Rural round-up

December 20, 2017

Six suspected suicides of farmers ‘tragic’ – Alexa Cook:

A group representing young farmers says a spate of suicides over the past few weeks is tragic – but not surprising – after a really stressful year for the sector.

New Zealand Young Farmers chief executive Terry Copeland said it’s been a really tough time for the farming community and there have been six suspected suicides in recent weeks.

“My understanding is that there were four young men in Canterbury last week that had taken their own lives.

“But also I’ve heard two in the Waikato as well, and one of them in the Waikato was one of our young farmer members … it’s tragic,” he said. . . 

Federated Farmers president’s message to workers after sudden deaths in rural communities

Farming groups are pleading with stressed workers to speak up if they need support in the wake of a series of deaths of young men across the country.

The Herald on Sunday understands four farmers died suddenly in the past few weeks, including a Hamilton City Young Farmer member, and a popular rodeo competitor in Canterbury. Both were aged in their 20s.

The coroner’s office has confirmed one of the deaths is before coroner Michael Robb.

Federated Farmers president Katie Milne broke down in tears while speaking to the Herald on Sunday, saying she was becoming increasingly desperate to remind farmers that help was available if they needed it. . . 

The faces of disease-fearing farmers: Mycoplasma bovis meeting spills out of Southland hall – Dave Nicoll:

Farmers spilled out of a Winton hall as hundreds of them gathered at a meeting, concerned about the discovery of Mycoplasma bovis in Southland.

The Memorial Hall was packed to capacity with people standing, and even spilling outside as they waited to hear what the Ministry for Primary Industries had to say about the containment of the disease.

Ministry director of response Geoff Gwyn said the response team was working to identify where in Southland infected cattle had been moving, in an effort to contain the disease. . . 

Japan’s Itoham Yonekyu buys 100% of Anzco Foods as part of Asia growth strategy – Sophie Boot:

 (BusinessDesk) – Japanese-listed Itoham Yonekyu Holdings has received Overseas Investment Office approval to increase its shareholding of Anzco Foods to 100 percent, from the 65 percent it already owned.

Anzco was New Zealand’s second-largest meat company and fifth-largest exporter in 2016, with turnover of $1.5 billion and 3,000 employees. It was already 83.3 percent overseas owned, with 16.8 percent of the company held by Japanese marine products company Nippon Suisan Kaisha, known as Nissui, and the remaining 18.2 percent owned by the company’s chair Graeme Harrison and management. Harrison will step down at the company’s next annual meeting in March, having signalled his plans for retirement in 2015. . . 

What do we do? Agriculture in the age of synthetic food – William Ray:

Meatless meats and milkless milks seem to be just over the horizon and with many companies aiming to undercut the price of the ‘real’ stuff there’s the potential for a real threat to the New Zealand economy.

In this special episode of Our Changing World, William Ray investigates.

“We’ve got chicken or beef!” yells comedian Ben Hurley from an ad in my Facebook feed (cue sound effects for clucking chickens and mooing cattle).

“Wow, that’s absolutely delicious!” gushes a smiling stranger, which is the only polite response when someone hands you a free taco and pushes a microphone into your face.

Now the big reveal: “Do you know what… that’s 100 percent plant based!” (cue record scratch sound effect). . . 

Social licence and NZ aquaculture:

Research from the Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge has found that personal relationships go a long way towards aquaculture companies gaining/maintaining community acceptance and social licence to operate.

Interviews with aquaculture, fishing and enviro community groups have revealed that social licence to operate (SLO) is easily lost – or absent – if a company’s relationship is purely transactional; ie if links with the local community are solely business-related.

“Relational relationships, where one or more employees have personal as well as professional relationships with community, go a very long way to gaining and maintaining SLO,” said Peter Edwards, a co-author of the paper and a Political Scientist at Scion. “In other words, these employees are part of community life.” . . 

Director election for Beef + Lamb New Zealand Northern North Island electoral district:

A Director election will be held for Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Northern North Island electoral district after three nominations were received.

Martin Coup of Aria, Murray Jagger of Whangarei and Ross Wallis of Raglan will stand as candidates to replace current Northern North Island director and chairman James Parsons, who announced last month he was not seeking re-election. . . 


Honours earned and deserved

June 7, 2011

ANZCO chair Graeme Harrison has been awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday honours.

It is worthy recognition for his contribution to agri-business.

He is not only a leader in his business. His views on the meat industry as a whole are among few which show real understanding of its complexity and his passion for agriculture is unquestioned.

Another meat industry leader, former Alliance Group chair and Southland farmer John Turner was made an Officer of the Order of Merit.

Chairman of the Alliance Group from 1998 to 2007 and director from 1987 to 2007, Mr Turner guided the company through a financial recovery to make it the world’s largest sheepmeat processor and marketer, with a turnover of more than $1 billion.

He has been a strong advocate for the co-operative principles of ownership allowing farmers to become involved in the meat industry beyond the farm gate, encouraging them to become knowledgeable about the end user of their products and thus ensuring quality.

During his time as chairman he initiated a range of programmes encouraging farmers to be on the leading edge in the production and quality of their product and was renowned for his ability to examine situations from many angles and make sound commercial decisions.

Sheep milking pioneer Keith Neylon was also made a Member of the Order of Merit.

Another worthy recipeint of an honour was stone mason Bill Dooley who was made a member of the Order of Merit for his contribution to the restoration of historic buildings:

Mr Dooley is the head of Dooleys Masonry, the Ouse St business that has spread its influence around the globe.

He has been a stonemason all his working life, learning the trade from his father and grandfather. Although he turns 80 next month, Mr Dooley has not yet retired. However, he says he “probably” will at some stage.

Sadly Des Templeton of Riverton who was awarded a Queens Service Medal died last week. The award was made for his contribution to the flax industry.

Des Templeton may have died too soon but not before he turned his family business, a flaxmill operating at Otaitai Bush, into a scenic wonder of Southland, a museum of national significance as the only original flaxmill in New Zealand operating on its original site.

Some sneer at honours. I know enough about the work each of these men has done to be confident the awards have been earned and are deserved.


Would-be weka farmer wins Agri-Personality of Year

June 26, 2010

Roger Beattie is the Federated Farmers’  2010 Agri-Personality of the Year.

 Roger Beattie is an eco-anarchist combining conservation with business acumen. Roger is passionate about endangered species, but believes commercial farming is a better model for long term survival. His interview on Close-Up with DoC’s Al Morrison of the status quo versus farming weka, saw 83 percent of viewers side with Roger.  Roger has also rescued a flock of wild Pitt Island sheep with a plan to selling them as a gourmet food product.  His latest victory against bureaucracy is the commercialisation of Undaria – an invasive Japanese kelp used in soups and salads overseas.  After a ten year fight he finally got the greenlight to start an industry that, in five years could be worth $10 million a year.   Roger is also the force behind Eyris Blue Pearls – Paua Pearls – exported around the world. 

The Agri Business Person of the Year is Graeme Harrison, founder and chair of ANZCO Foods.

Graeme created ANZCO foods in Japan in 1984, returning to New Zealand nine years later to lead the company’s subsequent growth. Today, ANZCO has annual sales of more than $1.2 billion and employs 2,800 people on 11 production sites within New Zealand and has sales and marketing offices in Japan, Taiwan, North America, the UK and Belgium. Graeme’s vision for the future has been key in ensuring ANZCO’s past and future success and this is evident in the company’s ongoing focus in increasing investment in downstream manufacturing. This includes food solutions, pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals and food flavourings.  Right through the process of ANZCO’s growth as a company, Graeme has shown leadership, vision and innovation and this has ensured that the business has been extremely successful.

This is the second year Federated Farmers has run the Cream of the Crop awards which Feds president Don Nicolson said gives the organisation the opportunity to celebrate how good farmers are.

The awards were sponsored by Ravensdown whose chair Bill McLeod was one of the judges.

 Other judges were Invercargill Mayor, Tim Shadbolt, farming and All Blacks legend, Sir Brian Lochore, Cathy Quinn, the Auckland based chair of law firm, Minter Ellison Rudd Watts and 2010 Veuve Clicquot businesswoman of the year and Southland netball coach, Robyn Broughton.


Positive outlook for meat industry

July 14, 2008

ANZCO Foods chairman Graeme Harrison is confident that the meat industry has a positive future.

He said the industry is not broke and farmers should take a “level headed” approach to its future – because it does have a good future. 

ANZCO, a 24-year-old private company, is the fourth biggest player in the New Zealand sheepmeat market and the second biggest in the beef and veal markets.

It has in the last three years invested $125 million in new plants and upgrades and in food manufacturing expansion, says Harrison, a significant individual shareholder.

“We wouldn’t be making these investments if we didn’t think there was a good future for the business.”

By way of example Harrison says ANZCO has only recorded one loss in its 24 year history – in 1998 – “because of an investment outside New Zealand”.

“I’m sick and tired of all the negative publicity about where the meat industry is…. I’ve got confidence so producers should be taking a very level-headed view of this (debate) instead of being carried away with all the negative publicity.”

When prices are low, costs are rising and balance sheets in the red, it is easy to become pessamistic but I agree that the industry has a bright future.

Harrison says this was the message he gave a recent gathering of producers for ANZCO’s CMP business and he wants to repeat it to all meat growers as they debate the future of their industry.

“The problem sector in the meat industry is lamb and it’s in the South Island because of competition for land use (dairying).

” We have an industry with four players, all with about the same financial strength. Forget about sales turnover and market share … what you actually have is declining livestock numbers and supply is the key to this business. Where companies are similarly resourced clearly you are going to have severe competition. The long and the short of it is, some fallout is going to occur. What we have is livestock supply eroding in sheepmeat at a rate we haven’t seen since the mid-1980s. So clearly there is going to be change.”

Harrison says market forces are at work and farmers are responding to them. The biggest market force is the dairy boom.

“It’s the biggest boom in New Zealand agriculture since the early 1950s.(when dairying converted to sheep, particularly in mid-Canterbury and Southland). We’ve got a reverse of that now but on a bigger scale. Good mixed farming areas are going into dairying and the reason is comparative profitability.

“There’s nothing new about this…but extraordinary things happen in those environments. I’ve been trying to make the point that the meat industry is not broke. There’s been far too much talk about this, though it is true that financial rewards have been poor in the last four years.

“Sooner or later when you have poor returns there will be an effort to rationalise.”

If we still had subsidies we’d probably still have 60 million sheep and a mountain of lamb and mutton deteriorating in freezers. Instead we now have fewer than 40 million sheep and farmers are looking at their options and making rational business decisions based on the markets. Some are persuaded by dairy returns to convert their farms to dairying or dairy support. Others who don’t want to do that are looking at the positive impact dairy prices are having on their own land and selling.  Some still belive there is a future in sheep and beef, which of course there is.

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Meat Industry Disunity Scuttles Taskforce

June 29, 2008

Disappointment but little surprise has greeted the news that the Meat Industry Taskforce  has disbanded.

Taskforce chairman Sir John Anderson said yesterday that consultant PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), which was commissioned to complete an industry analysis, could not get informed consent from all industry participants.

In addition, Sir John said that in the last week one company had announced it was withdrawing its support for an industry strategy, saying it was pursuing its own plans, making it impossible to compile a report.

Meat and Wool New Zealand (MWNZ) established the taskforce earlier this year to create a red meat industry strategy to address international marketing, supplier dynamics and processing.

Owen Poole who chairs Alliance Group said his company supported the taskforce and was disappointed it had failed. 

Mr Poole said the strategy could have been the catalyst for industry aggregation, and the fact PWC was going to seek contributions from farmers, meat companies and unions, would have produced meaningful results.

“I see it as a lost opportunity,” he said.

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Keith Cooper said he supported any initiative to create an industry strategy, but the taskforce never released its terms of reference, so companies did not know what it was trying to achieve.

Mr Cooper said Silver Fern Farms (formerly PPCS) was not the reason the taskforce failed.

“In regard to the Meat Industry taskforce announcement, from a Silver Fern Farms perspective, we were never asked for informed consent by PWC on the issue.”

The company supported any initiatives to improve supplier returns.

“Silver Fern Farms supported any initiative about reviewing the industry strategy or structures.”

Anzco chairman Graeme Harrison was also supportive but not surprised it had failed, given the reluctance of the four major meat companies to co-operate on industry issues.

“Unless the four companies were prepared to talk in meaningful ways, then it was never going to happen.”

While he had reservations about the size of regulatory and commercial hurdles the taskforce faced, he said it would have provided an important circuit-breaker for farmer confidence.

Mr Harrison said commercial reality would now play its hand and there would be change.

“Sooner or later, something will happen and it will be a commercial decision.”

The 07-08 season was a very tough one for sheep farmers with falling returns and steeply increasing prices for fuel, fertiliser and other inputs. The outlook for next season’s lamb prices is more optimistic, but even so they’ll be hoping that whatever happens in the industry happens sooner not later.


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