore, there’s a flash piece of kit to help. . . 

Food development facility opportunity for creative entrepreneurs:

Those looking to be innovative with their food are wanted at the FoodSouth food development pilot plant on the Lincoln campus, but there are no Heston Blumenthal creations on the menu.

The final part of a national food innovation network, the facility provides three purpose-built independent food safe development spaces along with a variety of processing equipment — an extruder, ovens, dryers, enrober, mixers, and a mobile product development kitchen among them.

It enables businesses to develop product prototypes for market validation, trial new equipment, carry out scale-up trial work and sample manufacture in 20L to 200L batch sizes, conduct process development and improvement, and validate quality systems. . . 

It’s in the family for new A&P Association President:

Sheep and beef farmer Warrick James has been elected as President of the Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association for 2016 at the Annual General Meeting at Riccarton Park Racecourse on 30 March.

Based in Central Canterbury near Glentunnel, Mr James was confirmed as President of the 154th Canterbury A&P Show in front of outgoing President Nicky Hutchinson and Association Members.

“It means a lot to be President of the Canterbury A&P Association. We host the largest and most prestigious Show in the country – it really is the pinnacle of the A&P movement. Having been involved from a young age with my family and seeing my own children take part over the years just makes this even more special.” . . .

Trio spread cheer on woolshed tour – Suzette Howe:

At a time when life’s a bit tough for rural communities, a trio of Kiwi performers are setting off on a woolshed tour to boost morale. 

They’re coming armed with their own stage curtain, a bar and plenty of laughs.

Over the next five weeks the talented ladies will transform more than 20 working wool sheds into live stages the length of the South Island.

They’re travelling by horse truck, carting hundreds of chairs, a bar, and full production set.

Farmer Georgie Harper says it’s hard to say no when the performance is brought to you. . . 

Itinerary and booking information at The Woolshed Tour.


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