Rural round-up

May 15, 2015

Is life down on the farm about to change forever? – James Stewart:

Farmers deal with change all the time. We become obsessed with sun, rain and everything in between which is what happens when your whole livelihood depends on the natural elements. This is part of the volatile world we deal with. All you need to do is throw in commodities and exchange rates and it can make for an extremely challenging environment. This is an accepted fact of life for a farmer.

To add to the abyss of unknown, farmers are anxious about what the health and safety reform will bring and the new challenges that lay on the horizon. We all want to come home from work alive. Unfortunately this will not always happen as you just can’t eliminate all of the risk out of farming.

My own personal experience of a fatality on my own farm still haunts me to this day. Going through a police and OSH investigation was nothing compared to the emotion of meeting the parents the following day to try and explain what may have happened. I take every practical step to prevent accidents happening, but the world we live in is not perfect and accidents happen. . .

One in four dairy farmers in negative cashflow this season, Wheeler says – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Another year of sagging dairy prices would be a concern for New Zealand’s economy and especially for the 25 percent of farmers currently carrying debts above 65 percent of the value of their assets and currently trading in negative equity, says Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler.

Expanding at a parliamentary hearing on this morning’s release of the central bank’s six monthly financial stability report, which imposed new macro-prudential restrictions on lending on Auckland housing, Wheeler said “another year of low prices, that would be a worry for the economy, no question, and also that would be a worry for farmers in terms of their debt capacity.” . . .

Step up, Foterra told – Sally Rae:

Fonterra’s strategy needs to start delivering or its market share will shrink further, Federated Farmers Otago dairy chairman Stephen Crawford says.

The results of small Waikato-based dairy co-operative Tatua and West Coast-based Westland Milk Products’ might well ”far exceed” Fonterra, so it might eventually need to front up and stop blaming volatility, which was experienced by all players in the market, Mr Crawford said in his report to Federated Farmers Otago’s annual meeting in Dunedin yesterday. . . 

 

Horowhenua vegetable growers hit by wet weather again – Gerard Hutching:

Vegetable growers in Kapiti and Horowhenua have been hit by wet weather for the second year in a row.

Woodhaven Garden grower John Clarke, based in Levin, said it was shaping up to be as difficult a season as last year, when autumn had been the wettest he had seen in 31 years of growing.

“It’s starting to trend the same way. It has certainly impacted on what we’ve been able to plant. One day recently we had a hit of 125 millimetres [of rain] and the day before 50mm,” Clarke said.

Metservice figures show 157mm has fallen in the Levin region over the past month. It forecasts rain to continue for the next 10 days, with little prospect  of sunshine. . .

Taranaki rural crime issues reach the top – Sue O’Dowd:

Taranaki farmers who highlighted rural crime have been invited to be part of a national committee looking at a rural policing strategy. 

An inaugural meeting in Wellington on Wednesday among representatives of police, Federated Farmers, Ministry for Primary Industries, Neighbourhood Support, Community Patrols and Rural Women NZ aimed to formulate a consistent approach to rural crime prevention throughout the country. 

Co-ordinator of community policing Alasdair Macmillan, of Wellington, has been working for months on increasing the awareness of what he calls “rural crash and crime”. 

“I came across this group in Taranaki,” he said. “These guys are up and running. What have they got? Do we need some tips from them?” . . .

Fonterra expansion take mozzarella to the world:

Work is complete on a new mozzarella plant at Fonterra’s Clandeboye site, doubling production of the world-famous cheese and creating enough mozzarella to top more than 300 million pizzas a year.

Work is complete on a new mozzarella plant at Fonterra’s Clandeboye site, doubling production of the world-famous cheese and creating enough mozzarella to top more than 300 million pizzas a year.

The mozzarella – one of the Co-operative’s most sought after cheeses – is destined for global pizza and pasta restaurant chains across China, Asia and the Middle East. . .

Rural Equities accepts Webster takeover offer for stake in Tandou – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Rural Equities, the farming group majority-owned by the Cushing family, will sell its 6.4 percent stake in ASX-listed Tandou into a takeover offer from Australian agricultural and water company Webster.

Webster’s shares have jumped 26 percent on the ASX this year and the stock is rated a ‘strong buy’ based on a Reuters survey of analysts.

Webster is Australia’s biggest vertically integrated producers of walnuts, accounting for more than 90 percent of the nation’s export crop. It has been on an acquisition spree, buying water entitlements and more than 45,000 hectares of land known as the Kooba aggregation for A$116 million in December and making an A$124 million offer for Bengerang, a large-scale NSW cotton farmer with its own portfolio of water entitlements. . .

Mainman insecticide application approved:

An Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) decision-making committee has approved with controls an application from ISK New Zealand Limited to manufacture or import the insecticide Mainman, which contains the new pesticide active ingredient flonacamid.

Mainman is intended to be used for the control of aphids and psyllids on potatoes and possibly other specific pests associated with horticultural crops. The application is for Mainman to be used by commercial growers and contractors on vegetable crops. . .

 


Melamine confirmed in Tatua lactoferrin

September 29, 2008

Tuatua Cooperative Dairy Company has suspended exports of lactoferrin while it determines how traces of melamine got in to it.

A Chinese customer told Tatua’s agent two weeks ago that melamine had been detected in its product in China.

Further tests were done in both in China and New Zealand, and results on September 22 and 23 confirmed contamination at less than four parts per million.

The New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA), inspected the factory on September 24.

Tatua chief executive Paul McGilvary told NZPA today the company’s own investigation detected no melamine in its raw milk.

The company is now working with the NZ Food Safety Authority on a traceback project to determine where the melamine came from.

The traceback was expected to canvass whether the melamine was introduced to the raw milk, either by farmers using insecticides containing cyromazine, an insecticide which breaks down to melamine in mammals and plants, or feeding dairy cows cheap imported feeds such as palm kernel contaminated with cyromazine or its metabolite, melamine.

This is serious, and Tuatua has done the right thing in suspending exports and working with the NZFSA to find out where the melamine came from.

But the risk at the moment is more in the perception than reality and as I said in a post on this issue  on Saturday it’s important to keep it all in perspective.

The poisoned milk scandal has raised awareness of what might be in the food we’re eating which is good, but we need to be careful about causing needless hysteria over “contamination” of food by elements in tiny amounts which won’t cause any harm.

Inquiring Mind  rightly points out the need for oversight of all stages of the supply chain as a result of this.

No Minister  regards this as seriously serious.


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