Rural round-up

February 9, 2017

Synlait increases forecast milk price to $6.25 kgMS:

Synlait Milk has increased their forecast milk price from $6.00 kgMS to $6.25 kgMS for the 2016 / 2017 season.

“International dairy commodity prices have improved further since our last announcement in November and although prices have eased slightly in early 2017, we believe $6.25 kgMS is now a realistic estimate for the current season,” said Graeme Milne, Chairman.

Mr Milne said global dairy production, with the exception of the United States, has continued to decrease and followed the trend of previous months. . . 

Stu Muir brings life to dying wetlands – Kate Guthrie:

Stu Muir is a Waikato dairy farmer and, in contrast to some of the headline-grabbing stories you may have read about dairy farmers, Stu and his family are putting a huge effort into restoring natural waterways on their block. Such is the magnitude of their effort and the success of their project,that they even featured on the 50th Anniversary episode of ‘Country Calendar’.

Stu’s family have been farming in New Zealand since the 1850s. On a block of land his great great grandparents
bought back in the 1890s, there is a swamp and until recently that swamp was clogged with willows and pampas – so badly blocked that you couldn’t move through the stream. Water couldn’t move either and with no current flowing through the wetland was full of pondweed and dead or dying throughout. . . 

‘You can’t afford to have a short-term view’ – Maja Burry:

A ban on collecting shellfish and seaweed species in Kaikōura has left some pāua divers jobless – but they are still supporting a government proposal to extend the closure further.

The Kaikōura earthquake lifted parts of the seabed by up to four metres, exposing thousands of pāua and other sealife to dehydration and prompting the fisheries closure.

The current ban is due to expire on 20 February, but the Ministry for Primary Industries has been seeking feedback on its plan to extend it another nine months. . . 

Trump vs. global supply chains: US agriculture edition – James Pethokoukis:

Donald Trump wants to rework NAFTA to somehow bring back manufacturing jobs. (Reality check here.) But I guess it isn’t just factories that have complex, enmeshed supply chains. US agriculture has a big stake in possible re-negotiations, too. From the FT:

Corn is the biggest of the US’s $17.7bn in agricultural exports to Mexico, a value that has risen fivefold since the countries signed the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexico’s exports to the US have grown even faster to $21bn, led by fruits and vegetables such as lemons and avocados. … The US president has pledged to revise Nafta, wall off the border and possibly slap Mexican imports with tariffs. Trade in agriculture could end up a casualty. … Mexico is the third biggest destination for exported US farm products. They range from corn and wheat to dairy foods and high-fructose corn syrup. . . 

Manuka honey’s reputation hit by Queen’s grocer’s move – industry:

The reputation of manuka honey has taken a hit after the Queen’s official grocer pulled it from its shelves, says the local industry.

Fortnum-and-Mason removed the New Zealand-made product, after testing showed it had lower-than-expected levels of a key ingredient.

John Rawcliffe, from the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association, said he did not know who supplied the honey to the upmarket grocer. . . 

  First round of Regional Awards finalists announced:

The 2017 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards is in full swing, with judging underway and the first regional finalists announced.

The awards, which oversee the Share Farmer of the Year, Dairy Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions, received 424 entries.

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, DairyNZ, DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra Farm Source, Honda Motorcycles, LIC, Meridian Energy, and Ravensdown, along with industry partner Primary ITO. . .

Tough contest for dairy industry scholars:

DairyNZ has awarded 55 scholarships to Lincoln, Massey and Waikato university students as part of a wider drive to support motivated young talent into the dairy industry.

The annual scholarships were awarded to students undertaking degrees in agriculture or related fields, with a particular interest in the dairy industry.

Susan Stokes, DairyNZ industry education facilitator, says the quality of applications this year was exceptionally high and bodes well for future talent coming into the dairy industry. . .

Final Results for Karaka 2017:

New Zealand Bloodstock’s 91st National Yearling Sales Series concluded on Sunday after six action-packed days of selling.

The increased international presence at Karaka 2017 was a highlight of the Sale Series, with purchasers from nine countries including Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Ireland, Great Britain, and Japan securing purchases through the three Sale sessions.

Spend by the Australian buying bench increased by over $5.6 million (+18%) on last year’s edition with receipts totalling $36.9 million for 290 horses purchased (up from 251 in 2016). . . 

Blooming marvellous… New Zealand’s biggest commercial nursery placed on the market for sale:

The land, buildings and business making up New Zealand’s biggest commercial wholesale plant and shrub nursery have been placed on the market for sale.

Growing Spectrum is a 9.635 hectare ‘all-in-one’ seedling, nursery and potting operation at Kihikihi near Te Awamutu in Southern Waikato. The business grows more than half-a-million plants for sale annually – supplying virtually all of New Zealand’s garden centres and selected home improvement mega store outlets.

The family owned and operated business was established 40 years by husband and wife horticultural entrepreneurs Peter and Carol Fraser. It now employs 36 full-time staff, with the company’s sales growing consistently over the past three completed financial years – reaching $4.76 million in the 2015/2016 period. . . 


Rural round-up

September 19, 2016

Officials crack down on dairy farmers for breaching employment obligations – Gerard Hutching:

Officials have discovered that half of the 28 dairy farms they visited in the last two months in Waikato were in breach of their employment obligations and have fined some farmers $2000 each.

The Labour Inspectorate has promised a nationwide crackdown on employers who fail to keep written employment agreements or time records. Maximum fines can reach $20,000 for serious breaches.

Federated Farmers dairy spokesman Andrew Hoggard said he could not defend the farmers.

“There are no excuses. Employment agreements have been around since 1991 so they can’t say they don’t know,” Hoggard  said. . .

Tenacity and vision mark tenure – Guy Williams:

One of Queenstown’s most respected community servants has hung up his chainsaw. Peter Willsman, the driving force behind the region’s ground-breaking wilding tree control group, has stepped down as co-chairman. Queenstown reporter Guy Williams asks him why, and looks at his legacy.

Wilding trees throughout the Wakatipu — and probably in the rest of the country as well — may well be standing a little taller this week.

That is because one of their biggest scourges, Peter Willsman, has called time on his leadership role in the Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group (WCG).

Co-chairman since the group’s formation in 2009, he announced his resignation at its annual “reporting night” last week. . . 

100 farmers dump milk following silo collapse – Vaughan Elder:

About 100 farmers in Otago and Southland were forced to dump milk over the weekend in  the aftermath of the milk silo collapse at Fonterra’s Edendale site.

Fonterra has called in engineers from around New Zealand and the world to try to get the plant fully operational again after the silo collapsed  on Friday, bringing down an overhead gantry carrying large steam pipes.

Neighbours reported hearing a  loud boom about 1.50pm, followed by the  sound of steam escaping from the ruptured pipes, a noise which continued for about 30 minutes.

One said it sounded like a Boeing 747 flying low overhead. . . 

Farm trends shut yards – Neal Wallace:

The South Island’s largest sale yards at Temuka in South Canterbury are benefiting from competitors closing but could not take anything for granted, Temuka Saleyards Company chairman Ian Bowan says.  

The company has spent more than $100,000 on electronic ear tag readers and was planning a new effluent disposal system.  “We’ve kept up with everything. We haven’t got behind,” he said.  

News the Tinwald yards in Ashburton would close later this year confirmed a trend of consolidation of sale yards around the country, some closing and others holding fewer sales.  

Closures in recent years included Cromwell, Matamau near Dannevirke and Studholme and Holme Station in South Canterbury. . . 

Synlait’s Profit Triples in Fy16, Launches Next Growth Phase:

Synlait’s reported net profit after tax (NPAT) has more than tripled to $34.4 million for the financial year ending 31 July 2016.

Driven by an almost fourfold increase in canned infant formula volumes and growth in powder and cream product volumes, the positive result has also set the foundation for Synlait’s next phase of growth.

“Synlait is a growth company. Our FY16 performance highlights the progress we’ve made since our IPO in 2013 towards our aspiration of making more from milk,” said Chairman Graeme Milne.

“We are continuing this momentum with an accelerated pro-rata entitlement offer to eligible shareholders[1] to raise approximately $98 million in support of our next growth phase. Investing in further capital projects to expand our capability and capacity will put us in a strong position to pursue customer, product and market development opportunities in the coming years,” said Mr Milne. . . 

Quality can sell grain – Annette Scott:

New Zealand grains are in a league of their own and should be marketed as such, industry leaders say.  

Heavy reliance on the dairy industry had affected arable growers’ returns so they suggested other principle markets should be explored.  Market trends, challenges and opportunities were the focus of a grains forum held in Canterbury on Thursday.  

Facilitated by the Grain and Seed Trade Association (GSTA) in conjunction with the Foundation for Arable Research and Federated Farmers, the forum stimulated thinking around plans for future action in the grains sector. . . 

Prices keep heads shaking – Hugh Stringleman:

Keen demand for young cattle for restocking will centre on sale yard prices for 100kg weaners from the end of the month, AgriHQ livestock market analyst Rachel Agnew says.  

The weaner market was expected to open with prices well over $4/kg liveweight, probably $4.50 to $4.80.  

“Inquiry levels are starting to build up and the first weaner calves are an eagerly anticipated part of the annual cattle cycle,” she said.  

Buying weaners was a way of stocking up with the lowest financial outlay. . . 

Computing giant includes rural secondary schools in “vision’ competition:

HP New Zealand (HP NZ) is asking rural students to share their vision of how they think they will learn in the future to be in the running to win a share of $26,000 worth of HP products and support.

The HP Rural Schools Competition, in its third year, gives rural New Zealand primary schools – and for the first time this year – secondary schools, the chance to win HP technology and support best suited to the school’s needs. Entries are open now. . . 

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Rural round-up

August 12, 2016

Kiwi world leader in precision farming – Nigel Malthus:

Mid-Canterbury farmer and businessman Craige Mackenzie was recently named the international Precision Farmer of the Year for 2016.

He is travelling to St Louis, Missouri, in early August to receive the award from the US-based PrecisionAg Institute. Nigel Malthus caught up with him before he left.

The award recognises “outstanding people, programmes and organisations making a difference in the precision ag industry”. It is a high honour for a man who was first invited to present a paper at an international conference in 2008 – but who did not then consider himself a precision farmer. . . 

$34-$35 Million FY16 reported earnings forecast for Synlait:

Synlait Milk’s reported net profit after tax (NPAT) for FY16 is forecast to be in the range of $34 – $35 million.

Underlying NPAT for FY16 is forecast to be in the range of $32 – $33 million.

Earnings guidance for the financial year ending 31 July 2016 (FY16) has been provided to clarify market expectations around FY16 performance.

“Our IPO growth projects added the capability and capacity to execute our strategy of making more from milk,” said Graeme Milne, Chairman. . . 

Collaborative group to improve nature protection:

A new collaborative group involving environmental and landowner organisations has come together to improve national policy on protecting nature on private land, Environment Minister Nick Smith announced today at the Environmental Defence Society’s ‘Wild Places’ conference in Auckland.

“New Zealand is globally recognised as a hotspot environmentally for the loss of unique species. One of the most challenging issues for councils and communities is improving the protection of our native species on private land while respecting the reasonable rights of owners to use their land for farming, forestry and other economic activities. This initiative is about bringing environmental groups and landowners together to develop clearer national policy on protecting the plants and animals that make New Zealand special.” . . 

Feds welcome biodiversity forum:

Federated Farmers welcomes the new national biodiversity forum announced by Minister Nick Smith at the Environmental Defence Society conference today.

Federated Farmers spokesperson for biodiversity Chris Allen says we now have the opportunity to come to a common understanding of the pressures and priorities for biodiversity, on land and in water.

“From here we chart a way forward. Part of this will be agreeing on a national policy statement. . . 

Threatened wildlife the winner if National Policy Statement on Biodiversity succeeds:

Forest & Bird is cautiously optimistic that the development of a National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity will help New Zealand’s struggling native wildlife, and streamline the process of protecting the environment.

Minister for the Environment Nick Smith announced today that core stakeholders have been invited to meet over the next 18 months and collaboratively work on a National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity.

A National Policy Statement (NPS) is a statutory document that guides and directs the contents of regional and district plans. All regional and district plans must give effect to the policy. . . 

Entries open for the 2016 Rural Women New Zealand Journalism Award:

Rural Women New Zealand is offering the Journalism Award in a partnership with the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators.

The Award recognises the important contribution women make in the rural community, either through their role in the farming sector or to the general rural environment.

The Award encourages journalists to report on the achievements of women living and working in rural communities. The award recipient will demonstrate excellent understanding of issues and effectively communicate women’s responses to farming, family and business challenges, in a way which inspires and informs the audience. . . 

Changes to kiwifruit regulations:

The Government is updating kiwifruit regulations to ensure the industry is best structured for future growth, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

“New amendments to the Kiwifruit Export Regulations will allow Zespri shareholders to consider setting rules around maximum shareholding and eligibility for dividend payments. 

“This will give Zespri more options for managing its shareholding available to any other company operating under the Companies Act, and will ensure that the interests of all shareholders are recognised in any decision affecting them. . . 

Zespri welcomes changes to Kiwifruit Export Regulations:

Zespri welcomes the Government’s announcement that Cabinet has approved amendments to the Kiwifruit Export Regulations.

Zespri Chairman Peter McBride explains these regulatory changes represent the first major review of the regulations since they were put in place 17 years ago.

“The Kiwifruit Regulations have served the industry very well and extensive industry consultation showed more than 97 percent of growers support the industry structure, with minor changes identified to position the industry for the strong growth ahead. . . 

NZKGI welcomes amendments to Kiwifruit Export Regulations:

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI) welcomes today’s announcement by the Government to approve amendments to the Kiwifruit Export Regulations.

These changes will ensure a regulatory structure that supports the sustainable, long-term growth of the New Zealand kiwifruit industry into the future.

The announcement today reflects considerable effort and investment by growers into ensuring the industry has the foundations to sustain its future in good and adverse times. . . 

Pahiatua Farmers Enjoy Participating In Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Wairarapa sheep and beef farmers Tim and Nicola Hewitt are proud of the environmental work on their family’s 724ha (640ha effective) property south of Pahiatua. While they were initially reluctant to enter the Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards, they are glad they finally gave it a go.

“We didn’t want to be seen as blowing our own trumpet,” says Tim.

“But ultimately I think farmers have a responsibility to our industry to show that we are trying to do a good job when it comes to the environment.” . . 

New agri-food research centre in Palmerston North:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce has today announced that AgResearch and Massey University will jointly build New Zealand’s largest agri-food research centre in the Food HQ Precinct on the Massey University campus in Palmerston North.

As part of AgResearch’s Future Footprint Programme, AgResearch and Massey University are investing $39 million in the Food Science Research Centre and the design for the new buildings is well underway.

“The research conducted at the Centre will span the agriculture sector from farm to consumer, with a focus on dairy and red meat research,” Mr Joyce says. . . 

Association backs ‘thorough’ maunka honey verification – Alexa Cook:

The Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association says it can now classify what is genuine manuka honey, which it believes is a world first.

John Rawcliffe, from UMF Honey Association, said clarification around what constituted genuine manuka honey would help protect the brand and identify legitimate honey.

“Everyone who puts the word ‘manuka’ on a bottle is required to ensure that it is, so from any export honey the requirement is to show that you are labelling correctly that it is manuka.

“There have been question marks on how to go about it, and today under the UMF quality mark at least we can say ‘this is manuka’.” . . 

Rodent eradication lies in directed vitamin dose:

Rats die of a heart attack within 48 hours of being sprayed with a new chemical formulation invented by a New Zealand – United Kingdom joint venture.

The formula includes Cholecalciferol, better known as vitamin D3 and used as a health supplement in humans.

But Peter Signal, a director of New Zealand company Advanced Animal Technologies (AAT), says it’s the combination of the chemical formula with a specially designed delivery system, called PiedPiper, that has been shown to deliver outstanding results in trials in the UK, Europe and Kenya. . . 

 


Rural round-up

June 10, 2016

Synlait forecast milk price $4.50 kgMS next season:

Synlait Milk’s forecast milk price for the 2016 / 2017 season is $4.50 kgMS and will carry a higher than usual advance rate for milk suppliers.

Chairman Graeme Milne said the prospect of another tough season will be slightly offset for Synlait suppliers as they’ll start the season in a stronger cash flow position than they were expecting.

“Cash flow is really important at this time of year and we’ve prioritised a significantly higher advance rate for our milk suppliers’ benefit,” said Mr Milne. . . 

One more step to Open:

It’s a long way from Whangamomona to Somerset, but distance has been no barrier for Taranaki shearer Darren Alexander.

Alexander has celebrated his first trip to England by winning a title at one of England’s major shows.

The 22-year-old shearer, who graduated from Lincoln College in Canterbury with a B.Sc last year, won the senior final at the British Golden Shears, during last week’s Royal Bath and West Show at Shepton Mallet in the southwest of England. . . 

2016 Sheep Industry Awards Finalists Announced:

Finalists in the 2016 Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards have been announced.

The awards are now in their fifth year and Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive, Sam McIvor said they were a great way to celebrate the New Zealand sheep industry and the farmers who produce the best sheep meat in the world.

“It’s right that we acknowledge the top performers and showcase our industry, which is a significant contributor to the New Zealand economy.

“These businesses and individuals can rightly take their place as outstanding performers on both the domestic and international business stage,” McIvor said. . . .

Environment Showcase Celebrates Best Of Sustainable Agriculture and Horticulture:

Supreme winners from the eleven regions participating in the 2016 Ballance Farm Environment Awards will be honoured at New Zealand Farm Environment Trust’s National Sustainability Showcase in June.

Celebrating environmental excellence and culminating with the naming of the National Winner of the 2016 Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA), the annual Sustainability Showcase is regarded as a premier event on the farming calendar.

This year’s Showcase is being held in Northland where the next recipient of the Gordon Stephenson trophy will be announced at a special gala dinner on June 22 at the Copthorne Hotel and Resort, Bay of Islands. . . 

More funding for the New Zealand cycle trail:

The Government is investing more than $1.2 million in seven new projects for the upkeep and maintenance of the New Zealand Cycle Trail, Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism John Key announced today.

The investment comes from the fourth round of the Maintaining the Quality of the Great Rides Fund and priority has been given to proposals that aim to improve safety and quality of the Great Rides – the premier rides of the New Zealand Cycle Trail.

“The Great Rides are used by thousands of people every day and have provided a significant boost to New Zealand tourism,” Mr Key says. “This funding will help ensure visitors can continue soaking up New Zealand’s beautiful scenery in a safe and enjoyable way. . . 

Nuffield scholar looking to Merino for returns

The sheep meat and wool industry is Victoria’s third largest agricultural industry by value, but 2014 Nuffield Scholar Tim Gubbins believes the future of this important industry could be even brighter with a greater focus on reproductive potential.

The Darlington farm manager is responsible for a sheep flock consisting of 10,000 composite ewes.

The operation also includes a winter grazed area of approximately 2,100 hectares, as well as an annual cropping program of around 600 hectares. . .

Seawater tomatoes set new farming benchmark – Andrew Marshall:

A landmark $100 million-plus greenhouse complex capable of producing 16,000 tonnes of tomatoes annually from solar power-filtered seawater officially opens in arid South Australia in October.

The much-anticipated 20-hectare Sundrop Farms development near Port Augusta will be the world’s biggest “seawater greenhouse”.

It is also the latest of about seven big scale hydroponic greenhouse developments to have sprouted in Australia in less than a decade. . . 


Rural round-up

April 1, 2016

Nutritional Sales Underpin Half Year Underlying Profit of $12.3 Million:

Synlait has reported an underlying net profit after tax (NPAT) of $12.3 million for the first half of the 2016 financial year (HY16).

In contrast to $0.4 million in HY15, this improved performance is primarily the result of increased nutritional sales in canned infant formula.

“We’re glad to deliver a solid result for the first half of FY16. Our significant investment in customer and product development, people, plant and operating systems in recent years is beginning to transform our earnings,” said Chairman Graeme Milne. . . 

European market conditions depress Westland’s payout prediction:

Global market conditions for dairy products point to at least two more seasons of low milk payouts in New Zealand, Westland Milk Products told shareholders today as the co-operative revised its predicted payout for the 2015-16 season to $3.90 – $4.00 per kilogramme of milk solids, down from last month’s prediction of $4.00 – $4.10.

Westland CEO Rod Quin said the major driver of the revised payout remains the global oversupply of milk, compounded by the ongoing high availability and aggressive approach by the European dairy market.

Quin and Westland Chair Matt O’Regan have recently returned from Europe where they met with customers, farmers, processors, traders and industry advocates. . . 

Fonterra makes best of a bad job – Allan Barber:

The PR spin has been pretty active signalling a much improved half yearly result which was duly delivered this morning. The company confirmed a 40 cent dividend for the full year with the interim dividend being paid next month as usual and the final dividend being paid in two tranches in May and August instead of October.

This improvement in cash flow will do something, but not a lot, to comfort farmers labouring under a debt burden. Unfortunately it will do absolutely nothing to support sharemilkers who will have to rely on their share of the milk payout. Predictions for the rest of 2016 are notable for their conservatism, probably in recognition of a disappointing track record when forecasting the extent of the current downturn. . . 

Fonterra’s six-month results – good news but some underlying issues – Keith Woodford:

As expected, Fonterra has announced a greatly enhanced six-month profit for the period ending 31 January 2016. The profit of $409 million (NPAT; i.e. net profit after finance costs and tax) is up 123% from the same period in the previous year.

The expected full year profit of 45-55c per share implies an annual profit of about $800 million compared to $506 million for the full year 2014/15.

These figures are all very much in line with expectations . The reason for this is that when milk prices to farmers are low, then Fonterra has low input costs. Accordingly, there is more scope for corporate profit. . . 

Keep sharing the load by talking about it:

No matter which branch of farming you are in, you will face tough times, says Nelson farmer and Horticulture NZ President Julian Raine. When that happens, don’t be too proud to ask for help.

Speaking to the Farming Show’s Jamie Mackay as part of the Getting Through Adversity radio series, Julian said that even with the best planning, erratic weather events can cause mayhem. Jamie suggested that growing fruit crops is arguably one of the riskiest pursuits in farming: “One adverse event at the wrong time and suddenly your whole crop is wiped out. If you are a sheep farmer, for example, you at least have lambing spread over three weeks, or if you are dairy your risk is spread over nine months of milking.” . . 

Meat exporters ready to reap benefits of TPP:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement eliminates all tariffs on beef into our biggest market, the United States, within five years of coming into force.

Trade Minister Todd McClay, speaking at the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce this morning, says New Zealand exported meat products worth over $2.8 billion to TPP countries in 2015 and the gains once TPP comes into force will be significant.

“Our beef into Japan currently attracts a 38.5 per cent tariff. That has made it extraordinarily hard for our exporters to compete with other countries with lower tariffs. . . 

Ongoing market challenges weigh on New Zealand farmers, with confidence close to 10-year low:

The significant and persisting challenges in market conditions continue to weigh heavily on the nation’s farmers, with New Zealand’s rural confidence at the second lowest level recorded in the past 10 years, the latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey has shown.

Completed earlier this month, the survey found more than half of farmers surveyed (53 per cent) had a pessimistic outlook on the agricultural economy over the coming 12 months. This was significantly up from 30 per cent with that view in the previous survey, in late 2015. . . 

Dairy downturn: councils prepare to tighten belts:

Councils in rural areas might be forced to cut spending if the dairy downturn lasts for a long time, Local Government New Zealand head Lawrence Yule says.

A Westpac-McDermott Miller regional economic survey has shown big falls in confidence in major dairy areas including Waikato, Taranaki, and Southland.

Mr Yule said the businesses in many rural towns were already hunkering down as farmers tightened their spending, and that could spread. . .

NZX to teach farmers about new milk contract:

NZX expects to receive regulatory approval for the new fresh milk futures and options product within two weeks.

Chief executive Tim Bennett said there was a demand for the fresh milk contracts product after Fonterra scrapped its guaranteed milk price product for the upcoming season. . . 

NZ helping to restore Fiji’s dairy sector after Winston:

The New Zealand government says it will help restore Fiji’s dairy industry which is losing thousands of litres of milk and was devastated as a result of last month’s cyclone.

New Zealand announced additional aid to help Fiji’s recovery on Wednesday.

A lot of that money is going into the continuing infrastructure rebuild led by the New Zealand Defence Force. . . 

Helensville Farmers First To Claim Supreme Title In Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

“Environmental champions” Richard and Dianne Kidd are Supreme winners of the inaugural Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

At a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on March 30 (2016), the Helensville couple was also presented with the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award and the Farm Stewardship Award in partnership with QEII National Trust and New Zealand Farm Environment Trust.

BFEA judges described Whenuanui Farm, the Kidd family’s 376ha sheep, beef and forestry unit, as “a show piece farm on the edge of Auckland city”. . . .

From paddock to packet: The family behind NZ’s most successful independent chips – Ryan Bridge:

You’re about to meet a family of potato farmers who beat the odds to grow one of the country’s most successful independent chip businesses.

The Bowans are from Timaru and not only do they grow spuds, they transport them to their own factory and make the chips too.

Together they are Heartland Potato Chips.

It all started when Raymond Bowan decided to grow his own potatoes as a teenager. His son James Bowan has taken over running the family potato farm and unlike his old man, he doesn’t do it by hand anymore, there’s a flash piece of kit to help. . . 

Food development facility opportunity for creative entrepreneurs:

Those looking to be innovative with their food are wanted at the FoodSouth food development pilot plant on the Lincoln campus, but there are no Heston Blumenthal creations on the menu.

The final part of a national food innovation network, the facility provides three purpose-built independent food safe development spaces along with a variety of processing equipment — an extruder, ovens, dryers, enrober, mixers, and a mobile product development kitchen among them.

It enables businesses to develop product prototypes for market validation, trial new equipment, carry out scale-up trial work and sample manufacture in 20L to 200L batch sizes, conduct process development and improvement, and validate quality systems. . . 

It’s in the family for new A&P Association President:

Sheep and beef farmer Warrick James has been elected as President of the Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association for 2016 at the Annual General Meeting at Riccarton Park Racecourse on 30 March.

Based in Central Canterbury near Glentunnel, Mr James was confirmed as President of the 154th Canterbury A&P Show in front of outgoing President Nicky Hutchinson and Association Members.

“It means a lot to be President of the Canterbury A&P Association. We host the largest and most prestigious Show in the country – it really is the pinnacle of the A&P movement. Having been involved from a young age with my family and seeing my own children take part over the years just makes this even more special.” . . .

Trio spread cheer on woolshed tour – Suzette Howe:

At a time when life’s a bit tough for rural communities, a trio of Kiwi performers are setting off on a woolshed tour to boost morale. 

They’re coming armed with their own stage curtain, a bar and plenty of laughs.

Over the next five weeks the talented ladies will transform more than 20 working wool sheds into live stages the length of the South Island.

They’re travelling by horse truck, carting hundreds of chairs, a bar, and full production set.

Farmer Georgie Harper says it’s hard to say no when the performance is brought to you. . . 

Itinerary and booking information at The Woolshed Tour.


Rural round-up

February 3, 2016

Booklet kicks off Fonterra structure review – Hugh Stringleman:

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

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

Rabobank announces new head of Food & Agri Research:

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

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

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

Alliance drafter has eye for winner – Sally Rae:

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

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

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

Course already tidy for Legends – Sally Rae,

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

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

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

Synlait revises milk price forecast to $4.20:

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

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

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

World Wetlands Day celebrated:

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

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

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

Rethink needed over dairy farm planting incentives:

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

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

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

Forestry show NZ way to better safety:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Irrigation scheme loan approved:

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

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

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

Ruataniwha Dam: Investor mix still being finalised:

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

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

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

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

Global slump in fert prices benefits NZ farmers:

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

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

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

Lowest urea price since 2007:

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

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

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


Rural round-up

October 2, 2015

Chinese deal vital, SFF says – Sally Rae:

Silver Fern Farms could be facing insolvency if shareholders do not approve a 50:50 joint venture with Chinese company Shanghai Maling.

Voting has opened on the proposal before a meeting of shareholders at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium on October 16.

Shanghai Maling, a subsidiary of state owned food giant Bright Food Group, is proposing to take a 50% stake in Silver Fern Farms, in return for an investment of $261million. . . 

Hold off on Silver Fern vote, farmers urged –  Sally Rae:

Farmers are being urged to hold off voting on the Silver Fern Farms joint venture deal with Shanghai Maling, with hints that ”concrete” alternatives will emerge.

Voting is under way and closes at 10.30am on October 14, before a special meeting in Dunedin on October 16, where two resolutions will be voted on.

As well as the Shanghai Maling proposal, the meeting will also consider the shareholder resolution, promoted by Heriot farmer Allan Richardson and John Cochrane, from Clinton, seeking full analysis of the benefits and risks of a merger with Alliance Group. That resolution was not supported by Silver Fern Farms’ board. . . 

Bright lets sparks fly – Alan Williams:

Bright Dairy group is an excellent strategic investor in Synlait Milk, the latter’s chairman Graeme Milne says.

“It’s more than just money they bring.

“They’ve got the knowledge and capability to help us make good decisions.”

Shanghai Maling, the proposed new investor for Silver Fern Farms, is part of the wider Bright Dairy-Bright Foods group. . . 

Super-drone sprayer comes with risks -Robin Martin:

The first unmanned helicopter certified to spray chemicals in New Zealand could ultimately save back-country farmers thousands of dollars but it comes with a hefty price tag – and a safety warning. 

The Yamaha RMAX is a beast by drone standards, powered by a 260cc engine and weighing in at close to 100 kilograms.

Yamaha business development manager Geoff Lamb and his team put the chopper through its paces for a gathering of curious farmers, spraying contractors and radio-controlled aircraft enthusiasts at a Lepperton farm in Taranaki this week. . . 

Fonterra boss offers $4m salary freeze:

The chief executive of Fonterra has asked for his multi-million dollar salary to be frozen this year as the co-operative goes through major cost cuts and slashes hundreds of jobs.

Theo Spierings requested the freeze on his base salary on the same day Fonterra announced it was slashing hundreds more jobs as part of a business shake-up, taking total layoffs to 750.

That came just days before the company released its annual result.

A spokesman said Mr Spierings went to a meeting of Fonterra’s people, culture and safety committee on 21 September and requested that his base salary of about $4 million for the 2015/16 year be frozen. . . 

Nutrient loss under the spotlight:

New Zealand’s shift from a pasture-based model to high feed-input dairy farms will come under the microscope in a joint research project involving Ballance Agri-Nutrients, AgResearch, DairyNZ and Tatua, in partnership with the Government’s Sustainable Farming Fund initiative.

The two year project, led by AgResearch’s Dr Stewart Ledgard, will use case study farms varying in intensity of feed use to examine effects of their system changes over the last decade on emissions, production and profit as well as testing options for improving their sustainability.

“Locally there is strong interest in understanding implications for water quality of dairy intensification through increased use of supplementary feeds and how effects can be minimised, while internationally there is a desire for food products to be produced with efficient use of resources and reduced wider environmental impacts”, says Dr Stewart Ledgard. . . 

Aussies nab heaviest fleece record:

Well it’s official New Zealand has been fleeced by the Australians ..who now hold the world record for the heaviest fleece shorn off a merino.

The Australians were quick to yell they had found a wild merino near Canberra in early September with a fleece which weighed in at 40 kilograms.

Otago’s ‘Shrek the sheep’ held the record up until last year when another wild merino – dubbed Big Ben – was found in the Mackenzie Country with a fleece weighing 28.9 kgs. . . 

Steady wool market:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s C.E.O, Mr John Dawson reports that the more restricted wool type offering in the North Island sale of 6,165 bales saw a 97 percent clearance and a generally steady market.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies firmed 1.66 percent compared to the last sale on 24th September only impacting on the finer end of the offering.

Mr Dawson advises that the stronger New Zealand dollar and limited interest in the Fine Crossbred longer wools saw prices ease 2 to 4 percent with shorter types better supported with pries 1 to 3.5 percent softer in local terms. . . 


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