Rural round-up

May 19, 2017

Farmers ‘dead keen’ to improve water practices – council – Alexa Cook:

A group of farmers near Whakatāne are working with the regional council to try and improve water quality by changing the way they farm.

Agribusiness consultant Ailson Dewes has gathered about 15 dairy farmers on behalf of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to understand more about how their farming systems can impact water quality.

Ms Dewes said the group was facing the issue head-on.

“They are sitting around the table, they are exposing all their numbers in terms of the health of their business, their environmental footprint, the way they farm – and they’re saying ‘we realise the way we farmed in the past is not the way we can farm in the future’. . . 

2017 Dairy Award Winners Environmentally Conscious

The 2017 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards winners and finalists represent a group of people who are acutely aware of environmental issues and the dairy industry’s role in farming responsibly.

In front of nearly 550 people at Auckland’s Sky City Convention Centre last night, Christopher and Siobhan O’Malley were named the 2017 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year, Hayley Hoogendyk became the 2017 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Clay Paton was announced the 2017 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. They shared prizes worth over $190,000. . . 

Fonterra Australia to pay more in 2017/18 season with improving business, milk price –  Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group says an improvement in its Australian business and rising milk prices mean it will be able to pay its suppliers more in the season that kicks off in six weeks.

Fonterra Australia expects to pay its Australian suppliers a range of A$5.30-to-A$5.70 per kilogram of milk solids in the 2017/18 season as well as an additional payment of 40 Australian cents/kgMS. It paid A$5.20/kgMS in the season that is just ending. . . 

Counterfeits, name recognition a challenge for Zespri in quest for Chinese market dominance – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – Zespri Group’s expansion into China is continuing at pace, after the country last year overtook Japan as its biggest retail market, though the company is battling against counterfeiting and theft from local growers who want a slice of its market.

Lewis Pan, the fruit marketer’s China country manager, says Zespri is focusing on brand recognition to shore up its dominance in the market. China delivered almost $300 million in revenue in the 2016 financial year, a 60 percent lift on a year earlier, and accounting for 16 percent of Zespri’s total $1.91 billion of revenue that . . 

Wilding pines control work nears million hectare mark:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry say wilding pines control work has nearly reached its first year target of a million hectares.

“20 per cent of New Zealand will be covered in unwanted wilding conifers within 20 years if their spread isn’t stopped. They already cover more than 1.8 million hectares of New Zealand and until now have been spreading at about 5 per cent a year,” Mr Guy says.

“The National Wilding Conifer Control Programme was put in place in 2016 to prevent their spread and systematically remove them from much of the land already taken over.” . . 

Ten years after the crisis what is happening to the world’s bees? –  Simon Klein:

Ten years ago, beekeepers in the United States raised the alarm that thousands of their hives were mysteriously empty of bees. What followed was global concern over a new phenomenon: Colony Collapse Disorder. The Conversation

Since then we have realised that it was not just the US that was losing its honey bees; similar problems have manifested all over the world. To make things worse, we are also losing many of our populations of wild bees too.

Losing bees can have tragic consequences, for us as well as them. Bees are pollinators for about one-third of the plants we eat, a service that has been valued at €153 billion (US$168 billion) per year worldwide.

Ten years after the initial alarm, what is the current status of the world’s bee populations, and how far have we come towards understanding what has happened? . . .

Delegat grape harvest growth slows, still has enough stock to meet projected sales – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Delegat Group recorded a small gain in its Australian and New Zealand grape harvest but has enough stock on hand to meet its projected sales targets for the coming year.

The Auckland-based winemaker, whose brands include Oyster Bay, had a 4 percent increase in the New Zealand harvest to 34,595 tonnes, while its Australian harvest grew 6 percent to 2,760 tonnes, it said in a statement. Last year, Delegat’s New Zealand harvest expanded 33 percent from a weather-affected crop in 2015, while the Australian vineyards delivered a 56 percent increase in 2016. . . 


Rural round-up

April 19, 2016

Genetics addicts – Anne Hardie:

Jesse Huffam and Renee Mason have managed a 110-cow herd through to 1600 cows, operated high-input systems as well as grass-based and their ultimate goal is to find a marginal sheep farm in a remote corner of the country that can be developed into a profitable business.

The Springs Junction couple scooped the West Coast-Top of South Share Farmer of the Year title, two years after being placed runners-up in the Waikato Farm Manager of the Year award.

And it would never have happened if Renee hadn’t got hooked on the Australian McLeod’s Daughters television series as a teenager, or Jesse hadn’t turned his back on dairying and followed a career path toward shepherding. . .

Escape to paradise – Anne Hardie:

The Haupiri Valley on the West Coast gets an impressive 4m of rain a year, yet Matt Birchfield prides himself on the pasture management for the 785 cows he manages in an environment surrounded by bush and mountains.  

The 36-year-old took out the 2016 West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Manager of the Year in his first attempt at the coveted title, which he entered for experience.  As production manager for farm owners Murray and Gaye Coats he is in charge of the herd, dairy and staff of what was a high-input farm before the payout drop lowered its inputs to palm kernel.  

Measuring pasture is a key aspect of the farm’s management which is collected by a pasture meter on the front of the Gator utility vehicle. . .

National farm sales drop in tough year – REINZ – Tim Fulton & Gerard Hutching:

Farm sales so far this year are down about 10 per cent on 2015, Real Estate Institute of New Zealand figures show.

Nationwide 383 farms were sold in the three months to March – down 42 on the same period last year.

Dairy farm sales were “dramatically down” but horticulture sales continue to rise, The Real Estate Institute (REINZ) said.

Only 48 dairy farms were sold compared to the 86 sold in the first quarter last year. . . 

Marlborough wine grower co-operative quietly confident for grape harvest – Mike Watson:

Bringing in the grapes is a nervous time for a co-operative’s growers, but there is nothing but smiles on their faces during a “dream” harvest.

Marlborough’s annual wine harvest is drawing to an end but there will be no let up until the last grape has been picked.

Working 24 hours around the clock have been harvesters, truck drivers, supervisors and growers for the past two to three weeks throughout the region. . . 

Profitable farms underpin rural communities – James Parsons:

When farmers do well, rural communities do well. I know this may be stating the obvious to many; however it is a topic worth exploring a little more deeply.

On 23rd March we held the Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) AGM at Waitangi. A good number of farmers turned out, with one couple travelling from as far afield as Gore. The Northern Farmer Council put together a great showcase of leading Northland farmers who had worked with B+LNZ as project farms over the last 10 years. By having a strong team around them, each had improved their business performance significantly. . . 

NZ beef, lamb and mutton prices fall in first half of exporting season – Jonathan Underhill:

 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand export beef, lamb and mutton prices fell in the first half of the current season, which tapered off after a strong start.

Prices for beef and veal fell 2.5 percent to $7,350 a tonne in the six months ended March 31, while the volume of exports fell 3.7 percent to 204,200 tonnes, said Beef + Lamb NZ. The price of lamb fell 4.2 percent to $8,500 a tonne as volume climbed 5.9 percent to 162,700 tonnes. Mutton prices fell 10 percent to $4,800 as volume rose 0.5 percent to 51,200 tonnes.

Beef + Lamb said the price decline would have been worse if not for a weaker kiwi dollar. . . 

Excellent environmental stewardship earns couple supreme title in 2016 Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Redcliff farmers Shane Gibbons and Bridget Speight are Supreme winners of the 2016 Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

At a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on April 14 (2016), the couple also collected the Farm Stewardship Award in partnership with the QEII National Trust and New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, the Environment Southland Water Quality and Biodiversity Award and the WaterForce Integrated Management Award. . . .

 Farmers urged to remain on lookout for late-emerging velvetleaf:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is urging farmers to remain vigilant in their management of the velvetleaf pest plant.

MPI’s Velvetleaf 2016 Response Manager, Carolyn Bleach, says the window of opportunity to control plants that haven’t yet seeded is narrowing and it’s very important farmers remain on the look- out.

“Farmers and landowners need to maintain a watchful eye until crops have been grazed, particularly as some late emerging plants have been found in crops that have already been inspected. . . 

Upgrade for farm menus:

Farmers are being offered extra environmental protection advice through an upgraded version of the hugely popular “farm menus” produced by Waikato Regional Council in co-operation with eight agriculture sector partners.

Since their launch in 2013, the first farm menus have been picked up by more than 4000 farmers and rural professionals in Waikato and elsewhere. They offer methods for reducing the impact of farming operations on water quality.

The initial menus – covering nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment or micro-organisms getting into waterways – had a focus on reducing nitrogen leaching. Now the outcome of further research means the upgraded menus have more options added for reducing phosphorus and sediment loss. . . 

Fonterra to Divest Share in Dairy Technical Services:

Fonterra Australia has today announced it has signed an agreement to divest its shareholding (36.02 per cent) in Dairy Technical Services (DTS) to a consortium comprising Bureau Veritas Singapore and AsureQuality Limited.

DTS was originally set up as a cooperative testing service company for dairy companies in Victoria, and its other shareholders are The Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Group, Murray Goulburn and AsureQuality. . . 


Rural round-up

September 6, 2015

Farmers frustrated with increased poaching – Mike  Watson:

Kit Sandall shakes his head.

Normally mild mannered, the Awatere, Marlborough, sheep farmer is bemused by the sentencing of a helicopter pilot caught poaching on his property earlier this year.

Sandall was reacting to a report that the pilot, Dean Matthews, of Renwick, had been fined $2000 for unlawful hunting after being caught on film poaching on Sandall’s land in April.

The maximum penalty for the court to uphold is $100,000 fine, and/or $200,000 for corporate offending.

Sandall received the $2000 fine payment as reparation but he is still shaking his head. . . 

It’s all about teamwork for Duncan and Anne-Marie Wells – Sonita Chandar:

An award-winning Otago farming couple credit their success to hard work and good governance.

Duncan and Anne-Marie Wells who farm at Outram were this year’s Supreme winners of the Dairy Business of the Year competition.

The couple who are 50 per cent equity shareholders in the business, say the support they receive immeasurable. . .

Crop spraying drone approved:

An unmanned crop-spraying helicopter has become the first drone to be approved for commercial work under new aviation rules.

The Yamaha Rmax, reportedly costing $120,000, on Thursday received the Civil Aviation Authority’s first certification to be used as a commercial unmanned aerial vehicle.

Before August 1, the old rules meant it could not have been used because of its weight (at nearly 100kg) and the intention to use chemicals. . . 

NZ Farm Environment Trust/Balance Farm Environmental Awards:

The lingering effects of the devastating PSA outbreak didn’t stop Bay of Plenty Kiwifruit growers Stephen Kenna and Phillipa Wright entering the Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

“We are passionate about the Kiwifruit industry, despite its biosecurity issues, and we thought we had a good story to tell,” Stephen says.

He and Phillipa run a 15ha orchard at Ongare Point, north of Katikati. Like many kiwifruit growers they were hit hard by the vine disease PSA-V, but the couple’s positive attitude and careful planning have helped them cope with the disaster. This impressed judges of the 2015 Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA), who awarded the operation three category awards, including the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award. . . 

Nominations open for 2015 Fresh Carriers Hayward Medal

The Fresh Carriers Hayward Medal judging panel is once again calling on the kiwifruit industry to nominate their finest leaders for the 2015 award.

The kiwifruit Industry Advisory Council (IAC) set up the Hayward Medal four years ago to honour the people who have led the industry and established it as a New Zealand export success story, selling more than $1.57 billion of premium-quality Zespri Kiwifruit last year.

IAC chairman Paul Jones says nominations are encouraged for people right across the industry who’ve shown excellence, commitment and leadership. . . 

Fonterra holds Aussie price but gives a warning :

Fonterra Australia has told its farmers to be prepared for the possibility of a step-down in milk price this season.

At the same time it held its farmgate opening price at $5.60 a kilogram of milksolids as part of review.

Fonterra Australia managing director Judith Swales said the company had put its Australian farmgate price and forecast closing price range for this season “under review given the challenging conditions and extreme volatility that are impacting domestic and global dairy markets”. . .

Nurse Loves Farmer's photo.


Fonterra ups Aus payout

June 3, 2015

Fonterra suppliers in Australia have got some good news:

Fonterra Australia has stepped up prices for its Australian suppliers to an average weighted price of $6 a kilogram milk solids.

Suppliers were notified on Friday of the step up of 12 cents/kg fat and 30 cents/kg protein to reach $6kg/MS, which will be paid June 15 and backdated to July.

The price brings Fonterra’s price to the same as other major processors Murray Goulburn and Warrnambool Cheese and Butter.

The announcement came just one day after Fonterra cut the forecast price for its New Zealand suppliers to NZ$4.40/kg MS.

It also comes a week after Fonterra Australia announced that its Fixed Base Milk Price scheme for 2015/16 would be $5.80/kg MS, 42 cents lower than the 2014/15 price. . .

No doubt there is a reason for Fonterra Australia’s suppliers getting so much more than Fonterra’s New Zealand suppliers. If you can explain it, please do.


Rural round-up

November 28, 2013

Good Environmental Management No Add-On, Say Farming Ambassadors:

“Sustainability must be built into everyday farming, not bolted on”, was one of the key messages delivered to agribusiness and industry leaders by Canterbury farming ambassadors Roz and Craige Mackenzie.

National Winners of the 2013 Ballance Farm Environment Awards, the Mackenzies recently met with key industry stakeholders to promote good environmental practices and swap ideas on how to improve environmental management.

The five-day trip in November was organised by the New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust and included an address to the Primary Production Select Committee.

The Mackenzies also met with sponsors of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards and were impressed with how these organisations had taken the sustainability message to heart. . .

Equity partnership options to buy into a farm:

Equity partnerships offer an opportunity for young farmers and smaller investors to take part in the rise in farm values driven by high dairy payouts and continuing confidence in the long-term future of agriculture, says Justin Geddes, Crowe Horwath’s Dunedin-based Principal.

“Equity partnerships are a great vehicle to grow your own wealth for both farmers and investors,” said Mr Geddes.

The capital cost of running an economic farm unit runs to several million dollars, and one of the pressing issues facing the rural sector is how to get young farmers into farm ownership. . .

Fonterra Australia finalises purchase of Tamar Valley Dairy assets:

Fonterra Australia today finalised the purchase of the assets of Tasmanian yoghurt business, Tamar Valley Dairy. The Tamar Valley Dairy business is now under full Fonterra ownership and management.

Under the terms of the sale, Fonterra has acquired the processing equipment, the related services, and intellectual property and trademark for the Tamar Valley Dairy brand. Fonterra worked closely with Deloitte Restructuring Services to achieve the completed sale.

Importantly, 122 positions of the Tamar Valley Dairy workforce will now transition to Fonterra to ensure the right skill-set and expertise are available to ensure continuity of operations and the long-term sustainability of the business. Regrettably, 18 roles are not required and have been made redundant by the Administrator. . .

Fonterra Wins National Accounting Award:

Two of Fonterra’s senior finance managers picked up the 2013 Innovation of the Year Award at last night’s New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants Awards in Auckland.

Patrice Wynen, Director, Finance Delivery Centre, and Ken Stephens, General Manager Reporting Services, were recognised for a new month-end financial acceleration projects that reduced Fonterra’s group reporting time by 50 per cent.

Through the project, Fonterra’s group month-end financial close was reduced from six days down to just three. The reduction was achieved in less than eight months and without any form of technology change. . . .

Comvita posts 1H loss of $790k on margin squeeze – Paul McBeth:

Comvita, which makes health products from Manuka honey, reported a first-half small loss as its margins were squeezed by expensive honey and as trading conditions in Australia and the UK were stretched by stiff competition.

The Te Puke-based company made a loss of $790,000, or 2.7 cents per share, in the six months ended Sept. 30, from a profit of $2.39 million, or 7.95 cents, a year earlier, it said in a statement. Sales fell 4.6 percent to $43.4 million.

That was in line with guidance last month, and Comvita affirmed its annual forecast to beat last year’s profit of $7.4 million and sales of $103.5 million, with about 60 percent of revenue expected to come in the second half. . .

ANZ Young Farmer Contest sets sights on Taupo:

The ANZ Young Farmer Contest is pleased to announce the 2015 Grand Final events will be held in Taupo.

The decision comes after a unanimous vote by the ANZ Young Farmer Contest Management Committee.

The ANZ Young Farmer Contest alternates between the North Island and the South Island each year. This year it was held in Auckland and the upcoming 2014 Grand Final will be in Christchurch, 3-5 July.

“After three Grand Finals based in larger metropolitan areas, I think the 2015 ANZ Young Farmer Contest Grand Final hosted in an increasingly agricultural area will go down as one of the most exciting and well-run events in the history of New Zealand Young Farmers,” said Terry Copeland, New Zealand Young Farmers CEO. . .

Trust announces Christmas present for the New Zealand wine industry:

Directors of Wine Competition Ltd, the company that owns and organises the Spiegelau International Wine Competition and Marlborough Wine Show, have established a Trust to fund initiatives designed to enhance the success of the New Zealand wine industry.

Margaret Cresswell and Belinda Jackson established Wine Competition Ltd in 2011as an independent company that owns and organises wine competitions and associated events in New Zealand. Knowing that there were a significant number of unopened bottles following the judging process, the pair decided to establish a Trust to which these bottles were donated. The Trust then auctions the wine with the objective of returning the ensuing funds to the industry.

Trustee, Belinda Jackson explains, “Producers pay to submit their wines for the judging process and send us samples. Though we request the least number possible – just three bottles, we feel strongly that those not used should be returned to the industry somehow.” She continues, “The easiest way is to monetise them and then offer that money back in the form of funding for industry grants and scholarships.” . . .

Queenstown trophy station on market Chris Hutching:

Sothebys in Queenstown is marketing Homestead Bay overlooking Lake Wakatipu on Remarkables Station next to Jack’s Point golf resort.

The trophy property has been owned by three generations of the Jardine family after being founded in 1861 by Queenstown’s first European settler William Rees. The 45ha site comes with development potential for a resort village plus 27 less intensive building sites.

The station is a working farm that descends down terraces to the lake. . . .

Exporting New Zealand forward:

Federated Farmers is buoyed by surging primary exports that has turned in the lowest trade deficit for an October month since the mid-1990s.

“These export trade figures when coupled with the New Zealand Institute for Economic Research’s outlook for 2014 tells me we are turning the corner,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“The primary industries have got our collective foot to the floor and in the month of October by value alone, dairy exports surged an incredible 84.7 percent, followed by logs (26.2 percent), red meat (9.4 percent), fish (5.7 percent) and wine (3.2 percent).

“Of our big six primary exports fruit admittedly did go backwards but the trend overall is positive. . .

NZ winery first in southern hemisphere to trade with bitcoin:

A small high-end winery in North Canterbury is set to become the first wine business in the southern hemisphere to accept bitcoin payment to make transactions easier for its strong domestic and international customer base.

Pyramid Valley Vineyards, Waikairi, produces collectable wines in New Zealand and sees the new currency as a development in line with its innovative approach to business.

“It’s exciting times we live in and bitcoin is a movement that is gaining huge international traction as a currency that is borderless,” says Caine Thompson, managing director of Pyramid Valley. “We’re increasingly getting requests from our international customers to be able to pay with bitcoin, particularly for our exclusive Home Collection wines. They don’t want to be worried about exchange rates and costly transaction fees.” . . .

Record year as NZ Racing Board continues transformation:

At the NZ Racing Board AGM, held at the Head Office in Wellington today, the NZ Racing Board reflected on a record-breaking financial year and outlined its ambitious vision and goals for the future.

Financial achievements in 2013 included a record turnover of $1,956.8m, and record distributions of $147.7m to the racing industry and sporting organisations.

Speaking at the AGM, NZ Racing Board Chair Glenda Hughes said the organisation and the industry still faced significant challenges, and ongoing transformation and a collaborative approach is key to further, sustained success for an industry that contributes almost 1% of GDP. . .


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