Rural round-up

March 16, 2016

Whitestone blue wins silver in world champs – Sally Rae,

Whitestone Cheese has got the blues – but in a good way.

The Oamaru-based company has been awarded a silver medal in the blue vein division of the 2016 World Championship Cheese Contest in the United States, the world’s largest cheese, butter and yoghurt competition.

The contest, hosted by the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, attracted a record 2948 entries from 25 countries. Judges came from all over the world and included Fonterra research technologist Andrew Legg. . . 

Bankers aren’t farmers – Offsetting Behaviour:

On Radio New Zealand this morning, Andrew Little argued the government should lean on the banks to prevent their foreclosing on dairy farms, warning of that foreigners might swoop in and buy distressed NZ farms. 

  • Banks do not want to run farms. If they foreclose, they have to find somebody to run the thing pending auction. There are cows that need to be fed. The bank or the receiver takes on all the health & safety, and animal welfare, liability. The most heavily leveraged ones are the ones that’d be first to go; those are the ones where the banks have the biggest stake, and where the banks would take the greatest share of the loss in a fire-sale. A receiver’s fees will include all the farm-running costs. . . 

Dairy industry needs to stay competitive – DairyNZ:

DairyNZ says it is time to look at how the dairy industry can stay competitive in the wake of a record low Farmgate Milk Price and mounting debt.

It is stepping up its support to farmers and is running workshops across the country this week focussing on sharemilkers and farm owners working with sharemilkers.

Chief executive Tim Mackle said Fonterra has done well since it formed in 2001, and the main challenge for farmers – compared to other tough years – was the mountain of debt that had grown.

“Ten percent of the highest indebted farms have 30 percent of the total dairy debt – that’s $11 to $12 billion or $10 million each. But that doesn’t mean all those farms are at risk,” says Dr Mackle. . . 

Dairy prices affecting over one fifth of NZ SMEs:

More than one-in-five small and medium enterprises across New Zealand are feeling the effects of falling dairy prices, according to leading accounting software developer MYOB.

A snapshot result from the latest Business Monitor research commissioned by MYOB and undertaken by Colmar Brunton, found that 21 per cent of the more than 1,000 SMEs surveyed stated their business’ revenues were negatively affected by the dairy price. Even more concerning is the 25 per cent of SMEs that said general consumer confidence has been directly hit.

Across the country, it means that approximately 100,000 businesses employing upwards of one million New Zealanders are facing reducing revenue because of the dairy downturn. MYOB General Manager James Scollay says that the results show a significant impact on the New Zealand economy. . .

Dairy farming: it’ll be survival of the fittest – Jamie Gray:

Bank analyst has confidence in the sector’s ability to adapt but says that some of those ill-prepared for the downturn will go to the wall, writes Jamie Gray.

The dairy sector may be in for a period of adjustment of an order not seen since the 1980s, when farmers were hit with high interest rates, a high New Zealand dollar, and the removal of subsidies, says Rabobank NZ’s head of country banking Hayley Moynihan.

As dairy farmers prepare to enter what may be their third season in a row of negative returns, Moynihan said there will be casualties, but she has confidence in the sector’s ability to cope. . . 

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Stellar vintage predicted for Hawke’s Bay winegrowers:

All signs are pointing towards 2016 being another stellar year for Hawke’s Bay winemakers.

Paul Ham, Managing Director of Alpha Domus Winery, says the 2016 vintage is shaping up to be one of the best yet.

As one of the first wineries in Hawke’s Bay to harvest their early Chardonnay grapes, Alpha Domus is in a unique position to assess the coming vintage. “We’re really excited about the remainder of the harvest,” says Mr Ham. “It’s been a superb season and the grapes are looking outstanding on the vine.” . . .

Quality of NZ wool clip leaves exporters scrambling to fill lower-grade fibre orders – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand wool exporters scrambling to fill orders for lower-grade wool have driven up the price of what are known as oddments in recent weeks because the season to date has delivered an unexpectedly high-quality clip.

Wool oddments are the shorter parts of the fleece, such as from the belly, second pieces, eye clips, necks and those parts stained or otherwise discoloured. They are often baled and sold separately, but a paucity of lower-quality wool has meant exporters are blending oddments with other higher wool grades to make up orders, said Malcolm Ching, an executive at New Zealand Wool Services International in Christchurch. . . 

China Resources buys stake in NZ’s biggest apple exporter – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – China Resources Ng Fung has acquired 15.3 percent of Scales Corp, New Zealand’s biggest apple exporter, for about $55.9 million from Direct Capital Investments.

The Hong Kong-based company today entered into an arrangement to buy the shares at $2.60 apiece, with settlement on about March 21. Scales said it welcomed China Resources “as a significant minority shareholder, and as a party who can provide support to Scales in its ongoing initiatives in China.” . . 

Social Media Stars Win Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Awards:

The 2016 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards winners are active among a growing group of dairy farmers turning to social media to support, share and gain information to help progress their dairy career.

At the region’s annual awards dinner held at the Indian Hall in Pukekohe last night, Brad Markham and Matthew Herbert were named 2016 Auckland/Hauraki Share Farmers of the Year, Hayden Kerr became the 2016 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager of the Year and James Doidge the 2016 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Mr Markham, Mr Herbert and Mr Kerr are all active and well-known among dairy farmers on Twitter. “We enjoy connecting with other farmers, in New Zealand and overseas, on social media platforms like Twitter,” Mr Markham and Mr Herbert say. “It can be a great way to share ideas. . . 

Accountants Get in Behind New Zealand Dairy Farmers:

NZ CA Limited announces Gold Sponsorship of 2016 Dairy Business of the Year

Improving farm profitability and developing resilient and sustainable farming systems are two of the key drivers behind NZ Chartered Accountants Limited’s (NZ CA) gold sponsorship of this year’s Dairy Business of the Year (DBOY).

Sue Merriman, NZ CA’s chairperson and also partner in Greymouth chartered accountants Marshall & Heaphy Limited, says, “The group is delighted to be a Gold Sponsor of the 2016 Dairy Business of the Year. With so many of our member firms located in provincial New Zealand and having dairy farm businesses as clients, it’s a logical move for the group to be involved in supporting and further developing these businesses. With the continuing slump in milk solid prices this year and the effect of this on farm businesses, it’s more important than ever that dairy farmers get good independent business advice from their chartered accountants. . . 

Fertiliser Company Takes Industry Lead to Identify Fertiliser Efficiency:

Fertiliser Company Hatuma Dicalcic Phosphate has taken an industry lead to identify fertiliser efficiencies for farmers

The company has invested over $1 million in research and is monitoring 12 sheep and beef farms totalling 16,500 hectares in the independent ‘Farming for the Future’ programme.

The programme set out to find how a lower nutrient input system can build both economic and environmental resilience within the farm gate. . . 

TECH Talks a highlight at national primary industry conference:

In two weeks Rotorua will be playing host to over 300 industry representatives from throughout the agriculture, horticulture and forestry sectors. MobileTECH 2016 is a two-day conference focusing on new technologies and innovations designed for our food and fibre industries.

As well as the New Zealand sector, MobileTECH has also attracted a solid contingent from across the Tasman. Some of Australia’s largest primary industry companies will be flying into Rotorua and joining the local industry for this event.

The strength of this programme, boosting over 36 speakers, is in bringing together under the one roof leaders from across a diverse range of primary industries with those who are developing, manufacturing and adopting these new technologies. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 1, 2015

To the woman riding in my husband’s combine – Uptown Farms:

To the woman riding in my husband’s combine on a sales call,

I wouldn’t have thought much about you before last night.  Chances are, if you had tried to call on my husband and ride along in his combine I wouldn’t have known about it.  Most likely I would have been on a different farm, with a different farmer, trying to do my job in the same way you are doing yours.

I didn’t think of you before – but now I will.  Last night I read a post from a woman who was upset that a young, presumably attractive female, made a sales call to the farm – and rode in the cab of the combine with the farmer (the poster’s husband).  

For anyone not in the industry, it may sound funny that you would get into a combine with a customer. This time of year, the combine often acts as an office.  People who need to see the farmer go to the field and are often invited to ride along while they keep working.  Roughly 70% of the time that farmer will be a man.  

Women poured out of the woodwork to attack the sales rep, calling her unprofessional, unthoughtful, disrespectful and worse. . . 

Turning point for red meat sector – Allan Barber:

The Shanghai Maling Aquarius offer for 50% of Silver Fern Farms may not be the restructuring catalyst that MIE and some shareholders of both cooperatives were hoping for, but it certainly presages a dramatic change in the industry’s dynamics.

Assuming a positive shareholder vote on 16th October, for the first time in years all the major processors will have relatively strong balance sheets and will be in a position to compete on an equal basis. This is unlikely to bring about an immediate change in livestock procurement calculations, but different companies will progressively move to payments based on quality and specifications supplied for individual markets.

For too long the meat industry has been affected by an excess of processing capacity, under-capitalisation, procurement battles, inadequate market returns and, as a consequence of all this, falling livestock volumes. The recapitalisation of the country’s largest meat company potentially provides a solution to several if not all of these problems. . . 

Silver Fern receives an offer it can’t refuse – Allan Barber:

No wonder the deal between Silver Fern farms and Shanghai Mailing took so long to conclude, but from all appearances it was worth waiting for. Not that you would necessarily think so, if you read about the disappointment of some shareholders and the MIE group about the board’s unwillingness to give serious consideration to an alternative farmer offer of $40 million or some of the business commentary.

Going back several years, SFF wanted $120 million from its shareholders, hoped for $80 million and actually received $22 million. Nothing has really changed since then – good and bad years have followed each other, as livestock numbers and market prices fluctuated and the business struggled under a huge debt burden. . . 

Value-add key to improved returns for shareholders – Westland Milk Products:

Continuing its move into more value-added production is the best strategy to ensure shareholders competitive and sustainable returns Westland Milk Products says, as the co-operative confirmed a company average operating surplus available to shareholders for the 2014-15 season of $4.95 per kilo of milk solids (kgMS), before retentions.

Chief Executive Rod Quin says Westland, like dairy companies globally, has been adversely impacted by the “significantly lower” market prices in the last season, with total group revenue for the financial year 2014-15 down 23 percent on the previous year, at NZ$639 million.

However he says there is room for cautious optimism for an improvement and, accordingly, Westland has increased its forecast payout for the 2015-16 season by 30 cents to $4.90 – $5.30 per kgMS. . . 

Identifying insect species crucial to protect the environment:

Students at Lincoln University are covering the length and breadth of New Zealand to discover new insect species and keep ahead of potential threats to agriculture and the environment.

Bio-Protection Research Centre students, Francesco Martoni, Samuel Brown and Hamish Patrick have visited mountains, grasslands and forests to collect insect specimens. They have identified about 50 new species.

“This research, to understand what [insects] are present in New Zealand, is vital for us to recognise any change. Especially if it involves the introduction of species that may become pests, or spread disease,” says Dr Karen Armstrong, a Senior Researcher at Lincoln University, and the students’ supervisor.

“The only way to stay ahead of this, and to detect damaging interactions, is to know what is here. And for that, we need to produce experts in traditional taxonomy who are also trained to use modern technological approaches to describe and discover [insect species],” says Dr Armstrong. . .

Initiative gives support to rural schools:

Canterbury’s rural primary schools have been given a welcome boost, thanks to the support of local farmers and fertiliser company, Hatuma Dicalcic Phosphate Ltd.

The initiative, calls on farmers to nominate a school that they feel could benefit from Hatuma’s ‘Growing Minds’ fund. Over the last six years, Hatuma has donated over $30,000 to New Zealand’s rural schools through the programme.

One such beneficiary of the fund is Glentunnel School in mid-Canterbury, which attracted huge support from farmers. . . 

Chinese developer harvests first crop in Western Australia’s remote Ord Valley – Tom Edwards:

The Chinese-backed company developing the Ord River Irrigation Area in Western Australia’s east Kimberley is harvesting its first crop.

Kimberley Agricultural Investment is halfway through harvesting 360 hectares of chia in the Goomig farmland of Ord Stage 2.

Farm manager Luke McKay said it was an exciting milestone for the company and for the Ord agricultural zone in general.

“There’s been a fair bit of interest obviously, a lot of excitement about getting to this point,” he said. . . 

Wine Industry welcomes progress with South Korea Trade Deal

New Zealand Winegrowers welcomes news that the Tariff Amendment Bill was passed through Parliament on Friday, a big step towards implementing the Free Trade Agreement with South Korea.

The negotiators have achieved a great outcome for the wine industry, said Philip Gregan, ‘tariff free access into South Korea at the time the agreement comes into force represents a significant boost to our export ambitions in one of the key Asian markets.’ . . 

More Veterans Set to Go From Protecting America to Feeding America – Nicole Mormann:

For 200,000 U.S. service members transitioning out of the military each year, returning to civilian life will mean trading in their combat boots for a tractor and rubber galoshes, thanks to new farming-focused job-training programs created by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Last week, the USDA and the Department of Defense announced that agriculture will be one of the industries in which the government will provide career assistance and counseling programs to service members finishing their term of enlistment.
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The program will give veterans the opportunity to gain farming skills through classroom instruction and registered apprenticeships from experienced farmers. In addition to educational opportunities, the USDA will offer financial assistance to beginning farmers or ranchers who lack the funds to purchase necessary farming equipment, land, livestock, and other resources. Returning service members are also eligible for housing support programs, which can range from repair loans to emergency placement assistance. . . 

 


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