Rural round-up

30/09/2022

Voluntary sequestration schemes create opportunities as well as confusion – Keith Woodford:

Native forests that began regenerating prior to 1990 are excluded from the ETS. This opens opportunities for voluntary schemes independent of Government.

In a recent article, I wrote how carbon credits are not created equal. This inequality is now leading to game-playing and confusion across society. Terms like ‘greenwash’ as the carbon equivalent of a ‘whitewash’ are increasingly heard and there is increasing talk of ‘hot air’ carbon claims.

Since writing that article, I have been wrestling with the challenge of further deepening my own understanding of how the carbon game is being played. It is a game where different players are playing by different sets of rules, as are the certifying referees.  Many of the certifying rules are far from transparent.

Here in this article my focus is specifically on the rules surrounding sequestration that removes carbon from the atmosphere. That leaves other aspects of the carbon rules for another time. . .

Better free trade outcomes an illusion – EU politician – Sam Sachdeva:

EU trade committee chair Bernd Lange argues the grouping’s trade deal with New Zealand is a “gold standard” agreement – even if Kiwi farmers disagree. Lange spoke to Sam Sachdeva about China’s coercive trade practices, cracking down on forced labour, and how the Ukraine invasion has changed attitudes on trade

Even a typically miserable Wellington spring day can’t shake the good mood of European parliamentarian Bernd Lange.

Speaking to Newsroom at the end of a week-long visit to New Zealand, Lange says the grey skies and rain remind him of his roots in northern Germany – although his cheer may be more down to the free trade agreement between the European Union and New Zealand he is here to discuss.

Lange visited New Zealand in late 2017 for a “fact-finding mission” with other members of the European Parliament’s international trade committee which he chairs. . . 

Synlait posts $38.5m annual profit

The South Island dairy company Synlait Milk is back in the black as its ingredients division saw higher than normal sales, while its major customer rebalanced inventory levels.

Key numbers for the 12 months ended July compared to a year ago:

  • Net profit $38.5m vs $28.5m loss
  • Revenue $1.66b vs $1.37b
  • Total average payment $9.59 vs $7.82
  • Forecast 2023 payout $9.50 per kilo of milk solids

Synlait chair John Penno said the past year was “an important period of refocusing”. . . 

Fonterra trials world first in sustainable electricity storage :

A new organic, low-cost, safe, sustainable and long-life battery being trialled by Fonterra, could support greater energy security and distributed electricity generation for New Zealand.

PolyJoule, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) spin-off, is partnering with Fonterra on the application of the battery made from electrically conductive polymers, an organic based compound with the ability to act like metal.

Late last year the world’s first industrial scale organic battery was installed on a Fonterra farm at Te Rapa. The battery was cycled daily, supporting dairy shed operations for 10 months. The Co-op is now moving this battery to its Waitoa UHT site, which can be impacted by power disturbances leading to downtime and waste.

Fonterra Chief Operating Officer Fraser Whineray says as a significant electricity user at about 2.5% of the national grid, a sustainable and secure electricity supply is vital to the Co-operative’s local sales and exports. . .

Primary sector exporters buoyed by opportunities for a closer India-NZ relationship but different approach necessary :

Primary sector exporters recently returned from a visit to India are excited about the opportunities for a closer partnership between the two countries, however they are urging the New Zealand Government to adopt a more flexible and focused approach to trade.

New Zealand’s agriculture exporters and industry bodies, including representatives from the red meat, kiwifruit, apples & pears and dairy sectors, were part of an India New Zealand Business Council (INZBC) delegation which coincided with a visit from Trade Minister Damien O’Connor.

“India has come out of COVID-19 with growing confidence and strength, and its leaders have a clear focus on accelerating economic growth including through trade,” says INZBC chair Earl Rattray, who has dairy interests in India.

“India is on track to become the world’s third largest economy within the next decade. There is a modern economic miracle unfolding there, with an openness to explore mutually beneficial ways to strengthen trade relationships. This is a good time for New Zealand business to embrace India.” . . 

NZ Young Farmers and Ministry for Primary Industries partner to boost wellbeing :

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is supporting NZ Young Farmers (NZYF) to fund a series of events for NZYF members as part of an initiative to improve the wellbeing of young people in rural communities.

MPI is contributing funding for the events, which will offer a channel for young people across the country to connect and learn ways to manage mental health and build resilience.

NZ Young Farmers Chief Executive Lynda Coppersmith says mental health is a key concern in rural communities, where factors such as isolation and high workloads can impact overall wellbeing and mental health.

“The mental and physical wellbeing of young people is a big focus of our organisation and is essential for the ongoing viability of many rural communities,” says Lynda Coppersmith. . . 


Rural round-up

29/09/2022

We don’t want farmers to break the law :

The Government’s winter grazing regime is becoming increasingly confusing for farmers as D-Day looms to have consents in place, warns Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and DairyNZ

The Government has been slow to implement freshwater farm plans, forcing farmers into an expensive consent process, while councils nationwide are struggling with the consenting burden.

This has left farmers at risk of breaking the law as planting for winter crops needs to take place in late spring, says Federated Farmers National Board spokesperson, Water and Environment, Colin Hurst. 

“We’ve been told by the Ministry for the Environment, Ministry for Primary Industries and various regional councils that ‘it’s ok’ and nothing will happen if farmers get planting, even though they’d be at risk of breaking the law.” . . 

Have your say on the Dairy Industry Restructuring (Fonterra Capital Restructure) Amendment Bill:

The Primary Production Committee is seeking public submissions on the Dairy Industry Restructuring (Fonterra Capital Restructuring) Amendment Bill. This bill would enable Fonterra to implement a new capital structure.

The bill would amend the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 to allow Fonterra’s unit fund to be partially and permanently delinked. Fonterra’s ability to limit the size of the unit fund would be specifically excluded from conduct that could be considered illegal.

The bill also seeks to improve the transparency, and strengthens the Commerce Commission’s oversight of Fonterra’s base milk price-setting arrangements. It would also support liquidity in trade of Fonterra shares. . . 

Non-food corps are eating our food – Deepak K Ray:

The world’s farmers grow crops for food as well as other uses. Those other uses are threatening to crowd out our chance to feed the world’s hungry, writes Deepak K Ray.

It’s sometimes bandied about that enough food is grown globally to feed everyone now and into the future. Undernourishment is ‘just a distribution challenge’. And it’s mostly true: enough kilojoules do and will be harvested in just the top 10 global crops, which account for more than 80 percent of all calories. We will grow an extra 14,000 trillion kilocalories (around 59,000 trillion kilojoules) by 2030.

But while distribution is certainly one challenge, under the hood things are not so simple; all harvested crops are not for direct food consumption.

Crops are often consumed with little to no processing, such as apples from the tree and tortillas made from the flour of a wheat or maize crop. But there are another six reasons crops are grown: animal feed (for dairy, eggs and meat production); the food processing industry (think high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oil and modified starch); exports (to countries that can pay); industrial use (think ethanol, bio-diesel, bagasse, bio-plastics, and pharmaceuticals); seeds; and then there are crop losses. These last two categories are relatively small, though in the 2010s crop losses were still relatively high in Africa. . . 

The fragile magic of highly productive land – Emile Donovan:

Not all land is created equal.

Some – which we call ‘highly productive land’ – is, as it says on the tin, highly productive.

That means it’s much more flexible than other types of land: you can grow many different types of fruit or vegetables on it; you can adapt it for other types of farming, all with minimal input from farmers.

Aotearoa puts its highly productive land to good use: in breadbaskets, like Pukekohe, we grow food that feeds New Zealanders, and is exported around the world.  . . 

More seasonal workers welcome :

BusinessNZ welcomes the Government’s announcement of another 3000 places for seasonal workers to help ease workforce pressure, and would like to see the same done for more sectors.

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Kirk Hope says this afternoon’s announcement is a good start.

“Hopefully by recognising the urgent need for more workers in the horticultural sector, the Government is also open to considering the shortages New Zealand is currently facing across all sectors and at all levels of employment.

“The global war for talent has resulted in a very competitive international environment and New Zealand businesses are looking to source skills from the New Zealand labour market where that is possible. . . 

Increased RSE cap will help wine industry meet seasonal work peaks :

New Zealand Winegrowers welcomes the announcement today that the Government has increased the RSE cap to 19,000, providing 3000 additional places.

“The availability of skilled seasonal workers continues to be a critical concern for many growers and wineries. The announcement today will help the New Zealand wine industry to plan with more certainty to meet seasonal work peaks, and ensure we can continue to make premium quality wine. This decision will benefit Pacific workers, their families, and our wine regions,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

“There are very clear requirements for all accredited employers regarding accommodation, and pastoral care. As an industry we expect these are upheld, as a minimum. It is a privilege to have this scheme, to enable our industry to meet our seasonal work peaks, and RSE employees must be provided with fair and ethical working conditions – anything less is unacceptable.”

“This increase recognises the Government’s confidence in the scheme, and the confidence they have in the primary industries to get this right, and give RSE workers the experience they deserve. This is a responsibility that will not be taken lightly.” . . 


Record payout

22/09/2022

Fonterra has announced a record payout:

. . .Fonterra today announced a strong set of results for the financial year ending 31 July 2022, reflecting a 2021/22 Farmgate Milk Price of NZ$9.30 per kgMS and normalised profit after tax of NZ$591 million. 

With a total dividend of 20 cents per share to our fully shared-up farmers – comprising of an interim dividend of 5 cents per share and a final dividend of 15 cents per share – the final cash pay-out for farmers is $9.50.

Total Group normalised Earnings Before Interest and Taxes (EBIT) was NZ$991 million, up NZ$39 million or 4% on the prior year. 

Chief Executive Miles Hurrell says despite the challenges including increased costs associated with supply chain volatility, 2021/22 was a good year for the Co-op.

“These results demonstrate that our decisions relating to product mix, market diversification, quality products and resilient supply chain, mean the Co-op is able to deliver both a strong milk price and robust financial performance in a tough global operating environment.

“The Co-op is pleased to be able to pay a total dividend of 20 cents per share for our farmer owners and unit holders. And this year’s higher Farmgate Milk Price is the strongest it has ever been, which is great news for our farmers. New Zealand also benefits from this, with $13.7 billion returned into the economy in milk price payments alone this year.

“Importantly, one year on, the Co-op is making tangible progress against our strategy – namely to focus on New Zealand milk, be a leader in sustainability and a leader in dairy innovation and science. . . 

This is good news for farmers, sharemilkers and the wider economy and the outlook for the current season is positive in spite of global uncertainties.

The forecast farmgate Milne price for this season is a range of NZ$8.50–$10.00 per kgMS, with a midpoint of NZ$9.25 per kgMS and a range of  45-60 cents for shares.

 


Rural round-up

14/09/2022

On how farmers overcome diversity – Sally Rae:

Resilience is defined as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Those in the rural sector, in particular, can face adversity from multiple sources and additional challenges to other sectors of society.

For high country farmer Jack Cocks, adversity came in the form of a life-threatening brain injury in March 2013.

Then 36 years old, the father-of-two got a massive headache; he recalls the pain as being unimaginable. He did not know what the cause was but he knew the outcome could potentially kill him.

His wife Kate phoned 111 and he was flown from their home at Mt Nicholas Station, on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, to Dunedin Hospital in the middle of the night. . . 

Kaitiakitanga – the force propelling the Miraka marvel – Gerald Piddock:

A small company is taking a holistic approach in its business – and it’s paying off on the global stage.

A small central North Island milk company is proving it can do big things. Based in Mokai, north of Taupō, Miraka is showing it’s possible to operate with kaitiakitanga (meaning guardianship and protection or sustainability) and te ao Māori values, and punch above its weight on the global stage. Kaitiakitanga was not a strategy, it was embedded in Miraka values and everything it did, chief executive Karl Gradon says. It is one of Miraka’s key values. It means more than just being sustainable, he told farmers and industry leaders at the Primary Industries of New Zealand Summit in Auckland.

“That’s not the translation, it is much more holistic than sustainability and we are proving we can do this on a global scale.”

The $300 million dairy company based in Mokai just north of Taupō is a key player in the Māori economy, being one of its largest exporters. It collects milk from 100 local farms within a 120km radius of the factory, which gives it a farm-fresh advantage and results in superior quality products.  . . 

Firearms licence fears often unwarranted – Kathryn Wright:

One of the saddest — and most misinformed — reasons that has emerged in my research on young rural men and why they don’t seek help for mental heath issues, is a fear of losing their firearms licence, writes KATHRYN WRIGHT, rural counsellor.

Firearms are a serious topic and attitudes around them can be emotional and polarising.

Urban people tend to equate firearms with crime, whereas for rural people, they are an essential tool on the farm and beyond. Essential for quickly and humanely putting down sick stock, and for pest control.

The flip side of firearm use is that of recreational hunting, which several roles — killing wild animals to feed the family and then there is the social/emotional connection. . . 

Greenies challenge NZ food producers with push towards lab-produced tucker but Fonterra strikes back with Nutiani – Point of Order:

New Zealand’s  food  exporters, on whom  this  country  depends  for  the  bulk of  its  export earnings, may  have  to  contend  with  fresh  opposition  from a  new  quarter. This  is  the  school  of  “greenies” who  preach  the  need  for  a revolution  in  creating  food through  precision  fermentation: growing  food   in  labs  from  microbes  and  water.

Leading  this  school  in the  United Kingdom is a  formidable  authority,  George  Monbiot,  who argues  that  before  long

 “… most  of  our  food will come neither from animals nor plants but  from unicellular  life”.   

Monbiot  and  others  like   him  argue  it  is  “indisputable”   that  the  farming revolution of  the  the  1950’s ,  with  its  widespread use  of  herbicides, pesticides  and  fungicides has  waged  war  on  nature. . . 

Dairy commodities sustain high price :

Price rises across dairy commodities drove an annual increase in the value of exports for dairy products, Stats NZ said today.

In the year ended July 2022, the total export value of milk powder, butter, and cheese increased $2.8 billion (17 percent) to $18.8 billion, compared with the year ended July 2021.

“Dairy products had a strong finish to the export season with a continuation of high prices, especially in the second half of the season,” international trade statistics manager Alasdair Allen said.

The annual increase was heavily driven by exports of milk powder, up $1.1 billion to $10 billion and milk fats, including butter, up $1.1 billion to $3.8 billion from the year ended July 2021. . . 

Recognition for forestry’s highest achievers in 2022 :

This week at an awards dinner held in Auckland the New Zealand Institute of Forestry (NZIF) announced the winners of its three most prestigious awards. The 2022 recipients are acknowledged for their diverse range of skills and experience. From hard graft and commitment at grass roots level, to high level policy planning and execution, and academic leadership.

Forestry continues to be a significant contributor to the New Zealand economy. NZIF President, James Treadwell says “the industry is working hard to benefit New Zealand, and we are particularly proud of the high calibre of this year’s award contenders.”

The Prince of Wales Sustainability Cup is awarded to Jake Palmer. This award recognises the achievements of a young New Zealand forest professional who lives and breathes the principles of sustainable forest management. In addition to the sound science based land stewardship, the awardee must demonstrate a commitment to raising the profile, of the wise use and conservation of forests and their ecosystems. Treadwell commented “This award was instigated by Prince Charles in 2017. It’s especially poignant timing this year following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. The mantel will pass to a new Prince of Wales, Prince William, to continue to champion environmentally positive forestry practices.” . . 


Rural round-up

13/09/2022

Research looks at breeding more climate friendly cows :

New research has confirmed bulls’ genetics play a role in how much methane they emit, highlighting the potential for farmers to breed low methane-emitting cows in the future.

The news comes following the first year of a research programme run by major New Zealand artificial breeding companies LIC and CRV.

The research, funded by the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC), measures methane emissions from the burps of young bulls set to father the next generation of New Zealand’s dairy cows.

Results from year one, where the feed intake and methane emissions from 281 bulls were measured, found there is genetic variation in the amount of methane emitted after accounting for the feed eaten by the bulls, with the lowest emitting around 15-20% less methane than the average. . .

David Parker must delay winter grazing regulations :

The Government is about to pile up to $100 million of unnecessary compliance costs onto farmers because its freshwater regulations are more than a year overdue, National’s Agriculture spokespeople Barbara Kuriger and Joseph Mooney say.

“Under Environment Minister David Parker’s regulations, farmers must have a certified freshwater farm plan for winter grazing on sloping land. If they do not have a certified plan, they must obtain a resource consent,” Barbara Kuriger says.

“Two years after the regulations were passed, the Ministry for the Environment has not completed the framework allowing farmers to certify freshwater farm plans. Officials have indicated the framework will not be ready this year.

“The regulations have already been delayed by David Parker twice, but are now due to come into force in November. Because the guidelines will not be ready, many thousands of farmers will have no alternative but to apply for resource consents for their winter grazing. . . 

How Miles brings smiles to the nation’s cowsheds this time by upgrading earnings guidance – Point of Order:

The giant  dairy co-op Fonterra  has  sent  a  shiver  of  excitement  through the  country’s   cowsheds     by   upgrading  its earnings guidance to between 45 and 60c per share, up from 30 to 45c per share for the 2022-23  season.

At  a  time  when  other  sectors  of  the  economy   are  under  pressure, and the  dairy industry is  coping with  difficult  climatic  conditions,  Fonterra in effect is signalling  that NZ’s export  mainstay can  do  even  better  than it  did in the  previous outstanding season  in sustaining its  export  earnings.

Some  might   say  Fonterra is  at  last  on  the  brink of  fulfilling  the  promise  its  founders held  for it 20-odd  years  ago.

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell foresees  the  possibility  that if  current conditions  persist, the revised guidance  could be raised   again. . . 

Sheep farmers roll out woollen mate for the wellnes market – Country Life:

With crossbred wool prices remaining low, some sheep farmers are having a serious crack at adding value to the fibre they proudly grow.

Canterbury farmers Jane and Mark Schwass are making felted wool exercise mats from their crossbred wool clip.

“A daughter brought a woollen mat home that was made offshore and imported into New Zealand for quite a significant amount of money and we thought, ooh this is something we could be thinking about!”

Most people use the woollen mats for Yoga and Pilates, Jane tells Country Life. . . 

Whaitiri to promote dairy sector’s interests in India while O’Connor deals with the IPEF – but he aims to review dairy quota, too – Point of Order:

Two new announcements  have been posted on the Beehive website since our monitoring yesterday, one dealing with the dairy sector, the other with New Zealand’s trade relationships.

One announcement said Food Safety Minister Meka Whaitiri is headed for India to address the World Dairy Summit in New Delhi, the flagship event of the International Dairy Federation.

The other said Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor is in the USA where he has joined ministerial representatives from 13 other economies across the Indo-Pacific region to launch negotiations on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF).

A week earlier O’Connor had made another trade-related announcement with particular implications for the dairy industry, . . 

Central Australian cattle station saves big in maintenance after employing all-female crew – Hugo Rikard-Bell:

It’s about midday on Umbearra Station, and owners Angus and Kimberley McKay are sitting down for lunch with their crew, who are recapping the antics of the William Creek races held the weekend just gone.

Sixteen years ago, when Mrs McKay first arrived on the remote cattle property, 300 kilometres south of Alice Springs, the dining room set-up looked a little different. 

“I was the only female, and we’d have a whole table of males,” she said. 

Now, the tables have turned, and it is Mr McKay who is sitting at a full table of females, eating a lunch of freshly made quiche and salad. . . 


Rural round-up

12/09/2022

Cow versus plant-based milk which offers the most nutrition? – Gerhard Uys:

Plant-based milk alternatives contain just a fraction of the nutrition of cows’ milk, and are more expensive, a Riddet Institute study shows.

The study, done at Massey University and funded by dairy interests including Fonterra, compared the nutritional profiles of a range of plant-based drinks like soy, oat, coconut, almond or rice drinks, to standard cow milk.

For the study, 103 plant-based products were bought from supermarkets in Palmerston North. The plant based drinks had lower quantities of 20 nutrients measured, such as calcium and protein. They were also more expensive than cows’ milk, the study showed.

The institutes’ nutritional sciences professor, Warren McNabb, said plant-based beverages were often marketed as alternatives to cows’ milk, and consumers could easily believe they were nutritionally interchangeable. . . 

Here’s why food prices might have further to rise – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Organic pasture-fed ruminant meat animals are the farm products most damaging to the environment in terms of nitrogen loss and greenhouse gas production. This is according to UK-based science journalist Goerge Monbiot.

No doubt vegans will feel vindicated and organics people will feel misunderstood, while regenerative aficionados will be confident, until they read what he actually wrote – because regenerative involves pasture and eschews synthetic nitrogen like organics.

The conclusion will be disappointing to many people, who saw a ‘natural solution’ but there are no easy answers with an ever-growing global population to feed, and feed to meet their nutritional requirements.

No Hunger is the second of the Sustainable Development Goals from the United Nations, the first is No Poverty. Nearly a third of the global population lacks access to regular food and one in 10 are hungry. In 2020, 47% of countries reported escalating food prices in comparison with 16% in 2019. . .

Red meat exports reach $1.1 b in July 2022 :

New Zealand’s red meat sector achieved sales of $1.1 billion during July, a 26 per cent increase on July 2021, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

China remained the standout market with red meat exports worth $460 million, up 42 per cent on last July.

Other major markets were Japan at $58 million, up 36 per cent, the Netherlands at $38 million, up 132 per cent, and the UK at $38 million, up 97 per cent. Exports to the US dropped by 22 per cent to $191 million.

MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says strong red meat prices in global markets were continuing to help absorb the impact of continued market volatility and higher costs. . . 

Environmental efforts recognised with award – Tim Cronshaw:

A Canterbury grower who has put in more than 500 solar panels at his family’s vegetable growing operation has won high praise for his environmental work.

Oakley founder and head agronomist Robin Oakley has won the Horticulture New Zealand (HortNZ) Environmental Award for his efforts, which includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions and nitrogen leaching.

The fifth-generation farmer grew up on his family farm and has been working the land since he was a young boy.

He started the Southbridge fresh vegetable business in the 1990s with his wife Shirleen. . . 

Forestry needs an urgent reset – Gary Taylor:

Forestry has an important place in our economy, but it’s time to improve the sector’s environmental performance. Gary Taylor explains how. 

The recent serious floods in Marlborough and Tasman and previous extreme weather events on the North Island’s east coast point to an urgent need to tighten up environmental controls on exotic forestry. The old method of allowing large scale clear-felling at harvest on erosion-prone land is no longer fit-for-purpose in a climate changing world.

Having large swathes of hill country denuded of stabilising vegetation for several years between forestry cycles is exacerbating run-off volumes and flood velocity, as well as vastly increasing sediment loads entering the coastal marine area. Sediment smothers and kills marine life.

The Government is about to release a discussion document on the review of the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF). This is the opportunity to fix this problem through setting improved regulations for the sector and moving towards a safer and more environmentally responsible regime for forestry. . . 

Harnessing the power of saffron color for food and future therapeutics – Xiongjie Zheng:

A highly efficient enzyme combined with a multigene engineering approach offers potential for sustainable production of water-soluble pigments in plant tissues.

Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice. Usually obtained from the stigma of Crocus sativa flowers, it takes 150,000–200,000 flowers to produce one kilogram of saffron. Now, KAUST researchers have found a way to use a common garden plant to produce saffron’s active ingredient, a compound with important therapeutic and food industry applications.

The color of saffron comes from crocins: water-soluble pigments derived from carotenoids by a process that is catalyzed by enzymes known as carotenoid cleavage dioxygenases (CCDs). Crocins also occur, albeit in much lower amounts, in the fruits of Gardenia jasminoides, an ornamental plant used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Crocins have high therapeutic potential, including their role in protecting neural cells from degradation, as well as their antidepressant, sedative and antioxidant properties. They also have an important role as natural food colorants. . . .


Rural round-up

08/09/2022

In defence of the Kiwi diet – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Dr Jacqueline Rowarth disagrees with UK author George Monbiot’s argument that the average New Zealanders diet meat-loving diet could be devastating for the planet.

Overseas experts are not necessarily experts in the New Zealand context.

It seems to be taking us a very long time to realise this, even though we acknowledge that New Zealand is unique.

The country’s geological youth and maritime climate, combined with relatively recent settlement and educated population, mean that the development of the country has followed a different pathway to that of most countries. . . 

Rustling in the spotlight after hundreds of sheep stolen from North Canterbury farm :

The scale of a North Canterbury livestock theft reported to police on Sunday is uncommon, Federated Farmers says, but it estimates rustling is costing New Zealand farmers around $120 million a year.

Farmer Maury Leyland posted on Twitter about the theft of “hundreds” of sheep on Friday and asked for information.

“Beyond gutted, we have had rustlers on our farm in [North] Canterbury,” she wrote.

“Hundreds of sheep stolen. Yards, dogs, and truck must have come in. Someone must have seen something.” . . 

New apricots launching – Stephen Hepburn :

Tastier, juicier and brighter — new types of apricots are to be launched on the domestic and overseas market this summer which, long term, could bring millions of dollars to the Central Otago economy.

The newly established NZ Summer Fresh company announced yesterday it planned to commercialise the first three new apricot cultivars released by Plant & Food Research after nearly two decades of research and development.

Company chairman Stephen Darling said more than 50,000 trees of the new varieties, covering 60ha, were under trial in Central Otago and parts of the North Island.

The three varieties — yet to be properly named — have the potential to give apricot growers a significant boost and lead to increased planting of the fruit. . . 

Forestry conversion: effect on stock numbers expected to become clearer – Sally Rae:

While the increase in farm sales into forestry is yet to lead to a significant reduction in stock numbers, it can be expected very soon, Beef + Lamb New Zealand says.

B+LNZ’s latest stock number survey highlighted the extent of farmland being converted to forestry and said the real impact on livestock numbers was yet to be realised, while the hidden costs were “the demise of rural communities” and labour availability.

In a statement, B+LNZ economic service chief economist Andrew Burtt said there was usually a lag between farm sales and plantings, and planting was constrained by availability of seedlings and labour.

Sheep numbers nationally were steady over the past 12 months and beef cattle numbers fell only slightly, despite unfavourable conditions in some regions. . . 

Milk pick up off to a slow start :

Fonterra says its milk collections for July were 2.4% lower than July last year.

However, this represents only 25 of the full season forecast collection.

“Extremely wet conditions were experienced throughout July, but milk volumes have generally been comparable to the previous season.

“Calving is in full swing in the North Island, with the South Island starting in early August,” it says. . . 

Fonterra launches wellbeing nutrition solutions brand :

Fonterra is taking another step in implementing its strategy to be a leader in nutrition science and innovation with the launch of a new wellbeing solution brand, Nutiani.

The new business-to-business brand is targeted at both the multi-billion-dollar medical and everyday wellbeing nutrition markets.

Fonterra’s Chief Innovation and Brand Officer Komal Mistry-Mehta says the creation of the new brand brings to life concepts that help customers tailor their products to meet consumers’ evolving wellbeing nutrition needs.

“Our health and wellbeing customers are facing growing pressure to accelerate their innovation pipeline to respond to these dynamic consumer demands, yet they face common challenges during new product development and are looking for partners to fill their capability gaps. . .


Rural round-up

29/08/2022

Farmers are receiving mixed messages – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Around the world, restricting food production to reduce environmental impact will have the consequence of decreasing food availability and escalating food prices – so what do governments actually want from farmers?

Farmers are receiving very mixed messages.

Globally, food security concerns have escalated due to war, floods, fire and drought.

In a worst-case scenario, McKinsey is predicting a food deficit representing a year’s worth of nutritional intake for up to 250m people – or 3 per cent of the global population. . .

Starting our pasture to plate journey – Barbara Kuriger:

Like many of you, I’m so over the uninformed knockers of primary industries.

People who are swayed by a headline, a social media post or a slick advertising campaign, without any in-depth knowledge of why sectors within it, operate the way they do.

One area which often gets a bad rap from these faultfinders is fertiliser.

Fertiliser, like many pastoral and arable practices, grew out of necessity. . . 

Fonterra ramps up opportunities in complementary nutrition partnership :

Fonterra and Royal DSM, a global purpose-led company in health, nutrition and bioscience, are establishing a new start-up company to accelerate the development and commercialisation of fermentation-derived proteins with dairy-like properties.

The start-up is a next step in Fonterra and DSM’s long-standing joint development relationship. They have been working together since 2019 to build a comprehensive understanding of how to use precision fermentation science and technology to produce proteins similar to those found in dairy.

To date, this work has created valuable intellectual property for which Fonterra and DSM have filed patents. The new start-up company will enable the acceleration of commercial product solutions utilising this intellectual property, while continuing to focus on further precision fermentation research and development.

Fonterra and DSM are also collaborating to reduce on-farm greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, by exploring applications for DSM’s methane-inhibiting Bovaer® technology in the New Zealand pasture-based farming system. . . 

Rockit Global is Hawkes Bay ASB Exporter of the Year:

Rockit Global has been named ExportNZ Hawke’s Bay ASB Exporter of the Year for 2022 for the second time.

The Hastings apple business was presented with the award last night by ASB Executive General Manager for Corporate Banking, Nigel Annett, at the sold-out awards dinner at the Toitoi Hawke’s Bay Arts and Events Centre.

The judges remarked that Rockit Global’s commitment to excellence across their entire operations – quality, health and safety, gaining skills from outside the sector, growing skills from inside the sector – combined to produce outstanding results, and a solid platform for continued strong future growth.

Earlier in the evening, Rockit Global won the T&G Global Best Established Award, going head-to-head with the other category winners for the top award – Starboard Bio, producer and supplier of pharmaceutical and nutraceutical ingredients (winner of the ContainerCo Best Emerging Exporter Award), and Pultron Composites from Gisborne (winner of the Southeast Asia Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence in Innovation Award). . .

Proposal to introduce new wasp to Manawatu-Whanganui :

Manawatū and Whanganui could soon be home to a new foreign wasp.

On behalf of the National Biocontrol Collective – a consortium of regional councils, unitary authorities and the Department of Conservation – Horizons Regional Council has applied to import and release the bud-galling wasp to control the spread of an invasive acacia shrub.

Biosecurity and biodiversity manager Craig Davey told Morning Report the insect had been shown to stop most seed production of the plant.

“It is only existing to live on Sydney golden wattle. So when we release it, if the application is successful, it’s only going to live on those acacia that are in our coastline.” . . .

 

Pāmu achieves another good financial result, declares dividend:

Landcorp Farming Limited (trading as Pāmu) has reported an EBITDAR (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and revaluations) of $75 million for the year ended 30 June 2022, a 23% increase on the previous year ($61 million). The company has declared a dividend of $5 million.

Chief Executive Mark Leslie said the result reflected good product prices and steady revenue growth across the business.

“The result is particularly pleasing given the significant input cost pressures farmers are facing because of the continuing Covid-19 pandemic, the Russian-Ukraine conflict impacting feed, fuel and fertiliser costs, and general inflationary pressure. As well, farm production and earnings were constrained by extreme weather events, including floods on the West Coast and in the Manawatu, and drought in the Te Anau basin.

“The team managed these external pressures well both on farm and at a corporate level, to produce a very good result.” . .


Rural round-up

18/08/2022

MPI allays foot-and-mouth rumours while prices fall again at dairy auction – Point of Order:

It’s a tense time in New Zealand’s farming industries. Already the Ministry for Primary Industries has  had to shoot  down  an  overseas  news  report that  China  had  shut  its  borders  to  NZ  and  Australian  products  due  to  concerns   about  foot-and-mouth.

NZ  exports  to  China  are  continuing  as   normal, a Ministry  for Primary Industries spokesman said.

And Fonterra’s  fortnightly GDT auction  went  ahead  as scheduled  this  week,  with  keen  bidding   by   Chinese buyers.

Prices fell  for the  fifth  consecutive  time but  buying  caution  was  attributed to  the  fact consumers  are  worrying about soaring food prices. Other  observers  noted  the  impact on demand of disruption from Covid-19 lockdowns in China, an economic crisis in Sri Lanka and the Russia-Ukraine conflict. . . 

Dairy man laments lack of recognition of sector’s progress – Peter Burke:

The man who has led the Dairy Companies Association of NZ (DCANZ) for the past 15 years believes the dairy sector does not get enough recognition for what it does for NZ.

Malcolm Bailey, who steps down from his DCANZ role this week, has made a huge contribution to NZ and the dairy sector in particular for nearly four decades.

Bailey says one of the difficult things he’s had to overcome in his tenure at DCANZ is getting traction in the media about all the initiatives and works that the industry has done in the face of public criticism.

He says individual farmers – and the industry itself – have invested massively to minimise the environmental footprint of dairying and there have been some real success stories that have not been recognised. . . 

Fielding boy made good :

Malcolm Bailey grew up on a dairy farm near the township of Feilding in the lower North Island.

He still farms there today, with his son doing much of the on-farm work, while he focuses on his numerous other roles.

After completing a Bachelor of Ag Economics, Bailey left the family farm and took a job in the economics section of the Reserve Bank. One of his roles was to crunch some of the balance of payments numbers. It was here that he experienced the power of one Robert D. Muldoon, a man whose interventionist policies were eventually one of the reasons the young Malcolm Bailey went back to the family farm.

“As far as I was concerned, he was a lying crook who took the NZ economy in completely the wrong direction,” Bailey told Rural News. “The Reserve Bank could do nothing, despite a lot of the officials hating what was going on, but they couldn’t speak out publicly.” . .

A 50 year deer affair at Invermay – Shawn McAvinue:

A milestone of 50 years of science delivering for the deer farming industry will be celebrated in Mosgiel next month.

AgResearch scientist Jamie Ward is on the committee organising a celebration of 50 years of deer farming science at Invermay Agricultural Centre on Monday, September 26.

“I’m the one who did the math and figured out it all happened 50 years ago.”

In 1972, scientist Ken Drew and veterinarian Les Porter launched a deer farming research programme at Invermay. . .

How Seremaia Bai uses ag as a vehicle for rugby :

Fijian rugby star merges agricultural work, rugby and entrepreneurship to help create financial security for players.

He’s instinctively working the Colin “Pinetree” Meads model, only in an entirely different context. And Fijian international rugby star Seremaia Bai is making a real success of it – not just for himself.

While Meads trained in his King Country paddocks for his superlative rugby feats back in the day, and went back to farming after active rugby playing, Bai is operating in the new world of professional sport – which is not all rosy, and which has its own attendant challenges.

“The average professional career of a Fiji rugby player is approximately 10 years. But while so many young players have dreams, only 2% make it to the professional level. What happens to the other 98%?” Bai asked.. . . 

Scenic Rim agritourism farmers enforce measures to protect against foot-and-mouth disease – Heidi Sheehan:

Agritourism operators in south-east Queensland’s Scenic Rim region are asking tourists to sign waivers — and some to avoid their properties altogether — due to increased vigilance about the threat of foot-and-mouth disease. 

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) affects pigs, cattle, goats and sheep.

It was detected in Indonesia in May and spread to Bali earlier this month, prompting fears a tourist could carry the disease into Australia on clothing or footwear.

In the worst-case scenario, billions would have to be spent on a national response while scores of painfully diseased cattle, sheep, pigs, and goats could be culled. . .


Rural round-up

03/08/2022

Government flip-flopping helping no-one – 50 Shades of Green:

Last week’s letter from Minister Shaw and Nash is baffling.

“While we consulted on options to prevent exotic forests from registering in the permanent forest category by the end of the year, we have now decided to take more time to fully consider options for the future direction of the ETS permanent forest category. …this means it is unlikely that we will propose closing the permanent category to exotics on 1 January 2023”

This backflip which we can only conclude has come about on the back of opposition advocacy but with no context for doubling down is unbelievably odd, given last week’s CCC urgency around limits to offsetting with exotic pine. If Māori concerns were what has driven this backflip those concerns could have been dealt with through an exemption’s regime. Now we are left with no plan, no certainty and even less faith of any decent plan to manage climate change and pollution from industries who have shown little urgency around change while they can merrily plant our food producing hill country in an exotic that will never be harvested and therefore provide no economic benefit to New Zealand.

At least that proposal was something to work with and plan around. . .

Farmer confidence plumbs new depths Feds survey finds:

In January farmer confidence was at the lowest level recorded in biannual surveys that Federated Farmers has been running since 2009. Last month’s survey found it had dropped even further.

More than 1200 farmers from around New Zealand responded to the July survey and a net 47.8% of them considered current economic conditions to be bad, down 55.6 points from January when a net 7.8% considered conditions to be good.

“That’s a huge drop in six months, Federated Farmers President and trade/economy spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said.

“Obviously inflation and supply chain disruption fallout from COVID and Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine are part of it, but continued concern over the pace and direction of government reform and regulation, not to mention staff shortages, are also contributing to uncertainty and gloom,” he said. . . .

Aerial methods used to rid Otago of wallabies

Wallaby hunters are turning to helicopters, drones and thermal cameras in a bid to eradicate the pests from Otago.

The Otago Regional Council predicted the cost to the South Island economy would escalate to about $67 million a year within a decade if action wasn’t taken now.

The pests cause serious damage to the environment, deplete forest understories, prevent native forest regeneration, compete with livestock for food, foul pastures, and damage crops and fences.

The council is part of the government’s national wallaby eradication programme. . . 

Fonterra to close Brightwater milk powder plant:

Fonterra has today announced it will be closing the milk powder plant at its Brightwater site near Nelson in April 2023. However, milk collection and associated activities will continue at Brightwater as Fonterra moves its milk transfer activities there from Tuamarina.

The small aging plant processes about 0.25% of the Co-operative’s overall milk supply into whole milk powder. Fonterra Chief Operating Officer Fraser Whineray says the move, which will instead see the milk being processed at Fonterra’s Darfield site, is in line with Fonterra’s long-term strategy.

“We know milk supply is declining over time, flat at best, so we need to make sure we’re getting the most out of every drop of milk and optimising our plants to match both consumer demand and available milk supply.

“Part of our long-term strategy is to direct more milk into our Foodservice and Consumer business, less into Ingredients, and in some cases, to divert product away from the Global Dairy Trade auctions. This, along with forecast capital and maintenance costs, means we’ve made the tough decision to close our milk powder plant at Brightwater. . .

New wood fibre technology set to future proof local hort, agri industries NZ Plant Producers:

When you purchase locally grown fruit, vegetables, or plants from your favourite retailer they will have been grown in compost or potting mix which usually contains a highly sought-after ingredient called peat which boosts production, retains nutrients, and holds water.

An estimated 60,000 cubic metres of growing media (compost, garden/potting mixes etc) is used each year within the horticultural and agricultural industries in New Zealand and much of it contains peat.

There is a small amount of peat extracted here in New Zealand but as peat bogs are regulated in the same way as the likes of coal mines their days are numbered.

Most of the peat contained in compost and other growing media used by New Zealand growers is imported from Canada or Eastern Europe. . . 

Emerging leaders take on B+LNZ’s Generation Next programme :

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Generation Next programme is well underway.

The programme targets emerging farming leaders, building their technical skills while widening their network.

Participants attend three workshops over a six-month period to upskill in key farm management areas with topics spanning from understanding financial and management basics to technology and genetics as well as mental health and wellbeing.

The first North Island intake graduated last week after completing module three. . . .

 


Rural round-up

29/07/2022

Seeing red – Barbara Kuriger:

Never has an industry been more targeted by a government than New Zealand’s primary sector right now.

The spotlight, within that target for the past five years, falling firmly on agriculture.

This term, Labour no longer needs the blessing of the Greens to enact their ideas.

Nor are they beholden to any other party to pass laws, so they’ve been busy. . .

Failing to govern – Peter Buckley:

. . . This government is telling the agricultural sector that they are the main cause of the GHG emissions and that they must reduce their levels of emissions to manage NZ’s commitments to the Paris Accord even though as we are an agricultural based economy, this will cause severe hardship and economic catastrophe for our country.

Many farmers will go out of business and the country will suffer a severe economic downturn as a result of their policies around climate change and farming so that they can prance around the international stage loudly proclaiming the moral high ground, when in actual fact the Paris accord article 2 (b) specifically states that food production should not be threatened:

Paris Accord; Article 2 (b) states: . . .

 

Fonterra to prioritise NZ, other markets over us as FDA approval process stalls :

Fonterra has informed the US Food and Drug Administration that it intends to reallocate infant formula stock it had earmarked for the US.

In May, Fonterra submitted an application to the FDA to be able to supply finished infant formula to parents in the country amid severe shortages.

Fonterra trade strategy, sustainability, and stakeholder affairs Americas manager James McVitty said approval was yet to be granted.

“We understand the FDA has limited resources and has been prioritising submissions from companies with larger volumes and with existing distribution networks for infant formula in the US. . . 

Labour shortages tipped to hold up Bobby calf collections – Sally Murphy:

Farmers are being warned there could be delays to bobby calf collections this season due to delays at meat processors.

Bobby calves are normally sent to the works at four days old, with farm collections taking place six days a week.

But Meat Industry Industry Association spokesman Richard McColl said delays at the works meant farmers might need to hang onto them longer this season.

“We’ve got labour shortages, as a result of immigration settings and Covid and that’s caused an elongated bovine season, which has spilled over into the bobby season. . . 

 

 

Dunstan Trail New Zealand’s latest iconic cycle trail – Blog the Globe:

A friend and I recently ventured to Cromwell to cycle the new Dunstan Trail.  The trail can be cycled on its own or can be an extension to the Otago Rail Trail. It opened in May 2021 and is a remarkable engineering feat. Cantilevered boardwalks are attached to the cliffs of the Cromwell Gorge. With the Clutha River on one side and soaring cliffs on the other, the boardwalk is literallly bolted to the rock.

The biking and walking trail starts just out of Cromwell at Smiths Way, linking the townships of Clyde and Cromwell.

Having decided I would ride the 55 kilometre trail, I made some enquiries about getting the shuttle back from Clyde. The gentleman on the phone, from Trail Journeys questioned my riding ability. Having disclosed I was not a really confident rider he suggested I do part of the Dunstan Trail, missing the difficult graded sections. I’ve been told it’s doable for everyone, however  the trail ranges from grades 1-3, with switch backs and narrow tracks. Plus, it’s a two- way trail.

Unfortunately, there have been a number of serious accidents. Less experienced riders on e-Bikes and young gung ho speedy riders need to be considerate and cautious of each others. Some of the commercial bike hire companies are advising clients not to use the trail on weekends and to opt for times when there are less people. . . 

Idaho dairy is worth billions of dollars, here’s why it could be in trouble this summer  – Tanushri Sundar:

Idaho dairy cows produced less milk when exposed to wildfire smoke, a recently published University of Idaho study showed. Now, dairy farmers are concerned they could see a significant loss in the next two months, as more wildfires are anticipated to hit the West.

There’s been chatter among dairy farmers about the upcoming fire season and the anticipated poor air quality in July and August, said Rick Naerebout, CEO of the Idaho Dairymen’s Association. And there aren’t many viable ways to protect cows.

“Overall it does have a noticeable impact on the health of dairy cattle,” Naerebout told the Idaho Statesman by phone. “We’re kind of at the mercy of the air quality we receive. And it’s really tough to try and mitigate it.”

Valued at over $2.2 billion, milk is the biggest money maker for Idaho’s agricultural economy, according to the Idaho State Department of Agriculture. Last year, Idaho was the third-largest dairy-producing state in the country, right behind Wisconsin and California.. . . 

 


Rural round-up

28/07/2022

Devil in the detail of EU deal – Nigel Stirling:

Free trade agreement’s finer points are still being worked out – and not all of them are going NZ’s way, says Beef+Lamb policy tsar.

Meat exporters are already facing a reduction in their new access to the European Union market, just weeks after New Zealand apparently concluded a free trade agreement with the bloc.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern travelled to Brussels in Belgium last month to clinch the deal with the EU after four years of negotiations.

But Beef+Lamb NZ’s general manager for policy and advocacy Dave Harrison said negotiations between the EU and NZ had not stopped with the PM’s announcement. . . 

Right time and right place(ment) – Leo Argent:

With labour shortages a grim reality for many farmers across the country – and no end in sight – recruitment agencies have seen demand increase drastically.

With offices in Timaru and Ashburton, overseeing areas ranging from Darfield to Invercargill, Wendy Robertson has run Personnel Placements (PPL) for 22 years, Gaye Scott oversees PPL’s agricultural team, which is involved in jobs ranging from dairy to meat to horticulture.

As a recruitment agency, PPL puts candidates on a database who can then be sent out for clients for work. Along with part-time and full-time jobs, agencies also cover permanent and temporary employment placement, saving clients the time and cost involved in interviewing prospective employees.

Robertson told Rural News that agriculture is an important part of her business’ success and that a large part of the agriculture team’s work is in seasonal jobs. . .

 

 

New Tech promises to make shearing sheep less of a drag – Tim Lee:

Australia’s shearer workforce has dwindled from about 15,000 when wool prices were booming in the 1980s to about 2800.

The pandemic has further reduced the small pool of skilled labour and woolgrowers who are struggling to get their sheep shorn.

Australian Wool Innovation chairman Jock Laurie said Covid had made the problem worse.

“The border closures have stopped people moving across borders and stopped the New Zealanders coming in,” Laurie said. . . 

Fonterra welcomes Milk-E New Zealand’s first electric milk tanker :

New Zealand’s first electric milk tanker, Milk-E, has been officially launched by the Minister for Energy and Resources, Hon. Dr Megan Woods, in Morrinsville.

Local Government, Iwi, Industry and Fonterra employees were also present to recognise the significant milestone in the decarbonisation of New Zealand’s heavy transport, while also recognising the team behind the build.

Named by Fonterra farmer Stephen Todd from Murchison, Milk-E is part of Fonterra’s fleet decarbonisation work, which is one of a number of programmes that’s helping the Co-op towards becoming a leader in sustainability.

“Right across the Co-op our teams are constantly looking at how we can decrease our emissions – from on farm, to at our sites and throughout our transport network,” said Chief Operating Officer, Fraser Whineray. . . 

Baseline set for subsurface irrigation trial :

While Cust dairy grazers Gary and Penny Robinson are disappointed not to have collected the data they were hoping for from their subsurface drip irrigation trial due to a wet summer, the couple have established a baseline for the next irrigation season which they hope will follow a more normal weather pattern to enable data collection.

Gary and Penny are participating in a farming innovation project, which examines how the next generation of farmers are using innovation to improve their farming practices. Waimakariri Landcare Trust (WLT) and Waimakariri Irrigation Limited (WIL) have partnered with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for the project, with support from MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund along with Environment Canterbury, Ballance, and DairyNZ.

The subsurface drip irrigation system on their two-hectare test block in Cust consists of a network of valves, driplines, pipes, and emitters that are installed in tape below the surface of the soil. The evenly spaced emitters slowly release water directly to the root zone of plants which differs from traditional irrigation systems that apply water to the surface of the soil. . .

The Walking Access Commission changes its name:

Trails aren’t just for walkers, they’re for all of us – and so is Herenga ā Nuku Aotearoa, the Outdoor Access Commission, formerly the Walking Access Commission.

Our new name recognises more than the breadth of trail users, which range from people in tramping boots to fishing waders, sitting astride a horse or a bike, shouldering a rifle or pushing a stroller. Herenga ā Nuku refers to the rich connections we find on the trail – with the whenua and its stories, with ourselves and with each other.

Herenga is a bond, obligation or tie. Nuku refers to Papatūānuku, the earth mother. She is the land in all her beauty, power, strength and inspiration. She sustains us.

Herenga ā Nuku Aotearoa – connecting people, connecting places. . .


Rural round-up

25/07/2022

Apple and kiwifruit growers tell thousands on jobseeker support during harvest: ‘we want workers’ – Gianina Schwanecke:

During peak harvest while apple growers across Hawke’s Bay were crying out for workers, there were up to 4000 people of working age on unemployment benefits in the region.

As the kiwifruit vines continued to ripen and the next harvest event rolled round a few weeks later, there were another 3000 across Bay of Plenty.

Ministry of Social Development figures detailthe number of working age people in Hawke’s Bay and Western Bay of Plenty on the Jobseeker Support Work Ready scheme between January 15 and May 15.

It found there were 4113 people on the scheme in Hawke’s Bay in January, dropping to 3684 by May. In Bay of Plenty, there were 3315 in January, dropping to 3177 by May. . . 

Fonterra”s McBride says changes to capital structure will ‘level the playing field’ – Tina Morrison:

Fonterra chairperson Peter McBride says relaxing requirements for farmers to hold shares in the co-operative would level the playing field with rival milk processors and increase competition.

The country’s largest dairy company wants to adopt a more flexible shareholding structure, allowing farmers to hold fewer shares and widening the pool to include sharemilkers, contract milkers and farm lessors as associated shareholders.

Its farmer suppliers voted in favour of the proposal in December last year, and the company is now waiting for the Government to approve the changes under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act which enabled the creation of the dairy giant in 2001.

Fonterra is re-shaping its business as a period of rapid expansion in the country’s dairy herd comes to an end as dairy farming faces increased regulation to reduce its environmental impact. . . 

Perception of wool changing amongst millennial consumers – research – The Country:

A three-year research study into the perceptions of wool has found efforts to build the industry’s sustainability credentials are transforming how millennial consumers perceive the fibre.

Industry experts say the perceptual change is removing significant barriers to the growth of the domestic and export wool markets.

The nationwide Bremworth study, which has tracked changes in attitudes over the past three years, also shows the perception of wool carpet as having a higher cost – when compared to synthetic alternatives – is becoming less of a barrier for most consumers.

While wool was once ubiquitous on the floors of Kiwi homes, over the past two decades synthetic flooring had become dominant in the market, chief executive of Bremworth Greg Smith said. . .

Forward thinking farmer ‘walking the talk’, embracing change – Shawn McAvinue:

The only thing certain in life is change and Southland farmer Kevin Hall wants to be part of it. Shawn McAvinue visits a field day to see how the Ballance Farm Environment Awards regional winner is continuing to  keep his dairy grazing and  beef-fattening business Hollyvale Farms sustainable.

Be part of the change.

In his closing speech on a field day on his farm last week, 2022 Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards winner Kevin Hall acknowledged the challenges ahead for farmers.

Farming was a “long-term career” requiring constant change to remain sustainable. . . 

Business management award for Mid-Canterbury farmer :

Mid-Canterbury farm manager Darryl Oldham has taken out the 2022 Rabobank Management Project Award, a business management prize for up-and-coming farmers.

Selected from a group of New Zealand’s most progressive farmers – graduates of the 2021 Rabobank Farm Managers Program (FMP) – Oldham was recognised for his business management project, which highlighted how he had utilised the lessons from the program in his role as farm manager on the 200ha farming operation he runs in partnership with his wife Anna, and parents Peter and Gael.

The Oldhams’ farming partnership is located in Westerfield near Ashburton. As the farm manager, Darryl is involved in all the day-to-day aspects of running the business which grows cereals, small seeds, peas, maize for silage, and fodder crops for finishing lambs.

Oldham says his management project assessed the viability of converting all or part of the farming operation to sheep milking. . . 

Life as a hobby farmer is not all I imagined in the winter of 2022 – Alison Mau:

My West Country grandad would have called it “letty weather” – rain so persistent you may as well just stay inside. Here on the hobby farm, I call it rainpocalypse; relentless, pitiless, unceasing rain that’s almost broken me this week.

I was once a pluviophile​. When I lived in the paved suburban world, there was nothing cosier than that rhythmic patter on the roof at bedtime. Rain was something you wanted for the roses (especially when the sprinkler was Council-banned) but didn’t otherwise think that much about.

I roll my eyes at that person, now. Last year, I moved to the sticks – one of those “Covid evacuees” who made a whole new and different life, albeit within a reasonable commute. Living on my own land has been my dream since I was six years old and we don’t often get to live our life-long dream, do we? And if not in the middle of a global pandemic, then when?

The dream’s been pretty sweet so far. The view is captivating, the community’s lovely, I bought a coffee machine. I rarely sit down during daylight hours. If I owned anything like a fit-bit, my step count would be off the charts. . . 


Rural round-up

21/07/2022

Country Calendar uproar: Dr Jacqueline Rowarth on why Geoff and Justine Ross are right – Jacqueline Rowarth:

As the dust settles on the controversial Country Calendar Lake Hawea episode, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth says it’s time for Kiwis to get behind successful farmers – the same way we support our successful sports teams.

Geoff and Justine Ross are right. People pay for the story.

They were successful with vodka, and now with their enterprise at Lake Hawea Station, they’ve shown how to get the story out there.

Branding is everything, a picture paints a thousand words, and Country Calendar did a great job in creating discussion around the business. . . 

Global dairy auction prices fall again as consumer spending is bruised by inflation – Point of Order:

A slide  in  prices  at the  latest Fonterra  GDT  auction  may be  a  wake-up  call  to  dairy farmers    that  they   are  operating   in  a  global  market  hard  hit  by  inflation.

They  may be operating   in   a  higher-cost  environment but  consumers in their  markets  are suffering, too,  from soaring  costs.

The average price  at the fortnightly sale dropped 5% to $US4166 a tonne, after falling 4.1% in the previous auction.  That is the lowest price since early October last year and 18%  below the record set in March.

Prices have fallen in eight of the past nine auctions. . . 

Rangitīkei farm Tunnel Hill supreme winner at Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards – Judith Lacy:

Richard and Suze Redmayne of Rangitīkei farm Tunnel Hill are the 2022 supreme winners of the Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Run by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, the awards champion sustainable farming and growing. The Horizons awards cover the same area as Horizons Regional Council and were announced at a function in Palmerston North last week.

Richard’s great-grandfather bought Tunnel Hill in 1936, with future generations running the farm until Richard and Suze took over in 1993.

Sheep, beef, maize and forestry are farmed across 950ha of the property that features large stretches of coastal land. Their investment in forestry and additional native planting means Tunnel Hill is carbon negative. . . 

Donna Smit to retire from Fonterra board :

Long serving Fonterra Director Donna Smit has confirmed she will retire from the Fonterra Board when her current three-year term ends at the Co-operative’s Annual Meeting on 10 November 2022.

Smit was first elected to the Fonterra Board by her farming peers in 2016. She is also currently a Fonterra appointed Director of FSF Management Company Limited, Manager of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund a role she will also retire from in November this year.

Smit says she has been honoured to serve her fellow farmer shareholders for the past six years and thanked farmers for their support.

“I’m proud of the progress we have made as a Board over the past six years and my contribution as part of that team. . .

Mainder Singh wins Gisbourne Young Grower competition :

Maninder Singh, from LeaderBrand, has taken out the title of Gisborne Young Grower of the Year for 2022.

He was up against 10 other amazing contestants.

“I entered the competition to increase my self-confidence,” says Maninder.

“It has been great to meet other people in our diverse industry and I feel there’s lots of learning to do. My aim is to help the horticulture industry meet the change challenges that it is facing.” . . 

Halt use of biofuels to ease food crisis, says green group –  Fiona Harvey:

Governments should put a moratorium on the use of biofuels and lift bans on genetic modification of crops, a green campaigning group has urged, in the face of a growing global food crisis that threatens to engulf developing nations.

Ending the EU’s requirement for biofuels alone would free up about a fifth of the potential wheat exports from Ukraine, and even more of its maize exports, enough to make a noticeable difference to stretched food supplies, according to analysis by the campaign group RePlanet.

About 3.3m tonnes of wheat were used in 2020 as feedstock for EU biofuels, and Ukraine’s 2020 wheat exports came to about 16.4m tonnes. About 6.5m tonnes of maize was also used for EU biofuels, compared with about 24m tonnes exported from Ukraine the same year.

Supplies of wheat and maize for export from Ukraine are already under serious threat from the Russian invasion, with shipments held up and harvests damaged by the war. Food prices are rising around the world, with the war in Ukraine a key factor. . .

 


Rural round-up

13/07/2022

Farming needs polish of honesty Lim says – Tim Cronshaw:

My Food Bag co-founder Nadia Lim has challenged sheep and beef farmers to bare all about farming or risk others making up their own stories about red meat.

She told farmer suppliers to leave nothing out during a keynote speech at Silver Fern Farms’ (SFF) Plate to Pasture farmer conference in Christchurch yesterday.

The MasterChef New Zealand judge, nutritionist and entrepreneur farmer with husband, Carlos Bagrie, at Arrowtown’s Royalburn Station is true to her word. Nothing is left to the imagination of visitors when they enter her micro-abattoir at the farm.

Ms Lim said she was not scared to post photos about that on social media and there had been massive support. . .

Pressure is on other processors to match Fonterra and Synlait on milk price forecasts – Point of Order:

Competition  for  raw  milk  supplies  has  sharpened  as  Synlait Milk has joined  Fonterra  with a milk price forecast for the new dairy season   at  $9.50kg/MS.

Earlier  the  company had  announced  a  milk price  for  the  2022-23  season at  $9kg/MS, but    the  outlook has  got  even  better since  then, with  foreign  exchange  movements  further supporting a  strong  milk price.

The upgraded price is a record for the company.

Synlait CEO  Grant Watson says the forecasted lift in milk price reflects an improved outlook for 2022/23 dairy commodity prices, following the recent recovery in pricing, and the current strength of the US dollar. . . 

Wild pines endanger Central Otago’s character – Jill Heron:

One of the country’s foremost landscape painters sees himself in a race against time to protect the vistas that inspire him

An exotic invader is daubing its dark-green paint brush across Central Otago’s golden hills and the rugged vistas that enchant visitors could soon be blotted out.

The artist whose work captures the beauty of this craggy vastness, Sir Grahame Sydney, says the spread of wilding pines in the district is “explosive”.

He is concerned that what makes Central so distinctive – sawtooth silhouettes of schist rock, tussock-clad open spaces – is fast disappearing. . .

Sponsor support remains strong for dairy industry awards :

Planning for the 2023 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) is underway with National sponsors continuing to back the programme.

The Awards programme allows entrants to connect, learn and grow as individuals across the board from Trainees and new entrants to the industry through to experienced Share Farmers.

NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon is thrilled to confirm LIC has renewed their sponsorship for the next three years.

“LIC has a long history of providing world-leading innovations for the dairy industry and the name change of the merit award to include Animal Wellbeing demonstrates its importance to LIC and the Awards programme,” he says. . . 

Venture Taranaki launches new food and fibre investment blueprints :

Taranaki regional development agency, Venture Taranaki, have launched nine new food and fibre value chain opportunities focused on diversifying the region’s existing food and fibre offerings, with more to come.

This inspirational mix of ventures has been investigated and validated over the course of the two-year Branching Out project. The blueprints encompass innovation, growth, and offer market potential, for use by the community including landowners, farmers, food manufacturers, growers, and investors.

“These blueprints represent a tremendous opportunity for the region. They act as the next step in building investor confidence and serve as an informative roadmap to kick-start complementary land-based activities and associated value chain enterprises in Taranaki, building value and resilience to our regional economy,” says Venture Taranaki Chief Executive Kelvin Wright.

The blueprint ventures housed on the Venture Taranaki website include Avocados; Gin Botanicals; Grains, Legumes and Vegetables; Hemp fibre for construction; Hops; Kiwifruit; Medicinal Plants; Sheep Dairy; Trees and their value chain; and Indigenous Ingredients (contact Venture Taranaki directly to find out more about this venture). . . 

You can do anything from your kitchen table, says Foxtrot Home founder – Kylie Klein-Nixon:

Living on a farm in central Hawke’s Bay, surrounded by rolling fields filled with sheep and horses, Kate Cullwick was inspired to go back to natural fibres. She runs her linen business Foxtrot Home with her sister, Prue Watson, from her kitchen table and embraces the kaupapa of sustainability.

KATE CULLWICK: I grew up on a farm in Gisborne, and now I live on my husband’s family farm. When you’re farming, you’re brought up with natural materials.

There might be wood that you’ve harvested from the farm to build the house – which is the case for both the farm house my husband and I live in now [on his family farm], and my parents’ farm house.

You’re drawing from nature and your surroundings, as much as possible. . . 


Rural round-up

04/07/2022

Wrestling with methane metrics – Keith Woodford:

The methane debate is more about politics, policy and value judgements than it is about science

In my previous article, I explained how there is much controversy about how methane should be compared to carbon dioxide in terms of global warming. The problem arises because methane is a powerful greenhouse gas but it lasts only a short time in the atmosphere. In contrast, carbon dioxide is a weak greenhouse gas but it lasts much longer. Also, there is a lot more carbon dioxide than methane released into the atmosphere.

Big problems arise when methane is shoe-horned into carbon dioxide equivalence. Here I will explain some of the problems.

First, many people will be surprised that this issue of carbon-dioxide equivalence and the associated controversy is not really about the science. Scientists understand the nonsense of trying to estimate how many apples it takes to equate to one orange, with the answer depending totally on the chosen measures. Similarly, scientists understand that methane has a totally different emission profile than carbon dioxide and there is no simple equivalence measure. . . 

Golden milk price may drop, costs rise – Tim Cronshaw:

The gloss of two $9-plus payouts for dairy farmers is being robbed by rising farm costs and a build-up of environmental changes.

A record starting point for a payout of $9 a kilogram of milk solids is being advanced for the 2022/23 dairy season by dairy giant Fonterra and Canterbury-based Synlait Milk.

This follows Fonterra’s forecast range of $9.10/kg to $9.50/kg for this season, with a mid-point of $9.30/kg, that’s being matched by Synlait.

Analysts cautiously support the new-season mark despite a mixed bag at the Global Dairy Trade auction and a hazy horizon created by Covid-19, freighting headaches, Ukraine’s invasion by Russia and rampant inflation. . . 

Helping farmers do more with less – Rabiya Abbasi:

The fourth agricultural revolution promises to grow more food on less land while feeding more people, says Rabiya Abbasi

With cornstalks swaying on a gentle breeze and cattle in quiet contemplation of the cud, a farm would not seem to be a hotbed of revolution. But make no mistake, agriculture is squarely in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution. Emergent, game-changing technologies are driving economic, environmental, and social change in the global food system. And in the face of rising hunger, populations and a changing climate, everyone from policy-makers to billionaires is paying attention.

The US Association of Equipment Manufacturers published a study in February 2022 investigating how new technologies may help farmers do more with less. On average, new technology triallers achieved a 4 percent increase in crop production, 7 percent reduction in fertiliser use, 9 percent reduction in herbicide use, 6 percent reduction in fossil fuel use, and 4 percent reduction in water use.

Farmers are applying Internet of Things (IoT) technology to track crops remotely, using sensors to detect weed growth, water levels and pest invasion. And we’re not only seeing this on traditional farmlands. Farm66, inside a Hong-Kong skyscraper, is using IoT to help manage a 2000-square-metre indoor farm. The IoT-enabled agricultural industry is estimated to reach US$4.5 billion by 2025. . . 

Otago property native carbon groundbreaker- Sally Rae:

An Otago station is one of the first properties to receive Native CarbonCrop Units through Nelson-founded climate tech startup CarbonCrop.

CarbonCrop, which was established in 2020, yesterday launched Native CarbonCrop Units (CCUs) to enable landowners with native reforestation to access revenue, outside the Emissions Trading Scheme.

The company worked with 15 landowners throughout the country in a pre-launch pilot and more than 5000 CCUs were certified for 631ha of native regeneration, worth about $260,000 at current prices, a statement from the company said.

More than $140,000 of those credits have been sold via the Carbonz platform to companies including Christchurch Airport, Heilala Vanilla and Les Mills. . . 

NZ cheese industry facing uncertainty as NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2022 announced :

As the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards Trophy-Winners were announced the specialty cheese industry is facing uncertainty with the announcement of a Free Trade Agreement with Europe.

New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association board member Daniel Shields said was New Zealand has bowed to EU pressure and given way on key cheese names. Of particular concern is the loss of the cheese name Feta. However, negotiators have agreed on a nine year lead time for this change.

“It’s a mixed bag for New Zealand’s specialty cheesemakers. Particularly concerning is that Europe has succeeded in including the right to restrict new names at a future date. This creates uncertainty and makes it hard for New Zealand operators to invest in their businesses with confidence when the threat of a loss of equity in the intellectual property of traditional cheese names looms.”

New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) chair Catherine McNamara saying local cheesemakers are worried about their future. . . 

Animal and Plant Health industry Association name change :

The industry association representing more than 90 percent of New Zealand’s crop protection and animal health industries has a new name. Animal and Plant Health New Zealand was previously called Agcarm and recently joined forces with the Animal Remedy and Plant Protectant Association.

The association represents a one-billion-dollar industry with a value of $20 billion to the New Zealand economy. It also represents rural retailer businesses and associate members.

Animal and Plant Health NZ chief executive Mark Ross says the organisation’s mission is “to protect and enhance the health of crops and animals through innovation and the responsible use of quality products”.

“We help New Zealand provide a safe and secure food supply by introducing softer and more innovative technologies for managing pests and disease – while minimising their effects on the environment.” Animal welfare is also a key driver for the organisation – “from production animals to our pets at home,” adds Ross. . . 


GDT positive again

08/06/2022

The price index in Fonterra’s GlobalDairyTrade auction increased again after five successive declines.

One auction isn’t a trend but milk swaps are offering $10 a kilo of milk solids which gives cause for optimism that the farmgate price will hold up this season.


Rural round-up

30/05/2022

Fonterra announces record opening milk price payment for its farmers next season as demand remains strong – Point of Order:

New Zealand  has  suffered  several  jolts  in  the  past week, not  least a  higher interest rate regime as the Reserve  Bank counters  surging inflation.  But  at least  one  beacon of  light shines through the gloom:  the country’s leading primary  export  industry’s boom   is  moving  to a  second  season  of high prices.

Dairy  giant Fonterra,  which sets  the  pace  for  other dairy processors,  has announced a record opening milk price payment for farmers next season amid expectations of continued strong demand for dairy products and constrained global supply.

The co-op expects to pay farmers between $8.25 and $9.75kg/MS  for the season starting next month.  The mid-point, on which farmers are paid, is $9 kg/MS.

That breaks the previous record set at this time last year, when Fonterra’s opening price for the current season was $7.25 – $8.75kg/MS, with a mid-point of $8kg/MS. . . 

Rural mental health ignored again this budget :

The Government was made well aware of mental health concerns for rural communities in a meeting in December last year, this Budget has neglected to do anything to address this crisis, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

“It is dead clear from the minutes we received under the Official Information Act that everyone around the table could see that things were bad and getting worse” Kuriger says

“The minutes note that clear themes emerged from a discussion of the drivers of poor mental health, including: workforce shortages, public perception of farmers, and the pace of new regulations.

“If they didn’t already know, it is clear that in December the Prime Minister and Minister O’Connor knew what was happening to our rural communities and were asked by rural sector leaders for help, they’ve had all this time to make a plan but have still done nothing in this budget to address it. . . 

Zespri global revenue exceeds $NZ 4 billion for first time despite challenging 2021-22 season:

. . . A record crop, ongoing investment in brand-led demand creation, and the industry’s ability to respond and leverage its scale and structure have helped Zespri deliver a record result for the 2021/22 season, with total global fruit sales revenue exceeding NZ$4 billion for the first time.

In spite of the immense challenges faced by the industry this season, Zespri’s 2021/22 Financial Results show total global revenue generated by fruit sales reached NZ$4.03 billion, up 12 percent on the previous year, with total global operating revenue up by 15 percent to NZ$4.47 billion. Global sales volumes also increased 11 percent on the previous year to 201.5 million trays.

The results saw direct returns to the New Zealand industry increase to a record $2.47 billion including loyalty payments, despite the considerable uncertainty generated by the COVID-19 pandemic and cost increases across the supply chain. Earnings were again spread through regional communities including within the Bay of Plenty, Northland, Nelson, Gisborne, and the Waikato. . . 

Grower returns remained strong in a challenging season, with per hectare returns representing our second best on record across all varieties: . . 

Top ploughers head to Ireland to compete in world championship – Kim Moodie:

New Zealand’s best ploughing talent is set to represent the country in Ireland this year at the World Ploughing Championships. 

Ian Woolley and Bob Mehrtens, who took out the top titles at the New Zealand Ploughing Championships in Seddon earlier this month, are now preparing to compete against the world’s best in September.

Woolley, who won the Silver Plough conventional competition, told RNZ he’s excited to compete, and to soak up the atmosphere, as the event draws a huge crowd.

“It’s basically their National Field Days, there’s 100,000-odd people there each day for three days, although the plowing is on the outskirts of where the main show is taking place. . . 

Silver Fern Farms partnership between consumers and farmers key to nature positive food production :

Silver Fern Farms today celebrated the launch of its USDA-approved Net Carbon Zero By Nature 100% Grass-Fed Angus Beef at a New York City event attended by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Held at the Kimpton Hotel Eventi rooftop in Chelsea, the Prime Minister was joined by the visiting New Zealand trade mission, Silver Fern Farms US customers and in-market partners, and New York and U.S. national media. The event was to celebrate the successful introduction of Net Carbon Zero By Nature Angus Beef to the U.S., which is already being sold in supermarkets in the New York Tri-state area, the Midwest, and California.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer says closer partnerships between consumers and farmers through products like Net Carbon Zero beef hold the key to addressing our collective climate and environmental challenges.

“As New Zealand’s largest processor and marketer of red meat, we are in a unique position to build closer partnerships between the needs of discerning customers and our farmers in a way that incentivises nature-positive food production,” says Simon Limmer. . . 

MPI announces finalists in 2022 good employer awards :

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust (AGMARDT) have announced finalists for the 2022 Primary Industries Good Employer Awards.

Now in their third year, the Awards are run by MPI and AGMARDT to celebrate employers who put their people at the heart of their businesses.

“We received a number of impressive entries,” says MPI’s Director Investment, Skills and Performance, Cheyne Gillooly.

“Central to all of the entries was a real passion shown by businesses towards supporting their employees by putting their health, welfare and wellbeing first.” . . 


Rural round-up

10/05/2022

Concern over widespread dry conditions – Neal Wallace and Gerald Piddock:

Dry autumn conditions are spreading throughout the country, with most regions seeking rain and forecasters warning conditions are likely to remain dry in the coming months.

Recent rain and warm weather has boosted feed on parched Southland and Otago farms which are delicately poised heading into winter, while Waikato and South Auckland farmers are being told to plan for a possible drought.

Dry autumn conditions are widespread through both islands, prompting farmers to reconsider winter feed budgets to account for lower than desired pasture cover.

The south of the South Island and Waikato appear hardest hit, missing the usual autumn flush leaving some farmers with low pasture cover, low supplementary reserves and fingers crossed for a mild winter. . . 

Health restructure ignores rural New Zealand :

The Government is squandering an opportunity to prioritise rural health and enshrine it in legislation, National’s Rural Communities spokesperson Nicola Grigg says.

“The Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Bill sets out the framework for Labour’s ill-timed health restructure and after the second reading in parliament yesterday, there is still a woeful lack of focus on the health needs of rural New Zealand.

“The genesis of this restructure was the Heather Simpson-led review of the health and disability sector. It mentioned rural health at least 30 times and made it very plain that rural services should be specifically planned for, recognising the unique challenges of living rurally.

“This idea is further emphasised by submissions made during the select committee process. . . 

Fonterra’s new capital structure gets closer – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s new capital structure brings its own risks, designed for choppy seas but not for a storm

The Government has been wrestling for many months as to how to respond to Fonterra’s proposed new capital structure, which its farmer-members voted for overwhelmingly.  The Ministry of Primary Industries, on behalf of Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, has now released a discussion paper indicating the Government proposed response. Essentially the Government is conceding to Fonterra’s wishes, but with some shackles proposed to constrain Fonterra‘s subsequent behaviours.

To understand what is happening, it is necessary to go back to the formation of Fonterra in 2001. The Fonterra that was formed at that time, with 96% of the national milk production under its control for processing and marketing, would not have been allowed if assessed under the Commerce Act. It would have run foul of restrictions on monopolies.

Accordingly, special legislation was put in place via the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA) by the Labour Government of the day. Regulations were set in place allowing Fonterra to act as an effective monopoly in relation to marketing New Zealand milk overseas, but constrained in exerting monopoly power in the local New Zealand market.   . . 

Steady increase in beef cattle numbers :

Beef cattle numbers increased in 2021, while the number of sheep dipped slightly, Stats NZ said today.

Final figures from the 2021 Agricultural Production Survey showed that the number of beef cattle was up by 2 percent (82,000) from the previous year and there was a total of 4 million at 30 June 2021. Total beef exports were $3.6 billion for the year ended 30 June 2021.

“The total number of beef cattle has been increasing steadily since 2016. Just over two-thirds of all beef cattle are farmed in the North Island,” agricultural production statistics manager Ana Krpo said. 

Sheep Numbers Down Slightly . . 

Smart spade one of new technologies for forest silviculture project :

A ‘smart spade’ which identifies exactly where to plant a tree seedling is just one of the new technologies in the seven-year $25.5 million Precision Silviculture development project.

The newly elected President of the Forest Owners Association, Grant Dodson, says the just announced joint government funded project to bring mechanisation and robots to the production of tree seedlings and the tending of plantations covers a wide range of technologies.

“It’s not a single Eureka discovery which is going to make all this work. It’s combining, for instance, a planter with a sensor and linking it to electronic mapping. The map sends a beep signal to the planter that they need to go a couple of metres up or along the slope to put the seedling in. The end result is a much more optimally spaced plantation forest which makes for better growth and easier and safer harvesting.”

Grant Dodson says that the growth in mechanical harvesting over the past decade already shows that using machinery results in greater productivity and a much safer workplace. . . 

The West’s role in Africa’s day of the locusts – Richard Tren & Jasson Urbach,:

Two weeks ago a Boeing 737 on final approach to Dire Dawa, Ethiopia, flew into a massive cloud of locusts swarming above the airport. The insects were sucked into the plane’s engines and splattered across the windshield, blinding the pilots to the runway ahead. Throttling up to climb above the swarm, the pilot had to depressurize the cabin so he could reach around from the side window and clear the windshield by hand. Diverting to Addis Ababa, the plane was able to land safely.

The locusts that almost brought down the 737 are part of the worst infestation to hit Africa in 75 years. Swarms of locusts can blanket 460 miles at a time and consume more than 400 million pounds of vegetation a day; and the grasshopper-like insects increase logarithmically, meaning locust swarms could be 500 times bigger in six months.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) calls the threat “unprecedented,” but attempts at aerial spraying have been too little, too late — largely because of FAO’s own politically-driven agenda to limit pesticides — and experts fear Africa may once again be tilting toward widespread famine.

As poor farmers futilely shoo the voracious insects away with sticks, this modern plague highlights the urgent need for pesticides to protect crops and save lives. It also casts into stark relief the tragic consequences of UN, European and environmentalist campaigns to deny these life-saving chemicals to developing nations. . . 

 


What goes up . . .

10/05/2022

Fonterra has revised its forecast farmgate milk price down:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today revised its 2021/22 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range from $9.30 – $9.90 per kgMS to $9.10 – $9.50 per kgMS.

This reduces the midpoint of the range, which farmers are paid off, from $9.60 per kgMS to $9.30 per kgMS.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says the change in the forecast Farmgate Milk Price is due to a number of recent events which have resulted in short-term impacts on global demand for dairy products – in particular, the lockdowns in China due to COVID-19, the economic crisis in Sri Lanka and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

“While the long-term outlook for dairy remains positive, and we expect global demand and supply to be more balanced over the rest of the year, we have seen these short-term impacts flow through into pricing on the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) platform. For example, average prices for whole milk powder (WMP), a key driver of the milk price, have decreased by 18% over the past four GDT events.

“As an exporter to 140 countries we deal with these kinds of global events all the time, but right now we’re seeing the impact of multiple events. Coupled with inflationary pressures, it’s not surprising to see buyers being cautious.

“Our scale and ability to move products between different markets and categories remains important, and reinforces our strategic focus on ensuring our milk is going into the highest value products.

“This will be disappointing for our farmers, but the change in global dairy prices is coming off record high levels. At a midpoint of $9.30 per kgMS, this would continue to be the highest forecast Farmgate Milk Price in the Co-op’s history and would see us contribute almost $14 billion into New Zealand’s economy through milk price payments, which supports the wellbeing of our local communities.

“Looking out to the rest of the year, global milk production is expected to remain constrained as high feed, fertiliser and energy costs continue to impact production in the Northern Hemisphere, and we expect demand to recover as the short-term impacts begin to resolve.

“While there is still a high level of uncertainty in global markets, the majority of our milk has been contracted for the season. It’s for this reason that we’ve made the decision to narrow our forecast range to +/- 20 cents.

“As always, there are a number of risks we are continuing to keep a close eye on, including potential impacts on demand from inflationary pressures and rising interest rates, increased volatility as a result of high dairy prices, and further disruptions from COVID-19 and geopolitical events.”

It’s disappointing but not surprising. What goes up eventually comes down, and recently global prices have been going down from the peak reached a few months ago.

Last year some were suggesting this season’s milk price could start with a 10, but China’s Covid lockdown and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine coupled with international and domestic inflation have put paid to that.

However, the low point is still above $9 which is a very good payout.

Uncertainty here and abroad make it unlikely that next season’s forecast will be as high and a rural banker told me that a lot of clients are using the combination of good returns this season and the threat of higher interest rates to pay down debt.

That is prudent. When inflation will boost input prices, reducing the amount borrowed is one way to lower costs without reducing production.

If only the  government understood this prudence and wasn’t so keen on ensuring the only exception to what goes up must come down with tax.


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