Rural round-up

August 24, 2015

Increased focus on rural depression:

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have today announced increased training for rural health professionals and community leaders to tackle depression in rural communities.

The commitment is the second part of the one-off $500,000 funding boost for mental health initiatives targeted at rural communities announced at Fieldays.

“Raising awareness of mental health issues in rural communities is important, but you also need the professional support with the right skills to help those who are at risk,” says Dr Coleman. . . 

TPP deal to free up world dairy trade would reduce volatility:

DairyNZ chairman John Luxton writes that major TPP players are holding their dairy consumers to ransom

The news that the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal has not been agreed because of differences over autos, dairy and intellectual property is no surprise to anyone.

Some of the major players have sought to maintain trade protection rather than to reduce it.

It seems incredible that the US dairy industry has so far convinced the US negotiators that they need to be protected from any increase in New Zealand dairy imports into the US. . . 

Back to basics – Annette Scott:

Dwindling demand from dairy has forced cropping farmers to readjust their businesses in a return to traditional practices and markets.

Dairy industry destocking would result in reduced demand for off-farm feed supplies and that would mean greater demand for store lambs, Federated Farmers arable industry chairman Guy Wigley said.

With tongue in cheek he suggested now could be a good time to buy sheep. . . 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand pleased with health and safety changes:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand says sheep and beef farmers will be pleased to hear that most farms are not going to be classed as high risk work places and won’t have to have a health and safety representative, following changes to the proposed Health and Safety Reform Bill.

Responding to suggestions that farmers are getting getting off lightly, Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman James Parsons said sheep and beef farms average fewer than two full time employees per farm.

“Can you imagine the farm manager and the shepherd standing on a hill and electing the health and safety representative? Not classifying farms as high risk doesn’t exempt farm businesses from any liability under the Health and Safety Reform Bill. But the amendment does recognise some basic practicalities of implementing the legislation on farms.” . . 

A2 Milk eyes infant formula for sales growth after ASX listing costs result in loss – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co sees more upside for infant formula, which underpinned full-year sales growth for the specialty milk marketing company, although costs for a secondary listing on the ASX resulted in an annual loss. The shares dropped 9.1 percent.

The Auckland-based company reported a net loss of $2.09 million in the year ended June 30, compared to a profit of $10,000 a year earlier. That included a $1.68 million charge relating to its ASX listing. Revenue jumped 40 percent to $155 million and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and one-time costs rose 35 percent to $4.18 million, reflecting a record performance in Australia.

The shares sank 7 cents to 70 cents, the lowest level in a month. . .

Rural Infrastructure needs to be a priority:

The government appears to be on the same page as Federated Farmers, with their announcement of their 30 Year Infrastructure Plan today.

Anders Crofoot, Federated Farmers Infrastructure Spokesperson says “Rural infrastructure will need to be a priority in looking at addressing the inefficiencies in infrastructure investment and planning.”

Federated Farmers supports the intent to better understand where the critical demands are and to make better decisions from that knowledge, but remain wary of what that strategy means for rural communities. . .

Water New Zealand welcomes Government’s 30 year infrastructure plan:

Water New Zealand welcomes the Government’s initiatives for better developing and maintaining New Zealand’s 3 waters infrastructure announced today as part of the 30 Year Infrastructure Plan 2015.

Water New Zealand is a strategic partner of the Treasury’s National Infrastructure Unit which produced the report*.

“New Zealand’s urban centres are rapidly growing and it is very encouraging to see that Central Government is facing the infrastructure challenges head on with an increased focus on developing a better understanding of water related infrastructure assets,” said John Pfahlert, CEO of Water New Zealand. . .

Science turns to sheep for answers on human health –  Sarah Stewart:

If you’ve ever tried to lose a few kilos you probably know all about fat and carbs.

But did you know you can learn a lesson or two from sheep?

A group of Kiwi scientists are finding they have much more to tell us about our health than we might think.

The saying ‘ you are what you eat’ has been around for years.

But there may in fact be a chance your health is actually determined by what your parents or even grandparents ate.

There is also a chance what you eat could affect what illnesses your kids get. . . 

Collaboration Key for Canterbury Dry Land Farmers:

In the last couple of months over 250 farmers and their advisors have attended a range of workshops, field events and presentations across four sub-catchments in the Hurunui Waiau Zone – which fits within the area of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.

The workshops included initial work around developing, designing and forming a ‘Collective’ for dry land farmers, linked to the Beef+Lamb NZ Farm Environment Plan and broader environmental programmes. Under the Hurunui Waiau River Regional plan, ‘for farmers to continue to farm without a consent from 1 January 2017,’ they will be required to be a member of a Collective or Irrigation Scheme. In addition, the Collective will need to develop an approved Environmental Management Strategy. . . 


Rural round-up

August 19, 2015

Dairy price correction a confidence boost – BusinessNZ:

The uptick in dairy prices at the latest auction should put some confidence back into the economy that should never have been lacking anyway, says BusinessNZ chief executive Phil O’Reilly.

Prices at the latest GlobalDairyTrade rose an average of 14.8 percent, with the all-important whole milk category rising by more than 19 percent, ending a five-month run of 10 consecutive falls.

“It’s been a long time coming, but I guess we’ve got to remain cautious,” says Federated Farmers spokesman Andrew Hoggard. . . 

Auction result welcome but industry needs to remain vigilant:

Federated Farmers has welcomed the outcome of this morning’s GlobalDairyTrade auction, but says those in the dairy industry need to remain vigilant.

Dairy Industry Chair Andrew Hoggard says “The outcome of this morning’s auction suggests there might be light at the end of the tunnel, but what the industry needs is for this to continue and hold.” . . .

Fonterra calls for a halt to having to accept all milk and supply other large entrants –  Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s largest dairy exporter, said it should no longer be required to accept all milk from new suppliers or to have to make milk available to large processors, apart from Goodman Fielder.

In submissions to the Commerce Commission, which is undertaking a government-ordered review of the industry’s competitiveness, rival processors have said they either want the status quo or the regulations tightened.

Fonterra said it recognises part of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA) continues to benefit the dairy industry and New Zealand but some parts are no longer “necessary or efficient” given significant industry changes since 2001, particularly the continuing entry of well-resourced competitors. . . 

Fonterra’s submission is here.

Auditor General to examine Saudi farm deal:

The controversial deal that saw $11.5 million of taxpayer money on a Saudi farm is to be examined by the Auditor-General.

Lyn Provost has announced she will carry out an inquiry into the expenditure of public money on the Saudi Arabia Food Security Partnership.

Mrs Provost received several requests, including from members of Parliament, the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union, and in a petition from over 10,000 New Zealanders, to inquire into aspects of the deal. . . 

 

Dairy prices set for ‘substantial recovery’ by mid-2016, Rabobank says – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Dairy prices, which have slumped to a six-year low, are set for a substantial recovery by mid-2016, according to agri banking specialist Rabobank.

Average dairy product prices plunged to the lowest level since August 2009 at the last GlobalDairyTrade auction a fortnight ago, amid increased supply and weak demand. Still, the factors to trigger a turnaround are now in place and a substantial improvement in prices is expected by mid-2016, Rabobank said in its dairy industry note ‘Riding Out the Storm’.

Rabobank says dairy prices are set to rise as milk price reductions in China start to choke off domestic production growth, lower New Zealand production leads to a supply-side adjustment in export regions, the collapse in international commodity prices reduces supply growth from the US and EU, and as accelerated dairy consumption growth depletes current accumulated stocks. . . 

The short, the medium and the long term for dairy – Keith Woodford:

With calving in full swing, most dairy farmers have no time to think about anything but today. Things are indeed grim and the short term focus has to be on survival. For the next few weeks, there is some logic to focusing on the simple day to day things that can be influenced. Even in the good times, these are the things that often separate out the best from the not so good.

Despite the gloom, most of the farmers I know do seem to have things well under control. Perhaps that is because most of my mates have lived through tough times before, back in the 80s and 90s. They have always assumed that at some time a storm would burst upon them and so they have not panicked. Rather, they have been quietly and sequentially battening down the hatches for more than 12 months. . . 

Meat industry shareholder groups merge to push their case for reform – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – The two shareholder groups representing Silver Fern Farms and Alliance farmers have joined forces in a bid to encourage the two meat cooperatives to follow suit and work collaboratively.

Each shareholder group has separately gained the 5 percent farmer support needed to call special meetings of their respective cooperatives to try and force the boards to investigate the benefits and risks of a merger, though dates have not yet been set for either.

Alliance shareholder Jeff Grant said it is best to wait on the outcome of Silver Fern Farm’s current capital raising before holding either meeting.

“If the capital raise changes the structure of the cooperative to be a non cooperative or in foreign ownership then it would be pointless having an SGM (special general meeting) at all,” he said. . . 

 High Beef Prices Are Fueling a Revival of Cattle Rustling in the Plains States –  Michael Graczyk:

Doug Hutchison wears a badge and carries a gun but his most effective weapon in the pursuit of livestock thieves in the nation’s largest cattle-producing territory may be his smartphone.

With it, Hutchison, one of 30 Special Rangers with the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, photographs suspected stolen livestock, accesses the association’s databases of livestock brands and reports of missing animals and consults with sheriff’s offices.

“I think it’s one of the greatest tools in the world,” said Hutchison, wearing a cowboy hat and jeans, his boots mired in the mud and manure of noisy auction stockyard corrals filled with nervous cattle. . .  Hat tip: AEIDEAS

Outdoors Lobby Wants Recreational Only Fisheries:

A national outdoor recreational advocacy group wants freshwater fish species such as whitebait, eels and some saltwater species ”recreational only.”

The call by the Council of Outdoor Recreational Associations (CORANZ) an umbrella group of outdoor recreational organisations, was in response to Massey University researcher Mike Joy’s call to remove whitebait and eels from commercial status and protect them by a “recreational only” classification.

Bill Benfield, co-chairman CORANZ, conservationist and author, said that commercialised species, almost without exception, struggled to be sustainable in the face of human greed. . .

 And from Kansas Department of Agriculture:
Kansas Department of Agriculture's photo.


Rural round-up

August 15, 2015

Central Plains Water irrigation scheme opens in Canterbury:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the official opening of Stage 1 of the Central Plains Water irrigation scheme in Canterbury today, which has the potential to create more than $1 billion in new economic activity.

The Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme, when completed, will irrigate 60,000 hectares of dairy, arable, horticulture and stock finishing land between the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers.

“This is an exciting day for the Canterbury region, given that farmers and growers have suffered through a severe drought this year. This shows the clear need for this kind of water storage project. . . 

INZ applauds Central Plains Water for providing farmers reliable water for diversification and efficiency:

“Today marks a big step for irrigation infrastructure in New Zealand. Central Plains Water will help sustain Canterbury,” says Nicky Hyslop, Chair of IrrigationNZ on the official opening of New Zealand’s largest irrigation scheme for some years, by the Prime Minister John Key.

Mrs Hyslop attended the opening with IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

“Access to reliable water is particularly important at the moment during a dairy downturn as it will allow farmers to diversify and weather the storm,” says Mrs Hyslop. . . 

Fonterra cuts back GDT whole milk powder by a third over the next year – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s largest dairy exporter, is reducing by a third the amount of whole milk powder, the key commodity export ingredient, it sells on the GlobalDairyTrade platform over the next 12 months due to persistent low prices.

The Auckland-based cooperative’s forecast cut the offer volumes over the next 12 months for its total New Zealand products by a further 56,045 metric tonnes, following a 62,930 metric tonne decrease in the past three months, it said in a statement.

Fonterra managing director global ingredients Kelvin Wickham said the bulk of that is whole milk powder, and milk collected will be shifted from whole milk powder production into other value-add parts of the business that will achieve a higher margin. . . 

Fonterra ratings on review at S&P in face of high debt levels, low global prices – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group’s credit ratings were put on CreditWatch with negative implications by Standard & Poor’s, which said there was a risk of weakness in the dairy exporter’s financial metrics given its high debt levels at a low point in the global price cycle.

The Auckland-based company has ‘A’ long-term and ‘A-1’ short-term ratings with S&P, which were put on CreditWatch following its announcement of a lower forecast milk price due to weak demand and surplus supply in the global dairy market.

“This ongoing weakness in the global dairy market has occurred when Fonterra’s debt is at very high levels due to a large acquisition and peak capital expenditure, placing downward pressure on Fonterra’s key financial metrics,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Brenda Wardlaw. . . 

Fonterra – Anchor extends portfolio with additional Kids’ Milk range in China:

Our China Brands business recently hit another milestone with the launch of the ultra-premium Anchor Kids’ Golden Milk.

The new milk has 3.6g/100ml protein, a high calcium content and no added sweeteners or additives other than vitamins. 

Business Development Director of China Brands Manoj Namboodiri said the team designed and launched Anchor Kids’ Golden Milk to meet the growing demand from Chinese parents for ultra-premium quality, nutritious and unsweetened kids’ milk.  . . 

Misery peddlers are milking a crisis – Mike Hosking:

Yes, these are tough times for dairy farmers but we should trust those with the industry’s interests at heart.

My plea this morning is that we give our dairy farmers a break, that we cut them some slack and start to get on board with what they already know. Because, let’s be frank, they know dairy a lot better than all the others who, from the comfort of their urban existence, are lining up to tell us the world is ending.

Just to be clear, this will be a tough season. The return of $3.85 is not flash and it’s a mile away from $8.40.

Yes, most farmers won’t make a profit. Yes, some farmers might not make it out the other side, especially those who have gone in late and borrowed big to do so. But what I admire so much about the farming community is they’re realists. . . 

Is organic farming making climate change worse? Demand for ‘sustainable’ food has increased greenhouse gas emissions – Richard Gray:

It has a reputation for being better for us and the environment, but new research suggests organic food may actually be harming the planet.

Scientists have found that rather than reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions released, organic farming may actually be increasing them.

They found the shift to large scale organic farming in order to meet growing demand for organic products in shops has led to an increase in emissions for each acre of land. . .

Fit farmers with Farmstrong – Anna Russell:

The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand and FMG Insurance, along with support from NZX-Agri, launched the initiative Farmstrong. It is an initiative designed to give farmers the skills and resources to live well, farm well, and get the most out of life.

The three areas they focus on are applicable in any work environment, and particularly can help during times of transformation and change:

Time Out – taking regular breaks is an important part of remaining fresh and positive in day-to-day work. So is getting a good night sleep. . . 

Jordy Nelson’s offseason activity? Farming – Anna Katherine Clemmons:

FOR MANY NFL PROS, the offseason means private islands and poolside cabanas. Not for Jordy Nelson. The 30-year-old, who set the Packers’ single-season receiving record last year with 1,519 yards, swaps his cleats for work boots on his family’s 4,000-acre Kansas farm. For five or six weeks each year, he drives a combine and cuts wheat, sometimes for 12 hours a day, or rounds up some of the 1,000-cow herd. “Working cattle is my favorite farm duty,” he says. “It’s interactive, and you’re on your feet all day.” . . .

 


Rural round-up

July 25, 2015

Govt: Lighter rules insulating dairy shock – Suze Metherell:

Light regulation in the New Zealand dairy industry has insulated the wider economy from the sharp decline in prices for the country’s largest export commodity, according to Finance Minister Bill English.

Prices for whole milk powder, the country’s key commodity export, have plunged this year and dropped an unexpectedly large 10.7 percent in in the GlobalDairyTrade auction last week, sending the kiwi dollar to six-year-lows.

Dairy prices are now expected to remain lower for longer than previously forecast, amid higher global supplies, weak demand in China and an import ban in Russia on European dairy products, which are being sold into other market. . .

Vets to cut down on antibiotics:

The Veterinary Association has set an ambitious target to reduce the use of antibiotics to control disease in animals.

Its goal is to have New Zealand no longer having to rely on using antibiotics for animals by 2030.

President Steve Merchant said the country was well suited to the challenge because of its size, and the fact that it was already the world’s third lowest user of antibiotics on animals. . .

Changes to Health and Safety Reform Bill are sensible:

Federated Farmers believe the two month delay in the Select Committee reporting back the Health and Safety Reform Bill to Parliament has led to improvements for the farming industry.

The Bill has been reported back today.

Federated Farmers health and safety spokesperson Katie Milne says the Bill overall will make farms safer places.

Specifically she says the Bill has gone some way to recognising that farms are different to urban industrial workplaces. . .

 

New Māori aquaculture agreements signed:

New regional agreements for Māori commercial aquaculture have been signed by Government Ministers today, including Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

Three regional agreements have been signed with iwi from the Auckland, Tasman, and Marlborough regions following successful negotiations between the Crown and regional Iwi aquaculture organisations.

The agreements are the result of the Māori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004, which requires the Crown to provide Iwi aquaculture organisations with 20% of new commercial aquaculture space consented since October 2011, or anticipated to occur into the future. . .

Australian consortium said to be in no hurry to up their bid for A2 Milk – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Australian-based Freedom Foods and US-based Dean Foods are said to be in no hurry to up their bid for A2 Milk Co after the milk marketer this week told its suitors to try again after an initial offer wasn’t compelling and drew out as yet unnamed rival bidders.

A source close to the bidding consortium said they were underwhelmed by a trading update A2 Milk released at the same time as rejecting the offer and request for due diligence, saying it contained “nothing that would shift their view on valuation”.

Given Freedom Foods, the company’s previous joint venture partner in Australia, has a 19.1 percent blocking stake in A2 Milk, any rival bidders may struggle to get an offer across the line. . .

 

Wool market buoyant:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that today’s sale of 6,617 bales saw increases of 1 to 2 percent overall. A good result, considering offering of 52 percent Coarse Crossbred Early Shorn and Second Shear types.

There was good demand for shorter Second Shear types 2 to 3 inch 32 to 35 micron as buyers bid to cover Chinese orders.

The trade weighted indicator was little changed from the last wool sale on 16th July. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

July 23, 2015

Potential for dairy farmers to increase income from calves:

In a welcome departure from dismal news on the dairy front, farmers are being told that a simple change to their herd mating plans could increase their income from calves.

The advice is one outcome from the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Dairy Beef Integration Programme which is looking at the impact of using good beef genetics in a dairy beef supply chain.

The aim of the AgResearch managed research is to confirm the impact the strategy could have for dairy farmers and others in the supply chain. Early results show clear advantage – and potential additional profit – to dairy farmers from the use of proven beef genetics. . .

 Tiny mite a buzzkill for NZ’s wasps: – Nick Butcher:

A Landcare Research scientist says a tiny mite found on the back of wasps could be helping control the spread of the pests, which sting the country’s primary industries by about $130 million a year.

Wasps also pose a hazard to people and harm the native bird population by competing with them for food, including honeydew and other insects.

Dr Bob Brown discovered the unnamed mite in 2011. He said his studies showed wasp nests infested with the mites were 50 to 70 percent smaller than uninfested nests. . .

Efforts continue to get to the bottom of NAIT puzzle – Allan Barber:

The saga continues, as my Warkworth friend attempts to find out how NAIT intends to ensure correct reconciliation of livestock records, but as yet without a totally satisfactory answer. After further contact, NAIT’s acting Group Manager Sam McIvor replied with answers to the main points raised and I understand the conversation will continue, as both parties try to convince the other of their respective point of view.

At its most basic, the debate centres round the issue of ensuring 100% accuracy which is only possible, if there is 100% retention of tags at the time of stock movement or every animal has a second or reserve tag. At present NAIT estimates there is 98% retention. My friend who came through the mad cow disease disaster as well as FMD outbreaks in the UK is adamant the only acceptable position is 100% accuracy in the event of a disease outbreak. . .

Duncan Coull New Shareholders’ Council Chairman:

Duncan Coull has been elected unopposed to the position of Chairman of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Council.

Mr Coull was first elected to the Council in 2010 to represent Fonterra Farmers in Otorohanga and served as the Council’s Deputy Chair for the past 12 months.

Mr Coull: “It is a privilege to be elected to lead the Council and I thank Councillors for the support I continue to receive. . .

 New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated Annual General Meeting:

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) held its Annual General Meeting today, Wednesday 22 July 2015, updating growers on its key projects and reflected on a successful year.

NZKGI President, Neil Trebilco, says grower confidence and orchard values have continued to increase over the last twelve months.

“The main factors in this increasing optimism are the reduced effects of Psa and increasing OGRs per tray, particularly for Green. . .

 

Dairy farm prices stalling, lifestyle blocks strong, REINZ data shows – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Farm sales are down 9 per cent in the year to June and dairy farm prices have begun a slight downward trend, according to the latest Real Estate Institute of New Zealand data.

There were 62, or 11.5 percent, fewer farm sales for the three months ended June, compared to the same period a year ago and the overall year to date is down 9 percent to a total of 1,737 farms sold.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to June was $29,141, compared to $26,634 in the same period the previous year, up 9.5 percent. But the All Farm Price Index, which adjusts for differences in farm size, location and farming type, rose by just under 1 percent in June compared to the same month in 2014. . . .

Expert’s visit fruition of relationship cultivation:

Feijoas and Kiwifruit have been on the menu as Lincoln hosted a plant specialist recently to initiate closer working ties around food production with a Chinese province of 90 million people.

Feijoa expert Dr Meng Zhang, of Southwest University of Science and Technology (SWUST) in Sichuan Province, spent a month with Lincoln University and the Bio-Protection Research Centre (BPRC) at Lincoln specifically to learn more about New Zealand horticulture production systems, biological protection and bio-control.

The visit comes a few months after SWUST’s President, Jun-bo Wang, and Director Guan-zhi Zhang, were in Lincoln as part of a large Sichuan trade delegation intended to further extend co-operation between the two institutes. . .

 

Weaker New Zealand Dollar Helps Wool Prices:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the weakening New Zealand dollar helped local prices this week with most types increasing by the corresponding currency change.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was down 2.04 percent compared to the last sale on 9th July.

Of the 7,900 bales on offer from the South Island, 88 percent sold with types suitable for in the grease shipments coming under strong competition. . .

New production quality accreditation for animal feed:

New Zealand animal feed manufacturers now have a quality of production accreditation.

FeedSafeNZ is a new accreditation available to New Zealand Feed Manufacturers Association (NZFMA) members who pass independent audit standards as to quality of feed production. The FeedSafeNZ accreditation has two main aims: to provide safe feed for animals and thereby to protect the safety of human food.

Michael Brooks, NZFMA Executive Director says, “High quality feed is vital not only for the health and wellbeing of animals but also for humans, so it’s imperative that feed is manufactured to strict guidelines and is packed and stored correctly to ensure its quality is maintained. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 22, 2015

Parasite a bee in keepers’ bonnets:

A bee scientist says the appearance of a new honey bee parasite is the last thing beekeepers need, with the most serious pest, the varroa mite, becoming more difficult to control.

The gut parasite, Lotmaria Passim, has been found in beehives on Coromandel Peninsula and in the southern North Island.

Plant and Food Research bee unit head Mark Goodwin said the discovery had serious implications for the bee industry, because it and another parasite, Nosema Ceranae, also present in New Zealand, have been linked with bee colony collapses overseas. . .

Black Thursday for Dairy and Fonterra – but eventually the sun will rise again – Keith Woodford:

Thursday 16 July was surely a black day for dairy and Fonterra. Not only did prices on the Global dairy trade auction prices drop to a record low, but Fonterra announced it was cutting 523 positions.

It was also a black day for New Zealand, as commentators and exchange rate speculators started to realise that the downturn was going to affect the whole economy. The exchange rate dropped close to 3% that day.

Regional New Zealand has seen the downturn coming for some time, but in the main cities the realisation is only starting to dawn. . .

English: dairy prices will rise:

Dairy prices will pick up, it’s just a matter of when and how quickly they do, Finance Minister Bill English says.

Dairy product prices sank again in last week’s GlobalDairyTrade auction, with whole milk powder leading the way with a 13.1 percent drop.

“The way it’s been described to me is there’s been a perfect storm of excess milk supply influenced by events in Russia, Europe and China and in New Zealand and Australia and that’s led to these prices,” Mr English told reporters. . .

Alliance shareholders force a special meeting – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Disgruntled Alliance Group shareholders have gathered sufficient support to force a special meeting to discuss the potential benefits and risks of a merger with fellow cooperative Silver Fern Farms.

Balfour farmer Jeff Grant, who along with rural accountant and farmer, Gaye Cowie, have been gathering the required 5 percent of proxy forms needed to force the special meeting, say they have sent 7 percent to the company for verification.

The move matches a similar one by Silver Fern Farms shareholders to force a special meeting within their own meat cooperative. . .

Property searched, 2 charged – Lynda van Kempen:

A six-month police investigation led to two arrests yesterday in connection with several incidents of alleged poaching in Central and South Otago.

About 20 police, including the armed offenders squad and Alexandra and Omakau officers, carried out a search of an Ida Valley property yesterday morning and seized ammunition, two 4WD vehicles and a quad bike, Sergeant Derek Ealson, ofAlexandra, said.

Following the search, a 27-year-old man and 28-year-old woman, both of Central Otago, were charged with 12 offences relating to unlawful hunting, trespass, unlawful possession of firearms and possession of cannabis, he said. . .

Family tips contribute to success in judging – Sally Rae:

Stud sheep breeding is in Ben Sutherland’s blood.

Mr Sutherland (19), who comes from Benmore Station, near Omarama, has inherited a long standing family interest in and passion for farming.

His great grandfather, H. J. Andrew, farmed Punchbowl, near Maheno, with well known Southdown and Poll Dorset sheep studs, while his grandfather, Jim Sutherland, founded the Benmore merino stud. . .

Man sells human-like sheep to save his sanity – Emma Cropper:

Owners of a lodge near Arthurs Pass have become so fed up with one of their lambs they sent out an online plea for someone to take the animal off their hands.

The animal enjoys hanging out with humans a little bit too much, and it’s driving the owners crazy.

Grasmere Lodge owner Thomas Butler says ‘Marcus’ has a taste for the finer things in life, and he’s getting too cosy with the luxury alpine lodge they call home. He follows them everywhere, chews on the plants, poops on the doorstep and regularly jumps into the car for a ride. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 17, 2015

Fonterra shares first results of business review:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited has provided a further update on its business review.

Chief Executive Theo Spierings said the Co-operative’s leadership was developing initiatives to deliver value right across the organisation.
“The key aims of the review are to ensure that the Co-operative is best placed to successfully deliver its strategy, increase focus on generating cash flow, and implement specific, sustainable measures for enhancing efficiency. . .

Fonterra top brass on notice from farmers as 523 jobs go in shake-up – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Federated Farmers says top management should be leaving Fonterra Cooperative Group if results don’t start improving in the next couple of years.

The comments, from Fed Farmers dairy chair Andrew Hoggard, were in response to the confirmation today by the world’s largest dairy exporter that it will cut 523 jobs to save up to $60 a million a year on its payroll in the first swathe of a major review of the business. Hoggard said he hoped the job losses were part of a wider strategy to redirect resources in new areas rather than a knee-jerk reaction to cut costs as dairy prices continue to fall.

“Fonterra has had a history of knee-jerk reactions like that where it gets rid of a whole bunch of people and then two years later hires them back again, or rather having got rid of people with institutional knowledge, they hire new graduates who can’t do as good a job,” he said. . .

Waipaoa Station moulds young farm cadets for workforce – Kate Taylor:

The physical nature of the work means some farm cadets he works with fill out and some get lean but they all change, says Waipaoa Station stock manager Jerry Cook.

The station and the Waipaoa Farm Cadet Training Trust welcomes five new cadets every year for two years – all straight out of school.

“They come in as kids and leave ready for the workforce. They might arrive still with a bit of puppy fat at 17 and leave two years later toned and strong and armed with the right skills to go farming as adults.” . . .

New Ospri head sees big opportunities ahead – Gerald Piddock:

New Ospri chief executive Michelle Edge has some bold visions for where she sees the organisation making a greater contribution to New Zealand agriculture.

Edge started her new role in May and said there were exciting opportunities ahead for Ospri’s (Operational Solutions for Primary Industries) two wholly-owned subsidiaries TBfree New Zealand and NAIT (National Animal Identification and Tracing).

“There’s also a range of business development prospects on the horizon,” she said. . .

 Enterprising Rural Women Awards open for 2015:

Entries have opened for the 2015 Enterprising Rural Women Awards (ERWA) offering women who run their own rural businesses the opportunity to boost their profiles and gain recognition for their achievements.

“This year is very special as we have a lot of interest in the awards and we’re already fielding enquiries from women keen to enter,” says Rural Women NZ national president, Wendy McGowan.

Last year’s supreme winners, Keri Johnston and Haidee McCabe from Irricon Resource Solutions have come on board as sponsors. They are enthusiastic about the awards and want to encourage other women in rural businesses to have an opportunity to get the benefits that their business has gained since winning in 2014.

The future of Fijian sugar cane industry not so sweet:

Fiji’s National Farmers Union says the future of the country’s sugar cane industry could be in doubt.

The country’s cane farmers have begun harvesting however many are facing delays of up to six months due to labour shortages.

The union estimates up to 40 percent of the country’s harvesting labour gangs aren’t operating as they are unable to find enough people to fill them. . .

Weaker NZ Dollar Helps Lift Value of Meat Exports:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand compiles lamb, mutton and beef export statistics for the country. The following is a summary of the first nine months of the 2014-15 meat export season (1 October 2014 to 30 June 2015).

Summary

Over the first nine months of this season, beef and veal returns and volumes have been higher than lamb and mutton.

Because of the significant size of the market, changes in Chinese demand – specifically, less lamb and mutton and more beef – impacted across all categories of New Zealand meat exports.

Meanwhile, the USD / NZD exchange rate averaged 0.76 in the first nine months of the current season, compared with 0.84 over the same period last season – a 10 per cent drop. This NZD weakness contributed significantly to this season’s higher average export values across all products. . .

 

LIC sires named best in season:

Two of LIC’s artificial breeding bulls were named sires of the season by Jersey and Holstein-Friesian breed societies at their annual conferences last month.

South Land Jericho received Jersey New Zealand’s JT Thwaites Sire of the Season award and San Ray FM Beamer received Holstein-Friesian New Zealand’s Mahoe Trophy.

LIC bull acquisition manager, Malcolm Ellis, said it is an honour for the co-op’s sires to be recognised by the societies again, after LIC sires took out both awards last year also. . .

Carrfields Group brand to commence market rollout :

The Carrfields Group brand will begin a market rollout from August 2015 and will be fully integrated across the New Zealand agrimarket by December 2015.

Carrfields is borne from the Carr Group’s acquisition of the Elders New Zealand business in August 2014. The name is representative of the South Island based Carr family who have farmed and built the Carr Group of companies over the past forty years from the fields of the Canterbury region. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

June 23, 2015

Water presents high risk to agribusiness:

Whether it’s growing crops, generating electricity or entertaining tourists, water is a key ingredient for the success of the New Zealand economy, yet this also makes it a key risk.

PwC’s latest publication, Preserving water through collaboration that works, considers how New Zealand within a global context, has responded to water risks and the potential to improve water management in the future. New Zealand faces its own risks which differ from those in other parts of the world, and these risks, are increasing.

PwC Director and Local Government expert David Walker says, “A usable supply of water is fundamental to the New Zealand economy and permeates across all industries – and notably farming, forestry, electricity generation and public sectors. However continued effective water management is becoming more complex and costly. . .

ASB Farmshed Economics Report Cash is king for farmers

• Despite a better milk price forecast, farm cashflows will remain weak this season.

• But falling interest rates are putting cash back in farmers’ pockets.

• Meanwhile, the hot air has been let out of the NZ dollar.

Despite Fonterra’s better opening season milk price forecast, farm cashflows will still face pressure this season, according to the latest ASB Farmshed Economics Report. . .

 

TPP dairy deal ‘not at a level we would currently like’, says Key – Pattrick Smellie:

(BusinessDesk) – The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact does not yet include an acceptable deal on access for New Zealand’s most important exports, dairy products, with little more than a month to go before the controversial 12 nation trade deal could be concluded.

“I think the way I would describe it is there’s a deal. It’s probably not at the level that we would currently like,” said Prime Minister John Key at his post-Cabinet press conference in Wellington. He was referring to comments last week by Trade Minister Tim Groser that negotiations on dairy access to the heavily protected US, Canadian and Japanese markets had “barely started.” . . .

A2 shareholder Freedom Foods in consortium to take over milk marketer – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co’s cornerstone shareholder, Freedom Foods Group, is part of a consortium with an international dairy group that’s eyeing a takeover of the dual-listed milk marketer.

Freedom Foods, which owns about 19 percent of A2 Milk with a related entity, is mulling a takeover of A2 Milk, making an indicative non-binding and conditional expression of interest to buy the shares it doesn’t already own. A deal would be contingent on the consortium, which includes an “unnamed leading international liquid dairy milk company”, undertaking due diligence. It also has a restriction on A2 Milk changing the number of shares on issue, effectively scotching a planned equity raising. . .

LIC seeks $125M debt facilities this year, targets $140M equity over decade – Jonathan Underhill:

Livestock Improvement Corp, which aims to lift annual revenue to $1 billion by 2025, says it plans to establish $125 million of debt facilities this year and is likely to require $140 million in equity capital over the next 10 years to meet its growth goals.

Details of its capital requirements are included in a presentation the bull semen and dairy genetics database manager is taking around the country to explain to its shareholders how its changing focus, with increased capital spending and new product development, is changing its financial profile. Previously it has only required seasonal debt funding, typically for three months, the presentation shows. .

Upper South Island Butchers Battle It Out:

The best young butchers in the Upper South Island have been announced following the Alto Young Butcher and Competenz Butcher Apprentice of the Year regional final on Saturday.

Rowan Lee from Peter Timbs in Bishopdale was the winner of the Alto Young Butcher category, while Matthew Clemens from New World Ilam topped the Competenz Butcher Apprentice category, both highly sought after titles. . .

 

Tractor and Machinery Association elects new President:

Mark Hamilton-Manns, New Zealand Sales Manager for John Deere, has been elected President of the Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA).

Formerly Vice President of the organisation, he takes over from Ian Massicks, New Zealand Kubota Manager for CB Norwood Distributors, who had been President for six years.

Roger Nehoff, General Manager New Zealand Retail for Landpower New Zealand, was elected Vice-President. . .


Rural round-up

June 4, 2015

Hunter Downs irrigation backing forthcoming – David Bruce:

A new Waimate irrigation scheme capable of providing water to up to 32,000ha now has enough shareholder support to move on to the next stage of investigations after fears in April some farmers might be backing out.

The Hunter Downs irrigation scheme, estimated to cost about $375 million, had sold enough shares to cover 24,000ha in its first instalment of payments. . .

The science behind deer velvet – Jemma Brackebush:

AgResearch scientists are working with Korean counterparts to discover what components of deer velvet may help boost immune systems.

Deer antler products are commonly used in northern Asian countries in the winter to boost people’s immune systems and fight off colds and flus.

Senior scientist Stephen Haines said a major factor in selling deer velvet in key markets like South Korea and China was being able to prove the product does what the marketers claim.

 Manuka Health mulls capital raising options after global launch of new honey products – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Manuka Health, the functional food and dietary supplement company, is reviewing capital-raising options to help fund a global roll-out of new products said to boost the antibacterial qualities of manuka honey and its pipeline of research and development.

The private company has ruled out a public listing at this stage but chief executive Kerry Paul said it was considering other options including new investors who bring more than just capital to the table.

Manuka Health was founded in 2006 and exports 90-plus products based on propolis, royal jelly, bee pollen, and manuka honey to 45 countries. It has annual turnover of more than $50 million, 80 staff, and is owned by a number of private shareholders including Paul and family interests associated with chairman Ray Thomson, and institutional investors, Milford Asset Management and Waterman Capital. . .

Finalists announced for 2015 Green Ribbon Awards:

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry today announced the finalists for the 2015 Green Ribbon Awards, which will this year mark 25 years of honouring New Zealand’s environmental leaders.

“Over 70 nominations were received across the 10 categories for this year’s awards, and they cover a wide range of environmental initiatives that include protecting our biodiversity, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, minimising waste, reducing water pollution, preserving the marine environment, educating and inspiring the community, and implementing more sustainable business practices,” Dr Smith says. . .

Maximising profit and environmental protection on NZ pastoral farms:

Agricultural growth agendas are currently based on the idea that more production, at any cost, is the best strategy for higher national GDP. But, it is unclear how these agendas will be fulfilled, given tightening water quality limits and the pressing need to account for greenhouse gas emissions.

Alison Dewes (Headlands Consultancy) says that the combination of volatile economic conditions and enforceable environmental limits will force farmers to reconfigure their farm systems. Farmers will have to demonstrate efficient resource use, minimal environmental effects and robust economic performance to ensure New Zealand’s agriculture sector can thrive and stay ahead of the game. . .

Make the most of Government forestry planting grants; NRC:

Northland farmers and landowners are being encouraged to take full advantage of a Government forestry grant scheme, with the Northland Regional Council advising it also has options to help.

The Government recently re-launched its Afforestation Grant Scheme (AGS), announcing it would spend $22.5 million over the next six years subsidising the planting of forests on erosion-prone land.
This scheme previously saw more than 12,000 hectares of new forest planted nationally between 2008 and 2013.
The re-launched scheme, administered by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), is accepting applications for the next month (SUBS: these close 30 June 2015). . .

Young Butchers Set to Carve up Competition:

Across New Zealand, young butchers are preparing for the battle of their careers in anticipation of the 2015 Alto Young Butcher and Competenz Butcher Apprentice of the Year.

A total of 73 butchery protégées have entered the regional stages of the competition in the hopes of making it to the Grand Final on September 10 at Shed 10 in Auckland.

Competition Organiser, Pippa Hawkins from Retail Meat New Zealand says the event is now widely recognised within the industry with past competitors reaping huge benefits. . .


Rural round-up

April 27, 2015

Raiders butcher prized beef Andrea Fox:

Cattle butchers have struck a beef breeding farm near Whakatane, slaughtering two valuable in-calf cows and forcing the destruction of two others because of gunshot wounds.

Residents of Herepuru Rd about 5km from Matata and 35km from Whakatane are meeting to discuss installing a security camera in the road after the incident last week, in which the cows, among 113 in a paddock near the roadside, were gunned down with a .22 rifle.

Farmer Chrissy Weeks hoped police were following good leads after a woman neighbour in the road on the way to work early last Wednesday morning confronted three men loading up a dark-coloured, late model sedan.  . .

The tech revolution and the farm ute – Andrew Hoggard:

In the near future when you talk to a farmer about their dashboard and what they  have on it, they won’t respond by telling you “a speedo and a fuel gauge you idiot”.

 Instead they may well talk about their daily production summary, weather forecast, water pressure monitoring, fence power status, vat refrigeration temperature, and many other things.

Now you may be wondering why you would want this sort of information on the dashboard of your tractor or ute.  But it’s not a vehicle dashboard we are talking about,  but a farm dashboard. . .

Dollar, dairy forecast, drought have impact on farm sales – Sally Rae:

Prudent farm purchasers have ”carefully assessed” the reduced milk price forecast and the high New Zealand dollar, Real Estate Institute of New Zealand rural spokesman Brian Peacocke says.

Drought conditions had also had a negative impact on some South Island regions, Mr Peacocke said.

Data released by REINZ showed there were 47 fewer farm sales for the three months ended March than for the corresponding period last year. . .

Commodity index down, but wool does well – Dean Mackenzie:

The ASB New Zealand commodity index fell last week but lamb, beef and wool prices all posted rises close to 2% in United States dollar terms.

The index fell 0.8% in New Zealand dollar terms, dragged down by a 1.9% appreciation in the dollar against the US currency. In contrast, the index rose 1.1% in US dollar terms, ASB rural economist Nathan Penny said. . .

Hobby beekeeping takes off – Narelle Henson:

New Zealand is abuzz with enthusiasm over the humble bee, as hundreds of people a year sign up to hobby beekeeping.

John Hartnell, chairman of the Federated Farmers Bee Industry Group, said the last three years had seen numbers across the country explode. 

“We’ve got over 600 new beekeepers a year coming in. This year will probably be even greater than that. 

“We have an expectation that probably, come Christmas time, we might have 6000 beekeepers in the country and we might be heading towards 600,000 hives.” . . .

 

Horticultural production tops $7B, led by wine and apples – Fiona Rotherham:

Horticultural production has topped $7 billion for the first time, with good growth in nearly all the main industries, including wine, apples, potatoes, and onions.

The latest edition of the industry publication Fresh Facts shows in the year to June 30 2014 the horticultural industry was calculated to reach $7.16 billion in production, up from $6.7 billion the year before.

Exports rose by $300 million to $3.9 billion, an increase of nearly 7 percent on the previous year. . .

 


Rural round-up

April 22, 2015

The kumara’s transgenic origins revealed  – Dan Satherley:

Kumara, a South American native that became a Kiwi favourite, has been naturally genetically modified with bacterial DNA, researchers have found.

But the foreign genes are generally only found in kumara – also known as sweet potatoes – that have been cultivated by humans, suggesting they bring with them beneficial traits.

Researchers hope the finding, published in the latest issue of journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, will help to break down negative perceptions of genetically engineered crops. . .

Boost for Maori leadership in agriculture:

A South Island iwi-led agricultural training programme is expanding and offering higher level qualifications as it seeks to boost Māori leadership.

Whenua Kura is a tribal-led training partnership between Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Te Tapuae o Rehua, Ngāi Tahu Farming and Lincoln University.

It started last year as a one-year certificate in agriculture providing both classroom learning and on-farm experience at the Ngāi Tahu farms. . .

No Supermarkets Or Major Butchery Chains Implicated in Preservative Prosecutions:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand support the actions taken by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in the prosecution of 15 meat wholesalers/retailers and three company Directors for the non-compliant use of sulphites/sulphur dioxide in raw meat.

Charges were laid after an MPI operation in the greater Auckland area in 2013 after meat samples were tested and these cases were heard in the Manukau and Auckland District Courts in late 2014 and early 2015.

None of those prosecuted are part of any major supermarket or high profile butchery chains. . . .

Interesting Demographics in Farm Manager Contest:

The demographic make-up of the 11 finalists contesting the 2015 New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year competition ensure an interesting mix of talent.

“There’s a real lolly scramble in that the finalists represent a bit of everything – we have young versus not so young, males up against females as well as couples and those that are relatively new to the industry up against some old hands,” national convenor Chris Keeping says. “It’s going to be really interesting to see who comes up trumps!”

National judging begins today , with the three judges – a farmer, banker and consulting officer – visiting the 11 finalists on their farms over a 10-day period. The judges spend two hours on each farm and score the finalists on aspects like their financial planning and management, HR practices, farm environment, future aims, and community and industry involvement. . .

 

Unique Farm-Scale Dairy Trial Confirms Live Yeast Benefits:

Improving rumen function in grazing cows through addition of the active live yeast Vistacell can improve dry matter digestibility by 30%, lift average daily milk yields by 2.1 litres/cow and increase cow liveweight (LW) by up to 20kg in just five weeks.

The results come from a unique farm-scale study using a herd of 300 robotically-milked cows in Waikato. The herd contained a mix of autumn and spring calvers, with all cows also having access to a mixed ration of grass silage, maize silage, straw and concentrates, plus an extra 3-6kg/day of concentrates fed during milking depending on yield. . . .

 

Bluelab to spend growth grant taking new product to market – Fiona Rotherham:

 (BusinessDesk) – Bluelab Corp, which makes electronic metering and control devices to aid plant growth, will use a new research and development growth grant to speed up taking a new sensory product to market in the next year.

Tauranga-based Bluelab decided in 2004 to focus solely on manufacturing measuring equipment which is used in controlled growing spaces such as greenhouses, hydroponics and aquaponics by commercial growers and backyard hobbyists. It exports nearly all it produces to 15 countries, with the major markets being the US, Australia, and the UK. . .

LIC and Lely enter R&D partnership in farm sensor technology – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Livestock Improvement Corp, a farmer cooperative that sells bull semen and manages a dairy genetics database, has entered a research and development partnership with Dutch agricultural company Lely Group.

As part of the deal the Hamilton-based company has acquired Lely Sensortec, the Dutch company’s Hamilton-based development division, whose five staff design farm sensor technology to monitor animal health and production, for an undisclosed amount, the companies said in a joint statement. The deal will accelerate development of sensor technology used on farms and support wider global distribution of its inline milk sensors. . .


Rural round-up

April 1, 2015

Big dump culmination of years of worry – David Bruce:

A frustrated North Otago farmer drove 120km on Monday to dump a load of excrement at the Otago Regional Council’s doorstep in Dunedin. David Bruce talks to him about why he did it.

Five Forks dairy farmer Robert Borst says he is at a loss about where to go from here.

He says he faces losing everything he has worked for in an industry he has wanted to be in since he was 15.

He left school and started at the bottom in dairying, shifted from Taranaki to the Waitaki Plains in 1992 then, from 1997, he and wife Sylvia started to build up what are now three dairy farms at Five Forks.

Changes in a water plan by the Otago Regional Council setting new limits on discharges from his farms has put everything in jeopardy, he believes. . .

Positive agriculture Omarama winner – Sally Rae:

Omarama farmers Richard and Annabelle Subtil want to help highlight the positive side of agriculture.

Mr and Mrs Subtil were named the supreme winners in this year’s Canterbury Ballance farm environment awards.

The couple farm Omarama Station, a property of nearly 12,000ha, which has been in Mrs Subtil’s family since 1919. . .

Farmer confidence grows – Dene Mackenzie and Sally Rae:

There is a sense of relief as two surveys show regional economic confidence rose in the three months ended March.

Farmer confidence has taken a ”significant jump” in the first quarterly Rabobank rural confidence for the year. The survey, completed earlier this month, was released the same day as Fonterra dropped its dividend estimate range by 5c to between 20c and 30c to the disappointment of farmers.

The Westpac McDermott Miller regional economic confidence survey showed rural regions and smaller centres generally showing the biggest gains. Confidence in the main centres was mixed. . .

Can science fix the dairy debate – Kevin Ikin:

The debate continues on whether there should be a moratorium on further dairy farm development.

The Green Party and the Fish and Game organisation are keen on the concept, which they say should be given serious consideration while the impact of intensive farming on the environment is properly assessed.

The issue also came up at a water management forum in Geraldine, South Canterbury, last week.

One of the speakers, Morgan Foundation economist Geoff Simmons said if the Government was serious about water quality then it had to consider a moratorium on further dairy farm conversions.

“Actually, if you are maintaining or improving the water quality, how can you do that when you are still doing conversions? . .

Fonterra’s disappointing performance – Allan Barber:

Fonterra’s interim result announcement contains confirmation of the farmgate milk price forecast of $4.70, but a reduction in the added value dividend.

The steady milk payout forecast was anticipated, although Global Dairy Trade auction results have so far failed to achieve the US$3,500 per tonne average which is estimated to be the minimum needed to underpin the payout. The higher volume being released for auction GDT and likely milk production by competitors such as American and European farmers may actually increase the risk of underachieving the forecast end of year payout. . .

Fonterra says it’s holding its own in Canterbury as farmer suppliers look to new processors – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group, New Zealand’s largest dairy processor, says it’s holding its own in the dairy-intensive Canterbury region, despite reports some of its 10,600 farmers shareholders are lining up to supply milk to its competitors in the wake of its weak interim results last week.

Farmers were disappointed with the half-year results, which included a 16 per cent drop in profit to $183 million and a trimming of the forecast dividend payout for the year by 5 cents to a range of between 20 cents and 30 cents. Faced with a low forecast payout of $4.70 per kilogram of milk solids this season compared to a record $8.40 kg/MS last season, farmers had been expecting a fatter rather than skinnier dividend from its value-added activities. . .

Search on for 2015 Young Horticulturist of the Year:

A nationwide search begins this week for young men and women who exemplify the leadership qualities that have earned New Zealand’s primary products the trust of consumers all over the world.

Starting this April, young horticultural leaders from every corner of New Zealand will compete in six sector competitions to qualify as a finalist in the Royal NZ Institute of Horticulture Education Trust’s ‘Young Horticulturist of the Year 2015 Competition’.

2014 overall winner, Northland orchardist and horticultural business owner, Patrick Malley, believes that despite the ups and downs the primary sector has faced in recent times, New Zealand’s value as a leading producer of primary products comes from the high levels of trust this country’s products enjoy overseas. . .


Rural round-up

March 18, 2015

A champion at work and play – Rick Powdrell:

For generations New Zealand has been blessed with numerous elite athletes from the wide variety of codes our sports mad nation participates in.

Through those generations we have seen a number of supreme elite athletes that have been outstanding in their particular sport, an athlete we describe as one out of the box.

Our generation has been privileged to witness ‘one out of the box’- shearer David Fagan. He has set numerous records, winning over 600 open events while been an inspiration to aspiring shearers and the farming community.

His record of 17 national championships, 16 Golden Shears titles, five individual world titles, seven world team titles and 10 world records is legendary and unsurpassed. . .

 The politics of effluent – Chris Lewis:

I have to say that when I entered farming politics, I never expected that a significant chunk of the conversations I would be having would be about the stuff that comes out of the back end of a cow.  The polite term is ‘effluent’ of course, but what is not polite is the significant impacts and costs involved with managing it.

Part of Waikato Federated Farmers role is to hold our regional council to account when warranted, and effluent has been a major bone of contention. However they are there to do a job, as are we, and sometimes it is just as important to celebrate them. Just as farmers feel we are always being criticised in the media, I imagine councils do too and as we well know this can result in an ill informed perspective being held by the public.

In the last six months the Waikato Regional Council have set up an Effluent Working Group that has worked with stakeholders such as councillors, council staff, dairy industry leaders and myself, to help navigate a better model of management going forward. . .

Fonterra confident $755 million price tag for Beingmate stake is good value – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group said the $755 million price tag for 18.8 percent of Shenzen-listed Beingmate Baby & Child Food represents good value and will deliver long-term value to the world’s largest dairy exporter.

The transaction, valued at 3,464 million RMB ($755 million) is well above the $615 million Fonterra indicated it would cost for up to a 20 percent share last year when the deal was first announced.

But chief financial officer Lukas Paravicini said the $615 million was a net figure, once the proceeds from the sale of Fonterra’s under-utilised Darnum plant in Australia into the joint venture it’s setting up with Beingmate are taken off the purchase price. . .

Third ANZ Young Farmer Contest Grand Finalist Named:

James Hoban is the third Grand Finalist to be named in the 2015 ANZ Young Farmer Contest.

The twenty-nine year old took first place at the Tasman Regional Final in Kirwee on Saturday 14 March after a very close and tense Evening Show.

Mr Hoban went home with a prize pack worth over $10,000 including cash, scholarships and products and services from ANZ, FMG, Lincoln University, Ravensdown, AGMARDT, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone. . . .

Matua Crowned Winemaker of Year And Champion Wine of Show:

Chief Winemaker Nikolai St George added some impressive bling to the Matua awards cabinet on Saturday night at the 2015 New Zealand Royal Easter Show Wine Awards, triumphing over all to take home the Royal Easter Show Trophy for Champion Wine of the Show in addition to the Pullman Hotels Trophy for Champion Syrah for the 2013 Matua Single Vineyard Matheson Syrah. With an additional two gold medals, 10 silver and two bronze, St George then took to the stage again to claim the Royal Agricultural Society Gold Medal for Wine Maker of the Year, which he also won in 2013. . .

 Federated Farmers Exec wins Golden Lamb Award:

Federated Farmers is thrilled one of their own has taken out this year’s Beef & Lamb Golden Lamb Awards.

Rick Powdrell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chairman says “Hamish Buchanan has outdone himself and should be incredibly proud of what he has achieved.”

“The Golden Lamb Awards is a challenging competition in its quest to find the highest yielding, most tender and tasty lamb in New Zealand. For our Tararua Meat & Fibre Chair to take that national title at such a young age is very impressive.” . . .

 

 


Rural round-up

March 17, 2015

‘Safety culture’ on farms preferred by farmers – Sally Rae:

Creating a compliance culture is not the answer to reducing the number of farm accidents, Beef and Lamb New Zealand chairman James Parsons says.

In his address to Beef and Lamb New Zealand’s annual meeting, held at LincolnFirst-Telford near Balclutha last week, Mr Parsons said the best people to assess risks and mitigate them were the farmers who managed them every day.

Including family in daily farming activities was a core farming value in action. . .

How to boost red meat earnings:

A new study of New Zealand’s red meat sector shows that savings of hundreds of millions, potentially billions of dollars can be made through industry rationalisation and consolidation.

The report, to be released in Wellington on the 17th March, ‘Red Meat Industry –Pathways to Long-Term Sustainability’ provides independent analysis of the industry, commissioned by Meat Industry Excellence (MIE), to help farmers and industry players make progress to reform the structure of the sector.

The report extrapolates various savings estimates from industry rationalisation and consolidation. It shows that more than $400 million in gains is available over five years just from the two big meat co-ops Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group getting together.(Refer Table 19 from Report). . .

 

MIE Red Meat Sector report to be released – Allan Barber:

   Tuesday sees the public release of the Meat Industry Excellence industry study ‘Red Meat Sector – Pathways to Long-Term Sustainability’ at a launch function in Wellington. The study, funded with the assistance of a grant from Beef + Lamb New Zealand, was commissioned in the middle of last year; it was initially due for release by the end of October, but concerns about the robustness of the findings delayed the process.

According to MIE’s website the two main areas of work were: . . .

Facing up to pest invasions: A new reality

With Queensland fruit fly breaching the borders yet again, despite investment in quarantine processes, questions need to be asked whether some pest incursions are inevitable and if more should be invested in preparedness rather than prevention.

That’s according to Professor Philip Hulme, an expert in plant biosecurity at the Bio-Protection Research Centre at Lincoln University.

“Biosecurity has traditionally had a strong border focus, yet we have seen many examples recently of major pests slipping through; such as PSA, potato/tomato psyllid, and the great white cabbage butterfly. We also know that there are many pests on the horizon that will be difficult to prevent from establishing here, including myrtle rust and the brown marmorated stink bug.

NZ King Salmon may have to close farm:

New Zealand King Salmon says it may have to close one of its Marlborough farms for future summers after stock died from significantly warmer waters.

Average water temperatures at the company’s Waihinau Bay farm in the past few months have been some of the hottest on record for the area, averaging above the salmon’s ideal growing conditions. . .

Families central to club’s history – Sally Rae:

Ask Rick Aubrey why he keeps dog trialling and the answer is succinct: ”Too old to play footy, aren’t I?”

On a more serious note, it was the camaraderie involved and the ”buzz” he got from a good run that kept him involved in the sport. . .

NZ apple growers help transform India’s apple industry – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Pipfruit New Zealand, the pipfruit growers’ organisation, is working on a plan to help revitalise a key part of India’s declining apple industry with the long-term aim of having a tariff-free window for Kiwi apple exports

India’s apple industry is the fourth largest in the world by volume and the second largest by land area but grower returns are starting to decline as production drops because of ageing trees and pest and disease issues.

Pipfruit New Zealand is taking the lead on the World Bank project and along with the crown research institute Plant & Food Research, is now applying its expertise to a plan to rejuvenate apple growing in the state of Himachal Pradesh, one of India’s three main growing areas. . .


Rural round-up

February 26, 2015

Federated Farmers advises farmers to prepare Feed Budgets:

As stock feed becomes scarce Federated Farmers is encouraging farmers to get a feed plan and budget under way for the remainder of the year.

Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Adverse Events Spokesperson says “The dry conditions and reduced payout have left many farmers not only short of feed now, but facing a shortage for the rest of the year.”

“Farmers may have already done this, but given this is a pretty stressful time we want to remind them to keep it up to date.” . . .

A2 Milk’s premium payout attracts farmer interest with lower dairy prices this year – Fiona Rotherham:

 (BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co, which markets milk with a protein variant said to have health benefits, says it’s had more interest from farmers interested in supplying the company since dairy prices have dropped this year.

A2 Milk pays a premium of around 5 to 7 percent to its small number of farmer suppliers in New Zealand, Australia, and the UK, which has become more attractive as the farmgate milk price for standard milk has dropped markedly this season. Dairy exporter Fonterra Cooperative Group is due to update tomorrow morning its forecast milk price which was reduced to $4.70 per kilogram of milk solids in December compared to $8.40/kgMS last season. . .

 

Old Reefton mines to be cleaned up:

New Zealand’s most toxic contaminated site located near Reefton in two old mines are to be cleaned up in a joint funding agreement between the Ministry for the Environment and the Department of Conservation totalling $3 million, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today in Reefton.

“The Prohibition and Alexander mine sites are acutely toxic and a blight on New Zealand’s clean, green reputation. The levels of arsenic are among the highest recorded anywhere in the world at 400,000 parts per million on land, or 500 times the safe level, and in water at 300 parts per million, or 33,000 times the safe limit for drinking water,” Dr Smith says.

“We need to clean up this site so as to prevent ongoing contamination to the surrounding environment and make the site safe for future generations. . .

It is time to stand up for agriculture – About Agriculture:

Ahhhhh, Sunday morning.  The perfect time to sit down with a cup of coffee and actually open and read some of those links I’ve been eyeing up on twitter and facebook.  This week I started jotting down a few ideas for a couple blog posts and now I am searching social media to help with some thoughts to finish one.  I read through a few posts and news stories until I stumble upon a newly posted video of a TEDx talk by Robert Saik on GMOs.  Knowing Roberts company (AGRI-TREND) and his values, I figure that I should take the 20 minutes and listen, and I am really glad I did.

Our farm is not a customer of AGRI-TREND so there is no conflict of interest, this is not a paid post, and I am not ‘shilling’ in any way.  It is sad that these are statements that I feel I have to make when speaking up for biotechnology and agriculture, but the accusation of somehow being employed by “big Ag” (whatever ‘big Ag ‘means) is all too common. . .

Hat Tip: Utopia

White clover rewards careful sowing:

Farmers can get up to 20% more white clover established in their new paddocks simply by sowing it differently, a Canterbury trial has found.

Agriseeds compared five different techniques for establishing new pasture in autumn, plus a control treatment, to find out more about what effect sowing method has on clover population in the sward.

Broadcasting clover and ryegrass seed on the surface, then harrowing and rolling it to simulate the effect of a roller drill, gave the best result when the swards were analysed nine months after sowing. . .

 

The World’s LOUDEST Apple:

SweeTango® apples are the hottest apple in the world right now and it’s all about texture! SweeTango® have cells that are twicethe size of normal apples which gives them their legendary crunch and makes them amazing to eat. It’s also the reason why they’ve been scientifically proven to be the loudest apple in the world!

Bred by the University of Minnesota, who are known for developing unique varieties, SweeTango® has a flavour that is rich and intense at a time when many apples are becoming bland.

SweeTango® apples are ready in late January, before any other fresh commercial apple varieties are available. And because The Yummy Fruit Company are the only company growing them outside of the United States it means we get to enjoy them first each season! . . .

 


Rural round-up

February 13, 2015

Sheep and beef farmer environment champions:

Seventy sheep and beef farmers from around the country are gathering in Wellington this week to equip themselves with the skills and knowledge they need to negotiate sustainable land and water management regulations in their own regions.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has facilitated the conference given the growing need for sheep and beef farmers to be represented on their local catchment groups and working with their Regional Councils to ensure sheep and beef farmers’ voices are heard as decisions on farming within limits are developed.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive, Dr Scott Champion said the group of farmers who are attending the two day workshop have put their hands up to say they want to learn everything they can about being involved in environmental decisions in their own regions. . .

 NZ orange roughy exports accelerate as fish stocks improve – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand orange roughy exports are accelerating as catch limits of the deepwater fish, once a poster child for bad fisheries management, increase amid confidence about improving stocks.

Exports of the slow-growing fish, which can live for up to 130 years, rose 6.9 percent to a three-year high of $36.5 million last year, according to Statistics NZ data. That compares with a high of $170.2 million in 1988 when the fishery was at its peak, and a low of $29 million in 2012 when catch limits were cut back. . .

Just how far can Overseer be trusted? –  Doug Edmeades:

Assuming that only matters of great importance to the nation get discussed in Parliament, Overseer is now a national issue.

Hansard records show that on November 26 and again on December 2, 2014, questions were raised in the House of Representatives about the use of Overseer.

Specifically, concerns were raised about Overseer’s fitness for purpose and in particular its use for setting nutrient limits and compliance monitoring in regional council plans.

I will assume that all farmers, except those sent loco by the summer heat, know that the Overseer to which I refer, is not the boss-person. I’m talking about Overseer, the nutrient budgeting tool being promoted by its owners and regional councils to improve nutrient management and in particular to managing nitrate N losses. . .

Conditions not structures cause of red meat price drop – Allan Barber:

The pre Christmas surge of optimism, boosted by high beef and sheepmeat prices when export volumes were low, has largely disappeared. The impact of the drought in the lower North and South Islands has seen slaughter numbers increase dramatically at the same time as a series of negative events have reared their head in world markets.

Unfortunately nobody foresaw such an adverse combination of events coinciding at the same time, although our weakening dollar made a positive difference. Drought always pushes stock prices down because available processing capacity, even in these times of excess capacity, can’t handle the livestock numbers farmers need to get off their farms; overseas customers know they are in the driving seat and, naturally enough, pay no more than they must. . .

Environmental advisor turning farmer:

Q&A with 29-year-old James Hoban, who is in the process of moving across to farming after six years at Environment Canterbury.

Former ECan land manager advisor James Hoban is working towards a career in sheep farming. His key environmental insight for fellow farmers is around completing a farm environment plan. He says 90 per cent of what is covered is generally recording what farmers are already doing.

While most of his family’s 227ha property at Culverden is currently leased for dairy support, James has his eye on a farming career in the medium term and is consulting in the meantime. He left ECan in June and has been kept busy advising farmers in the environmental space ever since. James is a member of the B+LNZ Northern South Island farmer council and is also heavily involved in the “Dryland farmers group”, which is approaching ECan for a plan change regarding the controversial Hurunui/Waiau water zone. . .

DairyNZ addresses price dip, drought:

DairyNZ has launched a campaign to help dairy farmers survive a tough season bought on by a low milk price and now drought.

More than 70 farmers from around 30 farms nationwide have agreed to share their information and host events as part of the Tactics for Tight Times campaign. The campaign is designed to help farmers survive the current season and build their resilience for the future.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says the fact the Minister for Primary Industries has declared drought conditions on the east coast of the South Island as a medium-scale adverse event, has highlighted the critical need for extra support for farmers. . .

Ban and fine for animal neglect:

Two lifestyle farmers in the Tararua District have been banned from owning or managing livestock for two years after being convicted of animal neglect.

Gavin Matthews and Wendy Francis Hayward of Pahiatua admitted a charge under the Animal Welfare Act, stemming from a complaint in 2012, about the poor condition of cows on a Pongaroa grazing block managed by the pair.

As well as the ban, they have been fined a total of $8,500. . .

Wallace Corp backs Ligar to commercialise novel polymer products – Fiona Rotherham:

 (BusinessDesk) – Ligar, a startup developing molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs), has secured an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars from Wallace Corp, operator of New Zealand’s largest animal products rendering facility, to fund a range of industrial trials that could see it commercialise some products this year.

Ligar is developing molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) for purification and extraction that solve a growing need for many industries to extract both valuable and unwanted substances, such as consumable liquids, dissolved minerals, water or ingredients used in manufacturing.

It has already used its specially-designed molecules to remove agri-chemicals and smoke taint from wine and is now investigating food and beverage purification and metal extraction. . .

Cheese, Yoghurt & Butter Unite for Battle of NZ’s Best:

The battle to find New Zealand’s best cheese is set to be fierce with over 400 entries, three new cheese companies, a new cheese type, new international judges and the exciting addition of yoghurt and butter categories.

Now in its twelfth year, the New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards bring the country’s finest specialty cheese under one roof, in the hope of winning one of 23 champion titles.

This year is a stand out in award history with the new addition of yoghurt and butter categories, acknowledging the importance of these dairy products alongside cheese in retail chillers.

The future of New Zealand cheese making will also be recognised with the first Primary ITO ‘Aspiring Cheesemaker’ Award. . .

Wool Firms:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the combined North and South Island auction offering 14,000 bales saw a generally strong market with 96 percent clearance.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies lifted 0.43 percent compared to the last sale on 4th February having minimal impact on the market.

Mr Dawson advises that steady sales and quick shipment requirements are continuing to keep pressure on local price levels. . .

 

CRV Ambreed appoints new senior managers:

Leading herd management company CRV Ambreed is continuing to grow its capacity to support New Zealand dairy farmers with two key appointments to its senior management team.

Mathew Macfie and Andrew Singers have been appointed as sales and marketing manager and information management and information technology manager respectively.

CRV Ambreed managing director Angus Haslett said the additions to its senior management team will help the company continue to offer leading herd improvement solutions in New Zealand. . .

 

 

 


Rural round-up

January 15, 2015

Strong demand improves meat export returns:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand compiles lamb, mutton and beef export statistics for the country. The following summarises activity during the first quarter of the 2014-15 meat export season (1 October 2014 to 31 December 2014).

Summary

A more favourable exchange rate and strong demand – particularly for beef – saw average meat export returns improve in the first quarter of the 2014-15 season. . .

Parched land alarms farmers – David Loughrey:

 The reality of Otago’s continuing dry weather is beginning to bite hard and an end to irrigation for some farmers is taking a financial toll.

Andrew and Lynnore Templeton have been a full week in a brown, baking Middlemarch with no water available from a Taieri River running below its minimum flow.

Federated Farmers said farmers were becoming alarmed at how fast the land was drying out, while the Otago Regional Council said it was continuing meetings with farmers to try to deal with the situation. . .

Dry soil conditions put DairyNZ on alert to boost support:

Soils are drying out fast around the country, but above the ground it’s a different story, with grass and feed supplies looking good in many parts of the country, says industry body DairyNZ.

General manager of extension, Craig McBeth, says DairyNZ is closely monitoring the soil moisture and feed levels in all regions in case it needs to quickly ramp up support for farmers having a dry summer coming on top of a low seasonal milk price.

“It is already severely dry in parts of Canterbury and North Otago and farmers there are facing serious measures with some irrigation restrictions now in place. The south of the Wairarapa is also very dry. The soil moisture data is also showing us that the rest of the country is on the brink of heading into dryer than average soil moisture conditions. We need to see some rain soon to reduce the risk of a normal dry summer turning into something more serious,” he says. . .

 The Search is on for the Nation’s Top Steak:

Beef farmers across the country are putting their best entries forward for the thirteenth annual Beef + Lamb New Zealand Steak of Origin Competition.

The highly anticipated competition, sponsored by Zoetis, seeks to find New Zealand’s most tender and tasty steak, an award taken seriously by those in the industry.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO, Dr Scott Champion, says the competition is a great platform to showcase the New Zealand beef industry and illustrates the great care farmers take in producing the best quality beef.

“It’s also a competition keenly contested by beef farmers who strive to take the coveted Steak of Origin title,” says Champion. . . .

New test for serious algal toxin threat saves time and money for NZ shellfish farmers – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – The most serious algal toxin threat to New Zealand shellfish can now be detected faster and at around a quarter of the previous cost through a new test method likely to be introduced this year.

The test for paralytic shellfish toxin (PST), the most serious of shellfish poisoning syndromes caused by harmful algae, has been developed by New Zealand’s Cawthron Institute in collaboration with the UK’s Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science.

Cawthron researchers developed the world’s first instrumental test method for marine toxins in seafood using marine biotoxins it sells for more than $100,000 per teaspoonful to laboratories worldwide after some people fell sick from eating shellfish affected by algal blooms in the 1990s. . .

Potato shortage has upside in Southland – Phil McCarthy:

They’re eating our potatoes in the North Island, and in Taiwan too.

A nationwide potato shortage is leaving some chip-lovers pining for their favourite flavours, with some Southland supermarkets posting notices in chip aisles apologising for supply shortages. However, one Southland company is making up for a shortage of fresh potatoes in the central North Island – and tip-toeing into exporting fresh potatoes to Asia. 

Pyper’s Produce director Brent Lamb said it was not very often the Branxholme-based growers sold potatoes into the North Island but they had since late November because poor growing conditions there had limited the supply of fresh potatoes. . .

Runs on board for deer initiative:

Advance Parties, a Deer Industry NZ initiative designed to help farmers increase the profitability of their farm businesses, is getting runs on the board. At the end of the first year of a three-year trial co-funded by the Sustainable Farming Fund, there are eight Advance Parties underway, involving 89 farms.

Project manager Amy Wills says Advance Party members are committed to personal and farm business development, sharing their data, methods, plans, results, problems and successes. It’s very different to a farm discussion group.

Because members lay all their cards on the table, Advance Party meetings are limited to the participating farmers, their families and staff, plus a facilitator. Meetings are not open to the public or the media. . .

 

New Zealand Winegrowers launches Mandarin-language website

New Zealand Winegrowers has launched a Mandarin-language website to support ongoing marketing activities in China.

The site, www.nz-wine.cn, features information about New Zealand’s wine-growing regions and key grape varietals with content mirroring the flagship English-language site www.nzwine.com. In addition it includes details of upcoming events in Mainland China, links to social media platforms Weibo and WeChat, and offers insight to the New Zealand wine industry’s widespread commitment to sustainability. . .

 


Rural round-up

January 5, 2015

Is raw milk safe? Some pasteurisation facts. Why I won’t well Raw milk & what to look for in a raw milk supplier – Milking on the Moove:

Tragically a child in Australia has died as a result of drinking contaminated raw milk.

So the raw milk vs pasteurised milk debate begins again. The comments on this article from June this year show the diverse opinions.

I grew up drinking raw milk from the vat. We looked long and hard at selling raw milk. We looked at the issues and decided that raw milk was not for us. I’ll explain why.

Is raw milk safe or not? 

The quick answer is, it can be safe, but it can turn bad very quickly. . .

Silver Fern Farms profit unsatisfactory, but promises more to come – Fiona Rotherham:

Silver Fern Farms, New Zealand’s biggest meat processor and marketer, has returned to profit after two years of losses but admits it still needs to deliver more.

Net profit after tax was $500,000 in the year ended Sept. 30, a significant turnaround from the $28.6 million after tax loss the previous year while pre-tax profit was $1.8 million compared to a loss of $36.5 million in 2013, the Dunedin-based cooperative said in a statement.

Over the same period the company paid down $99 million in debt as part of a plan to reduce the company’s debt servicing costs. Total income was $2.32 billion, up from $2 billion the previous year while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation was $68.1 million, a nearly $46 million improvement on the 2013 financial year. . .

Silver Fern Farms release audited result just before Christmas – Allan Barber:

The delayed and much anticipated final result for Silver Fern Farms’ 2014 year has made it into the public arena in time for Christmas. Although it has squeaked in just above breakeven for the year at $1.8 million pre-tax and $0.5 million after tax, this is worse than the original guidance of $5-7 million announced at the end of October.

The difference is accounted for by a $3.3 million provision following a ruling by the Employment Relations Authority in relation to a technical redundancy arising from the closure of the Silverstream plant in 2013. From recollection SFF laid off staff on the basis of a seasonal shutdown, although at the time the company announced that it was unlikely to reopen unless stock numbers increased significantly.

The ERA’s ruling suggests this automatically implies a technical redundancy situation, whereas SFF believes not. The company has sensibly chosen (requested by the auditors?) to make the provision “while we consider our next steps over the coming month” according to chairman Rob Hewett. The time taken to reach this decision indicates the auditors must have refused to sign the accounts without this provision. . .

Year of contrasts for rural New Zealand:

It has been a year of contrasts for rural New Zealand, weather-wise and in other ways.

In Northland, for instance, while some farmers were emerging from drought, others were battling floods.

And dairy farmers saw record milk payments for the past season plunge from above eight dollars a kilo to below five dollars in a few short months.

Pondering on that is Waikato University’s professor of agribusiness, Jacqueline Rowarth.

“Hooray, hooray for good prices and then far more of a crash than actually was predicted by any of the analysts, though the banking ones were saying ‘watch out, we don’t think it’s going to be as good as you’re saying’, but of course they’re still saying that and there are some fairly dire predictions by the end of the year. . .

Rabobank Beef Quarterly Q4: Supplies remain tight amid robust consumer demand:

Rabobank’s Beef Quarterly Q4 reports that tight global cattle and beef supplies continued in Q4 2014, although prices tempered from their Q3 highs. The US remains the major global driver, with import demand affecting prices and volumes for other countries. A big question heading into 2015 with such a finely balanced market is—if Australian export rates decrease and herds in Mexico and Canada continue to be run down by the US—whether a new norm has been reached for prices or whether they still have room to rise.

“The US continues to be the driver in the global beef market with constrained supply and strong demand keeping prices high. A recent strengthening in the US economy and dollar will support continued imports to the US however we are watching a drop in the oil price and depreciation of the Russian Ruble given Russia’s status as the world’s largest beef importer”, explains Rabobank analyst Angus Gidley-Baird.  . .

Wine industry shows continued increasing profitability:

2014 financial benchmarking survey supports industry-wide optimism

The turnaround in the New Zealand wine industry has continued in 2014 on the back of improved profitability across wineries of all sizes, according to the ninth annual financial benchmarking survey released today by Deloitte and New Zealand Winegrowers.

Vintage 2014 tracks the financial results of wineries accounting for over 40% of the industry’s export sales revenue for the 2014 financial year. Survey respondents have been categorised into bands according to revenue to assist comparison within the industry.

Deloitte partner Peter Felstead says that for the first time since 2007, every category showed profitability before tax, ranging from 3.3% to 17.6%. . . .

New technology helps in fight against pests – Adrien Taylor:

A New Zealand inventor hopes to add drones to the fight against pests.

He won $25,000 to help turn his dream into reality and a trial of his Trap Minder system is taking place on Great Barrier Island this summer.

Scott Sambell and his dog Millie are finding that keeping Glenfern Sanctuary pest-free can be hard work.

The 240 hectare peninsula is cordoned off by a pest-proof fence to protect native wildlife, but that doesn’t stop a handful of unwanted predators making their way in every year. . .


Rural round-up

December 24, 2014

The winding path for agri-food – Keith Woodford:

With another year winding down, it is time to reflect on how well the agri-food industries have been travelling, and to look forward to what the next twelve months might bring.

2014 will be the remembered as the year that the dairy industry started on the super highway but then hit a pot hole. Many in the industry expected a slow-down, but most have been surprised by the depth of the hole. It is also the year when the dairy industry began to recognise the full extent of the nitrogen leaching challenge.

For beef, 2014 was the best farming year there has ever been, and for sheep farmers it was also a positive year. The kiwifruit recovery gained momentum, and the wine industry moved forward. These outcomes have all occurred despite an exchange rate that for much of the year was at record highs. . . .

Landcorp seeks to fatten sheep returns through wool deal, milk – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) Landcorp, New Zealand’s largest corporate farmer, is moving on two fronts to expand the money it makes from sheep, signing a three-year contract with NZ Merino to manage its entire wool clip and planning a trial of milking some of the flock.

The state-owned enterprise indicated last July it was taking a serious look at milking sheep as a way of getting a third income, along with meat and wool, from its flock.

Chief executive Steve Carden said while milking sheep is common offshore, most of it is consumed domestically and there is no real international player. Landcorp has been investigating establishing a premium, niche sheep milk brand from the 370,000 ewes it farms. . .

Venison companies working together:

The venison exporter and processor, Duncan and Co is hoping it will soon join other companies whose plants have been certified to supply venison to China.

This year seven venison processing plants received approval to export to China, which was a new market for New Zealand farmed deer meat.

Duncan and Co’s general marketing manager Glenn Tyrrell said it was hoping its plants would also be cleared for China in the new year.

And it was working with four other companies on a joint marketing project. . .

Avocado industry waits for China clearance:

The New Zealand avocado industry is waiting for clearance to export to China, as it expands its trade into Asian markets.

The Ministry for Primary Industries was negotiating an access agreement for China and avocados are at the top of its priority list for horticultural products.

Chief executive of New Zealand Avocado Jen Scoular said only Chile and Mexico had access to China for the fruit.

But she said avocado industry representatives attended a fruit and vegetable fair in Beijing last month, where Chinese officials indicated they saw no technical reasons why New Zealand should not be granted access as well. . .

Gibbston Valley Winery launches full-service bike centre to cater for growing demand:

Award-winning Gibbston Valley Winery is adding to the experiences that locals and visitors can enjoy at the winery with the opening of a new on-site bike centre.

Gibbston Valley Winery CEO Greg Hunt said the centre was the next stage in the company’s continued expansion, enabling them to cater to the growing demand for cycling facilities in the region and grow its biking product while also showcasing award-winning wine and food.

“Located across from the beautiful Kawarau River and next to Rabbit Ridge Bike Resort, our new biking centre gives people convenient access to some of the top biking trails in Queenstown and a premium Central Otago wine and food experience,” said Mr Hunt. . .

Silver Fern Farms Confirms Audited Result:

Silver Fern Farms has bounced back to profit and reduced debt for the 2014 year.

The co-operative is reporting a net profit before tax for the year of $1.8 million, a $38.3 million improvement on the 2013 season. Over the same period the company paid down $99 million in debt as part of a plan to reduce the cost of debt servicing to the company.

Chairman Rob Hewett says Silver Fern Farms’ shareholders will be heartened to see audited confirmation of the turnaround in profitability. . . 

Sealord nets a profit and pays dividend:

Sealord Group Ltd has reported a net profit after tax of NZD$25.4 million for its financial year ending 30th September 2014.

The result marks a return to profit for the Group following the exit from its Argentine fishing investment the previous year.

The result has enabled Sealord to declare a dividend of NZD $10.5 million to its shareholders.

Company revenues of NZD $448 million were slightly lower on the previous year due to unfavourable foreign exchange movements.

According to Chairman Matanuku Mahuika, the result represents a significant turnaround from the previous year. . .


Rural round-up

December 15, 2014

Commission releases final report on statutory review of Fonterra’s 2014/15 Milk Price Manual:

The Commerce Commission today released its final report on its statutory review of Fonterra’s Milk Price Manual (the Manual) for the 2014/15 dairy season. The Manual sets out the rules for how Fonterra will calculate the amount it will pay dairy farmers for raw milk this season. This is called the base milk price.

The Commission is required to report each dairy season on the extent to which the Manual promotes the setting of a base milk price that provides incentives for Fonterra to operate efficiently, while providing for contestability in the market for the purchase of milk from farmers.

This is the first of two statutory reviews that the Commission is required to undertake each dairy season under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 (DIRA). . .

 

Fonterra back Mymilk for more milk:

Fonterra has today launched a separate milk sourcing subsidiary to grow market share in its New Zealand milk pool, and provide a new pathway to membership in the Co-operative.

Called mymilkTM, it will initially invite applications, from farms in the Canterbury, Otago and Southland regions that are not currently supplying Fonterra, for one year contracts, renewable for a maximum of five years, without the obligation to purchase Fonterra shares. At any time mymilkTM suppliers can apply to join the Co-operative, purchase shares and supply Fonterra directly.
Fonterra Chairman John Wilson said: “It is good for the Co-operative and the country for Fonterra to be the first name on the list for farmers considering their supply options. We know there are farmers who support the co-operative model, but are at the stage of development where sharing up is currently beyond their financial reach. . .

Fonterra Shareholders Council gives nod ‘with caveats’ to new milk supply plan – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – The Fonterra Shareholders Council is “broadly supportive” of plans for the cooperative to start sourcing milk from South Island suppliers who are not also shareholders, with a couple of caveats.

Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s largest dairy exporter, yesterday announced a new milk sourcing subsidiary, mymilk, which would try to get milk in the Canterbury, Otago, and Southland regions where competition for milk supply is most intense from new suppliers on contracts on up to five years without the obligation to purchase shares. The feedback, particularly from new farmers who have recently spent a large amount of money converting farms to dairy, is that they can’t currently afford to now buy shares in the cooperative but would do so at a later date.

Shareholders Council chairman Ian Brown said the competition for milk supply at the farmgate was one of the biggest changes he’d seen in his farming career. “It’s a changed mindset to how to attract suppliers whereas in the old days it was what to do with new supply. That’s a mindset shift.” . . .

 

Mymilk likely to get up noses of Fonterra shareholders – Allan Barber:

Fonterra has launched a new company called mymilkTM which is specifically designed to attract supply from South Island dairy farmers who don’t currently supply Fonterra. The website says it’s cooperative, but that’s a bit hard to see when the supplier has no obligation to buy any shares within five years and only has to sign a one year contract.

The website also says somewhat cutely the company is ‘backed’ by Fonterra, when it is actually a wholly owned subsidiary. This new venture is no doubt directed at tempting Synlait and Westland suppliers to jump ship without having to stump up with any share capital (at least for five years).

It promises competitive payment – competitive with whom? Fonterra or one of the others? But it is not clear exactly how mymilkTM will avoid paying the same price or even a higher one (shades of meat industry schedule premiums) to secure a new sign up. Under Trading Among Farmers, it is expressly forbidden for Fonterra to have different classes of shareholders and under cooperative principles equality of payment is sacrosanct. . .

RBNZ sees 44% bounce in whole milk powder in 2015 – Paul McBeth:

 (BusinessDesk) – The Reserve Bank expects whole milk powder prices to rise by about 44 percent next year as the slump in global prices this year prompts less competitive processors to scale back their production in the face of smaller returns.

The central bank expects whole milk powder, which is New Zealand’s dominant dairy export, to rise to US$3,200 a metric tonne by early 2016, from its current price of US$2,229/tonne as international producers who were lured by record prices last year are squeezed out by this year’s decline, governor Graeme Wheeler told Parliament’s finance and expenditure select committee after this morning’s monetary policy statement.

New Zealand’s advantage is that it’s the most competitive dairy producer in the world and can operate with lower prices than its rivals, he said. . .

 

Sponsors provide choice cuts for Gate-to-Plate competition:

Cabernet Foods is the latest Gate-to-Plate sponsor to offer competition organisers added value – over and above a core contribution.

The Gladstone-based company has said, for every lamb that any 2015 Gate-to-Plate contestant consigns direct to Cabernet Foods (from 21st February 2015 to 20th February 2016), the business will donate $1 to the Masterton A&P Association to help further develop the Gate-to-Plate competition.

Lyndon Everton, Cabernet’s Managing Director, says, “This competition has the ability to showcase the Wairarapa’s primary sector not only on local menus but also nationally.

“The Gate to plate attachment to the A&P show is a fantastic opportunity for the pastoral farmer to win the hearts and minds of their urban cousins.” . . .

Aotearoa Fisheries back in black in 2014 as Sealord returns to profit – Paul McBeth:

 (BusinessDesk) – Aotearoa Fisheries, which manages more than $530 million of fisheries assets for its iwi shareholders, returned to profit in the 2014 financial year after its major investment, Sealord group, was back in black after exiting its unprofitable South American business.

The Auckland-based company reported a profit of $21.9 million in the 12 months ended Sept. 30, turning around a loss of $6 million a year earlier, it said in a statement. That was largely due to a $12.7 million contribution from Sealord, which Aotearoa Fisheries jointly owns with Japan’s Nippon Suisan Kaisha. Sealord posted a loss of $44.3 million in 2013, reflecting a $46.9 million loss on the sale of its Argentine business.

“Aotearoa Fisheries own divisions were ahead of target which is pleasing under difficult operating conditions like the exchange rate and soft demand for paua in Asia,” chief executive Carl Carrington said. “This year our business will ramp up efforts in becoming a leader in sustainability which is wholly in line with our tikanga. There is no question that our long term future hinges on how well we perform in this area.” . . .

Wool Firm For Better Styles:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the 6,000 bales of North Island wool at auction this week saw a 95 percent clearance with good style wools holding their ground and poorer styles easing.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was 0.56 percent stronger but had minimal impact on the market with supply/demand factors being the current market driver.

Mr Dawson advises that full length Fine Crossbred Fleece was firm to 3.5 percent dearer with shorter types generally firm to 2 percent easier. . .

 

 


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