Rural round-up

October 8, 2015

Key sectors welcome TPP – Colin Bettles:

SUGAR may have been served a bitter-sweet outcome in the final Trans-Pacific Partnership but other key Australian commodities like beef, grains, dairy and cotton have tasted some success.

The Cattle Council of Australia (CCA) said the TPP deal – signed overnight by Federal Trade Minister Andrew Robb – would provide significant increased market opportunities for Australian grassfed beef producers, when it comes into force.

Game changer for beef

CCA president Howard Smith said the agreement signifies a game changing opportunity for the Australian beef industry which sees a positive future fort itself, in export markets. . . 

Rolleston wants GM use debate – Richard Rennie:

Councils’ efforts to ban genetically modified crops have Federated Farmers banging up against public opinion in some rural districts.

But federation president Dr William Rolleston argues the move to ban GM crops threatens farmers’ ability to innovate and is a choice they might lose through misinformation and misunderstandings about what the science is really about.

The federation’s case against council bans on GM use got a severe bruising when they lost on appeal to the Environment Court earlier this year. . . 

Milk price expected to hit $3000/t this year – Jemma Brackebush:

Banks and analysts are predicting international dairy prices will continue to rise, and a lift in Fonterra’s forecast payout looks likely.

Prices in the global dairy trade auction rose for the fourth consecutive time on Tuesday night.

The price for the key commodity, whole milk powder, which underpins the price Fonterra pays its farmers, increased by 12.9 percent to $US2,824 a tonne. . . 

Record jail sentence for animal abuser Michael Whitelock:

A dairy worker has been handed what is believed to be New Zealand’s longest-ever prison sentence for animal cruelty, after cows were beaten, had their tails broken and were shot in the kneecaps on a farm he managed.

Michael James Whitelock was sentenced in the Greymouth District Court on Wednesday to four and a half years jail and banned from owning animals for 10 years.

He had earlier pleaded guilty to 12 charges, including ill treatment of animals, unlawful possession of firearms and attempting to pervert the course of justice. . . 

Farmer suicides up – Jemma Brackebush:

Figures from the Ministry of Justice show 27 men in farming communities committed suicide in the past year ended June.

The chief coroner Deborah Marshall released annual provisional suicide statistics on Tuesday, which showed 564 people died by suicide in the past year, up 35 on the previous year and the highest number since records began eight years ago.

Male suicides rose from 385 last year to 428, and female suicides dropped from 144 to 136. . . 

Banks fork out a total $25.5M over rural interest rate swaps – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – The Commerce Commission has completed the distribution of $25.5 million to complainants and rural charities after reaching settlements with banks who had marketed interest rate swap products to farmers.

The commission says nearly $20 million in cash has been paid to eligible customers while $1.9 million was offset by the banks against debts some complainants owed to them. A further $2.5 million went to 14 regional Rural Support Trusts and the Dairy Women’s Network and the commission received $1 million to cover a portion of its investigation costs, including legal expenses. The bulk of the money came from the ANZ Bank New Zealand, which paid out $19.3 million in total, $3.2 million from ASB Bank and $3 million from Westpac Banking Corp. . . .

All Geared Up For The Glammies:

Entries are now open for the 2016 Golden Lamb Awards, aka the Glammies, which seeks out the tastiest and tender lamb in New Zealand.

The competition gives farmers the opportunity to enter their lamb into one of the most highly regarded competitions the industry has to offer.

The entries are then assessed by Carne Technologies in Cambridge for tenderness, yield, succulence and colour.

The scientific testing determines which top four entries from five categories will make it through to the final stage of the competition, a taste test, held at the Upper Clutha A&P show in Wanaka on 11 March 2016. . . 

New Zealand Bloodstock to Sponsor New Race in China:

New Zealand Bloodstock and the Inner Mongolia Rider Horse Industry Co. Ltd have partnered together to introduce the New Zealand Bloodstock Cup to be held in Inner Mongolia, China next year.

2015 RTR
The race is open to horses purchased by any Chinese buyer at this year’s New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale in November. To be held in July 2016 at Korchin, Inner Mongolia, the New Zealand Bloodstock Cup is worth RMB500,000 and will be run over 1800m.

NZB’s Co-Managing Director Andrew Seabrook is excited about the formal partnership reached between NZB and Rider Horse Group. . . 

Serious savings from whole-farm soil testing:

Whole-farm soil testing saves Taranaki farmer Hayden Lawrence about $15,000 on fertiliser each year.

Hayden, who farms in equity partnership with his wife Alecia and parents in Taranaki, began whole-farm soil testing seven years ago. To date, he has reaped about $90,000 in savings and has increased pasture production from 14.5 tonnes per hectare to 18.6T/ha on the 97ha property.

The Lawrences milk a maximum of 240 cows on an 85ha milking platform, using their hill country block to graze heifers. They also follow an 18-month cropping rotation, that sees paddocks planted into silage, oats, chicory and then into pasture. . . .

RHĀNZ welcomes Government’s new rural connectivity target:

The Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand welcomes the new rural connectivity target announced by the Government today.

The target means nearly all rural New Zealanders will be able to access broadband speeds of at least 50Mbps by 2025.

RHĀNZ Chairperson, Dr Jo Scott-Jones, says securing reliable and affordable telecommunications services is critical to the health and wellbeing of rural communities and is a top priority for all 40 RHĀNZ members.

“As part of our RBI phase 2 submission to Government earlier this year, we called for more ambitious targets for rural broadband speeds, so it is really pleasing to hear Minister Adams’s announcement today,” he says. . . 

Anglers urged to vote ‘in best interests of our fishing and hunting resources’:

The country’s anglers and game bird hunters are being reminded to make sure they vote in the Fish and Game Council elections.

Fish & Game Communications Manager Don Rood says that because voting closes at 5pm on Friday (9 October), those who are eligible and haven’t voted are advised to do so online, rather put voting papers in the post.

“We urge licenceholders to take the time to vote – to exercise their right to choose the people who can best advance their local region’s hunting and fishing interests. . . 

Free entry for 2016 Games:

The second annual Hilux New Zealand Rural Games takes place in Queenstown next Waitangi weekend (Sat 6th – Sun 7th Feb) and entry won’t cost you a cent.

Two days of ‘sports that built the nation’ and live entertainment on the Recreation Ground plus the Running of the Wools – more than 400 merino sheep herding through downtown Queenstown – will be completely free to watch.

We’ve been able to waive ticket prices thanks to the generous support of our patrons and event partners including major sponsors Toyota, Fonterra, Line 7, Ngai Tahu Farming, Jetstar and Husqvarna which has increased its support from the inaugural Games.

The Running of the Wools is once again supported by our friends at clothing and gift retailer, Global Culture. . . 

Rural round-up

September 17, 2015

Dairy price rise ‘green shoots’ – Dave Williams:

A third successive strong rise in dairy prices at auction has offered farmers the green shoots of a price recovery and set economists keying in more positive numbers into their calculators.

Fonterra’s GlobalDairyTrade auction price index jumped 16.5 percent to US$2568, with the company’s main commodity, whole milk powder, jumping 20.6 percent to US$2495.

It followed index rises of 14.8 percent and 10.9 percent but the BNZ warns it is off a very low base. . . 

Financial knowledge to help farmers have courageous conversations:

While the challenging times being faced by the dairy industry are largely outside farmers’ control, Dairy Women’s Network wants to remind farmers there are things they can do to empower themselves to minimise the negative impact on their businesses.

This includes having courageous conversations about the reality of their financial situations.

The Network is running free ‘Tracking the cash’ Dairy Modules throughout the country during October, November and December. . . 

Banks lift forecast dairy payouts as auction price rises:

Banks are upping their forecast dairy payouts on the back of a possible revival of fortunes for New Zealand’s struggling dairy industry.

The average overall price in the the overnight Global Dairy Trade auction rose 16.5 percent to $US2,568 per tonne.

Whole milk powder jumped 20.6 percent to $US2,495.

ASB has increased its forecast payout for the season to $5 a kilo. . . 

Last ditch effort to stop foreign Silver Fern buy in:

An industry group is appealing to the heads of Silver Fern Farms and the Alliance Group in a last-ditch attempt to stop foreign investment.

The farmer-led Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group has been trying to reform the red meat industry by blending the country’s two largest meat processors.

But, yesterday, Silver Fern Farms announced that China’s largest meat processor, Shanghai Maling, would inject $261 million into a new joint partnership.

MIE chairman and Southland sheep farmer Peter McDonald said farmers needed to shape their own future. . . 

Changes to commercial fishing catch limits:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced changes to commercial fishing limits in two areas as part of the annual fisheries sustainability review.

Catch limits for some gurnard, stargazer and rig stocks in the South Island have been increased where robust scientific information shows there has been an increase in abundance. The allowances for both recreational and commercial fishers will be increased as part of these decisions.

Total Allowable Catch limits have been decreased for the New Zealand hoki stock and the oreo stock on the Chatham Rise.

“A cautious approach has been taken for hoki given the low recent hoki biomass estimate in the Sub-Antarctic. The Total Allowable Catch for HOK1 will reduce from 161,640 tonnes to 151,540 tonnes for the 2015/16 fishing year,” says Mr Guy. . . 

Local tourism businesses asked to join fight to protect kauri:

The Coromandel Kauri Dieback Forum is seeking the help of Peninsula tourism operators and accommodation providers in protecting local kauri from the deadly kauri dieback disease, so the natural environment for which the Peninsula is famous for can be enjoyed by future generations.

The Forum is holding workshops specifically designed for the sector in Coromandel town at 2pm on Tuesday 22 September at Anchor Lodge and at 11am on Thursday 24 September at Ocean’s Resort in Whitianga. Everyone involved in a visitor-oriented business, from tourist attractions and activities through to accommodation providers of all types, is invited to attend the informal 1 ½ hour workshops, which will be run by Coromandel Adventures director Sarni Hart and Forum chairperson Vivienne Mclean. . .

Fish & Game vows ‘strong opposition’ to trout farming proposals:

Fish & Game has confirmed its strong opposition to commercial trout farming following revelations of a Bay of Plenty Regional Growth Study promoting, among other initiatives, the development of a commercial trout industry.

The study, which was undertaken to identify economic opportunities within the region, was commissioned by the Ministries of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and Primary Industries (MPI) in partnership with the Bay of Connections.

Trout farming has been identified as a ‘key priority for regional development’ after the launch of the study, and the formulation of an action plan endorsed at a workshop involving more than 120 regional leaders and stakeholders. . .

And a video on the Story of Milk from Friesland Campina.

Rural round-up

August 7, 2015

Rabobank Report: Moving Globally; What role will China play in the global beef market?:

Rabobank sees great potential in China’s beef market, and believes that Chinese investors will play an influential role in the global beef market over the next decade. According to Rabobank’s latest report, Moving Globally: What role will China play in the global beef market?, China’s beef demand will grow an additional 2.2 million tonnes by 2025. Driven by the weak domestic production, but with strong demand, the beef sector will likely become the first agricultural sector where China has high integration with the rest of the world and Chinese investors are expected to play an influential role in the global beef market.

In addition to the volume gap, China’s beef market also demonstrates potential for value-added and branded beef products. Strong demand from the food service and retail market channels provides opportunities for both Chinese and foreign companies in the further processing sector. . .


Fonterra’s restructure more about poor strategy than milk price – Allan Barber:

When Fonterra was formed back in 2001, there was a great sense of optimism about the potential for a New Zealand dairy company to compete on a truly global scale. The industry’s infighting and parochialism would be a thing of the past and the clear intention was to use the greater efficiencies and scale to create a substantially better performing business model.

The big question 14 years down the track is whether that objective has even remotely been achieved. Fonterra is the world’s leading exporter of milk products and the fourth largest dairy processor, so achievement to date appears consistent with the objective. But for many observers there was another, more ambitious expectation: to establish an internationally competitive value added business to compare and compete with Nestle and Danone. . .

Dairy sector needs to work together to manage downturn:

National accounting and business advisory firm Crowe Horwath is calling on all stakeholders in the dairy industry to work together to help the sector get through the current difficult period of lower milk solid prices.

On the back of dairy companies announcing a string of forecast milk price downgrades and prices continuing to plunge at the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) auctions, predictions are the current hard times for the dairy sector could potentially last another 18 months to two years.

Crowe Horwath says given the scale of the challenge now being faced by the industry, doing nothing is not an option for anyone involved, including farmers, banks, farm consultants and business advisors. . .


Fish & Game Calls for Fonterra to Lift Its Game After Pollution Conviction:

Fish & Game says Fonterra needs to lift its game after the dairy giant was fined $174,000 for several pollution offences under the Resource Management Act.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council prosecuted Fonterra for polluting the and other waterways after several wastewater system failures at Fonterra’s Edgecumbe dairy plant.

The offences occurred several times between September 2014 and April 2015.

Fonterra pleaded guilty to six charges and was sentenced in the Tauranga District Court by Judge Smith. . .


I’m worried! I’m sympathising with organic farmers over a land use conflict! – Jim Rose:

Writing this blog of sound mind and sober disposition, I still have considerable sympathy with two organic farmers over a land use conflict they have with the neighbouring gun range.

Local land use regulations allows a gun club to set up 600 m away with competitive shooting days all day for 88 days a year. That is a voluntary self restraint. They could hold shooting competitions every day of the year. The local land use regulations allow the use of guns on rural land. The gun club used this absence of a prohibition on the use of guns in the frequency of use to set up a gun range to fire guns all day long on rural land. . . .

Market Continues to Show Strength:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that a continuing upward trend at today’s South Island wool sale saw prices increase.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies decreased from 0.6314 to 0.6181, down 2.1 percent. The US dollar rate was down to .6520 from .6670 which meant increased prices in NZC terms.

Of the 5,564 bales on offer 5,260 sold, a clearance of 95 percent. . .


Matariki Forestry Group announces recapitalisation:

Matariki Forestry Group (“Matariki”) today announced a NZ$242 million capital infusion from Rayonier Inc., its largest shareholder. This injection of capital will be used for the repayment of all outstanding amounts under its existing NZ$235 million credit facility and for general corporate purposes.

Upon completion of this capital infusion, Rayonier’s ownership in Matariki will increase from 65% to approximately 77% and the Phaunos Timber Fund ownership will be reduced from 35% to approximately 23%. The capital infusion is subject to certain closing conditions including New Zealand Overseas Investment Office approval and is expected to close by year end. Matariki will realise interest cost savings of approximately NZ$15 million annually as a result of the recapitalisation. . .


NZARN says strategic feed approach key to farmer viability:

Nutrition experts have entered the milk price payout debate saying that a strategic approach and optimising home grown and supplementary feed resources are key to long-term viability.

The New Zealand Association of Ruminant Nutritionists (NZARN) urges farmers, in an article published on their website ( to benchmark themselves against the best performing farms to identify areas for improvement.

Dr. Julian Waters, NZARN Chairman says, “Maximising utilisation of home grown resources such as pasture, silage and crops should be the basis for a profitable business, with a sound strategy to incorporate supplements to increase efficiencies when home grown feed is limited.” . . .

 Internet Provider Puts Farmers’ Wellbeing First:

New Zealand internet provider, Wireless Nation, further demonstrates its commitment to the rural sector in a new agreement with Farmstrong, an initiative to promote wellbeing for all farmers and growers across New Zealand.

Wireless Nation’s zero-rated data agreement means that its Satellite Broadband customers can access Farmstrong’s website without the data counting towards their data cap.

Wireless Nation’s technical director, Tom Linn says he is passionate about making internet connectivity easier for people living in rural areas. . .

New Forests agrees to purchase Marlborough timber plantations from Flight Group:

New Forests today announced that it has reached agreement to purchase approximately 4,200 hectares of freehold land and softwood plantations from the Flight Group. The plantations consist of radiata pine and are located in the Marlborough region of New Zealand’s South Island.

The agreement forms part of a larger transaction by Flight Group, including the purchase of the Flight Timbers sawmilling assets by Timberlink, an Australian timber products processor that is also an investee company of New Forests. Completion of the plantation purchase by New Forests is subject to approval by the Overseas Investment Office. . .


Rural round-up

July 13, 2015

Savage dog attack kills 21 sheep: – Shannon Gillies:

A savage dog attack on sheep in the Christchurch suburb of Hei Hei has left about 21 animals dead and others injured.

Joshua Olykan said he came home to his parents’ Buchanan’s Road property yesterday morning to discover 14 animals dead, dying or badly injured.

He said two other neighbouring properties also suffered stock losses, with more than a dozen sheep savaged in a paddock between Gilberthorpes Road and Pound Road. . .

Save recreational access plea by Federated Farmers and Fish & Game:

Federated Farmers and Fish & Game are asking Parliament to ensure proposed health and safety legislation does not lead to restrictions on recreational access to farms and forests.

The Health and Safety in Employment Amendment Bill is presently being considered by the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee, which is due to report back on 24 July.

The bill is aimed at improving safety in all workplaces, including farms, but Federated Farmers and Fish & Game are concerned it will also inadvertently prevent people enjoying farms for recreation.

“We are all for making workplaces safer. New Zealand workers deserve nothing less,” said Fish & Game chief executive Bryce Johnson. . .

 Dairy farmers spend over $1billion on the environment:

Federated Farmers and DairyNZ have conducted a survey on New Zealand dairy farmers’ environmental investments, revealing an estimated spend of over $1billion over the past five years.

Five percent of the nation’s dairy farmers responded to the survey and reported on the environmental initiatives they had invested in such as effluent management, stock exclusion, riparian planting, upgrading systems and investing in technology, retiring land and developing wetlands.

“It is encouraging to see the significant investments farmers are putting into protecting and improving the environment,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy Chair.

“Farmers understand the need to get the balance right when it comes to lifting production and profits along with environmental responsibilities. . . “

 OceanaGold sees more life in Macraes goldfield – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – OceanaGold Corp, which is in the process of buying the Waihi Gold Mine, sees more life in the Macraes Goldfield in Otago as cheaper fuel and a weaker New Zealand dollar make the operation more attractive.

The Melbourne-based company discovered a new zone of gold mineralisation which could increase the potential reserves of the Macraes mine after embarking on a drilling programme in the first quarter of the year, it said in a statement. OceanaGold has been investigating ways to extend the mine’s life by three to five years after signalling plans to wind down the operation by the end of 2017.

“Changes to macro-economic conditions such as lower fuel costs and a weaker New Zealand dollar have resulted in significant benefits to our New Zealand operations,” chief executive Mick Wilkes said. “I am pleased to report that initial drilling has produced significant results that demonstrate the potential for increased reserves at the Macraes operations.” . .

Farmer experience ‘bottled’ to help dairying bounce back:

DairyNZ has created a new online resource detailing the financial spending of top performing dairy farms. This is part of the organisations work to help farmers cope with lower milk prices and set the industry up for a speedy recovery.

Economic modelling shows if farmers can decrease their potential loss by up to $1/kg MS this season they could recover from the low milk price three to four years faster.

DairyNZ general manager of research and development David McCall says one of the ways to capture this dollar is by spending on the right things and implementing good budgetary control of costs. . .

 Mexico wants more live NZ sheep, says broker – Eric Frykberg :

Timaru livestock dealer Peter Walsh says Mexico wants more live sheep from New Zealand.

Mr Walsh organised the sale of 45,000 sheep to Mexico.

Listen to Peter Walsh on Checkpoint ( 2 min 45 sec )

He said when they arrived, the Mexican authorities announced that they wanted more.

He said they would like 250,000 head a year in order to build up their national flock from quality New Zealand bloodlines, and he would be interested in doing more business with them. . .

Concern over upping live sheep export numbers – Rachel Graham;

Federated Farmers say the flow on effects of increasing live sheep exports to 250,000 a year would have to be carefully considered before it was given the go ahead.

 A livestock dealer who organised the sale of 45,000 sheep to Mexico for breeding, said the Mexican Government would like it to increase to 250,000 sheep a year.

Federated Farmers meat and fibre chair Rick Powdrell said the 45,000 sheep were sold by farmers struggling due to drought, and were likely to have been killed anyway.

He said sending a quarter of a million sheep a year would be a completely different situation. . .

Young Farmers Backed by Blue Wing Honda for Four Decades:

As the longest-standing sponsor of the ANZ Young Farmer contest, Blue Wing Honda has seen many talented young people take the title over the years – 40 of them to be precise.

Matt Bell of Aorangi was the latest to be awarded the coveted prize, winning the 2015 Grand Final of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest at Taupo over the weekend. Now in its 47th year, the contest known as ‘New Zealand’s ultimate rural challenge’ tests competitors’ mental dexterity and physical stamina while showcasing the sophistication of modern farming. . .



Rural round-up

April 6, 2015

Helicopter pilot Simon Spencer-Bower sets high farming and flying standards – Tim Cronshaw:

As a boy Simon Spencer-Bower would crane his neck to the sky to watch the crop dusters flying over his family farm at Eyrewell.

The deep impression their aerial feats made on the youngster was to set him on a lifetime of flying with a healthy mix of farming.

As soon as he left school he gained his fixed-wing pilot license in 1967, aged 18. . .

Anti-dairying rhetoric is out-dated :

Farmers don’t want weaker environmental policies. Ten years ago we were fair game for the ‘dirty dairying’ remarks by Fish & Game, today not so much.

Bryce Johnson recently said his organisation has moved on – that they are not anti-dairying, but rather they are anti-dairying that is harming the environment. But the question remains, why is the focus on dairying, as opposed to any other activity that harms the environment?

Environmental compliance and reducing farming’s impact is now an everyday part of a dairy farmer’s business.  We know there are a few ratbags out there – every industry has them – but while some regional councils try to clean up the tail-end of our industry they overlook their cousins in their own backyards. . .

Otago Regional Council blindsides ratepayers:

Federated Farmers is calling on the Otago Regional Council to properly inform and explain themselves to their ratepayer farmers who are facing huge increases in rates and consent costs this year.

“The Otago Regional Council needs to be held to account on their Long Term Plan consultation document, which is severely lacking in reasoning for their major increase in farmer rates,” Says Stephen Korteweg, Federated Farmers Otago provincial president.

“The Council is proposing a heap of big changes such as new water quality targeted rates for water monitoring, a new dairy monitoring targeted rate, and significant increases in the consent fees they charge all of which will mean increased costs for farmers. For many this will run into the thousands of dollars.” . .

No bull in proper effluent management – Chris Lewis:

I never thought when I entered farming politics that there would be so much talk about the stuff that comes out of the back end of a cow.  The polite term is ‘effluent’ of course; not polite are its effects and the costs of managing it.

Waikato Federated Farmers has the task of holding our regional council to account when warranted, and effluent is a big bone of contention. But they have a job to do, as we do, so it’s sometimes important we celebrate them. Just as farmers often feel criticised by the media, I imagine councils do too, giving the public an ill-informed perspective. . .

  Top farm business an industry leader:

An Omarama couple who run a traditional high country combination of merino ewes and cattle with hydroelectricity generation for good measure have won the Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Richard and Annabelle Subtil were the supreme winners announced at a ceremony on Thursday after amassing section awards for innovation, integrated management, soil management and water quality.

They run the 12,000 hectare Omarama Station, a family-owned property previously farmed by Annabelle’s parents Dick and Beth Wardell.

South of Omarama village, the Mackenzie Country property winters 23,000 stock units, including 7500 merino ewes and 310 angus-hereford cows. . .

Earth greening despite deforestation – Albert Van Dijk & Pep Canadell:

WHILE the news coming out of forests is often dominated by deforestation and habitat loss, research published in Nature Climate Change shows that the world has actually got greener over the past decade.

Despite ongoing deforestation in South America and South East Asia, we found that the decline in these regions has been offset by recovering forests outside the tropics, and new growth in the drier savannas and shrublands of Africa and Australia.

Plants absorb around a quarter of the carbon dioxide that people release into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. With a greening globe, more plants may mean more absorption of carbon dioxide. If so, this will slow but not stop climate change. . .

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

January 14, 2015

Water at the forefront in 2015 and beyond – :

Water is the lifeblood of farming and intrinsic to every aspect of food production.

It’s also of considerable significance to other users- iwi, environmental organisations and recreational users.

This resource has been the big focus for Federated Farmers policy and advocacy during 2014.

It would be almost impossible to operate a farming system in New Zealand without being aware of key topics like collaboration, nutrient management, water quality, limit setting and the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.

These are words which are increasingly on everyone’s lips and they’re here to stay. . .

Trout rescued as Canterbury rivers dry up – Thomas Mead:

Thousands of fish are being relocated from dangerously low rivers in North Canterbury as the region goes through a sweltering hot patch.

Fish and Game have been running rescue operations out of the Ashley, Cust and Selwyn rivers, along with parts of Lake Ellesmere, for two months following a sudden drop in water levels.

North Canterbury officer Steve Terry says about 3000 brown trout and salmon have already been relocated by his small team of staff and volunteers and the job will get harder in the weeks ahead.
Canterbury’s rivers occasionally dry up during the summer, with conditions forcing fish to retreat to deeper pools along the bank. . .

Environment Canterbury approves environment plan template:

Environment Canterbury has approved another farm environment plan template under the proposed Land and Water Regional Plan.

The template was developed by environmental consultants Irricon Resource Solutions. 

Environment Canterbury chief executive Bill Bayfield said Irricon had met all the requirements of Schedule 7 of the proposed Land and Water Regional Plan.  . .

 Ag service recognised in New Year honours:

Seven people were recognized in the New Years Honours for services directly related to agriculture.

 Officers of the New Zealand Order of Merit:

Richard Lucas

Lucas has contributed to agriculture for more than 40 years.

He was a senior lecturer in the Plant Science Department of Lincoln University from 1974 to 2004. He created courses in tropical agronomy and ethno-botany to meet the academic needs of overseas students. . .

 Further illegal fishing vessel discovered:

Foreign Minister Murray McCully says a third illegal fishing vessel has been discovered operating in the Southern Ocean during a patrol by the HMNZS WELLINGTON.

“The HMNZS WELLINGTON has intercepted a vessel, calling itself  the Yongding, fishing illegally to the west of the Ross Sea,” Mr McCully says.

“This is the third vessel to be discovered fishing illegally in the Southern Ocean during this patrol.

“All three vessels claim to be flagged to Equatorial Guinea and we continue to convey to Equatorial Guinea our concerns about these vessels’ operations and request permission to board the vessels. . .

Manawatu Farm Days to educate the next generation:

Federated Farmers Manawatu-Rangitikei is launching its own Farm Day program to educate the next generation and the urban community.

James Stewart, Federated Farmers Manawatu-Rangitikei provincial president says Farm Days are about educating people about the origins of their food in an entertaining way.

“This is a concept based off the national Federated Farmers Farm Day initiative, which was introduced seven years ago, with a more intimate feel. This year’s school holidays, kids can see first hand the influence agriculture has to the local region and wider New Zealand.” . . .

 Spotlight on dairy efficiency – Shan Goodwin:

THE value of generating a cash budget and balance sheet was highlighted at the first workshop of the NSW dairy Focus Farm project.

The whole-of-business learning initiative, a first of its kind in NSW, will focus on improving operating surplus at the Lismore district farm of fourth-generation milk producer Andrew Wilson.

Over the next two years, a support group made up of fellow producers, financial and accounting experts, dairy industry consultants and advisers and livestock and pasture experts will meet regularly to put in place strategies for reducing fixed costs, maximising natural resources like home-grown feed and boosting productivity and profitability on the 250 milker farm “Torokina”, Woodlawn. . .




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