Rural round-up

May 8, 2020

Concern farmers’ wellbeing affected: –  David Hill:

North Canterbury Rural Support Trust chairman Andy Munro is concerned for the wellbeing of farmers as they negotiate the ongoing effects of a dry season and the Covid-19 lockdown.

He said last month’s rain was “a great morale booster” for farmers in the drought-affected area in North Canterbury.

“Since that rain four weeks ago, things went pretty quiet. But it’s just a pity we haven’t had a follow-up rain and we really need a good warm follow-up rain, particularly for the farmers from Waipara north to get some growth before winter.

“It’s starting to get dry and cold in that northern part, but other than that it’s business as usual. . . 

Farmers need to be heard not patronised:

The Government’s drought recovery advice fund announced today is merely a drop in the bucket for supporting farmers affected by drought, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“The fund is specifically for providing affected farmers with recovery and planning advice, but does not contribute to farmers’ rising feed costs or general business costs.

“Most farmers already know what is needed to help their business recover and it is insulting for the Government to tell them they simply need to seek more advice to get through the drought. . . 

Rural GPs not just another business – Peter Burke:

Rural General Practice Network chair Dr Fiona Bolden is disappointed that the Government is treating rural general practices the same as any other business in the community.

Bolden told Rural News that rural GPs were expecting to get two payments from the Government to assist them financially.

However, she says while they had received the first payment, Cabinet vetoed the second payment – just days before it was expected to be paid.  . .

Differing responses to wage subsidy scheme – Allan Barber:

The country’s meat processors have followed two distinctly different paths in response to the government’s wage subsidy scheme which is available to all businesses for 12 weeks, providing they can substantiate a 30% drop in revenue during the period. Silver Fern Farms, Alliance, ANZCO, Taylor Preston and Blue Sky Meats have all claimed the subsidy to varying extents, whereas AFFCO, Greenlea and Wilson Hellaby have decided it is not justified or necessary, at least partly on ethical grounds.

The contrast in approach has already been commented on by independent economist, Cameron Bagrie, who has slammed the two largest claimants, SFF which has claimed $43 million and Alliance $34 million, for taking advantage of taxpayer funding when they are classified as an essential business, operating in lockdown. Equally Bagrie complimented those companies not making a claim because they were getting on with business as usual. Speaking to The Country’s Jamie Mackay, he said “the wage subsidy is out there to support businesses that are getting clobbered, that are effectively in lockdown.”

I am not convinced this interpretation is either totally fair or even correct. Both SFF’s Simon Limmer and Alliance’s CEO David Surveyor are clear the wage subsidy is not a company entitlement, but is paid directly to various categories of employees: firstly it maintains standard wage rates at normal processing speeds despite the 30-50% reduction to meet distance requirements, it retains those who would have to have been terminated seasonally, and it is used to pay those who cannot work e.g. because of age,  compromised immunity or family circumstances. . .

Community to the rescue for harvest – Toni Williams:

CharRees Vineyard owners Charlie and Esma Hill put a call out on social media for help to harvest during lockdown.

They were so overwhelmed by community response, including some from Christchurch, they had to turn people away.

The lockdown harvest, approved by Ministry for Primary Industries as essential for food and beverage production, attracted about 20 people from Ashburton and Methven — many who had never harvested grapes before — to put their hands up to help.

The pickers worked alongside family members of the couple and vineyard workers to pick the first of three annual grape harvests. . . 

Red meat exports top $1 billion in March 2020, a first for monthly exports:

The monthly value of New Zealand red meat and co-product exports topped $1 billion for the first time, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Total exports reached $1.1 billion in March 2020, an increase of 12 per cent on March 2019.

While overall exports to China for the month of March were down by nine per cent compared to last March as a result of COVID-19, exports to all other major markets increased, demonstrating the agility and resilience of the New Zealand red meat sector. . . 

Time to take ag reform out of the “too hard basket” – Fiona Simson:

Regional Australia is well placed to be the engine that powers Australia’s COVID-19 recovery. The bush has done this before, with strong exports helping keep recession at bay during the Global Financial Crisis.

And, after a challenging period of drought, bushfires and floods, widespread rainfall has seen the fortunes of farmers begin to improve. Agriculture is ready and raring to grow.

As we dare to cast an eye to the world post-COVID-19, now is the opportune time to consider the changes agriculture and regional Australia needs to best contribute to the recovery task. . . 


Rural round-up

August 31, 2017

South Canterbury coastal plan will become operative in September – Elena McPhee:

A change to coastal South Canterbury’s farming rules will come into force next month and despite an initial challenge, farmers say they are now looking forward to helping protect a nationally significant wetland area.

The South Coastal Canterbury Plan Change addresses both water quality and water quantity in the catchment, which includes Wainono Lagoon.

Environment Canterbury councillor Peter Skelton said the schedule set out good farming practices relating to nutrient management, irrigation management, grazing intensively-farmed stock, farm cultivation, and animal effluent. . .

‘Retirement’ is apples for Murray – Yvonne O’Hara:

Former Alexandra retailer Murray Bell has given up heels and soles for Honeycrisp and Jazz.

Mr Bell, 63, retired from his shoe retailing business earlier this year, but relaxing with his feet up has yet to happen.

He and partner Rachel Samuel have Crag-an-oir Orchard, which is 15ha of apple trees on the outskirts of Alexandra.

They originally grew some apricots, but they now focus solely on growing several apple varieties, using organic principles. The orchard is certified under BioGro as part of the Springvale Apple Growers Partnership. . .

TracMap gets room to expand:

TracMap founder Colin Brown addresses the crowd at the opening of the company’s new offices in Dukes Rd, Mosgiel, last week.

The company supplies precision guidance systems to the primary food production industries with the cloud-based system allowing accurate task management and placement reporting for products, people and vehicles in-field. . .

Agrifood sector is tech-savvy but not ready for major disruption:

A new agrifood sector report has found that New Zealand farmers have been quick to adopt smart farming techniques, but few are preparing for major technological disruption.

The report, funded through Microsoft’s Academic Programs initiative and prepared by researchers from the Massey Business School, examined the impact of cloud computing and other potentially disruptive technologies on the sector.

Researchers interviewed both technologists and members of the agrifood industry – and found there was a gap between how the two groups perceive the future. . . 

Red Stag Timber plans to lift production from its Waipa ‘super mill’ to meet demand – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – Red Stag Timber, which developed New Zealand’s first ‘super mill’ a year ago, plans to step up production next year to meet demand in its local and overseas markets.

The Rotorua-based Waipa Mill increased its production of sawn timber to an annual 550,000 cubic metres from 450,000 cubic metres after investing over $100 million in more efficient machinery, transforming the mill, and plans to lift production further to 600,000 cubic metres from next year, general manager Tim Rigter told BusinessDesk in an interview at the Waipa State Mill Road site. . . 

Telco minnow joins giants by winning rural broadband contract:

A no-frills approach has seen Hawke’s Bay-based rural wireless broadband company AoNet Broadband successfully compete with the giants of the industry to win a slice of the Government’s latest rural broadband funding package.

Telecommunications Minister Simon Bridges today announced AoNet Broadband as the Wireless Internet Service Provider for the King Country, making it responsible for connecting homes over an area that includes remote and mountainous terrain.

The appointment is part of a $150 million funding package for telco companies to partner with the Government through Crown Fibre Holdings Limited (CFH) to bring better broadband and mobile services to an increased number of under-served rural areas, state highways, businesses, residents and tourists in New Zealand. . . 

First chilled meat shipments to China – Allan Barber:

According to a press release from SFF the company’s first sea container leaves this week for arrival early next month, claimed by the company to be the first sea freight consignment of chilled product to the Chinese market which has only recently opened up to New Zealand meat exporters. However, I have since been informed that the first shipment from Greenlea arrived on 18th August and a chilled container of AFFCO product is already on the water, arriving on Friday 1st September, with a container of chilled mutton being shipped next week.

According to SFF’s press release the company has already trialled small quantities of chilled beef cuts to food service distributors for high end restaurants and lamb cuts to a multinational supermarket chain. But the sea shipment is planned to test the port and supply chain protocols for large scale consignments of chilled product. . . 

Swiss meat is expensive in dollars, cheap in minutes – Catherine Bosley:

Swiss meat prices are pretty hard to stomach at first glance.

At $49.68, Switzerland tops the ranking for a kilogram of beef leg round. Yet that seemingly eye-watering sum – around 150 percent higher than the world average – gets more reasonable when you factor in what locals get paid: An unskilled worker needs just 3.1 hours to afford it.

The 2017 Meat Price Index is a foray into the study of relative price levels of goods and labor. According to publisher Caterwings, the cost of beef, fish, chicken, pork and lamb in each country’s biggest cities were compared to the minimum wage and then calculations were run for affordability. In those where there is no federal statutory minimum, it used the average pay for unskilled labor. . . 

Allied Farmers posts 60% lift in full-year profit as livestock division outperforms – Rebecca Howard:

 (BusinessDesk) – Rural services firm Allied Farmers reported a 60 percent lift in net profit on an improved result from its livestock division, particularly in the second half, and further cost reduction.

The Hawera-based company said net profit was $2.2 million in the year ended June 30 versus $1.4 million in the prior year. Pretax earnings were up 52 percent to $2.4 million, which was ahead of the guidance it gave in June when it forecast a 40 percent gain. . . 

 


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