Rural round-up

25/02/2016

Tough dairy times all over the globe – Jim Dickrell

French dairy farmers are once again taking manure and spreading it on roads, five dairy farms a week are going out of business in Great Britain, and the New Zealand government told its farmers to “stand on their own two feet.”

In France, according to theInternational Business News, farmers have blockaded roads, entered supermarkets and filled shopping carts with cheap food imports and even hurled their farm boots at government buildings.

In response, the French government said it will cut social security taxes farmers are required to pay by $556 million this year. . .

Ruataniwha irrigation scheme promoter confirms preferred private investor close to selection – Pattrick Smellie:

A preferred private sector investor in the Ruataniwha water storage scheme is close to selection, says its primary backer, the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Co.

HBRIC confirmed media reports earlier in the week that suggested a preferred private investor is about to start due diligence on the $275 million project, which would create a 93 million cubic metre reservoir to store water in the upper Makaroro river to improve river flows for agricultural use in the Tukituki River catchment.

Infratil-controlled Trustpower pulled the plug on its involvement in early 2014, followed by its other private backer, South Island iwi Ngai Tahu’s investment arm, before a board of inquiry process delayed resource consents for the dam while new environmental quality standards were set. . . 

SMART Watering campaign wraps up citing strong interest in water efficiency tools:

A pilot water efficiency campaign initiated by IrrigationNZ in four Canterbury districts this summer has concluded with evidence of strong interest in making water savings.

Home gardeners and lifestyle irrigators were the primary targets of the inaugural water efficiency campaign, which ran with the support of Timaru, Ashburton, Selwyn and Waimakariri District Councils, Environment Canterbury and inaugural industry partners Water Supply Products and RX Plastics.

The campaign launched in late November with the release of case studies illustrating how home gardeners and community projects can use irrigation tools and technologies to minimise water use and maximise productivity. . .

 

High prices, good growth cut cattle sales:

High beef prices and a surge in pasture growth has led to the cancellation of two cattle sales in Gisborne, a farmer and former stock agent says.

In January, two cattle sales were cancelled because there were not enough stock.

Barrie Gordon has worked in the cattle industry for more than 60 years and said only a few sales had been cancelled in the major cattle breeding region in all that time. . . 

PGG Wrightson posts 19% drop in first-half profit as farmers tighten spending – Tina Morrison:

PGG Wrightson posted a 19 percent drop in first-half profit as low dairy prices and fear of an El Nino drought contracted farmer spending at the rural services firm.

Profit fell to $16.1 million, or 2.1 cents a share, in the six months ended Dec. 31, from $19.7 million, or 2.6 cents, in the year earlier period, the Christchurch-based firm said in a statement. Revenue declined 4.8 percent to $623 million, while the cost of sales slid 6.9 percent to $462 million.

Farmers have tightened their wallets after milk processors like Fonterra Cooperative Group, the country’s largest, cut their farmgate milk payouts below the cost of production as a global oversupply lasts longer than anticipated. Fears of an El Nino drought heading into summer also kept farmers cautious with their spending. . . 

Dramatic improvement in forest industry safety record:

Following a spate of workplace deaths in 2013, New Zealand’s forestry industry has set a shining example in improved safety performance nationally over the past three years. Annual serious harm incident rates dropped in half over the past two years. The numbers dropped from 160 incidents in 2013, to 107 in 2014 and then to 79 in 2015.

Even more striking – the rate of serious harm in production forestry has dropped to less of one-third of the rate in 2008. This is based on annual forest harvest volumes lifting from less than 20 million cubic metres per annum to over 30 million in that period. . . .

Tree man scales new job at Taratahi –

Past competitive tree-climber and arborist Richard Wanhill has returned to his primary sector roots, he says, with his appointment as business development manager at Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre.

Mr Wanhill, who shifted to Wairarapa from the capital after originally hailing from Auckland, had worked as an arborist for about 15 years and also operated as a contract arboriculture and horticulture educator as a partner in a company named Thought Planters.

“I was teaching arboriculture mostly in New Zealand, Australia and Singapore and some in other places like Cambodia and Thailand. The competitive tree-climbing I’ve done has been only nationally in New Zealand, which is internationally recognised as one of the top tree-climbing countries in the world. . . 

 

Fonterra And Its Farmers Supporting Dairy Development:

Four Fonterra farmers will travel to Sri Lanka this year as part of a new farmer volunteer scheme to work with Sri Lankan dairy farmers.

Troy Doherty from Bay of Plenty, Tim Phillips from Waikato, Murray Douglas from Northland, and Marloes Levelink from West Otago, will spend a month at Fonterra’s new demonstration and training farm in Pannala, near Colombo.

While in Sri Lanka they will work with local farmers and Fonterra supplier relationship officers on areas including animal nutrition, prevention and treatment of mastitis and how to run a farm as a business. . . 


Rural round-up

27/11/2015

Rural NZ areas sit on ‘powder keg’ as temperatures rise – Mike Watson:

Rural fire authorities are warning farmers and contractors to check for potential ‘hot spots’ inside machinery and farm equipment as temperatures rise in Marlborough.

Marlborough Kaikoura Rural Fire Authority chief fire officer Richard McNamara said the rural region was on a “powder keg’ as temperatures rise and hot northwest winds continued to dry vegetation causing significant risk of fire outbreaks.

“It is a real issue, and anyone working with farm machinery and equipment, such as welding or grinding, needs to be aware of the risk of sparks igniting any vegetation nearby,” he said. . . 

Many positives but RMA reforms don’t go far enough:

Federated Farmers cautiously welcomes the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill introduced at Parliament today, but is concerned that proposed reforms do not go far enough.

“What we have is a Bill that looks to make the RMA less costly and cumbersome, and these are positive changes,” says Federated Farmers’ Environment and RMA spokesperson Chris Allen.

“Federated Farmers believes the Bill provides for better plan making and we support the introduction of a collaborative planning approach as long as the right checks and balances are in place, so that this is a robust and productive process.” . . .

Alliance launches new products for Chinese market:

Meat cooperative Alliance Group is launching a new range of market-ready lamb, beef and venison products for the food retail market in China.

Alliance Group has reached an agreement with its in-market partner Grand Farm – China’s single largest importer of sheepmeat – to market the co-branded Pure South-Grand Farm products in the country from next year.

Marketing general manager Murray Brown said with meat volumes going into China becoming more difficult, the company was looking to add value to exports. . . .

Competitive future for “unbroken” NZ dairy – visiting global expert:

New Zealand dairy is well placed to compete in the global market as prices begin to recover in the coming 12 months, a visiting global dairy specialist has told localproducers.

Tim Hunt, New York-based global dairy strategist with international agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank, says while current market conditions are “extremely tough” for many local producers, the New Zealand dairy sector is “unbroken” and has the fundamentals in place to enjoy a strong, competitive future in the global dairy trade. . . .

Ongoing disruption and volatility in dairy, with winners and losers – Keith Woodford:

In the last two weeks we have seen increasing signs of further disruption and volatility in dairy. First, there was good news with Fonterra announcing that they had turned the corner In relation to enhanced corporate profitability. But then, only two days later, there was another decline on the (GDT Global Dairy Trade) auction – this time of 7.9 percent overall and 11 percent for whole-milk powder.

In the meantime, The a2 Milk Company announced that they were almost doubling their previous estimate of profitability for the coming year, triggering another increase in the share price. Since the start of November through to 24 November the price rose 60 percent on large volumes. . . 

Ruataniwha promoter seeks mix of equity, debt funding – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Co, the developer and sponsor of the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme, says the $275 million project will be funded with a mix of equity and debt, and is likely to result in a secondary market for water contracts.

HBRIC, the investment arm of Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, is in talks with three potential investors and banks about funding. The council is putting up $80 million for an equity stake in a yet-to-be formed irrigation company. The $195 million balance will come from outside investors, bank debt and an expected contribution from the government’s Crown Irrigation Investments, which acts as a bridging investor for regional water infrastructure developments. . . 

Cellphone helps save house from Australian bushfire:

An Australian man who saw his farm “explode in a fireball” on CCTV cameras at the property says his house survived because he used his phone to activate a sprinkler system from the other side of the country.

Charles Darwin University vice chancellor Professor Simon Maddocks said the reason his house at the 45-hectare wheat farm on the outskirts of Hamley Bridge escaped the fire was because of his neighbours – and the fact he activated an irrigation system at the property by remote control from Darwin.

Two people have been confirmed dead and more than a dozen injured in the fires which continue to burn north of Adelaide. . . 

Consultation on freshwater management ideas planned:

A report today published by the Land and Water Forum on the next steps needed to improved management of freshwater will be carefully considered by Government and help contribute to a public discussion paper to be published next year, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said today. 

“The Government has an ambitious programme of work on improving New Zealand’s freshwater management.  These ideas on requiring good management practice, of how we can maximise the economic benefit of water within environmental limits, integrated catchment management, stock exclusion and enabling more efficient use of water are a further contribution on how we can achieve that,” Dr Smith says.

“I acknowledge the Forum’s significant efforts in tackling difficult policy challenges and we welcome their recommendations,” says Mr Guy. . . 

Irrigation New Zealand Welcomes 4th LAWF Report:

Irrigation New Zealand welcomes the fourth Land and Water Forum (LAWF) Report.

“The diverse group of forum members have spent a lot of time collaborating to reach the additional recommendations,” said Andrew Curtis, CEO of Irrigation New Zealand. “This has resulted in constructive advice to Ministers for the development of freshwater policy. It’s now time for the government to act.”

“Freshwater is a natural and recurring resource we need to protect, and is a national asset which needs to be properly and carefully managed to bolster our agricultural-led economy. . . .

Barbara Stuart returns to the NZWAC board:

Nelson farmer and outdoor-access supporter Barbara Stuart has been appointed to the Board of the New Zealand Walking Access Commission.

The appointment heralds Mrs Stuart’s second tenure on the board, where she previously served from 2008 to 2011.

New Zealand Walking Access Commission chairman John Forbes said Mrs Stuart had long been a champion of walking access and her return was very welcome. . . .

Farm Environment Trust’s Annual Report Highlights Growth:

The New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust and its flagship event, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, have celebrated another successful year.

Now available on the Trust’s website, the 2015 annual report outlines the organisation’s continued growth through 2015, with another region signing up to the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).

“We are delighted to have the Auckland region in the Awards for the 2016 programme,” said NZFE Trust chairman Simon Saunders.

“Having Auckland on board is a huge step towards being able to offer a complete national programme. We are almost there.” . . . 


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