Rural round-up

March 18, 2019

Dairy industry riding to rescue as property boom economy falters – Liam Dann:

It looks like New Zealand’s dairy sector is riding to the economic rescue – again.

Given the aspirations we have to transform and diversify the economy, that’s almost a bit disappointing.

But right now I’ll take it – and so should the Government. . . 

Shania effect swallows farmland:

It is called the Shania effect, named after the Canadian singer-songwriter who in 2004 with her then husband Mutt Lange, paid $21.5 million for Motatapu and Mt Soho Stations in Otago’s lakes district.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1The marriage subsequently split and Lange kept ownership of the properties before adding Glencoe and Coronet Peak Stations, taking his holding to more than 53,000ha of pastoral land from Glendhu Bay near Wanaka to Coronet Peak near Queenstown.

He later invested heavily in environmentally sympathetic development that removed reliance on livestock farming.

That included spending $1.6 million over three years controlling wilding pines, weeds and pests, planting river margins and fencing waterways and sensitive shrublands. .

Rabobank head strongly linked with land, South – Sally Rae:

Rabobank New Zealand chief executive Todd Charteris has always had a connection with farming – and the South.

While not choosing to pursue a career in hands-on farming, the way it worked out meant he had that “absolute connection” and focus on agriculture, he said during a visit to Dunedin last week.

He might not get back to the South that often but when he did get the opportunity to drive through his old haunts, it was a reminder of what it was “all about”, he said.

Born in Tapanui, where his father was a stock agent, Mr Charteris grew up in West Otago, South Otago and Southland. . . 

Raukumara Conservation Park, the dying forest – Michael Neilson:

A bare forest floor, erosion, slips and no birdsong explain the state of the once-flourishing Raukumara Conservation Park. And experts say there might be less than 10 years to save it. Michael Neilson reports.

Standing in the middle of the Raukumara Conservation Park should be one of those picture perfect, 100% Pure New Zealand moments.

The birdsong should be deafening, rich with raucous kākā, chirping tūī and kōkako.

The forest floor should be lush, with new trees rising up and filling the gaps in the canopy. . . 

We’re doing it wrong – Alan Williams:

Exporters are sitting on a gold mine but failing to sell their provenance story overseas, British grocery expert Rob Ward says.

They need to cash in on sensory perception and the Love Triangle.

“New Zealand is incredibly good at what it does but not enough people know about it,” Ward, a United Kingdom grocery data and analytics expert has been told people at Agri-food Week in Palmerston North.

Lamb is a prime example of how the NZ message can be improved. . . 

Rise of women in agriculture an encouraging sign – Robbie Sefton:

Of all the various ways that humanity has devised for splitting itself into tribes, gender tribes are surely the most pointless. 

Men and women are undoubtedly capable of widely differing viewpoints, and are perfectly capable of exasperating each other, but we are literally nothing without each other.

That’s why it’s been wonderfully encouraging to watch the rise of women in agriculture over the past few decades. 

What was once an industry wholly associated with blokes (at least on the surface) is rapidly becoming one that, in terms of participation, is pretty gender-equal. . . 


Rural round-up

September 5, 2016

Research breakthrough to boost native forestry – James Morton:

A scientific breakthrough could replenish vast expanses of our countryside with lush native forest – and offer a lucrative new forestry industry for New Zealand.

Scion researchers have discovered how to grow native trees, including rimu and totara, from cuttings taken from parent trees instead of seeds, enabling them to grow much faster and in larger amounts.

The new technology will be used a multi-million dollar nursery site opening near the Bay of Plenty village of Minginui this weekend, in a partnership with local iwi Ngati Whare. . . 

Sports awards to be ‘rural Halbergs’:

 Brand new awards celebrating sporting excellence among New Zealand’s rural athletes were launched today with organisers positioning the event as the “Halbergs for the rural sector”.

Rural sports associations are invited to nominate athletes for the Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards presented by the New Zealand Rural Games Trust together with strategic partner, Federated Farmers of New Zealand.
 
An awards ceremony and gala dinner will be held at Awapuni Racecourse, Palmerston North on March 10, 2017, the night before the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games at The Square in the city centre, where many nominees will be competing. . . 

More farmers under bank ‘pressure‘ – Sally Rae:

More farmers are experiencing “undue pressure” from their banks and sharemilkers remain the most vulnerable in the sector, the latest Federated Farmers banking survey shows.

Overall satisfaction remained strong, with 80% of all farmers and 78.4% of dairy farmers either very satisfied or satisfied with their banks.

The survey showed sharemilkers were least satisfied. Given the current economic climate, it was no surprise they were the most exposed, Federated Farmers president William Rolleston said.

In relation to overdrafts, 15.8% said they experienced “undue pressure” and 22.2% experienced “undue pressure” concerning mortgages. . . 

The art of the covenant – Guy Williams:

Two years have passed since we learned four high country stations between Arrowtown and Lake Wanaka would be placed under protective covenants, effectively creating New Zealand’s first national park in private hands. Queenstown reporter Guy Williams finds out what is happening on the stations and asks whether the land will be protected and cared for forever.

They are called Mahu Whenua, meaning “healing the land” — four protective covenants covering 53,000ha across four high country stations: Motatapu, Mount Soho, Glencoe and Coronet Peak.

Their leases were bought between 2003 and 2011 by British record producer and songwriter Robert “Mutt” Lange — in the earlier years with then-wife, Canadian country-pop singer Shania Twain.

Two years ago, the QEII National Trust announced Lange would place 95% of the stations’ area under open space covenants, a decision then-Minister of Conservation Nick Smith hailed as an “extraordinary act of generosity”. . . 

North Canterbury farmer frustrated by mobile technology – Heather Chalmers

Do you have access to high-speed broadband?

If you live in the country then you probably don’t. Cellphone coverage is also probably patchy. And that is significantly holding back farmers, says North Canterbury sheep and beef farmer Dan Shand.

As a former Sydney IT worker and a Nuffield scholar he knows more than most in the agricultural sector about what is possible with mobile technology. He believes it holds the key to a whole wave of advances, both in on-farm decision-making and productivity and in adding market premiums. However, for a number of reasons this potential is being missed. . . 

Happy Valley to set up new A2 milk plant:

South Waikato dairy farmers wanting to join the A2 milk bonanza might have their chance as a new dairy company seeks consent to build a plant near Otorohanga.  

The Happy Valley Milk company was seeking resource consent for the project that would ultimately include two milk driers.  The first would be an eight tonnes an hour drier capable of producing multiple types of milk powders including A2 infant formula.

Project manager Grant Horan said the company was optimistic it could get the consent process through by the end of the year, with an estimated completion date of mid-2018. . . 

 

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Farming noun [fam -ing] the art of losing money while working 400 hours a month to feed people who think yare are trying to kill them.


Rural round-up

July 31, 2016

World trends that will influence future farming – Pita Alexander:

The oldest son in a farming family has returned home from a trip overseas after completing his degree at Lincoln University.

Before coming back to the farm and making a career of farming the son spent a year in Australia, North America and Europe. He wanted to obtain a picture of where farming might be heading during his tenure.

Among his many observations in a report he prepared for his family were the following:

– A formal licence to farm is looking like a certainty for New Zealand within the next 10 – 15 years and the banks may lend at lower interest rates with this certificate.

–  Killing farm animals before they are fully grown is getting some air time in some countries.

– Traceability from the farmer to the eating and buying consumer is already present, but is going to get more complicated and will hopefully bring more value to the farmer.

–  About 25-30 per cent of the world’s food production ends up being wasted and not eaten  – this will have to be improved upon well before 2050. . . 

ASB punts on Fonterra sticking with $4.25 milk price – Jamie Grey:

ASB Bank is punting on Fonterra leaving its 2016/7 farmgate milk price forecast unchanged at $4.25 a kg of milk solids when the co-operative releases a market update on Monday.

However the risks were “skewed” to a figure as low as $3.90/kg because of a consistently strong New Zealand dollar, ASB rural economist Nathan Penny said in a research note.

Penny said it was still early days in the season, which started on June 1, and that there was plenty of time for dairy prices to rise. . . 

More research is needed if farming is to progress – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Climate variability, farm gate prices for food and fibre, and increased concerns about the environment are combining to create unsustainable farm systems.

Alternatives need careful evaluation before decisions are made in an attempt to avoid unintended consequences.

The latter can be worse than the current state – Brexit, for example. 

Increased warm temperatures, drought, floods and long cold springs mean that farmers are adapting systems to cope. Use of supplementary feed has been part of the development of resilient farm businesses, but the urban perspective is that costs have increased without an increase in income. . . 

Resistance or resilience – which best characterises the red meat sector? – Allan Barber:

The Red Meat Sector Conference held in Auckland on Monday did not have one single theme, but a series of themes across the day, starting with the question ‘resistance or resilience?’ Past history suggests the answer might most logically be both rather than a choice between the two options.

In his introductory remarks MIA chairman John Loughlin said the volatile global situation contrasted with a relatively stable environment at home with a predictable meat industry, while Beef + Lamb chairman James Parsons highlighted the need to reduce on farm costs while achieving incremental gains across the supply chain. . . 

Queenstown tracks to get ratepayer funding:

Queenstown’s council has agreed to pay to maintain 11 walking and biking tracks being developed across two high country stations.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council yesterday agreed to pay $10,000 a year to maintain the existing and planned tracks, which will go across Glencoe and Coronet Stations.

The land is partially owned by the Crown under pastoral lease, and partially by Soho Properties, which has entered into an agreement with the Queen Elizabeth II Trust to protect the land. . . 

Better baits and better trapping – Kate Guthrie:

Peanut butter has long been used as a lure for rats. Possums have a fondness for the scent of cinnamon. But are they the all-time favourite foods of rats and possums? Researchers at Victoria University of Wellington used chew cards to check out what really tickles the tastebuds of two of our more common urban pest species. Home trappers might like to give these food lures a go too…

Many tests of trap lures are done with laboratory animals, but in this project the researchers compared food-based products on free-ranging, wild rats and possums. They assessed the chew card results for attractiveness and consumption and found that wild rats preferred cheese, milk chocolate, Nutella and walnut to the peanut butter standard. Possums statistically preferred apricot and almond to cinnamon. . . 

Farmers need to be bank ready:

With the dairy pay out remaining stubbornly low and equity positions becoming more precarious many farmers are seeing more of their bank manager, according to Crowe Horwath’s Head of Corporate Agribusiness, Hayden Dillon.

Dillon is quick to point out that this increased level of contact isn’t always a bad thing and proactive discussions between banker and farmer are an important step to take in dealing with the current financial pressures both parties are facing.

However, it can be intimidating for some and a recent Federated Farmers’ survey found that one in ten farmers were feeling an ‘undue’ level of pressure from their bank. . . 

#431AM top ten calving tips:

We asked our #431AM farming community how to get through #calving16.

Here are some of our farmers’ top tips for the calving season. Thanks to everyone who contributed!

We’d love to hear your #calving16 tips – hit us up on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using #431AM. 

 

  • Eat well, sleep well, know your body’s limits. Good communication amongst your team and don’t let things get to you. It’s farming, it’s life and things go wrong. It’s how you manage the situation that counts. Being negative will make time go so much slower, and above all think of our girls. We get days off during the season but they don’t, without our girls we are grass growers. Richard H
  • We have 3 meetings a day. We have a work safe meeting to work out what safety gear we will need before we’re out the door. Yesterday with snow on the ground it was too dangerous for workers to leave the house. You have to have more meetings. 1 a day is not enough. Ann-Maree G
  • Take time to get off farm, even for an hour. Keep in touch with others, especially when things are at their toughest. Chances are others are also feeling the burn. Sue M
  • Set a roster, keep the fridge stocked with food snacks, have morning meetings with coffee and snacks and last thing at night after milking. Ask what people want to discuss at tomorrow’s meeting and what was their highlights and/or best achievements for the day. Geoff M . . .

 

South Island Wool Bounces:

New Zealand Wool Services International LTDs CEO Mr John Dawson reports that despite a strengthening NZ dollar, the varied selection at this week’s South Island auction attracted strong support.

Of the 7700 bales on offer 85 percent sold.

The weighted currency indicator was up 2.06 percent compared to the previous week’s auction.

Mr Dawson advises that a selection ranging from 21 micron merinos to 42 micron coarse wools with a cross section of styles and lengths provided attractive options to buyers which overrode the possible negative impact of the stronger dollar compared to the similar South Island offering on 14 July. . . 

Fine wines of New Zealand revealed:

Six of the nation’s leading independent wine experts have come together to create “The Fine Wines of New Zealand” – a list of the country’s most prestigious wines.

A selection panel comprising Masters of Wine Alastair Maling, Michael Brajkovich, Sam Harrop, Simon Nash and Steve Smith along with Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas has agreed on the list for 2016 which includes 47 wines representing seven varietals.

This group of leading New Zealand wine experts met several times in late 2015 and in the first half of 2016 to define the criteria that had to be met for a wine to earn the prestigious Fine Wine of New Zealand status. One of the key criteria is consistency, with a wine having had to have been produced to an exceptional standard for a minimum of five consecutive years. . . 


Significant gift to nation from foreign owner

March 9, 2015

The largest private land protection is a significant gift to New Zealand and its come from a foreign owner:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says today’s opening of the Mahu Whenua covenants under New Zealand’s largest ever private land protection agreement, is a significant gift to the nation.

53,000 hectares of land in central Otago has been gifted by philanthropist and music producer Robert ‘Mutt’ Lange of Soho Property Ltd, through a partnership with the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust.

“This is indeed a great day for New Zealand conservation. We are very grateful for Mutt Lange’s extraordinary generosity and vision in securing permanent protection for this unique and special landscape,” says Ms Barry.

The four open space covenants cover land on Motatapu, Mount Soho, Glencoe and Coronet Peak Stations, bordered by the Shotover River and the Cardrona Valley.

“The agreement not only permanently protects the natural values and human history of this landscape, but also allows for public access with 21 tracks and trails for all visitors to enjoy,” says Ms Barry.

“Congratulations to the QEII National Trust, which has been working alongside private landowners for nearly 40 years helping them protect special natural and cultural heritage places throughout the country.”

This year the National Trust will register its 4,000th open space covenant and since it was established in 1977 it has secured more than 178,000 hectares of private land to be held in trust for the nation.

The covenants were formally opened by Governor General, Sir Jerry Mateparae, on Saturday.

Sir Jerry, in a speech on Saturday, said: ”New Zealand’s isolation has seen us as a nation develop a very strong sense of place.

”For many of us, even those who live in cities, the landscape of our country, especially the high country, captures our sense of home.

”Those rugged hills and valleys, formed over the millennia, are as representative of New Zealand as the silver fern.” . .

Trust patron Sir Jerry described the covenants as a ”significant gift to New Zealand”.

He said while humankind’s presence is certainly visible now, the landscape will be here long after we are gone.

”This Maori proverb captures that idea: Toitu he whenua, whatungarongaro he tangata? The land remains while people disappear.”

Trust chairman James Guild said protection of such a large tract of private land would not have been possible without the vision and generosity of Mr Lange.

Mr Guild said: ”Mr Lange has instigated the protection of an extensive landscape that is rich in natural and cultural heritage.

”He has in effect created New Zealand’s first private national park.

”We celebrate his tremendous philanthropy and the legacy he leaves on this landscape with his covenants.”

Mr Guild said the land’s scenic and intrinsic values and the opportunity for people to get out and enjoy it are safeguarded forever.

The covenants protect the landscapes, the habitat of unique native plants and animals, important historic and cultural sites, public access, and recreation values.

Mr Guild emphasised that covenanting land is voluntary and not a requirement of the Overseas Investment Office or the Government. . .

This is a huge area of land and the covenanting is an act of extraordinary generosity on the part of its owner.

Locals have covenanted large tracts of land through the QE II Trust, although none on this scale.

The significance of this gift coming from a foreign owner is that it shows land sales to foreigners should be judged on their merits and there should not be, as some would wish it, a blanket ban on foreign ownership of land.

 


Rural round-up

August 7, 2014

The other face of foreign ownership:

The generosity of foreign investors has created New Zealand’s largest ever private land protection agreement at 53,000 hectares; equivalent to 240 Cornwall Park/One Tree Hill Domains.

“It is exciting that a Queen Elizabeth II covenant now covers the iconic high country over most of Motatapu, Mount Soho, Glencoe and Coronet Peak stations,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers President.

“This is the other face of foreign ownership, perhaps best explained by dual Federated Farmers/Forest & Bird life member, Gordon Stephenson, who commented: “this is the first time a whole landscape is being put into a covenant”.  . .

Sheep Industry Excellence Celebrated:

The important role ram breeders play in New Zealand’s sheep industry was celebrated at the third annual Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Sheep Industry Awards.

About 230 people attended a dinner in Napier, where 10 genetics-based awards and five sector excellence awards were presented. Results of the genetics-based awards were calculated based on ram breeders’ performance in SIL-ACE (Advanced Central Evaluation) – the large-scale, across flock and breed genetic evaluation of more than 300 ram breeding flocks. . . .

GlobalDairyTrade not ‘milk and disaster’:

The latest decline in the benchmark GlobalDairyTrade (GDT) online auction continues a trend expected by Federated Farmers. 

“We’d love to see a plus sign for a change but at least it seems to be tracking in the direction Rabobank has projected,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Vice-Chairperson.

“I don’t expect this latest result will affect the payout forecast in the near term.  What will be critical is the expected market recovery in the New Year.  . .

–  Allan Barber:

It’s wonderful what a bit of buoyancy in the market for beef and sheepmeat will do for morale, especially when it coincides with a solid drop in the predicted dairy payout. It isn’t just about absolute price returns, but also a reduction in the gap which has opened up this year between red meat and dairy prices.

MIE’s chairman John McCarthy has already characterised the improved mood among processors and exporters as signalling a desire to preserve the status quo which is why he and MIE are thrilled to have obtained the funding required to produce a business plan. This is intended to ‘deliver a definitive roadmap for farmer profitability’ through committed supply, coordinated marketing and best practice. . .

Global animal protein trends become more complex – Allan Barber:

At the Red Meat Sector Conference Luke Chandler, General Manager of Rabobank’s Food and Agribusiness Research Advisory group in Australasia, presented an interesting perspective on global protein trends and the increasing complexity required to feed the world’s growing population.

He observed three main trends: demand from emerging markets and market access, competitiveness between proteins and the complexity of the supply chains.

Briefly stated there is a surplus in the west and a shortage in the east with 70% of growth occurring in Asia, predominantly in China, India and Indonesia. Australia and New Zealand provide 6% and 3% respectively of imports of agricultural products into Asia and are therefore high value, niche exporters rather than providers of high volume production. . .

Ravensdown to pay farmer rebate as profits surge – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Ravensdown Fertiliser Cooperative will resume paying farmers a rebate this year after its earnings jumped some 161 percent after it quit an unprofitable Australian business.

Profit before tax and rebate from continuing operations rose $73 million in the year ended May 31, from $28 million the previous year, the Christchurch-based cooperative said in a statement. Trading profit rose to $46 million from $6 million a year earlier, which was impacted by the cost from quitting Australia. Ravensdown will pay shareholders $37.78 per tonne, made up of $15 in rebate and fully imputed bonus shares worth $22.38. . . .

Third International Accolade in Three Months for Yealands:

Yealands Family Wines (YFW) has been awarded a trophy in the 2014 Green Apple Awards for Environmental Best Practice. This award is the third international award that the Marlborough Company has won for its high quality sustainable wine growing practices in the past three months.

Yealands were awarded “Green Company of the Year” by the UK’s leading drinks publisher, Drinks Business on April 30 and crowned the Gold Medal Winner in the Most Socially or Environmentally Responsible Company of the Year category at the 2014 International Best in Biz Awards last month.

The company competed against more than 500 global nominations in the Green Apple Awards, and they will be presented with their trophy and certificate at a glittering presentation ceremony in The Houses of Parliament, in London on November 10. . .


Rural round-up

July 18, 2013

Big increase in water for irrigation for SC possible – Matthew Littlewood:

The equivalent of nearly 250 Hagley Parks worth of extra land could be freed up for irrigation in the Orari and Opihi catchments, if the right measures are in place.

Environment Canterbury water management scientist Brett Painter told this week’s Orari-Opihi-Pareora water management committee meeting that adjustments to the Rakaia Water Conservation Order could be a “game changer” for sourcing extra water for the South Canterbury Catchment.

Painter said “at the extreme end”, enough water for an extra 42,000ha of irrigation could be made available. . .

Not sure it’s realistic for farmers to own the meat industry – Allan Barber:

There is a lot of noise about the dysfunctional or broken meat industry accompanied by the suggestion it would be solved if farmers owned a bigger slice of it.

The Meat Industry Excellence group has been touring the country since earlier this year, holding farmer meetings and trying to drum up support for fixing the industry’s problems. In total some 3,000 farmers attended meetings from Gore to Gisborne which, even if every attendee was firmly in support, only represents a maximum of 20% of sheep and beef farmers. . .

Farmlets tipped for Glencoe Station – Grant Bryant:

Two huge players in Queenstown’s high finance, development and winery scene are set to carve up a large chunk of Glencoe Station for clusters of two-acre farmlets.

In recent years the area on the Crown Range above Arrowtown has become the home and playground of the mega-rich, with fabulously wealthy and enormously reclusive music producer Robert “Mutt” Lange snapping up 8500ha of the high-country station for an undisclosed amount in 2009.

New Zealand international sailor and prominent America’s Cup captain Russell Coutts is a next-door neighbour to the station, with his holiday home boasting an underground pool and golf course. . .

Forest Levy takes important step:

An application for the introduction of a levy on harvested logs has been lodged with Associate Minister for Primary Industries Hon Jo Goodhew. 

“This is an important step in the process of getting a Levy Order under the Commodity Levies Act and follows a successful forest grower referendum in March,” says Forest Growers Levy Trust chair Geoff Thompson.

“Officials will now take several months to assess the application and all the accompanying detail about levy collection, budgeting and ongoing structure. We are fundamentally on target to introduce the levy from 1 January 2014.” . . 

Bovine bliss in a winter cow house  – Finian Scott:

Numerous South Island farmers have been putting in the hard yards, trekking out into waist deep snow in parts of the Mackenzie Country, firing up bulldozers and snow ploughs in an attempt to set tracks for stock and feed out.

Weather-hardened livestock do their best to hunt out natural shelter belts, prepping for the inevitable mad rush towards the trail of food snaking a path behind the steaming tractor and feed bin.

Meanwhile, as the doors roll up on a Cow House at Studholme, the cows inside look up, lazily, mid-chew, to see who this new “disturber of the peace” may be. . .

Fonterra cuts Anmum-branded product prices in China amid price-fixing probe – Paul McBeth:

Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, cut the price of its Anmum-branded products in China as the local regulator looks at potential price manipulation by major foreign firms selling into the world’s most-populous nation.

The Auckland-based cooperative will trim 9 percent from its Anmum maternal health products in mainland China from next month “to better meet consumer needs in light of recent industry-wide price revisions,” Fonterra president for Greater China and India, Kelvin Wickham, said in an emailed statement. . .

NZ Honey Comes under Scrutiny in Hong Kong. New Zealand’s Oldest Brand Says Tighter Export Controls Are Needed:

Airborne Honey, New Zealand’s oldest honey brand, believes the quality control of New Zealand honey export needs to be tighter, following recent feedback from the Hong Kong Consumer Council. On 16 July, New Zealand honey came under scrutiny in Hong Kong after the Hong Kong Consumer Council, a statutory body that protects and promotes consumer rights in Hong Kong, tested a number of well-known brands available in the region. The Consumer Council reports that a quarter of the 55 samples tested (from a number of countries, including New Zealand) have been adulterated with sugar, including Manuka. . .


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