Rural round-up

June 30, 2015

Trade agreements are tricky animals – Alan Barber:

There’s a lot of activity going on with trade negotiations at the moment, but not much certainty about outcomes.

Ranging from the TPP, the grandfather of them all from New Zealand’s point of view, to the murky negotiations with the Gulf Cooperation Council, the only deal signed off this year is the long awaited FTA with South Korea.Although this FTA is good news for our primary sector, it is only a comparatively minor achievement which should have already happened years ago. Even the much vaunted FTA with China appears to have been gazumped by Australia’s more recently signed agreement. . .

‘Decades-old frozen meat’ seized in China :

Almost half a billion dollars worth of smuggled frozen meat – some of it rotting and more than 40 years old – has been seized in China, reports say.

More than 100,000 tonnes of chicken wings, beef and pork worth up to three billion yuan were seized in the nationwide crackdown, the state-run China Daily newspaper said.

“It was smelly, and I nearly threw up when I opened the door,” said an official from Hunan province, where 800 tonnes were seized. . .

Flooding likely to increase vegetable prices:

Vegetable growers in the lower North Island may have lost up to 30 percent of their winter crops from the weekend flooding.

The industry body, Horticulture New Zealand, is still trying to build up a clear picture of the damage to market gardens and orchards.

Communications manager Leigh Catley said some vege growers in Horowhenua and Manawatu were reporting heavy losses. . .

Dart Valley track could be closed for moths –  Sally Murphy:

The Dart Valley track in Mount Aspiring National park could be closed for the rest of the year after wild weather caused land-slips, and heavy rain and flooding washed away parts of the track.

Hillsides have slipped and trees have been washed away.

Department of Conservation services manager John Roberts said it was frustrating as it had undone months of work on the track.

“In recent months we have toiled to find a new route through very difficult country, we hoped to build a basic track around what used to be Sandy Flat, linking up with the temporary track around a new lake.” . .

Water rights and democracy:

The president of Federated Farmers William Rolleston is supporting the Government’s plan for partial return to democracy for the Canterbury Regional Council.

The government is about to confirm its preferred option after consulting on a mixed model of six appointed commissioners and seven elected councillors.

It said the work the commissioners had been doing to bring in a water management plan for the region would be put at risk if there was a full return to democracy. . .

MP delighted at fund announcement for food processing research:

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has awarded funding of $16.65million over the next six years to transform New Zealand’s primary food production into added-value products.

The programme will be hosted by Massey University, with Professor Richard Archer as national science leader, and partner organisations are AgResearch, Plant and Food Research, the Riddet Institute, the University of Auckland and the University of Otago.

National List MP and former member of the FoodHQ board Jono Naylor is delighted by today’s announcement. . .

Lessons from the GFC farmers can use to bank more effectively:

There are good lessons to be drawn on from the global financial crisis (GFC) for dairy farmers in managing volatility and getting the most from their banking relationship, says Hayden Dillon, Head of Corporate Agribusiness and Capital Advisory for Crowe Horwath.

Major rural banks were expected to support their dairy clients despite many farm budgets indicating negative cash flow positions for the coming year, he said. And post-GFC, banks had undergone significant reforms and were now well-positioned in terms of access to capital. . .

 


Rural round-up

April 1, 2014

Venison industry at the crossroads – Keith Woodford:

In recent years the venison industry has gone backwards. Total farmed deer numbers declined from about 1.8 million in 2005 to 1.1 million in 2011. The most recent 2013 annual slaughter statistics show that 53% of slaughtered animals were females. This is a sure sign of ongoing retreat. So what has gone wrong and what can be fixed?

Back in the 1980s, AgResearch data from Invermay Research Station suggested that red deer were more efficient at converting grass to meat than non-deer species. We now know that on an overall farm system basis that notion was wrong.

The female deer reproductive system has been designed by nature to only produce one progeny per year. This productive disadvantage would not matter too much if the price premium was large, and for a long time this was the case. . . .

New conservation fund announced:

A Community Conservation Partnership Fund to support the work of voluntary organisations undertaking natural heritage and recreation projects was launched today by Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith at the opening of the new Hoddy Estuary Park in Nelson.

“Thousands of New Zealanders contribute to conservation by building tracks, controlling pests, planting trees, and restoring native wildlife. This new fund is about the Government providing finance for the plants, traps, poisons, equipment and coordination to support this voluntary work,” Dr Smith says.

The new fund of $26 million over the next four years is to be distributed to community organisations in an annual contestable funding round of between $6 million and $7 million a year. Projects may be funded over multiple years, reflecting the time it takes to complete projects of this sort. . .

Chatham Rock, would-be seabed phosphate miner, files second EEZ marine consent application:

(BusinessDesk) – Chatham Rock Phosphate, which wants to mine phosphate nodules from the seafloor on the Chatham Rise, has submitted a draft marine consent application to the Environmental Protection Authority.

The application is the second to be submitted under new EEZ legislation. TransTasman Resources, which wants to hoover ironsands off the seafloor more than 20 kilometres off the coast from Patea is currently going through the first ever hearings under the new regime.

CRP’s application comes after more than four years’ work and $25 million of investment in environmental impact assessments, market evaluation, and development of relationships with mining partners, most notably Dutch dredging firm Royal Boskalis. . .

Investment over decade shows merit of ewe’s milk – Alison Rudd:

A decade ago, Southland businessman Keith Neylon did not know the first thing about sheep’s milk.

Now his company, Blue River Dairy, milks more than 10,000 ewes daily; runs a factory turning out butter, five cheese varieties, ice cream and milk powder; exports products to seven countries; and has just launched sheep’s milk infant formula on the New Zealand and Chinese markets.

Reporter Allison Rudd spoke to the agricultural innovator.

Keith Neylon nurses a cup of coffee in the cafe and tasting room at the Blue River Dairy factory, formerly the Invercargill town milk supply plant. He’s in the middle of an interview, but he still has his eye on his customers. . .

Pilot training course in deer handling to start :

A training course in how to manage and handle farmed deer has been developed, with a pilot run starting in Southland next month.

For several years, training opportunities had been very limited so a 12-month level 3 training course had been developed to ”fill the gap”, Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) producer manager Tony Pearse said.

A pilot block course is being held at Netherdale deer stud at Balfour on April 9, followed by one in South Canterbury in the spring. After that course ended, there would be courses in the North and South Islands in response to a hopefully increasing demand, Mr Pearse said. . .

Fake products risk NZ honey exports:

A Waikato University scientist says there is a risk that fraudulent products will wreck the international reputation of New Zealand honey exports.

Associate Professor Merilyn Manley-Harris says it is extremely urgent that New Zealand sets up standardised labelling of honey, especially the lucrative manuka variety.

New Zealand produced more than 16,000 tonnes of honey in 2012 and 2013 and in 2012 honey exports were worth $120 million with manuka honey making up about 90 per centof that.

The Ministry of Primary Industries has formed two working groups to come up with a robust labelling guideline for manuka honey – one made up of scientists and one from the industry. . .

 


Rural round-up

January 28, 2014

Synlait hikes annual profit forecast on value-add earnings growth, unsure on Chinese sales target – Paul McBeth:

Jan. 28 (BusinessDesk) – Synlait Milk, the milk processor which counts China’s Bright Dairy Food as a cornerstone shareholder, will beat its annual profit forecast by as much as 77 percent on earnings growth, though might miss its sales target for infant formula into China due to stricter regulations.

The Rangiora-based company anticipates net profit of between $30 million and $35 million in the year ending July 31, up from the $19.67 million forecast in the company’s prospectus when it listed in July, it said in a statement.

Synlait lifted its forecast milk payout to between $8.30 per kilogram of milk solids and $8.40/kgMS from $8/kgMS previously as global dairy prices climbed, but is reaping earnings growth from its value-add products and a favourable product mix, chairman Graeme Milne said. . .

Sheep farming area now a dairy melting pot – Mike Crean:

The old mail box has the name Inniskillen stencilled on the front. Beside it are nine small, modern mail boxes. To Dick Davison, they illustrate the greatest social change in the history of North Canterbury’s Amuri Basin.

It is the change from an aristocracy of established sheep farming families to a multi-cultural society of dairy farmers, managers, labourers and sharemilkers. The change is greater even than the transformation caused by breaking up the large estates a century ago, Davison says.

He and wife Liz bought his family’s farm, Blakiston, across the road from Inniskillen, in 1976. Recently they sold most of it, retaining an elevated block where they have built their dream house. . .

Honey price tipped to rise:

Beekeepers are struggling through one of their most challenging seasons, with cool temperatures and wind significantly slowing honey production.

National Bee Keepers Association president Ricki Leahy said the weather so far this summer had been exactly what the bees did not thrive in.

“We have hives down the West Coast and it has certainly been a miserable summer down there, really,” Mr Leahy said.

“The main problem we have with unsettled weather is the bees need to build up a momentum to get a good honey flow going.

“You also need that constant heat to get the nectar in the flowers … so everything depends on a nice, long stretch of fine weather.” . . .

Little risk in biocontrol insects:

An international study into the use of introduced insects to control weeds has found little evidence of them going wrong.

Dr Max Suckling of Plant & Food Research said there had been concerns about introducing non-native insects as weed biocontrols because of the risk of them attacking non-targetted plants.

But Dr Suckling said their worldwide survey of more than 500 insect biocontrol cases, dating back more than 150 years, had found few examples of them causing serious damage to other plants. . .

China pays up big for Australian cattle – Warwick Long:

Australian dairy and even beef farmers are making the most of Chinese demand for live cattle.

China’s dairy industry killed two million cows last year as smaller subsistence farmers left in droves on the back of high meat prices.

The price of an Australian six-month-old dairy heifer for live export has risen by over $400 in just a couple of months.

Independent livestock agent Darren Askew says farmers are now earning over $1,350 per animal.

The trade of dairy cattle to China is a volatile market, which has been this high before and then crashed. . .

What inspires a young man to become a dairy farmer – Milk Maid Marian:

We received an unusual phone call the other week. A vet student with no family connections to dairy, Andrew Dallimore rang out of the blue saying he was keen to become a dairy farmer and wondered if he could ask us a few questions.

Well, what a series of questions! What were the challenges we faced becoming dairy farmers, why did we choose it, the ups and downs, where we look for knowledge and what are the pros and cons of raising children on a farm? At least, these are the ones I remember. And he took notes.

It felt like being at confessional, somehow. You have to be totally honest with someone so earnestly and diligently researching his future. Wayne and I were both immensely impressed, then gobsmacked when he offered to do a few hours work on the farm with the payment of just our thoughts and a banana! . . .


Rural round-up

October 16, 2013

West Coast cops blame for cattle’s TB – Matthew Littlewood:

A case of bovine tuberculosis in South Canterbury appears to have come from cattle brought in from the West Coast.

TBFree New Zealand has sent out letters to more than 85 farms in South Canterbury after the reports of incidents at two farms in May.

TBFree’s Owen Churchman said the Rangitata area had been historically free of the disease, but recent DNA-testing indicated “with almost total certainty” the two farms had been infected with a West Coast strain. . .

Record $114,000 Waikato dirty dairying fine – Aaron Leaman:

A Waiuku-based company has been hit with a record $114,000 fine for dirty dairying after deliberately pumping effluent into a stream.

Fenwick Farms pleaded guilty to seven charges of unlawfully discharging dairy effluent into water and onto land between August and September last year.

The $114,000 fine, imposed by Judge Melanie Harland in the Auckland District Court, is the largest fine dished out in the Waikato region for dairy pollution. . .

Honey trademark bid declined – Laura Walters:

An attempt to trademark six labels relating to the antibacterial properties of honey has been rejected by the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) on the basis some could have potentially misled consumers.

Henry Soo Lee’s application to register six trademarks was also opposed by the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) Honey Association.

Lee was ordered by the office to pay $6890 in costs to UMF after all six label applications were turned down. . .

Benefits of Investing In Kawerau Confirmed:

An analysis undertaken by the Crown Research Institute SCION to compare investment returns from wood processing based in Kawerau with those from other parts of New Zealand show Kawerau offers significant benefits in comparison to other wood processing centres.

These benefits are gained by locational, logistics and resource synergies and are measured by improved financial performance of businesses, better regional/national GDP impacts, employment resourcing opportunities and more effective use of co-located resources such as geothermal energy. . .

Milk processing transferred south:

Fonterra is shipping some North Island milk across Cook Strait for processing in Canterbury, as northern dairy farms hit their peak production.

Fonterra operations and logistics director Robert Spurway says the co-operative sends milk in both directions from time to time.

He says the North Island always hits it peak milk flow earlier than the south, and the surge in production from the excellent spring means processing plants in the north are already running at full capacity. . .

Commerce Commission releases draft report on statutory review of Fonterra’s 2013/14 Milk Price Manual:

The Commerce Commission has today released a draft report on its statutory review of Fonterra’s Milk Price Manual (Manual) for the 2013/14 dairy season. The Manual sets out the methodology for calculating the farm gate (base) milk price, which is the price paid by Fonterra to dairy farmers for raw milk they supply to Fonterra.

This is the first of two statutory reviews that the Commission is required to undertake each dairy season under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 (DIRA). . .

Deer farmers head to hills but profit up – Tony Benny:

While deer farming has been pushed off most of Canterbury Plain and into the hills by dairy farming, it is now the most profitable form of dry stock farming, says Deer Industry New Zealand chairman Andy Macfarlane.

“There was one farm I worked at, this is the 2012-13 results, last week the deer returned $125 per stock unit, the sheep $100 and the cattle returned $75,” Macfarlane said.

“Generally they are well ahead but I think it would be fair to say, like all dry stock classes at the moment, farmers are looking for a confidence booster because clearly the milk price has responded to the world demand for protein quicker than the meat price.” . .

Worms key to soil health:

The anatomy of an earthworm is hardly exciting stuff.

But, Dr Tim Jenkins, a director at the Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Technologies, has a way of making the bodily functions of an earthworm sound kind of interesting.

He told about 80 farmers at a biological farming seminar in Gore recently that earthworms were a key driver of soil fertility.

A good number was 2000 worms per square metre or about 40 worms per spade, but he often found worm populations around 600 to 1000 per square metre because of poor quality soils. . .


Honey Co tops Deloitte fast 50

October 31, 2009

New Zealand Honey Co, the country’s single largest producer of specialty honey, topped the 2009 Deloitte Fast 50 list.

Matt McKendry, Deloitte’s Fast 50 leader, said New Zealand Honey Co. was an example of a company developing high-value niche products from an indigenous Kiwi source, and exploiting their “massive value-add potential”.

He said the Deloitte Fast 50 had made a habit of identifying emerging industries and honey was another great example. “New Zealand Honey Co. follows in the footsteps of last year’s fastest growing company, Masterton-based Watson and Son. Based on the performance of these two companies, there is no reason to think honey cannot become a much larger industry than its current $100m size, and become a major industry for New Zealand.

Honey provides opportunities for businesses using it as both a food and a farmaceutical.

McKendry said that none of the companies which made the list had done anything outrageous to cope with the recession, if anything they had succeeded by concentrating on the basics.

“All the discussions and interviews we have done this year across New Zealand indicate to us that Fast 50 companies navigated their way through the difficult economic times by making sure they have the fundamental elements of their business right. The key elements are retaining a great team, nailing a product or service niche, having a thorough understanding of their markets and being active with their customers. Great performers in a recessionary environment are doing all the same things that great performers do in economically rosy times.”

Fourteen companies in this year’s list have been in revious Fast 50s. They are:

NextWindow, Torpedo7 (4 times); Digital Island, RimuHosting, Triodent, Working In, Observatory Crest (3 times); Catch, Enztec, Futrix, Mobile Mentor, Seales, Synlait, Results.com (2 times).


Honey man could get stung

May 23, 2009

A New Zealand manuka honey producer reckons the manuka honey produced in Cornwall which sells for 55 pound a jar (about five pound or $NZ14 a teaspoon) isn’t the genuine article.

Kerry Paul, chief executive of Manuka Health New Zealand has offered to test the English honey for methylglyoxal which is the active antibacterial ingredient in some, but not all, manuka honey.

Mr Paul said he had seen a photograph of a pot of the Cornwall honey on a British newspaper website and could tell it was not manuka honey from the colour.

He doubted there was much manuka honey in the pot, which he said looked like it came from “mixed sources”.

“In any case, there is no way an estate in Cornwall can reproduce the conditions which create genuine manuka honey.”

“Even in New Zealand’s climate, you need about one hectare of dense manuka forest per hive to produce 25kgs of honey.

“There would need to be many hectares of manuka to ensure the bees go to the manuka and not other flowers. This will not be the case in Cornwell.

He’s asked someone to send him an unopened jar of the English honey so it can be tested in a lab.

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought honey was on the list of products no-one can bring in to New Zealand. It was more than 20 years ago when I bought whisky laced honey as a gift for my brother and had it taken from me by MAF at the airport and I’m fairly sure it was on the prohibited list on the MAF declaration form when I returned from Fiji last month.

Mr Paul has taken an opportunity to sting the opposition and get some publicity for his company which specialises in manuka honey products but he runs the risk of getting stung himself if someone takes up his offer and sends him a jar of the Cornwall honey.


Brits turn manuka honey into gold

May 20, 2009

An enterprising British beekeeper has imported manuka from New Zealand and sells the honey produced from the nectar for five pounds a teaspoon.

At £55 a small pot, few people will be smearing Tregothnan manuka honey liberally on their breakfast toast any day soon.

But the Tregothnan estate in Cornwall, which already does well selling tea grown on its warm, dampish slopes, is confident the honey will find its niche among aficionados of all things sweet.

The company claims the price tag is justified as its bees are housed in 20 special hives worth £5,000 each and have the exclusive run (or flight) of the garden’s manuka bushes, normally found in New Zealand or Australia.

Tregothnan’s garden director, Jonathan Jones, said: “The honey is expensive, but it is Britain’s only manuka honey. It has become a lifestyle product, a luxury. This year is the first time the plants produced nectar which gave us our first jars, around 100.”

There are healing properties in honey which has the UMF (Unique Manuka Factor),  and wound dressings made from honey and seaweed gel have been approved for use here, in Europe and the USA.

But not all honey made from bees which feed on manuka makes the grade and the story on the Cornwall honey doesn’t mention the UMF at all. However, it’s up to consumers and authorities over there to worry about that.

There could be benefits for New Zealand honey producers if they’re able to compete – and at five pound a teaspoon that shouldn’t be difficult.

There is also a potential downside though if beekeepers in other countries which can grow manuka easily establish plots and provide strong competition for producers here.

It happened with kiwifruit but our growers have the advantage of producing fruit in the European and North American off-season. While bees need the right temperatures to collect nectar, honey has a long storage life so big producers elsewhere could supply manuka all year round.


%d bloggers like this: