Rural round-up

December 22, 2013

Meat industry looks interesting for 2014 – Allan Barber:

Next year will be an interesting one for the red meat sector with highlights predicted to include improved sheepmeat prices compared with last season, the probability of a procurement battle for fewer lambs and prime cattle, continuing work with research funding and the efforts of new MIE sympathetic directors on the boards of SFF and Alliance.

The big question will be whether the discussions about industry restructuring will actually achieve anything and how much impact the new cooperative boards can have on those efforts. So far we know SFF, Alliance and ANZCO have already talked to the government about introducing some form of tradable slaughter rights, but have been rejected.

There is support for a merger of the two cooperatives from a number of farmers, although retiring chairman, Eion Garden, stated at the AGM on 18th December that a merger wasn’t necessarily the right answer. He said there was no point in creating a bigger version of the same thing, but there was a need for an innovative structure to deliver a ‘great’ outcome. . .

Early Christmas present for sheep farmers:

Meat company Lean Meats has announced a bonus payment to its farmer supplier shareholders after a stronger company performance in 2013.

Lean Meats chief executive Richard Thorp today announced a return to its Atkins Ranch Producer Group (ARPG) providing shareholder farmer suppliers an average of 31 cents a kilogram or $5.74 a lamb.

This year’s payment is split with an average of $1.85 per head paid at six weeks after processing and the remaining $3.89 per head being paid in the last working week of December. . .

Beef in 2014: Demand bright, local supply tight:

New Zealand’s beef industry faces brighter prospects in 2014 with strong international demand, combined with tight local supply, according to a new report released by agribusiness banking specialist, Rabobank.

The report, Beef in 2014: Demand bright, local supply tight, says the decline in beef production, particularly in lean beef, in the United States – New Zealand’s largest beef export market – means New Zealand product will be in demand.

However, the Rabobank report cautions, in other less traditional markets – where cost is the primary determinant – growing competition from India should be expected, with increased local Indian supply available for export. . .

Proactive approach to land management – Anne Hardie:

One of the things Barbara Stuart loves most about her sustainable land management role is working with farming families who are trying hard to look after their environment.

As a regional co-ordinator for NZ Landcare Trust she works with community groups in the top of the South Island dealing with sustainability issues, including the award-winning Sherry River Catchment Group, which carried out research on cow crossings and water quality, leading to environmental plans for the landowners along the river.

Over the years she has also worked on projects to improve the water quality of Aorere River in Golden Bay, following concerns from mussel farmers beyond the river mouth, of Rai River, which leads to the Havelock estuary, and on erosion of Marlborough dryland farming with the Starborough Flaxbourne Soil Conservation Group. . .

Mr Weeds’ latest work has gained attention – Richard Rennie:

AgResearch weed scientist Trevor James’ latest literary efforts may not make the bestseller list but he and his colleagues are already receiving international praise.

Trevor has worked in a cross-sector team to compile a definitive guide to New Zealand weed seeds, the Illustrated Guide to Weed Seeds of New Zealand.

It includes high-resolution shots of every weed seed identified in the country. This includes unwelcome intruders that may not have germinated in this country but have been found as stowaways in biosecurity checks. . .

Small-scale agriculture holds big promise for Africa – Caspar van Vark:

Supporting smallholder irrigation through finance and technical assistance could significantly improve productivity and incomes.

The recent discovery of a large aquifer in Kenya is a reminder that far from being dry, Africa has abundant water resources. The problem for farmers is access: only around 6% of cultivated land is equipped for irrigation, leaving millions dependent on rain-fed agriculture. How might more of them be helped to access water that could raise their productivity?

Large-scale, government-funded irrigation systems have long attempted to address this, with varying degrees of success. Those systems have a place, but research by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) has found that many smallholders are themselves taking the lead and investing in their own low-cost, small-scale irrigation systems. . . .

And from the Nutters Club NZ:
:) kindest, Boris


Rural round-up

November 19, 2013

Lipstick doesn’t hide the ugly truth – Allan Barber:

Silver Fern Farms released its annual loss accompanied by a press release which attempted to put some gloss on what was in reality an awful result. It was an improvement on the year before, a matter of some pride on the teleconference this morning, but a $36.5 million loss was only $5.8 million less than the previous year.

The main improvement was in the cash flow deficit which at $5.1 million was a lot better than the deficit of $104 million in 2012. Nevertheless chairman Eoin Garden’s statement that ‘the equity position at 39% (down from 41%) is healthy and the business platform is sound and competitive’ is a matter for debate and looks suspiciously like applying lipstick to a pig. . .

$56,000 for feed – Geraldine Panapasa:

THE shortage of copra meal in the dairy industry has forced the Fiji Cooperative Dairy Industry Limited Company to look to its regional neighbour for assistance in supplying supplementary feed.

Cooperative chief executive Sachida Nand said four containers from the Solomon Islands carrying 85 tonnes of palm kernels had arrived in Fiji to supplement the major shortage in copra meal and cost the company about $56,000.

He said two containers of the supplementary feed arrived last month and more were expected in the future. . .

Still too early for full assessment of lost trees:

The Farm Forestry Association says it’s too early yet to know how many of the trees lost in the spring storms in Canterbury will be replaced.

Well over 1 million tonnes of timber were lying on the ground throughout Canterbury and further afield in September and October.

Entire shelter belts were knocked down and some commercial plantations and woodlots were badly damaged.

National president Ian Jackson of Canterbury said the priority at the moment is to get the clean-up done. . .

FarmIQ and Fronde put the smarts into farming

 In collaboration with technology company Fronde, FarmIQ has created an online farm management system that helps farmers produce a red meat product that will consistently meet consumer preferences and provide better returns.

FarmIQ, co-funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries, Landcorp and Silver Fern Farms was established to transform the nearly $8 billion annual export red meat industry through innovative technology. . .

New code of practice requirement for aerially-assisted trophy hunting:

The proposed new Game Animal Council will have a new responsibility of developing and applying a code of practice for aerially-assisted trophy hunting, Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today.

“Hunters and other backcountry users are concerned that certain aerially- assisted trophy hunting methods undermine their recreation through un-sportsman-like hunting. They have lobbied to prevent the practices of shooting from the helicopter, or using the helicopter to herd animals towards the hunter or exhaust them through the practice of hazing,” Dr Smith says. . .


Rural round-up

November 7, 2013

DairyNZ ramps up investment in environmental area:

DairyNZ is boosting dairy farmers’ investment in the environmental area by 61 percent in this financial year, from $6.7 million to $11 million as part of its efforts to meet its commitments under the new Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord and the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management.

DairyNZ Chief Executive, Tim Mackle, says the environmental portfolio is helping farmers boost profits while lowering their environmental impact, supporting farmer-led waterway improvement projects and investing in nutrient management research and resources. “It also supports our industry’s new dairy farming strategy and our objective to have proactive environmental stewardship.

“Biosecurity is also a big investment at $16 million but even this funding has environmental benefits as we are the largest non-government funder of the TBfree programme that focuses a lot on possum control with clear biodiversity benefits,” he says. . .

Landcorp focus will stay at home – Alan Williams:

Landcorp is getting approaches to develop and manage farms overseas but is busy enough in New Zealand.

The magnitude of its work in NZ and the opportunities ahead made expansion offshore unlikely, new chief executive Steven Carden said.

Three months into his posting at the State-owned farmer, he is working through a strategy review with the board, taking stock of where they are and the opportunities ahead. . .

Challenges to food industry for feeding the world:

Finding innovative ways to utilise waste, a greater focus on consumer driven research, and increased Government investment are just some of the challenges facing the food industry in New Zealand according to Lincoln University’s Professor of Food Science, Charles Brennan .

Professor Brennan was speaking as part of the Foods for Now and the Future Forum held at Lincoln University last week. The forum was arranged by the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science and the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology.

On the subject of wastage in food production and consumption he noted that some 50% of packaged salad greens and 40% of bread and cereals may be discarded in some countries around the world. However, utilising smarter production methods and taking a more innovative approach when it comes to wastage could mean up to one billion people could be fed worldwide. . .

Fonterra Strengthens Its Position in Australia:

Fonterra has today further strengthened its position in the Australian dairy industry by acquiring the assets of Tasmanian yoghurt business, Tamar Valley Dairy.

Under the agreement, Fonterra will acquire the processing equipment, the related services, and intellectual property and trademark for the Tamar Valley Dairy brand. The acquisition is effective towards the end of November (subject to completion of the sale), with the exact date to be confirmed.

“Fonterra is a long-standing partner of Tamar Valley Dairy, and has supported and worked closely with the administrators of the family-owned business during what has recently been a difficult period for the Tasmanian business and its founders,” said Judith Swales, Managing Director, Fonterra Australia. . .

Aussie cattle empire sale fails, amid land wrangle:

A second huge Australian cattle operation has had trouble selling, with the North Australian Pastoral Company being withdrawn from the market, amid tough industry conditions and a growing debate over land ownership.

North Australian Pastoral Company’s ruling Foster family has taken down the for sale sign after six months of marketing the 58,000-square kilometre (14.3m acre) property – an area nearly twice the size of Belgium and nearly as big as the US state of West Virginia – failed to attract an “acceptable proposal”.

Besides the Foster family’s 61% stake in Napco, a 34% stake held by London-listed plantations group MP Evans was also up for sale. . .

New Directors Appointed to Board of Aotearoa Fisheries Limited:

Te Ohu Kaimoana (the Maori Fisheries Trust) has appointed three new directors to the board of Aotearoa Fisheries Limited.

Mr Anthony Hannon, a merchant banker with extensive experience in tax consulting, private equity and asset management, and Ms Liz Ward (Ngāti Porou), a former Chief Executive of Deep Cove Fisheries and Wellington’s CentrePort, have been appointed for a term of three-years. Mr Alan Gourdie, an Auckland-based consultant with international management and marketing experience as a chief executive and director, has been appointed for a two-year term from 1 November. . .

Nominations in for Silver Fern Farms’ Director Elections:

Three nominations have been received for the two positions on the Silver Fern Farms’ Board of Directors.

Eoin Garden and David Shaw retire by rotation at the Company’s 2013 Annual Meeting which is to be held in Dunedin on 18 December 2013.

Eoin Garden has advised he will not be standing for re-election and will therefore retire at the Annual Meeting. David Shaw has advised that he will stand for re-election.

The candidates for election are:

Dan Jex-Blake
David Shaw
Richard Young . . .


Rural round-up

October 17, 2013

Overseas experience to boost FMD preparation:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced that a delegation of 10 veterinarians, farming leaders and MPI staff will take part in foot and mouth disease (FMD) training in Asia next year to experience working with the disease first hand.

“While the major focus is always on preventing FMD, it is also very important that we are prepared to respond to such an outbreak quickly and effectively if it ever did happen.

“The training will develop a larger pool of people in New Zealand with experience in recognising, diagnosing and controlling the disease.

“This is the latest initiative in a major 18-month programme of work, which involves the Ministry for Primary Industries and an industry working group working together on key projects,” says Mr Guy. . .

End of an era for southern cooperatives – Allan Barber:

Alliance Group chairman Owen Poole retired at the end of September after five years on the board and 15 in top management roles, while Eoin Garden, Silver Fern Farms’ chairman since 2007 is retiring at the AGM in December.

Both men in different ways have provided notably determined leadership of their respective companies through particularly difficult times for the meat industry. Although each will retire with some regrets at not being able to lead the way to a permanent recovery, it will be a relief to step back from the limelight and leave the battle to their successors.

Poole has been succeeded by North Canterbury farmer Murray Taggart who ironically was voted off the Alliance board at the same AGM as previous chairman John Turner, resulting in Poole being appointed the company’s first independent chairman. That was a consequence of farmer disaffection with low lamb prices, so in spite of some recovery before the last price drop nothing much has really changed. . .

Rise of corporate dairying in China:

A new report says China’s dairy industry is undergoing a massive restructuring, with traditional small farmers departing to make way for large-scale commerical dairying operations.

Rabobank’s report China’s Raw Milk Supply – Still Dreaming of a White River says the rapid changes taking place in China will have an impact on its demand for imports.

Co-author Hayley Moynihan says the restructuring is limiting China’s domestic milk flow. She says as the supply chain restructures, is it put under pressure in terms of its ability to increase the volume of quality raw milk supplies.

Ms Moynihan says the Chinese Government has taken significant action to improve milk quality since the melamine crisis in 2008. . .

Evolving a truly customer-centric industry:

New Zealand’s primary sector needs to develop a customer-centric approach to its marketing – by creating products with unique attributes that are sought after by global consumers.

That was a key theme of the just-released Volume 3 of the KPMG Agribusiness Agenda, titled “Evolving a truly customer-centric industry”.

KPMG’s Global Head of Agribusiness, Ian Proudfoot, says the sector needs to replace its traditional ‘trading mentality’ with a more targeted approach.

“Those customers who see the most value in what we produce – and are consequently willing to pay a higher price for the attributes they value – must be at the centre of everything we do.” . .

A primer of water quality – Clive Howard-Williams at Waiology:

Society is increasingly concerned over water quality. The means by which this is maintained and enhanced while growing an economy is a major challenge for governments in many places. Here I introduce some underlying concepts around water quality that Waiology followers will need to appreciate when they look at the forthcoming series of blogs.

What is good water quality?

Rather than just being a set of defined scientific numbers, water quality is rather a perception defined by communities and it varies from place to place and between communities. What is seen as poor water quality by some may be adequate for others. Generally however, good quality is usually recognized as water that is safely drinkable, swimmable and from where food may be gathered and that provides for community spiritual and cultural needs and for healthy ecosystems. . .

Happy World Food Day:

We all love to eat, but make sure that as you celebrate World Food Day today you spare a thought today for those who don’t have enough to eat.

‘Across the world 842 million people still suffer from chronic malnutrition, including a growing number in the developed world’, said HRLA chairperson Edward Miller, ‘and the latest New Zealand food security study reported that less than 6 in 10 NZ households are food secure.’ . .


Rural round-up

October 14, 2013

Low wool supply puzzles exporters:

Wool industry representatives are trying to unravel the mystery of an unexpected drop in the amount of wool coming forward for auction.

Thursday’s South Island sale had fewer than 8000 bales on offer, which was about 40% below the amount which had been anticipated, while the amount of wool for next week’s North Island sale is 25% lower than what had been rostered.

That’s even more of a surprise, as recent North Island sales have been offering more than the amount forecast. . .

Garden stepping down at SFF – Alan Williams:

Silver Fern Farms will be looking for a new chairman, after Eoin Garden retires from the board at the annual meeting in December.

Garden, a Central Otago farmer, has been chairman of New Zealand’s biggest meat processor and exporter since early 2008.

He was elected to the board in 1998 and is the longest-serving of the current directors. . .

Cricketers to front Indian venutre – Annette Scott:

An exclusive supply contract with meat processor and exporter Alliance Group has set the wheels in motion for fledgling company QualityNZ to build a meat trade with India.

QualityNZ has spent the past three years “under the radar” devising strategy to set up a market for New Zealand sheep meat in India.

Building around NZ and India’s sporting relationships, cricketing stars Brendon McCullum, Stephen Fleming, and Daniel Vettori will play a big part in the marketing and profile of the new meat trade.

All three cricketers have a shareholding in QualityNZ alongside the two major shareholders, former NZ fast bowler Geoff Allott and NZ Cricket Board member and Geoff Thin. . .

Keep it clean:

RURAL CONTRACTORS are being reminded to make sure their machinery is cleaned between jobs to ensure that plant pests and weeds are not spread around on dirty gear.

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) president Steve Levet says dirty machines carry soil, seeds, and organic matter, which could dislodge when it’s next used and spread contamination to new sites.

“Soil-borne pests and diseases can be transferred in wet soil attached to wheels, tracks or parts of the machine that work in the ground. While some pests and disease can also be transferred in dust that can accumulate on many parts of the machine – engine bay, cabins and air intakes,” Levet explains. . .

NZ merino a winner during America’s Cup – Tim Cronshaw:

New Zealand may have lost the America’s Cup, but some consolation can be taken from 5500 meals of merino-branded lamb being served up at a pop-up restaurant on the San Francisco waterfront to diners including film actor Tom Cruise.

The branded lamb meat, Silere alpine origin merino, was a winner among supporters of the race won last month by the United States Oracle team led by Kiwi Sir Russell Coutts and bankrolled by billionaire Larry Ellison.

More than 1.4 tonnes of merino lamb was dished up during the 12 weeks of the America’s Cup at the Waiheke Island Yacht Club pop-up restaurant at the Embarcadero in San Francisco which will remain open until the end of the year. . .

Dairy man jumps on asparagus bandwagon:

THIRTY FIVE years ago Geoff Lewis left his parent’s small dairy farm to seek his fortune in the sheep and cattle industry.

Today Lewis has added a dairy farm to his business, but asparagus growing has propelled him to prominence as a highly regarded grower using technology for maximum profit.

“When Liz and I got married, I went and managed a coastal sheep and beef farm and forestry block north of Foxton. My employer there was keen to diversify. In the late 1970’s the catchcry was ‘diversify’ and there were goats, deer, kiwifruit – all embryonic. 

“MAF had an advisory office supporting diversification by farmers so we investigated and decided perhaps asparagus was a good option for the free-draining sands of the west coast.” . . .


Rural round-up

April 30, 2013

New Lincoln Hub plans unveiled:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have today unveiled concept plans for a world-class agricultural research and education facility to be sited at Lincoln, near Christchurch.

The Lincoln Hub concept plans and business proposal have been developed by a partnership of Lincoln University, DairyNZ and Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) AgResearch, Plant & Food Research, and Landcare Research.

“The Lincoln Hub has the potential to transform New Zealand’s farming productivity by providing a one-stop shop allowing information and ideas to be shared more easily,” Mr Joyce says. “Internationally, science and innovation parks that collect together public and private organisations in one place drive a lot of education, science and innovation. The Lincoln Hub can achieve this for New Zealand farming.” . .

AgResearch capitalises its strengths to boost science:

A mammoth $100 million investment in AgResearch’s core science resource will help boost its potential to support exports from the primary industries in reaching $60 billion by 2025, on current policy settings.

“It is no secret that some of AgResearch’s physical scientific infrastructure is getting a bit creaky,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President.

“It was a genuine pleasure to be at the unveiling of an impressive roadmap that will also see the “hubbing” of primary research capabilities at and with Lincoln University. . .

Meat Industry excellence Group campaign warms up – Allan Barber:

The MIE organised farmer meeting in Feilding on Friday was attended by about 700 farmers which one speaker from the floor compared unfavourably with 2000 at the Drought Shout. However there is obviously an increasing level of support for substantial change to the meat industry’s operating method which results in volatile market returns.

Alliance and Silver Fern Farms were both represented and the respective chairmen, Owen Poole and EoinGarden, spoke in support of the group’s aims. Poole told the meeting the industry was working constructively to develop an improved model which was simpler than MIE’s plan and it was important to ensure the two plans were complementary. . .

MPI’s loss is LIC’s gain but Primary still comes out on top:

The resignation of Wayne McNee, Ministry for Primary Industries Director-General, to take up the position of Chief Executive at Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), will still see this talented person working in and for New Zealand’s primary industries.

“This role shows the versatility of Wayne who has performed to a very high standard with the public service and now departs for a high profile leadership role in a company important to New Zealand agriculture,” says Bruce Wills, President of Federated Farmers.

“Wayne has put the Ministry on the right path for farmers following the merger of the old MAF with the Ministry of Fisheries. I feel disappointed in one regard because he leaves it, just when we are starting to see the fruits of his work appear in this new and dynamic Ministry. . .

Budget 2012; support for frontline conservation work:

An additional $20 million over four years has been allocated to the Department of Conservation in Budget 2013 to provide for additional frontline roles and the upgrade of recreational facilities, Conservation Minister Nick Smith announced today.

“The four year funding package complements the Government’s recently announced tourism investment. It recognises that DOC is the Government’s primary agency responsible for providing infrastructure, visitor services and nature-based experiences that support the tourism industry,” Dr Smith says. . .

Innovative Dairy Companies Form Partnership to Boost Exports:

Two of New Zealand’s most innovative dairy companies are forming a partnership to boost exports to one of the world’s fastest growing consumer markets.

Synlait Milk will next month despatch the first consignment of a2® Platinum™ infant formula destined for mothers and infants in China. a2 milk™ contains only the A2 version of the beta casein protein which is more comparable to protein that mothers naturally produce than other versions of the beta casein protein found in standard milk.

Synlait Milk will be processing a2 milk™ from 10 suppliers from August this year and will further expand production to meet the requirements of A2 Corporation when a2® Platinum™ infant formula becomes available to mothers in New Zealand and Australia later this year. . .

Brancott Estate Celebrates the End of a “Sensational” Vintage:

Vineyard beats the weather to harvest pristine, flavoursome fruit

Early predictions of an outstanding vintage have proven true for Brancott Estate, the pioneers of the original Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, who have successfully completed harvest ahead of autumn rain, and with fruit that bears all the characteristics of the region.

“The season has been so dry until now and this has delivered a sensational vintage for Marlborough” says Patrick Materman, Chief Winemaker for Brancott Estate. “While we’ve enjoyed the sunshine, it hasn’t been a particularly warm season, tracking around the long-term average in terms of Growing Degree Days. This, combined with the lack of rain, is a real positive for vineyards. The dry conditions mean pristine fruit development and allow us to make harvest decisions based on optimal flavour development, while the relatively cool temperatures ensure the aromatic expression and balance of natural acidity that has made Marlborough famous.” . .


Sheep industry in farmers’ hands

March 19, 2013

Alliance Group chair Owen Poole suggested a mega-merger of 80% of meat companies several years ago.

That idea was scuttled by Silver Fern Farms.

The 80% model has resurfaced as one of six principles put forward by the Meat Industry Excellence Group which attracted hundreds of farmers to a meeting in Gore yesterday .

• Up to 80% of red meat processed and marketed by one ”coalition of the willing” structure.
• Identify and extract best personnel and strategies. Contracting of stock to specification; need to commit to a company.
• Legislation required to support new structure be sought.
• All participants to fund restructuring.
• Suppliers to be treated fairly, equally and with full transparency.

This time both major companies appear to be supportive.

However, they are also aware of the costs and challenges:

. . . Alliance Group chairman Owen Poole said there was not a meat processor or exporter in the country that did not think a better model should be employed.

Alliance Group and Silver Fern Farms had been talking for some time about that prospect and were still in discussions. One of the group’s principles was for up to 80% of the red meat processed and marketed by one ”coalition of the willing” structure.

Silver Fern Farms chairman Eoin Garden said that was a ”huge challenge”.

”Look how the dairy industry is fragmented because all of a sudden when you get a major player … Federated Farmers or farming leaders get up and say we need another player in the industry to keep the big fellow honest,” Mr Garden said. . .

Merging the two big co-operatives could be a first step but it would be a very expensive one:

Mr Poole warned a merger of the co-operatives would mean they would bear the burden of the amalgamation costs. There were significant costs in that, which should be shared across the industry, whether you were a co-operative supplier or non co-operative supplier. He estimated it at between $250 million and $300 million and asked co-operative suppliers if they wanted to ”pick that up on your own”.

He urged those present to be careful with the process and to ”get it right”.

The biggest challenge is to get all farmers on one page.

Farmers always want a better price than their neighbours and what they say they want for the industry and what they do in their own operations are often very different.

There is too much capacity but how much is enough?

What would be happening now if farmers having to cull their flocks because of drought couldn’t get killing space and what would that do to the already low prices they’re receiving?

Who’s willing to pay the very high costs of plant closures?

The answers are in farmers’ hands – all could now choose to sign up each season to supply one or other of the co-operatives and if most did the smaller companies would be squeezed out of the market.


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