Rural round-up

April 5, 2018

Feds welcomes NAIT recommendations:

Federated Farmers says its members will jump at the chance to contribute to the drive for improvements to the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme.

A report detailing a major review of NAIT, with 38 recommendations aimed at streamlining processes and boosting access and compliance, was released today after a long process involving OSPRI, MPI and a host of industry groups including Federated Farmers. . . 

Organic produce sitting pretty in a tasty $90 billion global market – Neil Hodgson:

The perception of organic fruit and vegetables is often of misshapen produce that doesn’t look very appetising, and it is fair comment.

However, the reality is many of those perfect looking fruits and vegetables have a beautiful appearance because producers use synthetic products to treat various bugs and diseases.

If you grow your own produce at home, then chances are they won’t look as perfect as the goods piled high on the supermarket or general food store shelves because chances are you don’t use too many synthetics in your garden at home.

You might use a bug spray and you probably add fertilisers and that is about it. . . 

Unusually, farmers and meat processors doing well at the same time. Beef prices slip. Deer prices get boost from pet food market – Guy Trafford:

SHEEP
Since allowing Shanghai Maling to purchase 50% of Silver Fern Farms (SFF) the meat company has had a significant turn around of fortune. For the twelve months from the $261 mln injection from Shanghai Maling, SFF has paid of $203 mln worth of debt and has managed to achieve a $15.4 mln after tax profit.

In the past it has often been a toss up between farmers and processors as to whom makes the profit. Rarely is it both. . . 

International acclaim for Whitestone:

Whitestone Cheese Co. is riding a wave of international critical acclaim after recent achievements at the world’s biggest cheese competition in Wisconsin USA and a trophy from the New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards.

At Wisconsin, Ohau Goat’s Blue achieved the highest accolade with 4th place in its category with a near perfect 99.7 out of a 100 – an incredible result and just 0.1 points off the bronze medal. Ohau Goat’s Blue is a new addition to Whitestone’s Premium Black Label range. The goat milk comes from a Washdyke farm just north of Whitestone’s Oamaru cheese factory, and the cheese is made with Whitestone’s Windsor Blue culture. . . 

Samantha is a cut above the rest – Robyn Bristow:

The knives were out last week as Samantha Weller, from New World Rangiora, trimmed her way to the title of World Champion Apprentice Butcher.

The 23-year-old travelled to Belfast, Northern Ireland, with New Zealand’s butchery team, the Pure South Sharp Blacks, to compete in the cutting test.

She competed against 10 others from five countries, who had two hours to turn a beef rump on the bone, a side of lamb, and a loin of pork belly into a display of value-added cuts – much like that seen in a butcher shop or supermarket. . . 

Seeka  sells out of Zespri after opposing changes to constitution tying shares to trays – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Seeka, New Zealand’s biggest kiwifruit grower, has sold out of Zespri Group after opposing constitutional changes at the monopoly export body that tie shareholdings to trays of fruit produced.

The changes were approved by more than 75 percent of shareholders last month but among the resolutions was that shareholders who voted all their shares against the overhaul could require Zespri to buy back their shares. . . 

OIO signs off on Icebreaker sale to US clothing giant VF Corp – Sophie Boot:

Icebreaker Holdings has been sold to US-based VF Corporation for at least $100 million after the Overseas Investment Office approved the deal.

In a media release today, North Carolina-based VF Corp said the OIO signed off on the transaction, which completed the transaction. The acquisition “is an ideal complement to VF’s Smartwool brand, which also features merino wool in its clothing and accessories. Together, the Smartwool and Icebreaker brands will position VF as a global leader in the merino wool and natural fibre categories.” The brand is expected to be immediately accretive to VF’s earnings per share, it said. . . 

Kiwi apple remains ‘Envy’ of others in USA:

American’s have once again selected New Zealand-born Envy™ apple as their favourite in a consumer competition run by the US Apple Association.

The interactive tournament-style competition called on American apple fans to vote for their favourite from 16 different apple varieties during the month of March.

Kiwi grower, T&G Global, was well represented in the competition with three of its premium apples namely JAZZ™, Envy™ and Pacific Rose™ being voted on by apple-lovers. . . 

Berry orchard sale offers horticultural operators a sweet growth opportunity:

One of the North Island’s most diverse boutique orchards –encompassing blueberry, raspberry and avocado production operations – has been placed on the market for sale.

Tomo Orchard at Pukenui near Houhora in the Far North, is an intensive 6.2 hectare horticultural venture growing blueberries under some 10,000 square metres of fully-enclosed framed canopies and 8000 square metres of covered netting. . . 


NZ loses its way

November 22, 2017

For several years, New Zealand has received international attention and praise for its economic success.

Just a few weeks with a new government this commentary from Jared Dillian at Forbes is less than enthusiastic about its policies:

On September 23, the people of New Zealand elected 37-year-old Jacinda Ardern as prime minister, the youngest prime minister in New Zealand’s history. Ardern has brought youthful energy to New Zealand politics, but her scary rhetoric during the campaign (like calling capitalism a “blatant failure”) has some people wondering if she will take the country back to the bad old days of the 70s and early 80s.

New Zealand is a supply-side economic miracle. Not long ago, it was one of the most unfree economies that was not actually Communist in name. Most industry was nationalized, from telecommunications and transportation, to banks and hotels. There were strict capital controls and prohibitions on owning foreign assets. And of course punitively high tax rates, inflation, and extraordinary levels of government debt. . .

Those policies from the early 80s back are the ones which failed us.

The 1980s saw an enormous rollback in the size and scope of government, and the beginning of a supply-side revolution. Of course, economic liberalization was happening around the world at that time, but it was most dramatic in tiny New Zealand.

New Zealand enjoyed unprecedented economic growth, and leapfrogged to near the top of the economic freedom rankings, where it usually sits only behind Hong Kong and Singapore. It became one of the richest countries in the world. Part of New Zealand’s success was due to good central banking; the Reserve Bank of New Zealand was the first central bank in the world to institute a formal policy of inflation targeting, which other central banks have copied over the years, to everyone’s benefit. . . 

Inflation is theft. It steals the real value of money and it’s the poorest who are hit hardest by it.

It seems likely that New Zealand will experience a recession during Ardern’s term. Nobody is predicting a return to the bad old days of the 70s, but New Zealand will probably lose its status as one of the most open, free economies in the world. It takes decades to weaken an economy, just like it takes decades to strengthen it. But investors will probably want to avoid New Zealand for the time being.

This government has taken down the welcome sign to immigrants and inwards investment.

Richard Harman at Politik reports the Government is to put the approval of overseas purchases of farmland on hold as it gets advice from officials on how to carry out its coalition agreement with NZ First to strengthen the Overseas Investment Act.

The hold is likely to affect tens of millions of dollars of property sales and possibly hundreds of millions of dollars worth of business transactions.

POLITIK understands that the sale of one large South Island property and the potential sale of an iconic Wanaka station along with two large North Island dairy properties are likely to be caught up in the move.

It was not clear from the comments from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday whether the hold will also apply to overseas business investments – but if that is the case, there are proposed takeovers in both the oil and gas and private hospital sectors that could be affected. . . 

The sale of Icebreaker  to VF Corporation which needs OIO approval as will the sale of carpet maker Godfrey Hirst to global flooring manufacturer Mohawk Industries.

Uncertainty over the economy, the inflationary affect of a lower dollar and higher borrowing, and whether immigrants will be available to fill staff vacancies is denting business confidence.

Less confidence means businesses are less willing to take risks, including hiring more staff.

It’s very early days but if overseas investors are being warned off and local businesses are losing confidence, it’s a sign that New Zealand is losing its way.

 


Rural round-up

November 12, 2017

Westland Looks to Take Its Wastewater Out of the Hokitika River:

Westland Milk Products said today it is well down the path toward potentially taking its treated wastewater discharge out of the Hokitika River.

CEO Toni Brendish says that in September last year Westland re-opened its investigations into an ocean outfall for its treated wastewater discharge, which would take it out of the Hokitika River two years prior to the existing in-river discharge consent expiring in 2021. A final decision on whether to go with the option will be made early in 2018. The investigations are at the stage that the company is about to go back to the West Coast Regional Council for a minor variation to its existing permit. . . 

Challenging future facing livestock farming – Nigel Malthus:

The disruptive forces facing New Zealand agriculture could mean a tough future for livestock farming, says the new president of the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management (NZIPIM).

Farm consultant Craig Osborne, from Oxford, North Canterbury, has been named to replace Guy Blundell, heading the institute for the next two-year term.

Osborne says that where NZ farming is heading is the “million-dollar question” and a tough one to answer because of all the competing forces gaining momentum globally. . .

WTO declines Indonesia appeal on ruling over trade barriers that hurt NZ beef trade –  Jonathan Underhill

(BusinessDesk) – The World Trade Organization has turned down Indonesia’s appeal against a ruling that trade barriers imposed since 2011, which hurt New Zealand’s beef exports, were inconsistent with global trade rules.

New Zealand had invoked WTO dispute settlement consultations with Indonesia in 2013 and 2014 over 18 trade barriers it said had resulted in an 80 percent drop in the nation’s exports to Indonesia of beef and horticultural products such as apples and onions. Prior to the restrictions, Indonesia was New Zealand’s second-largest market for beef, worth $180 million a year, and the accumulated trade impact was an estimated $500 million to $1 billion, according to the complaint. . . 

Icebreaker inks $100M 10-year supply contract for NZ merino wool – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Merino outdoor clothing company Icebreaker has signed the longest ever supply contract with growers of New Zealand merino wool, worth $100 million over 10 years.

The Auckland-based company, which announced this week that it is being bought by US-based VF Corporation, has inked agreements with New Zealand woolgrowers in collaboration with wool marketer The New Zealand Merino Company to ensure it has long-term supply of the fibre. Pricing will be at a premium to market prices to recognise long-term grower loyalty and to enable Icebreaker to use farm imagery and storytelling in its global marketing campaigns, Icebreaker said in a statement. . . 

Fencing best practice showcased – Sally Brooker:

Fencing industry folk from a large part of the South Island converged on a North Otago landmark on October 25.

The Fencing Contractors Association New Zealand ran a demonstration day at Parkside Quarries, the place where Oamaru stone is hewn from the hills.

More than 50 people attended – a mix of fencing contractors and practitioners, suppliers, and industry partners.

Motueka-based fencer and tutor John Noakes said the event showcased fencing best practice – both traditional and modern techniques. . . 

NZ  company Fifth Breath launches woollen yoga mat – Brittany Pickett:

It all started with the idea that traditional yoga mats didn’t align with yogi principles and now Fifth Breath has launched the first yoga mat made from wool.

Co-founders of the New Zealand company Dana McKenzie and Irina Arya have spent the last year working to develop the mat’s design and key technology elements, with the aim to retain the functionality expected by yoga followers.

Both of them are engineers by training and met during studying for a masters in business administration at the IMD Business School in Lausanne, Switzerland in 2008. Since then, they have both enjoyed corporate careers and growing families, yet a passion for wool and yoga prompted them to build Fifth Breath Ltd, a company with an ethos about offering naturally safe yoga mats. . . 


Will Icebreaker VF deal get OIO tick?

November 4, 2017

Icebreaker, one of the company’s that made merino fashionable, is selling to a USA company  but the deal needs OIO approval:

US-based VF Corporation needs Overseas investment office approval to buy Kiwi merino clothing maker Icebreaker, meaning the deal is worth at least $100 million. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Merino producers have been getting a lot of pressure to sign up to 10-year contracts with Icebreaker. The proposed sale explains that and a good number of committed producers would have made the deal more attractive to the buyer.

VF Corporation has a market capitalization of around US$28 billion and its portfolio includes The North Face, Timberland, SmartWool, Vans, Wrangler and Lee. In its third-quarter result, the company forecast its 2017 revenue would be approximately US$12.1 billion.

Icebreaker had annual sales of $220 million, of which 86 percent were in offshore markets. Its own outlets and e-commerce sales make up 32 percent of sales, according to the company’s latest statement.

While the terms of the deal were not disclosed, Icebreaker confirmed the need for OIO approval due to the size of the transaction, implying a minimum value of at least $100 million. In a separate statement, VF said “the purchase price is not material to VF.” It also clarified that it expects the transaction to close in April 2018. . . 

I would think the deal would be worth considerably more than $100 million. Regardless of how much more, closure by next April is probably very optimistic.

Friends who have had dealings with the OIO, as sellers and buyers, said it was a very time-consuming process.

Unless it gets a straight decline from the outset, it won’t be any faster under the new government.

According to Icebreaker, the deal creates an expanded opportunity for the New Zealand merino industry. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our global Icebreaker team and for our New Zealand wool suppliers to introduce a whole new universe of consumers to the benefits of sustainably farmed, ethically sourced, New Zealand Merino wool,” said Icebreaker founder Jeremy Moon.

John Brakenridge, CEO of the NZ Merino Company, noted VF have also had a long-term commitment to the New Zealand Merino industry through their investment in SmartWool and NZ Merino has worked with SmartWool in areas such as sustainability and social responsibility.

“Today we are seeing record demand and prices for New Zealand merino wool …the synergy of these two brands working as sisters from the same stable to build increased awareness of the Merino apparel category represents an exciting new development for the New Zealand merino wool industry,” he said. . . 

People tend to be less opposed to selling land to foreigners than selling companies.

But no matter who owns it the land and the business carried out on it stay here.

When a company is sold, there is no guarantee anything will stay in New Zealand.

Icebreaker is a New Zealand company and its clothing is designed here using locally grown merino wool but manufacturing has been done overseas for several years.

If the sale does go ahead, people who want New Zealand made merino will still have the choice of buying from companies like Glowing Sky and Mons Royale.

 


Rural round-up

October 6, 2015

Farm skills for youth _ Sally Rae:

The prospect of getting out of bed at 5am to gain work experience on a dairy farm does not bother Caleb Unahi.

The 19-year-old is enjoying keeping busy as part of the Farmhand training programme, which aims to expose Dunedin’s disengaged youth to rural opportunities.

Before starting the 13-week course, Caleb was doing ”nothing much really”, he said.

A family friend encouraged him to apply for the course, which was first held last year.

”I enjoy it. It’s a good opportunity for me to get up off my …”

he said, while learning about fencing at Invermay recently. . . 

Merino industry stalwarts honoured –  Lynda van Kempen:

A couple described as vital cogs in the fine wool industry had their efforts recognised at the weekend.

Peter and Elsie Lyon, of Alexandra, received life membership to the New Zealand Merino Shearing Society. The award – a surprise to the couple – was made during the national merino shearing championships in Alexandra on Saturday night.

The couple run Peter Lyon Shearing, which had a turnover of more than $10 million last year. . . 

The story behind merino wool – Camilla Rutherford:

I am very lucky to live on a high country Merino sheep station here in Tarras, New Zealand. This farm belongs to my husbands family and they have farmed here for over 100 years, which is a long time in NZ! Every year in the first week of September a big muster happens and the sheep are brought down off the hill and into the woolshed to get their yearly hair cut in time for the hot Central Otago summer. This wool is very carefully removed by highly skilled shearers, who have the very tricky task of removing the precious fibres without harming the wrinkly sheep.

Walking into the woolshed can be a little intimidating, with drum and bass blasting over the sound of the clippers, and a multitude of men and women working tirelessly, each with their own roll making the operation of shearing a sheep like a well oiled machine. This precious wool is sent to Merino New Zealand which is spun and made into Icebreaker clothing, which we all know and love. Merino wool is an incredible fibre; sustainable, warm when wet, cooling when you are too hot and keeps the stink off you. What better fibre to wear against your skin? My wardrobe is nearly 100% merino, from underwear, thermals, summer singlets, technical ski wear and awesome hoodies! . .  [whether or not you want to read more, it’s worth clicking the link for the photos]

Ballance Farm Environment Awards application period extended for Canterbury farmers:

Canterbury farmers have been given another three weeks to enter this year’s Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The entry deadline has been extended to Friday October 30 to allow farmers more time to get their entries in before judging commences in November.

The Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards Judging Coordinator Sandra Taylor acknowledged that drought and a low dairy pay-out have made for a tough start to spring and for many farmers entering the Awards has been low on the priority list.

“Recent rain and warmer temperatures will hopefully take the pressure off and give farmers a chance to think about getting their entries in.”

She points out the judging process gives farmers the opportunity to benchmark their businesses and get feedback from a team of experienced and knowledgeable judges. . . 

Life-changing win for Young Auctioneer:

With entries now open for the 2015 Heartland Bank Young Auctioneer of the Year Competition, the 2014 winner is urging other young auctioneers to enter the “life-changing competition.”

Cam Bray of PGG Wrightson won the 2014 Competition after entering all three years of the competition. The win enabled him to travel to the 2015 Sydney Royal Show to attend the Australian Livestock & Property Agents Association (ALPA) Young Auctioneers National Final.

Mr Bray said that the trip to Australia resulted in some life-changing experiences.

“The trip to Australia was great – not only for the fact that I was representing New Zealand but to be able to rub shoulders with Australia’s best was an invaluable experience.” . . .

A big win for Rural Contractors NZ:

Agricultural contractors around New Zealand will soon be able to bring in overseas workers much easier than in the past – following a deal struck between its national body and Immigration NZ.

Rural Contractors NZ (RCNZ) president Steve Levet says his organisation has been working with Immigration New Zealand for a long time in an effort to resolve the problems around contractors bringing in overseas workers for the harvest season.

“After many meetings and a lot of hard work by RCNZ – together with Immigration NZ – we believe have come up with a solution that will solve many of the problems that rural contractors currently experience every year and make it much easier to bring in overseas workers,” Mr Levet says. . .

Forest grower poll open:

Voting is now open for the person who will represent owners of smaller forests on the Forest Growers Levy Trust board.

The two candidates are Guy Farman, managing director of Farman Turkington Forestry and Steve Wilton, managing director of Forest Enterprises. Both have strong forestry credentials and are based in the Wairarapa.

Anyone who owns a ‘qualifying forest’ of between 4 and 1000 hectares, planted before 1 October 2003, may vote in the election that opened on Monday 5 October and closes on Friday 16 October. . . .

DataCol Group extends their reach into the rural market with acquisition of pioneering water measurement company Watermetrics:

Data collection and data integrator specialist business DataCol Group, today announced it had fully acquired Canterbury-based Watermetrics, a provider of integrated water flow monitoring, recording and analysis services.

“Watermetrics were pioneers in providing water measurement technology and services to the rural sector, have built a strong brand and significant customer base predominantly in the Canterbury region off the back of that,” says DataCol CEO Bruce Franks.

“Using data collection and measurement technology has become a critical tool for farmers in terms of enhancing productivity, reducing cost and complying with national regulations like water consents. . . 

Queenstown’s Ziptrek Ecotours wins environmental tourism award:

A successful business driven by the ethos of ‘inspiration through adventure’ is how judges described Queenstown’s Ziptrek Ecotours in announcing it as the winner of the Environmental Tourism Award at this year’s Tourism Industry Awards.

After almost six years in business – and a consistent winner of many sustainable practice awards over the years – Ziptrek received the award on Friday night, helping set a benchmark of excellence within the New Zealand tourism industry.

Judges were hugely impressed with the business, describing it as a “wonderful example” of a highly successful tourism business embracing and promoting sustainability in everything it does. . . 

Coronet Peak caps off ‘stellar’ season with visitor experience award:

Capping off a stellar season, Queenstown’s Coronet Peak fought off stiff competition to win the Visitor Experience Award at the New Zealand Tourism Industry Awards this weekend.

The ski area celebrated its final ‘hurrah’ on the snow this weekend with a Rugby World Cup-themed day in support of the AB’s on Saturday. On Sunday, all best efforts to host a Beach Party were somewhat thwarted by wet and wild weather, but a few brave souls managed the Pond Skim to cap off an amazing season.

The final weekend of 2015 winter started well, with Coronet Peak ski area manager Ross Copland accepting the honour in Auckland on Friday night. . . 


Rural round-up

July 10, 2013

Fonterra price scheme proves popular – Jamie Gray:

Fonterra’s guaranteed milk price (GMP) pilot scheme for the current season has proven so popular that it has required scaling, the co-operative dairy giant said.

Fonterra said 328 farms have applied to supply 37 million kg of milk solids for the scheme but that it had maintained the size of the pilot at the targeted 15 million kgMS, about one per cent of its total milk supply.

As a result all applicants were scaled to 40 per cent of their requested kgMS, with a minimum threshold of 10 per cent of a farm’s production. . .

Synlait Milk sets share price at $2.20 a piece:

Synlait Milk will sell shares at $2.20 apiece before joining the NZX later this month, valuing the dairy processor at $322 million and making it the 43rd biggest company on the exchange.

The Rakaia-based company plans to raise $75 million of new capital, and existing shareholders will sell $38.7 million, or 17.6 million shares, in a secondary offer, listing on July 23, Synlait Milk said in a statement.

Cornerstone shareholder Bright Dairy and Food won’t participate in the offer, reducing its holding to about 39 percent from the 51 percent it acquired in 2010 after Synlait abandoned an earlier plan to go public because of tepid investor appetite after the global financial crisis. . .

Huge opportunity with Icebreaker – Sally Rae:

Nicola Simpson is a firm believer in taking opportunities as they come.

She was on holiday with her family at Pounawea when she checked her emails and found a message ”out of the blue” asking if she would be interested in joining merino clothing company Icebreaker.

It meant moving from Wanaka to Auckland, a city where the family had lived before, but it was a ”huge opportunity”, she said. . .

LGNZ Welcomes New Dairy Accord:

Local Government New Zealand has welcomed the new Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord released at Parliament today.

The Accord, which involves two tiers of “accountable” and “supporting” partnerships between a number of dairy industry bodies and agri-businesses, also lists 15 regional and unitary councils as “Friends of the Accord.” . . .


Rural round-up

July 4, 2013

To be or not to be questions for red meat: Speech by Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson, to the 2013 Meat & Fibre Annual General Meeting, Ashburton

In writing my address to you today, where we will be discussing the biggest change red meat has faced for a generation, the first four lines from Shakespeare’s Hamlet come to mind. Especially since there seems to be something rotten in the state of our red-meat industry.

“To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles…”

Right there I seem to have exhausted my knowledge of Shakespeare!

Suffice to say Hamlet was a tragedy, which is not what we want for New Zealand’s red meat sector. Yet those lines pretty much sum up the position we are in. Do we leave things to chance, or do we do something about it? . . .

New pastoral lease rent system bedding in:

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson says 17 South Island High Country Crown pastoral leases are from this week on a new rent system.

There are 221 pastoral leases and each one has its rent reviewed every 11 years.

“The 17 leases were the first reviewed under new legislation (Crown Pastoral Land Amendment Act 2012) which bases rents on the earning capacity of the land and not on the value of the land exclusive of improvements. . .

Icebreaker Appoints Rob Fyfe as New Executive Chairman:

Rob Fyfe has stepped up his involvement in Icebreaker to become the Executive Chairman in September of this year.

Icebreaker founder and Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Moon says he is thrilled to have Rob Fyfe more involved in the business.

“The chairman’s role is critical and works very closely with the CEO to steer the ship and set the priorities and objectives of the business for the future. I can think of no one better than Rob to be able to do this, given his wealth of experience. . .

Winter storms sends farm feed prices soaring:

Winter storms which which dumped heavy snow through much of the South Island and left some areas under water have sent supplementary feed prices soaring.

Southern farmers have been warned that feed shortages could become an issue if they get hit with more wild winter weather.

Otago Federated Farmers president Stephen Korteweg says farmers in the south did not go into winter with big surpluses of hay or straw. . .

New research trial shows blueberries’ potential:

New research trial shows blueberries’ potential for reducing hyperglycemia, weight gain and cholesterol levels.

“The blueberry’s ability to intervene in conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and obesity is of critical importance,” says trial leader.

The results of a recently published research study highlight blueberries’ potential to play a significant role in helping to manage weight and prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes. . .


Rural round-up

June 24, 2013

Stock rescue mission – Rosie Manins:

A massive rescue operation is under way in Otago’s high country, where thousands of sheep and cattle are stranded in thick snow cover.

Volunteers are needed to help farmers access and feed stock on about 40 stations above 500m throughout the region.

Otago’s high country farms are among the worst-hit in the South Island.

Up to one metre of snow has isolated sheep and cattle and prevented farmers from surveying the damage, so it is too soon to know the extent of stock losses. . .

NZ Merino excited by Japanese contract – Sally Rae:

The signing of $2.5 million worth of New Zealand Merino contracts by Japanese brand Nikke has been heralded as a significant deal.

The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) and its fine wool growers have a 17-year relationship with the Japanese manufacturer of wool textiles.

NZM described the deal, signed in Osaka, as marking an ”exciting new era” in the partnership. Contracts were concluded for 132 tonnes of 14.3, 15.3, 16.3, 17.3, 19.5 and 21.5 micron, at prices ”significantly superior” to today’s market. . .

Innovation took merino to world – Tim Cronshaw:

Some of the best advice Icebreaker co-founder Brian Brakenridge gives to people with new business ideas is not to be afraid of being a non-conformist.

He and his wife, Fiona, were running merinos at Pohuenui Island in the Marlborough Sounds when they founded the merino outdoor garment business before the entry of “marketing guru” Jeremy Moon.

Brakenridge admits he sometimes feels uncomfortable being called the founder of the business, as Moon took it to its great heights. . .

Rural contractors take big hit from drought – Carmen Hall:

Western Bay of Plenty rural contractors lost as much as 50 per cent of their business because of the drought.

Hardest hit were hay, silage and cropping companies, which say most of their work was wiped out because of poor grass-growing conditions.

Bradstreet Contractors owner Peter Bradstreet says his workload is down 45 to 50 per cent and it is possibly the worst drought since the business began 35 years ago. “It has been particularly bad because the grass just didn’t grow.

“We’d get a little bit of rain but it would stop just when growing conditions looked good again … it was the longevity of the dry spell that did the damage.” . . .

 

Farmers add meat to debate on behaviour -David Burt:

Federated Farmers’ meat and fibre executive asked its members in April to participate in an online survey about farmer behaviour.

The aim was to gather information that would help the executive understand the drivers underpinning stock selling and related behaviours, which are thought to be one of the issues holding back the sector. The response from members was gratifying, with nearly 900 members participating.

A full analysis of the results is under way and will be presented to members at the Meat & Fibre Conference in Ashburton on July 3 and 4. . .

Double the support for Dairy Women’s Network:

Long-standing Dairy Women’s Network member Cathie Cotter has been appointed to a new role as convener co-ordinator for the South Island.

The network was boosting its support of dairying women throughout the country through two new roles which would help its regional groups increase memberships, increase local training opportunities and identify and support emerging leaders, executive chairwoman Michelle Wilson said. . .

 


Rural round-up

November 16, 2012

Chinese interest in Fonterra fund ‘predictable’ Feds say:

Chinese interest in investing in Fonterra’s Cooperative Group’s shareholder fund was predictable once the scheme was approved and underlines the need for constitutional protections for the Trading Among Farmers scheme, says the main farm lobby group.

China’s sovereign wealth fund, the US$400 billion China Investment Corp, is in talks to buy units in the $525 million fund with an investment smaller than US$100 million, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, citing people with direct knowledge of the plans.

The Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund aims to raise as much as $525 million selling shares in an indicative price range of $4.60 to $5.50 apiece, giving outside investors exposure to up to 7 percent of the dairy cooperative’s equity. The final price will be set by a bookbuild among institutions and NZX firms on about Nov. 27. . .

Huge bio-fuels opportunity for NZ from forestry: Pure Advantage –  Pattrick Smellie:

New Zealand’s plantation forestry estate represents a major opportunity for New Zealand to become more self-sufficient in transport fuels, says the latest report from the Pure Advantage business lobby group seeking support for a “green growth” push in New Zealand.

However, a “crisis of faith” in the forestry industry could stymie the newly emerging potential of forestry – a sector that has long confounded attempts to add value beyond the export of raw logs, mainly to Asian markets.

Pure Advantage trust chairman Rob Morrison told BusinessDesk the fragile state of the forestry industry is a major issue for realising the largest economic opportunity identified by a study conducted by London economic consultancy Vivid Economics and the Business School at the University of Auckland. . .

Icebreaker launches online shopping:

Icebreaker, the iconic merino clothing brand, will launch an online store in New Zealand today, at icebreaker.comin time for Christmas shopping.

“It’s no secret that online shopping is the fastest growing channel in retail today, with clothing showing some of the highest growth,” says Jeremy Moon, Icebreaker CEO and founder.

“We’re a multi-channel business, and our new eCommerce site in New Zealand will complement our presence in retailers throughout the country and in our Icebreaker TouchLab retail stores in Wellington and Auckland. Our customers are increasingly demanding choice – they want to be able to choose to shop either directly from a brand, or from a retailer with a wide variety of brands.” . . .

Prince Charles inspects the Glacial Wool rug bearing his coat of arms:

New Zealand Wool Services International is pleased to make available the attached photographs of the Prince of Wales inspecting a unique six square metre Glacial wool rug bearing his coat of arms during his visit to the New Zealand Shear Brilliance wool exhibition at The Could in Auckland on 12 November. The rug has been commissioned by New Zealand Wool Services International to honour the Prince and recognise his role as a champion and patron of the global Campaign for Wool.


Close to Paradise

May 18, 2012

Paradise is at the head of Lake Wakatipu.

We didn’t go quite that far on Wednesday, our water taxi from Queenstown stopped at Mount Nicholas Station on the southern side of the lake.

This family owned and operated station runs sheep and cattle and supplies merino wool to Icebreaker.

It also offers accommodation at the homestead where we lunched on vegetable soup, made from produce from the station’s garden, and venison pie.

Our afternoon visit enabled just a quick look around the lower country near the lake but provided plenty of vistas to prove that we were in deed close to paradise if down the lake a little from Paradise.


Baacodes link producers to purchasers

June 6, 2011

We’d just come back from a week visiting farms including one which supplies Icebreaker when I bought a t-shirt.

Hoping to find it was made with the wool from our friends’ farm I checked the baacode . This links producers to purchasers by enabling buyers to find where the raw material for Icebreaker clothes was grown and introduces them to the people who grow it.

The merino wool in my t-shirt wasn’t from Middlehurst Station which we’d visited but it did come Mt Nicholas Station which is run by other friends who featured on Country Calendar a couple of weeks ago.

The programme and the baacode clips are wonderful advertisements for high country farming and farmers.


Prince’s woolly thinking good idea

January 29, 2010

Prince Charles has been criticised in the past for some woolly thinking, but this time he’s got a good idea and has launched the Wool Project –  a scheme to help sheep farmers around the world boost the price of wool.

Devised by the Prince and the director of the Pastoral Alliance, John Thorley, the scheme was billed as a comeback for wool at the launch on a Cambridgeshire sheep farm on Tuesday (26 January).

The scheme aims to turn around the wool market’s fortunes, which has seen prices slump from 93p/kg in 1997 to 66p/kg last year.

It will promote the green credentials of wool to consumers as well as urging shops to promote it as a fashionable material for clothes, carpets and rugs.

The Prince intends to create a green label to adorn woollen products across the UK and Commonwealth countries such as Australia and New Zealand.

Federated Farmers is supporting the move. Meat & Fibre chair, Bruce Willis, points to wool’s green credentials – it’s a fashionable eco-friendly alternative to synthetics.

It also helps you stay warm when it’s wet and it can be worn for longer in sweaty conditions without getting smelly which makes it ideal for work and tramping clothes.

Icebreaker has shown the way with casual clothing. Christina Perriam, is doing the same for fashion clothing. She features in the current NZ Life & Leisure, in which she says she’s:

. . . focused on relaunching her fashion label, creating key, affordable but beautiful pieces that New Zealand women will treasure and keep in their wardrobes for many years. And then there’s the New Zealand merino sleepwear range which caters for the growing need for organic, healthy, sustainable fibres to be worn next to the skin.

Both Icebreaker and the Christina Perriam range use merino. Finding uses and markets for crossbred wool is more problematic.

Wool carpet is great, but a lot of the world uses tiles rather than carpet.

Wool insulation has been round for a while but it isn’t making much headway against synthetic alternatives, although if my experience is anything to go by that’s not surprising.

Recently I asked about wool insulation at Wanaka’s Mitre 10. Once we’d got past a couple of minutes of crossed wires and established I was talking about wool not wall insulation, the shop assistant rummaged through the brochures on display, all of which were for synthetic materials. She then went in to an office and spoke with someone else who came out with a brochure and a couple of pages printed from a website about wool insulation.

I asked the price and how it compared with the cost of synthetic alternatives. The assistant consulted the woman in the office again and returned to tell me she’d never worked it out but thought wool would be a little bit more expensive, though it wouldn’t cost twice as much.

The producers of wool insulation are being very poorly served if the brochures for their products aren’t with the others and the sales people – or at least the two who were trying to help me – don’t know how the price compares with its synthetic competitors.

The idea of selling wool as an eco-friendly, natural, sustainable fibre pushes a lot of marketing buttons. But the Prince and his project have a lot of work to do if the products already available are marketed this poorly.

Hat Tip: Phil Clarke’s Business Blog.


Going to bed with wool

September 26, 2009

Coco Chanel is credited with saying that the only thing you should wear to bed is perfume.

That’s all very well on a warm Paris night. People in cooler climes might need a little more covering and AgResearch scientists have come up with something for them to wear which they reckon will make going to bed more enjoyable:

They’ve made a breakthrough in textiles which has resulted in a lightweight natural product which they say:

. . . has no chemical treatment, helps sleeping, maintains and regulates temperature and looks and feels fantastic.

“Easy Care Wool Sleepwear works in both summer and winter and we believe makes excellent nightwear and loungewear with its outstanding comfort properties,” said Dr Surinder Tandon, Senior Scientist, Textile Science & Technology.

The Sleepwear products targeted for the development include men’s and women’s nightwear and loungewear. These were developed using innovative combinations of merino wool and other natural fibres such as bamboo and silk, yarn structures, fabric weaves and knits, and finishing procedures.

The Easy Care bit is important because it’s not that long ago that wool was anything but. However, developments with merino by companies like Icebreaker which has brought us fashionable, itch-free, lightweight, machine washable clothes has helped wool products compete with synthetics.

AgResearch took their stab and fire resistant wool vest to the catwalk at Air New Zealand Fashion Week last year. It is going to invite well known designers to come up with garments made from Easy Care Wool in the hope they will be able to show them at next year’s fashion week.”

“They will look great, function well and be very comfortable,” said Dr Tandon.

The new sleepwear fabrics are being manufactured by South Canterbury Textiles, “This cutting edge textile is exciting from our point of view- it’s new, it’s got real advantages over other fabrics used for sleepwear and it creates opportunities for us once it is available,” said Andrew Miller CEO.

This sleepwear fabric development programme was supported by Textiles NZ under their industry scheme Transform, South Canterbury Textiles and Locus Research.

If this product can be commercially viable it will provide a much needed boost for the wool industry which has been faced with low prices for far too many years.

It will also provide something a bit warmer, and not necessarily any less alluring, for those who prefer to wear something a little more substantial than perfume in bed.


Where there’s wool . . .

April 6, 2009

We watched shearers taking the fleeces off sheep in amazement in Cumbria in amazement. It wasn’t so much wool as hair and it was going to be burned.

That would never happen in New Zealand, we said with just a touch of smugness, because when you don’t have subsidies you wouldn’t waste your energy and money on sheep with worthless fleeces.

But we spoke too soon. The ODT reports that when the costs of shearing came to more than the returns from wool Bruce Willis, chair of Federated Farmers Meat & Wool section, decided to farm sheep for meat only.

Merino is doing better, helped by quality products and niche marketing with brands like Icebreaker and Untouched World, but strong, or coarse as it is so prosaicly called – wool has gone backwards.

Much of the world covers their floors in tiles rather than carpets and research into alternative uses for the fibre has had mixed success.

There was hope that wool could be used to soak up oil spills but that doesn’t seem to have gone anywhere. Wool insulation had a point of difference with consumers who prefer natural to synthetic fibres but isn’t widely used.

AgResearch’s stab and flame resistant wool fabric aroused interest at last year’s fashion week, but we need much more than that or a lot more farmers will be farming sheep for meat not fibre because where there’s wool there’s not much money.


Baa codes for Icebreaker

October 3, 2008

Icebreaker is asking the high country farmers who supply it with merino wool to tell their stories to customers.

Iconic merino clothing company Icebreaker has enlisted its back country wool suppliers to give its international customers an idea of what they are wearing.

Now selling in 24 countries, the Wellington-based company’s new range of garments include individual “baa-codes” which, when typed into the company’s website, take customers to where the wool originated from.

The website points out farm locations and includes comments or a video from the farmers about themselves or their operation.

I wear up to four layers of Icebreaker merino clothing in the depths of winter and found an Icebreaker tee shirt just as useful in the heat of a Spanish summer.

I don’t need a baa-code  to convince me how good it is. But I can understand what a great marketing tool it could be for those not already hooked on it because the stories from the merino growers and the country they live and work in will add to the charm of the clothes.


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