Rural round-up

October 19, 2015

Alliance Group makes pitch for ‘co-operatively minded’ farmers following SFF Chinese deal – Hamish McNeilly:

Confirmation of the Silver Fern Farms (SFF) deal with Chinese interests would not start a price war, Alliance Group chief executive David Surveyor says.

The Alliance Group was now positioned as the country’s only major redmeat co-operative, after shareholders of rival SFF voted to sell a 50 per cent stake to Chinese food giant Shanghai Maling.

The vote was 82.2 per cent in favour of the deal, and Surveyor saw an opportunity for the Invercargill-based co-operative. . . 

NZ Farmer editor wins international award – Gerald Piddock:

NZ Farmer editor Jon Morgan has won the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists Star Prize for writing at the organisation’s congress in Hamilton.

Morgan beat entries from 40 other member nations to win the award for his story on renowned South Wairarapa romney breeder Holmes Warren published in 2014.

He is the first New Zealander to win the award. . .

Launch of livestock trading platform:

A group of Hawke’s Bay entrepreneurs have launched StockX, an online rural trading platform for New Zealand farmers.

StockX say they will reduce wastage and inefficiencies in the current, outdated livestock trading system.

The platform says they allow farmers to buy and sell direct, operators to plan and optimise bookings and meat processors to source and buy direct from farmers. . . 

We don’t farm for free – and you don’t want us to!  – Uptown Girl:

When someone wants to discount my information on modern agriculture, they state that we are just “for profit farmers”.  People even protest farmers making a profit, with signs saying things like “people over profit”. 

Some people seem to be of the a mindset that those who are trying to make a living farming are in some sort of conspiracy with “Big Ag” that results in nearly all the evils of the world from starvation and obesity to autism and cancer. 

Last week, a visitor to my blog asked me to visit a website of a self proclaimed “sustainable farmer”.  He appeared to be taking full advantage of all the hot buzz words – he was verified organic, labor intense, small, local, natural, non-GMO, hormone free, antibiotic free, gluten free, Monsanto free – but he was not sustainable.   . . 

Farm-girl survival tips – Pink Tractor:

We know being a farm girl is the best, but it can also be a challenge. Whether you are new to farming or a lifelong farmer, it can be tough to juggle it all and be successful. There are times when you might feel like the only woman farmer in the world. But, you aren’t alone. Here are our best farm girl survival tips!

Find a seasoned farmer who can help you as a mentor. The farmers who know have tips, common farm sense and advice.

Accept that some years are better than others. Even if you do everything right, things will go wrong. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Farmers have to be optimistic and resilient. . .


Rural round-up

September 27, 2015

Silver Fern Farms could become global brand – Hamish McNeilly:

The head of a Chinese food giant says Silver Fern Farms’ products could one day have the same global brand recognition as Coca Cola.

China’s largest meat processor, Shanghai Maling, plans to invest $261 million cash to own half of Silver Fern Farms’ business, with the co-operative owning the other half.

The company was a listed subsidiary of Bright Food (Group) Co, China’s largest food company, and involved in the manufacturing and distribution of chilled and fresh meat and value-added beef, candy and bottled honey. . .

New milk price is conservative – Hugh Stringleman:

An unexpected jump in milk payout forecast for this season to a more encouraging $4.60/kg of milksolids was the centrepiece of Fonterra’s annual results presentation for the 2015 financial year.

After only three consecutive price rises in fortnightly GlobalDairyTrade auctions Fonterra was emboldened to increase its forecast by 75c or 20% from the dismal $3.85, the record low it sunk to in early August.

Such a quick reflection of price optimism when the season was still young would be welcomed by farm owners, sharemilkers, staff members and rural suppliers as signalling the worst of the price slump was over. . . 

Leaner Fonterra now a quick responder –  Glenys Christian:

Fonterra has finished cutting jobs with the 750 people culled from its 22,000 workforce allowing it to make quicker decisions in response to market volatility, chairman John Wilson says.  

And its transformation project would also build a less risk-averse culture, which could be a problem in such a big and complex organisation.  

“We’ve got to be far faster because markets are moving so rapidly,” he said after Fonterra’s annual results release.  “Sometimes you can be better at doing that with less people rather than more.” . . .

Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings gets big pay rise:

As Fonterra prepares to lay off 750 staff, the firm has disclosed that chief executive Theo Spierings received a pay rise of up to 18 per cent – taking his pay to almost $5 million in the last financial year.

The dairy giant’s latest financial statements show its top-paid employee earned between $4.93 million and $4.94 million in the year to July 31.

That’s up from $4.17 million to $4.18 million in the previous year. . . 

Lake water quality goes online:

Information on the water quality of lakes around the country will now be available online as part of an ongoing initiative between the Government, regional councils and the Tindall Foundation, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today.

“Lakes are popular places for swimming and boating, and particularly with the summer months fast approaching, we want the many thousands of New Zealanders who visit them each year to have access to good, reliable information on the health of our lakes around the country. This is why lakes data is the next step for the LAWA website, which already provides data on our rivers and coastal waters,” Dr Smith says.

Dr Smith made today’s announcement with Local Government New Zealand regional sector group chair Stephen Woodhead. The new data on lakes will be live on the website from today. . . 

Agriculture to widen its reach into schools – Tim Cronshaw:

More agriculture exercises will be introduced in secondary school classrooms to encourage urban school leavers to take up careers in the primary industry.

A study programme for teachers to use agriculture examples in their lessons was launched in Christchurch on Tuesday with 15 secondary schools signing up for a pilot.

Accredited resources initially in science, English, mathematics and economics are expected to be delivered to teachers for the start of the new school year and will initially be for year 9 and 10 students. Over the next few years this will be phased in to NCEA Levels 1, 2 and 3 students and cover a range of curriculum areas based on school and teacher feedback. . . 

Scientists study the mysteries of cheese:

Makers of Roquefort and Camembert could benefit from a new genetic study of 14 fungal species found in cheeses, French researchers say.

But the study published in the journal Current Biology also raises questions about food safety due to the transfer of genes among Penicillium fungi, which are key to the making of soft cheeses.

“We were able to identify genes that are directly involved in the adaptation to cheese in Penicillium, opening the way for strain improvement, in particular for obtaining fast-growing strains,” said co-author Antoine Branca of L’Universite Paris-Sud. . . 


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