Rural round-up

July 9, 2014

Thoughts from the UK – Alan Barber:

While in the UK briefly last week I spent a couple of nights with an old university friend who actually got a First in Agriculture at Cambridge which was the best degree achieved by any of my friends or, not surprisingly, me. He farms near the M4 in Berkshire less than 100 kilometres from London.

As usual when I see him, we were chatting about the state of agriculture in our respective countries. He asked me whether I needed a ‘pommie farmer whinge’ to provide some material for a column, so not unnaturally I told him to go ahead. His first complaint was about the amount of New Zealand lamb competing with British lamb in the supermarkets. I suggested the view back home was the natural seasonal fit of New Zealand product didn’t really cut across, but rather complemented, the seasonal availability of British lamb. . .

Professional Foresters Award Their Achievers:

Leaders in the forestry industry were recognised at the New Zealand Institute of Forestry’s annual awards dinner held in Napier last night.

Forester of the Year was awarded to Paul Nicholls, managing director of Rayonier NZ,for outstanding service to the forestry industry.

The award is one of the highest accolades in the industry, recognising contribution, leadership, excellence and integrity. . . .

 Agrarian socialism’s sticky end? – David Leyonhjelm :

THE sugar industry is notorious for attaching itself to the public teat. Concentrated in several marginal seats along the Queensland coast, it has a long history of extracting taxpayer subsidies when prices are down, coercing governments into mandatory use of ethanol in fuel, and blocking imports of both sugar and ethanol.

Most famously, a decade ago it received hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to help it restructure in the face of low prices. Prices bounced back soon after the scheme commenced and, apart from the impact of abolition of the single desk in 2006, not a lot of restructuring occurred. They kept the money though.

A major controversy has now erupted as a result of the decision by the sugar processing company Wilmar to sell all its sugar direct to international customers rather than via the grower-owned marketing organisation, Queensland Sugar Limited (QSL), beginning in 2017. This has prompted another processor, Thai-owned MSF Sugar, to suggest it may follow suit. True to form, there are numerous calls for regulators and governments to intervene. A horde of politicians, including the Queensland Minister for Agriculture, is taking a close interest. . . .

 Environmental support for sheep and beef farmers:

Sheep and beef farmers will have a stronger voice in the regions on environmental issues, through an agreement between Federated Farmers and Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has added a regional policy capacity to its national and international policy activities directed at sustainability, through a contract with Federated Farmers to use its regional policy network.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive, Dr Scott Champion said: “Federated Farmers has an excellent regional network. Rather than duplicate that, we’ve reached an agreement to use its resources on regional environmental issues.

“We think this is the most efficient way of using sheep and beef farmers’ money to strengthen our voice in this important area.” . .

Genetics used to combat facial eczema:

Dairy farmers battling the devastating livestock disease facial eczema are getting help from scientists and a cattle breeding company.

Facial eczema is a fungal disease spread from spores in pasture. It can kill livestock and is estimated to cost dairy farmers about $160 million a year in lost milk production.

AgResearch and CRV Ambreed, with the backing of DairyNZ, are taking a genetics approach by breeding dairy cattle that are more resistant to the disease. . .

Clue to late puberty in sheep discovered by AgResearch:

A needle-in-a-haystack search for the genetic cause of delayed puberty in a flock of Romney ewes has paid off for a team of AgResearch scientists.

Understanding what regulates the arrival of puberty is important for livestock breeding as well as human health.

Researchers in AgResearch’s Animal Reproduction team at Invermay had noticed that late puberty was a family trait in their research flock. This caused the late developers to miss out on lambing during what could be their first breeding season. They had previously demonstrated that late developers also produce fewer lambs during their lifespans. . .

Rural talent on display in Lincoln:

Every year New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF) members from across the country come together to catch up, cheer on their Grand Finalist at the ANZ Young Farmer Contest, compete in the clay target shooting, fencing and stock judging national finals and attend the Annual General Meeting.

The top scoring competitors from the regional levels represented their regions as they battled it out for top place at the finals in Lincoln University, Friday 4 July.

The winner of the Gun City Clay Target Shooting Final was Waikato/Bay of Plenty’s Jeffrey Benson of the Hamilton City Young Farmers Club followed by Isaac Billington of the South Waikato Club and in third place was Otago/Southland representative, Brendon Clark of the Tokomairiro Club. . .


Rural round-up

July 15, 2012

New NZ Infant formula using NZ food safety for Kiwi babies, to market in China:

New Zealand’s strong food safety and consumer demand for quality is the starting point for a new venture – selling New Zealand infant formula, developed for Kiwi babies, into the Chinese market.

In July Carrickmore Infant Formula is being launched in both New Zealand and China. This launch will highlight both New Zealand’s strict food safety laws and clean green reputation.

Carrickmore Nutrition Managing Director, Chris Claridge, said “There are Chinese-owned and a few New Zealand owned milk powder companies selling NZ originated Infant formulas however, the fact we’re selling formula made from fresh New Zealand milk to our children as well as those in the rest of the world, shows the confidence we have in our product.  . .

Blue Sky posts loss as export prices dive:

Blue Sky Meats, the Invercargill-based meat processor, has posted a full-year loss after export prices plummeted in the second half, squeezing margins for companies who started the season with “unrealistic” opening schedules for lamb.

The net loss was $449,149 in the 12 months ended March 31, from a profit of about $3.69 million a year earlier, the company said in a statement.

Sales rose about 13 per cent to $114.2m while expenses climbed 22 per cent to $114.8m.

“International market prices for almost all items that the company sells reduced at an alarming rate from November to March, against a background of EU financial challenges,” chairman Graham Cooney said. . .

Predicting river flows in ungauged river catchments,from New Zealand to the world– Waiology:

Our knowledge of the water cycle is imperfect – for example we don’t have data for all rivers across the landscape, and yet so often we want river flow information for resource and hazard management purposes. In the absence of direct data, then, we turn to models and seek to make hydrological predictions in these ungauged river basins.

Predictions in Ungauged Basins (PUB) is an IAHS initiative operating throughout the decade of 2003-2012, established with the primary aim of reducing uncertainty in hydrological predictions. It is a ‘grass-roots’ science movement intended to engage the interest of hydrologists around the world, and has grown to encompass an enormous variety of approaches and settings. . .

New Zealand gingerly navigates a global dairy crisis:

This year is shaping up as a bumpy one for the international dairy industry, with the worst U.S. drought since Ronald Reagan was president and thousands of European dairy farmers taking to the streets in protest.

“We seem to be staring down the barrel of a global dairy crisis, which could benefit New Zealand’s dairy farmers,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers dairy chairperson.

“An act of nature in the United States and subsidies elsewhere are putting dairy farmers under the most unimaginable pressure. WeatherWatch’s Philip Duncan says half of the continental United States is now in drought. . .

Peel Forest Estate buys Winderemere Stud:

Peel Forest Estate, based in South Canterbury, has announced today that it has purchased the Pure Warnham and Warnham-Woburn breeding herd along with selected sires, semen, embryos and the Windermere name from the award winning Windermere Red Deer Stud near Hamilton.

Windermere stud has been specialising in breeding for superior velvet genetics for nearly twenty five years providing outstanding sires to the deer industry with a high degree of consistency and reliability. . .

Vidal Estate Winery wins Beef & Lamb Excellence People’s Choice Award:

The people have chosen – Vidal Estate Winery in Hastings has been named winner of the Hawkes Bay People’s Choice Award, recognising its excellence in beef and lamb cuisine.

Over 500 diners in Hawkes Bay have spent the past month scoring their beef or lamb dishes in their favourite Beef & Lamb Excellence Award restaurant in the region, with Vidal Estate Winery taking out top honours. . .

Rural sales ease as winter begins:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 13 more farm sales (+3.3%) for the three months ended June 2012 than for the three months ended June 2011. Overall, there were 406 farm sales in the three months to end of June 2012, compared with 467 farm sales in the three months to May 2012, an decrease of 61 sales (-13.1%). On a seasonally adjusted basis, after accounting for normal seasonal fluctuations, the number of sales fell by 6.8%.

1,413 farms were sold in the year to June 2012, 47.2% more than were sold in the year to June 2011.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to June 2012 was $17,565; a 12.8% increase on the $15,568 recorded for three months ended June 2011, and an increase of 3.1% on the $17,031 recorded for the three months to May 2012. . .

NZIF Forester of the Year:

The New Zealand Institute of Forestry Forester of the Year Award for 2012 was presented to Mr Brett Gilmore, a Registered Forester from Napier at the Institute’s annual conference in Christchurch last week.

Announcing the recipient of this prestigious award, President of the Institute, Dr Andrew McEwen, noted that the award recognises leadership, excellence and personal integrity. Consideration is given to the nominee’s contribution to New Zealand’s economic, social and environmental development, the use of innovation and new technologies or the creation of a new product or business of significance to forestry. Further consideration is given to professional and academic achievements, broad community involvement, cultural and other achievements. . .


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