Rural round-up

April 20, 2017

Good PR is a self-help exercise – Neal Wallace:

A united agricultural sector needs to promote itself by telling positive farming stories, public relations expert Deborah Pead says.

Industries such as dairy were constantly under scrutiny and having to defend themselves when the correct strategy was to get in first and tell the public what they were doing to address those concerns.

“It is hard to argue when you see a river dried up and farmers are flat-out irrigating but what is the solution? What are farmers doing about it?” . . 

High country community divided by fence plan – Conan Young:

Green groups are outraged at a plan to spend ratepayer money on a fence that would allow iconic high country land to be more intensively farmed.

The 6km fence is proposed for Flock Hill Station, which is leased by a US-based company and contains scenery made famous in 2005’s The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe.

Until now, Coast Range Investments has only been allowed to graze it in a low-level way, so as to have a minimal impact on the landscape and its environment. . . 

Water Fools? – Greening of Mackenzie – Kate Gudsell:

It’s the closest thing New Zealand has to a desert. The Mackenzie Basin landscape is not replicated anywhere else in the country, let alone the world, and it is being changed irreversibly.  

Not just the land is being changed, the once-pristine lakes are showing signs of strain too.  

The area has been at the centre of a 10-year court battle after farmers and landowners opposed tougher development rules proposed by the Mackenzie District Council.  . . 

Stable milk price crucial for strong farming season – Sally Rae:

Rabobank is picking a farm- gate milk price around $6.25 for the 2017-18 season, as it says a figure in that area would finally allow dairy farmers to ”emerge from the woods”.

Global dairy prices were now better balanced than at the start of this season.

This was likely to flow through and create largely stable commodity pricing in the new season, a bank report said.

However, despite the improved market balance, the possibility of further lifts to the current season milk price was limited, report author and Rabobank dairy analyst Emma Higgins said.

The price rally experienced since the second half of 2016 had ”some of the gloss” removed, with stronger-than-anticipated New Zealand production impacting on prices.

Job Seekers drawn to plant – Sally Rae:

Hordes of job seekers from Nelson to Dunedin – including a group of Cadbury employees – converged on Fonterra’s Clandeboye site for a recent recruitment day.

A $240 million mozzarella plant development at the South Canterbury site is under way, creating full-time employment for a further 100 people.

There was a “fantastic” response to the recent recruitment day, with between about 1500 and 2000 people attending. That led to about 700-odd applications for the roles, operations manager Steve McKnight said.

The mozzarella plant, the third at Clandeboye, was the single largest food service investment in the history of New Zealand’s dairy industry. . . 

Cervena seeks its place in the sun – Annette Scott:

Marketing Cervena venison as a lighter summer eating option in Germany will be a challenge but it’s a move Deer Industry New Zealand has confidence in, venison marketing manager Marianne Wilson says.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) had begun marketing Cervena in Germany during the northern hemisphere summer as part of a market development trial. While relatively small the trial was symbolically important, Wilson said.

Traditionally the deer industry had been heavily reliant on sales of venison to the German game trade which was highly seasonal, with demand and prices peaking in the northern autumn and winter. . . 

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GDT up 3.1%

April 19, 2017

The GlobalDairyTrade price index increased 3.1% in this morning’s auction.

Whole milk powder which largely determines Fonterra’s farmgate payout increased 3.5%.

 


Rural round-up

April 10, 2017

Taste is tops – Neal Wallace:

ONE of the biggest consumer taste tests ever has revealed the eating quality of New Zealand lamb is consistently high with very little variation.

The finding followed more than 3200 consumer taste tests in NZ and the United States last year and showed factors such as breed, gender, pasture, growth rates, fat cover, marbling, confirmation and locality had a minor effect on eating quality.

The research was part of a FarmIQ Primary Growth Partnership programme in conjunction with Silver Fern Farms, the Ministry for Primary Industries and Landcorp.  . .

Sound science needed in policy making  – Mark Ross:

New Zealand’s strong export focus is unusual because our GDP relies heavily on our primary industries and export markets.
Revenue from these exports is estimated at $36.7 billion this year, but is at risk from unsubstantiated, over-hyped nonsensical claims.

The products we use to protect our animals and crops from pests and diseases have never been more thoroughly tested and screened to ensure product safety. But pseudo-science puts NZ farmers and growers’ chances of being world leaders in productivity at risk. Pseudo-science is beliefs or statements not backed by scientific evidence. Its promoters frequently play on people’s fears and cause needless confusion. . .

Farmers urged to use science to improve profitability:

Farmers are getting a push to use the “masses of science” available in New Zealand to improve their profitability.
Confusion exists about the key focus needed to increase farm profitability, says high profile farm veterinarian and consultant Trevor Cook.

The key point is how much product we produce per hectare, he says. And though body condition score and feed allocation are also key performance indicators, they alone are not the drivers of profit. . . 

Planting good for soldiers, farming – Nigel Malthus:

Even Canterbury’s arable farmers would benefit from the increased biodiversity offered by native reforestation, claims the man leading the largest dryland reforestation effort on the plains.
Tai Tapu native plant nurseryman and consultant Stephen Brailsford is managing the replacement of exotic trees at Burnham Military Camp. The project, three years on, has seen up to 45,000 natives planted.

Sparked by wind storm damage in September 2013, the project is to replace most of the camp’s exotic trees with the kind of native bush originally standing on the Canterbury Plains’ dry soils. . .

Dairy wants to play its part – Stephen Bell:

Fonterra recognises dairy is a big contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and wants to do something about it, environment manager Francesca Eggleton says.

The industry faced a potentially extremely large liability.

Dairy produced gases from cows, effluent, fertiliser, deforestation to produce palm kernel, energy use and transport.

Of the gases produced 85% were created onfarm, 10% from processing site and 5% from distribution.

The Dumfries House declaration:

On September 9th 2016, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales as Patron of the Campaign for Wool in association with M&S, hosted the historic Dumfries House Wool Conference in Scotland.

The conference brought together 250 leading members of the wool industry supply chain, from farm to store, to discuss the current challenges facing wool and how its further use can benefit the planet as a whole.

In his address to the conference, The Prince of Wales officially endorsed the Dumfries House Declaration.This is a ten-point declaration of intent to support an environmentally responsible, sustainable, and commercially viable wool industry. . .


Rural round-up

April 4, 2017

New research will help address rural communities’ health and wellbeing:

New research on farm-related suicide and the factors behind it is a progressive step and will enable a more concerted focus on reducing rates, says Federated Farmers.

The study by Dr Annette Beautrais was conducted on behalf of the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand and funded by AgResearch.

As inaugural members of RHANZ, Federated Farmers has advocated for many years for an increased awareness on addressing issues related to rural health and wellbeing.

In her findings, Dr Beautrais reveals that general farm workers and males are the most vulnerable and more likely to take their own life. . . 

Zespri calls in police over cross-border kiwifruit transfer – Paul McBeth

 (BusinessDesk) – Zespri International has called in police to investigate the transfer of Gold3 and Gold9 kiwifruit varieties into China that may have been done illegally.

Last year the Mount Maunganui-based international fruit marketer started investigating reports that a kiwifruit licence had been sold to a third party, breaching the terms limiting transfers within a country, and it passed on that evidence to police in December which is investigating, it said in a statement.

“The purported sale of a licence from one jurisdiction to another by a third party is a breach of Zespri’s licences and plant variety rights, and potentially could give rise to allegations of fraud or misleading conduct,” Zespri said. “In this case, Zespri suspects . . 

Primary sector women funded to step up:

Government investment in developing and supporting women to create sustainable prosperity in the primary sector and regional communities has been welcomed by the organisation that is growing the leadership, governance and business skills of women in the sector.

The Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) has received $289,000 from the Government’s Sustainable Farming Fund to extend its work to three groups of women who have been identified as part of the key to sustainable primary industry growth.

The two-year project will see AWDT research, design and deliver pilot programmes for younger women who are entering primary sector careers, Māori women in the regions, and women who have had careers outside of primary industries whose expertise was of value. . . 

More RMA stress and cost for farmers in Horizons region:

Federated Farmers is deeply disappointed by a legal decision which suggests the Horizons Regional Council has not implemented the One Plan correctly and environmental gains are not being made.

The court decision announced today is now being carefully reviewed by Feds, so we can begin to understand the on-the-ground implications for our member farmers.

Federated Farmers Manawatu/Rangitikei provincial president James Stewart says we have to remember the enormous amount of good work and investment undertaken by farmers across the region to comply with the ‘One Plan’ regulations and that the plan’s objectives are being achieved.

“The council has worked very hard to implement a One Plan that’s workable and that does not put farmers out of business and improves water quality as needed. . . 

Research provides new guidance for West Coast farmers on pests:

AgResearch scientists are set to present new guidance to West Coast farmers on dealing with some of the region’s worst pests after years of in-depth research alongside locals.

Over the past three years farmers in the West Coast Pest Management Group have taken part in a project funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Farming Fund to improve the understanding of pests that threaten pastures.

“This research is about providing farmers on the South Island’s West Coast with the tools to tackle these pests, before the long-term damage is done to their pastures and bottom lines,” says AgResearch Senior Scientist Sarah Mansfield. . . 

New Zealand farming couple grow record-breaking wheat crop:

Huge crop confirmed by Guinness World Records

• Bayer and Yara play key role

• Increasing yields key focus

Ashburton farmers Eric and Maxine Watson have entered the renowned book of Guinness World Records after producing the world’s highest yielding crop of wheat.

The couple produced a staggering 16.791 tonnes per hectare, beating the previous record of 16.519 tonnes held for two years by a UK farmer.

On average, irrigated wheat yields in New Zealand are around 12 tonnes per hectare, demonstrating how remarkable the new record is. . . 

Successful meeting with Lithuanian Agricultural Minister:

New Zealand Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Lithuanian Agriculture Minister Bronius Markauskas met on Monday in Vilnius, Lithuania to discuss a range of agricultural issues in each country. 

“Clearly, there are many similarities between our countries, including the role of dairy in our respective economies,” says Mr Guy. 

“New Zealand is an example for Lithuania,” says Lithuanian Minister of Agriculture B. Markauskas

“We are quite similar – in both countries the dairy industry and agriculture in general play a huge role. I was in New Zealand previously and I was impressed by the great atmosphere and the relationship between the government and farmers, as well as the country’s agricultural potential. . . 

  Fonterra makes a splash at China’s food ingredients show:

Fonterra’s NZMP dairy ingredients business has made a splash at China’s largest food ingredients trade show in Shanghai, launching three dairy ingredients and bringing New Zealand’s dairy story to life for customers through a 360° immersive virtual reality experience.

One of the world’s foremost food ingredients events, the three-day Food Ingredients China 2017 event attracted more than 100,000 customers from all over the world.

Fonterra announced the launch of NZMP Gold Whole Milk Powder for UHT, NZMP Tasty Cheese Powder and NZMP Butter Concentrate products at the event. . .

 

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If you think it’s expensive to hire a quality farmers, just wait until you hire a crappy one.


Rural round-up

April 3, 2017

NZ red meat sector must pursue both ‘value and volume’ growth into China:

The New Zealand red meat sector must focus on creating greater value from its exports into China, as the rate of import growth slows in this major export market, according to new research from Rabobank.

In its recently-released report, China’s Animal Protein Outlook to 2020, the specialist global agribusiness bank says while Chinese imports of sheepmeat and beef will continue to grow out to at least 2020, the rate of growth will not be as rapid as it has been in the past.

In addition, says Rabobank animal proteins analyst Blake Holgate, as China has continued to open its market to New Zealand’s competitors in recent years, the NZ red meat sector no longer enjoys the same unique competitive advantage it had when it was the first developed country to enter into a free trade agreement with China in 2008. . . 

Rural doctor shortage: GPs considered ‘lesser beings’ – Joanne O’Brien:

For 25 years, Dr John Burton has been a lifeline for people in the isolated Waikato community of Kawhia, but, he says, GPs are considered “lesser beings” so job training is not producing good doctors for rural areas.

He said being the only doctor within an hour’s drive might deter some, but it made life fun.

“One of the things that often puts people off coming to a place like Kawhia is you’re always on call and anything can happen.

“Yet if I look back over the years I’ve had here, the times I’ll be remembering will probably be the times when, yes, I delivered a baby in the back of the ambulance or somebody was in a life-threatening condition.” . . 

Cows could infect humans with different strain of leptospirosis – Alexa Cook:

About 30 percent of New Zealand’s dairy herds pose a risk of infecting humans with a different strain of Leptospirosis not covered by the existing animal vaccine, a study has revealed.

People can pick up the disease if they come into contact with cow urine and rodents. It can lead to serious illness or death.

Leptospirosis is the most common zoonotic occupational disease for farm and abattoir workers. In the past year cases of the disease have jumped by nearly 50 per cent, compared to 2015.

The Massey University study, which started in 2015 and is government funded, collected blood and urine samples from 200 dairy farms. . . 

Fonterra produces a solid half-year set of results but it is not all plain sailing ahead – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra has produced a solid set of results for the first half of the 2016/17 season, with after-tax profit up two percent to $418 million.

Results were broadly in line with market expectations. Prices for Fonterra units had been drifting down on the NZX in the weeks prior to the announcement from a high of $6.39 to $6.20 and lost another five cents over the following two days down to $6.15.

As always, the half-yearly and annual reports from Fonterra are a masterful exercise in communication. It takes effort to scratch beneath the surface to figure out what the numbers are really telling us. . . 

Cervena to be marketed in Germany:

Cervena venison is to be marketed in Germany during the northern hemisphere summer as part of a market development trial.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) venison marketing manager Marianne Wilson says the trial, while relatively small, is symbolically very important. Traditionally, the deer industry has been heavily reliant on sales of venison to the German game trade which is highly seasonal, with demand and prices peaking in the northern autumn and winter, she says.

“Marketing Cervena venison there as a lighter summer eating option, suitable for grilling, is a challenge but it’s a journey we want to begin. Chefs across Europe are now showing more interest in innovative summer menu items, so the timing is positive.” . . 

NZ exporters gain access to international agfood innovations portal:

The FoodHQ Innovation Club has become a partner of World Food Innovations, an internationally recognised online portal that profiles innovative agfood solutions to attract global business.

The FoodHQ Innovation Club helps food and beverage companies tackle the multiple challenges associated with innovating their products and businesses to meet consumer demands in New Zealand and overseas. It provides one-door access to 2,200+ researchers, leading-edge knowledge, and innovation tools from internationally recognised research and innovation organisations.

WorldFoodInnovations.com, an initiative by Food Valley, the Netherlands, was established in 2016. Food Valley has built up a deep insight into the challenges of the agrifood industry and vast network of companies and knowledge institutions that can help to tackle these challenges effectively. . . 

Rabobank NZ annual profit falls 14% on higher provisioning for bad dairy debt – Paul McBeth

(BusinessDesk) – Rabobank New Zealand posted a 14 percent decline in annual profit last year as the rural lending specialist boosted its provisioning for bad debts in the face of the dairy slowdown.

Net profit fell to $89.5 million in calendar 2016 from $104 million a year earlier, the Wellington-based lender said in a statement. The decline in profit was largely due to the bank booking $15.1 million in impairment charges on bad debt. In 2015 Rabobank booked a $5.6 million gain, writing back the value on impairments. Net interest income edged up 2.6 percent to $251.3 million, outpacing a 2.2 percent increase in the size of Rabobank’s NZ net loan book to $9.65 billion. . . 

Dairy – the new cream of choice in China:

For chefs across China, it’s out with the old mock cream and in with the UHT cream as Fonterra ups capacity to meet growing demand.

UHT cream, one of Anchor Food Professionals top selling products, is fast becoming the cream of choice for chefs in China and other parts of the world as they look for a product that has the freshness of pure dairy, won’t over whip and holds its shape for longer.

Fonterra has recently completed a new one litre UHT line at its Waitoa site. However, with continued growth, the Co-operative has already begun construction on a second line which will produce an additional 45 million litres each year for consumers across Asia, the Middle East and the Caribbean. . . 


Rural round-up

March 30, 2017

Taihape farmer opens up about depression – Gerard Hutching:

Taihape farmer Dan Mickleson has spilled his heart out on Facebook after a second bout of depression, and has been overwhelmed by the response. 

“The reaction’s gone way beyond anything I imagined when I asked them to post it. I thought it might get 100 likes and 20-odd comments but when they sent me the tracking stats this morning it’s reached over 130,000 people,” he said.

Entitled “Real Men Don’t Cry”, the 1000-word admission of Mickleson’s struggles was posted on the NZ Farming Facebook page.

I’m a food producer not a farmer: Richard Kidd  – Gerald Piddock:

Richard Kidd is not just a sheep and beef farmer, he is a food producer.

It is a small but subtle twist on words that he believed has helped him better connect with urban consumers.

Just calling himself a farmer was too broad, he said.

“We have a better story to say than we are just farmers. We are producing food that the public has to eat and I think they deserve to know that it’s well farmed, as free as chemicals as possible and a good story behind it.” . . 

Engineering student’s start-up has billion-dollar prospects – Madison Reidy:

Growing up on a 300-cow dairy farm in Matamata exposed Craig Piggott to the problems farmers face.

With a first class honours engineering degree and a year’s experience building rockets for Rocket Lab under his belt, he is now solving them with his own agri-tech invention. 

Piggott, 22, came up with the idea for a GPS tracking, solar powered cow collar while studying at Auckland University. The idea could not wait until he graduated, he said. . . 

Strong environmental gains on farm show opportunities:

Substantial reductions in the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions at a South Canterbury farm show environmental gains can be made hand in hand with a farm’s growth, scientists say.

Record keeping back to 1991, when Bill and Shirley Wright took on the sheep and cattle farm at Cave, has allowed scientists to study the profile of greenhouse gas emissions over time in an evolving farm system.

Analysis of the Wrights’ farm system in the last couple of years has also provided important insights into nitrate leaching (the loss of nitrogen), and what impacts on the amount of leaching and how best it can be managed. . . 

Synlait posts 3.8% gain in 1H profit, expects ‘modest’ full-year earnings growth – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Synlait Milk, the NZX-listed dairy company, posted a 3.8 percent lift in first-half profit as higher sales offset increased investment in people and business development.

Profit increased to $10.6 million, or 6.34 cents per share, in the six months ended Jan. 31, from $10.2 million, or 6.99 cents, a year earlier, the Rakaia-based company said in a statement. Sales jumped 35 percent to $288.7 million. The year-earlier earnings included a $2.9 million unrealised foreign exchange loss. . . 

Fonterra Launches Popular New Maternal Nutrition Programme in Hong Kong:

Fonterra has launched a unique nutrition programme for pregnant women in Hong Kong, developing a website endorsed by professional dieticians to give women access to healthy, nutritious at-home dining recipes and tips for eating well when dining out during pregnancy.

The programme, called ‘Anmum You & B’, also offers access to fine dining seminars where pregnant women can receive personalised food and nutrition advice from certified dieticians.

The programme’s introductory video was viewed more than 1.5 million times in one week – accounting for more than half of the 3.5 million females living in Hong Kong. . .

Te Aroha owners take role in governing their land:

Over 2000 owners of Te Aroha Aggregation farm in Waihi are celebrating a major milestone in its development, with an open day on Saturday. The day signifies the start of responsibility for the farm being passed back to the owners.

For the last three years, owners and trustees of the Māori-owned dairy farm have been supported by Te Tumu Paeroa to develop the skills and experience in governance so they can self-manage the successful enterprise.

Since 1989, Te Tumu Paeroa have been responsible trustee to Te Aroha Aggregation. Saturday’s ceremony signifies an important step for owners in the transition of management responsibility to them. . . 

Breakthrough genetics looking at cutting nitrogen leaching by 20% in NZ – CRV Ambreed:

CRV Ambreed has made a genetic discovery that it anticipates will result in a more sustainable dairy industry and potentially reduce nitrogen leaching on New Zealand farms by 20% within 20 years.

In what’s thought to be an international first, the dairy herd improvement company has announced it will market bulls that are desirable for traditional traits as well as being genetically superior for a new trait that is related to urea nitrogen in milk.

CRV Ambreed is now selling semen from bulls whose daughters will have reduced concentration of Milk Urea Nitrogen (MUN) under a LowN Sires™ brand. MUN is a measure of the amount of nitrogen contained as milk urea, and CRV Ambreed R&D Manager Phil Beatson says there’s overwhelming international evidence of a direct connection between MUN and the amount of nitrogen excreted in urine when fed different diets.  . . 

 


Rural round-up

March 28, 2017

NZ primary sector commentators argue for genetic modification –  Gerard Hutching:

New Zealand could not pretend to be an agricultural Silicon Valley if it did not embrace genetic modification, farming leader Malcolm Bailey has said.

“It would be Silicon Valley without the silicon,” he told the Future Farms conference being held in Palmerston North.

Bailey, who is chairman of the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand and former Federated Farmers president, said there were a number of different types of GM. He was not advocating the use of transgenics, where genes from a plant are mixed with those from an animal. . .

Elite soils sprouting houses – Bernard Orsman:

Pukekohe market gardeners, the Bhana family, live in a rural zone but across the road houses are sprouting up on a paddock they were cropping potatoes two years ago.

In the past 10 years, about 16 per cent of Pukekohe’s dark brown, volcanic soil has been taken over for houses, and more is under threat from the city’s new planning rulebook.

More than 5000 new houses are in the pipeline in Pukekohe and neighbouring Paerata – and another 9000 are planned in the two areas over the next decade.

“We are genuinely worried the elite soils are getting eaten up for housing,” says Bharat Bhana, whose family have been growing vegetables in Pukekohe since 1957. . . 

Dam water would be useful in an emergency – Steve Wyn-Harris:

I am a sheep and beef farmer and was on the farm on Monday the 13th just gone.

When Jamie Mackay of The Country radio show rang me at midday for our regular chat on farming in Hawke’s Bay and wanted to talk about the drought I told him and his listeners that we had a far more pressing situation to discuss.

I spoke that in 33 years of farming I had never been more alarmed at the risk of fire. Conditions out on my farm and elsewhere were terrifying.

The wind was blowing around 100km. It was hot. Very hot, over 30 degrees. Humidity was very low with the air flow coming across from a scorching and dry Australia. And there was plenty of fuel on ground and dry scrub and trees. I said folk needed to take great care not to use machinery or anything that could cause sparks. . . 

Special gene makes heat-resistant cows – Alexa Cook:

A New Zealand company has produced a new breed of dairy cow which can keep producing decent amounts of milk in hot and humid conditions.

Most cows struggle to maintain milk production if they are under stress from heat. The “Slick” gene bulls are believed to be the first type of dairy bull in New Zealand to pass on heat tolerance to their daughters.

The bulls are named Slick Pathos, Slick Eros and his brother, Slick Himeros, after the Greek gods of love and sexual desire. Their genetics have been 10 years in the making.

New Zealand company Dairy Solutionz and STGenetics launched their Kiwipole breed in the US at the Tulare World Ag Expo. . . 

Living Water and Fonterra Farmers help give more Kiwi a safe haven:

Two more kiwi have found a safe haven in Northland thanks,in part, to a group of Fonterra farmers and Fonterra’s Living Water partnership with the Department of Conservation. 

The two birds, Geoff and Charlie, were transferred from Limestone Island near Whangarei to the Tanekaha Community Pest Control Area last weekend to join 12 others released there about a year ago.

Fonterra farmers have worked for years to rid stoats and other predators from the area, work that has been part-funded in over the past two years by the Living Water partnership. . . 

Fonterra’s Australian Business is on Track And Investing for the Future:

Fonterra’s Australian business is in good shape and performing well, says Fonterra Australia managing director René Dedoncker.

The Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd announced its half-year results for its global operations, posting a NZD$418 million net profit after tax, up two per cent.

Fonterra Australia has contributed to this overall result which René says comes on the back of “all the hard work with our turnaround, making sure we’re focussing on areas where we have a clear advantage.

“We had to make tough decisions with our transformation. Our three businesses are now delivering good results for us, although there are headwinds ahead,” René says. . . 

 


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