Rural round-up

November 29, 2018

Hopping to the beat: drummer turned grower Trevor Courtney :

Trevor Courtney has always liked beer, and now the drummer for ’60s band Chants R& B is growing his own hops.

After a 40-year music career, Trevor and his wife Lyndsay now have a lifestyle block in North Canterbury where they grow hops plants, heritage apples and saffron.

Trevor and Lyndsay’s eight-hectare property is home to two flocks of Wiltshire sheep, but they’re pretty low-maintenance, Trevor says.

“In the spring they start to shed their fleece, so there’s no shearing,…you can leave their tails on. We only meet up with them a couple of times a year.” . . 

Alliance Group more than halves profit –  Rebecca Howard:

 (BusinessDesk) – Red meat cooperative Alliance Group more than halved its net profit as it paid more for livestock and in tax, interest and administration costs.

Net profit for the year ended September fell to $6.6 million from $14.4 million a year earlier, the Invercargill-based co-operative said in its annual report. Revenue, however, lifted to $1.8 billion from $1.5 billion in the prior year and it paid more than $1.2 billion to its farmer-shareholders.

The group also paid $14.6 million in loyalty payments and another $31.6 million in advance payments to support farmers during periods of low cash flow. . . 

What it takes to win the Ballance farm environment award :

Trying different things, learning from mistakes, and working with Mother Nature are part of the ethos of this year’s national Ballance farm environment award winners.

As winners of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy, Bay of Plenty kiwifruit growers Mark and Catriona White are officially ‘national ambassadors for sustainable farming and growing’.

During a round of meetings with agriculture agency representatives and MP Todd Muller in Wellington this month, the Whites dropped into Federated Farmers’ HQ to swap war stories on topics as diverse as workforce shortages, genetic engineering and whether farmers/ growers who repeatedly fail to heed sustainability messages should be left behind. . . 

 

Apple industry already growing jobs for new horticultural degree graduates:

New Zealand’s booming apple and pear industry is already promising great career opportunities for the first graduates of a new stand-alone Bachelor’s Degree in Horticulture.

Recruitment is underway for the new three-year degree that starts in February 2019 with a fully industry-sponsored 4ha apple innovation orchard at Massey University’s Palmerston North campus.

New Zealand Apples & Pears capability manager Erin Simpson, who has been a driving force behind the new degree, said never before has there been a more exciting time for young people to enter the industry which is offering them a bright and rewarding future. . . 

Fonterra confirms second director election timing:

The Fonterra Shareholders’ Council has confirmed that a second election for the remaining vacancy on Fonterra’s Board of Directors will be held in December. Voting will open on 3 December and close at 1.00pm on 20 December, and the results will be announced later the same day.

Only two candidates from the first election, Leonie Guiney and Peter McBride, obtained more than 50% support from voting shareholders. The Rules of the first election state that if not enough candidates obtain more than 50% support, there must be a second election. . . 

Manawatū agricultural contractor lands deal supplying Auckland Zoo with feed:

Manawatū agricultural contractor Mike Hancock is helping to feed some of the world’s most stunning and endangered animals.

The 23-year-old is a joint operations manager for Bruce Gordon Contracting, north of Marton.

Earlier this year the company received a phone call from Auckland Zoo, almost 500 kilometres away. . . 

Knickers the steer, one of the world’s biggest steers, avoids the abattoir thanks to his size – Jacqueline Lynch and Tyne Logan:

At 194 centimetres high, WA-born steer Knickers is believed to be the tallest in Australia — and one of the tallest in the world.

To put it into perspective, the seven-year-old is almost as tall as NBA star Michael Jordan and weighs more than a Mini Cooper car at about 1,400 kilograms.

That’s double the weight of the average Holstein Friesian and half a metre taller — and could make more than 4,000 hamburger lovers happy.

But owner Geoff Pearson of Lake Preston in the state’s south-west said Knickers was not destined for the barbecue anytime soon. . . 

How we fell out of love with milk – Tim Lewis:

Soya, almond, oat… Whether for health issues, animal welfare or the future of the planet, ‘alt-milks’ have never been more popular. Are we approaching dairy’s final days? 

A couple of weeks ago, some eye-catching billboards began appearing around central and east London. Entire tunnels of the underground were plastered with the adverts; the sides of large buildings were covered. On one panel there was a carton (or, in some instances, three) of Oatly, an oat drink made by a cult Swedish company that favours stark graphics, a bluey-grey colour scheme, and which is a market leader – in a not uncompetitive field – in the tongue-in-cheek promotional messages known as “wackaging”. The adjacent panel, in large, wobbly type, read: “It’s like milk, but made for humans.” . . 

 Sprinklers help nourish refuge elk – Mike Koshmrl:

Each summer a massive $5.25 million irrigation system is cranked on at the National Elk Refuge, showering beads of water over nearly a fifth of the preserve’s 25,000 grassy acres.

With no crops growing and no livestock in sight, tourists and newcomers to Jackson Hole who catch a glimpse must occasionally be bewildered.

But there are actually many reasons for the refuge’s irrigation system, new as of 2010. . . 


Rural round-up

September 29, 2015

PM announces Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary:

Prime Minister John Key has announced the creation of a 620,000 km2 Ocean Sanctuary in the Kermadec region, one of the most pristine and unique environments on Earth.

“The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary will be one of the world’s largest and most significant fully-protected areas, preserving important habitats for seabirds, whales and dolphins, endangered marine turtles and thousands of species of fish and other marine life,” Mr Key says.

“It will cover 15 per cent of New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone, an area twice the size of our landmass, and 50 times the size of our largest national park in Fiordland. . . 

John Key's photo.

“Pretty damned exciting news” say Kermadec campaigners:

Champagne corks popped as the news was released that the Kermadec region has become an ocean sanctuary. Kermadec campaigners Forest & Bird, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and WWF-New Zealand were together when they heard the news.

The Prime Minister John Key made the momentous announcement at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The creation of the Sanctuary once again puts New Zealand at the forefront of marine protection on the international stage.

The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary is located in the South Pacific Ocean about 1,000 km northeast of the Bay of Plenty New Zealand. The area is one of the most geologically diverse in the world. It contains the world’s longest chain of submerged volcanoes and the second deepest ocean trench with a depth of 10 kilometres. . . .

Proposed Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary:

With no forewarning from Government the industry needs time to consider the full implications, Seafood New Zealand Chairman George Clement said.

“The seafood industry is committed to rational and effective marine conservation measures. These include a representative network of BPAs (Benthic Protected Areas) established at the industry’s behest and implemented throughout 30 per cent of the Exclusive Economic Zone, covering an area larger than the Kermadecs. . . 

Tatua Cooperative beats market with $7.10/kgMS payout for 2015 – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Tatua Cooperative Dairy Co, the Tatuanui-based dairy company founded 100 years ago, set the 2015 payout for its farmer suppliers at $7.10 per kilogram of milk solids, the highest of any New Zealand processor, while affirming a drop in payout for 2016.

Revenue rose to $286 million in the 12 months ended July 31, from $266 million a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Earnings before milk payout, retentions and tax fell to $121.2 million, from $136.4 million a year earlier.

Chairman Stephen Allen said the decline in pretax earnings reflected an increase in overall milk collection from farmers in the latest year and the “dramatic decline” in dairy prices. It equates to a payout $7.73/kgMS before retentions and tax. The company retained 63 cents/kgMS before tax. . . 

Migrant worker scam uncovered:

More than 30 Filipino workers reportedly paid $15,000 to obtain false documents clearing them to work on New Zealand dairy farms.

Immigration New Zealand has confirmed multiple Filipino workers have provided false and misleading information when applying for visas here.

Immigration NZ assistant general manager Peter Elms said the department started scrutinising visas more closely after discovering multiple issues, relating to claimed work experience and qualifications.

The department has not confirmed the number of cases that it is aware of, nor whether it was investigating, but the Philippine government said it was investigating at least 30 cases. The Philippine government’s Overseas Employment Administration is also looking into the claims. . . 

Alliance says merger with Silver Fern would risk creating ‘beached whale’ as rival tackles over-capacity – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Alliance Group chairman Murray Taggart says any merger with Silver Fern Farms risks creating a “big beached whale” of the New Zealand meat industry because its rival needs the capital offered by China’s Bright Food just to rationalise plant capacity and reduce its debt burden.

Bright Foods’ Shanghai Maling Aquarius unit has offered to invest $261 million cash in Silver Fern Farms (SFF) to become a 50-50 partner with the Dunedin-based meat company in a deal that would leave the business debt free and with funds to upgrade plants, spend more marketing higher-value meat products and provide a new route into China.

The injection of funds has stoked speculation a stronger SFF could subsequently dictate terms for a tie-up with Alliance, something the two firms have failed to achieve in a decade of sporadic talks. Alliance says it made an offer to SFF prior to the rival embarking on its capital-raising process and had “worked hard to engage with SFF and discuss opportunities for industry consolidation” over the past 10 years. . . 

Partnering with China – Keith Woodford:

This last week I have been in Beijing at the NZ –China Council Forum. Led by Minister Steven Joyce and co-chaired by Sir Don McKinnon, it has been all about building partnerships.

There were about fifty New Zealanders there, including industry folk and staff from the relevant Government ministries – Trade and Enterprise, Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Primary Industries. And there was a similar number of Chinese people from industry and their government.

Now to some people, the idea of building partnerships with China is anathema. Ten days ago I was involved in a passionate debate in Wellington about just that topic. It is all right to trade with the Chinese, so the argument went, but we should not think of partnering. The Chinese are different, and we should not in any way imply support for their way of doing business. . . 

Surge in water data for World Rivers Day:

To mark World Rivers Day this Sunday, regional councils are releasing their latest water quality data on the Land, Air, Water, Aotearoa website, which this year includes lake quality monitoring.

Launched in March 2014, www.lawa.org.nz began reporting water quality results at 1100 river sites. Since then, it has expanded into coastal bathing beaches and water allocation, tripling the number of monitoring sites for which data is available.

From this weekend, users will also be able access water quality data for monitored lakes, providing a more complete picture of the quality of New Zealand’s freshwater.

Stephen Woodhead, chair of the regional sector group of Local Government New Zealand, said that public debate showed that rivers and lakes were  important to New Zealanders and regional councils took their role in water stewardship very seriously. . . 

Drought-hit farmers sow grass seed donations – Annabelle Tukia:

Ten north Canterbury farmers are about to get some relief from the drought that has plagued their region for the past year after a group of business owners got together to try to ease the financial burden of the dry spell.

It’s been a tough 12 months on Damian Harrison’s Cheviot farm.

“This drought has been like driving in a tunnel, and you drive and drive and drive and never see daylight at the end,” says Mr Harrison.

But today at last there was a little ray of hope, in the form of Murray Stackhouse and his tractor and drill. The local contractor, along with a machinery company, have got together and are re-sowing grass onto 10 drought-stricken north Canterbury farms for free. . . 

Indonesia reopens door to NZ beef imports:

Indonesian media are reporting that trade officials there have done a u-turn on efforts to cut down imports of beef from New Zealand.

The Indonesian Trade Ministry has issued permits for the State Logistics Agency to import as much as 10,000 tonnes of beef from New Zealand.

The ministry said it wanted to stabilise meat prices in the country, and New Zealand was chosen because the price of beef from here was lower than the cost of Australian meat. . . 

NZ Honey fights MPI over alleged health claims on Manuka Doctor, Manuka Pharm branding – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand Honey International, the closely-held honey products maker, wants a judicial declaration on whether its trademarks Manuka Doctor and Manuka Pharm amount to health claims after the Ministry of Primary Industries withdrew export approvals, blocking the firm’s sales into certain markets.

MPI has been cracking down on the manuka honey industry amid international criticism there was more manuka honey coming out of the country than New Zealand actually produces. With no industry consensus on what constitutes manuka honey, MPI introduced an interim labelling guideline in July 2014 to give the industry clarity and protect consumers from false claims, as well as to try to improve credibility of the manuka products. . . 

Calf collection paves way for fertility project:

A huge logistical exercise that involved collecting hundreds of calves from farms all over the North Island has set the scene for a ground-breaking research programme aimed at lifting fertility rates in the dairy industry.

In recent weeks, heifer calves from 619 farms across Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Manawatu and Hawke’s Bay have been collected so that they can be reared and milked together as one herd. The “Animal Model” research herd will comprise equal numbers of Holstein Friesian calves with very high and very low fertility genetics, carefully selected from contract matings in spring last year and purchased from farmers by DairyNZ. . . 


Rural round-up

May 31, 2015

Red meat prices forty years ago – Allan Barber:

We could be forgiven for thinking nothing has changed in the last forty years with regard to meat schedule setting, if not actual price levels. But an address to the Ruakura Farmers Conference in 1975 by then chairman of the New Zealand meat Producers Board, Charles Hilgendorff, gives an interesting perspective on the industry at that time.

The Board’s overriding concern was price stabilisation whereby it sought to avoid excessive short term highs and lows, but it was not in favour of absolute stability because this would provide a misleading impression to producers. The Meat Board had been involved in price support for the past 20 years and, funded as it was by farmer levies, it saw the need to use levy funds to smooth prices within a range. When prices exceeded a certain trigger, the surplus would be withheld from producers to provide a buffer when prices dropped. . .

 Managing the dairy downturn – Keith Woodford:

It is still far from clear whether we have reached the bottom of the dairy price cycle. The Chinese seem to be coming back into the market but no one much else is. But even if prices do start to rise in the next few months, down on the farms things will be tight at least until Christmas.

There are considerable lags in the system between prices at the Global Dairy Trade auction, and the milk cheques that farmers receive. Hence the financial crunch is just coming on. . .

Scanning and tracking stock is key for Gypsy Day moves:

The key risk for farmers during this year’s June 1st Gypsy Day is ensuring that stock are accurately identified and tracked, says Michael Lee, Principal with Crowe Horwath in Invercargill.

One of the biggest days in the dairying calendar, Gypsy Day marks the start of the new season when farms are bought and sold, stock is transferred to new owners and new sharemilking contracts are signed. This year it will again fall on a Monday public holiday.

“Stock is the second-biggest investment for farmers after the farm itself,” said Mr Lee. . .

Farmers wanted to help NIWA:

NIWA is looking for farmers to help fine tune its latest development.
The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research has developed new tools that can help farmers decide when to irrigate or fertilise. But it needs farmers to test out the tools to ensure they are as practical and easy to use as possible.

The first new tool is called NIWA IrriMet and will be demonstrated at the NIWA stand in the main pavilion at this year’s National Agricultural Fieldays. IrriMet follows the successful launch of FarmMet at last year’s Fieldays.

FarmMet is a tailored weather forecasting tool that provides accurate up-to-date forecasts specific to individual properties. It works by capturing data from climate stations closest to an individual farm and using that to tailor a forecast to farmers delivered straight to their computer. . .

Ballance farewells Warwick de Vere after 45 years:

Fertiliser industry stalwart, Warwick de Vere will leave Ballance Agri-Nutrients Mount Maunganui site for the last time on today [29 May], closing the door on a 45-year career with the co-operative.

Known by colleagues as a legend who “lives, breathes and eats fertiliser”, he joined the industry as a laboratory technician in 1970 at New Zealand Farmers Fertiliser, Te Papapa, one of Ballance’s legacy companies. That was the start of a career which spanned a number of technical and management roles spanning manufacturing, safety, distribution, sales, human resources and IT, culminating in various General Manager roles with the co-operative in the last 15 years. . .

Vet Club Merger Confirmed:

A merger between two of North Island’s Veterinary Clubs has been confirmed. Effective 1st of June, Anexa Animal Health and Farmers Vet Club (FVC Veterinary Services) will operate as one practice called Anexa FVC.

Chairman Brian Gordon said, “This merger provides a sustainable Vet Club model in the Waikato-Hauraki region for the future. Farmers Vet Club (t/a FVC Veterinary Services) was established in Ngatea in 1923 and the Morrinsville Vet Club (t/a Anexa Animal Health) was established in Morrinsville in 1939. These clubs were established by farmers, for farmers and the Boards of both clubs wish to ensure strong competition remains in the market for local farmers.” . . .

Rural Business Network Hub launches in Northland:

Rural business professionals in Northland will have an opportunity to develop their businesses and strengthen their networks with the launch of the Northland Rural Business Network Hub on June 16. Whangarei will host the inaugural event on Tuesday June 16 at the Whangarei Barge Showgrounds Events Centre.

The Rural Business Network provides an opportunity for rural-based business people to participate in events that will help them grow their business through networking and learning from others. RBN aims to connect innovative, motivated people from across the range of primary industry sectors with successful, experienced businessmen and women creating opportunities to share ideas, be inspired and learn by example. . .

Seeking new Holstein Friesian Genetic Leaders:

Holstein Friesian New Zealand and CRV Ambreed will team up again this year to select New Zealand’s next generation of top Holstein Friesian bulls for their joint sire proving programme, ‘Holstein Friesian Genetic Leaders’.

Recently celebrating 20 years, the joint venture was set up to source, prove and sell high merit genetics within New Zealand’s Holstein Friesian population and has helped to advance and develop the breed ever since. . .


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