Rural round-up

08/02/2017

‘Moment of truth’ for NZ agriculture in 2017 – industry report:

New Zealand agriculture faces a “moment of truth” in 2017, according to a report by agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank.

In its recently-released New Zealand Agricultural Outlook 2017 report, Rabobank says as an industry traditionally characterised by a liberal operating environment, and a key beneficiary of several decades of global shift to freer trade, agriculture faces a period of heightened regulatory uncertainty and change on both fronts.

Releasing the report, Rabobank Country Banking general manager Hayley Moynihan said 2017 was ushering in a period of considerable change and uncertainty for New Zealand agriculture with developments throughout the year likely to have a significant impact on the sector’s prospects this year and in the years to come.

‘They’ve signed off on everything we’ve done’

A Canterbury dairy farmer is defending the use of public land 50 metres from the Rakaia River, saying the regional council has let him farm it since 1990.

A report by the Canterbury Regional Council has detailed agricultural encroachment on nearly 12,000 hectares of land beside Canterbury’s braided rivers, between 1990 and 2012.

Forest and Bird said the areas taken over for farming have effectively been stolen, and their environmental values were, in effect, gone for good. . . . 

Council to use ‘rule book’ for river side development:

Canterbury’s regional council says it now has the enforcement tools needed to deal with farmers enchroaching public land and it won’t hesistate to use them.

An Environment Canterbury report has revealed almost 12,000 hectares of land beside Canterbury’s braided rivers was been converted for intensive agriculture between 1990 and 2012.

One-quarter of the land developed for farming was in public reserve. . .

Paddock to plate: chefs taste-test Omega lamb – Sally Rae:

It might still be early days for the Omega Lamb Project but feedback has been “overwhelming”, general manager Mike Tate says.

The project involves bringing healthy fat back on to the menu by producing lambs with naturally higher polyunsaturated fatty acids, intramuscular fat and omega-3.

Promoted as being the world’s tastiest and healthiest lamb, the project is a collaboration between Alliance Group, Headwaters Group and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Last week, a gathering was held in the South, bringing chefs from throughout the country together with farmers in the Omega Lamb pilot group. . .

RSE employers hiring more kiwis:

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse welcomes a report showing the vast majority of employers who take on seasonal workers under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme are also employing more New Zealanders.

The eighth annual survey of RSE employers found that 79 per cent of the 92 respondents had employed more permanent New Zealand workers in addition to their RSE workers.

“The fact that more RSE employers are now taking on more Kiwis as well is great news and shows once again the huge benefits of the RSE scheme,” Mr Woodhouse says. . .

Lamb flap prices match record high, on limited supply, strong demand – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – Strong demand from China combined with limited supply has seen the price for the humble lamb flap rise to match its previous record high.

The price for lamb flaps advanced to US$5.50 per kilogram in January, from US$5.40/kg in December, matching the previous record set in January 2014, according to AgriHQ’s monthly sheep & beef report.

Poor lamb growth rates through spring and early summer combined with improved grass growth has crimped the number of lambs being sent for slaughter in New Zealand, pushing up the price of all lamb cuts tracked by AgriHQ compared with their year-earlier levels. Lamb export volumes in December fell 25 percent from the year earlier to 20,580 tonnes, the lowest level for the month since 2011, according to the latest data.  . . 


Rural round-up

16/03/2016

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. . . 

dairy graphic

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

15/03/2016

What’s all this crying over spilled milk? New Zealand’s dairy crisis explained – Richard Meadows:

The dairy industry is constantly in the headlines lately – for all the wrong reasons.

Milk prices are going down the gurgler, and farmers are really starting to feel the pain.

Dairy is such a huge part of the economy that townies can’t help but be swept up in this too.

If you haven’t been following the issue closely, here’s an overview of what’s going on. . . 

Dairy industry marshalling its resources:

Dairy industry leaders are marshalling their collective resources to ensure a united approach to supporting farmers in the wake of a record low Farmgate Milk Price.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says the industry’s leaders including dairy company chairs and chief executives and Federated Farmers’ dairy section have met over the past month to discuss the serious situation and considered joint actions and options for support.

The DairyNZ board also meets this week and will discuss further options. “We’ll be talking through and reviewing our plan as an industry,” he says. . . 

NZ calf prices hit record high as demand soars amid supply shortage – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Prices for weaned calves at the start of the new sales season in New Zealand are hitting record highs amid increased demand and lower supply.

Sales of six-month-old weaner steers and heifers this month at Stortford Lodge in Hastings, an early benchmark ahead of the peak sales period in April, rose between 17 and 29 percent on 2015, which was itself at record levels, according to AgriHQ. Weaner sales generally finish early May.

Farmers who shed stock ahead of summer last year on concern about the impact of a dry El Nino weather pattern were now seeking to restock as rain in many areas through January stimulated pasture growth. Meanwhile, farmers who had previously provided grazing support to the dairy industry are now looking for other sources of income such as fattening weaners as dairy farmers look to rein on costs. . . 

Fonterra and foresight – Robert Hickson:

I can’t help thinking whether Fonterra, and NZ’s dairy industry, would be in a better position now if they’d devoted some (more) resources to strategic foresight. They may have, but it isn’t evident so far.

What is “strategic foresight”, and what, if anything, is it good for?

Strategic foresight, which is being used increasingly now in the private sector rather than simply “futures”, is about linking foresight activities (scanning for trends and weak signals, scenarios, visioning exercises, etc) with strategy formulation and execution.

Strategic foresight needs to ask and answer the “So what?” questions, and identify actions to address anticipated challenges and opportunities. The organisation then deliberatively chooses to undertake them, or not. . . 

Marlborough wine industry needs more workers to sustain rapid growth – Oliver Lewis:

More labour and accommodation is needed to service the Marlborough wine industry, which is predicted to grow by a quarter over the next five years, a new report shows.

The Marlborough Labour Market Survey, released on Monday, was organised by Wine Marlborough, in collaboration with New Zealand Winegrowers, the Marlborough District Council and Seasonal Solutions Co-operative Limited.

The purpose of the report, the first of its kind, is to get a comprehensive picture of the wine industry and its plans moving forward, to be able to plan for future labour requirements. . . 

Applications open for leading farm business management program:

Applications are open for the 2016 Rabobank Executive Development Program, tailored for progressive farmers to develop and enhance their business management skills.

Now in its 18th year, more than 500 New Zealand and Australian farmers have graduated from the intensive two-week program, which covers all aspects of business management including strategic goal setting, negotiation, risk management, leadership and technology.

Announcing the opening of applications, Rabobank general manager Country Banking New Zealand Hayley Moynihan said “interest in the program was perhaps stronger than ever, even taking into account the current downturn in the dairy industry”. . . .

NZ’s most tender and tasty lamb named at the Glammies:

The Gardyne family’s Perendale from Central Otago has been named the most tender and tasty lamb in New Zealand at the Glammies – the Beef + Lamb NZ Golden Lamb Awards – over the weekend.

The competition received a total of 173 entries which were subject to stringent scientific testing at Carne Technologies.

Following this process, the top 20 finalists were then tasted at the Grand Final judging at the Wanaka show. . . 

Manawatu and Rangitikei farmers have a fun day to help keep blues away – Jill Galloway:

Manawatu and Rangitikei farmers kept the blues away by attending a stress-free Rural Family After Five event.

About 200 people attended the evening event at the Te Kawau Memorial Recreation Centre this week at Rongota.

Parents talked and enjoyed a steak and sausage sandwich, while children slid on a water slide in an old fashioned get together with tug-of-war, touch rugby and a bouncy castle.

“When the kids are happy the parents can cope,” said a rural woman. . . 

 EPA Fines Wyoming Man $16 Million for Building a Pond on His Property – S. Noble:

Farmers and ranchers call the EPA’s new water rule the biggest land grab in the history of the world. It is a massive land grab, especially in a country that has been built on the right to own property. The administration is changing all that.

A new oppressive water rule gives the EPA jurisdiction over all public and private streams in the United States that are “intermittent, seasonal and rain-dependent.” It will regulate what are normal daily ranching and farming practices and take control of their land.

According to congressional budget testimony, waters of the United States would give the EPA authority over streams on private property even when the water beds have been dry, in some cases, for hundreds of years. . . 

 


Rural round-up

11/08/2015

Singer is loving country living – Sally Rae:

She’s opened for the Hollies and sung for Robert Kennedy jun – now Bex Murray is holed up in the Hakataramea Valley and she could not be happier.

Miss Murray (29) is living on a sheep and cattle farm with her fiance Tom Hayman while continuing to perform at gigs throughout the country at weekends.

She is also hoping to help inspire and motivate other young rural women by sharing ideas through Young Rural Ladies, a social media site she has set up with Sarah Connell, another newcomer to rural life, and which has quickly gained a following.

Originally from Lake Tekapo, where her family has been involved in tourism for most of her life, Miss Murray’s dream growing up was always to be a famous singer. . .

City girl goes country and loves it – Sally Rae:

It’s a long way from London to Livingstone.

So when Sarah Connell made the transition from big city living to remote rural life in North Otago, it was a monumental lifestyle change.

But the former urban girl is loving country life on sheep and cattle station Dome Hills, even though shifting break fences and stock is something she once never dreamed she would end up doing. . .

Top class tenderness from tough country – Kate Taylor:

Quiet stock with good genetics is the secret to the success of Gisborne farmer Tom Savage at this year’s Steak of Origin Awards.

A hereford/shorthorn steer from Tom and Linda Savage’s Poututu Station won the crossbred section at the annual nationwide competition in May.

It was a surprising win for the couple as Tom Savage says it was a last minute decision to enter the awards after a tough season. . .

Farmers woes blamed on short-term focus:

There are calls for banks to ensure the wellbeing of dairy farmers during the current crisis.

Fonterra has slashed its payout to $3.85 per kilogram of milk solids after another drop in global prices.

Rabobank analyst Hayley Moynihan says it’s important farmers manage to cope with the downturn.

“Banks take a very strong interest in the wellbeing of farmers, and they have an obligation to do so, and certainly a responsibility, because people can’t run their businesses and therefore the wellbeing of farmers is paramount.” . . .

NZ banks strong enough to weather downturn, dairy slump – Paul McBeth:

 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s lenders are in a strong enough position to weather slowing economic growth over the next year-and-a-half, while slumping dairy prices aren’t expected to pose as big a threat as they did in 2009, says Moody’s Investors Service.

The global rating agency has a stable outlook for the nation’s banking system, built on the expectation the country’s lenders will maintain strong asset quality and stable profitability in the face of a slowing economy. Moody’s anticipates slower gross domestic product growth of 2.9 percent in 2015 and 2.5 percent in 2016 as lower dairy prices crimp export incomes, though building activity in Auckland and Christchurch, persistently strong inbound net migration, and lower interest rates will support the economy. . .

Farmers to hold ‘urgent summit’ over milk prices:

Farming unions from across the UK will hold an “urgent summit” later to discuss milk prices, following widespread protests.

Some farmers are being paid less than the cost of production, the National Farmers’ Union says.

Protests have included removing large quantities of milk cartons from shops and blockading distribution centres. . .

New Zealand tourist providers should pay attention to advancements in Chinese agritourism –  Jason Young:

I’ve been incredibly lucky, over the last decade, to have the opportunity to travel regularly to China. In recent years, my research has turned to rural China allowing me to break out of the mega-cities and see some of the countryside.

During visits to farms and villages and by speaking with local academics, government officials and farmers, I’ve noticed the rise of Chinese agritourism. China has urbanised very fast. In the early 1980s roughly 200 million people lived in urban areas. Today the figure is closer to 700 million with projections of 1 billion urban dwellers by 2030.

Urban areas are often heavily populated, polluted and can lack green spaces. It is no surprise then to see people seeking ways of reconnecting with the natural environment and beginning to romanticise the image of a simpler rural life. . .

Breaking the cycle – farming sustainability requires change – Phil Beatson:

Albert Einstein once said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

The need for change in the dairy industry has prompted me to revise an article I originally wrote back in 1999 that is still very much relevant today.

When it comes to the ongoing economic welfare of today’s farmers – the backbone of New Zealand’s largest industry – all sectors must work together to create change. As history demonstrates, without change, we will continue to get the same results. . .

 


Rural round-up

12/07/2015

Merino school jersey success – Sally Rae:

 With a passion for New Zealand wool, it was only natural that Banks Peninsula farmers Carl and Tori Uren dressed their four young children in merino clothing.

But when their eldest daughter Annabel turned 5, they were disappointed to find the only jersey option for the school uniform was made from polar fleece.

Believing there had to be another option, the sheep and beef farmers made some inquiries and were disappointed to find merino jerseys were not available. . .

Safe workplace culture ‘comes from within’ – Sue O’Dowd:

Changes around health and safety need to come from the community and from industry, says a Taranaki Worksafe leader.

“It’s not going to be the regulator that makes the change,” WorkSafe assessment manager Jill Manaia told about 200 people at this week’s NZ Ground Spreader Fertiliser Association conference in New Plymouth. “It’s industry and the community who decide what’s important.” 

She said Worksafe was tasked with leading a step change in health and safety performance in New Zealand to reduce fatalities and serious harm by 25 per cent by 2020.

“Whatever we’ve been doing hasn’t worked. We’re killing too many people – each statistic is a family member, a business member, a guy who has to be replaced and who is no longer part of society. If someone is killed or injured at your business, it’s likely you knew them well.” . . .

Export conditions still tough – Neal Wallace:

If last year proved tough for exporters they are unlikely to get much of a reprieve in the coming season.

A combination of economic upheaval in key markets and high production from competing exporters threatens to overshadow the looming export season before it even starts.

Rabobank’s dairy research director Hayley Moynihan said this season would be tough but some of that impact could be softened by an easing NZ dollar. . .

All atwitter over beef Wellington – Rod Slater:

Before our very eyes, the way we advertise our products is changing rapidly.

No longer can we refer to a marketing plan which includes the traditional mix of television, print, radio, outdoor and a touch of online marketing, as strong.

Online marketing is without a doubt “taking over the world” and I’m certainly not one for closing my eyes to the inevitable. In fact, I’m predicting the social media and the online space will quickly begin to absorb the majority of our costs when it comes to allocating advertising spend. . .

 

Outram’s Johnstones win again – Sally Rae:

Outram Limousin breeders Rob and Jean Johnstone have done it again.

The couple have been awarded the Alan Dodd Trophy for the overall champion in the annual Otago Southland beef carcass competition, which attracted 38 entries. . .

Governance skills a priority for new apiculture body:

Federated Farmers is calling for people with bee industry experience and skills to apply for positions on the Interim Apiculture Industry Governance Board (IGB). The IGB emerged out of the merger between Federated Farmers Bees, Honey Packers and Exporters Association and National Beekeepers Association at the New Zealand Apiculture Conference last month.

The interim working group member and Federated Farmers Bee Industry Group Vice-Chairman, Peter Bell, says it is vital to have the best people to navigate a way to structure and fund the apiculture industry. . .


Rural round-up

05/06/2015

Central Plains Water moves to Stage II planning:

Central Plains Water is proceeding with planning for an enlarged Stage 2 of the $375m project on the back of fresh funding from the Ministry of Primary Industries’ (MPI) Irrigation Accelerator Funding (IAF).

The $3.5 million investment from the IAF will allow CPW to proceed with the first phase of the Stage 2 design. This investment is one of two that the IAF has committed to CPW, which must match the commitment dollar-for-dollar. . .

Rabobank New Zealand announces appointment of new general manager Country Banking:

Rabobank New Zealand has announced the appointment of Hayley Moynihan to the new role of general manager Country Banking.

Subject to regulatory approval from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, Ms Moynihan will commence in the role from July 2, 2015.

Reporting to Rabobank New Zealand chief executive officer Ben Russell, the general manager Country Banking will be responsible for leadership of Rabobank’s rural banking business throughout New Zealand.

 

Farmers urged to have their say on future plans for fighting bovine TB:

New Zealand cattle and deer farmers are being urged to get involved in how the fight against bovine TB is carried out, with a review of the Bovine Tuberculosis Pest Management Plan underway.

Since the start of 2000, New Zealand has spent more than $1.2 billion fighting bovine TB and controlling the pests (especially possums) that spread the disease.

Independent Chair of the Plan Governance Group (PGG) Chris Kelly said, “To protect the health of farmed cattle and deer and our good international trade reputation around animal products, it is critical we continue to build on this large investment and maintain the low TB rates we see today.” . .

Research findings a promising start for PhD student:

Preliminary findings from a research project at the University of Waikato could mean good things for farmers dealing with the effects of ongoing drought.

Increasing drought resilience
Doctoral student Jack Pronger’s research focuses on identifying approaches to increase pastoral drought resilience by using more diverse mixes of pasture species. He’s comparing the seasonal water use of mixed-sward pasture systems (a combination of different grass, legume and herb species) with more traditional ryegrass/clover systems under dairy grazing. . .

Healthy thinking workshops for rural people:

A 1980s era ambulance will be on the road soon, helping to bring practical advice to farmers and others in the rural community about looking after themselves.

It is part of a new programme, Farmstrong, that rural insurer, FMG and the Mental Health Foundation have launched.

It is taking a different approach to other rural mental health initiatives, by promoting well-being, with advice on subjects such as nutrition, managing fatigue, exercise, and coping with pressure. . .

Growing value – an uncertain future:

The uncertain future of the dairy sector is currently top-of-mind for many primary sector leaders, reports KPMG New Zealand.

That was a key theme arising from the KPMG Agribusiness Agenda 2015, titled “Growing Value”.

KPMG’s Global Head of Agribusiness, Ian Proudfoot, says conversations about the dairy industry’s future have “changed dramatically in the last year”.

“The extent of the downturn in milk returns for the 2014/2015 season was not expected. The belief that prices had moved to a new plain, driven by insatiable Chinese demand, has disappeared.”  . . .

Farmers score with new DairyNZ app launching at Fieldays:

A tool to allow farmers to perform one of their most important jobs on a smartphone will soon be available when DairyNZ launches its new free Body Condition Scoring (BCS) App at the National Agricultural Fieldays next week in the Waikato.

The app gives farmers the opportunity to body condition score cows on their smartphone using DairyNZ’s Body Condition Scoring Made Easy field guide.

DairyNZ animal husbandry specialist Andrea Henry says condition scoring cows is such an important job, DairyNZ wanted to make it as easy as possible. . .

Blocks help minimise metabolic disorder risks in herds:

It’s the calm before the calving season and a bit of planning now will help herds get through without the risk of metabolic disorders, such as milk fever, which can lead to downer cows or impact future milk production.

The disorders are prevalent just before or after calving, triggered by an inability to mobilise enough calcium. Subclinical cases of milk fever can be hard to pick up, with industry data indicating that for every downer cow it is likely that between 10 and 15 others in the herd will have early stage milk fever symptoms.

“It’s estimated that the cost of a clinical case of milk fever can reach up to $1,500 per cow* – including lost milk production, reduced fertility, and increased likelihood of culling due to other diseases such as mastitis. Not only is the risk a costly one, it’s also unnecessary,” says SealesWinslow Product Development Manager, Jackie Aveling. . .


Rural round-up

05/05/2015

Dairy price rise case of ‘when not if’ – Sally Rae:

DairyNZ research and the latest economic outlook for dairy farming was outlined at a Farmers Forum, organised by DairyNZ, in Balclutha last weekend. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae went along.

Medium-term prospects for dairy prices remain ”solid but not spectacular”, Rabobank’s director of dairy research New Zealand and Australia, Hayley Moynihan, says.

The 2014 15 season was further evidence of the market volatility expected to continue in global dairy markets, Ms Moynihan said.

A recovery in prices was all about ”when and not if” but the recovery was likely to be more prolonged than seen in 2009 10 and 2012 13. . .

 DairyNZ chief’s bloodline is farming – Sally Rae:

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle always wanted to be a farmer.

Brought up on a Kaikoura dairy farm which has been in his family for generations, farming is in his blood.

His intention was to go to Lincoln University, complete his tertiary studies and then return and farm alongside his brother.

But he got ”sidetracked” by the science and business aspect and was encouraged to follow that path. . .

Dairy to benefit from Chinese-NZ research:

A new research project between China and New Zealand is to focus on how to improve the efficiency of water use in the dairy sector.

The collaborative project involves AgResearch and the Chinese Academy of Sciences and is aimed at helping a range of factors from watering feed crops to washing out cow sheds.

Principal scientist at AgResearch’s Ruakura base Stewart Ledgard said both countries had a lot to learn from each other. . .

 Les Roughan still going strong in dog trialing at 91 – Diane Bishop:

Les Roughan’s ticker isn’t the best.

But, the 91-year-old, who lives at Mandeville, is determined to finish the dog trialing season before undergoing heart surgery.

Roughan is the oldest competitor at the Tux South Island Sheep Dog Trial Championships which are being held on Leithen Valley Farm at Greenvale this week. . .

New research into West Coast agricultural pest:

Fresh research by AgResearch scientists will help unlock mysteries of one of the West Coast’s worst agricultural pests and allow farmers to make better management decisions and potentially save money.

Porina caterpillars are grazers that have the potential to reduce the long term quality and production of pasture but AgResearch Senior Scientist Sarah Mansfield says very little is known about the pest’s specific impact on the West Coast.

However, research conducted during a three year $300,000 Sustainable Farming Fund project will allow farmers to better understand how to monitor for the pest and then utilise control methods more efficiently and cost effectively.

“One of the big problems is that farmers often use control methods too late and after the damage is already done,” Dr Mansfield says.

“Clearly this costs a great deal of time and money for very little return so we hope to be able to provide them with more effective tools to alleviate this.” . . .

NZX adds iFarm to its AgriHQ business –  Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – NZX has bought iFarm, the livestock market information business, for an undisclosed sum from owners Jon Sherlock and Peter Fraser and will add the firm to its AgriHQ data business.

The Napier-based agriculture service publishes reports covering export data and prices as well as a wrap up of stock sales across the country, the Wellington-based exchange operator said in a statement. The acquisition price was confidential and wasn’t material. . .


Rural round-up

04/03/2015

Water refusal ‘will have wide imapct’:

Federated Farmers says the Canterbury Regional Council’s refusal to allow some farmers to exceed their groundwater limits this year will have a widespread impact on farming there, as the drought bites deeper.

Some farmers with seasonal restrictions on their ground water allocation have asked the council if they can increase the amount of water they can take, because they say they’ll need more to get them through the irrigation season.

Environment Canterbury turned them down because it said limits were set for each zone for environmental reasons.

It said groundwater levels were now very low, particularly in the southern half of the region, where some wells have dropped to record levels. . .

Improvements to food traceability on agenda:

Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew has welcomed the release of the Dairy Traceability Working Group’s reports, which make recommendations on food supply chain traceability.

“The group was formed following a recommendation from the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate Contamination Incident, with a mandate to investigate dairy traceability,” Mrs Goodhew says.

“However traceability is critical for all foods exported from New Zealand, and the government is now considering applying the report’s recommendations across all food sectors. . .

Magnetic milk – the lure of dairy investment down under:

In 2014 there was a flurry of inbound investment activity by Asian dairy companies, mostly from China, into the New Zealand and Australian dairy sectors. However Rabobank warns that ongoing growth in import requirements by Chinese and wider Asian dairy companies shouldn’t be taken for granted.

In a recently-released report ‘Magnetic milk – the lure of dairy investment down under’, global agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank says a specific focus for overseas investors in New Zealand dairy has been on securing access to liquid milk and ingredients for infant formula.

Report co-author, Rabobank director of Dairy Research, New Zealand and Asia Hayley Moynihan says a quest to secure access to a high-quality, safe milk pool is driving international investment in dairy down under.

“Between 2014 and 2020 we expect China and South East Asia combined to account for almost one third of the increase in global dairy imports,” Ms Moynihan says. . .

 

 – Keith Woodford:

[This post was first published in the Fairfax NZ Sunday Star Times on 22 February 2015. It is the fourth of a series of five on Fonterra.  The earlier posts were ‘The evolution of Fonterra’, ‘Fonterra’s jouney’, and ‘Fonterra’s global reach’.]

One of the big challenges for Fonterra has been to determine its overall market position. Is it a marketer of commodities? Or is it a marketer of fast moving consumer goods (fmcgs)? Or is it a marketer of specialist ingredients? Can it be all three?

The challenge of trying to be all three is that the appropriate business culture is different for each market positioning. Commodity marketing is all about logistics, efficiency, and financial discipline. Fmcgs are all about entrepreneurship, creation of brands, being fast on one’s feet, and willingness to take risks. Specialised ingredients require a focus on science and technology. . .

 

Scholar is one to watch:

Henry Buckingham says his Beef + Lamb New Zealand scholarship is worth far more than the $5,000 per annum financial support.

“It’s the people I’ve got to meet and the information I’ve picked up from those people.”

The 19 year old is one to watch. He was the 2011 winner of the New Zealand Teen Ag award, which runs along similar lines to the national young farmer of the year competition. Henry also has a goal of competing in the Coast to Coast and is currently building up for the event. . .


Rural round-up

17/02/2015

Agricultural cooperatives increasingly thirsty for capital – industry report:

Growing global market opportunities and the need to strengthen supply chains are creating a thirst for capital among agricultural cooperatives as they seek to invest in their future, according to a recently-released research report.

In the report Agricultural cooperatives – quenching the thirst for capital, agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank says sourcing capital is on the agenda for almost every large agricultural cooperative, and is rapidly moving up the list of priorities for many.

Report author, Rabobank research director Hayley Moynihan says the traditional source of investment capital for cooperatives – their member base and modest debt facilities – may now no longer be enough to allow coops to fully participate in an increasingly dynamic global and local food and agribusiness market.

 

Health & Safety requires a shift in attitude – Chris Lewis:

This week, Worksafe is launching a new program, funded 50/50 by WorkSafe and ACC.

As you would have read in the media health and safety is a big issue affecting the rural community, and we are taking it seriously.  Last year, Federated Farmers Waikato ran six health and safety seminars with industry organisations, with significant attendance by farmers.

In the last two years, there has been up to 40 deaths and many injuries on-farm. Most farmers would agree this has been too many. While there is no pattern, there are too many accidents occurring and we must do more to reduce these on-farm. This starts with you the farmer, the person in charge of the work place, the owner of the business, the management taking ownership and responsibility. If you don’t think this will affect you, you are wrong – the health and safety culture is here to stay. This is sinking in as throughout the country the demand from farmers for health and safety workshops has been increasing as well as sales of Federated Farmers Health & Safety Policies. . .

Milk price guarantee winner this year:

Dairy farmers who signed up for Fonterra’s guaranteed milk price scheme this season will find themselves on the right side of the ledger.

The scheme, in its second season, allows farmers supplying the co-operative to offer up to 75 percent of their milk for a guaranteed price.

About 180 farms signed up for the first offer at the start of the season in June, accepting a price of $7 a kilo of milk solids, which was the opening forecast. . .

Germans love our grass-fed beef  – Tony Benny:

German diners are warming to the taste of New Zealand grass-fed hereford beef and a high-value niche for it is growing in a market dominated by pork and poultry, says importer Christian Klughardt.

Just back in Hamburg after his annual visit here to meet supplier Silver Fern Farms, Klughardt said demand for hereford was growing thanks to its quality and consistency, which makes it stand out from beef imported from South America.

At blind tastings staged as part of marketing and promotional events, New Zealand hereford always came up tops, he said.

“We blindfold them and let them taste hereford to the other and they would always pick the hereford on a continuous basis,” Klughardt said. . .

Rugby rep revels in rural life – Anne Hughes:

Former Taranaki rugby player Carl Carmichael is loving his return to country life.

After 53 appearances for Taranaki’s ITM Cup rugby team, Carmichael and his family moved back to Matiere, the farming community west of Taumarunui where he grew up.

While the former prop misses his favourite coffee shop since leaving New Plymouth, he says the country is where he and his family want to be.

He has worked as a builder since he and wife Emma moved 12 months ago. He played rugby last season and represented King Country in the New Zealand Heartland tour.

The couple are rearing calves and running cattle on land they lease at Matiere in the hope of building their stock numbers so they can buy their own farm one day. . .

Chairman returned & new director welcomed to Silver Fern Farms’ Board:

Rob Hewett and Fiona Hancox have been elected to the Silver Fern Farms’ Board of Directors.

The results of the election which closed at 3.00pm on Friday, 13 February 2015 were:

· Rob Hewett: 41,437,912

· Fiona Hancox: 25,241,163

· Herstall Ulrich: 20,695,485 . .

 


Rural round-up

30/06/2014

Rustling needs to be a specific offence:

Federated Farmers is asking political parties to develop policies to tackle the scourge of stock theft better known as rustling.

“We know stock theft or rustling has been estimated to cost the farming community some $120 million each year,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers rural security spokesperson.

“In recent weeks we’ve seen a lifestyler raided for breeding ewes in Waikato and over 200 sheep despicably shot in Otago.

“We’ve got to ask if the penalties imposed are serious enough to be a deterrent for either rustling or poaching. Based on our experience to date they are not. . .

Behaviour is the root cause of meat industry’s problems – Allan Barber:

I am not completely sure why we spend so much time and effort complaining about the meat industry or which problems we are trying to solve. However in the interests of encouraging progress and stimulating debate, I will try to define the problem: this appears to be that the meat processing and export sector is not profitable enough, whether in absolute terms or in comparison to dairy. Both may be true.

It is worth stating the unique challenges of the red meat sector up front. First, there is a market at both ends of the chain, procurement and sale of the products; second, New Zealand exports a higher percentage of its production than any other country which must travel further to reach its markets, not all of them equally buoyant; third, sheep and beef must be disassembled into multiple cuts of meat as well as many co-products, all of which are sold into a wide range of markets for variable returns; fourth the climate dictates when the grass will grow and livestock will be ready for slaughter; and last, but not least, the producer can choose when and where to send the livestock for slaughter except in a drought. . .

The recipe for future success:

Blue Sky Meats and its suppliers will be relieved the company is back in black after two challenging years.

The return to profitability – a $1.946 million after-tax profit for the year to March – came on the back of the only two losses in the Southland-based company’s 28-year history.

It has been a much better year for meat companies. Along with Blue Sky – and Lean Meats – the two big co-operatives, Alliance Group and Silver Fern Farms, who both report late in the year, have signalled profitable years. . .

Dairy recovery anticipated – by Christmas – Sally Rae:

Dairy commodity prices are predicted to stay in a trough period for another three to six months.

Speaking at the recent South Island Dairy Event in Invercargill, Rabobank’s director of dairy research for New Zealand and Asia, Hayley Moynihan, said it could be Christmas before there was a more sustained recovery in commodity prices.

It would be a ”reasonably prolonged” trough, as inventories were worked through and an additional seven billion litres of milk available on the world market in the first half of 2014 took time to ”find a home”. . .

Focus on consumers behind Pasture to Plate success – Sally Rae:

King Country farmer William Oliver’s belief in the consumer stemmed from his time studying at the University of Otago.

Mr Oliver and his wife Karen were the overall winners of the Silver Fern Farms’ Pasture to Plate Award.

Silver Fern Farms chairman Rob Hewett said the couple impressed the judges with their focus on the consumer. . . .

Simpler pesticide rules on the way:

The Environmental Protection Authority is aiming to simplify the rules covering pesticides and other hazardous substances.

The authority is marking its third anniversary as the country’s environmental regulator after being created from three agencies – the Environmental Risk Management Authority, the Ministry for the Environment and the Economic Development Ministry.

EPA chief executive Rob Forlong said one of its big achievements has been a wide ranging review of organophosphate chemicals, which resulted in controls on some pesticides being tightened and others phased out. . .

Final countdown for Ultimate Rural Challenge:

The showcase event of the rural calendar is only three days away!

The 2014 ANZ Young Farmer Contest Grand Final begins this Thursday 3 July, 4.30pm with the Official Opening at Lincoln University Library. Here, the top seven contestants will be introduced to the public and compete in their first head-to-head challenge.

The competition over the following two days is a testament to the sophistication of modern farming and level of skill and knowledge required to be successful in the field. The top seven young farmers have made it through to the Grand Final by competing in their local district competition and taking first place in their Regional Finals.  . .

Successful annual conference for Rural Contractors NZ:

More than 100 agricultural contractors from all over the country met in New Plymouth, last week, for Rural Contractors New Zealand’s (RCNZ) annual conference.

Rural Contractors New Zealand is the only national association for rural contractors in New Zealand.

Last week’s conference saw Wellsford-based Steve Levet re-elected as president of RCNZ, with Southland’s David Kean re-elected vice-president. . .

 


Farmers subsidisng NZ consumers

29/11/2013

The question of why milk isn’t less expensive here when we produce so much is often asked.

What most people don’t know is  the retail price is well below the real cost.

. . . Chief executive Theo Spierings said the downside of strong demand for dairy commodities was increasing pressure on Fonterra’s NZ Milk Products division where profit margin remained under pressure.

To illustrate his point, Spierings said if the division were to pass on to consumers of a two litre bottle of milk in New Zealand the full price paid to farmers for their milk, the retail price would need to increase from $4 to $6 and the co-operative would be facing a media storm.

“And that would not be the worst of it…we would see the volume of dairy consumption in NZ going down very fast.”. . .

Fonterra and ultimately the farmers which supply it are subsidising consumers.

One reason for the higher cost is that we’re no longer low-cost producers.

The traditionally low-cost pasture-based dairying regions, such as New Zealand, have lost their cost advantage as input prices have risen, and now compete on the global market with a similar cost of production to producers with more intensive farming systems, according to a recently-released industry report.

In the report, No longer low-cost milk ‘down under’, agricultural banking specialist Rabobank says global milk production costs have converged between dairy-exporting countries, as the traditionally low-cost milk producers have seen their production costs rise, off the back of volatile global feed prices and the increasing use of feed in traditional pasture-based regions.

Report author, Rabobank director of dairy research, New Zealand and Asia Hayley Moynihan says New Zealand milk producers will need to structure their businesses and production systems to withstand ongoing high price volatility – for both dairy commodity prices and inputs.

Higher costs can be absorbed when the payout is higher but costs rarely drop quickly when the payout falls.

Ms Moynihan says lower-cost regions, like New Zealand, have already “largely capitalised their efficiency gains in a high milk-price environment into the price of land and other assets”.

Therefore there is a need to adapt to this loss of absolute competitive advantage in milk production as efficiency gains become more difficult to obtain.

“It is likely that optimal supply chain efficiency could at least partially mitigate this loss,” she says.

“Efficiencies achieved downstream in milk processing and marketing via a strong route to market and established supply chain relationships will likely play a greater role in differentiating competitive export companies and industries into the future.”

Ms Moynihan says to ensure that competitiveness is based on more than just the cost of producing milk, the New Zealand dairy industry will need to work hard to ensure that it stays ahead of the pack in supply chain efficiency, market access, marketing and sensible regulation. . .

We also have to safeguard our reputation for high quality, safe food.

The New Zealand dairy industry, most well-known for its low-cost production, has moved, perhaps irrevocably, to a higher cost farming system, the Rabobank report says.

Ms Moynihan says the structural increase in milk prices globally and locally has driven the quest for increased production, almost at any cost.

“The first signs were there in 2002 when , on the back of milk prices increasing 42 per cent over two seasons, farm working expenses surged 33 per cent per kilogramme of milk solids produced,” she says.

“The reality check of a 32 per cent lower milk price in 2003, which remained at a similar level over subsequent years soon saw expenses fall back into line.”

However, Ms Moynihan says the 72 per cent lift in milk prices in 2007/08, and higher prices on average in the years following, brought a steep increase in production costs Media Release November 27, 2013

that show little sign of abating without a significant change in farming systems or an economic crisis.

Farm working expenses increased 72 per cent in 2007/08 on the prior season and interest cost rose 29 per cent with both expenditure categories oscillating around these higher levels ever since, she says.

Additionally, higher interest costs per kgMS have been driven by New Zealand dairy farmers’ increased debt, not higher interest rates, Ms Moynihan says.

“The significant increase in dairy land values over the past decade combined with an increased focus on land acquisition resulted in aggregate farm debt across the dairy industry more than doubling since 2002 to almost NZD 20 per kgMS produced,” she says.

New Zealand producers are likely to experience upward pressure on milk production costs over the coming years as they are confronted by a rising interest rate market and the likely impact of future environmental regulations on farming systems and milk production levels.

“Tackling environmental issues is likely to result in a variety of measures that may include increased infrastructure on-farm, altering pasture management or decreased intensity of farming systems which all impact production cost dynamics”.

Ms Moynihan says milk producers in New Zealand should consider where the competitive advantage lies for their own operations.

“Increased exposure to the global dairy market for some milk producers and greater intensification on-farm for others has added complexity to many dairy farm businesses,” she says.

“A flexible production system at a higher average cost may still be competitive if it provides resilience during a downturn.”

With high volatility expected to continue for both milk prices and production costs, the ability to lower inputs and/or costs during periods of abundant global supply would be a distinct advantage, Ms Moynihan says.

“Southern Hemisphere producers previously survived global market downturns for prolonged periods due to the size of their absolute comparative cost advantage,” she says.

“With this cost advantage now minimal to non-existent, other strategies to survive the inevitable downturns – albeit likely short-term – will be required.”

Any dairy farmer not doing well with this season’s forecast record payout shouldn’t be in the business.

But next season’s payout will almost certainly be lower and even the best farmers have to keep a rein on costs to ensure they can cope with less money.

Businesses which service and supply farms also have to be aware that while they might be making hay under this year’s sun, next season could be cloudier.


Rural round-up

14/07/2013

Global forces need smart response – Sally Brooker:

New Zealand dairy farmers and milk processors need robust business structures to withstand market movements, Hayley Moynihan says.

Delivering a keynote address at the South Island Dairy Event in Lincoln on June 24, the Rabobank food and agribusiness research and advisory senior dairy analyst said milk price volatility was not going away. We needed to aspire to where there was opportunity to enter more lucrative markets.

Rising consumer expectations were presenting a continuing challenge, Ms Moynihan said.  . . .

Waikato farmers set the record for Agrecovery:

Federated Farmers is applauding the way Waikato farmers have embraced Agrecovery rural recycling. A record six tonne of hazardous horticultural, agricultural and veterinary chemicals was collected during the Waikato regional collection, finishing last week.

“Farmers are choosing to dispose of their chemical waste responsibly due to the convenience of the service,” says James Houghton, Federated Farmers’ Waikato provincial president.

“It is great to see increasing numbers of farmers using Agrecovery. It is another example of farmers changing their behaviour and working for the good of the environment without the need for legislation. . .

Warm, wet weather inhibits rabbits – Ruth Grundy:

Wet and warm springs and summers are keeping rabbit numbers down across Canterbury.

Environment Canterbury biosecurity team leader Brent Glentworth said for the past two seasons warm, wet weather during the first rabbit breeding cycle had been largely responsible for keeping the population in check.

Young rabbits had a low survival rate in those conditions because they succumbed to pneumonia or coccidiosis – a liver disease ”very prevalent” in warm, wet weather, Mr Glentworth said. . .

Mounting cost to irrigation schemes – Ruth Grndy:

Irrigation companies in the Waitaki river catchment are facing significant clean up bills after last month’s flooding damaged irrigation schemes.

Waitaki residents say the rain and flooding from the storm which lashed the country was the worst seen in decades.

The Danseys Pass bridge was destroyed after about 160mm of rain fell in the space of three days.

Maerewhenua District Water Resource Company chairman Kelvin Weir said the scheme had been ”very lucky” and ”survived pretty well” considering the amount of rain and high river flow. . . .

Irrigation extending potato, onion output – Ruth Grundy:

Easier access to water in Canterbury is not only fuelling dairying production but also a significant growth in the production of potatoes and onions.

The 2012 agricultural production census, conducted by the Department of Statistics, shows the Canterbury potato harvest accounted for half the national harvested area in June 2012.

And, the land put into onions increased from 690ha in June 2007 to 1040ha in June 2012 – about a 50% increase. . .

New ASB sponsorship will improve financial literacy of dairying women:

ASB has confirmed it is a new gold sponsor of the Dairy Women’s Network (DWN). The partnership, which took effect on 1 July, will boost the work already being done by the DWN to improve the financial literacy skills of the country’s dairy farming women.

DairyNZ modelling shows there is an opportunity to improve the industry’s profitability by more than $1B per year, or approximately $1000 per hectare, by improving financial literacy and management capabilities.

The industry body has also identified there is a significant range in profitability between dairy farmers, with a contributing factor being management capability. . .


Rural round-up

29/06/2013

Holding costs dairying’s challenge – Tim Cronshaw:

Keeping costs down could be the major challenge dairy farmers face in retaining New Zealand’s edge in global dairy markets.

Buyers had been making tougher conditions for food safety, sustainability, traceability and animal ethics and the list would grow, said Rabobank dairy research director Hayley Moynihan at the SIDE conference this week.

Milk-production costs were up “everywhere”, she said, and, with milk prices increasing to an expected $7 a kilogram of milksolids – about US50 cents a litre – other countries could be expected to want to supply this market. . .

Indian food demands might prove costly – Richard Rennie:

Pressure to comply with Indian dairy market requirements could hit farmers with higher feed costs as stock feed operators are forced to re-jig feed formulas and plant.

Dairy companies keen to get established in the growing Indian market may need to change stock-feed formulations and increase traceability around bought-in dairy farm feed.

Hindu religious leaders are pushing the dairy companies, saying imported milk products cannot contain animal tissue at any point in the process. . .

Cutting edge nitrate loss at SDF:

FOR MOST months of last year the Tomoporakau Stream leaving the Southland Demonstration Farm contained less nitrate than when it flowed onto the property.

While that finding from ground-breaking research by Lincoln University – with funding from Ravensdown – is good news for the farm and possibly the wider dairy industry, it is just a first year finding, stress the researchers involved.

“This is a really challenging but interesting project,” Lincoln University’s Prof Keith Cameron told a recent focus day held near the farm. . .

Tackling water limits in Otago:

IT’S GOING to take time and considerable investment to meet the measures Otago Regional Council is promoting to improve water quality, judging by the comments of two south Otago sheep and beef farmers to a recent Beef + Lamb New Zealand nutrient nous seminar.

However, both accept the need for change and are already taking steps to reduce their farms’ impacts.

At Taumata, Ken Campbell says he’s “pretty lucky” to have most waterways already fenced, with extensive planting, thanks to his parents’ hard work. . .

Big money for Busy Brook – Diane Bishop:

A five year-old pedigree Holstein Friesian cow is believed to have set a New Zealand record when it sold for $28,500 at the Southern Gold Medal Sale in Gore.

Taieri dairy farmers Nathan and Amanda Bayne, of the Henley Farming Company on the Taieri Plains, sold a two-third share in Holstein Friesian cow Busy Brook AP Rana for $28,500 to Australian dairy farmers Peter and Jessica Fullerton.

Sale manager Bruce Eade said it was the highest price paid for a Holstein Friesian cow this year, eclipsing the price of $24,000 paid for a Holstein Friesian cow at the Royal Presentation sale in Cambridge in June. . .

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Global food security and strong trade links key for NZ Ag

12/02/2013

The world’s increasing focus on global food security and safety and New Zealand’s strong trade links will be key factors in the international competitiveness of New Zealand’s agriculture in 2013.

In its flagship Agriculture in Focus 2013 report – examining the outlook for New Zealand and Australian agriculture – specialist food and agribusiness bank Rabobank identifies key opportunities and challenges for the competitiveness of New Zealand agricultural commodities in the year ahead.

Overall, the report finds the outlook for New Zealand agri commodities remains generally robust, despite some ongoing challenges to competitiveness.

“Global supply and demand fundamentals indicate an increased reliance on exportable supplies from New Zealand in 2013, which should help bolster local prices, largely off-setting the currency drag (from the high dollar),” the report says.

However, the report cautions, maintaining competitiveness is vital in order to take full advantage of the opportunities.

“Enhancing the international competitiveness of New Zealand agribusiness is becoming increasingly challenging. Where possible, these challenges must be tackled in 2013 to mitigate the impacts of the elevated New Zealand dollar and to unlock the growing opportunities for the sector into the future,” it says.

Food security and safety

Chief among the opportunities for the New Zealand agricultural sector are those presented by the pressing global need to provide food security to rapidly-expanding and increasingly wealthy populations, particularly in developing Asian economies.

The report says New Zealand, like its near-neighbour Australia, is well placed to increase the volume of agricultural exports into the Asian region due to its competitive advantages, including superior product quality, developed trade linkages and geographic proximity.

“The issues of food security and food safety provide enormous opportunities for New Zealand and Australia’s agricultural sectors,” the report says. “Both countries have ample supply of high quality food and agricultural products, and comfortably sit on the doorstep of a fast-growing region.”

However, extracting and retaining maximum value for that production – along with maintaining and developing competitive advantages – will be key to ongoing growth in exports, says Rabobank senior analyst Hayley Moynihan.

“The New Zealand agribusiness sector is expected to play a major role as a reliable supplier of high-quality, safe food over the next decade, however it is not the only country eyeing the opportunities presented by the increasing food demand from a rising middle class in Asia. Maintaining competitiveness is vital to take full advantage of the opportunities,” she said.

Food safety is also an important factor identified by the report. “Plagued by local food safety issues, many trading partners are seeking the assurance of high quality imported food and agricultural products,” Ms Moynihan said. “And stringent food quality and safety frameworks already underpin production systems in New Zealand.”

Trade links

Throughout 2013, New Zealand’s strength in international trade links with key importing markets is expected to be a distinct competitive advantage for the country’s agri exporters, according to the Rabobank report.

“The inability of many, particularly developing countries, to feed growing populations through domestic production means that governments are aiming to facilitate trade flows and offshore investment in agriculture as a means of securing food supply,” Ms Moynihan said.

“Trade relationships and agreements are integral in developing and maintaining efficient access to global markets. The continued facilitation of trade flows to ensure stable food stocks globally in 2013 is expected to help support the local prices of agri commodities in New Zealand.”

For New Zealand, a key focus is the ongoing negotiations with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan to form a Free Trade Agreement.

The report says foreign interest in New Zealand’s agricultural assets also looks set to continue in 2013, with the country’s reputation for quality food production making it an attractive destination for investors.

Other issues

Other key issues facing the agricultural sector in 2013 identified by the Rabobank report include the strong New Zealand dollar, increasing regulatory pressures and sector employment.

The New Zealand dollar is forecast to remain elevated for at least another 12 months, challenging the competitiveness and profitability of the country’s agricultural exports, the report says.Media Release February 11, 2013 3

“The elevated currency makes the pursuit of future productivity gains in New Zealand agriculture all the more critical,” Ms Moynihan said.

In addition, increasing regulatory pressures are creating some extra headwinds across the agricultural sector adding to the cost of production, as well as creating uncertainty, limiting resource availability and driving change in farming practices.

While attracting current and future generations to agriculture is a priority for all of the farming sector, Ms Moynihan says. “The challenge is not just meeting and being able to afford immediate labour requirements to get the job done, but identifying from where the next generation of farm owners, managers and agribusiness leaders will emerge,” she said.


Rural round-up

30/09/2012

The return of milk scarcity – Rabobank on dairy:

The global dairy market appears to be heading for a period of renewed supply scarcity in the coming 12 months, according to Rabobank.

Rabobank senior dairy analyst Hayley Moynihan says the impetus for tightening emanates largely from the supply side, where low milk prices, extreme feed costs and pockets of unfavourable weather are expected to slow growth in milk production in export regions.

“We fear that much of the market has been lulled into a false sense of security by the phenomenal growth seasons we saw late in 2011 and early 2012, with the next 12 months to provide a rude awakening,” Ms Moynihan says. . . .

Dairy farming New Zealand can be proud of – Milking on the Moove:

I’ve changed my header to the Milking On The Moove logo. My goal is to create a dairy farming system that New Zealanders can be proud of.

I’m passionate about dairy farming and agriculture. While I have blogged about aspects that I think should change, I’m a fan of the industry. I’m concerned that Fonterra seems to get so much flack from the New Zealand public, which includes individual farmers.

I can understand left leaning environmentalists having a dim view of Fonterra, as that would be in keeping with their attitude towards corporates and big business in general. I’m concerned by the attitudes of middle New Zealand. It seems that many view Fonterra as a money hungry corporate giant that is screwing New Zealand consumers. I’m prepared to be a little understanding of a middle of the road New Zealander, who knows nothing about farming being influenced by the media. . .

Organics – Milking on the Moove:

Research out of Stanford University has shown that organic produce has no greater nutritional value than non-organic produce.

That’s not news to me, but I don’t think people buy organic food because they feel it is has a higher nutritional value, but rather because it is not covered in sprays and pesticides.

Jacqueline Rowarth points out repeatedly that organics generally produce 20% less yield than conventional farming methods. These farmers need to receive the premium that organics provides in order to stay profitable. But as the world begins to meet the needs of a growing population, all the figures I’m seeing require more product being produced from less and with a lower environmental impact. I’m doubtful that organics can achieve this.. .

 

Tokyo launch for coat range – Sally Rae:

A range of coats using merino wool from Closeburn Station in the Maniototo has been launched in Tokyo to much media interest.

Suit makers Konaka Co Ltd launched a range of 15-micron New Zealand wool coats to rival cashmere, under the label Limited Wool Premium. . .

 

New tech can help farmers head off enforced regulation

Farmers have an opportunity to put themselves ahead of the game regarding fertiliser application and avoid tough regulations being imposed on them, the annual meeting of Ravensdown was told in New Plymouth on Monday night.

Ravensdown Chief Executive Rodney Green told 500 shareholders that the company had developed new tools to enable farmers to get the most value out of their fertiliser regime, while still dealing with concerns raised by the likes of the Environment Court’s recent decision in favour of the nitrogen limits set by the Horizons Regional Council.

“We stood with Federated Farmers, Horticulture NZ and Fonterra making many submissions on behalf of farmers that were ultimately not given sufficient weight by the Environment Court,” said Rodney Green. “One thing, however, that is not in dispute is the fact that reducing the environmental footprint of New Zealand farming is increasingly important. Sustainable practices are an important part of the story to tell overseas customers about our farming produce and can also help deliver better results for the farmer’s bottom line.” . . .

Ngai Tahu boosts earnings from commercial operations, eyes bigger dairy development –  Paul McBeth:

Ngai Tahu Holdings, which manages the South Island iwi’s commercial operations, boosted earnings across all of its units and is looking to ramp up its exposure in dairy.

Net profit climbed to $95.7 million in the 12 months ended June 30, from $15.9 million a year earlier, the iwi said in its annual report. Operating earnings, which strip out gains from asset sales and property values, climbed 48 percent to $55.1 million on sales of $209.36 million.

Ngai Tahu Holdings invested $39 million in property development, $19 million in investment property mainly to do with dairy, and $22 million in the Agrodome and Rainbow Springs tourism operations. . .

 

‘ve changed my header to the Milking On The Moove logo. My goal is to create a dairy farming system that New Zealanders can be proud of.

I’m passionate about dairy farming and agriculture. While I have blogged about aspects that I think should change, I’m a fan of the industry. I’m concerned that Fonterra seems to get so much flack from the New Zealand public, which includes individual farmers.

I can understand left leaning environmentalists having a dim view of Fonterra, as that would be in keeping with their attitude towards corporates and big business in general. I’m concerned by the attitudes of middle New Zealand. It seems that many view Fonterra as a money hungry corporate giant that is screwing New Zealand consumers. I’m prepared to be a little understanding of a middle of the road New Zealander, who knows nothing about farming being influenced by the media.


Sheep, cattle numbers holding, prices not

04/08/2012

Sheep and beef cattle numbers increased by 2.6% and 1% respectively in the year to the end of June.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Economic Service director Rob Davison says this compensated for the 4.4 per cent decline in sheep and 2.6 per cent decline in beef cattle the previous year.

B+LNZ’s annual stock number survey, which establishes the productive base of livestock for 2012-13, shows that while sheep numbers were up 2.6 per cent most of this increase will be stock carried over for slaughter in July-September.

“Breeding ewe numbers at 20.61 million are almost static (+0.6%) on the previous June when ewe numbers fell 6.0% per cent to a low of 20.49 million. Strong mutton prices earlier in the year encouraged a high slaughter of cull ewes for the second year in a row. The offset to this was a high retention of ewe hoggets (+10%) last July which by 30 June 2012 were mature first time in lamb ewes.

“Ewe condition is good across the country. Scanning results for most regions show in-lamb ewes are carrying more multiple lambs with the general comment that scanning percentages are up 5 to 10 per cent on last year.

“All we need now is an excellent spring to ensure high survival of the lambs born.”

Davison said the scanning results lead to expectations that the 2012 lamb crop could be up on last spring by 1.0 million lambs (+4%). This outcome would lift the ewe flock performance measured by lambing percentage to around the highest achieved, which in 2009-10 was 123 per cent. There is potential to exceed this performance level. Each 1 percentage point change in lambing percentage equates to 200,000 lambs.

Beef cattle numbers increased 1.0 per cent to 3.88 million and partly reversed the 2.6 per cent decline for the previous year. North Island beef cattle numbers increased 3.6 per cent with increases in both the beef cow herd and weaner cattle numbers.

The South Island beef herd in contrast decreased 5.7 per cent. This decrease came from earlier slaughter due to good seasonal conditions so that fewer cattle were on hand at 30 June 2012, coupled to pressure from alternative land uses that include dairy grazing.

Davison says the Economic Service estimates the dairy herd increased 3.2 per cent with part of this increase a carry-over of older cows in the North Island due to excellent growing conditions.

Numbers might be holding but demand might not a report from Rabobank says:

While New Zealand sheepmeat producers have been enjoying a ‘full cup’ in recent times – with strong farmgate returns – a ‘steady hand’ will be required to balance future production levels with demand uncertainty across European markets, Rabobank reports.

In its recently-released report Sheepmeat – full cup, steady hand, the global agribusiness banking specialist says the New Zealand sheepmeat sector has been enjoying strong farmgate returns in the past two seasons as a result of retail price increases and limited supply availability.

However, the report cautions, a ‘steady hand’ will be required to manage the sector’s immediate future due to demand uncertainty across European markets as consumers feel the pressure of rising food costs against wage stagnation.

Report co-author Rabobank senior analyst Hayley Moynihan says global sheepmeat supplies are forecast to increase from 2013, off a low production base, although this volume growth is expected to be modest and availability will not fully recover 2010 levels until 2015.

“While sheepmeat demand has softened in developed markets, we expect retail prices will normalise at new levels – typically 10 per cent higher than the three-year average for most regions,” she says.

“For New Zealand producers, a positive outlook will persist in export markets as the economic outlook improves and the market balance remains tipped in their favour.”

That confidence in the future is reassuring because prices dropped throughout last season and the wise are not budgeting on any increase in the coming one.

However, she cautions that problems in Europe pose challenges.

In real terms, Ms Moynihan says, the increased cost of living for the average EU consumer is likely to exceed any growth in income – at least for the next 12 to 24 months.

“Added to this, annual food price inflation is running at three per cent and has been above total inflation since November 2011,” she says.

“Meat price inflation has led the charge, averaging 4.5 per cent year-on-year, with eastern European countries experiencing increases as high as 10 per cent in 2011.
These factors can be expected to weigh heavily on sheepmeat demand and to limit growth prospects.”

When we were in England in June we visited several supermarkets. The least expensive lamb we saw was about 8 pound a kilo – and that was marked down to half price. It was sitting beside pork and chicken which were about half that price again.

We can’t compete with those alternative sources of protein on price, we have to compete on quality. But as the European economies stutter fewer people will be able to go for quality rather than price.

The economic outlook for developed economies is for a slow recovery through to the end of 2013, Ms Moynihan says.

“Consumers in these markets will have to contend with protracted low real wage growth, which will limit sheepmeat demand growth and the potential for extracting further value gains,” she says.

“Emerging markets will continue to grow, albeit slightly below the rate of previous years, and offer opportunities for sheepmeat demand growth.”

The Rabobank report says retail prices will also be influenced by continued strength of competing meat prices; the impact of lower beef production from the US and EU on global supplies; and the rising beef production costs from Brazil, China and Australia.

“These factors are likely to mean that retail price movements for lower-value cuts will continue to rise faster than high-end cuts. This will be particularly evident across emerging economies and consequently will only provide limited upward pressure on farmgate returns for exporters,” it says.

People in some emerging economies were demand for sheepmeat is growing have a preference for lower value cuts.

We visited a packing house in England where they had responded to tougher times by packaging meat for human consumption from cuts which in better times had been used for pet food.

Ms Moynihan says by 2015, sheepmeat production from key exporting regions is expected to lift by an additional 135,000 tonnes per annum, which would bring global export supply back to 2010 levels.

“With potential economic growth in Asia and the Middle East, continued pressure on flocks in continental Europe and economic recovery in the EU, a bust in prices is not likely,” she says.

“With the cup of farmgate returns for sheepmeat in Oceania above half full, a steady hand will be required to ensure production grows in line with global market requirements.”

The next season or two might be difficult but it is reassuring to see a brighter forecast for the medium term.


Glimmers of hope for dairy industry

05/02/2009

Fonterra may not be flavour of the month but that hasn’t put investors off.

The company has raised $800 million in less than a week with a bond offer that was oversubscribed by 267%.

This is a sign that investors have more faith in Fonterra and the dairy industry than the doomsayers who’ve been prophesying disaster by focussing on the difference in this year’s payout compared with last years without pointing out that $5.10 is still the third best payout the company has made.

Those whose glasses are perpetually half empty also don’t take into account that while the figures in the income column are smaller, so are those in the expenditure one thanks to big drops in interest rates and the price of fuel and fertiliser.

We may not be rolling in clover, but we’re still growing grass and converting it to protein and while the world may not be paying as much as it was a few months ago there’s still a market for milk.

Rabobank’s senior analyst Hayley Moynihan  says the medium to long term outlook is still good and that global supply is contracting in Europe and the USA  while falling prices are making dairy products more competive which will increase demand.

There’s another glimmer of hope for us from DairyCo which reports that the British  milk supply is declining.

It’s too soon to break out the champagne again, but there’s enough hope there to postpone the order for hair shirts.


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