Rural round-up

28/05/2015

Surveyor believes in power of cooperative model, but says it’s up to farmers – Allan Barber:

Four months into his new job as CEO of Alliance, David Surveyor is really loving the challenge of heading a global business which is so crucial to farmers, consumers and New Zealand as a whole. He has always been interested in the agrifood space, as he terms it, and enjoys getting to know New Zealand through its agricultural producers.

In contrast with his previous roles in steel and building materials, the biggest difference in the meat industry is the question of livestock supply with so many factors outside the company’s control. Variable climatic conditions and land use change are just two of the main ones. At Alliance its cooperative status demands a lot of time seeing things from the supplier perspective which is not such a major factor in manufacturing industries, while all meat companies need to spend more time focused on the market. . .

Positive Signs Ahead as Farmers Look to Put Season Behind Them:

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Ian Brown said Farmers will be cautiously optimistic following today’s announcement by Fonterra of an opening forecast Milk Price for the 2015/16 season of $5.25 per kg/MS, including an opening advance rate of $3.66 per kg/MS.

Mr Brown: “Farmers will view next season’s forecast as a positive given the situation we have experienced this past season.

“They will also see the announcement as a signal from their Board that the market should start to move in a positive direction in the near future, which is welcome news. . .

Fonterra Announces Board Change:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced that Sir Ralph Norris has indicated he will not seek to continue his term on the Fonterra Board, following the Co-operative’s Annual Meeting on 25 November 2015.

Sir Ralph joined the Board in May 2012 as an Independent Director, and made this decision because of his other commitments.

Sir Ralph is also resigning from the Board of the Manager of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund, from 25 November 2015. . . 

Funding bost for Irrigation Acceleration Fund:

Irrigation projects will receive a kick-start of $25 million in operating funding for five years from 2016/17 through the Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF), Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“This funding will help to complete the investigation and development of new regional scale irrigation proposals,” says Mr Guy.

“The need for more water storage projects is obvious given that nearly every part of the country has suffered through drought at some stage over the past three years.

“Providing a reliable water supply for farmers and growers has massive potential to boost growth, creating jobs and exports in provincial regions.” . . .

New Zealand National Party's photo.

Call for more water storage heard by Government – more funding allocated:

IrrigationNZ today welcomed the post budget announcement by Primary Industries Minister, Nathan Guy, of a $25 million allocation of new funding to the Irrigation Acceleration Fund.

“This will boost the development stages of water storage and irrigation distribution infrastructure, which is desperately needed in our summer dry east coast regions. Reliable water supply will sustain communities and maintain the environmental health of their rivers,” says Nicky Hyslop, IrrigationNZ Chair.

“With additional IAF funds contributing to the early stages of this infrastructure development, it will be essential that RMA process reforms that empower collaboration also occur so that the funds do not go to waste,” says Mrs Hyslop. . .

Choice of chair underlines importance of forest safety:

A safety council has been set-up, chaired by Dame Alison Paterson, to make forests safer places to work. Establishing the council was a key recommendation of the Independent Forestry Safety Review Panel that reviewed forest safety in 2014.

The Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC) was launched tonight at a function at parliament. Its board includes representatives of forest owners, contractors, workers, unions and Worksafe New Zealand. Funding will come from the Forest Grower Levy and from government – ACC and Worksafe. . .

Kanuka right at home on winning farm – Kate Taylor:

Kanuka is very much part of our landscape, says Simon Beamish, who with wife Josi was named the 2015 Pan Pac Hawke’s Bay Farm Forester of the Year in April.

They farm alongside the Ngaruroro River that slices between the Kaweka and Ruahine ranges in Hawke’s Bay, west of Hastings, with the farm rising to 690 metres above sea level.

Their 1121ha Awapai and 992ha Waitata properties have been owned by the Beamish family for almost 130 years. They were both part of the original Whanawhana block leased and then freeholded by Simon’s great great grandfather Nathaniel Beamish in 1886. Nathaniel’s son George was sent up to manage the block of land at the young age of 18. . .

Cervena venison piloted in Europe:

New Zealand venison exporters have started a trial to test the appetite of European consumers for Cervena venison in the summer grilling season.

The trial, which began in April, is part of the Passion2Profit initiative that was formally launched today at the Deer Industry Conference in Napier. P2P is a joint venture between the deer industry and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) under the Primary Growth Partnership programme.

“We are really excited that this pilot is underway. Launching Cervena in Europe has been talked about in the deer industry for many years, but it needs careful branding and substantial promotional support to make it a sales success,” says DINZ venison manager Innes Moffat. . .

Horticulture’s future may lay with city slickers:

Increasing urbanisation means more support for initiatives like the ‘NZ Young Horticulturist of the Year 2015 Competition’ is needed to encourage fresh talent into primary industries, like horticulture, to sustain this country’s edge as a top quality food producer.

The horticultural industry has a bright future and is fundamentally important to New Zealand’s economy, but the fact that more than 85 per cent of kids under 15* now live in urban areas is prompting some of the country’s top companies to throw their weight behind career awareness and development initiatives in the sector. . .

Rural Connectivity Symposium 2015 gets underway today:

After months of planning TUANZ and RHAANZ are delighted to announce that the Rural Connectivity Symposium kicks off in Wellington today.

“The event has sold out with over 150 people attending. The Symposium will be opened by the Communications Minister, The Hon. Amy Adams and has been well supported by sponsors across the health and ICT spectrum” said Craig Young, CEO of TUANZ.

“Rural satellite service provider, Wireless Nation, is the premier sponsor for our one-day event, which is a mixture of presentations and workshops.” . .

New dairy mineral blend ticks all the boxes:

As mineral deficiencies continue to cost dairy farmers time, money, livestock and lost production, a unique new mineral blend is offering a comprehensive, cost-effective solution.

Developed specifically for New Zealand dairying by BEC Feed Solutions, Main Stay Macro Minerals, delivers key nutritional minerals in a convenient, palatable, accurate and dust-free blend. And, because it incorporates the revolutionary Bolifor Mag 33 and MGP+ Magnesium products, farmers won’t have to worry about pasture dusting again, consequently saving valuable time and labour costs. . .


Fonterra holds payout

27/02/2015

Fonterra’s announcement that it is holding the season’s forecast payout at $4.70 with an estimated dividend range taking it to $4.95 – $5.05 for the current season will have disappointed many after successive increases in the GlobaDairyTrade auction and  commentators had suggested an increase to $5.

Chairman John Wilson said that although dairy commodity prices had gone up, the increase was not sufficient to raise the forecast Farmgate Milk Price at this time.

“Since December, GDT prices for Whole Milk Powder have increased 45 per cent and Skim Milk Powder prices have increased 13 per cent,” Mr Wilson said.

“There continues to be significant volatility in international commodity prices. New Zealand volumes are down, with continued uncertainty in milk production due to climatic conditions in New Zealand with droughts in Canterbury, Marlborough, Central Otago and North Otago.

“Today’s forecast reflects the Board and management’s best estimates at this time. We are advising farmers to continue to be cautious with budgeting and we will update them as the season progresses.”

Chief Executive Theo Spierings said Fonterra was sticking to its strategy, with confidence in the long-term fundamentals of dairy demand.

“We will provide a full business update when we report our Interim Result on 25 March,” Mr Spierings said.

Fonterra is required to consider its forecast Farmgate Milk Price every quarter as a condition of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA). . .

 

But maintaining the payout will give farmers confidence.

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Ian Brown said the Co-operative’s announcement to maintain the 2014/15 forecast Farmgate Milk Price at $4.70 per kg/MS will be a relief for Farmers.

Mr Brown: “On-farm conditions have been really tough throughout the country and Farmers will be pleased that the recent downward trend has stopped.

“It has also been encouraging to see GlobalDairyTrade, and in particular Whole Milk Powder prices, increase significantly recently and given what took place late last year it will go some way to building confidence on farm.”

Mr Brown said that Farmers will be looking with great interest when the forecast dividend is announced at the interim results in late March.

“Our Farmers will want to see the strategy, which is key to adding value long term, deliver a return relative to the significant investment they have made and continue to make in their Co-op.

“In the interim, as always, the Council urges Farmers to be prudent in their financial planning to ensure they place their businesses in the best possible shape for next season.”

 

There is time for an increase but any is likely to be modest.

Most of this season’s milk has already been sold and while the outlook is more optimistic it is still volatile.


Rural round-up

15/12/2014

Commission releases final report on statutory review of Fonterra’s 2014/15 Milk Price Manual:

The Commerce Commission today released its final report on its statutory review of Fonterra’s Milk Price Manual (the Manual) for the 2014/15 dairy season. The Manual sets out the rules for how Fonterra will calculate the amount it will pay dairy farmers for raw milk this season. This is called the base milk price.

The Commission is required to report each dairy season on the extent to which the Manual promotes the setting of a base milk price that provides incentives for Fonterra to operate efficiently, while providing for contestability in the market for the purchase of milk from farmers.

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). . .

 

Fonterra back Mymilk for more milk:

Fonterra has today launched a separate milk sourcing subsidiary to grow market share in its New Zealand milk pool, and provide a new pathway to membership in the Co-operative.

Called mymilkTM, it will initially invite applications, from farms in the Canterbury, Otago and Southland regions that are not currently supplying Fonterra, for one year contracts, renewable for a maximum of five years, without the obligation to purchase Fonterra shares. At any time mymilkTM suppliers can apply to join the Co-operative, purchase shares and supply Fonterra directly.
Fonterra Chairman John Wilson said: “It is good for the Co-operative and the country for Fonterra to be the first name on the list for farmers considering their supply options. We know there are farmers who support the co-operative model, but are at the stage of development where sharing up is currently beyond their financial reach. . .

Fonterra Shareholders Council gives nod ‘with caveats’ to new milk supply plan – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – The Fonterra Shareholders Council is “broadly supportive” of plans for the cooperative to start sourcing milk from South Island suppliers who are not also shareholders, with a couple of caveats.

Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s largest dairy exporter, yesterday announced a new milk sourcing subsidiary, mymilk, which would try to get milk in the Canterbury, Otago, and Southland regions where competition for milk supply is most intense from new suppliers on contracts on up to five years without the obligation to purchase shares. The feedback, particularly from new farmers who have recently spent a large amount of money converting farms to dairy, is that they can’t currently afford to now buy shares in the cooperative but would do so at a later date.

Shareholders Council chairman Ian Brown said the competition for milk supply at the farmgate was one of the biggest changes he’d seen in his farming career. “It’s a changed mindset to how to attract suppliers whereas in the old days it was what to do with new supply. That’s a mindset shift.” . . .

 

Mymilk likely to get up noses of Fonterra shareholders – Allan Barber:

Fonterra has launched a new company called mymilkTM which is specifically designed to attract supply from South Island dairy farmers who don’t currently supply Fonterra. The website says it’s cooperative, but that’s a bit hard to see when the supplier has no obligation to buy any shares within five years and only has to sign a one year contract.

The website also says somewhat cutely the company is ‘backed’ by Fonterra, when it is actually a wholly owned subsidiary. This new venture is no doubt directed at tempting Synlait and Westland suppliers to jump ship without having to stump up with any share capital (at least for five years).

It promises competitive payment – competitive with whom? Fonterra or one of the others? But it is not clear exactly how mymilkTM will avoid paying the same price or even a higher one (shades of meat industry schedule premiums) to secure a new sign up. Under Trading Among Farmers, it is expressly forbidden for Fonterra to have different classes of shareholders and under cooperative principles equality of payment is sacrosanct. . .

RBNZ sees 44% bounce in whole milk powder in 2015 – Paul McBeth:

 (BusinessDesk) – The Reserve Bank expects whole milk powder prices to rise by about 44 percent next year as the slump in global prices this year prompts less competitive processors to scale back their production in the face of smaller returns.

The central bank expects whole milk powder, which is New Zealand’s dominant dairy export, to rise to US$3,200 a metric tonne by early 2016, from its current price of US$2,229/tonne as international producers who were lured by record prices last year are squeezed out by this year’s decline, governor Graeme Wheeler told Parliament’s finance and expenditure select committee after this morning’s monetary policy statement.

New Zealand’s advantage is that it’s the most competitive dairy producer in the world and can operate with lower prices than its rivals, he said. . .

 

Sponsors provide choice cuts for Gate-to-Plate competition:

Cabernet Foods is the latest Gate-to-Plate sponsor to offer competition organisers added value – over and above a core contribution.

The Gladstone-based company has said, for every lamb that any 2015 Gate-to-Plate contestant consigns direct to Cabernet Foods (from 21st February 2015 to 20th February 2016), the business will donate $1 to the Masterton A&P Association to help further develop the Gate-to-Plate competition.

Lyndon Everton, Cabernet’s Managing Director, says, “This competition has the ability to showcase the Wairarapa’s primary sector not only on local menus but also nationally.

“The Gate to plate attachment to the A&P show is a fantastic opportunity for the pastoral farmer to win the hearts and minds of their urban cousins.” . . .

Aotearoa Fisheries back in black in 2014 as Sealord returns to profit – Paul McBeth:

 (BusinessDesk) – Aotearoa Fisheries, which manages more than $530 million of fisheries assets for its iwi shareholders, returned to profit in the 2014 financial year after its major investment, Sealord group, was back in black after exiting its unprofitable South American business.

The Auckland-based company reported a profit of $21.9 million in the 12 months ended Sept. 30, turning around a loss of $6 million a year earlier, it said in a statement. That was largely due to a $12.7 million contribution from Sealord, which Aotearoa Fisheries jointly owns with Japan’s Nippon Suisan Kaisha. Sealord posted a loss of $44.3 million in 2013, reflecting a $46.9 million loss on the sale of its Argentine business.

“Aotearoa Fisheries own divisions were ahead of target which is pleasing under difficult operating conditions like the exchange rate and soft demand for paua in Asia,” chief executive Carl Carrington said. “This year our business will ramp up efforts in becoming a leader in sustainability which is wholly in line with our tikanga. There is no question that our long term future hinges on how well we perform in this area.” . . .

Wool Firm For Better Styles:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the 6,000 bales of North Island wool at auction this week saw a 95 percent clearance with good style wools holding their ground and poorer styles easing.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was 0.56 percent stronger but had minimal impact on the market with supply/demand factors being the current market driver.

Mr Dawson advises that full length Fine Crossbred Fleece was firm to 3.5 percent dearer with shorter types generally firm to 2 percent easier. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

01/12/2014

Mining can help revive struggling rural economies:

• Rural regions and their manufacturing-based economies are shrinking
• Decline at odds with high mineral endowment in rural areas
• RMA and lack of incentives are major hurdles to resource development

The minerals sector can help revive New Zealand’s struggling rural economies, but only if the government reduces the complexity of the Resource Management Act and creates financial incentives for local government.

This is a key finding of Poverty of Wealth: Why Minerals Need to be Part of the Rural Economy, the latest report produced by public policy think tank, The New Zealand Initiative. . .

Fonterra farm fund seen as stepping stone – Andrea Fox:

Dairy farmers interested in buying land through an equity partnership trust being proposed by Fonterra would need to show they would be profitable enough to one day buy back the farm, says the co-operative’s shareholder council.

Fonterra is planning a new fund to invest in farms and has begun talks with potential investors.

The trust would be a partner that would invest in farming operations through a minority stake.

Council chairman Ian Brown said the trust could be particularly helpful to young farmers wanting to buy their first farm. Established farmers wanting to buy the next-door property and those involved in equity farming partnerships could also find it useful, he said.

Whatever the type of farming operation, it would have to be profitable, and profitable enough, to have the ability to buy the trust out at some point, Brown said. . .

Maniototo farm impresses Peren Cup judges -Sally Rae:

When the judges of the Sir Geoffrey Peren Cup competition visited the Lindsay family’s farm in the Maniototo, they were impressed with what they saw.

Creekside Farms Ltd is farmed by Adam Lindsay, his partner Jules Blanchard, and his mother Karen Lindsay.

The family was one of four entrants in this year’s competition, which is held annually in the region that is hosting Perendale New Zealand’s national conference.

A field day was held last week at Creekside Farms, between Kyeburn and Ranfurly, where an impressive farming operation, including extensive development, was outlined. . .

Hailstorm misses strawberries – Sally Brooker:

Waimate’s main strawberry fields escaped last week’s hailstorm and are looking good for the season.

Donald Butler, who, with wife Jackie, owns Butler’s Berry Farm and Cafe, said they were lucky the hail that bombarded the east coast last Wednesday skirted around their property alongside State Highway 1 at Hook, just north of Waimate.

”It was close, but it’s all good.”

The fruit was ”all coming on quite nicely”, with strawberries already on sale. Those he took to the Otago Farmers’ Market in Dunedin on Saturday sold quickly and customers told him they were ”tasting good”. . .

One year anniversary of trade deal marked:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Trade Minister Tim Groser have welcomed the one year anniversary today of the Economic Cooperation Agreement between New Zealand and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Cooperation (ANZTEC).

“Since then exports to  have increased over 20 percent compared with the same period the previous year, a $150 million increase,” says Mr Groser.

“Over 69 percent of New Zealand’s exports to Chinese Taipei are now tariff free, representing savings of around $78.4 million to date.”

The agreement will see complete removal of tariffs on New Zealand’s current exports to Chinese Taipei, with 99 percent eliminated in four years.  . .

Timber exports scheme cuts greenhouse gases:

Associate Minister for Primary Industries Jo Goodhew has welcomed the implementation of a programme that allows timber products to be exported to Australia without chemical treatment.

“After a successful trial last summer, the Secure Pathway Programme has been opened up to industry in a bid to reduce the use of methyl bromide during the flight season of the burnt pine longhorn beetle,” Mrs Goodhew says.

“All exporters now have a new option for treating products such as sawn timber, timber mouldings, panel products and veneer sheets.

“The alternative process creates a physical barrier between the wood product and this wood boring beetle, preventing infestation and reducing the usage of methyl bromide.” . .


Rural round-up

24/09/2014

Beef surges to record on US demand for hamburgers, outlook upbeat – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Prices for beef used in hamburger patties in the US are likely to hold at elevated levels after surging to a record in the past year as drought-ridden American farmers rebuild their herds, boding well for kiwi farmers, an analyst says.

The price for US imported 95CL bull beef, the raw ingredient for meat patties, has surged 59 percent to US$3.18 a pound in the past year, according to Agrifax data. In New Zealand dollar terms, the price is at $8.37 per kilogram, beating the previous record of $6.60/kg in 2001.

“It has just been rocketing up very sharply. It is well into record territory now,” said Nick Handley, senior sheep and beef analyst at Agrifax. “If prices can stay anywhere near these levels, it’s extremely positive for New Zealand because you expect a lot of that to flow through to New Zealand processors and New Zealand farmers.” . . .

Time right for large irrigation schemes:

Farming and irrigation lobby groups are eager for the new Government to change environmental rules and get large-scale irrigation schemes up and running.

Lobby groups Federated Farmers and Irrigation New Zealand say the time is right, with the National Party being re-elected by a handsome margin for the Resource Management Act to be reformed.

Irrigation New Zealand chief executive Andrew Curtis said today that proposals by Labour and the Green parties to tax water did not find favour with irrigators, and National’s resounding win on Saturday gives them more confidence.

Mr Curtis said Irrigation New Zealand wants to see changes to the RMA. . .

Farmers Disappointed with Milk Price Drop, Cautious Approach Required:

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Ian Brown said Farmers will be disappointed following the Co-operative’s latest drop in its 2014/15 forecast farmgate Milk Price to $5.30 per kg/MS.
The Co-op also announced an estimated dividend range of 25-35 cents per share.

Mr Brown: “Even though Farmers are aware of the prevailing market conditions and the effect they have on the price they receive for their milk the announcement will add to the challenges being faced on-farm.

“It is in these seasons that Farmers will want to receive the full benefit from the integrated supply chain that their Co-op provides. . .

Great Result for Farmers Following Challenging Year for Co-Op:

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Ian Brown said the 2013/14 season was one of real complexities for the Co-operative yet produced a great result for Farmers.

Mr Brown: “The farmgate Milk Price of $8.40 per kg/MS has come on the back of a season in which good production was supported by strong demand and high prices.”

“This will be very well received by Farmers.”

Mr Brown said it was important to recognise that the same factors which positively affected the farmgate Milk Price, such as the demand for milk powders, contributed to the challenges faced by the business in terms of profit as evidenced by the Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) figures. . .

 Couple give their farm to university – Jill Galloway:

It was a time for celebrating.

After 10 years, Bulls-Marton farm owners Jim and Diana Howard found they could work with Lincoln University and it had a deal with local iwi Ngati Apa.

It had not been for lack of trying to find a like-minded partner.

But now it has come together – a demonstration farm that local farmers can look over the fence at, and get good ideas, as well as a farm to train people in sheep and beef and cropping.

That was what the Howards wanted and they have given their farm to the Lincoln Westoe Trust. . .

Candidates for Fonterra Board of Directors’ Election Confirmed:

Candidates for the Fonterra Directors’ Election were announced by the Returning Officer, Warwick Lampp today following the completion of the Candidate Assessment Panel (CAP) process.

This year there are six candidates standing for the Board of Directors. They are Gray Baldwin, Leonie Guiney, David MacLeod, John Monaghan, Garry Reymer and Grant Rowan.

As in previous years, the CAP process was available to assess the capabilities, experience and qualifications of Director candidates and provide Fonterra shareholders with more information to help in making an informed vote. While the CAP process is open to all Director candidates, it is not compulsory. This year all candidates went through CAP. . .

 

Pahiatua Company Announced as New Zealand Innovators Awards Finalist:

Pahiatua company, DTexH2o, has been named as a finalist in the Innovation in Agriculture & Environment category of the prestigious New Zealand Innovators Awards.

The company’s innovative product, DTexH2o, is an in-line electronic probe that detects the difference between milk and water in the cowshed milk line.

Founders of the company, Graeme and Alison Franklin, said the DTexH2o uses an alarm to stop farmers spilling milk down the drain or getting water in the milk vat during wash-down.

“When a farmer washes-up the milk line, water is pumped through the pipes, pushing the last milk through into the vat. The farmer must manually turn the valve to re-route the water to stop it going in the vat,” Alison said. . .

New Chairman Excited by Gimblett Gravels Opportunities:

Less than a week into his role, new Gimblett Gravels Winegrowers Association (GGWA) Chairman, Gordon Russell, is already working on plans for GIMBLETT GRAVELS future success.

Esk Valley’s Senior Winemaker, Gordon says, “I am honoured to become Chairman of this talented group of growers and wine producers. I would like to carry on the work of outgoing Chairman, Tony Bish of Sacred Hill, whose strategic direction and dedication over the last two years has significantly raised the profile of GIMBLETT GRAVELS wines, both in New Zealand and on the international stage. . .


Rural round-up

28/08/2014

Fonterra to offer at least 20% premium for Beingmate shares in deal to drive Anmum sales – Jonathan Underhill:

 (BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group will offer a premium of at least 20 percent for a one-fifth stake in Beingmate Baby & Child Food as part of a $615 million investment in a partnership to drive baby food sales into China.

Fonterra will offer 18 yuan a share for Beingmate stock in a partial tender offer that will be supported by chairman Wang Zhentai, who will sell down his stake to about 33 percent in the transaction.

Based on Reuters data, Beingmate has 1.02 billion shares on issue, suggesting the offer values the Chinese company at 18,360 billion yuan and Fonterra would pay 3.67 billion yuan, or NZ$714 million to build a 20 percent stake. The shares last traded at 14.36 yuan before being halted from trading, according to Reuters data. . . .

New Zealand And International Investment Welcomed by Farmers:

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Ian Brown said today’s announced investments in New Zealand’s milk pools and a global partnership with China’s Beingmate were bold moves that would be welcomed by the Co-operative’s Farmers.

Mr Brown: “There is a direct link between the $555 million investment in the Lichfield and Edendale sites and the $615 million investment in the partnership with Beingmate in that both align with the Fonterra strategy of increasing the volume and value of our milk.

“The investment in New Zealand operations is a real positive and will optimise the Milk Price we receive by enabling our Co-op greater flexibility in deciding which products our milk goes into and when. . . .

 Fonterra news ‘as far from milk & disaster as the moon’:

Farmers will be breathing a huge sigh of relief with Fonterra’s benchmark forecast payout for 2014/15 being held at $6 per kilogram of Milk Solids (kg/MS), while other aspects of the announcement are a great boost of confidence in New Zealand agribusiness.

“This is as far from milk and disaster as the moon is,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“While this season remains a super trim one last season was definitely a silver top one.

“The milk price hold is good news given there’s been widespread speculation about it sliding below the $6 mark, however, we’re not out of the woods yet. We still advise farmers to err on the side of caution by budgeting in the mid-$5 payout range. . .

Major boost for Otago conservation projects:

Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner today announced $475,000 in funding for four Otago conservation projects.

Community Conservation Partnership Fund grants will be made to the Orokonui Ecosanctuary, Landscape Connections Trust, Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Group, and Herbert Heritage Group.

“The projects these groups are advancing align perfectly with the Department of Conservation’s goals of connecting more urban dwellers to conservation and working in partnership with others.

“The Orokonui Ecosanctuary is recognised as the flagship biodiversity project in the South Island and is achieving its aim of restoring the coastal ecosystem to pre-human state. . .

The long arm of health and safety gets longer – Andrew McGiven:

We’ve all heard about the Marlborough farmworker copping $15,000 worth of fines related to a quad bike.  Helmet use is in the Department of Labour’s (now Worksafe NZ) ‘Guidelines for the safe use of quad bikes.’  . 

While there’s been plenty of discussion about the fine what has slipped under the radar are other recommendations in the guide.  One is recognising dangerous areas on-farm and establishing ‘no-go’ zones in your health and safety plans. 

Another case, highlighted for us by Neil Beadle, a Partner at Federated Farmers’ legal advisors DLA Phillips Fox, rams home the bite of these recommended ‘no-go’ zones.  It involved a Mangakino sharemilker with an otherwise good record who tragically lost a farm worker when their quad bike flipped.  . . .

Beet crop ‘revolution for beef farmers’:

The growth in the use of fodder beet as a forage crop in the beef industry has been so rapid, that seed supplies for the coming growing season are expected to run out.

That is the prediction from Dr Jim Gibbs, a senior lecturer in livestock health and production at Lincoln University, who has done years of research on feeding cattle on what has become a revolutionary crop in this country.

Fodder beet is a bulb crop related to beetroot but can grow to huge sizes.

Dr Gibbs’ work was initially for the dairy industry, but the demand for fodder beet really exploded when he introduced it to the beef industry, and he says it has become the fastest growing forage crop by a long shot. . . .


Rural round-up

23/07/2014

Farming family demonstrate conservation message – Ann Warnock:

Dan Steele is a farmer, conservationist, competitive axeman, hunter, historian, lodge host, rugby fan and romantic who never dreamed he’d turn into a bird geek.

But at the age of 21, while wandering up the banks of the Kaiwhakauka Stream at Retaruke Station, his parents’ remote property on the Whanganui River, he spied a family of blue ducks (whio) and they unwittingly shaped the rest of his life.

“I love exploring and poking about up every stream; climbing every ridge. On this particular day I saw two adults with their five ducklings. The next time I saw them there were only three ducklings. Then there were none. I phoned the DOC ranger. They were endangered. It hit me; protecting the blue duck was part of the future of our land.” . . .

Boost for horticulture and viticulture industry:

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse have announced plans for a new programme aimed at getting more Kiwis into seasonal work, alongside an increase to the annual RSE cap.

Mr Woodhouse says the need to raise the cap on Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers from 8000 to 9000 demonstrates the success of the RSE scheme.

“There’s no doubt that the growth in the horticulture and viticulture industry in the past few years would not have been possible without RSE, which has been widely praised locally and internationally,” says Mr Woodhouse.

“It has provided employers with a stable and reliable workforce and given them confidence to expand and invest in their business. RSE workers have also benefitted significantly from gaining invaluable work experience and being able to send money back to their communities at home.’’ . . .

NZ Pacific encouraged for new Seasonal Worker Scheme:

Domestic Pacific workers can be as successful as overseas Pacific workers in the horticulture and viticulture industries says Pacific Island Affairs Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga.
 
Mr Lotu-Iiga is encouraging employers to take up the New Zealand Seasonal Worker Scheme announced today by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett. The scheme will provide pastoral care and other support to assist Kiwis into seasonal work. Mrs Bennett also announced an increase to the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme. The scheme recruits seasonal workers from overseas to assist in the horticulture and viticulture industries where there are not enough New Zealand workers.
 
“I was in Marlborough in the weekend speaking to employers, Pacific RSE workers and domestic Pacific workers and I saw first-hand the benefits of Pacific people working in the wine industry,” says Mr Lotu-Iiga. . .

Pork industry joins GIA biosecurity agreement:

The Government and the commercial pork industry have committed to a partnership to strengthen biosecurity, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

The Deed of the Government Industry Agreement (GIA) on Biosecurity Readiness and Response was signed by New Zealand Pork at its annual conference today.

“This enables New Zealand Pork and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to make joint decisions on biosecurity readiness and response activities. It means we can focus on the areas of greatest priority to the pork industry,” Mr Guy says.

“What it means in practice is a stronger, more effective biosecurity system. Those with a direct stake in biosecurity can now be directly involved in decision making and funding. . .

– Keith Woodford:

Last week I wrote about PGG Wrightson and the challenges it faces. For their seeds division there are clear strategic options, but for the farm services division, the long term strategy remains challenging. Part of the reason is the competition they are facing from the farm services co-operatives, with Farmlands now dominant in the sector.

Farmlands has 56,000 members and an annual turnover exceeding $2 billion. This is more than double the New Zealand farm services revenue of its major investor-owned competitor, PGG Wrightson. The aim of Farmlands is to keep prices low for its members. This ensures that its investor-oriented competitor also has to keep its margins low. . . .

The truth about grassfed beef – The Food Revolution Network:

A lot of people today, horrified by how animals are treated in factory farms and feedlots, and wanting to lower their ecological footprint, are looking for healthier alternatives. As a result, there is a decided trend toward pasture-raised animals. One former vegetarian, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford, says he now eats meat, but only “grassfed and organic and sustainable as possible, reverentially and deeply gratefully, and in small amounts.”

Sales of grassfed and organic beef are rising rapidly. Ten years ago, there were only about 50 grassfed cattle operations left in the U.S. Now there are thousands.

How much difference does it make? Is grassfed really better? If so, in what ways, and how much? . . .

New Zealand Meat Exports October 2013 to June 2014:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) compiles lamb, mutton and beef export statistics for the country. The following is a summary of the combined export statistics for the first nine months of the 2013-14 meat export season (1 October 2013 to 30 June 2014).

[All monetary values are in New Zealand dollars.]

Summary

Despite the high New Zealand dollar, particularly during the main export months of January to June, there was an increase in the average value for lamb, mutton and beef/veal. A smaller national lamb crop flowed through to reduced lamb export volumes. However, for only the fourth time in history, lamb exports exceeded $2 billion Free On Board (FOB) in the first nine months of a season.  . . .

New veterinary resource to manage disease in cattle associated with Theileria:

A new veterinary handbook on Theileria, developed by the Theileria Working Group and published by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA), will help to ensure that veterinarians and their farmer clients are well prepared to manage the expected spring upsurge in infections with this important, new parasite of cattle.

The number of affected farms is expected to exceed those reported in the last two years with nearly 700 beef and dairy herds testing positive so far, with about a third of these occurring in the North Island this year.  . .

 Brown Re-Elected as Council Chairman for Third Term, Duncan Coull New Deputy Chair:

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Ian Brown has today been re-elected unopposed to the position for a third term.

Ian Brown: “I appreciate the support I continue to receive from Councillors and look forward to leading the Council for a further 12 months.”

Mr Brown is joined by first time Deputy Chair, Duncan Coull, also elected unopposed, who will take up his new role on 29 July for a 12 month term.
Mr Coull was elected to the Council in 2010 to represent Fonterra Farmers in Otorohanga and serves as the Chair of the Council’s Representation Committee. . . .


Michael Spaans joins Fonterra board

26/11/2013

DairyNZ director Michael Spaans has been elected to the board of Fonterra.

Returning Officer Warwick Lampp, of electionz.com Ltd, has declared the final results of the 2013 Fonterra Board of Directors’, Directors’ Remuneration Committee and Shareholders’ Council elections.

Shareholders voted to re-elect incumbent Directors Malcolm Bailey and Ian Farrelly. They will be joined by new Director Michael Spaans.

Michael Spaans, aged 50, lives in Hamilton and farms at Te Aroha. Michael was a Shareholders’ Councillor from 2000 to 2008. Michael is currently a Director of DairyNZ and several other dairy sector companies.

Shareholders Scott Montgomery and Gerard Wolvers were elected unopposed as members of the Directors’ Remuneration Committee.

In the Shareholders’ Council elections, the following Shareholders’ Councillors were elected:

Ward 8 – Hamilton Ross Wallis
Ward 21 – Coastal Taranaki Vaughn Brophy

Both are new Shareholders’ Councillors.

In the eleven other Shareholders’ Council wards where elections were due, nominees were elected unopposed. The Councillors in those wards are:

Ward 3 – Northern Wairoa Penny Smart
Ward 6 – Hauraki Julie Pirie
Ward 9 – Morrinsville Malcolm Piggott
Ward 12 – Cambridge Kevin Monks
Ward 15 – South Waikato Ian Brown
Ward 18 – Otorohanga Duncan Coull
Ward 24 – Southern Taranaki David Werder
Ward 27 – Southern Manawatu Richard Syme
Ward 30 – Northern Central Canterbury Ange Ward
Ward 32 – Southern Canterbury John Gregan
Ward 33 – Otago Ad Bekkers and Ivan Lines

All successful candidates will take office at the close of the Annual Meeting on Wednesday, 27 November 2013.


Rural round-up

30/10/2013

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Puts Case to Washington:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and representatives from other Five Nations Beef Alliance partners have called on Washington’s Capitol Hill to promote a unified view of how trade in agricultural products – and especially beef – should be treated under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

The TPP, which is currently being negotiated and of which New Zealand is a participant, aims to open up trade in goods and services. Progress towards an outcome was most recently reviewed in Bali, where Prime Minister John Key chaired the meeting of the 12 TPP negotiating countries.

The Five Nations Beef Alliance is made up of the national organisations that represent beef cattle producers in Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the United States. Collectively, the five countries account for one third of global beef production and approximately half of global beef exports. . .

New Zealand food and beverage producers need to be bulletproof:

New Zealand food and beverage producers need to ensure their operations are “bulletproof” if they want to compete in an increasingly aggressive global marketplace, an industry expert says.

Grant Thornton New Zealand Partner and National Leader, Food and Beverage, Simon Hunter, is describing the firm’s latest International Food and Beverage sector report, ‘Hunger for growth: Food and Beverage looks to the future’, as a wake-up call for the local industry.

The report, based on interviews with 248 senior executives in seven countries (including New Zealand), says 90% expect revenues to increase in the next 12 months but only half expect to employ more people. . .

Gigatown competition will change the future for one town:

Federated Farmers is excited by Chorus’s year-long competition to bring the fastest broadband speed to one New Zealand town.

“This competition is a great opportunity for rural towns,” says Conor English, Federated Farmers Chief Executive.

“If a rural town wins it will become the first town in the southern hemisphere to receive one-gigabit per second broadband speeds – up to 100 times faster than most cities around the globe.

“New Zealand’s farmers are desperate for new ways to get onto the internet and this competition has the potential, for one fortunate town, to spark innovation and mobilise and transform their local economy and society. . . .

(This is why we’re supporting #gigatownoam and the #gigatown campaign).

Fonterra board to set up separate risk committee after food scare review – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – The board of Fonterra Cooperative Group will establish a separate committee to oversee risks facing the dairy group in the wake of the false alarm food scare that prompted a precautionary recall in August.

The company’s board will carve out the risk elements from its audit, finance and risk committee into its own separate committee, which chairman John Wilson said will cover “food safety, food quality and other risks Fonterra in today’s environment faces.”

The measure was one of a raft of recommendations from the board-ordered inquiry, led by Jack Hodder QC, after recall of three batches of whey protein concentrate, which were thought to have been contaminated.

Fonterra’s handling of the fall-out was “inadequate” for the kind and size of the crisis and the company’s lack of responsiveness to external stakeholders was seen as a “fortress” mentality, the report said. . . .

Shareholders’ Council welcomes report, inquiry recommendations:

The Fonterra Shareholders’ Council, which safeguards the interests of the dairy Co-operative’s 10,500 Shareholders, said it welcomed the completion of the Fonterra Board commissioned independent report of the WPC80 issue.

Council Chairman, Ian Brown: “The Council has received the report and we commend the Oversight Committee and the Independent Inquiry Team on the comprehensive nature of the report.

“We also commend the Board on their openness and support their decision to make the report public. . .

New health & safety regulations will increase potential penalties for employers:

The potential for higher penalties for non-compliance as a result of upcoming changes to Health and Safety regulations means employers in the high-risk agricultural sector need to be more aware than ever of their obligations, says Melissa Vining, AGRI Consultant for human resources specialists Progressive Consulting – the HR division of Crowe Horwath.

The government will establish new Crown Agent WorkSafe New Zealand by December 2013, when it also plans to introduce to parliament a new Health and Safety at Work Act, which is expected to come into force by December 2014. . . .

Xero releases farming blueprint:

Xero has released its Farming Integration Guide, a blueprint that helps rural solution providers connect to Xero and deliver integrated farm management and accounting solutions. 

Xero CEO Rod Drury says this is a great example of technology bringing an industry together. “This guide is the key step towards full integration between farmers, rural accountants, rural suppliers, banks and software providers. The innovation we’re experiencing in the tech sector is being applied directly now to the rural economy, the backbone of the NZ economy.” . . .


Rural round-up

26/09/2013

Dairy prices double-edged sword for NZ – Tony Field:

Rising global dairy prices are proving a double-edged sword for New Zealand; it’s great for farmers and the economy, but it also means prices are going up in the shops.

The autumn drought dented Fonterra’s milk production and means this year’s payout is slightly down on a year ago.

But farmers like Peter Schouten are cheered by predictions of a record payout for the season that’s just begun.

“I am absolutely over the moon with it,” says Mr Schouten. “It gives us a really good chance to play catch-up, with a lot of the farm maintenance, the replacement of gear, tractors, ATVs – you name it.”

The economy could be $5 billion better off too. . .

Fonterra farmers cheer payouts as dividends held unchanged, headwinds loom –  Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group is promising a record payout to its farmers next year, while keeping dividends unchanged, underlining the competing needs of its suppliers and the investors in its exchange-traded units.

Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund units ended the day up 0.4 percent to $7.10, having initially sold off after the world’s biggest dairy exporter posted its full-year results. Normalised earnings before interest and tax fell 3 percent to $1 billion, meeting the guidance it gave in July and missing its prospectus forecast.

Sales fell 6 percent to $18.6 billion in the 12 months ended July 31 and net profit rose 18 percent to $736 million, or 44 cents a share. The company paid a dividend of 32 cents a share, the same as it is forecasting for next year and as it paid in 2012. . .

Satisfactory return for Farmers, implemented changes to ANZ business welcome:

The Fonterra Shareholders’ Council, which safeguards the interests of the dairy Co-operative’s 10,500 Shareholders, said the final payout of $6.16 ($5.84 farmgate Milk Price and $0.32 dividend) for a fully shared-up Farmer announced today was an accurate reflection of the season.

Council Chairman, Ian Brown: “Given the pressure placed on Fonterra by this year’s drought and the unpredictability experienced in international markets the Co-operative has delivered a satisfactory return for Farmers.”
Mr Brown said the success of the integrated ANZ (Australia/New Zealand) business, which has encountered tough market conditions of late, is vital for Fonterra.
“The ANZ business has been working hard to adapt to the changing Australian business environment.
“Accordingly, changes have been made to the ANZ business, there’s a cost associated with these and the Council will continue to monitor the situation.” . .

Ngāti Kahungunu harvesting our future:

Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi is developing an Export Strategy. As part of the wider Māori Economic Development Strategy, we are increasing the export capacity of Māori farmers into the market, in other words from the ‘Nuku to the Puku’.

Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated and Wairoa Taiwhenua are hosting a Kahungunu Farming Conference at Takitimu Marae in Wairoa on Thursday 10th October 2013. The purpose of this Farming Conference is to bring together Māori Farmers, Land owners, people who utilise primary resources and anyone else who might be interested in connecting, exploring, sharing ideas and being a part of the Ngāti Kahungunu Export Strategy.

Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated is proposing that Ngāti Kahungunu Farmers and all Māori Farmers would be better off by supplying directly to the market and retaining all the earnings in the supply chain rather than waving goodbye to the animals and the profits at the farm gate. . .

Precision Seafood Harvesting’ to be unveiled at the 2013 NZ Seafood Industry Conference

It is less than a week to go until the2013 NZ Seafood Industry Conference, where, in a world first for the fishing industry, the first underwater pictures of the New Zealand developed ‘Precision Seafood Harvesting’  technology will be shown to reveal the revolutionary new fishing method . . .


Rural round-up

28/08/2013

Badger cull beings in Somerset in attempt to tackle TB

A badger cull is under way in England despite protests, the National Farmers’ Union has confirmed.

About 5,000 badgers are expected to be killed in controlled shootings over six weeks in Somerset and Gloucestershire.

Supporters say the cull is necessary to tackle bovine TB, which can be spread from infected badgers, but opponents say it is inhumane and ineffective.

The RSPCA said it was “saddened”, while anti-cull protesters held a vigil as the pilot began, initially in Somerset.

It is understood the cull in Gloucestershire will start later this week. . .

Non-chemical varroa control shows promise:

A bee breeding project that promises another non-chemical option for varroa control is gaining ground.

Nelson company, Rainbow Honey is continuing a programme started by Plant and Food Research to build up populations of honey bees that control the killer parasites in hives by interfering with their breeding cycle.

The bees carry a genetic trait, called the varroa sensitive hygienic or VSH trait.

Project leader Rae Butler says they’ve been building up VSH bee numbers in 80 trial hives to the stage where they’ve been able to reduce the number of chemical treatments needed to keep varroa under control. . .

Native larvae attacks grass grub:

Scientists are investigating a potential new biological control for one of New Zealand’s most voracious pasture pests, the grass grub.

Researchers from the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) made the discovery in Southbridge, Canterbury when they found grass grub pupae being eaten alive by maggots.

They identified the maggots as the larvae of a little known native carnivorous fly. . .

International Standard for Manuka Honey Already Exists Says Airborne Honey:

New Zealand’s oldest honey brand urges producers to stand together and support current international honey guidelines to save industry’s reputation

According to Airborne Honey, New Zealand’s oldest honey brand, embracing the existing CODEX International Standard for Honey would be the most appropriate and immediately effective response to global criticism of Manuka honey and how it is labelled and tested. This call for the industry to stand together comes as New Zealand honey hits the headlines again. Problems have surfaced in the UK about Manuka honey not being true to variety and also in Hong Kong where it has been reported that a large amount of honey is mislabeled as well as being significantly heat damaged. . .

MPI initiative to boost industry partnership a success:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has welcomed two new secondees from industry to its policy branch, after an initial secondment into the standards branch has proven to be a success.

Alistair Mowat from Zespri International Limited and Mark Ward from the Riddit Institute bring industry expertise to the policy group’s strategic team which focuses on long-term decision making and future work programmes. This follows on from an initial secondment in March.

“Having worked with a range of primary sectors at different levels of development enables me to add a unique set of strategic and innovative skills to the team,” says Mr Mowat who is working on the Export Double programme. . .

Increased forecast milk price, a positive for dairy farmers and all of New Zealand: Brown:

All of New Zealand will benefit from today’s announced 30 cent increase in the Forecast Farmgate Milk said Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Ian Brown.

The Fonterra Board of Directors today announced a revised Farmgate Milk Price forecast of $7.80 per kg/MS for the 2013/14 season, a 30 cent increase, keeping the advance rate at $ 5.50 and the previously estimated dividend at 32 cents per share.

Ian Brown: “This result shows the strength of demand on the international market for dairy products and the benefits will flow through New Zealand from farmers increased ability to spend on the inputs required to operate our dairy farms. . .

Entries open for 2014 Ballance Farm Awards:

Entries are now open for the 2014 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The Awards, which have been running in the region for 11 years, celebrate responsible land stewardship and sustainable farm management practices.

Jocelyn Muller, the Canterbury Regional Coordinator for the Ballance Awards, said the awards continue to go from strength to strength in Canterbury.

“The Awards recognise and celebrate that best practice on-farm management is good for business and good for the environment. . .

Positive start to season for Zespri SunGold:

Zespri’s recently-commercialised gold kiwifruit variety SunGold is enjoying solid sales in 2013 and a great reception from consumers around the world.

Zespri President of Global Sales and Marketing Dan Mathieson gave growers an update from the markets on a recent visit to New Zealand and spoke about the growing level of confidence Zespri’s customers have in SunGold (also known as Gold3 in New Zealand).

“We’ve had an overall positive response to this juicy new variety and its refreshing sweet/sour taste balance in Japan, the rest of Asia, Europe and North America. With an increased volume, we’re now able to transition from Hort16A (Gold) to SunGold in more key markets and sales are going well,” says Dan. . .


Rural round-up

31/07/2013

Fonterra’s ‘overdraft clearing forecast’ for 2013/14:

A milk price of $7.50 per kilogram of milksolids (kg/MS), now being forecast by Fonterra Cooperative Group for the 2013/14 season, is an ‘overdraft clearer’. Federated Farmers believes farmers will look to pay back credit lines extended to them during the drought.

“This increase in the payout forecast from $7 to $7.50 kg/MS comes off a very strong balance sheet,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairman.

“Obviously this and an advance payout of $5.50 kg/MS, is great news after a disappointing back end to the last season. Given this time last year payout forecast were being paired back, seeing it go up is a huge relief. . . .

Increased forecast milk price, advance payout evidence of Fonterra’s strength: Brown:

A 50 cent increase in the forecast Farmgate Milk Price and advance for the 2013/14 season is reflection of the Co-operative’s strength said Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Ian Brown.

The Fonterra Board of Directors today announced a revised Farmgate Milk Price forecast of $7.50 per kg/MS for the 2013/14 season, including a $5.50 advance, and an estimated dividend of 32 cents per share.

Ian Brown: “This outcome is evidence of a strong organisation that has moved appropriately for the benefit of its supplier Shareholders. . .

Latest water quality trends ‘red letter day’ for farming:

Good environmental farm management is starting to show through in the Ministry for the Environment’s (MfE) latest River condition indicator.  This shows that over a decade at 90 percent of the sites tested, most of the MfE’s key indicators were either stable or improving.

“Improved management of the land and water resource by everyone may be starting to show up in these water quality results,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“In broad brush terms New Zealand’s water quality is steadily improving.

“In recent years, farmers and communities have really stepped up their efforts but we know we can and must do better. This latest report shows we are heading in the right direction and we need to take this as encouragement to further step up our collective efforts. . .

AgResearch Plans Its Future Footprint:

The country’s largest Crown Research Institute, AgResearch, has released further details of its plans to reinvest $100 million into its campus facilities and resources.

AgResearch Chief Executive Dr Tom Richardson says the proposal is now with staff for consultation and involves a major reconfiguration and reinvestment of AgResearch’s campus and farm infrastructure to create a vital agricultural research institute for the next 50 years.

“We will be modernising our science facilities, co-locating our capability wherever possible, and participating in large agriculture innovation hubs, all of which will generate greater returns across the pastoral sector.

“This is a once in a generation opportunity to put AgResearch in the best possible long-term position to do more quality science more effectively and efficiently, and to make a much bigger difference to the agricultural sector’s productivity and profitability,” he says. . . .

New on-line weather forecast service:

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith today launched a new online mountain weather forecast service that will improve the enjoyment and safety of trampers, hunters, mountain bikers, skiers and fishers using New Zealand’s National and Forest Parks.

“New Zealand’s mountain environment can quickly turn from warm and calm to treacherous. We can improve the safety and enjoyment of users by providing more frequent and detailed weather forecasts on the internet,” Dr Smith says.

“We lose about six people per year in our mountains and often these deaths are weather related. We also have about 150 mountain search and rescue callouts a year. This improved weather service will reduce risk and save lives.

“The new online mountain weather forecast service will provide standardised five day forecasts updated every day for 24 mountain locations across eight of New Zealand’s most popular parks. This compares to a previous service of eight locations with a mix of forecast lengths from two to five days and from a frequency of twice daily to weekly. . .

Speech to Horticulture New Zealand annual conference – Nathan Guy:

Today I want to talk to you about my priorities for the primary sector, of which horticulture is a major part. In particular I want to talk about the two goals that the Ministry for Primary Industries has – to grow and protect New Zealand’s economy.

As you all know, the primary sector is the powerhouse of our economy. It is worth around $30 billion a year to the New Zealand economy and makes up around 72 per cent of our exports.

Your industry is a major part of this equation, with New Zealand’s horticultural exports earned $3.6 billion in the year ended 31 March 2013. The total value of horticultural products produced is around $6.6 billion. . .

Farm Environment Awards Motivate Northland Farmers to Lift Game:

Participating in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards inspired Ken and Janine Hames to step up environmental work on their Northland farm.

Ken says they entered the awards to benchmark themselves against other farmers and “to see where we were at” in terms of environmental sustainability.

He and Janine, a vet at Ruawai, first entered the Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards in 2010 and were thrilled to win two category awards.

“I guess it showed we were on the right track,” says Ken, who runs an intensive bull finishing operation on 400ha at Paparoa, southeast of Dargaville. . .


Rural round-up

30/05/2013

Dairy development helping environment – Gerald Piddock:

A controversial dairying development near Omarama is leading the way with its environmental practices.

It is still early days but the structure, fertility, health and depth of Little Ben dairy farm’s soil has significantly improved over the past three years.

Farmers saw the progress the farm had made at a field day last week.

The 470ha farm operates as a partnership between Richard Gloag and Merv McCabe. . . .

PGG Wrightson managing director to step down in August – Tina Morrison:

PGG Wrightson managing director George Gould will step down from New Zealand’s biggest rural technology and services firm after helping refocus the company.

Mr Gould previously headed Pyne Gould Guinness and was appointed to the top job at the larger company in February 2011 to help stabilise it as it exited non-core activities.

He will leave on August 31, the Christchurch-based company says in a statement today. . .

Merino man shakes up primary industries

In 1995, John Brakenridge had an acute case of ‘new guy’. 

He’d been hired by the board of Canterbury-based wool marketer New Zealand Merino to breathe fresh air into a stale sector.

But the high country heartlanders were wary.

‘Which part of the South Island are you from?’ they asked the bloke who grew up in Auckland. ‘You look a bit young, don’t you?’ they said to the 34-year-old. ‘How long have you been in the wool industry?’ It was his first day.

Although he had a track record in the primary sector, serving as marketing manager for produce company Cedenco Foods in the late 1980s and partnering with the New Zealand Dairy Board in the Middle East, he was unmistakably a wool industry outsider.  . .

So close on second go – Jill Galloway:

Cam Brown says he will always be known as the guy who was second in the grand final of the Young Farmer Contest.

He was one of seven regional winners who won a place in the final. He was the winner of the Manawatu-Taranaki final.

Brown is competitive. He likes to do everything correctly and win.

“I lost by five points. I thought afterwards about places I could have made up those points. But I knew I’d given it my best shot in the contest.” . . .

Westland Milk Products Predicts Lifts Payout Prediction for 2013-14:

Westland Milk Products has announced a pay-out prediction for the 2013-14 season of $6.60 to $7 per kilo of milk solids (kgMS), an increase of 60 to 70 cents on the current season, with an opening advance (payable 20 September) of $4.80 per kgMS for all milk collected from 1 August 2013.

The Hokitika-based dairy cooperative also confirmed the forecast pay-out for this season of $6 to $6.30 per kgMS excluding retentions. The advance rate payable 20 June 2013 has been approved at $5.20 per kgMS.

Chief Executive Rod Quin says the forward view for the dairy market is relatively strong, even with the recent decline from the highs of six weeks ago. The strong outlook is being driven by ongoing firm demand and the expected shortfall of milk supply from key exporting markets. . .

Dairy farmers welcome some good news at last:

After a harsh drought and massive feed costs, dairy farmers needed good news and Fonterra Cooperative Group may have just delivered it.

“The forecast farmgate milk price of $7 per kilogram of milksolids (kg/MS) for 2013/14 is going to get a lot of attention,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson.

“Boy oh boy did we need some morale raising good news. In plain-English, it means that farmers could get about 0.58 cents per litre for milk they will produce between June and May 2014.

“While a $7 kg/MS milkprice forecast sounds amazing, the public deserve to know this is forecast revenue and revenue is not profit. To get to profit, you need to take off the farm’s working expenses, tax obligations and pay back the bank manager; a big expense being right there. . .

Aggressive forecast Farmgate Milk Price, advance welcomed by Farmers:

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Ian Brown, said it was encouraging for Farmers to see Fonterra take an aggressive stance in its Milk Price forecasting for next season.

The Fonterra Board of Directors today announced an opening Farmgate Milk Price forecast of $7.00 per kg/MS for the 2013/14 season, including a $5.00 advance.

Ian Brown: “This is great news for our Farmer Shareholders and reinforces the good position our Co-operative is in.

“Having a strong forecast Milk Price and advance puts Farmers in a healthier position and provides them greater flexibility in running their farms. . .

Great food starts with great soil:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients is showcasing the connection between great soil and premium produce, with quality producers of beef, vegetables, apples and wine featuring at their Fieldays site this year.

Ballance General Manager Sales, Andrew Reid, explains that soil is an integral part of the success of our farmers.

“In fact the whole New Zealand economy starts with those three inches of topsoil which support our rural production sector,” says Mr Reid.

Mr Reid says that premium producers have one thing in common – respect for the soil and the ability to work with it. . . .


Fonterra’s supply offer popular

27/05/2013

Fonterra’s latest supply offer to shareholders has been very popular with farmers.

Fonterra Co-operative Group today confirmed that farmer shareholders offered to sell 75,223,742 economic rights of Wet Shares in this month’s Supply Offer, amounting to a total value of $595,772,036.64.

The high level of demand means the Offer will be scaled.  Fonterra will buy 79.7284 per cent of the economic rights each farmer shareholder offered to sell.

Chairman John Wilson said about 20 per cent of Fonterra’s farmers took advantage of the opportunity to release some of the value of their shareholding, providing more flexibility for their businesses.

“A significant number of farmer shareholders have thought through the potential benefits of using the additional flexibility provided by the changes made to our capital structure last year.

“Some have indicated they will use the Offer proceeds to fund further growth of their farming businesses, while others are saying they will relieve some of the cash flow pressure after this year’s drought,” said Mr Wilson.

The Supply Offer will not increase the current size of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund.  Fonterra is purchasing the Units that arise as a result of this Supply Offer and will then redeem them for Fonterra Shares, which means that the Offer will not affect the total number of Units on issue.

Shareholders Council chair Ian Brown says the take-up shows farmers are beginning to take advantage of the flexibility Trading Among Farmers (TAF) offers them.

“The first Supply Offer saw Farmers exercise some understandable caution but with growing confidence in the new system Farmers are now ready to use TAF as it was intended.

“The solid level of demand from Shareholders to release some of the economic value of their shares shows they are using TAF to their benefit.

“Farmers are taking advantage of the greater flexibility it offers them in making decisions that impact the day-to-day running of their business.

“This also strengthens our Co-operative as Fonterra is now able to make better use of our capital rather than, as the recent drought would have compelled it to, distribute it as Farmers redeemed their shares.”

TAF was started to offer protection for the company from redemption risk – too many farmers selling shares when the price was high.

The new system was designed to give farmers more flexibility and the company more security and it seems to be working as intended.


Rural round-up

22/05/2013

Farmers will have to change regardless – Hugh Stringleman:

Sustainability is an economic issue, not just an environmental one, and dairy farmers are going to have to change, willingly or unwillingly.

That advice is being given Paul Gilding, veteran Australian environmentalist and former head of Greenpeace, to meetings of New Zealand dairy farmers called by Fonterra Shareholders Council.

The Grow Your Mind series was conducted throughout dairying regions last week, not without protest from dairy farmers annoyed at a Greenpeace activist being given a platform by Fonterra, council chairman Ian Brown said. . .

Lincoln develops farm output:

Lincoln University has formed a new Farms Committee to oversee the development of the 3900ha of farmland owned and operated by the university.

Assistant vice-chancellor Stefanie Rixecker says the new committee will deliver improved outcomes from the university’s portfolio of farms and farming partnerships, as well as expanding the portfolio in the future.

“The Farms Committee has been established to help Lincoln University make the most of its farms for better student experience, for more and better scientific research on productivity and the environment and, perhaps most importantly of all, for an enhanced interface between the university and New Zealand’s farmers,” says Dr Rixecker. . .

Supplier gets standing ovation:

Feeding the supply chain with 2450 lambs in the 2011-2012 season helped Rimrock Hills on the Taihape – Napier Road become Supplier of the Year for Ovation New Zealand.

Ovation’s commercial manager Patrick Maher said, “Their selection was based on them achieving a score of 88.5 per cent mark for supplying on time and to market specification (this made up 50 per cent of the total score). 

“Further marks were achieved for volume of stock supplied and length/loyalty of supply. This gave them a total score of 89.25/100 – a fantastic result,” Patrick said. . .

More Staff to Strengthen Border Biosecurity:

Twelve new frontline border staff will help ensure New Zealand’s biosecurity defences stay strong, says the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

The new staff will receive their quarantine inspector warrants at a ceremony today in Christchurch.

The graduation follows the warranting of 43 new inspectors in December and a recent announcement by Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy that MPI will recruit 30 new quarantine inspectors this year.

“The new inspectors and upcoming recruitment programme will ensure that the biosecurity frontline remains fully staffed and isn’t affected by normal resignations and retirement,” says Steve Gilbert, MPI Director, Border Clearance Services. . .

Wonderful journey just the beginning – Hugh Stringleman:

The 2013 ANZ Bank Young Farmer Grand Final followed the form book, with winner Tim van de Molen, from Waikato-Bay of Plenty, and second-placed Cam Brown, from Taranaki-Manawatu, being previous grand finalists in a contest where experience and endurance mean a great deal. Hugh Stringleman puts van de Molen’s win in context.

This year’s Young Farmer Contest champion Tim van de Molen was back at work the Monday after his competitive ordeal and triumph, as an agri-manager for ANZ Bank in Waikato.

With June 1 settlement date looming for many of his dairy farming clients, he needed to be back on deck for their rural banking requirements. . .

Rockburn Wines Win Gold Medal in the World’s Biggest Global Wine Competition Decanter World Wine Awards:

Rockburn Wines has been awarded a Gold medal in the 2013 Decanter World Wine Awards for their 2011 – and was the only Central Otago producer to be awarded a Gold Medal in the competition.
Rockburn Pinot Noir, a wine already noted for its trophy success at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards last year.

The Central Otago winery has a history of winning gold medals, particularly for its Pinot Noir, at such competitions as the Air New Zealand Awards, the Sydney International Wine Competition and the International Wine and Spirit Competition and was most recently awarded Champion Open Red Wine for the Rockburn Pinot Noir 2011 at the 2012 Air New Zealand Wine Awards. . .


Rural round-up

27/03/2013

Strong half year result a well-needed boost for Farmers: Brown:

A strong half year result which culminated in an increase in the Milk Price, a raise in the advance rate paid to Farmers and an interim dividend of 16cents has provided some much needed relief for Fonterra Farmers said Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Ian Brown.

Mr Brown: “The Council has made the Board very aware of the hardships being faced by a lot Farmers in the Shareholder base and we are pleased they have demonstrated some flexibility in the form of an increased advance rate, to help relieve some of the financial pressure on-farm.

“It’s been a strong half year performance and we understand the challenges ahead.

“Particular acknowledgement should be made of the New Zealand Milk Products team who have delivered a really impressive result exactly when it was required.” . . .

RDR looks at water storage – Alan Williams:

Rangitata Diversion Race (RDR) managers are considering a centralised water storage scheme as its farmers ride out a second spell of water restrictions.

RDR, in the upland plains of Mid Canterbury, had to restrict water use in early March, much later than in some previous dry years, when cut-backs kicked in as early as December. . .

Evolution of water governance models in NZ – Bryan Jenkins:

In her work that won her the 2009 Nobel Prize in economics, Elinor Ostrom identified three types of governance models for common pool resources like water. One is the “Leviathan model” where there is direct government provision of services with integration of policy making and operational functions. The second is the “privatisation model” where there is private sector provision of services with government role as regulator. The third is the self-governing community model where there is community determination of resource management requirements.

We have seen the evolution of these different models in western countries. After WW2, the welfare state was the dominant approach of government. In relation to water management in NZ, the Ministry of Works had the prime responsibility for water management – a classic example of a Leviathan governance model. In the 1980s there was a shift to the neoliberal concept of the private sector being responsible for service provision and that the government’s role was that of regulator. . .

Returns From Beetle Battle Show Importance Of Pest Management:

Success in tackling a destructive beetle on the West Coast has underlined the importance of having integrated pest management plans on farms.

Richard Townsend, Research Associate at AgResearch at Lincoln, said that the work in battling the manuka beetle has seen a reduction of pesticide costs as a proportion of milk solid revenues from 23% to 7% a year.

Return on investment over the three-year project has been $10 for every dollar invested. . .

Progressive Arable Farmers Take out Top Award in Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

An intensive arable operation that utilises technology to maximise production in a sustainable manner has won the Supreme title in the 2013 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Methven farmers Craige and Roz Mackenzie of Greenvale Pastures Ltd received the award at a Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on March 21.

BFEA judges described the Mackenzies as top producers who offer “high levels of innovation and leadership in the arable industry”.

They said the progressive couple has taken technology to the next step on their irrigated farm “using every available tool to improve their production and cost efficiency”. . .

Ballance announces new Chairman:

Waikato farmer and businessman David Peacocke has been elected as Chairman designate of Ballance Agri-Nutrients Limited, set to replace David Graham who will retire from the board in September after 10 years as Chairman.

Mr Peacocke, who joined the board in 2005, was elected to the new position by fellow directors at the company board meeting in late February. He and his family are based in Raglan on their beef property and he has interests in several large family farming operations.

The Peacocke family farmed cattle up until about 20 years ago when they transitioned to a mixed operation which now includes dry stock, dairy and cropping in both the Waikato and Canterbury regions. The family are long-standing customers and shareholders of Ballance and its predecessors, and Mr Peacocke’s father Frank also served as a director on the Bay of Plenty Fertiliser Co-operative then Ballance board from 1991 to 2005. . .

New Zealand salmon producer attains global certification:

Attaining an internationally accepted aquaculture sustainability certification confirms NZ King Salmon’s world-class environmental standards the company says.

The South Island-based business has been confirmed as a sustainable salmon producer through achieving the Global Aquaculture Alliances Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification.

The certification covers NZ King Salmon’s entire current operations – five sites and three production facilities in Marlborough and Nelson. The company’s new sites awarded following the recent Environmental Protection Authority hearings will be audited as they come on stream. . .


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