Rural round-up

03/02/2016

Booklet kicks off Fonterra structure review – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s farmer-shareholders have received a preliminary booklet on the co-operative’s governance and representation, raising many questions but not providing answers.  

It begins a five-month journey to a revised structure more appropriate for Fonterra’s size, complexity and global ambitions.  Farmer-shareholders will be expected to contribute to the review and vote on the final proposal in May. . . 

Rabobank announces new head of Food & Agri Research:

Rabobank Australia & New Zealand Group has announced the appointment of Tim Hunt as new General Manager of its Food & Agribusiness Research (FAR) division.

Mr Hunt takes on the role after five years with Rabobank in New York, where he served in the international position of Global Strategist – Dairy.

In his new role, Mr Hunt will lead Rabobank’s highly-regarded food and agri commodities research team – comprising 10 specialist analysts – in New Zealand and Australia. . . 

Alliance drafter has eye for winner – Sally Rae:

Warwick Howie received a little good-natured ribbing when he won the Paddock to Plate competition at the recent Otago-Taieri A&P Show.

Mr Howie, a drafter for Alliance Group, laughed that he had ‘‘copped a bit of flak” following the victory.

The competition, which attracted 41 entries, has become an annual fixture at the show, with proceeds going to the A&P Society. . . 

Course already tidy for Legends – Sally Rae,

When it comes to maintaining the Tokarahi golf course, greenkeeper Marty McCone has the same philosophy as for his farm – he likes it tidy all the time.

So preparing for this month’s PGA Legends Tour, which is returning to Tokarahi for the second year, did not require an extraordinarily massive effort.

‘‘I try and keep the course up to speed all the time. There’s a lot of little things you do to have it really tip-top,” Mr McCone said. . . 

Synlait revises milk price forecast to $4.20:

Synlait Milk has revised its forecast milk price for the 2015 / 2016 season from $5.00 per kgMS[1] to $4.20 per kgMS.

Chairman Graeme Milne said the revision is driven by the sustained low global commodity prices since September 2015, and a view that the recovery will be slower than anticipated.

“Our previous forecast of $5.00 kgMS expected prices to recover somewhat by this stage in the season, however this hasn’t happened and our revised forecast reflects this,” said Mr Milne. . . 

World Wetlands Day celebrated:

World Wetlands Day is a chance for New Zealanders to find out more about some of the country’s most important natural treasures, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry and Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner say.

To mark the day the Department of Conservation has released a new online resource,Our Estuaries, to help people explore and look after the wetland environment.

“New Zealand has more than 300 estuaries, and they are home to a wide range of native plants, fish and birds,” Ms Barry says. . . 

Rethink needed over dairy farm planting incentives:

The cost and benefits of planting trees to help mitigate environmental effects of dairy farming need to be shared by us all for it to succeed, a new study says.

Evaluation of an agri-environmental program for developing woody green infrastructure within pastoral dairy landscapes: A New Zealand case study says Government incentive programs are ineffective in overcoming barriers to planting such as the higher cost and slow growth of native plants, and the perception of planting being of little direct benefit to farmers’ operations.

Lead author, Lincoln University Landscape Ecology Senior Lecturer, Dr Wendy McWilliam, says the Government and the dairy industry need to work closely together to develop and maintain a landscape-scaled woody vegetation network on both private and public land. . .

Forestry show NZ way to better safety:

A sharp drop in forestry deaths and serious injuries after a massive safety overhaul in 2014 shows what can be achieved when an industry joins together to make improvements, the Business Leaders’ Health and Safety Forum says.

The fall is welcome and sets an example for other industries to follow, says Forum Executive Director Francois Barton.

“Forestry has shown us some of the things that need to be done to bring down high fatality and serious injury rates in an industry,” Francois says. . . 

Good Progress – But More Work to Do to Make Forestry Safe:

A reduction in deaths and serious injuries in forestry since 2013 is encouraging but there is more work to be done yet, the Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC) says.

WorkSafe figures show serious injuries halved to 78 in 2015 from 160 in 2013, FISC National Safety Director Fiona Ewing says.

“The trend is going in the right direction but we can’t rest on our laurels. Three forestry workers died in 2015. That’s well down on the 10 who died in 2013 but it’s up from just one in 2014.. . .

Irrigation scheme loan approved:

An $8 million loan from the Selwyn District Council means design of stage two of a multi-million dollar irrigation scheme can go ahead.

The council approved the loan to Central Plains Water last month, with the money expected to transfer over next week.

But a community group told RNZ News rate payers should not be lending money to fund a private shareholder scheme. . .

Ruataniwha Dam: Investor mix still being finalised:

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s investment company (HBRIC) says work on getting farmers to sign up to buy water from the proposed Ruataniwha Dam is on hold until the project’s investor mix becomes clearer.

HBRIC has been looking for institutional investors to put money into the dam since Trustpower and Ngai Tahu pulled out in early 2014, saying the risks surrounding the dam were too high and the returns too low.

The company said it had countersigned contracts for 31 million cubic metres of water with a minimum of 45 million cubic metres needed to be sold to make construction financially viable.

It said finalising the investor mix for the Ruataniwha Dam was its current focus. . . 

Global slump in fert prices benefits NZ farmers:

New Zealand farmers stand to benefit from significant savings on their farm nutrient inputs with Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ latest round of price reductions, effective 31 January.

The price review sees urea drop $50 to $525, DAP reduce $25 per tonne, sulphate of ammonia by $15 and potash by $10. These changes will flow through to product blends.

Ballance CEO Mark Wynne says the move comes on the back of a global slump in fertiliser prices, driven by strong supply and soft demand. . . 

Lowest urea price since 2007:

Farmers stand to benefit from a $50 per tonne saving for urea from 1st February, when Ravensdown will drop its prices.

Chief Executive Greg Campbell says he is pleased that Ravensdown is again leading on a price reduction for farmers who are facing increasing costs in many aspects of their business whilst their returns are under pressure.

“We said it not long ago, with our recent superphosphate cap,” Greg says, “that we are about delivering all-year value to our shareholders, and we’re demonstrating it again with urea and other products.” . . 


Rural round-up

10/04/2015

No 1080 found in 100,000 plus tests:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has carried out more than 100,000 tests since a threat to contaminate infant formula but none has detected any trace of 1080, it says.

It is almost a fortnight since the deadline imposed by a blackmailer threatening to contaminate infant formula with the pesticide.

The ministry began its testing in mid-January, after the threat was made. . .

Dairy farm’s boss has eye for talent – Sue O’Dowd:

The 2015 Taranaki Farm Manager of the Year is on track for his second record production season on a Central Taranaki dairy farm.

Lance Chadwick is in his second season as manager of a 115ha (effective) Toko property owned by farm consultant Brendan Attrill and wife Susan Mundt.

Chadwick’s win is also the second successive Taranaki Dairy Awards title with which Attrill has a connection.

The 2014 Taranaki and New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year winners, Jody and Charlie McCaig, were variable order sharemilkers on the Taranaki Community Rugby Trust Farm supervised by Attrill when they won both titles last year. . .

Stay safe on quads:

Farmers are being urged to take special care on quad-bikes after two fatalities this week. A farmer died on his Wairarapa farm on Tuesday, while a 17-year-old died today on a farm in Kaikohe.

“These two tragic events are a reminder to the farming community that while quad-bikes are a useful tool on the farm, they need to be used safely,” says Francois Barton, Manager of National Programmes at WorkSafe New Zealand.

“Five people died on quad-bikes in 2014 and many were seriously harmed. Using a quad safely comes down to the attitude of the user, their safety practices, making safe choices and using the bike responsibly.” . .

Former rural reporter becomes a dairy farmer in New Zealand Angela Owens and Sally Bryant:

It is not common to hear of young people leaving a successful career to go into farming but it is a move that has worked for one former journalist.

Former ABC Radio journalist Brad Markham worked in rural New South Wales and then became the state political reporter in Tasmania before throwing down the microphone and pulling on the gumboots.

Mr Markham grew up on a dairy farm, but chose a life in media and was having considerable success in that field. . .

Free workshops to up-skill NAIT users:

Farmers are being encouraged to get along to a series of workshops on how to use OSPRI’s National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) programme.

The workshops have been tailored to beef, deer and lifestyle farmers, and will provide a hands-on, interactive two-hour experience using NAIT’s online system.

OSPRI Acting Chief Executive Stu Hutchings said the workshops aim to help new users of the NAIT system and those needing a refresher course. The feedback to date from farmers who have attended a workshop has been overwhelmingly positive.

“The NAIT programme is critical to biosecurity and market access. To be effective, we need all cattle and deer tagged and registered with NAIT as well as up to date data on their location and movements,” said Dr Hutchings. . .

New manager to strengthen DairyNZ’s Forage Value Index:

The addition of persistence and metabolisable energy (ME) traits to the DairyNZ Forage Value Index (FVI) are seen as key targets for Cameron Ludemann in his new role as Forage Value Manager.

Cameron, originally from a mixed farm in mid-Canterbury, joins DairyNZ having submitted his PhD thesis last year at the University of Melbourne.

In his thesis he assessed the value of changes in perennial ryegrass traits for Australian dairy farmers. The work was funded through the Dairy Futures Co-operative Research Centre.

A major component of Cameron’s thesis was the assessment of the value of improvements in the ME concentration trait in perennial ryegrass for Australian dairy farmers. . .

 Final Results in Kiwifruit Grower Referendum Confirmed:

The final results in the Kiwifruit Industry Strategy Project (KISP) referendum have now been officially confirmed by election management company Electionz.

KISP’s independent Chair, Neil Richardson, said that the official results have changed very little from the interim results and now they have been confirmed, the industry’s focus will turn to implementing the recommendations.

“With the official final results showing over 90% support for each recommendation in the referendum, including 97% support for the industry’s single point of entry structure, growers have sent a very clear message to the Government, Zespri, and New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc (NZKGI) on how they want their industry to be structured and controlled. . .

 

 


$40,000 fines too much

18/12/2014

Federated Farmers believes farm safety isn’t helped by punitive fines:

Federated Farmers Health and Safety spokesperson, Katie Milne says she is concerned about the impact of the $40,000 fine for a Marlborough farm couple, who weren’t wearing helmets and carrying children as passengers.

The Court case, and subsequent ruling, runs the risk of alienating farmers who will see the fines as heavy handed and excessive. It will make it so much harder to get the right health and safety messages across if the primary sector is sceptical as to what is occurring.

“No one wants to see serious accidents and deaths. We need good information and evidence in the public domain that not only drives the identification of major health and safety risks, but subsequently the priorities, education and persuasion to change behaviour.”

“There needs to be a real focus on good outcomes.”

Katie Milne says Federated Farmers has recently been working closely with WorkSafe New Zealand to improve farm safety.

“WorkSafe have been saying to us that they want to avoid heavy handed actions and put a high value on education and persuasion.  We will be talking to them about how this is done more effectively.”

“Farmers can improve their safety performance.  And we will not be fooling ourselves into thinking that only other people have accidents or that there is no inherent risk in farm environments or work.”

She concluded “Fundamentally, safety is enhanced by concentrating on outcomes, increased awareness, and changing behaviour.  This sort of public issue is just going to get farmers’ backs up and make them feel picked on – not make them safer farm operators, which is what we want.”

Quad bikes are dangerous and the couple had received several warnings though there are two sides to the story of those warnings:

. . . But Carlson – who became the first woman to win the West Coast Top of the South Farm Manager of the Year in 2010 – says the fine is unfair and accused WorkSafe of not doing its job properly.

“I don’t think $40,000 is fair,” she told Radio Live.

“If you put it in perspective with other offences like drink driving, where you are putting other people at risk … it’s ridiculous and out of proportion.”

WorkSafe says even after a prohibition notice was issued, Carlson was caught twice riding her quad bike without a helmet and on the second occasion she had two children with her.

Carlson said the agency has been inconsistent in the advice it gave her.

“If they had done their job properly we’d never be in this position,” she said.

It wasn’t the requirement to wear helmets that she disagrees with, but the way it was enforced, said Carlson.

“They want to take people to court to make an example of them.

“I totally see their point, that helmets have a place on a quad bike and I think everybody should be wearing it.”

WorkSafe NZ spokesman Francois Barton said it could not ignore Jones’ and Carlson’s wilful refusal to meet their legal obligations. . .

Whatever the advice, $40,000 – $20,000 each –  does seem to be a very steep fine.


Rural round-up

26/02/2014

Govt invests $540,000 in Lake Horowhenua clean-up:

Environment Minister Amy Adams has today announced the Government will invest $540,000 towards cleaning up Lake Horowhenua.

Combined with funding from Horizon’s Regional Council and Horowhenua District Council, as well as in-kind contributions from Dairy NZ and the Tararua Growers’ Association, the total funding for the project will be $1.27 million.

The project will improve the water quality through sediment and nutrient management on the lake and its tributaries, improving water quality for recreation and wild life.

The project includes stream fencing, planting, building a wetland, harvesting lake weeds, and developing farm plans. . .

Irrigation supplies shut-down begins:

Irrigation water supplies to some parts of Marlborough are being shut down as the continuing hot, dry weather takes its toll on river levels.

The Marlborough District Council is advising property owners that water for irrigation is being shut off to about 5000 hectares of farmland and vineyards along the Wairau River.

Further Wairau consents, including all those from the Southern Valleys Irrigation Scheme, were expected to be cut off by today.

Waihopai consents will be suspended in the next day or two.

The shutdown is necessary slightly earlier than last year because there has been no real rain since Christmas. . .

 

Safety group astonished as farmers flout helmet law – Sue O’Dowd:

Worksafe New Zealand has savaged organisers of a farmers’ day out for failing to require helmets on quad bikes in Taranaki hill country.

About 200 people visited Aotuhia Station when Beef + Lamb New Zealand – the farmer-owned industry organisation representing New Zealand’s sheep and beef farmers – hosted what it called a Big Day Out last week.

Only about five people on a cavalcade of bikes touring the 2240ha Aotuhia Station, 65km east of Stratford, wore helmets, and many riders carried passengers.

Worksafe New Zealand would have issued enforcement notices to the organisers, those not wearing helmets and those carrying passengers if it had been there, quad bike national programme manager Francois Barton said yesterday. . . .

Eyes wide open – James Houghton:

Employment relationships are a key factor in setting a positive working environment and ensuring your farm is productive. The general work relationships in rural New Zealand have been traditionally informal. This has had to change with stronger workplace protection for employees.  It means the farm employer has had to learn new skills, involving contractual agreements and human resources.

When it comes to dairy agreements with sharemilkers, who are arguably what makes New Zealand dairying so successful; there have been breakdowns between some employers and their sharemilker.  Sharemilking is a hybrid between self-employment and employment but that hasn’t stopped some harsh treatments of sharemilkers. Such as an employer not honouring either a handshake agreement or misusing clauses in their agreement, which causes sheer misery for the sharemilker involved.

Over the past year, Federated Farmers has been revising the industry standard Herd Owing Sharemilking Agreement, looking to remove outdated clauses and with it, issues within the industry like harsh treatment, which may deter new entrants. . .

Strong growth and profitability increases from PGG Wrightson:

PGG Wrightson Ltd* (PGW) has announced a strong half-year performance under its new Chief Executive.

For the six-months ended 31 December 2013, PGW achieved operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Operating EBITDA)** of $22.3 million, up from $18.0 million for the corresponding period last year.

Mark Dewdney, who took up the role of PGW Chief Executive on 1 July 2013, called it a strong result with increases recorded across most areas of the business. . .

New Zealand Drives Global Pet Addiction:

Imagine a Singaporean company making premium pet food from possums in the Bay of Plenty and exporting successfully for eight years. That’s what Jerel Kwek of Addiction Foods has accomplished, along with a vision to improve pet nutrition globally.

While cats and dogs around the world have fallen for Addiction, it’s only now with a recent plant upgrade in Te Puke that Kwek can make his natural NZ pet food available in the NZ market.

Addiction use a selection of premium proteins and game meats, including New Zealand possum to produce a range of dry and raw dehydrated natural foods designed to prevent allergies and promote long-term health in cats and dogs. . .

Loan package to grow pasture productivity:

New Zealand’s largest rural lender today launched a lending package for farmers wanting toboost farm productivity by improving pasture and forage growth.

ANZ Bank’s Pasture Productivity Loan offers an interest rate of 4%* p.a with a maximumloan amount of $100,000. The maximum loan term is five years, principal reducing, andthere are no establishment fees.

“Renewing pasture and forage is one of the key things red meat farmers can do to improveproductivity and profit,” said Graham Turley, ANZ Managing Director Commercial & Agri. . .


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