Rural round-up

08/09/2016

Isolation major issue for rural women, study finds –  Andrew McRae:

More than half of the 115 rural women questioned in a recent survey said they felt isolated.

Kellogg rural scholar Nadine Porter surveyed 115 women living in rural areas and another 50 were interviewed in-depth for the project.

Ms Porter said the definition of isolation didn’t necessarily mean being stuck out in the back-blocks, but more a feeling of being isolated from their own community and their peer group.

She said nearly 57 percent of rural women surveyed felt unfulfilled because they were not using the skills they were trained for.

“It is a great wasteland of knowledge really.” . . 

Plan too complex farmers say – Hamish MacLean:

The ”moving feast” of environmental targets is creating unnecessary uncertainty, according to a farmer affected by Environment Canterbury’s Plan Change 5.

Waitaki catchment dairy farmer Joy Burke told the panel of independent commissioners conducting hearings in Oamaru yesterday she wanted to speak ”from the heart” about the frustrations she was dealing with on her two irrigated dairy farms at Tawai and Ikawai, despite having ”made a huge effort to understand and try to comply” with the proposed new rules.

The plan aimed to control the loss of nutrients to groundwater, and therefore deals with water quality issues, but Ms Burke had been dairy farming for a ”large number of years” and due to the plan’s adherence to Overseer, the computer program for producing a nutrient budget that shows where different elements are in farm soil, would probably now require resource consents to farm. . . 

Should U.S. subsidize dairy farmers when we don’t need the milk?  – 

Congress came up with a novel way to reduce the nation’s milk supply in 1985, paying farmers $1.5 billion to slaughter their cows.

Milk production dropped slightly, but the glut remained: Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture moved to help dairy farmers once again by spending $20 million to get 11 million pounds of excess cheese off the market, sending it to food banks.

“Honestly, I think it’s a good gesture – how much effect it’s going to have I don’t know,” said Jon DeJong, 41, who milks 1,300 cows with his father and two brothers on their farm near Lynden, Washington. “It’s not likely to save the milk price or anything.” . . 

Growth continuing for horticulture as the cherry sector booms:

New Zealand’s traditional horticulture industry is set to maintain its success as the buoyant sector continues to grow exports. Alistair King, Crowe Horwath’s horticulture specialist says, ‘The numbers are stacking up to support this and with exports and production increasing significantly every year, the horticulture sector is predicting growth until 2018/19.’

‘According to Summerfruit NZ’s latest reports the 2016 export value was $68 million for cherries, up by 30% on 2015’s $52 million. There were 3,408 tonnes exported in 2016, that’s up by 25% on 2015. The Central Otago region is dominating exports, estimated at being responsible for 95% of 2016’s exports, yet only producing 50% of New Zealand’s cherries,’ King reports. . . 

Forester’s Award their Achievers:

The New Zealand Institute of Forestry’s President James Treadwell announces two awards.

Forester of the Year is one of the highest accolades in the industry, recognizing contribution, leadership, excellence and integrity.

This year Forester of the year was awarded to Sally Strang Environmental Manager, Hancock Forest Management (NZ) Ltd for her tireless work in finding ways to reverse erosion in high priority areas. . .

Robotics and automation changing the wood supply chain:

Logistics within the forest industry is going through a major shakeup. Smart technology – robotics, automation, cloud computing, big data analytics and improved connectivity within the supply chain is reshaping how leading companies are adapting to and operating in the 21st century.

Wood Flow Optimisation 2016, a technology series being run in both New Zealand and Australia in mid-September by the Forest Industry Engineering Association (FIEA), will be providing local forestry and wood transport companies a rare insight into how these new technologies are being integrated – from the forest through to the wood processing operation or port.

In the last couple of weeks’, we’ve heard about the giant steps being taken in New Zealand’s forestry industry with in-forest trials using teleoperation technology. . . 

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Rural round-up

10/11/2015

Chefs see food as much more than a commodity – Rebecca Ryan:

There’s a new movement gaining momentum in the New Zealand food industry. ConversatioNZ, aiming to ”inspire and empower” by creating a strong sense of pride and respect for the country’s natural, edible resources, is a not-for-profit movement created to share the story of New Zealand food and push culinary boundaries. North Otago reporter Rebecca Ryan talks to North Otago chefs and ConversatioNZ advisory board members Bevan Smith and Fleur Sullivan about it

Thirteen years ago, Fleur Sullivan saw waste and an opportunity for people to enjoy ”beautiful, fresh fish” straight off the boats in Moeraki.

Her restaurant Fleur’s Place, she says, was formed after she saw the byproduct – the fish brains, the heads, the livers – being thrown overboard from fishing boats and she knew she could use what was being thrown away. . . 

Te Brake hits the accelerator – Ali Tocker:

Changing the guard at Young Farmers has propelled meat industry accountant Jason Te Brake into the hot seat as chairman. He talked to Ali Tocker about his career so far and his aspirations for the Young Farmers movement while he heads the board.

Jason Te Brake is clever, confident and committed – three qualities that have earned him the role of chairman of New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF).

The 27-year-old has his sights set on a strong and secure future for the group.

Woman’s passion for health and safety leads to award:

A passion for improving health and safety on New Zealand farms, and in particular the health of those working in the industry, has contributed to a West Coast farmer being named the winner of the rural category of the Women of Influence Award.

Katie Milne, a dairy farmer from Rotomanu, is also a member of the Federated Farmers Board, the National Animal Welfare Advisory Board, TB-Free West Coast and numerous other groups, including being a volunteer firefighter.

Ms Milne works closely with the Rural Health Alliance and travels the country talking to farmers about health and safety.

She said some farmers were not coping due to low or dropping returns, but help was available. . . 

Water scheme expanding down valley – Hamish Maclean:

The North Otago Irrigation Company’s $57 million expansion down the Kakanui Valley is well under way.

Last month, McConnell Dowell Constructors crews began laying the main line – 1.2m-diameter reinforced fibreglass pipes – that will stretch towards Herbert.

The company almost tripled the size of the head pond on Ngapara-Georgetown Rd and upgraded pump stations over the winter.

The project was still on target for the September 2016 hook-up, company chairman Leigh Hamilton said. . . .

Significantly Improved Result Confirmed for Silver Fern Farms:

Silver Fern Farms has confirmed a positive 2015 financial result and further inroads made on debt reduction.

For the financial year ended September 2015, the company achieved Earnings before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation (EBITDA) of $86.9m. This represented a 28 percent improvement on the $68.1m achieved in 2014. Net profit before tax for the year was $27.2m, up from $1.8m in 2014.

Chairman Rob Hewett said Silver Fern Farms’ shareholders will be pleased by the audited result. . . .

Potatoes ditch cadmium:

University of Canterbury researchers have developed potatoes that are resistant to cadmium, a toxic metal found in soil.

They say the finding could give growers here a new marketing edge.

Biotechnology lecturer Dr David Leung said their potatoes had a trait that could solve this problem and enhance New Zealand’s best potato varieties. . . 

 


Rural round-up

16/09/2015

Deal will change face of industry – Dene Mackenzie:

Silver Fern Farms aims to be debt free with money in the bank by this time next year if a deal to form a 50:50 joint venture with Chinese food giant Shanghai Maling gets shareholder approval.

Silver Fern Farms chairman Rob Hewett remained optimistic yesterday the deal would receive the required 50% shareholder support and the company is offering significant sweeteners to persuade shareholders to vote yes.

The deal would allow Silver Fern Farms to become unleashed, he said.

Mr Hewett’s presentation to a media conference was peppered with phrases such as ”turbo-charged” and ”compelling”. . . 

 

Shock waves from Silver Fern Farms will now pulsate through the industry – Keith Woodford:

Five months ago I wrote that whatever happened at Silver Fern Farms, it would be like an earthquake within the meat industry. Given that Silver Fern Farms is New Zealand’s largest meat company, and with the status quo unsustainable, it could not be any other way.

The offer that has now come forward from Shanghai Maling is remarkable. This offer, once regulatory approvals are received, will change Silver Fern Farms from being large but financially very weak, to being large and financially very strong.

Apart from mid-season working capital, Silver Fern Farms will be debt free and with cash in their war chest to ‘take it’ to their competitors. . . 

Alliance reaches out to Silver Fern suppliers – Dene Mackenzie:

Invercargill meat processor Alliance Group wasted no time yesterday in trying to woo disgruntled Silver Fern Farm suppliers after Silver Fern announced a joint venture with a Chinese company.

Alliance chairman Murray Taggart said it was important for New Zealand farmers to retain ownership of their industry and the best way to achieve that would be to supply Alliance as the only remaining major co-operative.

Alliance also muddied the water somewhat by saying it submitted a bid for Silver Fern before Silver Fern’s capital-raising process got under way as part of ongoing discussions with the Dunedin group. . . 

Beef and Lamb expects farm profits to rise – Dene Mackenzie:

New Zealand ”average” sheep and beef farmers are in for a profit lift and Beef and Lamb chief economist Andrew Burtt calls it positive news at a time when the economy would benefit from increased farm sector spending.

Beef and Lamb predicted the average sheep and beef farm would see its profit before tax lift to $109,000 this season – 9.6% more than last season but 3.1% below the five year average. . . 

Sheep meat marketing needs focus on premium – Simon Hartley:

Softening demand for sheepmeat in China and Europe should be prompting New Zealand to prioritise getting premium chilled lamb cuts in China, and to also look further afield to new Middle Eastern markets.

Softer overseas demand for New Zealand sheepmeat, particularly from China, had curtailed New Zealand sheepmeat producers’ returns in recent months, Rabobank animal protein analyst, Matthew Costello said in his recent report on the New Zealand sheepmeat industry.

While China’s imports had ”exploded on to the New Zealand sheepmeat export scene” in 2013, to become New Zealand’s largest sheepmeat trading partner, its own production had since grown to about eight times that of New Zealand. . . 

Large trade blocs good for NZ exports:

New Zealand’s refreshed priorities for international trade have been welcomed by ExportNZ.

The Government’s Business Growth Agenda on trade has been updated, with a focus on completing the Trans Pacific Partnership, achieving a free trade agreement with the European Union, and engaging more with emerging economies in Latin and South America.

ExportNZ Executive Director Catherine Beard said exporters welcomed the continued emphasis on TPP. . .

Swede test a first for NZ – Hamish Maclean:

The plight of Southern farmers last year has led to a first for New Zealand.

When 200 dairy cows died in Southland and South Otago and many more became ill, the cause – a naturally occurring compound in winter feed, swedes in particular, – could not be tested at any New Zealand commercial laboratories.

Now, commercial glucosinolate testing of plants is available in New Zealand, and that is good news for the dairy industry, Dairy NZ says. . . 

Farm prices hold up; MyFarm eyeing dairy opportunities – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Farm prices are holding up well on a drop in volume over the winter months, according to the latest Real Estate Institute of New Zealand rural farm sales data.

There were only three dairy farm sales recorded in the past month and the median sales price per hectare for dairy farms for the three months ended August fell to $26,906, compared to $35,304 for the three months ended July and $43,125 for the three months ended August 2014.

But the REINZ Dairy Farm Price Index, which adjusts for differences in farm size and location, rose by 17.3 percent in the three months to August, compared to the three months to July. . . 

Tests before tightening help protect farm fertility:

Soil tests should be the first step for farmers trying to managing budgets while maintaining pasture productivity.

Ballance Science Extension Manager, Ian Tarbotton, says keeping soils fertile is good insurance with pasture an essential feed source, but gut instinct or past experience won’t lead to good decisions on what to spend or save.

“Soil tests will show you what you have to work with and they are the best guide to decisions around a fertiliser budget. The last thing farmers want to do is to compromise future productivity, so understanding what nutrients are available now is the best basis for decisions on fertiliser budgets.” . . 


Rural round-up

10/03/2015

Fonterra shifts staff from Auckland to regions – Andrea Fox:

Fonterra has begun shifting out top-level managers from Auckland head office to jobs in the regions as it tackles complaints of a disconnect with its farmers and moves more decision-making back to dairying heartlands.

The co-operative has made appointments to the Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Canterbury regions and is recruiting four more executives for Otago-Southland, Northland, Taranaki and Central Districts.

A large part of their jobs will be to work with farmer-shareholders to understand their needs and to be a communication bridge between farmers with growth plans and local councils, said Fonterra group director of co-operative affairs, Miles Hurrell, to whom they will report.

“Having those decisions made in Auckland is not doing those regions a service, in terms of the farmer base and communications,” he said. . .

Outstanding family operation scoops award :

Central Hawke’s Bay sheep and beef farmers Alastair and Tracy Ormond and Alastair’s son Daniel are the Supreme winners of the 2015 East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).

At an awards dinner on March 5, the Ormonds, who farm 620ha of hill-country in the Hatuma district, also collected the Beef+Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award, the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award and the East Coast Farming for the Future Award (sponsored by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and the Gisborne District Council).

BFEA judges described the Ormond’s farm ‘Te Umuopua’ as a well-planted and thoughtfully-developed property with land and water managed to the limitations of soil types. . .

‘Trying to be proactive’ to help foreign workers – Hamish Maclean:

Driving skills, English language training and access to services are the top concerns of the growing international workforce in the Clutha district, Clutha District Settlement Support chairwoman Chris Shaw says.

The settlement support group, on hand at the Southern Region Dairy Expo at Clydevale last week, offers a 12 week everyday English course and brings students from its Clydevale base to Dunedin for Literacy Aotearoa’s learner driver’s licence theory tutorial, which has been tailored for people for whom English is a second language. . .

Two tie for title of supreme sheep – Sally Rae:

Sheep breeding is a passion for Kerry Dwyer.

And while it might just be a hobby, he was serious about breeding good sheep, he said after tying with Will Gibson for the title of supreme champion sheep at the recent North Otago A&P Show.

Mr Dwyer’s Suffolk ram, which won champion meat breed, and Mr Gibson’s coloured merino ram, which won champion wool breed, finished with the same number of points when it came to the judging of supreme champion. . .

First Future Leaders Committee Selected:

The NZKGI Executive Committee is pleased to announce the inaugural Future Leaders Committee:

Shaun Vickers of Ballance Agri-Nutrients—Chair
Rikki James of Cameron Farms —Treasurer
Cody Bent of Trevelyan’s Pack & Cool—Secretary
Mary Black of Zespri International
Campbell Wood of Seeka Kiwifruit Industries
Keiran Harvey of Bay Gold Limited

NZKGI President, Neil Trebilco, said the selection process was very competitive. “The calibre of all applicants was very high, making the decision a very difficult one.”

“However we’re confident we have selected a group of passionate and motivated horticulture people who have very diverse backgrounds and different perspectives – a great combination for a strong, effective committee. . .

 

Women Farmers Making it Happen #IWD2015 – Food tank:

March 8th is International Women’s Day, and this year’s theme is “Make it Happen.” All over the world, there are innovative women inspiring us at Food Tank. International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the success and achievements of women in agriculture, while also calling on more resources and support.

The Open Working Group (OWG) of the U.N. General Assembly recently proposed their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include the need to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. The goals also aim to reduce inequality within and among countries, combat climate change, build resilient communities, ensure access to education, promote healthy lifestyles, end hunger, achieve food security, and promote sustainable agriculture. Women are already making many of these goals happen in villages and cities around the globe. . .

Record wine exports mark the start of vintage 2015:

Wine exports have reached a record high and now stand at $1.37 billion, up 8.2%, propelling wine to New Zealand’s 6th biggest export good.

This strong demand in key markets bodes well for the wine industry, whose 2015 grape harvest is now underway. . .


Rural round-up

04/08/2014

Award accepted as tribute to young farmer – Alison Beckham:

Southland dairy farmer Stefan Zeestraten should have been accepting an award at the 2014 Southland Environment awards on Thursday recognising the positive environmental practices he promoted on his family’s three central Southland farms.

Instead, there was a minute’s silence as the 300 people attending paid tribute to the 24-year-old, killed on Monday when his vehicle left the road and hit a power pole north of Winton, about 3am. . .

Young farmers there to support others – Nicole Sharp:

Waimea Valley farmers Andrew and Katherine Welsh are never ones to shy away from a challenge, especially when it comes to farming.

Moving to the Waimea Valley, near Mandeville, six years ago, the pair joined Balfour Young Farmers.

Mr Welsh had previously spent 11 years with the Thornbury club. But what they arrived to took them by surprise.

The Balfour club was nearly closed and had about five members.

It was in recession, and the task for the Welshes was simple: to get the club up and running again. . .

Biodiversity grant enables nursery at wetlands – Hamish Maclean:

A plant nursery should be the focal point for visitors to New Zealand’s largest privately owned wetland by this summer.

A biodiversity funding contribution of $9600 from the Clutha District Council means work can begin immediately on a nursery at Sinclair Wetlands (Te Nohoaka o Tukiuau), wetlands co-ordinator Glen Riley says.

Mr Riley said the wetlands had benefited from 1000-plus volunteer hours already this year. . .

In sheep farming for the long haul – Annette Scott:

Canterbury farmer Chris Allen grew up on a sheep-and-beef farm in Waikato.

He is a licensed aircraft engineer but 20 years ago the farming in his blood lured him back to the land.

He and wife Anne-Marie headed south and bought a 360ha sheep-and-beef property near Mt Somers.

Despite the growing challenges behind the farmgate Allen is upbeat about the red-meat sector’s revival.

“Either you do what you do or you sell out,” he said.

“Dairy is a whole new level of investment that doesn’t interest me, so I do this.  . .

Taking the sting out of honey cowboys:

Comvita chief executive Brett Hewlett is hopeful new labelling rules for manuka honey will flush out what he says are cowboys who are giving the product and industry a bad name.

The interim labelling guidelines, which come into effect in January 2016, will ensure New Zealand is producing quality manuka honey for export.

Comvita chief executive Brett Hewlett said good brands had been using a quality standard, the Unique Manuka Factor, for a number of years but rogue elements within the industry had put it in jeopardy. . . .

Viability of G9 kiwifruit under question:

There are fears a newly developed kiwifruit variety could be a lemon.

An industry leader said there were concerns about the long-term commercial viability of the gold kiwifruit variety known as G9.

G9 was first commercialised, along with another gold variety, G3, in 2010 in response to the bacterial disease PSA which has virtually wiped out the former variety of gold kiwifruit.

About 150 hectares of G9 is grown, much less than G3’s 4000 hectares. . .

Realignment of Fonterra and Nestlé’s Latin American Alliance Takes Effect:

The first step in the realignment of Fonterra and Nestlé’s Latin American alliance has taken effect.

As announced in May this year, Fonterra and Nestlé have revised their 10-year-old Dairy Partners Americas (DPA) joint venture to better reflect each company’s respective strategies.

Fonterra now has a 51 per cent controlling stake in DPA Brazil, with Nestlé holding the balance; and, together with a local partner, Fonterra has taken over Nestlé’s share of DPA Venezuela.

Fonterra’s Managing Director of Latin America, Alex Turnbull, says: “This is an exciting next step for Fonterra and the people in these businesses as they are formally welcomed to the Co-operative.” . . .

 


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