Rural round-up

September 2, 2015

Tap turned on at Hororata irrigation scheme – Annabelle Tukia:

The tap has officially been turned on for one of the country’s largest irrigation projects.

The Central Plains water scheme will irrigate more than 20,000 hectares of Canterbury farmland.

One Hororata farmer says the massive scheme, which runs off the Rakaia River, will enable him and his neighbours to completely transform their operations.

Rodney Booth has waited a long time to turn the irrigators on at his Hororata farm. . . 

Dairy and travel still our largest export earners:

New Zealand earned $2.3 billion more from exports than we spent on imports during the year ended June 2015, Statistics New Zealand said today.

In the year to June 2015, total exports of goods and services were $67.5 billion, while total imports were $65.1 billion.

Dairy remains New Zealand’s largest export commodity, earning $12.0 billion in the June 2015 year. However, this was down from $15.8 billion in the June 2014 year. Spending by international visitors to New Zealand (travel exports) increased $2.4 billion, reaching $11.7 billion in the June 2015 year.

“Dairy and travel are New Zealand’s biggest export earners,” international statistics senior manager Jason Attewell said. “A fall in dairy exports to China, combined with the increase in expenditure by overseas visitors to New Zealand, has narrowed the gap between the two.” . . 

App helps keep hives humming – Sally Rae:

Brice Horner gets a buzz about educating others about beekeeping.

Now the Dunedin police officer has developed a phone app that helps beekeepers identify whether they have the destructive bacterial disease American foulbrood (AFB) in their hives.

AFB kills bee larvae and infected hives have to be destroyed by burning, as the disease is very difficult to combat. After destroying the bee larvae, spores could survive outside a bee colony for more than 35 years.

It is a serious issue, and beekeepers are legally required to advise the AFB Management Agency within seven days of noticing an outbreak and to destroy the disease by burning within the same period. . . 

Kiwi dairy farmers feeling the pinch are right – their payout is the world’s lowest – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand dairy farmers bracing for the lowest payout in a decade probably won’t welcome the latest analysis of global trends in the industry – their counterparts in every other dairy-producing country are being paid more.

An expected uplift in dairy prices in the overnight GlobalDairyTrade auction won’t change the fact Kiwi dairy farmers are the lowliest paid. AgriHQ analysed milk prices from around the world converted to NZ$/kilogram of milk solids to allow valid comparisons, although some dairy farmers incomes in other countries are boosted by subsidies and support schemes.

Fonterra’s forecast farmgate milk price, which is the price setter in the New Zealand dairy industry, is $3.85/kgMS for the current season, the lowest in a decade. That compares to China at the other end of the scale at $11/kgMS, the United States at $8.15/kgMS, Argentina at $7.57/kgMS, and the UK at $6.95/kgMS. Of the countries analysed, Ireland’s payout of $6.10/kgMS was the closest to New Zealand’s. . . 

OceanaGold raises 2015 production estimate to reflect Waihi acquisition – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – OceanaGold Corp expects 2015 production to increase while costs fall after the gold miner takes control of Waihi Gold Mine later this year.

The acquisition of the Waihi mine from Newmont Mining Corp is awaiting approval from the Overseas Investment Office this month, and once completed, OceanaGold expects to assume the economic benefits and costs associated with Waihi from July 1, the Melbourne-based miner said in a statement. The company increased its 2015 production estimates, and reduced its costs forecast to reflect lower copper and diesel prices and a weaker New Zealand dollar, it said. . . 

Sanford quits Pacific tuna business, lines up buyers for vessels – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Sanford, New Zealand’s largest listed fishing group, will quit its underperforming Pacific tuna business and put the unit’s fleet up for sale.

The Auckland-based company sold its San Nanumea vessel and is in talks with a potential buyer of San Nikunau, its other Pacific tuna ship, after reviewing the viability of the business, Sanford said in a statement. On April 9, it entered into a conditional agreement to sell both international purse seiner vessels, according to Sanford’s interim report released in June. . . 

Rural Equities posts 27% decline in annual earnings after milk prices slumped – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Rural Equities, the farming group majority-owned by the Cushing family, posted a 27 percent decline in annual earnings as milk prices plummeted.

The Hastings-based company said operating earnings before interest and tax fell to $4.67 million in the year ended June 30, from $6.43 million a year earlier as Fonterra Cooperative Group slashed its milk price payout to $4.40 per kilogram of milk solids from $8.40/kgMS the previous year. While that impacted its seven dairy farms, the company said its Waikato Puketotara sheep and beef property had a record year and it had steady income from leasing 15 of its 25 farms.

“Operating earnings were satisfactory given the substantial reduction in milk price,” said executive chairman David Cushing. “The company’s portfolio, with a mixture of directly operated and leased farms and diversity by property type and geography, helped provide balance.” . . 

Government grant for East Coast stream restoration:

An $89,700 grant from the Community Environment Fund for the restoration of the Whangawehi stream on the Mahia Peninsula was announced today by Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith during a visit to the catchment. 

“New Zealand has a major challenge to improve the management of our waterways, which has to be achieved stream by stream, river by river and lake by lake. The key to the success of these restoration programmes is getting all parties – landowners, iwi and hapū, district and regional councils as well as the Government – working together. This has been achieved on this project and that is why the Government is providing funding support,” Dr Smith says.  . . 

Fonterra Farmers Can Now Apply for Co-Operative Support:

Fonterra farmers can now apply for Fonterra Co-operative Support, a loan to help them deal with the current challenging conditions.

Chairman John Wilson said Fonterra is well placed to help its farmers because of the Co-operative’s underlying strength.

“Being able to help our farmers is all about standing together as a Co-operative and using our collective strength to get through these tough times,” said Mr Wilson. “We have had a lot of interest from farmers who appreciate what the Co-operative is trying to do for them to assist them with their farming businesses in a tough financial climate, and we are anticipating a large number of applications.” . . .


GDT price index drops 10.7%

July 16, 2015

More bad news on the dairy front this morning with a drop of 10.7% in Fonterra’s GlobalDairyTrade price index.

























Fonterra’s board will review the forecast milk price next month.

It won’t be going up and could well go down.

The dollar fell to a fresh five-year low in the wake of the GDT result.

The kiwi touched 65.81 US cents, and was trading at 65.92 cents at 8am in Wellington, from 67.05 cents at 5pm yesterday. The trade-weighted index sank to 70.01 from 70.88 yesterday.

The New Zealand dollar dropped sharply after dairy product prices sank an average 10.7 percent to a six-year low in the GDT auction, with the key whole milk powder price dropping 13.1 percent to US$1,848 a tonne. Dairy prices have remained lower for longer amid higher global supplies in New Zealand, Europe and the US, weak demand in China and an import ban in Russia. The weaker prices come as New Zealand production is rising heading into the country’s peak supply period in October, raising concern about the impact on the nation’s economy. . .

We can be grateful we have our own floating currency and aren’t like Greece which is tied to the Euro.



Rural round-up

June 19, 2015

Beef + Lamb New Zealand not able to progress joint market development model:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand won’t be progressing a joint market development model with meat processors in the next commodity levy cycle from 2016-2022.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman, James Parsons said meat processors have decided not to progress the proposed collaborative 50:50 funded market development entity focusing on country of origin promotion. This was a proposition worked up by Beef + Lamb New Zealand in conjunction with meat companies over the past two years.

“We’ve had a lot of dialogue and constructive discussions with processors, considering how market development could be funded and delivered in the future. Naturally, after all the hard work, it’s disappointing that we weren’t able to get agreement. However, we respect processors preference for their own commercially-focused marketing given, they are the ones who sell the product. What became apparent over the two years of one-on-one meetings and workshops with meat companies was the wide ranging views on how we should promote New Zealand’s sheepmeat and beef.” . .


Sign dairy prices bottoming out – Sally Rae:

The latest GlobalDairyTrade auction results offers ”the mildest of encouragements” that global dairy prices might be bottoming out, economists say.

While the overall price index was down 1.3% this week, it was also the smallest drop since the latest downturn in prices began in March.

But it still ”shed no real light” on whether prices would recover enough over the course of the season to meet Fonterra’s milk price forecast, Westpac senior economist Michael Gordon said. . .

Mushroom farm faces prosecution  – Simon Hendery:

Long-established Havelock North business Te Mata Mushrooms is being prosecuted on charges carrying a maximum $600,000 fine for multiple alleged breaches of its resource consent.

The Brookvale Rd company has been the subject of regular complaints about the odour it produces which has allegedly wafted over its boundary in breach of its consent conditions.

It has also been accused of failing to build a multi-million dollar building to contain its compost-making facilities – another requirement under its resource consent. . .

Forestry standard part of Govt’s plan to simplify RMA:

A new National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry to simplify and standardise Resource Management Act requirements was proposed today by Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew at Paengaroa Forest in the Bay of Plenty.

“The current system for environmental regulation of forestry is complex and confusing with thousands of different rules across New Zealand’s 78 councils. This proposed standard will simplify the rules and save the forestry industry millions in compliance costs while ensuring environmental issues like wilding pines, protecting spawning fish and erosion are better managed,” Dr Smith says. . .


Government decision made on raw milk:

Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew has today announced the Government’s decision to introduce a new policy around the sale of raw milk to consumers.

“Raw milk is a high risk food, particularly for children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“After extensive consultation and review, the Government decision will allow farmers to continue to sell raw milk directly to the public from the farm and via home deliveries.

“I recognise that people feel strongly about their right to buy and drink raw milk. Equally, I am also aware of the strong concerns about the public health risks associated with drinking raw milk and the potential risk to New Zealand’s food safety reputation. . .

Federated Farmers want to see fine print on raw milk:

Federated Farmers wants to see the fine print of the rules around selling raw milk before farmers will know it its worthwhile.

The Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew has announced farmers will still be able to sell raw milk to consumers, and the government will not be implementing plans to abolish raw milk sales, restrict their volume or prohibit home deliveries.

Dairy spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says farmers value having a range of selling options. . .


Hort leaders connect with students to grow industry:

Although the number of horticulture students has increased, it is still not enough to satisfy demands. Now, industry leaders are connecting with Massey University in an effort to grow graduates in the sector.

Massey University offers the only horticulture degree course at university level in New Zealand. One of the partnerships it has is with Horticulture New Zealand.

Senior business manager at Horticulture New Zealand Sue Pickering gives a guest lecture to students taking the first-year Horticulture Production paper. . .

Seeka reports record crop volumes handled for 2014-15 harvest:

Seeka Kiwifruit Industries has packed a record number of trays in the just-completed 2015 kiwifruit harvest, handling more than 26.3 million class 1 export trays, compared to 20.0 million class 1 trays in 2014. The total volume of all classes of kiwifruit is expected to exceed 27.4 million trays this year. This compares to the 24.944m forecast to shareholders at ASM held on 28 April 2015.

Both Hayward [Green] and Gold class 1 volumes are up. Total Hayward packed or in store for 2015 is 21.8 million trays compared to 18.1 million in the previous year. Gold volumes in 2015 totalled 4.3 million trays and compare against 1.7 million in the previous year. Seeka also packed approximately 200,000 trays of the Zespri G14 SweetGreen. . .


GDT drops10.8%

April 2, 2015

The GlobalDairyTrade price index dropped 10.8% in this morning’s auction.









This isn’t cause for panic but it is cause for caution.

The dairy market is volatile.













Fonterra holds payout

February 27, 2015

Fonterra’s announcement that it is holding the season’s forecast payout at $4.70 with an estimated dividend range taking it to $4.95 – $5.05 for the current season will have disappointed many after successive increases in the GlobaDairyTrade auction and  commentators had suggested an increase to $5.

Chairman John Wilson said that although dairy commodity prices had gone up, the increase was not sufficient to raise the forecast Farmgate Milk Price at this time.

“Since December, GDT prices for Whole Milk Powder have increased 45 per cent and Skim Milk Powder prices have increased 13 per cent,” Mr Wilson said.

“There continues to be significant volatility in international commodity prices. New Zealand volumes are down, with continued uncertainty in milk production due to climatic conditions in New Zealand with droughts in Canterbury, Marlborough, Central Otago and North Otago.

“Today’s forecast reflects the Board and management’s best estimates at this time. We are advising farmers to continue to be cautious with budgeting and we will update them as the season progresses.”

Chief Executive Theo Spierings said Fonterra was sticking to its strategy, with confidence in the long-term fundamentals of dairy demand.

“We will provide a full business update when we report our Interim Result on 25 March,” Mr Spierings said.

Fonterra is required to consider its forecast Farmgate Milk Price every quarter as a condition of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA). . .


But maintaining the payout will give farmers confidence.

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Ian Brown said the Co-operative’s announcement to maintain the 2014/15 forecast Farmgate Milk Price at $4.70 per kg/MS will be a relief for Farmers.

Mr Brown: “On-farm conditions have been really tough throughout the country and Farmers will be pleased that the recent downward trend has stopped.

“It has also been encouraging to see GlobalDairyTrade, and in particular Whole Milk Powder prices, increase significantly recently and given what took place late last year it will go some way to building confidence on farm.”

Mr Brown said that Farmers will be looking with great interest when the forecast dividend is announced at the interim results in late March.

“Our Farmers will want to see the strategy, which is key to adding value long term, deliver a return relative to the significant investment they have made and continue to make in their Co-op.

“In the interim, as always, the Council urges Farmers to be prudent in their financial planning to ensure they place their businesses in the best possible shape for next season.”


There is time for an increase but any is likely to be modest.

Most of this season’s milk has already been sold and while the outlook is more optimistic it is still volatile.

The sky isn’t falling

September 25, 2014

The cut in Fonterra’s payout isn’t good news but it isn’t the disaster that many are proclaiming.

Nor was the timing the political conspiracy that Winston Peters suspects:

Just four days after the General Election the true state of the dairy industry is revealed – returns for milk that the New Zealand economy is reliant on have slumped.

“Questions need to be asked by New Zealand voters on why they were not informed about this serious decline before Election Day,” says New Zealand First Leader, Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“The drop in payout is a $5 billion hit to the New Zealand economy and 2 per cent off nominal GDP.

“It appears the government and Fonterra joined forces to keep the facts hidden from voters? . . .

Fonterra makes announcements on its previous season’s final payout and any revision to the current one at this time every year.

The record final payout for last season was no surprise. Nor was the cut in this season’s forecast.

Anyone with even cursory knowledge of the global milk market was expecting it after successive drops in the GlobalDairyTrade price index and with the knowledge that the milk supply here and around the world was outstripping demand.

Lower income will impact on farmers, those who service and supply them and the wider economy but the news isn’t all bad.

The value of our dollar fell after Fonterra’s announcement which will help all exporters.

And while dairy prices are falling, demand and prices for sheep meat and beef are improving:

Rabobank New Zealand CEO Ben Russell said the softening in overall rural confidence was clearly a reflection of the impact of the bearish global dairy outlook and lower milk prices on dairy farmer sentiment.

“Falling dairy commodity prices are the overwhelming factor at play here. At the time of the survey being taken, the globalDairyTrade auction prices fell six per cent, taking them down 45 per cent from their February peak,” Mr Russell said.

“And with global dairy supplies continuing to increase from all key exporting regions, a significant price recovery is not imminent.

“That said though, farm commodity prices move in cycles and, clearly, dairy commodity prices are entering a lower part of the cycle right now. While this is always a difficult time, the important thing to remember is the medium to long-term picture for the dairy industry is strong.”

Mr Russell said dairy farmers were also cautious with the dairy industry approaching a critical time in the year, with the peak production and selling period for New Zealand milk just weeks away.

The dampened confidence among dairy farmers was reflected in their business performance expectations in the coming 12 months.

Dairy farmers had the most pessimistic outlook of their own farm business performance. However, Mr Russell said, it should be noted this was coming off record highs for business performance expectations among dairy producers over the past 12 months.

The latest survey found almost half of dairy farmers surveyed (47 per cent) expect the performance of their own farm business to worsen in the coming 12 months, up from 30 per cent with that expectation in the previous quarter. Just 20 per cent expect an improvement in performance, compared with 27 per cent previously. A total of 32 per cent expected performance to remain stable.

While there was also a tempering in sentiment among beef and sheep farmers, after reaching three-year record highs in the previous survey, confidence in this sector remained at overall strong levels.

Mr Russell said lamb prices were up on the previous season and beef prices were currently hitting record highs due to tight global supply.

In terms of expectations of their own businesses, the number of beef and sheep farmers expecting improved performance declined from 57 per cent last quarter to 48 per cent this survey. However, the percentage expecting their farm business performance to worsen remained stable, at just seven per cent. A total of 42 per cent anticipated business performance would remain at the same level.

Despite the decline in overall confidence, New Zealand farmers’ investment intentions were overall stable, the Rabobank survey showed.

Sheep and beef farmers increased their investment appetite – with 43 per cent indicating they intend to increase investment in their farm businesses over the next 12 months, up from 37 per cent previously. Only six per cent intended to decrease investment (compared with four per cent in the past quarter).

For dairy however, investment appetite had waned, with 21 per cent intending to invest less in their businesses (up from just seven per cent with that view in the previous survey) and 20 per cent expecting to increase investment (down from 27 per cent). This was the lowest level of dairy farmer investment intentions in more than five years (since August 2009).

Mr Russell said this change in sector investment dynamics may be an early indication the decline in the national sheep flock and the rate of dairy farm conversions were slowing. . .

Federated Farmers says farmers will be down but far from out:

Fonterra Cooperative Group farmer shareholders will welcome confirmation that the 2013/14 season has ended exactly as promised with a total payout of $8.50 per kilogram of milksolids (kg/MS).  That good news is balanced by a sharp revision downwards in the 2014/15 forecast.

“The 2014/15 season which offered so much has turned into a breakeven one for not just Fonterra suppliers but the entire industry,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“Like Synlait’s revision this week, there is a ‘good news and bad news’ dimension in this.   The good news is that we take the 2013/14 confirmed payout and the lowest revised forecast for 2014/15, we are talking an average total of $7kg/MS across the two seasons.

“A $5.30 kg/MS milkprice is also a lot higher than some commentators had expected if the forecast sticks.  If being a little word with a big meaning.

“Losing 70 cents kg/MS on the milkprice is really going to hurt.  Farmers will be kicking capital works into touch and will be pruning herds to rid themselves of any passengers.

“Speaking to DairyNZ, farm working expenses this season, before depreciation and interest payments, are expected to be around $4 kg/MS this season.  Feed, fertiliser as well as repairs and maintenance are going to be cut back.  We’ll only do what needs to be done.

“What we know from DairyNZ is that two-thirds of dairy farms have working expenses of between $3.25 and $4.75 kg/MS.  Of course when you start paying back the bank manager, the average cash costs on-farm head up to $5.40 kg/MS.

“As you can tell from what the forecast currently is, the current surplus is a wafer thin 15 to 25 cents kg/MS.  Expressed as retail milk, that’s about 1.25 to 2 cents a litre this season.

“It means that upwards of a quarter of our guys will be making a loss this season. 

“We also believe that unlike the Global Financial Crisis, dairy farmers have been listening and have focussed on building financial freeboard.  Sadly for some farmers, they’ll have to dip into that big time.

“Federated Farmers’ advice is to watch costs but to keep your bank, farm consultant, accountant and family fully in the loop.  Take a no surprises approach to get through.

“This season has been a perfect one for global milk with ideal conditions everywhere compounded by civil unrest in the Middle East and dislocation of European milk due to what is happening in Eastern Ukraine.

“We can only hope there is no more bad news but I am optimistic we may be back above $6 kg/MS for 2015/16,” Mr Hoggard concluded.

Agricultural prices are always cyclical.

Dairy farmers creamed it last season, now it’s sheep and beef farmers who have a brighter outlook. Both know that what goes up comes down and what comes down goes up again, sooner or later.

Labour, Green still anti-dairy

August 7, 2014

Labour could hardly contain its glee at the drop in the prices in yesterday’s GlobalDairyTrade auction:

“Another massive drop in milk prices overnight shows New Zealand needs an Economic Upgrade to limit its overreliance on the dairy industry, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says.

“Since February, milk prices have collapsed by 41 per cent, which suggests the short-lived economic recovery may have already ended. . .

“New Zealand is too reliant on one industry – riding the wave of commodity prices is not a long-term solution to grow jobs and incomes. . .

But while crying crocodile tears over the milk price it was announcing a tax that will hit dairy farmers:

. . . “We believe that the use of water for irrigation is a privilege, not an inalienable right. A resource rental is the best tool for making sure fresh water is used efficiently. However we will support proposals for water storage and irrigation schemes provided they have a broad consensus from their communities.

“Labour will use resource rentals to pay for irrigation schemes rather than paying for them out of tax and asset sales. . .

Individuals and communities already have a say in any water storage and irrigation schemes through the resource consent process.

The initial stages of any irrigation scheme are the most expensive for irrigation companies and water users.

Resource rental is just another name for another tax which will  add costs without benefits, make irrigation schemes less viable, production more expensive and lead to increases in food prices.

The Green Party was equally quick to seize on the fall in dairy prices for political purposes:

Falling dairy prices are highlighting the danger of National’s economic strategy that focuses on the export of a few, simple commodities, the Green Party said today. . .

“National’s economic strategy has simplified our economy and concentrated our exports on a few, low-value-added commodities,” said Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman.

“National has bet the farm on the farm and it isn’t working. A growing reliance on one or two commodity exports has made our economy more vulnerable to commodity price swings. . .

Both parties either don’t understand or are ignoring the fact that the increase in dairying had nothing to do with government policy.

Farmers made individual decisions on converting farms in response to market signals.

They did so in the knowledge that in the market prices go up and they go down.

They went up last season because demand was high.

They are going down now because supply has increased.

Both parties are also conveniently ignoring the statistics.
Embedded image permalink
Dairy is important but it accounted for only 21% of our exports in 2012 and has gone up only a little since then.

The risk for dairy isn’t current government policies but those a Labour/Green government would impose including a carbon tax:

. . . Agriculture – which is currently exempt from the ETS – would pay a reduced rate of $12.50 per tonne. This works out as an 12.5 per cent hit on farmers’ income. This includes 2 per cent on the working expenses of the average farm. A Berl Economics report, released with the policy, said dairying will be ”adversely affected.”

But it adds: ”However, at the currently projected pay-out for milk solids, even dairy farms in the lowest decile would remain well above break even in the face of an emissions levy.” . .

That payout projection is much lower now.

When he announced the policy, Norman said dairy farmers could afford it.

It wouldn’t be wise to hold your breath while waiting for him to axe that tax because they can’t afford it now.

Labour and the Greens are simply anti-dairy.

They are vociferous about the costs, ignore the benefits and take no notice of the efforts farmers are making to protect and enhance water and soils.


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