Rural round-up

June 26, 2020

Govt’s obsession with planting trees a big mistake – Mike Hosking:

am glad the forestation of this country at the expense of good, productive farmland finally appears to be getting the sort of attention it deserves. The trouble with a crisis, is it takes your eye off all sorts of balls, and  various issues would have had far greater scrutiny if we hadn’t had a virus to deal with.

Planting trees to allow us to meet our Paris accord deal is potentially a catastrophic mistake that is unfolding before our eyes.

Firstly, because our calling card to the world is not our climate credentials, it’s the food we sell. For that you need productive land. Under the Emission Trading Scheme changes, the price of carbon lifts. As it lifts, it becomes more attractive to buy land to plant trees.

Planting trees is easy, and people always take the easy path. And what makes this worse is many who invest in these trees have no intention of harvesting them. They’re simply there to clip the ticket. . . 

Majority of farmers find Fonterra Shareholders’ Council ineffective – survey – Eric Frykberg:

The main watchdog for dairy giant Fonterra has been told it has to lift its game.

The comments came in the first of a two-part inquiry into Fonterra Shareholders Council.

The council is supposed to monitor the company on behalf of its 10,000 farmer shareholders, but it has incurred a lot of criticism including comments from the Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor that it was “less a watchdog than a lapdog”.

The Shareholders Council commissisoned a review of itself last year, chaired by veteran public servant James Buwalda. . . 

Wool classer receives merit award – Yvonne O’Hara:

Wool has always been part of Anne-Marie Parcell’s life.

“I love it and not a day goes by when I am not staring at sheep or touching wool. If I am not spinning it, I am shearing or crutching or drafting. I never wear polar fleece,” the Bannockburn wool classer said.

And neither did the two lambs that turned up last week wearing wearing wool jackets.

Ms Parcell was delighted when she was given a merino merit award from the New Zealand Wool Classers Association recently, for the clip she classed at Northburn Station, near Cromwell. . .

Fonterra announces Peter McBride as chairman elect:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited (FCG) has announced that current Farmer Director, Peter McBride has been selected as the Co-operative’s Chairman-elect by his fellow Directors.

Under Fonterra’s constitution, its Chairman is selected by the Board from within its pool of seven elected Farmer Directors.

Mr McBride will replace current Fonterra Chairman, John Monaghan when he retires as a Director of the Co-op at its Annual Meeting this November. . .

Adept wool presser will never give up :

Here’s a riddle … If two shearers clip a total of 100 sheep, and one shears three more than the other — what is the tally for each? Turangi Morehu jokes that he has asked this riddle to many in the shearing fraternity over the years, including world champion Sir David Fagan “and I’m still waiting for his answer”, he quips.

Mr Morehu, known to most as Tu, “after one and before three”, is the ubiquitous and hard-working character floating between the gangs of Peter Lyons Shearing, keeping an eye on things for Mr Lyons and wife, Elsie.

Originally from Tuatahuna and spending his younger years in Rotorua, Mr Morehu has worked as a wool presser since he left school at the age of 13 . .

Kauri still waiting for dieback plan – Farrah Hancock:

A pest management plan for kauri dieback is missing in action. Farah Hancock reports.

Thirty months after it was announced, there’s still no National Pest Management Plan for kauri dieback.

In 2017, the Government said it was moving immediately to strengthen efforts to protect kauri trees. One of those efforts was creating a National Pest Management Plan (NPMP).

“An NPMP shows how serious we are about protecting kauri. It is by far the strongest piece of regulation available and will ensure mandatory hygiene practices, consistent regulations that apply nationally, stronger governance and access to funding,” said Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor when he announced the plan in December 2017. . .

Britain opens free trade negotiations with New Zealand – Liz Truss:

This week is the start of an exciting new chapter in the shared history of Britain and New Zealand.

Our two island nations are already close friends, bound tightly by cultural, economic and social ties that have stood the test of time.

Britain is the largest ex-pat community in New Zealand. We both share a language, a head of state and a system of common law. We also share a strong commitment to free and fair trade, and believe fundamentally in the rule of law and the power that democracy has to drive forward human progress. . .


Rural round-up

May 20, 2020

Kiwi lamb in limelight – Annette Scott:

Changing consumer demand in China has opened an opportunity for New Zealand lamb to take centre stage.

In a move to encourage online sales of NZ lamb in China, Beef + Lamb and Alliance have joined forces to launch a digital campaign aimed at leveraging the new consumer behaviour.  

The e-campaign is focused on driving online red meat sales as Chinese consumers seek out healthier food options in the wake of covid-19.   

“Alliance and B+LNZ are co-investing in the initiative to drive the awareness of NZ’s healthy and natural grass-fed lamb but ultimately to drive sales,” B+LNZ market development general manager Nick Beeby said. . . 

Wallaby curse – Farmer refuses to be caught on the hop – Sally Brooker:

Wallabies have been marketed as a cute local attraction in Waimate, but farmers curse the day they crossed the Ditch.

The problems began soon after Bennett’s wallabies from Tasmania were taken to The Hunters Hills in the Waimate District in 1874 for recreational hunting.

Their population boom led to damaged farm pasture, crops and fencing, and native bush and forestry plantings.

A 2017 Ministry for Primary Industries report predicted the cost to the economy of not controlling wallabies in the South Island could be $67million within 10 years.

Anecdotal reports say the numbers are increasing again in the Waimate area. Many farmers are upset about it, but few would go on the record.

Walter Cameron had no such qualms. He has been dealing with wallabies at his family’s 3900ha Wainui Station, near Hakataramea, for most of his life and knows how to keep them in check.  . . 

High paying environmental jobs not realistic:

The Government’s $1.1 billion idea of redeploying people into environmental jobs is great in concept but difficult to turn into reality, National’s Environment spokesperson Scott Simpson says.

“It’s a struggle to get Kiwis to take well-paying jobs in the horticulture or farming sector, so convincing people to become rat-catchers and possum-trackers in the numbers the Government is hoping for will be an enormous challenge.

“It’s all very well allocating the funding, but there’s no detail on how the job numbers will be achieved and this Government has a poor track record of delivering on their big policies.

“The $1.1 billion for 11,000 jobs means they’ve allocated $100,000 per job. There is no detail about how much of this is going to workers on the ground doing the environmental work and how much of this is going to added bureaucracy in Wellington offices. . . 

Training our rural doctors – Ross Nolly:

Attracting general practitioners to work in small rural areas has been challenging at times, which has led people to delay seeking medical care. Ross Nolly caught up with one Taranaki rural GP who says there are a lot of benefits to working in small communities.

In recent years finding doctors willing to work in rural general practices and rural hospitals has been difficult.

The Rural Hospital Medicine Training Programme is a subset of the Royal New Zealand GP College. It’s a relatively new programme and its aim is to give doctors an experience of rural hospital medicine. 

The programme has been operating at Hawera Hospital in South Taranaki for three years and shares some elements with general practice with many doctors practising rural GP and rural hospital medicine simultaneously. . . 

The power of community – James Barron:

Chairman of Fonterra Shareholders Council, James Barron on Fonterra, COVID-19, and the importance of community.

He waka eke noa – we’re all in this together. It’s a phrase that seems to be coming up a lot lately, and it reminds me how powerful community can be.

For wider New Zealand, the challenges brought about by COVID-19 have been significant.

But they have also presented some unexpected opportunities – to rediscover community spirit, spend quality time with our families, and do what’s best for the greater good. . . 

Tree planting is not a simple solution – Karen D. Ho and Pedro H. S. Brancalion:

A plethora of articles suggest that tree planting can overcome a host of environmental problems, including climate change, water shortages, and the sixth mass extinction (13). Business leaders and politicians have jumped on the tree-planting bandwagon, and numerous nonprofit organizations and governments worldwide have started initiatives to plant billions or even trillions of trees for a host of social, ecological, and aesthetic reasons. Well-planned tree-planting projects are an important component of global efforts to improve ecological and human well-being. But tree planting becomes problematic when it is promoted as a simple, silver bullet solution and overshadows other actions that have greater potential for addressing the drivers of specific environmental problems, such as taking bold and rapid steps to reduce deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. . . 


Rural round-up

November 14, 2019

Saving us from ourselves – John Jackson:

The Government’s policy to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand is working directly against the goals of the Paris Accord.

NZ’s pastoral farming is a low emissions process.

Studies published in the NZ Crown Research Institute (CRI) assessment of agricultural production systems the world over show NZ is “head and shoulders” above its competitors.

This goes well beyond our on farm production. With regard to NZ lamb sold in the UK, ocean shipping made up 5% of the final product’s carbon cost – voiding the belief that meat produced on this side of the world is environmentally unsustainable.  . .

Action groups motivate farmers – Richard Rennie:

Working together to gain access to high-level agriculture and business expertise is already leading to efficiency gains for a group of Hawke’s Bay farmers, rural consultant Sean Bennett says.

Bennett facilitates two Red Meat Profit Partnership action groups and is working with farmers to set up several more. 

The RMPP action network supports small groups of seven to nine farm businesses working together to explore ideas and share expert resources to help make positive on-farm changes. Kick-start funding of $4000 a farm is pooled to fund facilitation and expertise. . .

Independent dairy companies offer farmers an attractive option – Gerard Hutching:

Ask a New Zealander to name a dairy company and the one they are certain to come up with is Fonterra.

But beyond that, many would be stumped for an answer. There are in fact at least a score of independents, processing 18 per cent of New Zealand milk, a share that has steadily increased over the 18 years Fonterra has been in existence.

Open Country Dairy (OCD) farmer supplier Chris Lewis speaks for many when he says farmers opt for an independent over Fonterra because it’s an easier way to get ahead. . . 

He’s just mad about saffron – Nigel Malthus:

“I always reckoned you could make a living off 10 acres,” says Canterbury saffron grower Geoff Slater.

“I think if you get the right products you definitely can.”

For Slater and his wife Jude, their 10-acre (4ha) slice of paradise at Eyrewell, north of the Waimakariri River, is where they are building a multi-faceted business trading under the Canterbury Saffron banner. . .

Council role review a priority – Neal Wallace:

New Fonterra Shareholders’ Council chairman James Barron promises a review of the council’s role will be completed by the co-operative’s next annual meeting.

The council’s priority will be a review of its role while contributing to discussion on the co-operative’s capital structure and new strategy.

Barron is a fourth-generation farmer milking 450 cows on the 140ha dairy farm he grew up on, on the banks of the Waihou River south of Matamata.

He replaces Duncan Coull who has retired after four and a half years. . . 

Artisan cheesemakers unite – Catherine Donnelly:

An excerpt from ‘Ending the War on Artisan Cheese,’ a new book that exposes government actions that limit food choice under the guise of food safety.

Over the past 35 years, the US Food and Drug Administration has pushed for a mandatory requirement for the use of pasteurized milk in cheesemaking, claiming a public health risk for raw milk cheese. This scenario is playing out abroad as well, where creameries are collapsing because they can’t comply with EU health ordinances. In her new book, Ending the War on Artisan Cheese (Chelsea Green Publishing, November 2019), Catherine Donnelly defends traditional cheesemaking and exposes overreaching government actions that limit food choice under the guise of food safety. The following excerpt explains how the loss of artisan cheese is tantamount to the loss of culture. 

American artisan cheese has become mainstream, providing big business for retailers such as Whole Foods, Costco, Wegmans, Murray’s Cheese (now owned by Kroger), and others. Despite the success enjoyed by US artisan cheesemakers and the meteoric rise of artisan cheese production, the American artisan cheese industry faces an existential threat: regulatory overreach. . . 


DIRA update disappoints

June 7, 2019

Proposed changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act are a missed opportunity:

. . . Fonterra Chairman, John Monaghan says that while the Government has recommended tweaks to the rules under which Fonterra has to give its farmers’ milk, effectively at cost price to foreign-backed competitors, the playing field is still tipped against New Zealand dairy farmers.

“Our farmer-owned Co-operative wants an industry that promotes investment across regional New Zealand and where profits are kept in New Zealand.  We stand for an industry where New Zealand farmers are paid well for their milk and the unique attributes of our environment are protected and enhanced.

“Given the significant increase in competition within the New Zealand dairy industry, we’re disappointed the Government did not recommend removing the requirement for us to supply our farmers’ milk to large, export-focused businesses altogether.

Farmers now have plenty of choice of processors and other companies should no longer need the safety net of Fonterra milk.

We welcome the Government’s decision to give Fonterra the right to refuse membership to our Co-op where a farm is unlikely to comply with our terms of supply, or where the farm is a new conversion. These changes will support our Co-op’s ability to meet our customers’ demands and continue leading the industry toward a sustainable future for our farmers and the rural communities in which they live and farm.” . . 

Forcing Fonterra to collect milk from anyone, anywhere has encouraged farm conversions in places where, had there been a choice, Fonterra would have turned them down. It has also given the company too little latitude with farmers that don’t meet its standards.

Fonterra Shareholders Council is disappointed with the proposed changes:

Today our farmers will be feeling ignored and frustrated. Despite their efforts to engage in meaningful consultation on changes to DIRA their voice has largely gone unheard as we continue to kick the can down the road with respect to essential change to this important piece of legislation. We do however acknowledge that we are only one of many stakeholders whose interests need to be considered.

This was an opportunity to focus on the wider industry, not just Fonterra, and to optimise value creation for New Zealand from the dairy sector. We are concerned the opportunity to shift DIRA’s purpose to the future and to enable the highest value creation from our milk hasn’t been fully taken up.

The proposed changes to open entry and exit, whilst helpful, do little to address the concerns of our farmers. Recognising the importance of dairy to regional New Zealand, the changes do not go far enough to address the current strong competition for milk and the risk of over-capacity. It’s disappointing that the industry wide solution to enable the removal of open entry, which was developed with Federated Farmers, has not been taken up.

The proposed changes to the milk price regime are of deep concern. Government having the right to nominate a member to the Milk Price Panel is a step too far and gives rise to a direct conflict with the independent oversight of the regime by the Commerce Commission.

MPI also had concerns aobut this:

. . . O’Connor plans to limit Fonterra’s ability to determine a key assumption in setting the base milk price, known as the asset beta.

He will also be able to nominate a member to Fonterra’s milk price panel, although that wasn’t taken to cabinet in the paper and regulatory impact assessments.

MPI did say external appointments to the panel were proposed in submissions but not considered.

“MPI considers that this would create issues of confidentiality and commercial sensitivity, potentially placing Fonterra at a competitive disadvantage,” it said. . . 

Back to the Shareholders Council:

There was strong farmer support for better milk price transparency from other processors and this has not been heard.

Our farmers support the need for a strong domestic market for consumers. However, access to regulated priced milk for all export focused processors should have been removed.

We are disappointed there is no firm position on the expiry of DIRA and when the New Zealand market for milk collection – whether national or regional – will be considered sufficiently competitive. And there is also no transition pathway to de-regulation. . . 

Fonterra’s dominance justified regulation when DIRA was first enacted but there is now sufficient competition from and strength in other companies to begin looking towards eventual deregulation.

Federated Farmers sees useful changes and a missed opportunity in the proposals:

“We’re disappointed that open entry provisions won’t be changed, other than relating to new conversions,” Feds Dairy Industry Group Chairperson Chris Lewis says.

“It’s nearly 20 years since this legislation was passed to ensure that with the formation of Fonterra, competition for farmer milk supply, and dairy product choice for consumers, was preserved.  The market is now mature enough, and competition among a host of processing companies robust enough, for Fonterra to be given some discretion over who it is required to pick up milk from.”

Today’s decisions announced by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor will give Fonterra some leeway over accepting milk from land newly converted to dairy, “and that’s good,” Lewis says.  “We await detail on what the definition of a ‘new conversion’ is.

“We’re also pleased that the amended DIRA will give more clarity on when Fonterra can refuse supply when a farmer is well below industry standards relating to the environment, animal welfare, greenhouse gas emissions and the like.

“There are some farmers who have demonstrated their unwillingness to come up to the standard of all the other shareholder/suppliers out there.

“As with other aspects of the government’s announcements, the devil will be in the detail,” Lewis says. . . 

The government had the opportunity to make major changes to the DIRA, recognising changes in farming and the expansion of processing since the company was established in 2001.

Instead it’s just tinkered, leaving Fonterra and its shareholders to carry the costs of supplying competitors, most of which are overseas companies.


Rural round-up

March 21, 2019

Shareholders say sale was inevitable – Brendon McMahon:

The possible sale of Westland Milk Products to China is a ”sad day” for the West Coast but necessary to save the business, a sample of farmer-shareholders said yesterday.

The Hokitika dairy co-operative, praised for years for retaining its independence in the face of Fonterra amalgamations, is poised to be sold to the Chinese dairy giant Yili.

Harihari dairy farmer and former board member Jon Sullivan greeted the news yesterday morning with ”she’s gone”.

Farmers had been left with ”no choice” but to sell, he said. . . 

Fonterra Announces 2019 Interim Results And Updates on Its Portfolio And Strategic Reviews:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced its 2019 Interim Results which show the Co-op has returned to profitability with a Net Profit After Tax (NPAT) of $80 million, but normalised Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) are down 29% on the same period last year to $323 million.

• Key numbers in Interim Results
o Sales volumes 10.7 billion liquid milk equivalents (LME), up 2%
o Revenue $9.7 billion, down 1%
o Normalised EBIT: $323 million, down 29%
o NPAT: $80 million, up 123%
o Total normalised gross margin: $1.5 billion
Ingredients Gross Margin: $791 million, down 9%
Consumer and Foodservice Gross Margin: $766 million, down 7%
o Full year forecast earnings: 15-25 cents per share
o Forecast Farmgate Milk Price: $6.30-$6.60 per kgMS
• Sales process started for Fonterra’s 50% share of DFE Pharma
• Completed the sale of Corporacion Inlaca to Mirona
• Update on full strategy review . . 

Fonterra to hit debt reduction target from asset sales – Paul McBeth:

 (BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group expects to slice $800 million from its debt ledger through the sale of assets already signalled for the block.

The world’s biggest dairy exporter is strengthening its balance sheet as part of its wider strategic review. That’s included the divestment of a range of assets no longer deemed central to the cooperative’s future, the latest of which was a 50 percent stake in DFE Pharma – a joint venture with FrieslandCampina which supplies bulking agents, or excipients, in medicines including tablets and inhalers.

Fonterra has already announced plans to sell ice-cream maker Tip Top, with investment bank First NZ Capital receiving final bids earlier this month. It’s also considering its options for its 18.8 percent stake in Beingmate Baby & Child Food. . . 

Comforting news for dairy farmers as companies report results and the world price rises again – Point of Order:

Encouraging signs emerged this week that key elements in the structure of NZ’s largest export industry are whipping themselves back into the shape they should be.

The giant  co-op  Fonterra  has  gone back  into the  black  with a net profit of $80 million in the  first half,  after previously recording  a  net  loss of  $186m.

Meanwhile Westland Milk Products, NZ’s second biggest dairy co-op, is in line to be  sold  to China’s biggest  dairy company,  Yili,  in  a $588m  transaction that would inject nearly half a million  dollars into the operations of  each  of its  suppliers. . . 

Fonterra’s culture change– Craig Hickman:

Is it just me or is Fonterra undergoing a remarkably rapid culture shift in a very short space of time?

Last year I attended the Ashburton leg of the Fonterra Financial Results Roadshow: quite apart from the delicious lunch and sneak preview of the new Whittaker’s ice cream, it was a chance to hear then interim-CEO Miles Hurrell  and new board chair John Monaghan deal with the unpleasant reality of Fonterra’s first ever financial loss.

Miles especially came across as humble, honest and realistic, and those are attributes in direct contrast to the brash and overly optimistic Fonterra leadership we are used to seeing.  . . 

Interim Results support the need for fundamental change :

The Fonterra Shareholders’ Council supports today’s acknowledgement that fundamental change is needed to improve the performance of the Co-operative.

“Fonterra’s farmer shareholders will agree that the results announced today are not where they should be,” says Council Chairman Duncan Coull. “The Shareholders’ Council backs the Board and Management’s initiative to thoroughly review strategy. A well defined and executed strategy focused on our farmers’ milk is critical to maintaining sustainable returns and an enduring co-operative for generations to come.” . . 

Significant investment in major growth projects for Synlait:

– NPAT half year profit of $37.3 million
– Re-confirmed guidance for canned infant formula volumes of 41,000 – 45,000 MT
– Manufacturing efficiencies have supported improved production and sales volumes
– Key growth projects including Synlait Pokeno and our Advanced Liquid Dairy Packaging Facility remain on track
– New growth opportunities in liquid milk, Talbot Forest Cheese and lactoferrin expansion
– New purpose ‘Doing Milk Differently for a Healthier World’ established. . . 

Hyslop elected to Beef + Lamb directorship – Sally Rae:

Irrigation New Zealand chairwoman Nicky Hyslop has ousted sitting Beef + Lamb New Zealand director Bill Wright.

She beat Mr Wright, a Cave farmer, by a margin of 1808 votes in the recent Central South Island director election.

Mrs Hyslop and her husband Jonty farm Levels Estate, an intensive sheep, beef and arable property on the outskirts of Timaru.

Mr Wright was elected in 2016, having previously been chairman of the B+LNZ Central South Island Farmer Council for six years. . . 

Urban-fringe kiwifruit orchard with growth potential placed on the market for sale:

One of closest commercial kiwifruit orchards to Auckland’s urban boundary – with potential to treble its production capacity – been placed on the market for sale.

Known as MacLachlan Orchard, the 12.2-hectare property at 90 Mullins Road in Ardmore is planted on flat land, and is forecast to produce some 42,000 trays of fruit in the current season.

The orchard’s 3.3 canopy hectares of productive land comprises some 2.29-canopy hectares of the Hayward green kiwifruit variety and 1.07 canopy hectares of the G3 gold kiwifruit strain picked off vines which were grafted some six years ago. . . 


Rural round-up

February 23, 2019

Rural sector gives thumbs down to capital gains tax – Jamie Gray:

The rural sector has given an unequivocal thumbs down to the Tax Working Group’s recommendation to bring in an comprehensive capital gains tax.

The group has recommended the Government implement a capital gains tax – and use the money gained to lower the personal tax rate and to target polluters.

The suggested capital gains tax (CGT) would cover assets such as land, shares, investment properties, business assets and intellectual property. . . 

Fonterra farmers frustrated with DIRA – Hugh Stringleman:

The Fonterra Shareholders’ Council has called for an end to open entry to the co-operative and a clear path to dairy industry deregulation.

In its submission to the Ministry of Primary Industries review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act the council also called for an end to access to regulated milk by other export processors.

Goodman Fielder should be entitled to buy Fonterra milk for domestic purposes only, the submissions said.

Council chairman Duncan Coull also called for all other dairy companies to be required to publish their milk prices in a standardised form. . . 

Wool levy vote welcomed, but clear plan preferred – Ken Muir:

While farmers and industry leaders welcomed news that the Federated Farmers Meat and Wool Council voted last week to support a compulsory wool levy on wool producers, there was a clear preference for any such levy to be applied on the context of a robust business plan.

”We’ve had lots of different levies over the years for the industry and at the end of the day farmers saw very little return,” Waikoikoi farmer Blair Robertson said.

”Going forward we have to make sure the money gets to where it needs to be – marketing and promoting wool products to end customers.”

He said in the past bureaucracies had grown around the sector which chewed through millions of dollars while providing very little in return. . . 

Sexist comments on job ad damage New Zealand’s image, farmers warn – Esther Taunton:

Sexist responses to a backpacker’s job ad are a blow to New Zealand’s image and to an industry already struggling to find good workers, farmers warn.

Finnish traveller Mari Vahanen advertised on a farming Facebook page, saying she was a hardworking farmhand or machine operator.

The post received 1600 responses, but most of them focused on Vahanen’s appearance rather than her employment prospects.

Tararua dairy farmer Micha Johansen said the comments were a bad look for New Zealand’s agricultural sector and the country in general.  . .

Waikato farmers encouraged to plant trees to protect stock from summer heat – Kelly Tantau:

With temperatures soaring above 30 degrees in Matamata-Piako, a thought can be spared for the district’s livestock.

Cows prefer cooler weather, Federated Farmers Waikato president Andrew McGiven said, but farmers are doing well in ensuring their stock is protected during the summer season.

“Animal welfare and animal husbandry is probably the number one thing, because that’s what is earning you your income, so protecting and looking after them, but also looking after staff as well,” he said. . . 

Ninety seven A&P shows beckon – Yvonne O’Hara:

Geoff Smith attends as many A&P shows as he can during the season and there are 97 of them.

In his third year as the New Zealand Royal Agricultural Society’s (RAS) president, he spends time finding ways to ensure the shows remain relevant to their communities, as well as building relationships with other rural and civic organisations.

He is in Central Otago this week to go to the Mt Benger, Central Otago and Maniototo shows, as well as attending the society’s southern district executive meeting in Tapanui on Sunday. . . 

NZ company helping write global cannabis industry standards:

Ruatoria-based Hikurangi Cannabis Company has been in Rome this week participating in an international standards setting meeting for the cannabis industry. The meeting included recommended changes to the way cannabis is defined in both legal and scientific terms.

ASTM International, a global industry standards body with 30,000 members worldwide representing more than 20 industry sectors held a workshop in Rome under its technical committee D37 on Cannabis. The group of 600 industry experts are working to develop standards for cannabis products testing and production processes across the globe.

The group aims to meet the needs of the legal cannabis industry by addressing quality and safety issues through the development of classifications, specifications, test methods, practices, and guides for cultivation, manufacturing, quality assurance, laboratory considerations, packaging, and security. . . 


Rural round-up

November 29, 2018

Hopping to the beat: drummer turned grower Trevor Courtney :

Trevor Courtney has always liked beer, and now the drummer for ’60s band Chants R& B is growing his own hops.

After a 40-year music career, Trevor and his wife Lyndsay now have a lifestyle block in North Canterbury where they grow hops plants, heritage apples and saffron.

Trevor and Lyndsay’s eight-hectare property is home to two flocks of Wiltshire sheep, but they’re pretty low-maintenance, Trevor says.

“In the spring they start to shed their fleece, so there’s no shearing,…you can leave their tails on. We only meet up with them a couple of times a year.” . . 

Alliance Group more than halves profit –  Rebecca Howard:

 (BusinessDesk) – Red meat cooperative Alliance Group more than halved its net profit as it paid more for livestock and in tax, interest and administration costs.

Net profit for the year ended September fell to $6.6 million from $14.4 million a year earlier, the Invercargill-based co-operative said in its annual report. Revenue, however, lifted to $1.8 billion from $1.5 billion in the prior year and it paid more than $1.2 billion to its farmer-shareholders.

The group also paid $14.6 million in loyalty payments and another $31.6 million in advance payments to support farmers during periods of low cash flow. . . 

What it takes to win the Ballance farm environment award :

Trying different things, learning from mistakes, and working with Mother Nature are part of the ethos of this year’s national Ballance farm environment award winners.

As winners of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy, Bay of Plenty kiwifruit growers Mark and Catriona White are officially ‘national ambassadors for sustainable farming and growing’.

During a round of meetings with agriculture agency representatives and MP Todd Muller in Wellington this month, the Whites dropped into Federated Farmers’ HQ to swap war stories on topics as diverse as workforce shortages, genetic engineering and whether farmers/ growers who repeatedly fail to heed sustainability messages should be left behind. . . 

 

Apple industry already growing jobs for new horticultural degree graduates:

New Zealand’s booming apple and pear industry is already promising great career opportunities for the first graduates of a new stand-alone Bachelor’s Degree in Horticulture.

Recruitment is underway for the new three-year degree that starts in February 2019 with a fully industry-sponsored 4ha apple innovation orchard at Massey University’s Palmerston North campus.

New Zealand Apples & Pears capability manager Erin Simpson, who has been a driving force behind the new degree, said never before has there been a more exciting time for young people to enter the industry which is offering them a bright and rewarding future. . . 

Fonterra confirms second director election timing:

The Fonterra Shareholders’ Council has confirmed that a second election for the remaining vacancy on Fonterra’s Board of Directors will be held in December. Voting will open on 3 December and close at 1.00pm on 20 December, and the results will be announced later the same day.

Only two candidates from the first election, Leonie Guiney and Peter McBride, obtained more than 50% support from voting shareholders. The Rules of the first election state that if not enough candidates obtain more than 50% support, there must be a second election. . . 

Manawatū agricultural contractor lands deal supplying Auckland Zoo with feed:

Manawatū agricultural contractor Mike Hancock is helping to feed some of the world’s most stunning and endangered animals.

The 23-year-old is a joint operations manager for Bruce Gordon Contracting, north of Marton.

Earlier this year the company received a phone call from Auckland Zoo, almost 500 kilometres away. . . 

Knickers the steer, one of the world’s biggest steers, avoids the abattoir thanks to his size – Jacqueline Lynch and Tyne Logan:

At 194 centimetres high, WA-born steer Knickers is believed to be the tallest in Australia — and one of the tallest in the world.

To put it into perspective, the seven-year-old is almost as tall as NBA star Michael Jordan and weighs more than a Mini Cooper car at about 1,400 kilograms.

That’s double the weight of the average Holstein Friesian and half a metre taller — and could make more than 4,000 hamburger lovers happy.

But owner Geoff Pearson of Lake Preston in the state’s south-west said Knickers was not destined for the barbecue anytime soon. . . 

How we fell out of love with milk – Tim Lewis:

Soya, almond, oat… Whether for health issues, animal welfare or the future of the planet, ‘alt-milks’ have never been more popular. Are we approaching dairy’s final days? 

A couple of weeks ago, some eye-catching billboards began appearing around central and east London. Entire tunnels of the underground were plastered with the adverts; the sides of large buildings were covered. On one panel there was a carton (or, in some instances, three) of Oatly, an oat drink made by a cult Swedish company that favours stark graphics, a bluey-grey colour scheme, and which is a market leader – in a not uncompetitive field – in the tongue-in-cheek promotional messages known as “wackaging”. The adjacent panel, in large, wobbly type, read: “It’s like milk, but made for humans.” . . 

 Sprinklers help nourish refuge elk – Mike Koshmrl:

Each summer a massive $5.25 million irrigation system is cranked on at the National Elk Refuge, showering beads of water over nearly a fifth of the preserve’s 25,000 grassy acres.

With no crops growing and no livestock in sight, tourists and newcomers to Jackson Hole who catch a glimpse must occasionally be bewildered.

But there are actually many reasons for the refuge’s irrigation system, new as of 2010. . . 


Rural round-up

November 27, 2018

Only two left for new Fonterra vote – Hugh Stringleman:

John Nicholls of Canterbury and Jamie Tuuta of Taranaki and Wellington will contest the rerun of the Fonterra director election to fill the one remaining vacancy.

One-term director Ashley Waugh has decided not to run again though he came within a whisker of being re-elected in the first round of voting.

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council chairman Duncan Coull sent an email to all farmer-shareholders explaining the rerun process and the council’s reasons for not opening it up to new candidates.

The rerun was necessary because only two of five candidates for three seats received the required 50% approval of farmers, Peter McBride at 80% and Leonie Guiney at 63%.

Waugh got 49%, Nicholls 44% and Tuuta 40%. . . 

Dairy-farm price per hectare plunges – Sally Rae:

Farm sales across the country for the year to October were down more than 10%, while dairy farm  per-hectare prices have pulled back almost 30% during the past year.

In Otago and Southland, there was strong activity in finishing, grazing and arable properties, but dairy farm purchases in both provinces were affected, with restricted supply of capital.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said for the three months to October there were 263 sales, just two more than a year ago.

Across the country for the year to October 1475 farms were sold, a 10.5% decline on the same period last year. Dairy farm sales were down 7.7%, grazing farms fell 5.6%, finishing was down 13.2% and there were 22.5% fewer arable farms. . . 

Genetic changes will allow merino sheep come down from the mountains – Heather Chalmers:

Synonymous with the South Island high country, merino sheep may be farmed more widely as farmers are lured by high fine wool prices and genetic improvements. 

Merino woolgrower Bill Sutherland, of Benmore Station near Omarama, said it was boom times for the New Zealand merino industry. 

“In a time when strong wool prices are at a historical low, the prices for merino wool have rarely been better,” he told the New Zealand Grassland Association conference in Twizel.  . . 

New boss hears farmers:

Farmers delivered a stern message to new director-general of primary industries Ray Smith at a meeting in Ashburton on Wednesday – they want to be top of his list.

He attended the meeting, facilitated by Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers in response to desperate calls for help from local farmers affected by the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovi, off his own bat.

Farming leaders from across the country including national dairy chairman Chris Lewis and meat and wool chairman Miles Anderson also attended the closed session.

“This meeting was organised so these national leaders could hear from affected farmers and get their stories straight from the horse’s mouth,” Mid Canterbury dairy chairman Chris Ford said. . . 

Interest in competition suggests promising future for agriculture – Sally Rae:

McKenzie Smith grasps every opportunity to learn new skills.

Mckenzie (17), a year 13 pupil at Southland Girls’ High School, is chairwoman of the school’s TeenAg club.

TeenAg — which comes under the umbrella of New Zealand Young Farmers — is aimed  at introducing and promoting a positive picture of agriculture and agricultural careers to pupils from an early age. The club has organised an AgriKidsNZ competition at Southland Girls’ High School on Thursday, for years 7-8 pupils, and team numbers have more than doubled from last year. . . 

Jersey cows eat differently – Abby Bauer:

Each dairy cattle breed has its perks and its quirks, and Jerseys are no exception. On our Hoard’s Dairyman Farm, we certainly notice differences in personality and behavior between our Jerseys and Guernseys.

These breed differences are what led the American Jersey Cattle Association and National All Jersey Inc. to partner with university and industry experts to create a webinar series focused on the Jersey breed. One of their webinar topics was feeding the lactating cow, and the presenters were Bill Weiss and Maurice Eastridge from The Ohio State University.

The pair of professors pointed out that much of the research in the field of nutrition has been done on Holsteins. While many of these recommendations can fit other breeds, there are a few ways that Jerseys are unique. . .

 


Rural round-up

November 19, 2018

The sky’s the limit –  Andrew Stewart::

Intergenerational knowledge has long been a sort of secret ingredient to success in sheep and beef farming in New Zealand. Though that component was vital in the early years of Tom and Sarah Wells farming careers they are also using their passion, drive and determination to forge their own brand of sustainably farmed products. Andrew Stewart reports.

Both Tom and Sarah Wells used to work in completely non farm careers. 

Sarah was a television journalist covering breaking news in a time poor, mentally draining role. 

“I grew up mustering with my father on horseback on the station and I wanted to be a shepherd right through school but somehow lost my way,” she said.

“But there was always a pull back towards the farm.” . . 

 

Farmer tells hearing of importance of irrigation -Mark Price:

The complexities of farming with irrigation in the Lindis and Ardgour valleys of the Upper Clutha were spelled out at an Environment Court hearing in Cromwell this week.

Bruce Jolly, who owns 3000ha “Ardgour” farm, which has 160ha of irrigated land, was the final witness before the hearing was adjourned until January 28.

After seven days of evidence from hydrologists, ecologists and specialists on trout, Judge Jon Jackson ended the hearing a day earlier than planned, admitting in a light-hearted moment, he was somewhat “overwhelmed” and needed a day to reflect on what he had heard.

The Otago Fish & Game Council is arguing 900litres per second of water flowing in the river is required to sustain the brown trout population, while the Lindis Catchment Group (LCG) considers 550litres per second is necessary to sustain irrigation systems. . . 

Council ruminating on re-run rules :

The Fonterra Shareholders’ Council is working on the rules for the next election to fill the vacancy on the board that resulted from the incomplete 2018 director election.

Council chairman Duncan Coull said there is a range of scenarios and potentially the second election will not be held until early next year.

The constitution gives discretionary powers over the election procedure to the council and therefore the possibilities are quite wide-ranging, he said.

In the meantime, the board can appoint an interim director but not be one of the three unsuccessful candidates – Ashley Waugh, Jamie Tuuta and John Nicholls. . . 

Tahi Ngātahi enters the workplace:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see a new safety initiative made accessible for the wool industry workforce.

Education is key to improving most aspects of someone’s life, says Federated Farmers national president Katie Milne.

With that attitude in mind it is great to see the successful launch of health and safety programme Tahi Ngātahi at the New Zealand Agricultural Show today, she says. . . 

Sanford’s move up the value chain overcomes climatic vicissitudes –  Jenny Ruth:

 (BusinessDesk) – Sanford says annual earnings fell short of its expectations due to “challenging” climatic conditions leading to a decline in harvest volumes.

However, that impact was more than compensated for by the company’s efforts to extract more value from both its wild and farmed fish and seafood and its underlying earnings rose 1.5 percent.

The fishing company lifted net profit 12.9 percent for the year ended September to $42.3 million, but that was largely driven by an insurance settlement for damage caused to its Havelock mussel processing facility by the Kaikoura earthquake in November 2016. . . 

Te Wera forest agreements secures growth for Taranaki :

China Forestry Group NZ (CFGNZ) is once again backing local wood processing with a ground-breaking agreement on harvesting and processing wood from Taranaki’s largest forest.

China Forestry Group NZ and Taranakipine sawmill in New Plymouth have signed a supply agreement today that supports long term wood processing in New Plymouth and employment for the 170 workers at Taranakipine. It’s another initiative that demonstrates China Forestry Group NZ’s ongoing commitment to New Zealand. . . 

Apple and stonefruit industry members pleased relationship between MPI and US facility now heading in the right direction, but it is just the start for MPI :

The nursery and fruit-growing companies at the heart of the legal action against MPI over seized apple and stonefruit plants and plant material have been working hard to facilitate the rebuilding of the relationship between MPI and the USA-based Clean Plant Centre North West (CPCNW).

Overnight last night at the CPCNW facility in Prosser, Washington, representatives from MPI held their first face-to-face meeting with members of the CPCNW since a discontinued audit in March. . . 

B+LNZ calls for director nominations for annual meeting:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) today announced nominations have opened for two B+LNZ director roles and one position on its Directors’ Independent Remuneration Committee (DIRC).

Under the requirements of the B+LNZ constitution, two electoral district directors and one existing DIRC member retire by rotation at the Annual Meeting. . . 


Rural round-up

November 9, 2018

Fonterra board gets controversial voice back – Sally Rae:

Fairlie farmer Leonie Guiney has returned to the Fonterra board, vowing to solve the co-operative’s ”reputational issues”.

Shareholders voted to elect Mrs Guiney and Zespri chairman Peter McBride to the board and they will take office at the close of today’s annual meeting at Fonterra’s Lichfield plant in the Waikato.

Sitting director Ashley Waugh, Maori Television chairman Jamie Tuuta, and John Nicholls were unsuccessful.

Mrs Guiney, who farms near Fairlie and is director of four dairy farming companies, served on the board from 2014 until last year. . . 

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council report questions value-add strategy – Gerard Hutching:

Fonterra has failed to deliver “meaningful returns” on shareholders’ capital since inception in 2001, a new Shareholders Council report says, which questions the value-add strategy.

The much vaunted value-add business has returned only 0.2 per cent a year more than ingredients or commodities, “significantly below the 1.3 per cent a year premium needed to justify the increased risk”.

“This is important because the value-add business units are now using an increasing share of Fonterra’s capital. For the first five years since inception – 2002-06 – the value-add business accounted for 36 per cent of Fonterra’s capital. This has increased to 50 per cent of Fonterra’s capital over the last five years.” . . 

Reducing sediment loss explored at field days – Ella Stokes:

Sediment mitigation was a hot topic at the field days hosted by the Pomahaka Water Care Group last week.

The farmer-led group has an overall target of improving water health – first on farm and also in the Pomahaka River.

Last week, there were three field days held in the West Otago area to explore solutions to reduce sediment loss, which is a major issue in the area.

Landcare Research environmental scientist and Pomahaka Water Care Group (PWCG) co-ordinator Craig Simpson said they had up to 70 people at one of the events. . . 

Youngsters keep old-timers happy – Neal Wallace:

Transforming a run-down farm into a high performance stock unit was satisfying for Ron Davis and Roger Chittock but their greatest pleasure came from seeing youngsters trained on it go on to successful farming careers.

Chittock has spent 37 years and Davis 29 years on the management board of the Salvation Army’s Jeff Farm, a 2630ha sheep, beef and deer property between Clinton and Gore in eastern Southland.

But overseeing the development of the 30,000 stock units farm was only part of their enjoyment.

Jeff Farm’s primary role is to train youth for agricultural careers and the two retiring board members say seeing young people grow and move into industry jobs was immensely satisfying. . . 

Goats ready to earn their keep – Neal Wallace:

Three years ago David Shaw questioned why he was still farming Cashmere goats.

This month garments made from fibre harvested from goats on his south Otago farm will be on sale in a new Untouched World retail store opening in Wanaka.

Potentially, the resurrected cashmere market could take several tonnes of fibre and he believes having about 25,000 Cashmere goats is achievable.

He has 1000 goats on his farm and has readily identified 5000 on other farms that could be crossed with Cashmere bucks. . . 

The apparel industry has rediscovered the wool from corriedale sheep – Heather Chalmers:

Demand from sportswear and fashion companies is sending the price of a previously written-off type of wool to record levels.

This has led the dual-purpose corriedale sheep breed to make a comeback, after many farmers chose to shift to more meat breeds.    

Corriedale wool is in the mid-micron range, coarser than most merino fibre, but far finer than crossbred wool that comprises most of the New Zealand clip. . . 

Five new Nuffield scholars named :

Five Nuffield scholarships have been awarded for 2019. They have gone to two dairy farmers, a sheep and beef farmer, an arable farmer and an analyst.

Ben Hancock was raised on his family’s Wairarapa hill country sheep and beef cattle farm. He now works in Wellington for Beef + Lamb New Zealand as a senior analyst, still near the farm he often returns to.

After working in research and conservation roles in NZ, the United States and Panama Hancock did a doctorate investigating ecosystem services. . . 

 


Rural round-up

November 3, 2018

Fonterra fails test –  Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra achieved a positive result in only one of its nine key performance indicators in the 2018 financial year, its Shareholders’ Council says.

That one positive was the milk price of $6.69/kg MS up 9% from the season before.

Negative achievements against targets were recorded for the total amount available for payout, earnings per share, consumer and food service volume, the gearing ratio, working capital days, return on capital, milk volume collected and employee injuries. . .

Law change could target farmers with poor environmental record – Maja Burry:

Farmers and other stakeholders are being asked to have their say on legislation governing the nearly $17 billion diary industry. 

In May, the government began a review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA) 2001, which regulates Fonterra as the dominant player in the market to protect farmers, consumers and the wider economy.

The review will look at how the price of raw milk is set for farmers, how competitive the milk market is – as well as incentives for farmers to move into more sustainable production methods. . .

Fonterra acknowledges release of DIRA options paper:

Fonterra acknowledges the release today of the Government’s options paper on the review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act.

The Act is a complex piece of legislation and it’s important to New Zealand that the review is thorough.

We recognise the significant work that the Ministry for Primary Industries and Minister O’Connor have put into the document and we appreciate their high degree of engagement with industry so far. . . 

Not meeting honey rules cost Auckland businessman $26,000:

An Auckland businessman has been fined more than $26,000 for offences related to making false therapeutic claims about honey and failing to ensure he was a registered exporter.

Jonathan Paul Towers, 43, has been sentenced in the Auckland District Court and fined $26,300 after earlier pleading guilty to one charge under the Food Act and one charge under the Animal Products Act. . .

WIL locks in $11.5 M toward revised Dam cost:

To secure a 100-year water supply for Tasman and Nelson through the Waimea Community Dam, a group of local businesses has committed to invest $11 million in Waimea Irrigators Limited. Waimea Irrigators Limited (WIL) is issuing a Replacement Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to shareholders today detailing its additional investment of $11.5 million in the $102 million Dam project.

In August it was announced that the cost of the project increased by $26 million. Subsequently, Tasman District Council (TDC) approved a revised funding proposal that included a greater WIL contribution. Through an investor vehicle and additional in loan funding from Crown Irrigation Investments Limited (CIIL), WIL can meet its commitment to the project. . . 

Bird Mask’ now available to buy

Off the back of some seriously positive chirping, Air New Zealand and material innovation brand Allbirds have made their collaboratively designed eye mask, dubbed the ‘Bird Mask’, available to purchase online and at selected Nordstrom stores in the United States. . .

From today, fans of the Bird Mask can purchase their very own mask through the Allbirds online store, the Air New Zealand Airpoints™ Storeand Air New Zealand merchandise store, and at Nordstrom stores in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. . .


Rural round-up

September 14, 2018

Fonterra loss could be opportunity for change – Andrew McRrae:

Dairy farmers are hoping the massive financial hit taken by Fonterra will be used as an opportunity to reset the business for the future.

The dairy cooperative delivered a net loss of $196 million for the year ended July, after being hit by compensation payouts and investment write downs.

Revenue rose 6 percent to $20.4 billion.

Orini farmer Allan Crouch said even though a loss had been signalled, it was still very disappointing, especially compared to the $734m profit the year before. . .

Fonterra ponders Beingmate future as part of strategic review – Nikki Mandow:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra is looking at whether it should get rid of its disastrous Beingmate investment as part of an ‘everything up for grabs’ strategic review.

Speaking as the company announced the first full-year loss in its 18-year history, chairman John Monaghan said the company was doing a “full stocktake and portfolio review looking at all our major investments, assets and joint ventures to see how they are performing and where they fit with our strategy”. Beingmate was a key investment under the spotlight. . .

Co-op must do better:

The Chairman of Fonterra’s Shareholders’ Council Duncan Coull has said he is extremely disappointed with the Co-op’s 2018 Annual Results.

“There’s no denying that our farmers are unhappy with current performance, and this year’s results,” he said.

“The underlying result and its impact on earnings, dividend and carrying value is totally unacceptable and one that our farming families will not want to see repeated. Moving forward, it is imperative that our business builds confidence through achievable targets and at levels that support a higher carrying value of our farmers’ investment. . .

A thoroughly modern-day forward-thinking farmer – Pat Deavoll:

If ever there was the epitome of a thoroughly modern-day Kiwi farmer, the new Federated Farmers South Canterbury president would be it.

Jason Grant does it all. He owns and manages two dairy operations and a 1000 hectare dry stock farm, is a director of an irrigation company, an active member of two river catchment groups, a husband to Anna and father to Ruby (11), Oscar (12) and Wills (13), and of course, in his Federated Farmers role, an advocate for the local farming fraternity.

That he has a lot on his plate is an understatement. He says his life is “pretty full.” . . .

Farmers deserve recognition for their hard milk slog – Lyn Webster:

We are living in fantasy land where many people seem to think money grows on trees.

Well, it bloody well doesn’t!

Warning: I am grumpy because I have just lost my job due to impeding farm sale – more on that later.

About 25 per cent of New Zealand’s overseas revenue is generated by dairy farming, which is done by about 36,000 people.  That’s not many people to bring in a huge chunk of the country’s income.  

When the payout drops, which can happen overnight, it can affect your dairy farming business very badly very quickly.  Milk prices are volatile, sensitive to international demand and currency changes. Farmers put their seasonal plans in place, including stock numbers and a budget – if the milk price plummets, you pretty well have to suck it up because you haven’t got much wiggle room. . .

Funds run dry for beekeeper working to eliminate deadly parasite – Maja Burry:

A West Coast beekeeper says his bees are resistant to the varroa mite but that decades worth of work may be lost unless he can urgently pull together enough money to keep his business running.

Varroa mites infest bee hives, feeding on larvae and an infected hive usually dies within three or four years.

Westport beekeeper Gary Jeffery said he wanted to eliminate the parasite by distributing mite-resistant queen bees that he has bred around New Zealand. . .

Fonterra changes vindicated– Hugh Stringleman:

The calibre of new directors and nominees for the Fonterra board vindicates the governance changes and the downsizing of the board and outweighs the initial loss of experience, departing director Nicola Shadbolt says.

Her decision not to seek a fourth three-year term is in accordance with the guideline of nine years as the optimum and 12 years as the maximum.

The three candidates for vacancies around the board table announced last Monday are one-term sitting director Ashley Waugh along with Jamie Tuuta and Peter McBride. . .

Deer market doing well – Ashleigh Martin:

The deer market is achieving well at the moment, New Zealand Deer Farmers Association chairman John Somerville says.

“Venison prices are the best they’ve ever been and the velvet has been really stable for six or more years with some really good pricing.

“We’re hoping for slow steady growth of the deer market


Rural round-up

August 11, 2018

Our farmed meat is a green food – Neal Wallace:

Exporters are not shy in promoting New Zealand red meat as grass-fed and free-range but recent studies by Oxford and Otago Universities have lumped our system in with feedlots to claim the industry is environmentally degrading and unsustainable. Neal Wallace investigates the true environmental impact of grass-fed beef.

Work to differentiate the environmental footprint of New Zealand’s pasture-based red meat sector from feedlot systems that have a far greater impact has begun.

Beef + Lamb NZ chief insight officer Jeremy Baker said NZ grass-fed, free-range beef has been included in international studies that claim beef production is a major contributor to climate change. . . 

Fonterra fund units drop to 3-year low as investors grow dark on capital structure – Paul McBeth:

Aug. 10 (BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund units, which gives outside investors exposure to Fonterra Cooperative Group, fell to a three-year low after the latest dividend downgrade added to scepticism about the efficacy of the cooperative’s structure.

The units dropped 2.7 percent to $4.97, adding to a 20 percent slide so far this year, and fell as low as $4.95, a level not seen since September 2015 when Fonterra was hit by a slump in global dairy prices and offered interest-free loans to its farmer shareholders to tide . . 

Fonterra announcement disappointing, definitive plan of action required:

Duncan Coull, Chairman of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Council, has expressed his absolute disappointment with today’s Board decision to reduce the 2017/18 forecast Farmgate Milk Price by five cents to $6.70 per kg/MS in order to support the balance sheet, and the decision to retain more of the Co-op’s earnings which will likely see no further dividend payment to Shareholders over the 10 cents distributed earlier in the year.

Mr Coull: “I can understand the Board’s rationale and that it is prudent to protect the balance sheet, but the fact that we find ourselves in this situation is unacceptable. . .

Fonterra’s credit rating safe but Shareholders’ Council labels payout cut ‘unacceptable‘ – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – S&P Global Ratings said there is no immediate impact on its rating on Fonterra Cooperative Group from the group’s lower farmgate milk price and dividend guidance for the year ended July 31, issued this morning.

However, the Fonterra Shareholders’ Council expressed deep disappointment, saying “the fact that we find ourselves in this situation is unacceptable” and took the unusual step of questioning the cooperative’s value creation record at a time when a new chief executive is being sought and the chairmanship has unexpectedly changed. . . 

Three Rivers catchment group catch up in Southland – Nicole Sharp:

Southland farmers are leading the way in environmental practices and 17 catchment groups are now established in the region. With six more in the wings, and half the region covered, reporter Nicole Sharp looks into some of the achievements to date.

When a group of farmers put their minds to it, anything is possible.

That is how the catchment group idea started in 2013, when some farmers in the Balfour area formed a group. . . 

Canterbury woman Ash-Leigh Campbell elected new chair of NZ Young Farmers Board:

A woman is at the helm of the NZ Young Farmers Board for the first time in 12 years.

Ash-Leigh Campbell was elected chair of the eight-member board yesterday, replacing Jason Te Brake.

The 27-year-old is a technical farm manager with Ngāi Tahu and helps oversee the management of eight dairy farms.

“I feel extremely privileged to be elected chair. I’m really looking forward to the role,” said Ash-Leigh. . .

Cereal yields down but growers remain positive:

Total hectares sown in wheat and barley this season is predicted to decrease by around 8%, but growers are positive about future prospects, Federated Farmers Arable Chairperson Karen Williams says.

Results from the Arable Industry Marketing Initiative (AIMI) July 1 Cereal Survey are out and confirm average yields are down compared to last season. Milling and feed wheat yields were down 12%, malting barley down 9%, feed barley down 10%, milling oats down 17% and feed oats down 6%.

“This is no surprise and reflects variable growing conditions (hot, dry, wet, cold) throughout the key crop establishment periods in late spring and early summer,” Karen says. . . 

Major international agritech announcement expected for NZ

In less than a fortnight, more than 30 New Zealand agritech leaders will make history in Silicon Valley.

They will be part of the international 2018 Silicon Valley agritech immersion programme and Conference, involving Silicon Valley Forum, Tauranga’s Wharf42, Agritech New Zealand, Callaghan Innovation, and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

Agritech New Zealand executive director Peter Wren-Hilton says the four-year-old Silicon Valley agritech connection will have a significant and long-term impact on New Zealand’s emerging agritech sector. . . 

Kerrygold butter is being taken to court over ‘false’ grass-fed cows claim – Katie Grant:

Customer can’t believe it’s not butter made from exclusively grass-fed cows

The company behind Kerrygold butter is facing legal action for advertising its products as being made from the milk of grass-fed cows.

A US customer has taken umbrage with the butter maker, hitting it with a class action lawsuit claiming that Kerrygold has “misled” consumers, leaving them “unable to exercise their right to choose grass-fed products”.

Kerrygold cow diet Kerrygold cows are fed grass, but not exclusively – they also eat various grains such as soy and corn at certain times of the year, according to Dyami Myers-Taylor, the customer in question. . .


Rural round-up

May 26, 2018

Waikato farmer reveals his farm first in the region to get Mycoplasma bovis cattle disease – Gerald Piddock:

Henk Smit has come forward as the Waikato dairy farmer whose herd has tested positive for Mycoplasma bovis.

Smit walked up to the stage and put his hand up during a meeting attended by close to 600 farmers at the Sir Don Rowlands Centre near Cambridge.

He outlined how the cattle disease arrived on his farm and his frustrations with dealing with the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Smit has farming interests in three properties around Waikato including the dairy farm that tested positive for M bovis. . .

Good clearance at online sale – Alan Williams:

About 96% of the wool offered in the first Natural Fibre Exchange (NFX) online auction was sold.

Indications are the sale was in line with the improving tone in wool prices at the latest open-cry auctions.

Six sellers provided lots for sale and a good cross-section of New Zealand’s major wool buyers were bidding online for the 1525 bales offered on May 22, Wools of NZ chief executive Rosstan Mazey said. . .

Performing as a co-op should – Neal Wallace:

Fonterra gets a pass mark from industry observers for its performance as a co-operatively-owned business.

But they warn it cannot rest on its laurels given challenges connecting with 10,500 owners and plans for further investment in added-value and consumer products.

Fonterra Shareholder’s Council chairman Duncan Coull said Fonterra has performed as a co-operative should. It is owned and democratically controlled by members, it serves its members, returns surpluses to members and strives to operate profitably. . .

Fonterra approach farmes to switch from WMP – Brendon McMahon:

Fonterra has again approached Westland Milk Products suppliers to switch loyalties with the promise of better returns.

The West Coast Federated Farmers annual general meeting in Greymouth this week heard that Westland suppliers from Inchbonnie and Rotomanu in the south and Springs Junction in the north, were being courted by the country’s largest dairy co-operative, which has a massive milk powder factory at Darfield.

Fonterra scouts were on the West Coast several years ago, but at that time few local farmers were tempted. . . 

STRESS removes headache for hill country farmers:

Taranaki farmer Roger Pearce is confident he’s hit a good formula allowing him to make a successful living in the eastern Taranaki hillcountry without bringing nature’s wrath on himself.

…or indeed a wrath on the communities and farms all the way down to the sea.

He’s tapped into the South Taranaki and Regional Erosion Support Scheme (STRESS) to allow him to reap more of the potential of his 2000ha Waitōtara Valley property – while ensuring its soil does not erode into waterways where it degrades water quality and heightens the risk of downstream flooding. . .

Australian milk production up 3.5%

Australian milk production to the end of April is up 3.5 per cent on the same time last year, according to the latest figures from Dairy Australia.

The figures reveal April production was up 4.5 per cent compared with last year, with increases in all states except Queensland.

Tasmania led the growth with production up 19.6 per cent for April, followed by South Australia, where production was up 8.6 per cent. . .


Dairy following failed example of meat industry

March 14, 2018

Have we reached peak dairy factory?

The number of dairy factories sprouting in Waikato has got to the stage that farmers are concerned the industry has reached a tipping point.

They fear further growth could lead to overcapacity – too many milk processing sites – and dairying will follow the path of the meat industry, which over the past decade has been plagued by plant closures and job losses. . .

Fonterra Shareholder’s Council chairman and Waikato farmer Duncan Coull​ says it is becoming a national issue for the industry. It is bigger than Fonterra and an industry-wide discussion is needed to find a way to save it from itself.

“Do farmers really want to reach that tipping point because once that tipping point is reached, there is no turning back. We need to start asking ourselves the question as farmers what we want the industry to look like going forward.

“If farmers continue to allow capacity to be built and continued to supply that capacity, be very careful what we wish for, we are another red meat sector waiting to happen and we are another Australian dairy industry waiting to happen.” . . 

Farmers like some competition but it the meat industry found out at great cost – in money and human terms – that it is possible to have too much competition.

Synlait chief executive John Penno​ says the dairy industry is already at overcapacity and the vast bulk of the processing technology built in recent years has been large-scale milk powder plants producing dairy commodities.

“There’s no question in my mind that overcapacity across the industry exists. But the real question is, is it the right capacity? What is the total capacity is the wrong question.”

Synlait does not operate in that market and builds plants focusing on high-end, value-added products. . ..

Farmers are free to choose which company they supply.

A new one might look attractive, especially if it doesn’t require suppliers to buy shares.

But the lesson from the meat industry is that more competition isn’t always better for farmers or the industry.


Rural round-up

September 19, 2017

Guiney misses out on selection – Hugh Stringleman:

One long-serving director and two newcomers are the preferred candidates for three Fonterra board seats this year leaving sitting board member Leonie Guiney out in the cold.

They were former Fonterra Shareholders Council chairman and nine-year director John Monaghan, of Wairarapa, former Deer Industry New Zealand chairman and farm consultant Andy Macfarlane of Mid-Canterbury and PWC partner and National Fieldays Society board member Brent Goldsack, of Waikato.

The three were named as independent nomination process candidates for three vacancies among seven farmer-director seats on the Fonterra board. . .

Palmerston North farmer Peter Bills owns more machines than most – Samantha Tennent:

Not many contractors or services agents come through the gate of Te Rata Farm at Linton, owned by Peter and Kim Bills. The Bills try to be as self-sufficient as possible across their business.

The Bills run a pretty taut ship, keeping costs down by doing all their own cultivation, mowing and bailing. They admit they own more gear than the average 260-cow farm; almost the only piece of equipment they don’t have is a harvester.

“It keeps costs down for us but more importantly we aren’t relying on a contractor to get the work done. . .

Weather hits somber pea growers – Annette Scott:

There’s been no compensation for Wairarapa pea growers heading into their second season of a two-year pea moratorium.

And on top of wet weather that meant they could not get crops in the ground put farmers in a pretty sombre mood, Wairarapa cropping farmer Karen Williams said.

Williams, the 2017 Biosecurity Farmer of the Year, was an integral part of the grower group working alongside farmers and the Ministry for Primary Industries in the pea weevil response. . .

Restrictions lifted on feijoas in Taranaki after being cleared of myrtle rust threat – Gerald Piddock:

Feijoa lovers can breathe a sigh of relief after ministry officials put the plant in the low risk category for infection from myrtle rust.

Growers will also be relieved after the Ministry for Primary Industries lifted restrictions for moving feijoa plants in and out of Taranaki after it concluded there was little risk of them spreading myrtle rust.

Since myrtle rust was found in New Zealand earlier this year, there had not been a single feijoa plant found with the infection, the New Zealand Plant Producers Incorporated said in a statement. . .

From milk to medicine with DFE Pharma – a farmer’s journey from Taranaki to Europe:

Under the mountain in Kapuni, Taranaki, our farmers’ milk is being made into something pretty remarkable.

Our Kapuni site focuses on producing pharmaceutical lactose, a key ingredient in inhalers helping people around the world manage their asthma.

The lactose we make at Kapuni is the most pure lactose you can make in the world. And in short, gets the medicine in powder inhalers to where it’s needed – the lungs. . . 


Rural round-up

September 8, 2017

 Auckland-based designer re-invents lamb docking tool named national winner of James Dyson Award:

A re-designed lamb docking or tailing iron has won the New Zealand leg of the prestigious James Dyson Award for design engineers.

Many sheep farmers can experience repetitive strain injuries from using traditional tools during the seasonal process of removing lambs’ tails, commonly known as docking. And it’s not just the farmers who have been suffering; fluctuations in blade temperatures can cause considerable pain for the lambs, often leading to ineffective cauterisation and stock mortality.

Auckland-based industrial designer Nicole Austin has helped solve these problems by inventing Moray, an innovative hand-tool designed to help improve usability, performance and stock wellbeing. . . 

“Black gold’: vanilla prices reach record highs – Alexa Cook:

A global shortage of vanilla has sent prices sky high, and the cost of vanilla is now more than double previous record prices. 

The last peak was in 2003 when it reached $US300 per kg, and it is now sitting about $US700 per kg.

Vanilla is a tricky product to grow: the flowers only open once a year and have to be hand pollinated within four hours of opening.

Heilala Vanilla chief executive and co-founder Jennifer Boggiss said vanilla, as a commodity, went through cycles, and at the moment it had record high pricing and short supply. . . 

Great Short and Great Day Walks announced:

Some of New Zealand’s finest tracks are set to become part of a new network of Great Short and Great Day walks, Tourism Minister Paula Bennett and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry have announced.

“We’re bringing new facilities and a new, higher profile to some of the best walking experiences New Zealand has to offer as part of Budget 2017’s $76m investment in DOC’s infrastructure,” Mrs Bennett says.

The Great Day and Great Short Walks, developed by DOC in partnership with Tourism New Zealand, are an expansion of the highly successful Great Walks brand aimed at promoting more of the fantastic walking experiences available across the country. . . 

Nominations for Fonterra Shareholders’ Council And Directors’ Remuneration Committee Open Today;

Nominations opened today for the 2017 Fonterra Shareholders’ Council and Directors’ Remuneration Committee Elections.

Following last year’s Governance and Representation Review undertaken by Fonterra, the Shareholders’ Council has given effect to the recommendation voted on by shareholders in late 2016 that: “Over the next 12 months, the number of Shareholders’ Council wards is reviewed to establish how they can be reduced within the range that is permitted under the current Constitution.” . . 

Substantial dairy farm and runoff block placed on the market for sale:

A substantial dairy farm and associated run-off block in South Canterbury – including approximately 1,100 cows plus young stock – has been placed on the market for sale as a going concern.

The properties are located under the rain shadow of the Hunter Hills and feature a 501.944 hectare dairy platform located at 3150 Back Line Road at Kohika plus a 119.9636 hectare self-contained run-off located at 316 Campbell Forrest Road, which is only four kilometres from the dairy platform on a quiet country road. . . 


Rural round-up

September 22, 2016

The P epidemic has reached Waikato farms – Chris Lewis:

Federated Farmers runs an 0800 helpline for members, which is a popular way our members get value out of their subscriptions. Increasingly we are getting member calls around drugs and alcohol and advice on how to address this growing issue.

We’ve previously provided advice to farmers who have had multiple houses contaminated with P and even advice to a farmer for an entire workforce that tested positive for drugs. Some of the common questions being asked include: If I don’t have a drug and alcohol policy, how do I go about testing my staff? And, am I insured for my houses and business?

So what are our rights as employers? Should you turn a blind eye so your cows get milked? It is time to directly answer some of the questions, and for you to get answers from experts who work in this field. . . 

SFF ‘unleashed’ by assent – Dene Mackenzie:

Silver Fern Farms would be a ”company unleashed” now approval for Shanghai Maling to buy 50% of the Dunedin meat processor had been confirmed, SFF chairman Rob Hewett said yesterday.

After months of debate and some opposition from dissenting shareholders, Shanghai Maling received approval yesterday to inject $261million into SFF and take a 50% share.

The decision was never in doubt, although the Overseas Investment Office process was a ”black box”, Mr Hewett said in an interview. . . 

Govt defends Wairarapa water grant:

A Wairarapa irrigation system which didn’t stack up economically still got taxpayer cash from the Ministry for Primary Industries, says a damning study commissioned by Fish & Game.

But MPI is standing by its decision and says the report is flawed.

Fish & Game has released an independent analysis of the Wairarapa Water scheme’s successful application for $821,500 from MPI’s Irrigation Acceleration Fund for stage 2 of the scheme, which aims to irrigate 30,000ha.

The 2014 application was based on a long run farmgate milk price of $7.07 per kg of milksolids, which was questionable, and that 55 percent of the irrigated land would quickly be converted to dairy, says author Peter Fraser, of Ropere Consulting. . . 

Strong 2015/16 Profit Result for Fonterra, Encouraging Milk Price Signals Ahead for Fonterra Farmers

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Duncan Coull, said Fonterra’s recording of its highest ever EBIT, which resulted in Fonterra Farmers receiving a 60% increase on the earning per share received last season, was a positive result in an otherwise challenging environment.

Mr Coull: “The final payout of $4.30 for a fully shared-up Farmer is reflective of the very tough season we have endured.

“However, it is encouraging to see that Fonterra, assisted by the low Milk Price environment, has further driven volume into value and captured efficiency gains which have cumulated into a strong dividend while also serving to strengthen our Co-operative’s balance sheet. . .

Self-resetting rat traps 20 times better than standard traps -study:

Self-resetting rat traps are 20 times more effective at killing the pests than standard traps, a new study has shown.

The project – conducted by Bay of Plenty Polytechnic student Chantal Lillas – compared the amount of rats killed by self-resetting traps over a 10-day period last month, compared to the single-action traps more commonly used.

The self resetting traps were developed by the company Goodnature in collaboration with the Department to Conservation, and could reset up to 24 times before it needed to be reloaded. . . 

Zespri Board announces succession planning for new CEO:

The Board of Directors of Zespri will start a search process next year to select a new Chief Executive Officer. The succession is being planned with a view to having the new CEO in place by the beginning of 2018.

The current CEO Lain Jager, who was appointed Zespri CEO in December 2008, will remain in the role until the new CEO starts.

Zespri Chairman Peter McBride says the Board is balancing continuity and renewal in the leadership of the organisation. “The Zespri Board has set out a process for succession at an optimal time. The timeframe helps to ensure continuity through this transition, which is important given Zespri’s critical role in the value chain for kiwifruit growers and customers globally.” . . 

NZ Merino lifts annual profit 19%, meets growth targets – Tina Morrison:

Sept. 21 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand Merino Co, a wool marketer that aims to develop higher-value markets for sheep products, posted a 19 percent lift in annual profit and said its business has doubled in value over the past three years.

Profit rose to $2.7 million in the year ended June 30, from $2.3 million a year earlier, according to the Christchurch-based company’s 2016 annual report. Revenue rose 4.9 percent to $114.7 million, while cost of sales gained 5.7 percent to $104 million. It will pay its more than 500 growers a total dividend of $1.36 million, up from $1.1 million the previous year and in line with its policy of returning 50 percent of profit to shareholders. . . 

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Don’t complain about a farmer with your mouth full.


Rural round-up

August 10, 2016

Dairy downturn has a $1.3b impact on Waikato/Bay of Plenty farmers – Gerald Piddock:

The dairy slump has ripped more than a billion out of Waikato and Bay of Plenty farmers’ pockets, new figures show.

Farm consultancy group AgFirst’s 2016 Financial Survey shows the average dairy farmer’s net cash income was down $273,000 last season.

When multiplied by the region’s 4800 dairy farms, that’s $1.3b in lost income.

The big question was how much longer farmers could maintain the current situation where they had drastically reduced expenditure, AgFirst consultant Phil Journeaux said. . . 

Wintry blast hits farmers hard – Matt Shand:

The milking shed has frozen shut at Taharua Valley Farm as 200 dairy cows huddle together waiting for the problem to be fixed.

At 783 metres above sea level, the 2000-cow PenXing Group Milk New Zealand farm is one of the hardest hit by the recent snowstorm. Just over 100 metres lower in Taupo, the snow was a fun novelty. But here it is causing serious challenges. 

There is no such thing as time off for farmers and farmhands. Hot water and heaters are used to help thaw the shed out so it can hopefully milk animals tonight.  . . 

The snow has come again – Keith Woodford:

Every year we all talk about the weather and how fickle it is.  This year is no different. In most parts of the country, June and July were unseasonably warm.  Where I am in Canterbury, winter grass growth has possibly been higher than ever before.  Grass covers at the start of August were excellent.

In contrast, last year was one of the coldest winters on record, with many South Island farms getting no net growth in June and July.   That year, there was a string of southerlies, whereas this year warm winds were blowing over the Alps. . . 

MPI investigators target alleged unregulated meat sales:

A team of Ministry for Primary Industries investigators today executed a search warrant at an alleged unregulated meat premises in Turangi.

This was the culmination of a six month undercover operation involving the purchase of considerable quantities of venison, lamb and pork products from a local Turangi man.

The man is now being spoken to by MPI investigators in relation to the alleged sale of meat from an unregulated premises.

MPI Compliance Operations Manager, Gary Orr, says a decision will be made shortly as to whether charges will be laid under the Animal Products Act. . . 

Profit jumps for New Zealand’s leading fresh produce exporter :

Turners & Growers Global has posted an 89 percent gain in first-half profit driven by sales from new and existing businesses and a one-time gain from the sale of its crate hire unit.

The fruit marketer is controlled by Germany’s BayWa but is Auckland based. Their product base includes apples, pears, mandarins, coconuts and kiwifruit.

T&G profit rose to $22.7 million, or 18.2 cents a share in the six months ended June 30, from $12m, or 9.8 cents, a year earlier. Sales rose 14 percent to $423m. . . 

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council to get clearer mandate – Paul McBeth

(BusinessDesk) – The Fonterra Shareholders’ Council, which represents farmer interests in the world’s biggest dairy exporter, is poised for a refreshed mandate with clearer guidelines on how it interacts with the milk processor.

The council and Fonterra Cooperative Group are seeking feedback from farmers on a series of proposals to update the group’s governance to make the council’s role clearer, explain how it works with Fonterra’s board and management, and improve communication with farmer shareholders. Farmers are expected to vote on any changes to the council’s governance at a special meeting in mid-October. . . 

One of the worlds’ most respected wine consultants appointed to NZ’s boutique vineyard Chateau Waimarama:

After an extensive international search, award winning boutique vineyard Chateau Waimarama, has lured leading Bordeaux wine consultant Ludwig Vanneron half way across the world to be its wine specialist.

Ludwig Vannerons’ stellar career has seen him work in prestigious and major wine areas of Bordeaux, managing the winemaking process in estates from small chateau Bordeaux appellation properties to great classified growths. . . 


Rural round-up

April 21, 2016

Farmers’ urged to make their voices heard at local elections:

With local authority elections less than six months away, Federated Farmers is urging farmers to get engaged and involved.

Federated Farmers spokesperson on local government, Katie Milne, says local government elections is vitally important for farming on many levels, and is encouraging farmers to make their voices heard.

“It is absolutely crucial that farmers get involved in holding their councils to account. This includes being engaged on the issues and when the time comes make an informed vote.

“It’s also important that we get good candidates, including farmers and other business-minded people, to stand for election,” she says. . . 

New UHT milk plant for Canterbury:

The official opening of Westland Milk Products’ new UHT plant in Rolleston is a significant boost for the Canterbury dairy industry and is a sign of the continuing shift to value-added products, says Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew. 

“It is important to celebrate good news stories such as this new UHT facility, which combined with the strong medium to long-term outlook for the sector, gives dairy farmers confidence that the period of low prices they are currently experiencing is only temporary,” Mrs Goodhew says.

The new plant can process 14,000 litres of milk per hour and has been constructed by Westland Milk Products, New Zealand’s second biggest dairy cooperative and third biggest dairy company overall. . . 

A2 Milk’s push into China bolstered by results of human clinical trial in that country – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Specialty milk marketer A2 Milk has bolstered its push to sell more products in China through a recently completed human clinical trial comparing the gastrointestinal and cognitive effects of consuming milk containing the A1 beta casein with that of the A2 variant on people with self-reported lactose intolerance.

The results of the Chinese study were published this month in the Nutrition Journal and are due to be released at a Beijing press conference late tomorrow by the company.

It’s part of a bid by A2 to get more credible scientific validation of its marketing claims, that have been in contention since the late 1990s, that its products might be better for people intolerant to standard cow milk. . . 

Protect our most precious and vulnerable waterways first, says Environment Commissioner:

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has welcomed the Government’s latest discussion document on water quality, but has called for councils to give priority to the most precious and vulnerable rivers and lakes.

“Water quality has been declining for years and significant improvements will take time,” says Dr Wright. “Not everything can be done quickly, so regional councils must focus on immediate problems and pressure points.”

Dr Wright today released her advice to Parliament in response to the ‘Next steps for fresh water’ consultation document.

In her submission, Dr Wright states that the Government has made significant progress and has called for councils and communities to follow through and make the policy work. . . 

Farming 9 til 5: The farmers putting people before production – Jendy Harper:

On one farm near Waimate, the mantra “people before production” underpins employment decisions.

On Cara Gregan’s farm, workers must pass what she calls the “gumboot test”. 

Cara says she asks herself whether if her children or husband were wearing the gumboots, how she would feel about their conditions of work.

“I’ve got teenaged children, and I wouldn’t be prepared for them to work 12-14 hour days.” . . 

PGG Wrightson seed site hit by Uruguay flooding – Edwin Mitson:

(BusinessDesk) – Agricultural products and services company PGG Wrightson has warned investors that its seed cleaning site in Uruguay has fallen victim to that country’s widespread flooding.

The company told shareholders in February that its South American business was expected to perform better between January and June. In a statement to the NZX today, chief executive Mark Dewdney said that was no longer anticipated.

“The strength of beef prices gave us reason to believe we would see a recovery in our Uruguayan business at the full year, he said. “While it remains too soon to quantify the full impact of the current flooding, we are now not expecting to see that full recovery in the current financial year”. . . 

Tonnellerie de Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker 2016:

Blending knowledge, skill and passion for New Zealand’s premium winemaking future

Entries are now open for 2016. Who will take out the title this year?

This exciting competition for NZ winemakers under 30 years old was held for the first time last year and proved to be a challenging yet fun and very rewarding competition. Contestants felt it increased their winemaking skills, knowledge and confidence as well as building important contacts for their future careers. . . 

Greg Mccracken New Shareholders’ Councillor for Southern Northland:

Today, following the close of voting in the Shareholders’ Council by-election in Southern Northland, Greg McCracken was announced as the successful candidate.

Mr McCracken, who has been farming in the Northland region for more than 30 years and currently farms at Wellsford, will take up his new role effective immediately. . . 


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