Rural round-up

November 27, 2017

More business courses for rural women planned:

Business development programmes for women involved in sheep and beef farming are expanding to new locations next year.
The Agri-Women’s Development Trust runs the programmes with funding from the Red Meat Profit Partnership with the aim of lifting the sector’s performance and profitability.

Oamaru and Fairlie will be the first of 32 rural centres to host the programmes in early February.

They comprise ”Understanding Your Farm Business”, which has had 780 graduates since it began in 2014, and ”Wahine Maia Wahine Whenua” for women who are trustees, managers or partners in Maori sheep and beef farming businesses. . .

Cool winter boosts currants – Alexia Johnston:

A cold, wet winter is paying off for at least one South Canterbury berry grower.

ViBERi owner manager Tony Howey said the chill of last winter had provided a welcome boost to his crops of blackcurrants and redcurrants.

Moisture in the cooler months had also helped, he said.

”It was really good for the berries … and for some cereal crops as well.”

Cool temperatures in October, with some mornings near-freezing, were almost too cold, but the crops survived well. . . 

Demand for mini apples drives orchard investment:

Feilding rural investment company, MyFarm is chasing $13 million for the lease and development of four apple orchards in Hawke’s Bay.

The investment group will grow the niche export apple brand Rockit, which is a mini-apple under licence by Rockit Global.

One of the Rockit Global’s challenges has been growing enough apples to meet global demand despite production lifting 40 per cent on last year. . .

Lower Fonterra milk price seems likely – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra might reduce its farmgate milk price forecast by 25c to 50c/kg as early as this week after the fourth consecutive fall in world dairy prices on the fortnightly Global Dairy Trade auction platform.

Global prices fell 10% over the past two months since Fonterra reaffirmed its $6.75/kg forecast at the time of its annual results presentation.

After the latest 3.4% GDT index fall market analysts have found some unanimity with forecasts of $6.25-$6.50, along with predictions Fonterra would have to downgrade sooner rather than later. . .

Van der Poel elected new DairyNZ chair:

Waikato dairy farmer Jim van der Poel has been elected the new chairman of industry good body, DairyNZ. He replaces Michael Spaans, who passed away earlier this week.

Jim says Michael was a skilled, dedicated and passionate chair for DairyNZ and he plans to continue the vision established for DairyNZ and dairy farmers.

“While I step into this position under sad circumstances, as a board we will continue Michael’s good work – his influence will continue as we develop plans for the future of our industry.” . . 

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Rural round-up

September 25, 2017

Demonstration dairy farm cuts nitrate leaching 30% and stays profitable – Tony Benny:

Lincoln University Dairy Farm is close to achieving a 30 per cent reduction in nitrate leaching, while maintaining its profitability. The farm’s managers tell Tony Benny how it was done.

​Like other farms in the Selwyn Waihora zone, one of 10 catchment zones under Environment Canterbury’s water management strategy, Lincoln University’s dairy farm faces new environmental limits, including reducing nitrate leaching 30 per cent by 2022.

By adopting the findings of small-scale research on a nearby farmlet, the farm has all but achieved that well before the deadline and is at the same time nearly matching the financial performance of high-profit farms against which it is benchmarked. . .

Alliance buyout targets Asia – Alan Williams:

Buying its southeast Asian marketing agent is part of a 10 to 15-year strategy to increase sales and the range of meat cuts into the region, Alliance chairman Murray Taggart says.

Goldkiwi Asia has represented the southern farmer-co-operative for more than 25 years, helping to build up customer bases in China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and in Singapore where it is based.

The arrangement had worked very well but there was “no substitute for ownership and control” of the business, Taggart said. . .

Price direction depends on weather – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy prices remained steady in the latest Global Dairy Auction, adding to speculation that continued wet weather in New Zealand might give the market a lift.

Already it was possible that NZ seasonal supply might increase 1.5% rather than the 3% predicted earlier.

The direction of international market prices would depend very much on weather conditions over the next month in NZ, the world’s largest dairy products exporter. . .

Australia threatens to cash in on NZ’s mānuka honey marketing heroics – Gerard Hutching:

First they claimed the pavlova and Phar Lap as their own, now Australians are arguing they have the right to use the Māori word mānuka for the expensive honey.

This week they racheted the dispute up a notch by setting up the Australian Manuka Honey Association.

“We’re the only two countries that produce it and the whole world needs it [mānuka honey]. We can’t understand what our Kiwi friends are trying to do,” Australian Honey Bee Industry Council chairman Lindsay Bourke said. . . .

Finalists say now is the right time to enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Don’t wait until you think you have the perfect farm to enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, say 2017 Southland finalists Derek and Bronnie Chamberlain.

“It’s all about work in progress. Set yourselves some goals and go for it. There’s always something more you can do,” Bronnie says.

“The more eyes you have on your property, the more advice and suggestions the better.”  . . 

Mixed New Season Outlook:

 Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive says the new season, which starts on 1 October, is expected to be mixed across beef, lamb and venison.

“On beef, we are at an interesting point. Store stock markets appear over-heated given where we expect volumes and schedules to end up. Current finished cattle schedules reflect a shortage of supply, which is typical at this time of the year.  . .


Rural round-up

September 19, 2017

Guiney misses out on selection – Hugh Stringleman:

One long-serving director and two newcomers are the preferred candidates for three Fonterra board seats this year leaving sitting board member Leonie Guiney out in the cold.

They were former Fonterra Shareholders Council chairman and nine-year director John Monaghan, of Wairarapa, former Deer Industry New Zealand chairman and farm consultant Andy Macfarlane of Mid-Canterbury and PWC partner and National Fieldays Society board member Brent Goldsack, of Waikato.

The three were named as independent nomination process candidates for three vacancies among seven farmer-director seats on the Fonterra board. . .

Palmerston North farmer Peter Bills owns more machines than most – Samantha Tennent:

Not many contractors or services agents come through the gate of Te Rata Farm at Linton, owned by Peter and Kim Bills. The Bills try to be as self-sufficient as possible across their business.

The Bills run a pretty taut ship, keeping costs down by doing all their own cultivation, mowing and bailing. They admit they own more gear than the average 260-cow farm; almost the only piece of equipment they don’t have is a harvester.

“It keeps costs down for us but more importantly we aren’t relying on a contractor to get the work done. . .

Weather hits somber pea growers – Annette Scott:

There’s been no compensation for Wairarapa pea growers heading into their second season of a two-year pea moratorium.

And on top of wet weather that meant they could not get crops in the ground put farmers in a pretty sombre mood, Wairarapa cropping farmer Karen Williams said.

Williams, the 2017 Biosecurity Farmer of the Year, was an integral part of the grower group working alongside farmers and the Ministry for Primary Industries in the pea weevil response. . .

Restrictions lifted on feijoas in Taranaki after being cleared of myrtle rust threat – Gerald Piddock:

Feijoa lovers can breathe a sigh of relief after ministry officials put the plant in the low risk category for infection from myrtle rust.

Growers will also be relieved after the Ministry for Primary Industries lifted restrictions for moving feijoa plants in and out of Taranaki after it concluded there was little risk of them spreading myrtle rust.

Since myrtle rust was found in New Zealand earlier this year, there had not been a single feijoa plant found with the infection, the New Zealand Plant Producers Incorporated said in a statement. . .

From milk to medicine with DFE Pharma – a farmer’s journey from Taranaki to Europe:

Under the mountain in Kapuni, Taranaki, our farmers’ milk is being made into something pretty remarkable.

Our Kapuni site focuses on producing pharmaceutical lactose, a key ingredient in inhalers helping people around the world manage their asthma.

The lactose we make at Kapuni is the most pure lactose you can make in the world. And in short, gets the medicine in powder inhalers to where it’s needed – the lungs. . . 


Rural round-up

September 11, 2017

Mt Albert Grammar School’s state-of-the-art agriculture centre hopes to attract urban students – Joel Kulasingham:

City kid Fatima Imran moved to New Zealand from Dubai, but now loves agricultural studies and is inspired to pursue a career in the sector – all because of her school’s farm.

Imran, 17, is a Year 12 student at Auckland’s Mt Albert Grammar School. Despite being situated in the heart of the country’s largest city, the school has a 9ha farm, and will today turn the first sod for a new multi-million dollar agri-food centre on the site.

It will aim to bridge the agricultural divide between rural and urban areas – and get city kids like Imran interested in the sector. . . 

Results to show strategy outcome – Hugh Stringleman:

Equities analysts and investors are keen to know if Fonterra can maintain value-add earnings when paying a higher milk price to its farmer-suppliers.

The dairy giant would announce its 2017 results on Monday, September 25, and was expected to confirm last season’s $6.15/kg milksolids payout to farmers and the 40c/share dividend to farmer-shareholders and unit investors.

There might be room for small increases in the finalised measures of both returns because of the strong dairy market recovery during the past 15 months. . . 

Irrigation course sprouts a bright career:

When William Bragg left school all he wanted to do was work with horses, but he soon realised this passion would not make him a fortune.

Bragg was working on his father’s dairy farm milking and herding cows in Waimate in 2014 when his father heard about a possible job at local irrigation firm Kirk Irrigation and suggested he apply for it.

Bragg, now 25, says he always liked the idea of design and engineering and he had excelled at technical drawing at school. . . 

Why butter prices are at a record high :

Europe is in the throes of a butter shortage.

Rising demand and a decline in milk production has led to a doubling in the price of the dairy spread this year. French bakeries want to raise the price of pastries, brioches and croissants that are dependent on butter, while the chief executive of Arla, the company behind the Anchor and Lurpak dairy brands, last week warned UK consumers that there would not be enough butter at Christmas.

The strains in Europe have global origins. The combination of falling milk output in key producing countries and adverse weather sent the international butter price to a record high in June, according to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization. . . 

Celebrate agriculture all year long for Canada’s big birthday

We were so impressed with how Canadian agvocates showed up to celebrate our country and our industry on July 1. Even though the hoopla surrounding has since quieted down, let’s keep the positive momentum going by celebrating Canada 150 and Canadian agriculture and food at every opportunity.

1. Start a conversation, share a moment
It could be as simple as sharing your Canadian ag moments in a photo, blog post or video, like Saskatchewan rancher Adrienne Ivey did with her video of a beaver herding cattle or Ontario farmer Sandi Brock’s Sheepishly Me vlog where she shares stories about sheep, family and farming. . . 


Rural round-up

September 6, 2017

Ag-tech edge requires boldness – Conor English:

Just as the axe handle allowed the human race to prevail, New Zealand needs to put its mind to discovering the next combination of technologies that is going to keep our country at the forefront of ag and food technology.

That is going to take capital, risk, and some out-of-the-box thinking.  There is much to do if we want to lead the race, writes Conor English.

The axe handle was incredibly important for the human race.

By combining three previously separate elements — a stone, a stick and string — humans invented a tool that gave them leverage and strength to better hunt animals that were faster and stronger than us. . . 

New technologies helping clean up NZ’s waterways:

New Zealand farmers and companies are starting to use Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, data analytics and automation to decrease impact on New Zealand rivers, a leading national tech expert says.

In countries, right across the world the IoT devices are being used to help clean up water, New Zealand IoT Alliance executive director Kriv Naicker says.

Irrigation is by far the largest use of water in New Zealand, making up 65.9 percent of water use between 2013 and 2014, the Ministry for the Environment says. . . 

Farmers becoming ‘lepers’ due to cattle disease scare – Gerard Hutching:

South Canterbury and Otago beef farmers are unwitting victims of the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis even though testing so far has shown their livestock are free of any traces of the disease.

A farmer who rears calves as dairy support told Stuff he had a contract worth $100,000 for 200 calves cancelled as soon as the buyer heard the animals were being tested.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has indicated these farmers will not be eligible for compensation. . . 

Provisional tax relief at last – Chris Cunliffe:

Provisional tax has long been difficult to get right and expensive to get wrong.

But not anymore: the much-maligned old rules have been put out to pasture.

These assumed farmers and growers could correctly forecast their income tax liability ahead of time, but if their prediction was not spot-on they got slapped by Inland Revenue’s steep interest on top of the underpaid amount.

Now new rules provide greater certainty about payments and reduce compliance costs for businesses who calculate their payments using the standard method. This method means you base your payments on 105% of last year’s income tax liability (or 110% of the previous year’s liability if your return has not been filed). Most taxpayers pay provisional tax this way. . . 

Dunedin produces mastitis diagnostics – Sally Rae:

A Dunedin-based startup has produced a diagnostic test kit to help farmers deal with the costly problem of bovine mastitis.

Mastitis, which is inflammation of the udder, is a major financial burden to the dairy industry, both in New Zealand and globally.

It was predominantly treated using antibiotics and mastitis treatment was the largest single use for animal health antibiotics.

On average, it was estimated to cost about $60,000 a year for an 800-cow herd, and the industry, as a whole, about $280 million.

Mastaplex founder Dr Olaf Bork has been developing products for treating mastitis at the Bayer Centre for Animal Health, before patenting his own research and founding the startup company. . . 

Wet flattens milk curve – Hugh Stringleman:

The extraordinary number of wet days over winter has raised the worry of a repeat spring milk production plateau rather than peak.

Soils in almost all dairying districts were saturated and fine weather was needed to kick-start spring grass growth and milk production.

Dairy farmers in northern provinces had almost completed the extended winter pasture feeding rotation when cows were break-fed the saved autumn pasture growth for 90 days. . . 

Major increase in community conservation funding:

Conservation work in New Zealand will be supercharged by substantially increasing the amount of money available to hard-working volunteer groups, National Party Conservation Spokesperson Maggie Barry says.

“We have a beautiful natural environment, and the efforts of local communities are crucial to protecting our landscape and native species for future generations,” Ms Barry says.

To support these groups, National will more than double the amount of funding available through the Department of Conservation Community Fund, from $4.6 million to $10 million a year. . . 

Spring farm sales upturn expected – Alan Williams:

Winter calving and lambing preparations and rainfall impacts have slowed the rural real estate market but prices have remained firm.

With an increased milk payout and higher beef prices “a quiet air of confidence or perhaps relief is quietly growing with the rural sector”, Real Estate Institute rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said.

Sales for the three months to the end of July were down by 76 to 392 compared to the end of June when there were 459 sales. In the July period last year there were 468 sales. . . 

New Zealand King Salmon fy17 result and dividend exceed expectations:

A combination of operational achievements and a successful market positioning strategy underpins strong growth for New Zealand King Salmon Investments Ltd which today reported its full year result for the twelve months to 30 June 2017 (FY17). The Board affirms the Company’s full year FY18 forecast as presented in its Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) dated 23 September 2016, prepared for its Initial Public Offering (IPO).

Key highlights include:

• Net profit after tax of $22.8 million, up 778% on the comparable twelve month period to 30 June 2016 (FY16) and 125% ahead of the Prospective Financial Information forecast (PFI) . . 

Fieldays reveals post-event survey results and theme for 50th anniversary in 2018

Results from a recent visitor and exhibitor survey has New Zealand Agricultural Fieldays celebrating another successful year as preparations begin for their 50th anniversary event in 2018.

In the survey, 96 per cent of visitors rated their experience of Fieldays 2017 as “good” to “excellent” and 92 per cent of exhibitors said they would exhibit again.

The iconic event, billed as the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere, saw a record 133,588 people through the gates – its highest visitor number yet. . . 


Rural round-up

June 5, 2017

It’s Complicated: Is NZ Media’s Relationship with Kiwi Farmers Busted? – Ben Stanley:

I’m a farm kid, and a journalist, and right now that’s an awkward position to be in.

There’s a name you don’t say out loud in rural New Zealand right now unless you want to draw scorn and outright disgust.

It’s the name of one of my childhood heroes.

For the majority of the 1990s, Cameron Bennett was New Zealand’s foreign correspondent; our eye on international conflict and disaster. He’d travel to Iraq, Russia, Afghanistan and the West Bank and report back home with his gritty, but revealing, insights on war and why people make it. . .

A water battle looms in NZ’s Middle-Earth desert – Matthew Brockett & Tracy Withers:

In the rugged heart of New Zealand’s South Island, a high-altitude desert where the men of Middle-Earth made their last stand in the “Lord of the Rings” movies has become a battlefield once again.

Environmentalists and farmers are clashing over the Mackenzie Basin, an area known for its scorched-brown grasslands and crystal-blue lakes – and now, massive irrigation systems that are spreading circles of emerald-green pasture across the Mars-like terrain.

“It’s similar to greening the desert of Nevada or California,” said Annabeth Cohen, a freshwater scientist at environmental group Forest and Bird. . .

Mackenzie Basin set to lose $1.2b in farming production if wildings aren’t controlled  – Pat Deavoll:

The Mackenzie Basin could lose $1.2 billion in farming production a year if the spread of wilding conifers is not brought under control, said Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) wilding programme manager Sherman Smith.

Few species would survive if the basin was smothered by wildings, he said.

“If the basin is taken over by wildings, that’s 50 cumecs (of water) drained out of the Waitaki system, biodiversity that would suffer and there would be a lot of species that wouldn’t survive,” said Smith at the Federated Farmers High Country Conference, . .

Cut debt or go  – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy farmers with unsustainable debt who can’t build equity buffers with profits should exit the sector, Reserve Bank governor Graham Wheeler says.

But Federated Farmers dairy chairman Andrew Hoggard says Wheeler used outdated figures when he warned the dairy sector was still a financial risk to the economy and banks should monitor it closely.

“The uncertain outlook for dairy prices and the rising proportion of highly indebted farms means there remains a risk that non-performing loans could increase in coming seasons. . . .

Whitehall kiwifruit growers come out the other side of Psa disease – Gerald Piddock:

It’s been a slow road to recovery for Mark and Robyn Gardiner since Psa ripped through their kiwifruit business.

Called Seudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae, the deadly viral disease was first discovered at their 200 hectare Whitehall Fruitpackers operation in 2010.

Left unchecked, Psa destroys green and gold vines and spawns leaf spotting, cankers and shoot dieback.

At the worst point of the outbreak, Mark cut out 40ha of his 16 Gold kiwifruit crop as well as partial cuttings of green fruit. At the same time, the more resistant G3 variety was grafted to the vines. . .

Farm win gets civic reception – Hugh Stringleman:

Winning the Ahuwhenua Trophy for Maori Excellence in sheep and beef farming was the achievement of a lifetime for Northland farm manager Lloyd Brennan and his staff, he told Hugh Stringleman.

The Ahuwhenua Trophy might be scheduled for another visit to Kaikohe, the Northland town that needs to celebrate success and encourage more young Maori into farming.

A civic reception was being planned by the Far North District Council with the Omapere Rangihamama Trust (ORT) and its board of trustees, headed by Sonny Tau. . .

National ambassadors for sustainable farming recognised:

The winners of the national ambassador title for the Ballance Farm Environment Awards describe their farm as the largest lifestyle block in Taranaki.

Ohangai sheep, beef and dairy farmers Peter and Nicola Carver won the National Ambassador title over 10 other regional supreme winners at the National Sustainability Showcase event at the Ascot Park Hotel in Invercargill on May 31.

Operating as Holmleigh Trust Partnership, the couple combine dairy and dry stock farming on their 515ha family property east of Hawera. . .


Rural round-up

May 29, 2017

Garry Woods didn’t return home with his mates – doing a first aid course can be his legacy – Joyce Wyllie:

When you leave your warm bed in the morning you never know what the day will bring.

No matter where or who you are, how good your plans are, what the weather forecast is or what mood you are in, you can never know  what will happen in the hours ahead. We all understand this reality but sometimes it does become very life-alteringly real.

The South Island Dog Trial championships have just been held, and Jock and two of his mates travelled down to near Balclutha for the event.

Between them, they had nine dogs, reasonable hopes for a good run and modest aspirations for a trophy haul. They had plenty of anticipation for an enjoyable, entertaining week catching up with friends from around New Zealand, yarning, eating, watching dogs competing on the four courses, and talking dogs and nonsense. . . 

Immigration changes are good for South Island – Neal Wallace:

Immigration changes have proved to be a mixed bag for migrant dairy farm workers.

On the one hand a new South Island Contribution work visa allowed dairy workers caught up in a false document scandal to stay, provided they met certain criteria.

But other changes making residence more difficult were prompting some Filipino farm workers to look for work overseas.

North Island Filipino Farmer’s Association president Julius Gaoing said given the residence changes the special South Island visa gave those workers an advantage over dairy farm workers in the North Island. . . 

Consents to cost $50k? – Neal Wallace:

Seeking a resource consent from the Manawatu-Wanganui Regional Council has become a lot more complex and costlier following an Environment Court ruling that will have repercussions around the country.

Some believed complex consent applications from Horizons could now cost more than $50,000 but there was general agreement the ruling, sought by the Auckland-based Environmental Defence Society (EDS) and Wellington Fish and Game, would require councils to take a stricter definition of environmental plans. . . 

NZ would be stupid to spurn the TPP 11 deal – Charles Finny:

Former trade negotiator Charles Finny says there is still much to do to demystify the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Finny writes some Q&As to put the facts straight.

There is no value in TPP without the United States
This is not true for New Zealand. NZ does not have a free trade agreement with Japan but competitors such as Chile and Australia do. TPP 11 (TPP minus the US) would allow us to level the playing field with these competitors. There are meaningful liberalisation outcomes in other economies – Mexico, Peru and Canada, with whom we don’t have free trade deals.

But aren’t we imposing huge costs by this agreement to the benefit of the US?
There are some “costs” in the form of increased transparency for Pharmac, increased patent terms and longer copyright terms. And yes, these are things the US argued for in the original talks. But these “costs” are far more modest than the gains from the agreement cited above. . .

Loan repayments start in October – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s 15c increase in forecast payout for 2016-17 will go to repaying the support loan of 2014-15 for more than 70% of its supply farmers.

Based on the forecast, farmers who took the loan would have 15c deducted from their October payment, the final for this season.

That would recover about half of the $363 million still owed to Fonterra and interest of 2.47% would be charged on the balance.

If the $6.50 forecast for next season was maintained or bettered and the current payment schedule still applied, the final loan repayment would come out in September 2018, chairman John Wilson said. . . 

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Stay home with sheep, it’s too peopley out there.

 


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