Rural round-up


$16m export fish gets top sustainability marks:

New Zealand hake, a small but growing white fish export to Spain, China and Japan, has received a glowing report in an independent assessment, taking it one step closer to achieving certification from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

The MSC holds the world’s best standards for sustainably managed fisheries. Its assessment process, which is transparent and inclusive, requires all fishery assessment reports to go through a public consultation period before certification can be achieved.

While many overseas hake fisheries have been overfished, the MSC independent assessment has confirmed New Zealand hake fisheries as having well managed, healthy fish stocks that are harvested with minimal impacts on the marine environment. . . .

International marketing specialist stands for Zespri board:

International produce marketing specialist, Hillary Brick, has announced her nomination for the upcoming director elections for the board of kiwifruit exporter Zespri.

Hillary is a New Zealander who has been living in the United States for the past 30 years.

Originally from Te Puke, Hillary is a long-term shareholder in a family owned kiwifruit orchard near the town.

“I have been very fortunate to enjoy 25 years of experience in international fruit marketing”, she said, “I’d be privileged to give back to an industry which has played such an important part in my life.” . . .

Firewood ‘slicer dicer’ on display at Fieldays – Mike McRoberts:

Mahoe Sawmill is at Fieldays with their firewood “slicer dicer”.

Mahoe’s John Bergman says the machine is part of the Fieldays innovation awards and is the first of its kind that the company has developed.

“It makes it [chopping firewood] really easy.” . .

Lessons with the Sharp Blacks: Can Campbell Live make the cut?

Kiwis are a nation of meat exporters – we all know that.

But who knew that there’s an international competition for the men and women who process that meat for our shops, and for global markets? Or that we have our own national butchery team?

They’re called the Pure South Sharp Blacks, and they are rather successful at what they do.  . . .

New code set to speed up rate of innovation in NZ rural industry:

The Farm Data Code of Practice, launched today, is a first for the New Zealand agricultural industry.

The new Code of Practice outlines steps organisations must take to safeguard farmers’ data. Adoption and implementation of the Farm Data Code of Practice is expected to improve how farm information is shared and used.

Development of the Farm Data Code of Practice was funded by New Zealand dairy farmers through DairyNZ, and also the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) andFarmIQ. It is part of the Transforming the Dairy Value Chain programme, led by DairyNZ and Fonterra, under MPI’s Primary Growth Partnership. . . .

Fonterra explains why it thinks international demand for milk powders and cheese will remain relatively strong – Interest.Co.NZ:

A shift in supply and demand over the past few months is indicating that volatility continued to exert influence over the global outlook for dairy.

Prices have come off the peak reached in February this year.

There is currently more milk available for the international market to absorb, although demand from China and Russia still appears strong as global supply and demand rebalances.

Fonterra’s assessment of published industry statistics indicates that total dairy exports have reached 14.2 million MT, up 3% for the 12 months through to February 2014. Most of this growth appears to be from the European Union (EU), New Zealand (NZ) and the United States (US). . . .

Ballance hits half way in its biggest product innovation programme:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients has reached the half-way mark in its $19.5 million programme under the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Primary Growth Partnership (PGP).

The seven-year Clearview Innovations PGP programme is aimed at developing products, technology and knowledge to support sustainable, profitable farming. The programme has $9.75 million in support from the PGP.

Ballance Research and Development Manager, Warwick Catto, says the co-operative has made nitrogen and phosphorus efficiency a high priority in the programme. It is aiming to increase nitrogen uptake efficiency from the usual 10:1 return to 15:1 and to increase phosphate efficiency by 20 percent while minimising losses. . . .

Hamilton-based SummerGlow Apiaries applauds a new Manuka Honey testing method.

TE KOWHAI’S SummerGlow Apiaries has welcomed news from Hill Laboratories of a new manuka testing method which could save the honey industry millions of dollars a year.

The test checks for the “Manuka factor” are in the honey. This is an indicator of antibacterial activity, used to determine whether honey is pure manuka or a blend. Not all manuka honey has the unique activity and among those that do then the strength varies.

The tests used to cost $105 each, or $315 for all three, but “this new three-in-one can achieve it for only $70.

“This initiative is an important step in the right direction. SummerGlow Apiaries applauds any scientific developments that focus the consumer on Manuka Honey’s all important Non Peroxide Activity,” says James Jeffrey of SummerGlow Apiaries. . . .


You might need to be a ram breeder to appreciate this:
Postura das pernas do posterior....

Farm sales and property values drop


The volume of farm sales and prices paid dropped in the three months to August.

From a high of $4,650,000 in August 2008 the three month median price for dairying properties is down by a third to $3,100,000 in the latest REINZ Rural Market Report statistics released today.

Only 17 dairy farms were sold in the three months to August, one less than in the same period last year and significantly below the 67 transactions in the three months to August 2008. Just three dairy farms sold in August at an average price of $2,543,333, and the average price per hectare decreased to $31,598 from $36,435 in July. The average price per kilogram of milk solids has fallen further to $33 from $37 in July, $40 in June and $45 in May.

From a peak of $90,125 in August 2009, the average price per hectare of all types of farms has fallen to $29,739. The 192 farms sold in the three months to the end of August is an increase on the 183 in the same period last year, but less than the 516 transactions in the three months to August 2008.

The national median farm sale price eased up from $1,118,500 for the three months to July to $1,127,754 for the three months to August 2010. Well down on the median of $1,742,500 for the equivalent period in 2008, the latest August figure is fractionally above the median for all farms of $1,000,000 for the same three months in 2009. However with the low number of sales currently occurring, price fluctuations, both upwards and downwards, can be impacted by the range of prices of the mix of properties being sold.

On a regional basis the largest number of farm sales during the three months to August was 31 in Canterbury, 24 of them grazing properties, and 27 in Southland, 11 of them grazing properties.

During the past year median prices for farms have declined in eight out of the 14 districts. In the three months to August 2010 compared with the corresponding period in 2009, farm sale prices were down in Waikato from $1,663,655 to $1,187,500, Bay of Plenty from $1,000,000 to $920,000, Hawkes Bay from $1,800,000 to $945,000, Manawatu/Wanganui from $1,275,000 to $1,200,000, Wellington from $3,005,000 to $1,935,000, Canterbury from $1,300,000 to $1,200,000, Otago from $937,500 to $712,000, and Southland from $1,200,000 to $1,125,000.

There was another decrease in the number of sales of lifestyle properties from 1088 at the end of July to 1066 in the three months to the end of August, and the national median selling price eased from $447,500 at the end of July to $436,750 last month. While the August 2010 median is still up on $430,000 for the same three month period in 2009 it is below the August 2008 median of $450,000.

The decline in sales and prices is due to both the recession and the boom which preceded it.

Farm prices for all properties soared on the back of increasing dairy prices until it was cheaper to buy an existing dairy farm than to purchase sheep or cropping land and convert it.

There used to be a rule of thumb that you should never pay more than three to five times the value of a property’s gross income when buying a farm. That was disregarded for not just dairy properties but sheep and beef ones with much less earning potential.

The value of a property is most important when you’re buying or selling or if it’s highly mortgaged.

Lower prices may make it easier for people to get in to farming or increase their land holding, although credit is still pretty tight. But they will also be causing older farmers to re-think their retirement plans and they will be having a detrimental impact on equity of those with mortgages.

That won’t matter if the people can cover interest payments and ride out the current downturn. But it will put pressure on people who were struggling before prices dropped.

However, banks will be mindful that there’s no point pushing for sales when prices are dropping.

The protracted process of the sale of the Crafar properties won’t be helping farm sales and that’s when it’s possible for overseas investors to own farms.

The volume of sales and property prices would drop even more if farm ownership was restricted to New Zealanders.

Bad business for good man


Allan Hubbard is Presbyterian by both faith and nature.

Although he features on the NBR’s rich list, he lives a modest life, spends little on himself and drives an old VW car.

The story of his modest beginnings  and what he’s achieved is inspiring and a  few weeks ago he talked about it to The Listener.

He grew up in the Depression, one of five children in a very poor household and the poverty he experienced then was a strong motivating factor in his life.

He did well at school but his father wouldn’t let him go to Otago Boys’ because they were working class and Allan might get ideas.

He gained School Certificate and University Entrance at night school while working fulltime, put himself through university then set up an accountancy firm in Timaru.

His company prospered and as it did he used his business acumen and wealth to help others.  Some of his business dealings and philanthropic acts are a matter of public record – including underwriting the Opuha Irrigation Scheme by buying all its shares which he  sold to farmers at the original price once the scheme was operating.

The rural grapevine tells of many other acts of generosity which aren’t public, stories of people he’s helped into farms or businesses. He backs people he trusts, who are prepared to make sacrifices to get ahead, as he did,  and , very few have let him down.

Hubbard’s company South Canterbury Finance has been the subject of several bad-news stories in recent months. Now Aorangi Securities, seven trusts and Allan and his wife Margaret ( but not  it is important to stress, SCF) have been placed into statutory management.

I know little about his business dealings but have always been impressed by him as a person.

Principals of other finance companies and organisations which have attracted negative headlines have been criticised for extravagant living at the expense of their creditors.

This is not a criticism that can be made of the Hubbards.

A fact sheet on the statutory management is here.

The NBR covers the story here. covers it here.

UPDATE: The Timaru Herald has a statement from Hubbard here.

Did you see the one about . . .


Milk and health: there aren’t always two (equal) sides to a story – what Alison Campbell at Sciblogs  learned at the gym; she also had a trip to the optometrists because of flashes in the eye.

John Freeman on Shrinking the World – Quote Unquote learned about slow communication at Writers and Readers.

Finger tutting – Ozy Mandias Warning on geometircal dexterity.

Heritage Irises – a blog celebrating irises which gives a promise of spring to brighten winter.

Four essential questions for government – Inquiring Mind on the need to focus on benefit and value.

Murphy’s Law – RivettingKateTaylor had one of those moments when Toyota isn’t strong enough.

At the risk of stirring old broth – Laughy Kate has a number joke which leads to a number of others in the comments.

Book sales, frumpy readers and mental rotation of book titles – Grant Jacobs from Sciblogs went to the Regent Theatre 24 hour book sale.

Congratulations to the Visible Hand in Economics on 1000 posts .

And an announcement that Agridata has moved to

Did you see the one about . . .


Unemployment – Something Goes Here has a cracker cartoon from Garrick Tremain.

A rural joke – Quote Unquote on sounds you hear on most farms (Though not Rob’s father’s).

Warning food is a choking hazard – Opinionated Mummy on the danger of warnings against danger.

How I became a Science teacher from Alison Campbell at Sciblogs and on a similar theme: Career Day – Rivetting Kate Taylor on how she got into journalism.

So good I stole it – Adolf at No Minister  and Dos and don’ts for cuddle class – Kiwiblog  illustrates in-flight etiquette.

Come take my stuff – Roar Prawn warns that technology can tell too much.

Top 10 at 10 has some funny cartoons among the serious stuff.

How not to define social sciences at Anti Dismal  . 

Exaggerating the benefits of Community Education at The Visable Hand In Economics and apropos of this Really big numbers at Off Setting Behaviour.

Did you see the one about . . .


 Apologies and letters: Theodore Dalrymple explains why he feels sorry for Gordon Brown. – a post in response ot the furore over a hand written apology.

What are you getting for Christmas – PM of NZ shows why we should be grateful the world has moved on.

Principles of economics translated –  a very funny video, hat tip

It’s Urgent – really – a very funny video at Roarprawn.

Witi Ihimaera and plagarism – Quote Unquote has the best analysis I’ve seen on the issue.

Global Warping – Macdoctor on the need for integrity from scientists.

Fonterra payout up to $6.05


Last night’s post on Fonterra lifting its payout in Australia had only just been published when I checked my emails and found one from the company to New Zealand suppliers. It announced an increase in its forecast payout for the current season of  95 cents per kilo of milk solids.

 In a newsletter to shareholders chairman Henry Van der Heydon said:

  The Board met today and  has increased the forecast Available For Payout to $6.05 per kgMS for the current season.

  This is made up of a forecast Milk Price of $5.70 (up from $4.60) and a Distributable Profit or Value Return of 35 cents (down from 50 cents).

  The $1.10 increase in the Milk Price has come from the improvements in commodity milk powder prices which have by far offset the negative impact of the strengthening currency.

  This is a big jump. It shows how much volatility is still in the market. There’s a risk the rising prices could bring on more milk from other countries.

  The 15 cent fall in the Profit is due to products like cheese and casein lagging behind powder prices.

  Your Advance Rate will go up 75 cents ($3.25 to $4.00) for November paid December.

This forecast payout is 90 cents better than the final payout for the 08/09 season.

A 400 cow farm probably produces about 160,000 kgMS a season so the increase would mean an increase of about $152,000. However, after the big drop in income last season following the big increase the season before  farmers will be wary about future volatility.

We’ll welcome the increase but still concentrate on containing costs.

Even so, given the importance of dairying to New Zealand’s economy the impact of the increase may be even more significant outside the farm gate.

UPDATE: has the full statement from Fonterra.

Old media, new media


A Media & Communications student emailed asking for answers to questions she posed as part of a research project on the relationship between journalism and blogging.

What motivated you to begin your blog? What role do you intend for it  to play in society?

I’d been reading and commenting on other people’s blogs, noticed there wasn’t much from a rural perspective and decided I had enough to say on my own.

I’ve never considered what role my blog plays in society. I hoped it would be read, enjoyed and engender debate.

Do you think traditional (print and broadcast) journalism is fulfilling its societal role of providing neutral, reliable, accurate and democratic information to citizens? Do you think bloggers fulfil  these values better?

The best journalism is still unbiased (though not necessarily neutral), reliable and accurate (not sure what democratic information is).

The loss of institutional knowledge in news rooms means that a lot of less than the best ends up printed and broadcast. The move to infotainment and comment in news items, on TV in particular, means a lot isn’t neutral, reliable or accurate.

Most blogs are commentary not journalism, similar to letters to the editor without the intervention of an editor. Many are churnalism.

Few if any, try to be neutral or unbiased but the good ones are up front about their bias and are reliable and accurate. The worst pretend their not biased and just rant. The best of those which do break news are as good as, sometimes better than, traditional media. But most bloggers blog part time and unpaid without the resources available to newsrooms.

 Is it your intent to cause a change to journalism? Do you think  blogging is changing traditional journalism? If so, do you think this  is positive or negative for journalism as a whole?

No, I don’t intend to change traditional journalism (and I wouldn’t have the power to do so even if I did). However, I think blogging is changing  influencing journalism – some blogs have become another source of news. Many blogs react to what’s in the traditional media and the traditional media sometimes reacts to, comments on and quotes from blog posts.’s post on Crafar Farms was very quickly followed up by other media, on and off line.

Blogs sometimes hold traditional media to account and providing they do it fairly, that’s good.

What do you think are the negative points/things which should be changed about blogging as journalism? What is your reaction to claims that blogging is negative for journalism because it is partisan, only  provides links to ‘real’ journalism, and has too little access and  influence?

Rants and personal invective are negative but that isn’t journalism and, as with any other media, if you don’t like it you don’t have to read it.

The lack of editorial control is liberating but it can also be dangerous, especially with court cases where blogs have broken suppression orders or been in contempt of court.

Not all blogging is partisan and some of the partisan ones are very good. They break stories, use original sources and facts as any journalist in traditional media ought to. Kiwiblog, Whale Oil and Cactus Kate are upfront about their bias but break stories which are followed by other media.

Some traditional media and/or journalists are partisan too, although they are less likely to admit to it.

Partisan isn’t bad by itself, it’s any media which pretends to be unbiased when it’s not, that is the problem.

How would you describe the interaction between blogging and traditional journalism?

Blogs and traditional journalism compliment, sometimes compete, sometimes feed off each other. Most blogs would have a lot less to say if it wasn’t for traditional media. But some blogs use original material and the traffic isn’t all one way. As individual blogs enhance their reputations by breaking stories the media will refer to them more.

Is the worst over?


A real estate agent in Wanaka, not known for his optimism, says things are picking up.

He says there’s certainly not a boom but there are definite signs the bust is over.

A rural real estate agent in Southland says the same thing. Buyers with cash in their pockets are looking for farms again.

A transport operator said that a few months ago people were asking for jobs when there were no vacancies and if he did have a job going he could pick and choose who he took on. Now he’s having to advertise and getting only a few applicants.

We’ve noticed the same thing on the dairy farm. When we were seeking staff earlier in the year we were inundated with applicants. A recent advertisement drew just six.

These are small signs of recovery, but over at, Neville Bennett reckons we’re not out of the woods yet.

One reason for that it’s not just what happens here which counts, what’s happening in the countries which buy our exports matters too.

Anecdotal reports from the UK suggest things are still pretty tough there.

The son of a friend, an accountant, took two months to find a job when he got to London in the middle of the year. His sister applied for 200 marketing jobs before she got an interview.

Animal welfare paramount

28/09/2009 have a very disturbing video of starving calves.

They were on a property owned by Crafar Farms, the country’s biggest dairy farmers.

Owners are not directly responsible for everything which happens on the farm. But they are responsible for ensuring that systems and processes are in place and operating properly.

It appears that in this case they weren’t.

Animal welfare must be the first priority in any livestock operation.

It appears that on this farm it wasn’t.

If owners aren’t able to monitor farms regularly they have to employ other people they can trust to do it.

The bigger the operation the more important it is to do that because no systems are perfect and the best processes are only as good as they people who carry them out.

OCR unchanged


The Official Cash Rate remains at 2.5%.

Federated Farmers and other exporters have been caliing on Reserve Bank governor Alan Bollard to cut the rate again in the hope it would put some downward pressure on the value of the dollar.

But if an OCR at 2.5% isn’t lowering the attraction to the New Zealand dollar another small reduction would be unlikely to have any effect.

Bernard Hickey gives his view on Bollard’s statement at

Dairy auction price rise again


The whole milk price increased 24.2% to $US2,858 per tonne in last night’s globalDairy Trade auction.

That follows an increase of 25.8% last month.

Fonterra chairman Henry Van der Hayden said in an email to shareholders that this is a sign dairy prices are firming. Global supply is down and inventories are tight


dairy 10006


dairy 10008


UPDATE: notes the acution included 2000 tonnes of Australian whole milk powder.

Did you see the one about. . .


 Pipe specification  at Somethingshouldgohere

Unintentional arrogance at Open Parachute

Why economics is hard  at The Visible Hand

Worthy pursuits – cough at Rob’s Blockhead

5 ways for banks to improve their on-line banking services  at Interest.Co.NZ

S59 amendment vitimises 2nd parent at Monkeywithtypewriter

Significant risk factor for child abuse omitted at Lindsay Mitchell

Hating on Teh Fatties at In A Strange Land

Weird Art Quiz at Artandmylife

A car quiz at Not PC

Ground rules in the first, second and third person at The Hand Mirror

Undomestic godess at Pundit

A puff too far  at Macdoctor

And a couple of newish  (to me) blogs:


Birdsofparadise – from Nicole Were, a New Zealander living in Yellowknife in the northwest of Canada (interviewed for the best song segment on Afternoons by Jim Mora on Thursday)

Talk about laugh, Trev


Well those who got the April Fools Day jokes laughed, others – like the friend who walked up six flights of stairs because she believed the sign that said the lift would be out of action until noon – weren’t so amused.

The Bull Pen reported wired muso-farmers stage come back

Interest.Co found NZ economists revert to busking to replace bonuses

Bits on the Side spottted you April Fool tube

Kiwiblog  contributed to an outbreak in raised blood perssure – and got mentions on Newztalk ZB  & RadioNZ with National to Appoint Cullen as Reserve Bank Governor

Whaleoil announced Worth to be sacked, Brash to stand in Mt Albert  and found out he had fans when he said that’s it

At Frogblog Greens went off-road off site, then decided to ban the Easter bunny  and invited Winston on board

TV3 reports big business adopts April Fools Day as its own

And it wasn’t an April Fools joke – but someone was having a laugh at the expense of a couple of Labour MPs when they set up Twitter accounts and registered as followers of Keeping Stock. 

If I missed one, please leave a link in comments.

RB unhappy with long term interest rates


Daily updates from our bank have been showing a steady climb in long term interest rates.

That trend is concerning Reserve Bank governer Alan Bollard.

“In these circumstances we believe the rise in longer-term interest rates is unwarranted and inconsistent with the monetary policy outlook.

“As indicated in our March Statement, we are projecting interest rates to remain at relatively low levels for an extended period.”

Dr Bollard said that if this apparent distortion persists, it could put unnecessary pressure on the cost of borrowing by firms and households.  calls it a jawboning statement and notes it resulted in a drop of more than a cent in the value of the $NZ.

Higher interest rates are enjoyed by people with money to invest, providing the real value isn’t being offset by inflation, but they are a significant cost for most businesses.

Dairy farmers get monthly payments which helps their cash flows but sheep, beef and cropping farmers usually get their income in chunks once or twice a year and need seasonal finance to tide them over between cheques.

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