Rural round-up

January 25, 2019

UK agreement ensures status quo for exporters  – Sally Rae:

The signing of a veterinary agreement between the United Kingdom and New Zealand will provide reassurance to farmers and exporters, Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Sam McIvor says.

Uncertainty has prevailed in the red meat sector since the Brexit vote in 2016. The UK accounted for $560million worth of the sector’s exports, dominated by sheepmeat which represented 85% of that total.

In a joint statement with Beef + Lamb, Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie said the signing of the agreement, together with recent advice from the UK about the acceptance of EU health certificates post-March 29, meant the sector was assured existing regulations would remain the same. . .

Elers’ life wrapped up in wool – Alan Williams:

 Tina Elers is working seven days a week but is still finding time to improve her fitness ahead of the World Shearing Championship in France later this year. She also found time to talk to Alan Williams about her busy life.

Thirty years into her wool-classing career Tina Elers is as busy as ever and very motivated.

When some might think it is time to slow down she’s working a seven-day week around Southland, weather permitting, and doing extra fitness work. . .

Milk production record possible – Sally Rae:

 Milk production is on track to set a record this season as the risk of drought derailing it continues to recede.

Earlier in the season, an increasing chance of an El Nino weather pattern this summer was raised and the expectation was the associated dry conditions could crimp production later in the season.

Yesterday, ASB senior rural economist Nathan Penny said relatively healthy soil moisture levels suggested production should “kick on” over the next few months. . .

Surplus research farm gets the chop– Annette Scott:

More than 70 years of agriculture history will go under the hammer when AgResearch sells its Mid Canterbury research farm next month.

Bought in 1946 to provide local research into the use of border-dyke irrigation with long-term fertiliser trials started in the 1950s, the Winchmore research farm has contributed to more than 500 science publications.

But AgResearch has called time on its 72 years. . .

Farmer living the dream on Ponui island :

Living on an island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf has its perks for sheep and beef farmer George Watson.

The 26-year-old works on one of three farms on Ponui Island, which lies southeast of Waiheke Island.

The picturesque island has rolling grass-covered hills, pockets of bush and sheltered bays with white sandy beaches.

Agria rep to step down as Wrightson chair by June 26 – Jenny Ruth:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson says current chair Joo Hai Lee will step down before June 28 but that the board will continue its governance review in the meantime.

Lee represents Wrightson’s former majority shareholder, Singapore-registered Agria, and took over as chair in early November after Agria principal Alan Lai abruptly resigned the day before the scheduled annual shareholders’ meeting.

Wrightson says in a statement that the board “will provide an update in the near future regarding the outcomes of the review and the chair’s appointment.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

May 31, 2016

Japanese visit source of their wool – Sally Rae:

Delegates from Japanese suit maker Konaka were treated to a Kiwi farm experience and more when they visited Closeburn Station this week.

Gimmerburn farmer Tony Clarke gave a karate demonstration, a passion of his and one of the reasons he is so interested in Japanese culture.

His family’s relationship with the Tokyo stock exchange listed company has been “going from strength to strength” since initial contact in 2012, he said. . . 

Demonstration farm turning to dairying:

Southland Demonstration Farm (SDF) at Wallacetown, near Invercargill, is changing from operating a leased farm to establishing the Southern Dairy Hub.

SDF chairman Maurice Hardie commended the vision of Pam Brock and her late husband Stephen for the provision of their farm, which had contributed immensely to raising the profile and productivity of dairy farming in Southland.

“Nine years ago, farm owners Stephen and Pam Brock made their Wallacetown dairy farm available to the southern dairy industry to showcase dairy farming in Southland. . . 

Farming through drought easier with software:

A farmer struck by two years of drought says farm management software is helping him make timely decisions and get better results.

Rob Lawson farms with his brother Willie and father Jim on the 2300ha family farm Moana, just north of Dunedin.

While many parts of the East Coast seem to have dodged the predicted El Nino, Rob says it has been “very typical” in their area over the past two years. In fact the rainfall has even been lower this year than the worst drought his father has experienced before now – in 1998 and 1999. “That’s East Coast farming, and that’s what we’ve got to contend with,” Rob says.

Despite the severity of the drought, so far they have not lowered their capital stock numbers at all. Rob puts that down to close monitoring of stock. .  .

Bank of China NZ unit funds Chinese-NZ mission to boost tradeBy Tina Morrison

 (BusinessDesk) – Bank of China, one of the country’s biggest lenders, funded 55 of its Chinese company clients to meet with 120 Kiwi agricultural businesses in a bid to grow trade and help meet its goal of becoming the largest Chinese bank in New Zealand.

The bank flew over two to three representatives from each Chinese company and hosted 348 matchmaking sessions, which have so far resulted in at least four Memorandums of Understanding between firms to work together. A similar venture for 20 second-tier e-commerce companies in November last year helped local manufacturers export US$3 million in the first quarter of this year, it said. . . 

Don’t let velvetleaf hitch a ride on Gypsy Day:

This Gypsy Day, farmers are being urged to avoid moving the invasive pest weed velvetleaf along with their stock.

June 1 marks the first day of the new dairying season where thousands of sharemilkers load their cows into stock trucks or herd stock on roads and move equipment and families to new farms.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) cautions that the mass movement of stock and equipment could also move velvetleaf seed to other properties. . . 


Rural round-up

November 26, 2015

Farmers on knife-edge as land dries out:

Evidence of a dry El Nino summer is beginning to be seen in Canterbury, and has farmers worried.

Federated Farmers president William Rolleston said the region is not seeing a lot of rain and the nor’west winds are already drying things out.

Fire restrictions have been put in place for the rural district of Selwyn, as have restrictions on taking water from the Opuha dam. . . 

Opuha Dam at 80% capacity:

Early irrigation restrictions have helped South Canterbury’s Opuha Dam reach 80 percent of its capacity.

But with little rain expected in the coming months, farmers are being warned this summer could be harder than last.

The irrigation water supply from the dam was turned off for the first time in its 17 years of operation last February as a result of the drought. . . 

North Canterbury irrigaition proposal rejected:

Independent Hearing Commissioners appointed by Environment Canterbury have rejected a proposal to take water from a North Canterbury stream for irrigation and power generation.

The Kakapo Brook runs through Glynn Wye Station and co-applicants Rooney Group – owner of the station – and Mainpower proposed taking up to 1600 litres per second, to fill two large storage dams on the farm totaling 1 million cubic metres.

The water would be used for irrigating 500 hectares of the high country property and providing hydropower generation. . . .

Fonterra says 2016 forecast payout tied to dairy prices rising next year – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group has affirmed guidance for the 2016 milk payout to farmers, although chairman John Wilson said it was dependent on global dairy prices rising in the first half of next year from current unsustainable levels.

The world’s largest dairy exporter has forecast a farmgate milk price of $4.60 per kilogram of milk solids and a cash dividend of 35-to-40 cents per share for a total payout of $4.95/kgMS to $5/kgMS. . . .

Fonterra targets doubling of China revenue within five years, Spierings says – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s largest dairy exporter, has set a target of becoming the number one dairy player in China and doubling its business in the country to $10 billion within the next five years.

Speaking at the cooperative’s annual meeting in Waitoa today, chief executive Theo Spierings said the new plan meant China could become 25 percent to 30 percent of total revenue.

When asked whether that would expose the cooperative to too much risk in one country, Spierings said China’s provinces could almost be regarded as countries in their own right. . . 

Results of shareholder voting at Fonterra AGM:

Fonterra shareholders have voted to pass seven of the eleven resolutions at this year’s Annual Meeting.

Resolutions eight, nine, ten and eleven, which were special resolutions put forward by Fonterra shareholders, were not passed. The Board and Shareholders’ Council had earlier recommended that shareholders vote against these resolutions.

The results of the resolutions are:

Resolution result / % in favour

Resolution 1: Approval of remuneration of Directors / 85.32%

Resolution 2: Approval of remuneration of Shareholders’ Council / 83.36% . . .

New technologies a paradigm shift for strong wool:

In a move to improve the returns of New Zealand strong wool growers, Wools of New Zealand (WNZ) has entered into a commercial agreement with to acquire the exclusive global rights to an innovative scour and dying process providing new opportunities for New Zealand strong wool previously only the domain of man-made synthetic fibres.

The two innovative technologies will considerably improve the ‘white and bright’ properties of strong wool, along with colour fastness enhancements that will provide a “paradigm shift” in the demand for end products using strong wool. . . .

Texel Poll Dorset Cross wins Mint Lamb Competition:

Hawarden farmer, and long-time corriedale exhibitor, Andrew Sidey took out the 2015 Mint Lamb Competition at the Canterbury A&P Show on November 11. His texel/poll dorset lamb was judged as the country’s best from paddock to plate.

This year the competition had an overhaul with the overall winner being decided on a combination of yield, tender test and taste results as opposed to just taste alone.

Mr Sidey drafted the lamb himself, and after entering for the past four years, believes that experience helped him take out the win. . . 

2016 Beef and Lamb Excellence Awards / Ambassador Chefs to be Announced:

Mark your calendars: The 2016 Beef and Lamb Excellence Award holders will be announced on Tuesday 1 December, alongside five new Beef and Lamb Ambassador Chefs.

The announcement will take place as part of an exclusive 5 course degustation dinner, specially prepared by the five new Ambassador Chefs, on Tuesday December 1 at The James in Auckland.

The 2016 announcement is a special occasion as it marks the 20th anniversary of the Excellence Awards, establishing them as the longest running culinary awards in New Zealand. . . .

Week to Go Til Dairy Awards Entries Close:

There is [less than]a week to go until entries close in the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, including the Share Farmer of the Year, Dairy Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions.

Entries are being accepted online at www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz and close at midnight on November 30.

General Manager Chris Keeping says there have been 360 entries received to date, including 358 who entered in time to be eligible for the Early Bird Entry Prize Draw of $12,000 in travel vouchers and spending money*. . . 


Rural round-up

November 11, 2015

Push for Fonterra board cut takes to road

The board of New Zealand’s biggest company is not the place to learn how to be a director, says an advocate of cutting Fonterra’s board size to improve performance.

Former Fonterra director Colin Armer told about 30 farmer-shareholders at Tatuanui, Waikato that the Fonterra board should not be a “training ground” for “junior directors”. 

Aspiring farmer directors needed to come to the board having had commercial governance experience “outside – not through the (Fonterra) shareholders’ council”, said the large-scale dairying businessman.

Armer and former Fonterra deputy chairman Greg Gent are meeting shareholders who want to hear more about their call for voter support at this month’s Fonterra annual meeting for their resolution to reduce board members from 13 to nine. . . 

Drone technology makes mustering easy in North Otago – Daisy Hudson:

A North Otago couple have taken to the skies with a revolutionary new method of herding stock on their Kurow farm.

Janina and Justin Slee are using a drone to muster hard-to-reach cattle on their property near Mount Domett, and the technology has revolutionised the way they operate their farm.

After hearing about the drone at a show in Wanaka about six months ago, the couple decided to bite the bullet and try the technology on their own farm. . . 

Conservation ‘cornerstone’ of tourism – Stacey Bryant:

Southern tourism operator Real Journeys won a Conservation Week Award for protecting the kakapo and whio (blue duck) and also ridding the Walter Peak area of wilding pines and restoring land. Commercial director talks to Stacey Bryant.

What is it about conservation work that got your company interested and continues to interest it?

In the 61 years that Real Journeys has been operating, conservation work has always interested us.

Real Journeys founder Les Hutchins made the now famous quote (back in 1998): ”Today I am more convinced than ever before that conservation is the real cornerstone of New Zealand’s tourism industry. Tourism and conservation need each other for mutual survival and the right direction to go is to take more notice of conservation issues, not less.” . . .

Making it sexy – David Anderson:

The Government has set a target to increase the value of New Zealand’s food sector exports from $25 billion to $60b, meaning there will be an additional 50,000 jobs in the primary sector by 2025.

What must we do to encourage NZ’s best and brightest to look to the primary sector for a career?

According to John Brackenridge, the head of Merino New Zealand and the leader of the chief executives’ agri-bootcamp scheme that takes industry high-flyers to the United States, the current messaging aimed at attracting young people into the agri sector is unappealing and the wrong people are involved in that messaging. . . .

Get ready for the big dry:

Vets are encouraging farmers to prepare for a dry summer and to figure out how best to manage livestock through this time.

The NZ Veterinary Association (NZVA) says forecasters are predicting that the already strong El Nino conditions of spring 2015 will continue over summer and into autumn 2016 and it could rank amongst the four strongest El Nino events recorded along with 1972-73, 1982-83 and 1997-98.

“During El Nino NZ tends to experience stronger or more frequent winds from the west in summer, leading to drier conditions in the north and east, and more rain in the west,” it warns. . . 

What Indonesia wants – Melissa Aisthorpe:

INDONESIA’S growing demand for food imports holds much opportunity for Australian exporters beyond the cattle industry.

The real value of agrifood consumption in Indonesia is projected to quadruple between 2009 and 2050, on the back of expected sustained economic growth, population increase and continued urbanisation.

That’s according to a new report, What Indonesia wants: Analysis of Indonesia’s food demand to 2050 from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Science (ABARES). The report is set to be discussed at the 19th Indonesia–Australia Working Group on Agriculture, Food and Forestry Cooperation this week. . .

 


DOC approves land swap for Ruataniwha

October 5, 2015

The Department of Conservation has approved a land swap which is necessary if the Ruataniwha irrigation scheme is to go ahead:

An application by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company to exchange land required for the Ruataniwha water storage scheme has been approved by DOC Director General Lou Sanson.

Lou Sanson says he has approved the land exchange because it will mean a net gain for conservation.

The decision means that the Department of Conservation will receive approximately 170 hectares of private land containing beech forest and regenerating native bush, in return for 22 hectares of the Ruahine Forest Park.

“The public will gain three times the area of black beech forest under this proposal, plus the new land will extend and complement the adjacent Gwavas Conservation Area,” he says.

The 170 hectare exchange block also includes two additional wetland sites, and is promising habitat for skinks and geckos, he says.

“On the other hand, the 22 hectares to be removed from the Ruahine Forest Park has been heavily logged in the past, is partly infested with weeds such as willow and Darwin’s barberry and contains a former house site,” Lou Sanson says.

Mr Sanson says the decision follows a thorough and open public process and the careful assessment of the ecological values of both sites.

The Director General has decided to revoke the protected status of the 22 hectares of Ruahine Forest Park to enable the exchange to take place.

Under the Conservation Act, proposed land exchanges must result in an overall conservation gain for public conservation land and promote the purposes of the Act.

“I believe this land exchange well and truly meets that test,” he says.

Lou Sanson says the land exchange is conditional on the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company undertaking extra conservation programmes to help eradicate wilding pines from the exchange land and to restore whio/blue duck habitat.

The exchange is also conditional on the Ruataniwha water storage scheme going ahead.

In a separate decision, the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company will be required to trap and transfer native fish species present at the dam site.

Full details of the decision are here.

The El Niño forecast predicts drought for much of the east coasts of both the North and South Islands this summer.

North Otago has had less than half its annual rainfall and the drought which struck North Canterbury last year still hasn’t broken.

Hawkes Bay had a deluge a couple of weeks ago but if the forecast is right, it won’t get much more this summer.

Any farmers on dry land who could afford to take up irrigation and haven’t yet, need to think of the next generation.

As my farmer told a meeting on the scheme when we were in Hawkes Bay a couple of years ago – think ahead fifty years. Do you want your grandchildren thanking you, or calling you silly old Bs for passing up the opportunity to drought-proof your farms.


Rural round-up

September 5, 2015

Rumours of Silver Fern Farms China deal – Sally Rae:

Farmers have been urged not to be ”seduced” by short-term gains as rumours swirl that an announcement by Silver Fern Farms of a 50-50 joint venture with a Chinese company is imminent.

Heriot farmer Allan Richardson, who has led a group of shareholders seeking a meeting to discuss a possible merger with Alliance Group, believed foreign ownership of the co-operative was ”just around the corner”.

Mr Richardson expected Silver Fern Farms could make an announcement to farmers within the next week. . .

Stick to your guns Mr Groser – Andrew Hoggard:

When examining the current low dairy payout there are a number of factors that come into play.

One overriding issue is the protected nature of dairy trade throughout the world. For some strange reason, dairy seems to be one of the most protected food commodities.

This high level of protection means there is only a small global market for dairy products that are freely traded and so, if we get even the slightest market shock, you get quite a big price fluctuation whether it’s up or down.

For me, this emphasises how critically important breaking down trade barriers are for New Zealand’s prosperity not only on farm, but for all those regional economies that rely so heavily on agriculture. . . 

Farmers fear return to ‘desert’ conditions:

A farmer in the heart of the North Canterbury drought says a prolonged dry spell brought on by El Niño will put already struggling farmers in dire straits.

Vince Daily, who runs a 160 hectare cropping farm in Cheviot, said the NIWA weather station on his farm showed the soil moisture level was at 30 percent, rather than the normal 100 percent it is at at this time of year.

Mr Daily said any drought caused by El Niño would just be a continuation of the current conditions.

“We could lose 2 or 3 percent moisture a day and in 20 days you could be back to looking like a desert again,” he said. . .

Building a talent pipeline with New Zealand Young Farmers:

Being part of a TeenAg club at high school kept Northland teenager Sam Moscrip in school longer than he had intended, and it has opened him up to many new possibilities in the primary industries.

The TeenAg club format has been developed by New Zealand Young Farmers as a way for younger people to get started with the movement.

Young Farmers are taking a “pipeline” approach, explains NZYF chief executive Terry Copeland, developing a format to suit each age group around the Young Farmers set-up. New Zealand Young Farmers has existed for more than 80 years and is for people aged 16 to 31. . .

Decision time for dairy support farmers – Rick Powdrell:

As the New Zealand dairy industry has expanded rapidly in recent years so too has the dairy support farm.

So what is the dairy downturn going to mean for the dairy support farmer?

This is an important question which needs some serious thought by both sides of the industry.

Already we have seen many dairy animals not go out to the previously arranged winter feed.

Thankfully for those farmers who had grown this feed, the Mainland drought and North Island floods meant there was an alternative option to sell it. . . 

Calf rearing popular again – Tim Fulton:

Rearing calves on weight gain has leapt back into fashion on dairy units around the country.

A beef-cross calf reared to 100kg may have netted a dairy farmer $400-$500 this season, PGG Wrightson general manager of livestock Peter Moore said.

“If you look over the country there’s been a lot more calves reared than in the past,” he said.Farmers were rearing good Friesian bull calves or the male offspring of Angus or Hereford cows mated late in previous seasons. . .

Wool world record: 40kg fleece shorn off overgrown sheep RSPCA says:

Wool shorn off an overgrown sheep found near Canberra on Wednesday has set an “unofficial” world record for the heaviest fleece removed in one shearing, the RSPCA says.

The sheep, dubbed Chris, underwent a risky shearing operation to remove 40.45 kilograms of wool.

It smashed the previous world record held by a sheep in New Zealand called Shrek, whose fleece weighed 27 kilograms. . .

NZ wool trades at record high amid tight supply – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand wool is trading at record high prices, pushed up by strong demand and limited supply, though the outlook is murky.

The price for clean 29-micron wool changed hands at a record $10.45 a kilogram at yesterday’s North Island auction, up from $9.95/kg at the previous North Island auction on Aug. 13, according to AgriHQ. Meanwhile, the price for 27-micron wool jumped to $10.90/kg, up from $10.70/kg at the previous North Island auction and at its highest level since October 2002, AgriHQ said. . . 

Solutions sought for saving summer fruit:

Combating pests and diseases of tree-based crops and summer fruits was the target of the latest MG Marketing ‘Growing You’ workshop held recently at Lincoln.

MG Marketing, a co-operative organization that has over 90 year of successful record of growing, distributing and selling a comprehensive range of fresh vegetables and fruit, in collaboration with Lincoln University, the Biological Husbandry Unit (BHU) and the Bio-protection Research Centre (BPRC) developed workshops for growers and commercial operators from all around New Zealand to advance their scientific knowledge and practical skills.

About 20 of MG Marketing’s top growers from diverse operations such as cherries, feijoa, raspberry, citrus, and tree-based fruits, from across New Zealand travelled to Lincoln for the workshop. . . 


Rural round-up

August 31, 2015

Why people oppose GMOs even though science says they are safe – Stefaan Blancke:

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have met with enormous public opposition over the past two decades. Many people believe that GMOs are bad for their health – even poisonous – and that they damage the environment. This is in spite of overwhelming scientific evidence that proves that GMOs are safe to eat, and that they bring environmental benefits by making agriculture more sustainable.

Why is there such a discrepancy between what the science tells us about GMOs, and what people think? To be sure, some concerns, such as herbicide resistance in weeds and the involvement of multinationals, are not without basis, but they are not specific to GMOs. Hence, another question we need to answer is why these arguments become more salient in the context of GMOs. . .

Win over dumping celebrated – Patrick O’Sullivan:

Local growers are celebrating after winning their fight against the relaxation of anti-dumping measures.

They have been lobbying against a proposed relaxation of the measures, which threatened the local canning industry.

Cabinet had agreed in principle to change the rules which would have resulted in anti-dumping duties only after damage to local industry was proven, with the duties removed after an Automatic Termination Period (ATP).

Dumping is illegal under World Trade Organisation agreements. . .

El Niño predicted to give farmers a rough ride over spring and summer –  Michael Forbes and Caleb Harris:

Climate scientists are warning farmers to brace for a large-scale El Nino, with rainfall expected to drop by 15 per cent in some regions and increase by the same amount in others.

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) is projecting the upper North Island and east coast of both islands will be hardest hit by dry conditions, which could mimic the devastating drought that shaved $618 million, or 0.9 per cent, off national GDP in 1997-98.

Principal climate scientist Andrew Tait said there was a 97 per cent chance El Nino would continue until October and a more than 90 per cent chance it would persist through until April 2016. . .

Retired farmer gives helping hand to struggling sharemilkers  – Hannah Lee:

A man who knows a thing or two about how tough farmers are doing it right now is helping out with a free meal.

Retired Lepperton farmer Bob Pigott said the industry has always had its ups and downs, but the current conditions were pretty dire.

As a way to lend a helping hand, Pigott has donated $1000 in meal vouchers at Sporty’s Cafe and Bar in New Plymouth, for sharemilkers who are in need of a night away from the stress of the job.

“To go from $8.25 to $3.85 payout, I mean, it’s pretty disastrous.

“It’s part and parcel of the job though isn’t it, prices go down and come back again – it’s happening again but I think it’s a lot worse this time.”  . . .


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