Rural round-up

February 16, 2015

Work of dedicated greenie on view  – Tim Cronshaw:

A lifetime’s work by a Canterbury farmer to lay out a tree canopy on his property, the envy of many farmers, will be opened up to visitors this month.

Lochaber Downs was until lately the home of Graeme and Christine McArthur and they spent decades putting in shelterbelts, woodlots and many varieties of native trees and plants on the 680 hectare hill country and downs property at Whitecliffs, inland Canterbury.

This was rewarded with the couple being named the Husqvarna Farm Foresters of the Year for the South Island. As part of the award they will hold a field day on February 21 despite since selling the farm. The field day has been allowed to continue with the consent of new owner Ken Wragg. . .

Kiwi smashes world barley record – Alan Williams:

Timaru farmer Warren Darling set his mind on a new world barley growing record after going close last season without really trying.

His determination has paid off with the numbers and now he’s just waiting to see if Guinness World Records will ratify the result. Word from the United Kingdom-based group was expected any time.

The January 23 harvest produced a yield of 13.8 tonnes a hectare from the 11.5ha block of land on the coastal Poplar Grove Farm. . .

 Dairy man disputes barn finding – Neal Wallace:

A study questioning the merits of wintering barns or free stalls has been slammed as muddled and narrow-focused by an advocate of the system.

Ray Macleod, the manager of Landward Management, a Dunedin company specialising in hybrid dairy farming systems, said the report failed to look at the barn system as part of a year-round production cycle and confused farm intensification with better use of resources.

The study by DairyNZ senior economist Matthew Newman and AgFrirst consultant Phil Journeaux said the jury was still out on the financial and environmental merits of the barns. . .

Astronauts catch on to wool’s fire resistant qualities – Mary-Jo Tohill:

For merino wool protective clothing specialist Andy Caughey, there’s nothing like going straight to the source.

The New Zealand merino wool advocate was at the Central Otago A&P Show at Omakau yesterday, mingling with some of the farmers who grow wool for his UK-based brand, Armadillo Merino. 

From the sheep’s back to outer space might sound a bit far-fetched, but not when you’re talking about astronauts, whose under-garments are made from merino wool. . .

Government distrust of Fonterra ‘staggering’:

The level of Government distrust in Fonterra was a “huge shock” according to the man who led the dairy giant’s board inquiry into 2013’s botulism scare.

Speaking at an Institute of Directors function in the Waikato today, Jack Hodder, QC, said the inquiry team was taken aback by the lack of goodwill between the country’s largest company and politicians.

“That was a huge shock. That was probably the most staggering thing,” the Chapman Tripp partner said. 

“Accidents happen, but the lack of goodwill Fonterra had in Wellington was a real concern.”

Hodder said what goodwill had existed between the two “evaporated” once the botulism scare broke. . .


Rural round-up

November 6, 2013

Fonterra 2.0 – Willy Leferink:

There has been more than a little soul searching by Fonterra’s Board. For all the bad press it gets slammed with locally, I can say from the World Dairy Summit in Japan that Fonterra is not just respected; it is admired by many and even feared by some across the world.

With its independent report on the non-botulism scare, Fonterra’s Board dropped a very big hint that things are going to be different going forward in deeds more than words. Given former act leader Rodney Hide admitted in print this year that “politicians leak all the time,” it must have come as a shock to the media that such a critical and sensitive report was kept tight right up until 2pm last Wednesday.

I didn’t have an advance copy just a general heads up so I raced to the internet at the same time as everybody else. There was no leak and nor was it timed to clash with some other event; Honesty 1 v. Spin Doctors 0. Even the media conference was webcast live for anyone to watch anywhere on earth. I don’t want to sound like a commercial here, but wait, there’s more. Critical parts of the report were translated into key languages so I guess Fonterra’s Board did not want there to be any ambiguity.

Yet the words of Jack Hodder, who chaired Fonterra’s independent board inquiry, sticks in my mind – the biggest thing that needs to change within Fonterra is cultural. . .

 Farmers urged to vote in historic meat co-op elections:

Given strong moves to restructure New Zealand’s red meat sector, Federated Farmers is describing the director elections for Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group as historic.

“If you want empowerment in your farming business then as shareholders you need to vote,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chairperson, newly returned from a World Farmers’ Organisation event in Zambia.

“Set against a backdrop of what could be up to three million fewer lambs and declining stock numbers, future generations of farmers will ask current shareholders how they voted. . . .

New sentencing options for polluters not needed, says minister:

The Government has rejected a suggestion that more flexible sentencing options for judges are needed to help the fight against agricultural polluters

In a speech to the Environmental Compliance Conference this week, Environment Court judge Craig Thompson says more imaginative sentencing options could lead to better outcomes for both the environment and farmers.

Judge Thompson suggests that judges should have the power to shut down the worst offenders altogether.

He says those farmers or farm companies place a huge burden on the enforcement and prosecution resources of councils that are unfortunate enough to have them as ratepayers. . .

Fonterra and Tatua paths might cross in Australian tangle:

Cross-ownership and joint ventures could see two New Zealand rivals working together depending on the outcome of wrangling for ownership of an Australian dairy company.

Dairy companies throughout the world often own a stake in competitors or operate joint ventures, an Australian analyst Jon Hauser of XCheque says.

“There’s a whole range of commercial joint ventures and ownership structures between private companies and private companies, and private companies and co-operatives,” Hauser said. . .

Fleeced: 160 sheep stolen from field near village of Wool – Adam Withnall:

Dorset police are appealing for witnesses after 160 sheep were stolen from a field near the village of Wool.

The rustlers are thought to have had to use a large lorry to move the animals, which were all marked and electronically tagged.

Police said the incident took place between 8am on Saturday 2 November and 2.30pm on Monday, at the field which lies next to the A352 between Wool and the nearby village of East Stoke. . .

 

Gigatown competiton could benefit a rural town:

Farmers see the benefits for their rural town if it were to win Chorus’s year-long competition to bring the fastest broadband speed to one New Zealand town

FWPlus followers tweeted that it could have both indirect and direct benefits for farmers.

“Fantastic urban internet will help rural communities indirectly by helping their towns thrive,” @AaronJMeikle tweeted

The one-gigabit per second broadband speeds – up to 100 times faster than most cities around the globe – would act as a magnet and attract businesses to relocate to that town, he tweeted.

Another direct benefit, he tweeted, was that it would provide services that fitted farmers’ time constraints.

This is why I’m supporting #gigatownoamaru


Rural round-up

October 30, 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.” . . .


Fonterra adds expertise to inquiry panel

August 15, 2013

Fonterra has added more expertise to the panel inquiring in to the contaminated whey protein concentrate.

An independent inquiry into the circumstances of quality issues with a whey protein concentrate (WPC80), announced by Fonterra’s Board early this week, is now underway.

Inquiry Chairman and Fonterra Independent Director Sir Ralph Norris said the first Inquiry Committee meeting held yesterday had confirmed terms of reference for the Inquiry and noted the appointment by the Fonterra Board of a further independent member – Professor Stuart McCutcheon, Vice Chancellor of the University of Auckland – who will join the Committee, effective immediately.

“Professor McCutcheon is a respected New Zealander whose independence, strong credentials as a scientist, and governance experience will further ensure the Inquiry is conducted at the right level and addresses the right questions without fear or favour,” Sir Ralph said.

Professor McCutcheon holds a PhD, has completed post-doctoral work as a Harkness fellow at Cornell University and published extensively in the fields of endocrinology and metabolic physiology. He is a previous Director of the New Zealand Dairy Research Institute, the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research and is presently Chair of the Universities New Zealand Research Committee.

Professor McCutcheon joins retired High Court Judge Dame Judith Potter as the two independent members on the committee, alongside five Fonterra Directors, and Chapman Tripp QC, Jack Hodder, who is undertaking a review of events for the committee.

To assist with technical aspects of this review the WPC80 Inquiry Committee has also confirmed the appointment of an international expert on the manufacturing and safety of foods and food components. He is Jacob Heida, an expert in whey production processes and standards for infant food ingredients and current member of the Disciplinary Committee of the Netherlands Controlling Authority for Milk and Milk Products. . .

This is a high-powered and well qualified group and it needs to be to reassure shareholders, customers and the public.

The inquiry is expected to take about six weeks.


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