Rural round-up

August 22, 2016

 

Employment breaches ‘wake-up call’ for Marlborough wine industry – Oliver Lewis:

Widespread employment breaches have been unearthed by an investigation into labour contractors servicing the Marlborough wine industry.

Several labour contractors, who supply wine companies with workers, were found to have breached employment standards by failing to pay their workers minimum wage, holiday pay, or keep proper employment records.

The joint investigation, carried out by the Labour Inspectorate, Immigration New Zealand and Inland Revenue, involved random visits to 10 independent labour contractors around the region. . . 

Old school thinking stunts export gains – Andrea Fox:

New Zealand is stuck in the past figuring how to produce even more low-cost export commodities while the marketing of fine products it already has is “woeful”, says New Zealand Merino boss John Brakenridge.

“We sell commodities at an export value of around $37 billion that reach consumers globally at a value of over $200 billion,” says the chief executive credited with driving merino’s monumental shift from a nearly 100 per cent commodity sold at auction to 70 per cent grown under lucrative contracts to elite wool product makers.

Brakenridge’s call for New Zealand to dramatically lift its marketing and branding game follows another gathering at Stanford University, in the heart of Silicon Valley, of New Zealand’s primary sector “bootcamp”, the Te Hono Movement.  Te Hono, founded in 2012 by Brakenridge, says it has so far united 178 chief executives and leaders representing 80 per cent of the primary sector, in a goal to collaborate to transform New Zealand’s approach to doing business globally. It was Te Hono’s fifth workshop at Stanford, where participants work with professors at the world-leading research and new technology university and Silicon Valley business innovators.  . . 

Cashflow boost for Fonterra farmers – Dene Mackenzie:

Fonterra farmers have received a cashflow boost with confirmation of a further 10c per share payment of the co-operative’s 2015-16 40c forecast dividend.

The co-operative had already brought forward an earlier dividend payment during the last financial year.

Its intention was always to declare a further dividend in August, subject to financial performance supporting the forecast earnings per share range of 45c to 55c, chairman John Wilson said in a statement. . . 

North Otago surprised by early, strong arrivals :

Calves have arrived “early and strong” on North Otago dairy farms, Lyndon Strang says.

The Federated Farmers North Otago dairy section chairman said most farmers had started calving about five days ahead of schedule.

“That’s pretty much across the board.”

He could not determine the cause, but said it was going well and there was “plenty of feed available”. . . 

Proud Marlborough beekeeping firm faces challenges as century celebrated – Mike Watson:

Beekeepers are like any other farmers except they don’t have fences for keeping the stock in, says a Marlborough beekeeper celebrating 100 years of commercial honey making.

“At the end of the day, like any farmer, we need healthy stock to control pests and diseases,” said J Bush and Sons managing director Murray Bush.

“We do selective breeding programmes like the sheep and beef guys and we have similar concerns as they do. . .

Ethanol: bad for cars, bad for consumers, bad for the economy and really, really bad for the environment – Mark J, Perry:

An excerpt appears below from my op-ed in yesterday’s US News and World Report “Unwind the Ethanol Mandate” about one of the biggest political boondoggles in history – ethanol and the ethanol mandate. Back in 2007 when political cheerleaders like Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa (the “king of ethanol hype”) were promoting ethanol with fantastic claims like “Everything about ethanol is good, good, good,” Rolling Stone magazine responded with the best sentence on ethanol I’ve ever read: “This is not just hype — it’s dangerous, delusional bullshit.” And what’s notgood at all about demon ethanol (Paul Krugman’s phrase) are the serious negative effects it’s having on the environment: . . 


Rural round-up

August 18, 2016

Trade access landscape increasingly crowded – Allan Barber:

At the same time as the TPP is struggling to get across the finish line before the next American President takes over early next year, there are several signs of access to the USA freeing up for some of New Zealand’s competitors.

The announcement of greatest significance concerns access for Brazilian beef after 17 years of negotiations which will be permitted to begin in September. Admittedly Brazilian plants must still gain accreditation before they can export to the USA and, when they do, their entitlement will be included in the ‘other country’ quota of 64,800 tonnes at the same preferential tariff of 4.4 cents per kilo as New Zealand for its 213,402 tonne quota. However, there is a possibility Brazil’s eagerness to export, combined with its weak currency, will encourage it to sell at the 26.4% general tariff rate. . . 

The pros and cons of PKE – Keith Woodford:

In recent weeks, PKE has been in the spotlight.  The key reason for this has been the decision by Landcorp to phase out its use on the Landcorp farms. This has brought back into focus Fonterra’s 2015 recommendation to farmers to only use 3kg per cow per day. It has also given a platform for various other groups to promote their own perspectives.

Amongst the environmental groups, there are two polar perspectives. Greenpeace says we should stop using all PKE. However, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says that palm oil production is OK as long as it sustainable, and certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). . . 

A farming mum who loves helping others – Kate Taylor:

Regular visitors to the Facebook site, Farming Mums NZ, will be familiar with an online blogger whose zest for life seems never-ending. Kate Taylor reports.

There’s an element of irony about the name of Chanelle O’Sullivan’s daily blog, Just a Farmer’s Wife, because it couldn’t be further from the truth.

She is, actually, a farmer’s wife, but is also a mother of two, qualified vet nurse, blogger, project manager, 2016 scholar on the Kellogg Rural Leadership Course, guest speaker, online business woman, long-distance runner and admin for several flourishing Facebook pages.

Chanelle lives at Waitohi in South Canterbury with husband Dave, who is working on a farm on Rockwood Rd. He grew up near Timaru and has a Diploma in Farm Management from Lincoln University. . . 

Silver Fern Farms shareholders vote conclusively in favour – Allan Barber:

The long awaited special meeting finally took place this afternoon with the company’s desired outcome. 80.4% of shareholders voting voted in favour of the Shanghai Maling deal, a small reduction from the 82% that voted in favour last October.

At today’s meeting in Dunedin, as soon as the result was announced, it appears John Shrimpton who led the requisition group shook SFF chairman Rob Hewitt’s hand and agreed that democracy had had its say and the campaign was over. . . 

Clear vision for red meat sector in sight at last – Allan Barber:

After many years of relatively low levels of expenditure on market development and promotion, the red meat industry faces a major challenge in deciding how best to create the desired image to appeal to the world’s affluent consumers. Currently expenditure is divided between generic promotion, funded by farmer levies, and brand advertising by the meat exporters, with a small amount of joint funding in some of the less mature markets.

Delegates at the recent Red Meat Sector Conference heard about the importance of telling a believable and emotionally compelling story built on the heritage and healthy attributes of New Zealand and its farming sector. But they were also challenged to make sure this story is constructed on credible building blocks of environmentally sustainable farm, animal welfare and processing practices. . . 

New primary sector groups to support climate change goals:

Two new reference groups will help support New Zealand’s climate change goals and reduce emissions from the livestock and forestry sectors, Primary Industries Ministers Nathan Guy and Jo Goodhew have announced today.

“As part of ratifying the Paris agreement on climate change, New Zealand has set a target of reducing our emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. The primary sector will need to be an important part of that,” says Mr Guy.

“The Biological Emissions Reference Group will bring together a wide range of agricultural, horticultural and farming stakeholders to collaborate with Government and build a solid evidence base. This will ensure we have the best possible range of information on what can be done right now to reduce biological greenhouse emissions. . . 

Glass half-full for dairy after price lift – Alexa Cook:

Dairy farmers could finally have break-even milk prices this season, AgriHQ dairy analyst Susan Kilsby says.

This season’s forecast of $4.25kg/ms is the third season of prices below $5.

Most farmers need about $5kg/ms to cover their costs, which is about $US3000 a tonne for whole milk powder, the industry’s main export.

In the overnight Global Dairy Trade auction prices lifted by 12.7 percent and whole-milk powder surged 18.9 percent to $US2695 a tonne. . . 

Countdown Egg Producer Programme for Free Range and Barn launches today – Supermarket assures farmers their investment in free range and barn eggs will pay off:

Countdown has today launched an Egg Producer Programme to support free range and barn egg farmers to increase the supply available for Countdown stores and our customers.

The Egg Producer Programme provides farmers an opportunity to increase investment in free range and barn egg capacity, as Countdown will make a commitment to take future supply through individual partnership agreements.

Currently, just 18 per cent of eggs produced in New Zealand are free range. Countdown wants to put in place plans with farmers, to increase the availability of the free range and barn eggs.  . . 

Bill to streamline Food Safety passes first reading:

Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew is welcoming the Food Safety Law Reform Bill having passed its first reading in Parliament last night, with unanimous support.

The Bill is the final step in implementing the Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Inquiry recommendations, in particular those which require legislative change.

“This Bill is an important part of putting the false Botulism scare behind us. It illustrates the Government’s commitment to ensuring the safety and suitability of food, which is vitally important for the health of consumers – both in New Zealand and overseas – and our international trade reputation,” says Mrs Goodhew. . . 

Retirement of Fonterra Director:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced that Mr John Waller ONZM will be retiring as an Independent Director on the Fonterra Board with effect from 31 August 2016.

Fonterra Chairman John Wilson said that Mr Waller is retiring to reduce his workload after serving on the Fonterra Board since 2009. He chaired Fonterra’s Fair Value Share Review Committee, the Trading Among Farmers Due Diligence Committee and the Milk Price Panel, and was a member of the Audit and Finance Committee and the Risk Committee.

“John has been an outstanding director of our Co-operative and has made an invaluable contribution by combining his strong personal values, drive and leadership with commercial common-sense. I am pleased that after such a significant contribution John is finding the time to rebalance his commitments so that he can spend more time with his family and pursue his other interests. . . 


GDT up 12.7%

August 17, 2016

The futures market was expecting an increase in dairy prices but the 12.7% rise in the GlobalDairyTrade price index in this morning’s auction exceeded expectations.

GdT17.8.16

It’s too early to get too excited but the 18.9% increase in the price of whole milk is encouraging.

gdt17816

And while two increases doesn’t make a trend it’s a welcome change from consecutive decreases.

g.D.t.17.8.16

The dollar also went up in reaction to the news :

The result saw the New Zealand dollar rise from around 72.40 US cents before the auction to 72.70 cents by 5am. . . 

That seems a bit premature to me, the price is still a long way from what’s needed to get to a payout of $5.05 which is break-even for most farmers.


Rural round-up

August 15, 2016

Unreliable rain reduces sheep numbers – Kate Taylor:

The seasons are changing at Patoka Station and less reliable rainfall is affecting the way it’s farmed. Kate Taylor reports.

It looks green but the grass is much shorter than normal for late winter on Patoka Station in Hawke’s Bay.

That picture is about to change, though owners Ben and Suzie Crosse are unaware of it as they discuss their upcoming lambing, starting from August 31. A storm is approaching the central North Island and will dump 190mm of freezing-cold rain on the 1200ha farm.

The farm has monthly records going back to 1948 but the rainfall hasn’t been reliable lately, Ben says. . . 

Biggest year’ ever for avocado growers

With avocados back on the menu, New Zealand growers are gearing up for their best season ever.

That’s according to John Carroll, director of the country’s largest exporter Avoco, who says his firm expects to ship off about 3.2 million trays of the fruit in the coming months.

In total, 5.1 million trays, about 28,000 tonnes, are predicted to depart our shores, mainly bound for Australia and Asia. . . 

Forest industry’s challenge to manage supply fluctuations:

The pan forest and timber processing industry organisation, the New Zealand Wood Council (Woodco) says there is a supply challenge for many regions in the domestic processing industry.

Woodco Chair, Brian Stanley says timber processors are being hindered by a current lack of logs, especially in the higher grades.

He says small scale woodlot owners are being enticed into quick export contracts instead, where the buyers are not providing the domestic processors with an opportunity to purchase these logs. . . 

Deputy PM Bill English visits Blue River dairy factory – Dave Nicoll:

It was a bit surreal for Deputy Prime Minister Bill English to see award winning cheeses named after places his mother grew up.

English made a special visit to the Blue River Dairy factory in Invercargill on Friday as part of a trip to the Southland region.

Blue River Dairy produced a number of award winning cheeses, and milk powder from sheep milk and has expanded into exporting sheep milk baby formula into China. . . 

Fonterra Announces New Palm Products Sourcing Standard:

Fonterra has adopted a new standard for sourcing of palm products as part of its commitment to sustainability.

The standard was developed in consultation with key supply partners, and it follows discussions with Greenpeace that began in December 2015 to strengthen Fonterra’s existing sustainable palm products sourcing procedures.

“The new standard requires us to purchase only segregated supply palm oil by 2018, and to work with suppliers of palm products to ensure that plans are in place for full traceability to plantation by 2018,” said Fonterra’s Director of Social Responsibility, Carolyn Mortland. . . 

Action to help farming productivity in Manawatu-Whanganui:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says $465,000 towards primary sector initiatives in the ‘Accelerate 25 Manawatū-Whanganui Economic Action Plan’ launched today will make a real difference to the region.

“Manawatū-Whanganui has the largest sheep flock and beef herds of any region in the country, and half of New Zealand’s lamb exports come from within two hours’ drive of Feilding. We need farming to do well to drive economic prosperity here,” says Mr Guy.

Speaking at Ross and Wendy Humphrey’s farm in Cheltenham, Mr Guy says much of the funding will be used for information sharing to lift productivity.   . . 

Report shows good results from flood recovery money:

A report on Government assistance to farmers following the June 2015 Taranaki-Horizons storm shows that good results were achieved, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

“These storms had a major impact on the region and caused widespread damage, so it’s pleasing to see that Government funding has made a real difference,” says Mr Guy.

“The storm on 18-20 June 2015 brought widespread heavy rainfall, flooding and erosion to the Taranaki and Horizons regions. Hill sheep and beef farmers were particularly affected by flooding of river margins and damage to tracks and fences, with damage also to dairy land and young forest plantations.” . . 

Wools of New Zealand well set for end of grower-funding

Wools of New Zealand (WNZ) Chairman Mark Shadbolt says the company is making strong commercial progress with an expected maiden profit for the 2016 financial year.

Shadbolt was responding to a recent shareholder comment in a local rural newspaper that the company would “almost certainly fail” without income from farmers’ Wool Market Development Commitment (WMDC).

“To the contrary, WNZ is making investments that are reducing the company’s reliance on the WMDC.” . .

Commission releases draft report on Fonterra’s 2015/16 base milk price calculation:

The Commerce Commission today released its draft report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2015/16 dairy season. The base milk price is the price Fonterra pays to farmers for raw milk and it is currently set by Fonterra at $3.90 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2015/16 season just ended. The report does not cover the forecast 2016/17 price of $4.25 that Fonterra recently announced.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s calculation each year at the end of the dairy season under the milk price monitoring regime in the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA).

Deputy Chair Sue Begg said Fonterra’s calculation of the 2015/16 base milk price is consistent with both the efficiency and contestability purposes of DIRA. . . 


Rural round-up

August 9, 2016

Scientist added value to lamb crop – Sally Rae:

Work done by Julie Everett-Hincks to improve lamb survival has received national recognition.

Dr Everett-Hincks has been awarded the Sir Arthur Ward award, presented by the New Zealand Society of Animal Production.

It was a “huge honour” to receive the award at the joint Australian Society of Animal Production and New Zealand Society of Animal Production conference in Adelaide, she said.

Dr Everett-Hincks was the first woman to receive it. . . 

Fonterra ‘we are changing’ – Sally Rae:

Let’s face it —  wastewater might not be the most glamorous subject.

But at Fonterra’s Edendale factory,  some  cool things are being achieved with treated wastewater.

It is being used to irrigate surrounding farmland and  “waste-activated sludge” (WAS) from the factory  is  being used as fertiliser.

The grass grown ultimately returned to Fonterra as milk in  a “really good cradle-to-grave story”, national environment group manager Ian Goldschmidt said.

Edendale is a big operation, employing about 650 people. . . 

Pond developer vents his frustration – Mark Price:

The Wanaka developer of a new salmon “fish-out” facility has complained to Conservation Minister Maggie Barry that Fish and Game New Zealand has opposed the project in order to protect its own commercial interests.

Graham and Hayley Lee, as Inderlee Ltd, were granted resource consent in November for their operation along Cameron Creek, on the eastern outskirts of Wanaka near Albert Town.

They plan to offer the public the chance to catch chinook salmon from large ponds from November next year.

Their consent application was opposed by Fish and Game, and Mr Lee told the Otago Daily Times this week he has complained by email to Ms Barry about the organisation’s motives. . . 

Produce industry leader wins Bledisloe Cup:

Murray McPhail, founder and owner of LeaderBrand Produce, won horticulture’s top award, the Bledisloe Cup, last night.

Horticulture NZ’s president Julian Raine said the Bledilsoe Cup is an outstanding award to receive and this year was honouring a 40 year commitment to the horticulture industry. The award was presented at Horticulture NZ’s annual awards dinner, held in conjunction with Pipfruit NZ, at the annual conference in Nelson.

As McPhail was overseas his son Richard accepted the award on his behalf. . . 

Rural Broadband Initiative phase one complete:

The first phase of the Government’s Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) is now complete, benefitting 300,000 homes and businesses, says Communications Minister Amy Adams.

“Under the programme, rural communities around New Zealand have significantly improved broadband, thanks to the Government’s $300 million investment into RBI. We’ve seen a considerable improvement in access, reliability and speeds across New Zealand,” says Ms Adams.

“Prior to our RBI build, only 20 per cent of rural lines were capable of speeds around 5Mbps. RBI phase one increases this to 90 per cent of rural New Zealand households and businesses, and speeds are in fact well in excess of 5Mbps.

“Before the project, our rural communities were grappling with poor speeds, little better than dial up – but are now enjoying speeds around 100 times faster. . . 

Protecting a local delicacy:

Fishers and keen cooks gearing up for whitebaiting season, opening on Monday 15 August, should be aware of the rules or the rare delicacy could disappear from dinner tables forever.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is responsible for administering the whitebait fishery and ensuring people observe the regulations.

Whitebait are juveniles of five species of native fish: giant kokopu, banded kokopu, shortjaw kokopu, inanga, and koaro. Those that escape the whitebait net grow into adult fish which are some of our most endangered native species – some whitebait species have the same threat status as kiwi and New Zealand falcon. . . 

Wires kill pilots:

The rural economy is vitally important to New Zealand’s economic prosperity but the safety of the aviation industry, which plays an important role in ensuring regional prosperity, is not assured,’ said John Nicholson, Chief Executive of industry body Aviation NZ.

Between 1979 and 2015, helicopter pilots alone had 116 wire strikes resulting in 28 deaths. While people on the ground can generally see wires, they can often be invisible to pilots of low flying aircraft.

Electricity and phone lines are generally well marked with the towers and poles they run between quite visible – be you on the ground or in the air.
‘The major concern is wires erected by farmers,’ said Alan Beck, Chairman of the NZ Agricultural Aviation Association.

They present the greatest risk to agricultural aviation because they can run across gullies, and can be attached to obscure poles or even trees. To make it worse , some manufacturers even produce green covered wire. . . 

Landcorp ditches palm kernel feed to boost environmental credentials – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – Landcorp Farming, the state-owned farmer, will stop using palm kernel expeller on its farms in the current financial year to shore up its environmental sustainability credentials.

Palm kernel, used by dairy farmers as a supplementary feed to grass during winter or in seasonal droughts, is imported from Southeast Asia and has faced criticism for its environmental impacts as expansion of the palm oil industry spurs tropical forest clearance and peat fires.

Landcorp, New Zealand’s largest corporate farmer, wants to move away from being a commodity supplier of agricultural products by developing higher value products, inking long-term contracts with customers, and investing in branding to boost the value of its products. . . 


Rural round-up

August 1, 2016

Farmers check out challenges in Zambia – Sally Rae:

When Nelson Hancox returned home from a trip to Zambia and had to write a brief statement on what he had learnt, it was not a difficult task.

“I wrote, ‘New Zealand’s a great place to do business’,” the Tapanui sheep and beef farmer said.

Mr Hancox recently attended a Rabobank Global Farmers Master Class in Zambia, which attracted 20 farmers from throughout the world and from a diverse range of farming operations.

The week-long programme brought farmers from nine key food and agriculture-producing countries to observe the potential of the Zambian agricultural sector and to discuss the challenges facing local producers. . . 

New regulations on live animal export rules announced:

New rules that will give the Ministry for Primary Industries greater visibility of the welfare of animals being exported from New Zealand will come into force on 25 August 2016, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) announced today.

“New Zealanders care deeply about the welfare of animals, and this was reflected during the consultation process” says MPI’s Director Biosecurity and Animal Welfare Julie Collins.

“The changes that are being introduced in August will further strengthen New Zealand’s reputation as a responsible exporter of animals and animal products.

They will give early effect to amendments made last year to the Animal Welfare Act 1999 that would have otherwise commenced in May 2020. . . 

Farming initiative the first of its kind for Northland and NZ:

A brand new farming initiative – Extension 350 – is an innovative programme, the first of its kind for New Zealand. Designed to lift on farm performance through improving farm systems and profitability through shared knowledge.

The programme aims to have 350 Northland farms involved in four years and is modelled on having clusters of five farms working together with business advice and direction provided to a Target Farmer by an expert consultant, with that relationship encouraged by a Mentor Farmer. The expectation is that the Target Farmer similarly influences a group of Associated Farmers.

The pilot scheme which ran at Candy Farm in Okaihau from 2011 to 2014 saw local farmers Alister and Lyn Candy make management changes which have resulted in greater resilience and an increase in profits of around $180,000 per annum. . . 

Farmers cooperating to lift performance:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed an innovative programme lifting the performance of 350 Northland farmers through shared knowledge.

“The first year of the Extension 350 programme will see the start of two dairy clusters and one sheep and beef cluster. Each cluster consists of five top performing ‘mentor farmers’ extending their knowledge, advice and direction to a group of five target farmers,” says Mr Guy. 

“These target farmers then interact and influence a surrounding group of five associated farmers, extending the benefits of top performing farm practice from the original target farmer. The farm clusters are supported with farm consultants and other service providers. . . 

War on predators: capture collective wisdom, Trust says

Plant pests must also be a focus

Hawke’s Bay-based conservation group Forest Lifeforce Restoration (FLR) Trust has welcomed the Predator-Free by 2050 initiative announced by the government earlier this week. It says the target is achievable but that success will rely on collaboration and information-sharing on a scale not yet seen in New Zealand conservation circles and that few have dared dream was possible.

“Conservation in New Zealand can no longer be purely the preserve of government agencies,” said Trust Chairman Simon Hall. “The job’s too big, the battle’s too fierce. Landowners and the private sector all have a role to play.

“It’s crucial for the success of this initiative, though, that Predator Free New Zealand Limited is able to harness not just the collective will, but also the expertise developed from decades of trial and error that exists in pockets right across the country.” . . 

Predator Free community fund to boost local conservation efforts:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has today welcomed the efforts of a young Taranaki conservationist which will contribute to making New Zealand predator free by 2050.

Ms Barry met with 8 year-old Monte Woodward while visiting New Plymouth on Saturday.

“Monte is to be congratulated. He has worked hard to raise money by running sausage sizzles and washing cars to purchase two traps which will help protect some of our most vulnerable native wildlife from rats, stoats and possums.” Ms Barry says. . . 

Briefing Paper: Mt Pisa, Doc & the Hunting Issue
A tragedy waiting to happen:

Earlier this year, historic Mt Pisa Station closed public access gates that run through its property to the adjacent DOC-managed conservation estate.

It was an action taken by the principals of Mt Pisa – Murray, Jacky and Shane MacMillan – for the purpose of safeguarding unsuspecting recreational users from potential danger and death.

The adjacent Pisa Conservation Area is managed by the Department of Conservation and allows uncontrolled access onto its estate for recreational trampers, trail-bikers … and hunters.

At no stage does it warn recreational trampers, hikers and bikers that armed hunters may be sharing their space. . . 

$30 million cash injection from Ballance rebate:

Results at a glance
Total distribution to shareholders of $30 million ($76 million last year)
Rebate payment of $25 per tonne ($55.83 last year)
Total revenue of $837 million ($893 million last year)
Gross trading result of $35 million ($81 million last year)
Total sales volumes of 1.62 million tonnes (1.75 million last year)
Equity ratio of 81% (80.4% last year)

Farm nutrient co-operative Ballance Agri-Nutrients is distributing a total of $30 million to farmers this week, returning 87 percent of its 2015/16 $35 million gross trading result to shareholders. . . 

Sustainable Farming Fund open for applications:

The 2017/18 funding round for MPI’s Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) opens today.

“We welcome any groups keen to tackle a shared problem or develop a new opportunity related to the primary industries to apply for the fund,” says Investment Programmes Director Justine Gilliland.

“SFF supports farmers and researchers involved at grass-roots level and each year we receive a very high calibre of project applications.” . . 

Fonterra & LIC Investigating Tech Solution to Improve Farm Performance:

Fonterra and Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) are teaming up to develop a new online technology solution designed to provide farmers with a view of their operation in one place.

The two farmer-owned Co-operatives are combining resources, knowledge and expertise to look at the best way to bring together a farmer’s milk production and quality data, herd data, pasture data, local weather forecasts and more into one easy-to-use online portal.

Farmers will be able to see their private individual farm information in one place, allowing them to make faster and easier decisions about their farming operation. . . 


Fonterra payout steady

August 1, 2016

Fonterra has announced the forecast milk payout will remain at $4.25 and the  forecast earnings per share range for this season of 50 to 60 cents.

If the company achieves the higher figure it would make a total payout of $4.75 to $4.85. That’s still below break-even for many but given the continuing gloomy outlook for milk it’s not unexpected.

Chairman John Wilson said the solid forecast earnings per share range reflects performance improvements across the business and would be welcomed by farmers. However, with the Farmgate Milk Price forecast remaining at $4.25 per kgMS, it is another financially challenging season for farmers.

“The Co-operative is aware of how tough the situation on farm remains. We are focused on delivering as much cash as possible to our farmers by bringing payments forward while maintaining a strong balance sheet. This forecast is our best estimate at this early stage of the season. We will continue to update our farmers as we move through the season.”

Mr Wilson said the $4.25 Farmgate Milk Price reflects the continuing global uncertainty and the high NZD/USD exchange rate which continues to impact the competiveness of New Zealand dairy exports.

“The recent weakening of the Euro, combined with the continued strength of the New Zealand dollar, has meant a price advantage for European export dairy products.”

“We expect global milk supply and demand to come into balance over the course of this season. Farmers globally are producing less milk in response to lower prices and we are forecasting a three per cent reduction in our New Zealand milk collection for this season.”

Farmers here have seen the signals and have reacted to them. Farmers overseas, protected by subsidies, have been slower to cut production but they too are beginning to face the market, cut their costs and reduce production.

Chief Executive Theo Spierings said the returns from the ingredients, consumer and foodservice businesses continue to grow in-line with Fonterra’s business strategy to convert more milk into higher returning products.

“We are seeing the benefits of our investments in manufacturing over recent years. We now have more flexibility to make the right products at the least cost, delivering better returns for our farmers’ milk.

“Our good progress in continuing to increase value through our consumer and foodservice businesses, particularly in important markets such as China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Oceania and Latin America, is reflected in the lift in the earnings per share forecast.

“Constantly improving the performance of our business is an absolute priority and puts us in a strong position to create more value for our farmers. We are generating significant improvements and cash benefits through our ongoing business transformation that contribute to both our Farmgate Milk Price and our earnings,” said Mr Spierings.

Commodity sales are bread and butter, added value is the jam and cream which gives better returns and we need more of that.


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