Rural round-up

May 9, 2015

Low-Cost Pasture-Based Dairying Still Our Best Bet, Say Farm Environment Leaders:

New Zealand dairy farmers shouldn’t lose sight of their competitive advantage, say farm environment ambassadors Mark and Devon Slee, who recently returned from a study tour of the Northern Hemisphere.

In late March the Canterbury dairy farmers and National Winners of the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards embarked on a 25-day trip to the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Ireland, visiting a wide range of dairy farms

Mark says a key aim of the tour, which was facilitated by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust and supported by a range of industry groups, was to study intensive dairy farming systems in Europe and to find out how farmers were using technology to improve sustainability. . .

Pacing global changes a big ask for Fonterra – Fran O’Sullivan:

Tim Groser’s warning that the dairy sector would effectively have to guts it out during a period of low milk payouts was timely.

It’s perhaps easier said than done maybe from the perspective of a Trade Minister.

But dairy farmers are a resilient lot. They’ve been through cyclical times before.

Yet, last week’s Fonterra announcement that the co-operative has downwardly revised its 2014/2015 payout forecast back to $4.50/kg milk solids (from $4.70) was still a hard knock for those that had factored the higher track into their own financial planning.

Federated Farmers pointed out just how difficult it was for some dairy farmers with their comment that the average Canterbury dairy farmer was now facing a loss of 91c for every kilogram of milk solids that they produced. . .

ANZ Bank was most aggressive in rural rate swaps sales to farmers, ComCom says – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – ANZ Bank New Zealand, the country’s biggest lender, was the most aggressive in pitching interest rate swaps to farmers, over which it subsequently agreed to pay $19 million in compensation, the Commerce Commission says.

General counsel competition Mary Anne Borrowdale told Parliament’s primary production select committee that of the three banks to settle with the regulator, ANZ had the most customers involved and was investigated over both the way it was able to move its margin and the break fees it charged farmers for an early release. While ANZ announced its settlement with the regulator before ASB Bank and Westpac Banking Corp, it only just made its offer to farmers yesterday. The three banks’ collective settlements totalled $24.2 million. . .

Landmark animal welfare legislation welcomed by veterinarians:

The New Zealand veterinary profession welcomes today’s landmark passage of the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill which brings greater clarity, transparency and enforceability of the country’s animal welfare laws, further strengthening New Zealand’s excellent reputation for animal welfare.

The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA), which played a key role in helping to shape the Bill, says some of the key changes include the legal recognition of animal sentience, which is sensation or feeling in animals, for the first time in New Zealand law.

NZVA President Dr Steve Merchant says: “Veterinarians are at the vanguard of animal welfare advocacy and public support is behind us in the call for greater clarity on issues concerning animal welfare and increased sanctions for animal cruelty. . .

 

 High prices and volumes for avocado growers:

Avocado exporter Avoco says its growers are celebrating the end of a season where they not only got a bumper crop – but decent prices for their fruit too.

Avoco said strong end-of-season demand from Australia lifted returns for growers – to $15 per tray for large avocados and $14 per tray for smaller fruit.

Avoco director John Carroll said the company exported a record volume of fruit – 4.5 million trays, out of a total 7 million trays – and still managed to get good returns for its 700 plus growers. . .

Anchor Gives More New Zealanders an Organic Milk Choice:

Anchor is making organic milk more accessible to New Zealanders with the nationwide launch of Anchor Organic.

Fonterra Brands New Zealand Managing Director Tim Deane said that with other organic milk brands only available in certain regions or very expensive, Anchor is on a mission to make organic milk more widely available at a fair price.

“We want to put organic milk in reach of more New Zealanders. We’ve done just that through our nationwide distribution and providing Anchor Organic at an everyday price that works out at only about 20 cents extra per glass compared to our standard Anchor milk,” said Mr Deane. . .

Wool Prices Bounce:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that a weaker New Zealand dollar, limited wool volumes pressuring exporters and renewed client interest, combined to lift local prices across the board.

Of the 6,350 bales on offer, 99 percent sold.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was down 1.79 percent compared to the last sale on 30th April.

Mr Dawson advises that Fine Crossbred Full Fleece and longer shears were 7 to 10 percent dearer, stimulated by resurgent Chinese interest with shorter types 3 to 6 percent firmer. . .

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Rural round-up

June 20, 2014

New Zealand features at “Olympics” of TB control

New Zealand’s expertise in the eradication of bovine tuberculosis (TB) will be showcased in Wales this month at the prestigious international M.bovis conference.

TBfree New Zealand TB Eradication and Research Manager Dr Paul Livingstone QSO will be a keynote speaker at the conference. He is well known for advising other countries, including Wales, Ireland, Chile and the United States, on TB management.

Dr Livingstone has spent his working life managing the disease and has been a key part of TBfree New Zealand’s success. He said it is a privilege to speak in front of such an esteemed gathering of experts from around the world, with about 500 attendees expected at the conference. . .

Antimicrobial resistance worries vets:

Growing resistance to antimicrobials has vets worried.

The New Zealand Veterinary Association at its annual conference in Hamilton this week, regards it as one of the greatest threat to human and animal health.

Bacteria, which is the major cause of disease develops the ability to withstand the antibiotic used to control them.

Keynote speaker at the conference, Australian vet, Stephen Page said that while the problem in animals is not nearly as great as in humans, farmers and vets can’t afford to relax. . .

Rural professionals needed – Vet Assn:

The Veterinary Association says the lack of young people wanting to take up careers in agribusiness and sciences is likely to affect the number of vets being produced in this country.

The Ministry for Primary Industries puts the number of rural professionals currently at about 2000.

Association president Steve Merchant said for this country to achieve an increase in its primary exports at double the current rate, more rural professionals were needed. . . .

Research to focus on environment:

Dairy industry research funded by farmer levies will have a stronger focus on environmental issues.

The industry body Dairy NZ has received strong farmer support for renewing the levies it collects from them for another six years.

That will take effect when the Primary Industries Minister signs a new commodity levies order, which needs to happen by February next year. . . .

HRH The Prince of Wales hosts Campaign for Wool’s 5th Anniversary:

To commemorate the 5th anniversary of the Campaign for Wool, the campaign’s Patron His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales hosted a major celebration of wool at Clarence House.

Attended by a host of key guests representing brands and fashion designers from the Wool Collection, the occasion was marked with enlightening talks by very special guests including Nicholas Coleridge CBE, Chairman of the Campaign for Wool (pictured below with HRH The Prince of Wales). Seeking to highlight two of the Campaign’s most frequently made claims regarding wool’s benefits: firstly, that it is a supremely safe fibre thanks to its natural fire retardant properties and that secondly, wool quickly biodegrades in soil – a key ecological benefit, the day centred around two tests and an immersive wool fashion and interiors presentation. . . .

To commemorate the 5th anniversary of the Campaign for Wool, the campaign’s Patron His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales hosted a major celebration of wool at Clarence House.

Attended by a host of key guests representing brands and fashion designers from the Wool Collection, the occasion was marked with enlightening talks by very special guests including Nicholas Coleridge CBE, Chairman of the Campaign for Wool (pictured below with HRH The Prince of Wales). Seeking to highlight two of the Campaign’s most frequently made claims regarding wool’s benefits: firstly, that it is a supremely safe fibre thanks to its natural fire retardant properties and that secondly, wool quickly biodegrades in soil – a key ecological benefit, the day centred around two tests and an immersive wool fashion and interiors presentation.

– See more at: http://www.campaignforwool.org/news-item/hrh-the-prince-of-wales-hosts-campaign-for-wools-5th-anniversary/#sthash.4Zt2b9RF.dpuf

‘Farming in the Cloud’ online accounting launched by Xero:

Online accounting software company Xero today formally launched its dedicated rural online accounting and farm management solution – Farming in the Cloud – together with key farming solution partner, Figured, at the National Fieldays in Mystery Creek.

Xero also announced that rural services company, RD1 has joined Farming in the Cloud as a partner, and as part of this is working with the wider Fonterra group to explore opportunities for integration.

Ben Richmond, CA, Xero Rural Strategy Lead said: “We are excited to now have all our major rural supplier partnerships in place. Figured has been instrumental in taking Xero to the farming market. Now, having RD1 on board, alongside the likes of PGG Wrightson which is already a partner, really validates the power of Farming in the Cloud as a ground-breaking farm productivity tool, and looking ahead we’re pleased to be broadening our relationship with Fonterra.” . . .

Kahungunu Harvesting Our Future:

Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi is hosting a second in a series of Agribusiness Conferences to showcase current farming talent and to provide roadways into the future for landowners and shareholders who in the past leased their land to neighbouring farmers.

This conference is being held on Thursday 26th June at The Hub in Dannevirke.

We will highlight successful business women in farming and successful grouping of Māori interests that take produce from the ‘Nuku to the Puku’ meaning from the land to the tables of the world.
Dannevirke is already a hot bed of energy and innovation when it comes to farming. The success stories from this area will be a good example for other small communities that see the value of cooperation and partnership.

Ngāti Kahungunu is well known in iwi circles for our generous hospitality to visitors. This trait has built lifelong relationships throughout the country and one we want to extend to the world. . .

Fonterra Announces Two Senior Appointments:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced two senior appointments to the Fonterra Management Team.

Kelvin Wickham, who is currently President Greater China, will take up the newly created position of Managing Director Global Ingredients.

Johan Priem, who is currently a member of the Office of the CEO, will become President Greater China, when Mr Wickham assumes his new role on 1 August. . . .

New Zealand Site Dominates U.S. Wine World:

The most influential wine website in the U.S. is not based in Silicon Valley but the Auckland suburb of New Lynn.

The VinePair Wine Web Power Index measures the influence of selected wine websites and mobile apps within the United States and West Auckland-based Wine Searcher is top of the list.

Wine Searcher is a search engine for wine that lists more than 5.5 million wines and prices from almost 40,000 merchants around the world. Master of Wine Jancis Robinson calls it “the most successful, and seriously useful, price comparison website.” . . .


Rural round-up

May 3, 2014

 Govt reallocates $24 million for Rotorua water clean-up:

The Government will reallocate $24 million to a new project that encourages land owners in the Lake Rotorua catchment to switch to low nitrogen land uses or find other ways to reduce the amount of nitrogen polluting the lake water, Environment Minister Amy Adams has announced.

“The Rotorua community has asked us to shift existing funding commitments to a land use management and change project, as part of the Rotorua Te Arawa lakes water quality improvements programme,” Ms Adams says.

“The original plan was to use the money for diverting nutrient-rich streams flowing into the lake and capping sediments to stop nutrients flowing up from the lake bed. Cabinet agreed with the lake stakeholder advisory group that these short term initiatives really just shifted the problem somewhere else. . .

Rotorua farmers pleased with Government contribution to nitrogen reduction:

Farmers in the Lake Rotorua catchment were relieved to hear confirmation on Monday that the Government will fund half of a $48 million scheme to reduce nitrogen losses from pastoral land around the lake.

This money had been budgeted for “in-lake” actions so there is no additional cost to taxpayers and ratepayers who share the cost equally. The scheme is part of a wider effort to improve water quality in Lake Rotorua by reducing nutrient inputs – both nitrogen and phosphorus – from urban, rural and natural sources.

Rotorua farmers are working with the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and other stakeholders to develop draft rural land use rules around nitrogen. Those rules will target a 140 tonne nitrogen reduction by 2032, in addition to an incentive scheme target of 100 tonnes.  . .

Australia and New Zealand partner to fight animal disease threat:

Australia and New Zealand have agreed to work together to prepare for the unlikely event of a foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in either country.

Australian Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, and New Zealand Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, met today in Melbourne and welcomed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to stress the importance of collaboration in combating the disease and its devastating impacts.

“Our number one plan and focus of much of our biosecurity efforts is to keep FMD out of Australia and New Zealand—but you can’t stick your head in the sand about something this significant —you have to plan for the worst,” Minister Joyce said. . .

Vets work on drug resistance:

Vets and doctors have an obligation to work together to face the threat of resistance to anti-microbial drugs, New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) president Dr Steve Merchant says.

“The threat of anti-microbial resistance is recognised as one of the greatest risks to human and animal health and is a high priority for the veterinary profession,” he said.

“After more than 70 years since the first use of penicillin in human medicine there are a number of bacteria in circulation across the world that are resistant to one or more anti-microbials. . .

 

 Abuzz about chainsaw safety – Rebecca Malcolm:

She’s come straight from big-city beauty salons to farming, so it’s fair to say Jodie Vaughan has had a few things to learn.

The former Aucklander has been on an Atiamuri farm for only a matter of weeks after she and partner Rhys Williams moved down to take over farm management roles on the family property.

On Thursday Miss Vaughan was one of more than a dozen women who took part in a chainsaw safety workshop run by Stihl New Zealand as part of Chainsaw Safety Awareness Week, which finishes tomorrow. . .

Farmers urged to attend Ruataniwha public meetings:

With Federated Farmers’ Hawke’s Bay annual general meeting taking place next Wednesday, the Federation is urging its members to find out all they can from Hawke’s Bay Regional Council on the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

“It is true members are now putting Ruataniwha under a microscope, especially following the recent Board of Inquiry draft decision,” says Will Foley, Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay provincial president.

“I genuinely imagine Ruataniwha will be a talking point at our provincial annual general meeting, next Wednesday at Vidal’s Restaurant in Hastings. . .

 


Science needed in media

August 16, 2013

A man claiming to be a vet has come up with a theory on how Fonterra’s whey protein concentrate was contaminated.

The story headlined vet links botulism to feed not pipes says:

A veterinarian and farm consultant doubts the recent Fonterra botulism scare was caused by a dirty pipe, and says he is sitting on material that will embarrass the dairy giant further.

Matamata veterinarian and farm performance consultant Frank Rowson says Fonterra should be tracing the source of the Clostridium botulinum bacterium back to farms or their own water supply.

He doubts Clostridium botulinum was caused by an old pipe at Fonterra’s Hautapu plant and said it had to get in there in the first place. . . .

Rowson said: “This disease originates in contaminated feed and animal manure, and research all over the world of which I am part, shows that GM feeds and the use of increased amounts of glyphosate herbicides increases the prevalence of this disease in pigs, poultry and dairy cattle, and the neuro toxin that causes the disease will pass through the food chain into milk.” . . .

At Sciblogs, Siouxsie Wiles asks could the botulism be linked to herbicide use and GM crops

Firstly, Fonterra and MPI have made it clear that it was not the toxin but the bacterial spores that contaminated the whey powder. . .

. . . According to the Irish Department Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the C. botulinum toxin types that cause disease in cattle are C and D, which do not cause disease in humans. Fonterra still haven’t released information on the type of C. botulinum which contaminated their whey powder, but given the recall, we can assume it was either A, B, E or F, the types which cause botulism in humans. From this, it would seem that Rowson’s claim that the source of the Clostridial contamination is linked to glyphosate usage and cattle is highly questionable.

The Veterinary Association also sides with science:

 The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) believes that unproven theories published in the media do little to clarify the situation in regard to the investigation that is currently underway to determine the cause of the botulism contamination of some Fonterra dairy products.

 The NZVA is liaising closely with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Fonterra in their investigation of this incident and supports a robust scientific process to establish the cause.

 “Claims made by Mr Frank Rowson recently reported in the media about the cause of the contamination are speculation and not helpful in assisting the investigation,” NZVA President Dr Steve Merchant said.

 Mr Rowson, described as a veterinarian and farm consultant in the media, is not a registered veterinarian and is also not a member of the NZVA.  He does not represent the views of the veterinary profession or that of the NZVA,” said Dr Merchant. “We are dealing with a complex scientific issue and we need to bring together the relevant scientific expertise in New Zealand to ensure the investigation leads to a successful resolution.” . . .

There is more than enough emotion and misinformation on the issue without the media adding to it with stories not supported by science.


Rural round-up

July 3, 2013

Bacteria detector set to scale up for food industry – Peter Kerr at sticK:

I’m always a bit of a sucker for innovations and improvements that add value to our biological industries.

After all, as a country we’d be fools not to play to our major strength in producing food and fibre.

An innovation’s appeal is also greatly increased when it solves a problem – and in this particular case it is instantly identifying the presence of bacteria in food products.

It’s one reason I’m keen on seeing Veritide’s real-time, non-contact bacterial scanner gain more traction. (Note: Veritide’s in the process of updating its website following its pivot to concentrate on the food industry). . .

Synlait well structured for a successful future – Allan Barber:

Synlait Milk’s $120 million capital raising will enable the company to restructure debt and invest in several new initiatives, including a lactoferrin plant, a third dryer, a butter plant, testing laboratory and dry store. The share offer is made up of $75 million of new capital and $45 million sell down by some of the exiting shareholders.

All the signs point to this capital raising being a success, unlike the attempt to raise $150 million in 2009 which was shunned by New Zealand investors. . .

Fonterra to Invest $27 Million in New Dry Store at Te Rapa:

Fonterra has announced a $27 million investment in a dry store distribution centre at its Te Rapa site that will strengthen its Waikato operations and allow the Co-operative to deliver product more efficiently to its customers.

Fonterra’s Director Logistics Network, Mark Leslie, says the dry store will provide the Co-operative annual benefits of nearly $5m through reduced operating costs.

“Our seasonal production means that we store product until we receive orders. The new dry store will enable us to store product at the site of manufacture right through the peak of the season and to more efficiently manage the flow of goods through to our customers by better utilising the rail infrastructure out of our Crawford St distribution centre,” says Mr Leslie. . .

Reassessment of organophosphates and carbamates:

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is being congratulated by Federated Farmers for the difficult decisions it has made around the use of organophosphates and carbamates (OPC’s).

 “Extending the use of Diazinon through to 2028 was the right thing to do because farmers have little or no alternatives at this time,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President.

 “Home gardeners and farmers both know that diazinon is the most effective agrichemical we currently have to treat grass grub and porina. An issue may arise if by the end of the next 15-years we fail to have approved replacements in the toolbox. . .

New Crown Irrigation Chair welcomes opportunity:

The chair of the newly appointed Crown Irrigation Investments board, Alison Paterson, is welcoming the opportunity to help develop large-scale irrigation infrastructure.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has this morning announced the establishment of the new company and the appointment of all members of the Establishment Board to the board of the new company. . . .

Crown irrigation investment company needs to act:

IrrigationNZ has congratulated the Government on the establishment of the new Crown company ‘Irrigation Investments Ltd’ – but signals action is needed quickly before opportunities are lost.

The $80million investment company was announced this week as a “bridging investor” to help irrigation projects that may not otherwise get off the ground. . .

OSPRI New Zealand looking to add value to the primary sector:

This week sees a new arrival in the primary sector with the launch of OSPRI New Zealand.

Formed on 1 July, following the merger of the Animal Health Board and NAIT, the national animal identification and tracing scheme, OSPRI has been set up to bring together existing expertise and, as its name implies, to provide creative operational solutions.

“We are excited by the prospect of developing some creative operational solutions for the sector,” said OSPRI Chief Executive William McCook. . .

New President for Veterinary Association:

 Dr Steve Merchant is the new President of the New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA). His first official public engagement is welcoming delegates at the opening plenary of the NZVA’s annual conference in Palmerston North this week (3 and 4 July).

He is a founding director of the Pet Doctors Group. Established in 2005, this is an expanding network of clinics made up of like-minded veterinarians who share resources and take a team-based approach to animal care. . .

New Avocado Exporter Lifts Earnings Forecast

Newly formed avocado exporter AVOCO has raised its forecast for this season’s earnings in Australia and now expects to hit the $50 million mark by the end of the harvest, which starts in late August.

Alistair Young, a director of AVOCO, says latest analysis of the potential harvest suggests there will be a better yield than usual, without it being a brilliant harvest. Formed recently by the two largest avocado exporters, AVOCO represents about 75% of all the growers in New Zealand and holds a similar-sized chunk of sales into the Australian market. . .

Praise Bee – industrious insects get the stamp of approval:

They’ve been celebrated in verse (by the likes of Emily Dickinson[1], William Blake[2] and Kahlil Gibran[3]) – in song (by the likes of Gloria Gaynor[4], Blake Shelton[5] and Owl City[6]) – and in popular culture (with spelling bees, ‘Buzzy Bees’ and Wellington’s own ‘Beehive’). But the humble bee stands poised to get a new tribute this week, with the release of a special set of postage stamps.

The Honey Bees stamp issue celebrates the industrious insects on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the National Beekeepers’ Association of New Zealand.

Honey bees, which are of European origin, have played a key role in New Zealand horticulture for over 150 years – pollinating essential crops and producing up to 12,000 tonnes of honey per annum, with as much as half of that being exported. . .


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