Rural round-up

April 2, 2014

Nestlé scrutinises 50 South Island dairy farms – Yvonne O’Hara:

Global food and beverage manufacturer Nestlé sent a group of representatives to inspect 50 randomly selected South Island dairy farms – including some in Otago and Southland – last week.

The audit is part of a new pilot project between the corporate giant and Fonterra.

However, Fonterra’s global sales director Tim Deane the visit was not linked in any way to the botulism scare last year.

”It had been on the cards for a while,” Mr Deane said.

Nestlé, like other Fonterra customers, regularly visited plant and factories for auditing. . .

Māori dairy farm set to boost Northland’s economy:

Dairy cows will be led into Northland’s Rangihamama milking sheds for the first time officially this weekend, marking the first tangible example of the Government’s aim to increase regional economic development in Northland.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has been working with the Omapere Rangihamama Trust (ORT) to accelerate the Trust’s transformation of 278 hectares of Māori-owned land, from grazing to high-productivity dairy farming since 2012.

“Omapere Rangihamama Trust is a model for growing rural development by pulling together a vast number of stakeholders into a larger and more commercially effective operation,” says MPI’s Deputy Director-General Ben Dalton. . .

Two more NZ-specific insecticides hit market:

A project funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries has resulted in more sustainable insecticides hitting the market, to control two major headaches for growers.

The Minor Crops project, which is being managed by a company called Market Access Solutionz, has launched one insecticide to control Kelly’s citrus thrips and scale, and a second to control key pests in leafy vegetable seedlings.

They are the second and third products to have come out of the project, which is aimed at having between 15 and 20 such insecticides ready for sale before funding runs out next year. . .

 New Farming for Profit programme supported – Yvonne O’Hara:

West Otago farmers have voted to run a Farming for Profit programme to replace the older monitor farm programmes.

Beef and Lamb New Zealand (BLNZ) extension manager for the southern South Island, Paul McCauley, said about a dozen farmers attended a meeting in Waikoikoi last Thursday to discuss what type of extension programme they would like to see in their area for the next three years.

”We got a feel from them for what sort of project they wanted and there was a show of support from people keen to go on a steering committee to kick-start it, which was great,” Mr McCauley said. Those attending said they wanted a Farming for Profit programme, which would be run by BLNZ. . .

2014 Gisborne Vintage Report:

Last year was “the vintage of a lifetime” for Gisborne wines. This vintage is shaping up to be equally exceptional.

Gisborne is renowned for sunny weather and Chardonnay, and the two have combined again this year to produce a vintage that has local grape growers and winemakers marveling at its quality. The region’s burgeoning reputation for other white varietals, particularly Viognier and Albariño, will be further cemented with 2014’s superlative harvest.

Warm temperatures in spring ensured excellent flowering, while the cool nights and warm days towards the end of January enhanced véraison (onset of ripening). . .

New owner to grow New Zealand wine brands:

A suite of award-winning New Zealand brands have today been acquired by leading Australian wine company, Accolade Wines, which plans to use its global reach to grow the brands.

The deal, announced last November pending Overseas Investment Office approval, has been finalised following regulatory approvals, and includes the Mud House, Waipara Hills, Dusky Sounds, Haymaker and Skyleaf brands and their assets and operation of Waipara Hills cellar door and café.

Accolade Wines General Manager Asia Pacific, Michael East, said the company had been keen to enhance its portfolio of New World wine brands and had been looking for brands which would complement its existing portfolio for some time. . . .


Rural round-up

October 3, 2012

Foreign investment in the spotlight – Kai Tanter:

The biggest headline in Australian dairy news this week has been the possibility of China’s sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corp, investing in the Van Diemen’s Land Company. The Van Diemen’s Land Company, which operates in the Australian state of Tasmania, is looking for AU$180 million in order to expand its operations. The Tasmanian government and dairy industry have both been courting Chinese investors and seem to have met with some success.

This news follows hot on the heels of recent Chinese investment in Australia’s largest cotton farm, the Queensland Cubbie Station. Meanwhile in New Zealand, the dust has only just settled after the Crafar Farms were finally sold to China’s Shanghai Pengxin. . .

Bruce Wills slams environmental activists who use the law to shut down critics while objecting to Fed Farmers’ appeal of decisions with legal errors and scientific fallacies – Bruce Wills:

According to one of our less sympathetic critics, Federated Farmers is a dinosaur.

It seems we are a legal version of Jurassic Park for having the temerity to question the Environment Court’s reversal of independent hearing’s commissioners on the Horizons One Plan.

That of course is the right of that critic because we thankfully live in a democracy. . .

Tatau tops milk payout stakes again:

The country’s smallest dairy co-operative, Tatua, has topped the milk payout stakes again.

The Waikato-based co-op has confirmed its 109 farmer suppliers will be getting a total payout for the past season of $7.50 cents a kilo of milk solids.

That’s 60 cents below the previous season’s record of $8.10 a kilo, but well above Fonterra’s $6.40 total payout for the past season. .

Farm Shop slams supermarkets for ‘overpriced and poorly sourced’ produce – Gemma Mackenzie:

Supermarkets have come under fire for being “too expensive and not providing consumers with enough good quality produce from their region” by the boss of the UK’s oldest farm shop.

Simon Hirst, partner in the family-run Hinchliffe’s Farm Shop in Netherton, West Yorkshire (established in 1974), said consumers were “missing out” by being forced to buy from supermarkets.

“The supermarkets have had a stranglehold on our food chain for so long we’ve been given little choice but to trawl the multiples’ aisles for food that is poor quality, poorly sourced and, particularly in the case of the meat products, over-priced,” said Mr Hirst, the fourth generation manager of the Yorkshire farm, which is famed for its top-quality beef, chicken and on-site butchers shop.

“The supermarkets would have us believe they are cheaper than the farm shops and farmers’ markets but, in many cases, this simply isn’t true.” . . .

How meat farmers can lift returns – Jon Morgan:

Craig Hickson tells a story to illustrate how meat processors can short-change farmers more than $20 on each lamb they send to the works. 

“I woke up the other morning with three women in my bed with an average age of 22.” 

He has the measured, deadpan delivery of a veteran comedian. 

“You’ll be thinking, ‘That’s unlikely, he’s lying – or skiting’.” 

He pauses to let the laughter die down. “One of them was my wife and the others were my granddaughters aged 2 and 4. 

“Your first thought was that they were all aged 22.” 

He pauses again. “And that’s the dangers of averaging.” 

The industry in which he has a strategic stake, with four meat plants in the North Island and now another in Wales, is guilty of this, he says. 

    He is talking to a Beef + Lamb New Zealand Farming For Profit field day. The 30 farmers have just watched one of his butchers cut up a lamb carcass, been shown each cut and told its destination.

Lucerne Based Dairy Farm – More Feed, Less Irrigation, Less Nitrate Leaching – Milking on the Moove:

Richard Campion is a lecturer at Lincoln University; he presented a paper to the 18th International Farm Management Congress held in Methven last year. His paper was titled Utilising Lucerne Potential For Dairy Farming”.
 
In his paper he modelled the Lincoln University Dairy Farm using 90% lucerne and 10% winter crop. His report states that the ryegrass and white clover pastures at the Lincoln University dairy farm produce on average 17,000kg DM/ha/yr. Irrigated lucerne stands have been shown to produce 24,000kg DM/ha/yr. But the interesting point is that Lucerne has far greater water efficiency than ryegrass. For this reason irrigated lucerne can grow 25% more dry matter than pasture and it can do it with only 1/3 of the water that ryegrass needs. So if a dairy farmer changed their irrigated pasture system to a lucerne based system, they would reduce the water required for irrigation by approximately 65%. This is a massive potential saving . . .

New Zealand’s ATV Safety Programme Working

Just one recorded on-farm work related fatality to date this year clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of the Government’s approach to the safe use of ATVs (quad bikes).

The Motor Industry Association whose membership includes the major importers and distributors of off road farm bikes, including ATVs, refute the  statement by Dr Lower that the industry was adopting tobacco type tactics to block mandating of the fitment of rollover protection (ROPS) for ATVs.

“ATVs are the modern day horse and we estimate there are between 70,000 and 80,000 in use on farms here in New Zealand,” said Perry Kerr, Chief Executive Officer of the Motor Industry Association. “Naturally we are concerned by any accident and especially a fatality involving these vehicles.” . . .

New Zealand Dairy Farms Have So Few Trees. Why? – Pasure to Profit:

I want to encourage more trees on dairy farms, including perhaps Cider Apple trees.

Mixed Tree Species on farms can add to the environmental biodiversity. Imaginative shelter belts create a better work place. Trees add to the aesthetics of the farm. Effective tree shelter belts are good for animal welfare and may increase pasture growth. Could Cider Apple Trees also create another income for dairy farmers?    . . .

New Tool for Farmers to Manage Effluent Application:

Farmhelp is a recently developed mobile farming app with powerful calculators to assist farmers in determining the effluent loading they apply to the land.

There is mounting pressure internationally for farmers to effectively manage the application of farm effluent. . .

Brassica crops benefit from early planning:

Brassica crops provide high-quality forage for stock, but balancing production goals with input costs is vital to ensure planting a paddock of kale or turnip is a cost effective alternative to pasture.

New Zealand farmers grow about 300,000 hectares of brassicas a year, often as a break crop when pasture quality or performance starts to decline.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Lower North Island Technical Extension Officer Jeff Morton says that to achieve the best result with a brassica crop, nutrient deficiencies need to be resolved well ahead of sowing. . .

 Free workshops to help landowners better manage forests

Northland plantation forestry owners and contractors keen to better manage their earthworks and harvesting are being urged to attend one of five free local authority workshops being offered around the region next week.

The workshops in Kaitaia, Kaikohe, Whangarei, Dargaville and Maungaturoto are being run by the Northland Regional Council and are based on the recently released ‘Forestry Earthworks & Harvesting Guidelines for Northland’. . .


Lilvestock tax loophole closed

March 29, 2012

The government has closed a loophole in the livestock tax rules which enabled farmers to get an unintended tax break.

Finance Minister Bill English and Revenue Minister Peter Dunne said:.

 . . . the current rules were too loose and allowed some farmers switching between the two main livestock valuation methods to receive an unfair tax advantage over those farmers who applied the rules as they were intended.

The Government has changed the rules so that those who elect to use the ‘herd scheme’ cannot change to the alternative ‘national standard cost scheme’, except in narrow circumstances. . .

. . . Mr English said the Government’s decision to move quickly to change the rules was driven by concerns about fairness for all taxpayers.

“The Government’s intention to make the tax system fairer was made clear in the previous two Budgets and, in the case of livestock taxation, was specifically signalled as part of Budget 2011,” Mr English said.

“Allowing some farmers to switch out of the herd scheme – at a time of high livestock values – would have left other taxpayers exposed to an estimated loss of $275 million over the next six years. That is simply unfair.”

Some people were gaming the system and it’s hard to argue with the changes.


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