Rural round-up

July 17, 2015

Fonterra shares first results of business review:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited has provided a further update on its business review.

Chief Executive Theo Spierings said the Co-operative’s leadership was developing initiatives to deliver value right across the organisation.
“The key aims of the review are to ensure that the Co-operative is best placed to successfully deliver its strategy, increase focus on generating cash flow, and implement specific, sustainable measures for enhancing efficiency. . .

Fonterra top brass on notice from farmers as 523 jobs go in shake-up – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Federated Farmers says top management should be leaving Fonterra Cooperative Group if results don’t start improving in the next couple of years.

The comments, from Fed Farmers dairy chair Andrew Hoggard, were in response to the confirmation today by the world’s largest dairy exporter that it will cut 523 jobs to save up to $60 a million a year on its payroll in the first swathe of a major review of the business. Hoggard said he hoped the job losses were part of a wider strategy to redirect resources in new areas rather than a knee-jerk reaction to cut costs as dairy prices continue to fall.

“Fonterra has had a history of knee-jerk reactions like that where it gets rid of a whole bunch of people and then two years later hires them back again, or rather having got rid of people with institutional knowledge, they hire new graduates who can’t do as good a job,” he said. . .

Waipaoa Station moulds young farm cadets for workforce – Kate Taylor:

The physical nature of the work means some farm cadets he works with fill out and some get lean but they all change, says Waipaoa Station stock manager Jerry Cook.

The station and the Waipaoa Farm Cadet Training Trust welcomes five new cadets every year for two years – all straight out of school.

“They come in as kids and leave ready for the workforce. They might arrive still with a bit of puppy fat at 17 and leave two years later toned and strong and armed with the right skills to go farming as adults.” . . .

New Ospri head sees big opportunities ahead – Gerald Piddock:

New Ospri chief executive Michelle Edge has some bold visions for where she sees the organisation making a greater contribution to New Zealand agriculture.

Edge started her new role in May and said there were exciting opportunities ahead for Ospri’s (Operational Solutions for Primary Industries) two wholly-owned subsidiaries TBfree New Zealand and NAIT (National Animal Identification and Tracing).

“There’s also a range of business development prospects on the horizon,” she said. . .

 Enterprising Rural Women Awards open for 2015:

Entries have opened for the 2015 Enterprising Rural Women Awards (ERWA) offering women who run their own rural businesses the opportunity to boost their profiles and gain recognition for their achievements.

“This year is very special as we have a lot of interest in the awards and we’re already fielding enquiries from women keen to enter,” says Rural Women NZ national president, Wendy McGowan.

Last year’s supreme winners, Keri Johnston and Haidee McCabe from Irricon Resource Solutions have come on board as sponsors. They are enthusiastic about the awards and want to encourage other women in rural businesses to have an opportunity to get the benefits that their business has gained since winning in 2014.

The future of Fijian sugar cane industry not so sweet:

Fiji’s National Farmers Union says the future of the country’s sugar cane industry could be in doubt.

The country’s cane farmers have begun harvesting however many are facing delays of up to six months due to labour shortages.

The union estimates up to 40 percent of the country’s harvesting labour gangs aren’t operating as they are unable to find enough people to fill them. . .

Weaker NZ Dollar Helps Lift Value of Meat Exports:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand compiles lamb, mutton and beef export statistics for the country. The following is a summary of the first nine months of the 2014-15 meat export season (1 October 2014 to 30 June 2015).

Summary

Over the first nine months of this season, beef and veal returns and volumes have been higher than lamb and mutton.

Because of the significant size of the market, changes in Chinese demand – specifically, less lamb and mutton and more beef – impacted across all categories of New Zealand meat exports.

Meanwhile, the USD / NZD exchange rate averaged 0.76 in the first nine months of the current season, compared with 0.84 over the same period last season – a 10 per cent drop. This NZD weakness contributed significantly to this season’s higher average export values across all products. . .

 

LIC sires named best in season:

Two of LIC’s artificial breeding bulls were named sires of the season by Jersey and Holstein-Friesian breed societies at their annual conferences last month.

South Land Jericho received Jersey New Zealand’s JT Thwaites Sire of the Season award and San Ray FM Beamer received Holstein-Friesian New Zealand’s Mahoe Trophy.

LIC bull acquisition manager, Malcolm Ellis, said it is an honour for the co-op’s sires to be recognised by the societies again, after LIC sires took out both awards last year also. . .

Carrfields Group brand to commence market rollout :

The Carrfields Group brand will begin a market rollout from August 2015 and will be fully integrated across the New Zealand agrimarket by December 2015.

Carrfields is borne from the Carr Group’s acquisition of the Elders New Zealand business in August 2014. The name is representative of the South Island based Carr family who have farmed and built the Carr Group of companies over the past forty years from the fields of the Canterbury region. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

May 16, 2015

Farmer carried heavy guilt over worker’s fatal farm bike crash – Gerald Piddock:

It has been almost two years since one of Peter Walters’ staff was killed in an accident.

Its effect and the guilt he feels for what happened impacted heavily on himself and his staff for months.

“It’s hard to describe just how responsible you feel in this situation as an employer. I felt so guilty.”

The staff member fell off his farm bike and landed on his head when travelling on the road to a nearby farm. The employee was not wearing a helmet.

Three days later the worker’s family turned off his life support system. . .

Desire drives top meat farmers – Neal Wallace:

Doomsayers preparing to read the Last Rites to the meat sector might be premature, with a new report saying the sector is alive and well.

It based its conclusions on the performances of the sector’s top farmers.

A financial study by ANZ of the top-performing 20% of red meat farming clients across all land types showed their performance was comparable with the top 20% of dairy farmers and, on some measures such as return on assets, they were outperforming their dairying neighbours.

But the performance gap between those top farmers and the rest had widened in the last 20 years as the very best benefited from challenging convention and grasping new technology. . . .

 

Most eligible rural bachelors announced :

The eight finalists for this year’s National Fieldays Rural Bachelor of the Year have been announced.

All eyes will be on the two Australian and six Kiwi bachelors as they put their skills, attitude and all-round charisma to the test in the ultimate battle to find fame, fortune and love.

The finalists selected are Craig Crampton from Foxton, Daniel Rogers from Telangatuk East, Victoria, Australia, Jarred Clode from Ashburton, Matt Barr from Whakatane, Mick Pearson from Tasmania, Australia, Sam McNair from Dannevirke, Toby How from Geraldine, and Tony Peake from Te Awamutu.

Budget back farmers says Barnaby – Barnaby Joyce:

HERE’S a little story about Jack and Diane. Two young farmers doing as best as they can. And if they sell $1.9 million of cattle and grain a year, or grapes and wine, or wool and lamb and their turnover is under $2 million then they have the benefit of record commodity prices and now have an overwhelming reason to invest in their farms to make it bigger for them and better for Australia.

From 1, July 2016, the fences they build are 100 per cent deductible in the first year. The water infrastructure and dams they put will also be immediately 100 per cent tax deductible. The silos and hay sheds they build can be written off over three years. . .

Help for Waikato farmers to reach water quality targets:

With land-based activities in the Waikato and Waipa river catchments due to face new targets and limits to protect water quality, farmers are being encouraged to be on the front foot over environment-related changes to their operations.

“Starting to think about and make changes on their properties now can help put farmers in the best possible position to operate under any new targets and limits that are introduced,” Waikato Regional Council’s land management advisory services team leader Alan Campbell said. . .


Rural round-up

May 4, 2015

Unlikely lower dairy payout will lead to immediate land use change – Allan Barber:

Previous downturns or relative changes in sector profitability have generally led to a change of land use; and because sheep farming was the predominant 20th century rural activity, land use change was usually to a form of farming other than sheep. Think forestry in the late 80s and 90s, dairy since the early years of this century, horticulture, grape growing and rural subdivision for lifestyle blocks since the 1980s.

Now the dairy payout has almost halved in 12 months because of global overcapacity and weaker economic conditions, the question arises whether there will be a flight from dairy, either back to sheep and beef or to one of the other agricultural options.

There are two main facts about the dairy sector: the current price is below the cost of production and global dairy production will continue to increase. There are also differing opinions about the implications of the price downturn and the prospect of improvement in the near future. . .

Dairy Awards Winners Lead Profitability Charge:

The winners of the 2015 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are ahead of the game in driving profitability on farms, during a forecast period of low milk payouts.

At Auckland’s Sky City Hotel last night, Justin and Melissa Slattery were named 2015 New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, James Foote became the 2015 New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year and James Davidson was announced 2015 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Judges say the winners were actively seeking to manage through tougher economic times in the dairy industry. “They are ahead of the game and are planning to ensure they will be profitable if the payout is bad,” Sharemilker/Equity Farmer contest head judge Mark Horgan says. “The whole group were focused on operating profitable systems.”

Some finalists were actively involved in trialling new grasses on their farms while all were monitoring stock liveweights to ensure they met targets for optimum reproductive performance. . .

 

Culverden sharemilkers win national dairy title – Gerald Piddock:

The 2015 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards winners are ahead of the game in driving profitability on farms, during a forecast period of low milk payouts.

Justin and Melissa Slattery, who farm in Culverden, North Canterbury, were named 2015 NZ Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year at the annual awards in Auckland on Saturday night.

James Foote was named 2015 NZ Farm Manager of the Year and James Davidson is the NZ Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The winners were actively seeking to manage through tougher economic times in the dairy industry, the awards judges said. . .

Nervous wait on backlogs – Nigel Stirling:

The United States’ emergence from its economic slumber looks certain to rev up beef prices again this year. First though, large inventories built up during last year’s ports strike will need to be worked through. 

Prices for imported cow and bull beef reached record highs of US$2.97/lb and US$3.17/lb respectively in November because of high consumer confidence and because the long-awaited rebuild in the domestic herd squeezed local supplies. . .

Vet LSD shows promise for cattle:

Farmers who have enjoyed improved flock performance using Vet LSD (Livestock Survival Drench) mineral supplement will welcome early trial results on its use in cattle.

Developed by respected Marlborough veterinarian Peter Anderson, Vet LSD is now recognised as the benchmark for quality mineral supplementation, providing a valuable boost to vitamin and trace element deficiencies.

Its success as a quality mineral supplement for sheep has made it a mainstay for farmers using it pre-mating to lift fertility performance and again at pre-lambing to boost lamb survivability. . .

 Tales of a bushman and businessman – Inga Stunzer:

DESPITE being softly spoken and self-deprecating, Tim Connolly has a mischievous twinkle in his eye that hints at a roguish past.

And this is all laid out in print in his self-published autobiography, Bushman Bullrider Bushman – well, let’s say a sanitised version of his life.

The title says it all. His book maps his life as a six-year-old on a remote property at the foot of the Carnarvon Ranges, to life on the professional bull-riding circuit in the US, to droving and working in the mines at Mt Isa.

Now living in Miriam Vale, Tim says the idea to write began about 30 years ago. . .

Harris Tweed – the wool to succeed – Victoria Moss:

Even through the clouds on a murky day, as your plane begins its descent, the islands of the Hebrides are breathtaking: the barren landscape, that mixture of vibrantly coloured furrows accented with heaps of peat, has an earthy beauty. Driving across the Isle of Lewis, you see a bare expanse dotted by small villages, the houses flecked in pebbledash, all built to endure their environment rather than to please the eye. But aesthetics have long had a home here. These undulating roads have welcomed Dame Vivienne Westwood (who apparently complains if she arrives in good weather, preferring the biblical wind, rain and hailstones that more fittingly frame these islands) and designers from Chanel, Comme des Garçons, Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen, as well as a harried employee from a Parisian fashion house sent here on a wait-and-return private jet to pick up a pre-fashion-week panic roll of Harris Tweed.  . .


Rural round-up

March 9, 2015

Scotsman wins Golden Shears open final:

The competition dubbed the ‘Wimbledon of shearing’ entered a new era at the weekend with the retirement of legend David Fagan and its first ever international winner.

Fagan, the long-standing champion, has 16 Golden Shears wins under his belt, but in the year of his retirement he did not make the final of the open event on Saturday.

Instead, he ended his 35 year career in the semi-finals, leaving the Masterton crowd to witness something the competition has never seen before in the 55 years it has been running.

In front of a full house of 1600 people, plus another 40,000 around the world who watched a live stream of the event, the Scottish national anthem rang out for the first time.

Scotsman Gavin Mutch, who now farms in Whangamomona in the King Country with his family, was initially lost for words at his win. . .

Hunter Downs water scheme a viable proposal – Annette Scott:

Proposers of a new $350 million irrigation scheme in South Canterbury have tagged their preferred option and unveiled the scheme costings.

The scheme proposes to irrigate 40,000ha from the Waitaki River.

Hunter Downs Irrigation chairman Andrew Fraser said its technical and economic feasibility had been confirmed with a second capital call going out before the end of this month. . .

Rules must be obeyed, ECan says – Annette Scott:

Rain that has fallen in the past two weeks has been welcome but has been no drought-breaker for parched Canterbury farmland.

As farmers desperately wait for nature to give them a much needed break, NIWA’s autumn forecast does come under a brighter rainbow for parched pastures and farmer anxiety as worst-decision time approaches.

A serious concern now is an autumn drought, which would be worse because there won’t be enough autumn growth to see livestock through winter. . .

Morrinsville sharemilker wins title –   Gerald Piddock:

Aaron Price is a young, fit, professional married man with a plan.

He is also the 2015 Waikato Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year winner, netting him $22,000 in prizes.

The 29 year old took out the major title at Friday night’s 2015 Waikato Dairy Industry Awards.

It was the fourth time he had entered the contest and had been runner-up twice.

Winning the title helped him achieve a short-term goal. . .

Bald Hills sold to overseas investor – Lynda Van Kempen:

Another Central Otago vineyard is changing hands to an overseas investor – the second this year.

The sale of Bald Hills, owned by Blair and Estelle Hunt, was approved by the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) this week.

The 11ha Bannockburn property has been bought by a Japanese investor, who has set up a company called Beecom (NZ) Ltd. . .

Planting an orchard to build a pre-school:

Planting an orchard as a marketing ploy – hardly from the pages of marketing textbooks but highly effective for the Pukeko Pre-School at Tauwhare, near Hamilton.

The recipients of a grant from Fonterra’s Grass Roots Foundation (as well as from the WEL Energy Trust), the pre-school kicked off its efforts to create a new $300,000 facility with a tree planting exercise late last year.

From the grants, the trust overseeing the new pre-school decided to plant about 45 trees – feijoas, blueberries, peaches, plums, apples, lemon, oranges, mandarins, limes, persimmons and some rosemary. A planting day involving about 40 parents and children saw the trees start their new lives after being purchased from a Te Aroha nursery. . .


Rural round-up

January 13, 2015

Z plant turns meat waste into diesel – Adrien Taylor:

Z Energy has started construction on a south Auckland plant to convert meat waste into biofuel.

The plant will produce 20 million litres of the fuel every year, but Z says that’s just the beginning of a green transition, if consumers want it.

In a University of Auckland lab, Z is developing what it hopes will be a growing part of the fuel mix it offers customers. The New Zealand company is converting waste fat from the meat industry, a green tallow, into a high-grade mineral diesel substitute – clear in colour.

Z says the biodiesel has a carbon footprint less than 10 percent the size of mineral diesel. . .

 NZ fights Illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean:

Foreign Minister Murray McCully today put illegal fishing vessels operating in the Southern Ocean on notice and vowed to take action against their owners.

“As part of a multi-agency operation, the HMNZS WELLINGTON has intercepted two vessels claiming to be flagged to Equatorial Guinea, fishing illegally in the Southern Ocean,” Mr McCully says.

“Fishing in this area is regulated by the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources and New Zealand conducts regular patrols in the Southern Ocean targeting illegal fishing operations.  . .

Hard to fight rural fires without water tanker – Bill Campbell:

Palmerston volunteer firefighters called to send a water tanker to a scrub fire at the weekend had one problem: they no longer have a tanker.

The tanker was taken out of service last month and might not be replaced before July 1, despite East Otago having one of the driest summers on record. . .

Police, farmer at odds over sheep rustling – Sue O’Dowd:

Police and a Stratford sheep farmer are at odds over the disappearance of stock from a backcountry farm. 

Ewes and lambs missing from Backvale Farms at Tututawa, 27km east of Stratford, have been returned by neighbours who found them among their own flocks, Detective Constable Glen Bosson, of Stratford, said. 

But while police believe that may have solved the missing sheep mystery, Backvale Farms spokesman Brendon Back said a further 247 ewes and their lambs were still missing. 

Between 350 and 400 in-lamb romney ewes disappeared from the farm last year between July 28, when there were 1310, and October 20, when there were only 936. . .

Using technology to grow company’s ‘golden goose’ – Gerald Piddock:

New Zealand knows how to produce large amounts of animal protein cheaply.

We excel at it and Waikato company Dairy SolutioNZ and its chief executive Derek Fairweather are leading the country in exporting this knowledge across the globe.

It was, he said, the biggest opportunity for New Zealand in terms of the knowledge economy.

“What knowledge that we have that is really valuable? That knowledge is how to turn grass into protein. We do that better than anyone in the world.”

Exporting New Zealand’s farming knowledge was a growing industry and while people quickly understood the idea, putting it into practise was difficult because farming was a conservative long-term business. . .

Years of dedication rewarded – Annette Scott:

When Jan Wills and her husband Barrie were married they followed the Wills family tradition of showing cattle at the local A&P shows.

The young couple soon realised an opportunity to breed their own cattle and being beef farmers surrounded by dairy farmers they themselves were a breed out on their own, Wills said. 

“We chose the Hereford because the quiet temperament of the breed suited our intensive farming style. With dairy all around us we were beef farmers in a pocket surrounded by dairy and growing. . . .


Rural round-up

September 14, 2014

No need for capital gains tax – experts – Andrea Fox:

Labour’s proposal to introduce a capital gains tax will reduce farmland values and add a new layer of bureaucracy but will give farm business succession planning a positive boost, tax experts say.

However, mostly it would simply duplicate taxes already enshrined in income tax law, they said.

Labour’s election policy promotes a capital gains tax from 2016 on property sales, including farmland, though not the farm family home. 

The party is targeting property speculators in the housing market, but farmers would be affected. . . .

We’re mobile milking – Milking on the Moove:

I’ve been milking for 3 weeks now and it’s been a hectic 3 weeks. I’ve finally got a moment for a quick update.

I’m really happy with how the cowshed is operating. The second hand milking plant runs really well, the cows are walking on to the cowshed happily & I’ve learned how to manoeuvre the cowshed through gateways and up and down hills, while keeping both gateways & the cowshed in one piece.

It’s funny how over the last year I have thought about how to design various parts of the cowshed & pondered every little detail. Yet it only took 10 minutes of the first milking for me realise I had made mistakes with the layout of equipment etc.”>I’ll be honest, the first milking did not go to plan. I have bought 7 Heifer cows. They had just calved and they have never being milked before let alone on a mobile trailer with no yards to contain them. . .

Environment research focus for red meat sector – Sue O’Dowd:

An organisation funded by the country’s sheep and beef farmers is doing its best to help them deal with the juggernaut that is the environment, says a director.

Beef+Lamb NZ (B+L NZ) director Kirsten Bryant was addressing this week’s annual meeting of the Western North Island Farmer Council (WNIFC) in Stratford.

Increasingly, B+L NZ was turning its attention to helping farmers manage the challenges of the environment.

“It’s like digging a hole and throwing money into it,” she said.

“But it’s not a conversation we can avoid. We want outcomes that are great for sheep and beef farmers and to show leadership around environmental responsibilities.” . . .

 WEL change opens door to PWC shareholding – Jackie Harrigan:

Wool Growers are no longer the only group allowed to own shares in wool investment holding company Wool Equities Ltd (WEL).

A special WEL meeting on Friday changed the constitution to allow share ownership by any entity engaged in wool activities, including woolgrowers, grower groups, trading entities, and wool processors.

The change was sought to allow WEL to issue 5% of its equity to grower group Primary Wool Co-operative (PWC) for $50,000. . .

Scholarship win scores US beef industry conference – Gerald Piddock:

King Country rural professional James Bryan will travel to the United States next month after being selected as an ambassador at this year’s Five Nations Beef Alliance conference and young leaders programme.

Bryan beat 13 other applicants to win the Beef + Lamb New Zealand scholarship, which covered the full cost of travelling to and attending the conference, to be held in Corpus Christi and Austin, Texas in October.

The scholarship is offered annually to New Zealanders aged 22-32, who are working in, and have a passion for, the beef industry. . .


Rural round-up

September 1, 2014

Agri-careers promoted – Sally Rae:

Agriculture is ”far more than milking cows and drafting sheep”.

That was the message from Jacqueline Rowarth, professor of agribusiness at Waikato University, to a group of Dunedin secondary school pupils last week.

”It’s everything that New Zealand does because New Zealand business is agribusiness … Our whole lifestyle is from what we export,” she said. . . .

Effluent making power, hot water :

Dairy effluent could be used as a source of heat and electricity on Southland dairy farms.

If trials are successful, the dairy farming waste product could become a valued resource in the future.

Monitoring at two farms in Dacre and Pukerau has shown that anaerobic digestion of dairy farm effluent in unheated effluent ponds, is consistently producing large volumes of methane, even during the cold conditions of the Southland winter. . .

Retiring Fonterra director looks for new challenges  – Gerald Piddock:

Jim van der Poel has lived and breathed Fonterra for more than a decade.

But after serving on the board of the country’s biggest company for 12 years, the Waikato farmer will step down as a director at Fonterra’s annual meeting in November.

A board member since 2002, van der Poel was immensely satisfied with the role he played in Fonterra’s development over the past decade. . .

No excuse now – Richard Rennie:

The right kit, the right market conditions, and high-quality supply mean there will be no excuses for Fonterra’s executive not to deliver higher dividends and milk prices to its shareholders.

Large-scale south Waikato farmer Ian Elliott believes that after last week’s $1.2 billion investment announcement into plant and Chinese market ventures, the company should be poised to achieve its full potential for New Zealand and farmer shareholders.

“Having investment into plants that can produce higher value products removes that last barrier to achieving the optimum returns for farmers,” Elliott said. . .

Time to leverage export dominance

Fonterra has given its value-creation wheel a strong crank by announcing more processing plant construction at home and a new joint venture with Beingmate, the No 1 infant formula company in China.

Its borrowing intentions of $1.2 billion will increase the debt:equity ratio to 45%.

At home it needs to expand peak processing capacity and avoid the constraints which cost farmers about $900 million last season in foregone revenue. . .

Council approves dam funds –

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has approved an advance of $3.1 million to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) to cover the period until financial close on the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

The decision was made in a public-excluded session of Wednesday’s council meeting and supported by all councillors present.

Given the lodging of appeals to the High Court on the proposal, financial close for the scheme will no longer occur by September 30, with the best estimate now March 31 next year.

All investment funds contributed by the council in this development phase are part of its overall financial contribution to the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.  . . .

 

 

 


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