Rural round-up

February 9, 2017

Synlait increases forecast milk price to $6.25 kgMS:

Synlait Milk has increased their forecast milk price from $6.00 kgMS to $6.25 kgMS for the 2016 / 2017 season.

“International dairy commodity prices have improved further since our last announcement in November and although prices have eased slightly in early 2017, we believe $6.25 kgMS is now a realistic estimate for the current season,” said Graeme Milne, Chairman.

Mr Milne said global dairy production, with the exception of the United States, has continued to decrease and followed the trend of previous months. . . 

Stu Muir brings life to dying wetlands – Kate Guthrie:

Stu Muir is a Waikato dairy farmer and, in contrast to some of the headline-grabbing stories you may have read about dairy farmers, Stu and his family are putting a huge effort into restoring natural waterways on their block. Such is the magnitude of their effort and the success of their project,that they even featured on the 50th Anniversary episode of ‘Country Calendar’.

Stu’s family have been farming in New Zealand since the 1850s. On a block of land his great great grandparents
bought back in the 1890s, there is a swamp and until recently that swamp was clogged with willows and pampas – so badly blocked that you couldn’t move through the stream. Water couldn’t move either and with no current flowing through the wetland was full of pondweed and dead or dying throughout. . . 

‘You can’t afford to have a short-term view’ – Maja Burry:

A ban on collecting shellfish and seaweed species in Kaikōura has left some pāua divers jobless – but they are still supporting a government proposal to extend the closure further.

The Kaikōura earthquake lifted parts of the seabed by up to four metres, exposing thousands of pāua and other sealife to dehydration and prompting the fisheries closure.

The current ban is due to expire on 20 February, but the Ministry for Primary Industries has been seeking feedback on its plan to extend it another nine months. . . 

Trump vs. global supply chains: US agriculture edition – James Pethokoukis:

Donald Trump wants to rework NAFTA to somehow bring back manufacturing jobs. (Reality check here.) But I guess it isn’t just factories that have complex, enmeshed supply chains. US agriculture has a big stake in possible re-negotiations, too. From the FT:

Corn is the biggest of the US’s $17.7bn in agricultural exports to Mexico, a value that has risen fivefold since the countries signed the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexico’s exports to the US have grown even faster to $21bn, led by fruits and vegetables such as lemons and avocados. … The US president has pledged to revise Nafta, wall off the border and possibly slap Mexican imports with tariffs. Trade in agriculture could end up a casualty. … Mexico is the third biggest destination for exported US farm products. They range from corn and wheat to dairy foods and high-fructose corn syrup. . . 

Manuka honey’s reputation hit by Queen’s grocer’s move – industry:

The reputation of manuka honey has taken a hit after the Queen’s official grocer pulled it from its shelves, says the local industry.

Fortnum-and-Mason removed the New Zealand-made product, after testing showed it had lower-than-expected levels of a key ingredient.

John Rawcliffe, from the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association, said he did not know who supplied the honey to the upmarket grocer. . . 

  First round of Regional Awards finalists announced:

The 2017 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards is in full swing, with judging underway and the first regional finalists announced.

The awards, which oversee the Share Farmer of the Year, Dairy Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions, received 424 entries.

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, DairyNZ, DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra Farm Source, Honda Motorcycles, LIC, Meridian Energy, and Ravensdown, along with industry partner Primary ITO. . .

Tough contest for dairy industry scholars:

DairyNZ has awarded 55 scholarships to Lincoln, Massey and Waikato university students as part of a wider drive to support motivated young talent into the dairy industry.

The annual scholarships were awarded to students undertaking degrees in agriculture or related fields, with a particular interest in the dairy industry.

Susan Stokes, DairyNZ industry education facilitator, says the quality of applications this year was exceptionally high and bodes well for future talent coming into the dairy industry. . .

Final Results for Karaka 2017:

New Zealand Bloodstock’s 91st National Yearling Sales Series concluded on Sunday after six action-packed days of selling.

The increased international presence at Karaka 2017 was a highlight of the Sale Series, with purchasers from nine countries including Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Ireland, Great Britain, and Japan securing purchases through the three Sale sessions.

Spend by the Australian buying bench increased by over $5.6 million (+18%) on last year’s edition with receipts totalling $36.9 million for 290 horses purchased (up from 251 in 2016). . . 

Blooming marvellous… New Zealand’s biggest commercial nursery placed on the market for sale:

The land, buildings and business making up New Zealand’s biggest commercial wholesale plant and shrub nursery have been placed on the market for sale.

Growing Spectrum is a 9.635 hectare ‘all-in-one’ seedling, nursery and potting operation at Kihikihi near Te Awamutu in Southern Waikato. The business grows more than half-a-million plants for sale annually – supplying virtually all of New Zealand’s garden centres and selected home improvement mega store outlets.

The family owned and operated business was established 40 years by husband and wife horticultural entrepreneurs Peter and Carol Fraser. It now employs 36 full-time staff, with the company’s sales growing consistently over the past three completed financial years – reaching $4.76 million in the 2015/2016 period. . . 


Rural round-up

July 19, 2016

Tool for easy environment planning – Rebecca Harper:

Onfarm environmental planning has just got easier with the launch of a new cloud-based software programme, AgFirst Landbase.

AgFirst consultant Erica van Reenen developed the programme in conjunction with FarmIQ after being asked time and again whether an online tool to help with land and environment planning existed – it didn’t, until now.

Using van Reenen’s knowledge and FarmIQ’s information technology capability was a perfect match. . .

Greenpeace’s deadly war on science – Bjorn Lomborg:

Is Greenpeace committing a crime against humanity?

A letter from 110 Nobel laureates suggests as much. It urges the environmental group to drop its campaign against genetically modified foods, particularly so-called “Golden Rice,” which could help prevent millions of deaths in the developing world.

Calling GMOs food “Frankenfood” is a brilliant scare-mongering term, heavily promoted by Greenpeace. But it has no basis in reality. . . 

Let’s not leave Silver Fern Farms stranded – Stephen Jacks:

As I take time to consider my vote in the upcoming Silver Fern Farms special general meeting on the 50-50 joint venture with Shanghai Maling, my thoughts are around what the future may look like either way.

What we know is that the challenges facing farmers are large.  The challenges of profitably negotiating our way through the physical, climatic, financial and market vagaries appear to be amplified of late.   I don’t envisage the scale of excellence and adaptation required to survive and thrive to diminish anytime soon.

We have a choice before us: To join with Shanghai Maling or not.  . . 

School paddocks nurture future farmers – Rob Tipa:

Senior pupils of Waitaki Boys’ High School’s primary production course see their future in farming, so attending one of the country’s few schools with its own farm is a definite attraction.

Seven out of 10 senior students who spoke to the NZ Farmer were boarders at Waitaki, mostly from sheep and beef farming families from around Fairlie, Methven, Mayfield, Millers Flat and the West Coast.

Waitaki Boys has a proud history and reputation as a fine school but several students said the school farm was a key factor that brought them to boarding school in Oamaru. . .

How we are innovating our way to cheaper land prices – James Pethokoukis:

They aren’t making any more land, at least on this planet. But technology is, in effect, increasing the long-term supply of land. Robert Shiller:

This 20th-century miracle in agricultural science greatly improved crop yields per acre. From the standpoint of farm output, there was no need for new land. This revolution involved the discovery by Fritz Haber of a cheap process to produce ammonia for fertilizer at the beginning of the century and the discovery of new high-yield strains of wheat by Norman E. Borlaug at midcentury. Both men won Nobel Prizes for their work. These innovations permitted multiplication of yields per acre and very likely saved hundreds of millions of lives from starvation worldwide. . . 

Leading exporter sets benchmark for food safety and brand protection:

New Zealand’s largest vertically-integrated grower, packer and exporter of twenty-five per cent of this country’s apples has taken a bold step to scientifically guarantee the integrity of its produce.

Mr. Apple has signed a three year contract with Dunedin-based Oritain to combat what has become a proliferation of food fraud in the export industry, and safeguard the security of its supply-chain.

Mr. Apple CEO Andrew van Workum says that having his apples 100% traceable from orchard to store is a lynchpin of the Mr. Apple brand, and adds critical value to the relationship it has with growers, suppliers and consumers. . . 

 


Road blocks to family life

October 11, 2014

Is helping middle class families social engineering?

James Pethokoukis asks the question and provides his answer:

One frequently mentioned criticism of the plan in “Room to Grow” to dramatically expand the child tax credit* is that it’s somehow “social engineering.” But as Bob Stein, the author of that chapter, has patiently pointed out, the expansion would actually help offset the anti-family “social engineering” of current government policy and make Americans less dependent on government.

Anyway, all this talk of “social engineering” reminded me of a passage in “Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II” by George Weigel (bold is mine):

Perhaps the hardest-fought battle between Church and [Poland’s] regime involved family life, for the communists understood that men and women secure in the love of their families were a danger. Housing, work schedules, and school hours were all organized by the state to separate parents from their children as frequently as possible. Apartments were constructed to accommodate only small families, so that children would be regarded as a problem. Work was organized in four shifts and families were rarely together. The workday began at 6 or 7 a.m., so children had to be consigned to state-run child-care centers before school. The schools themselves were consolidated, and children were moved out of their local communities for schooling.

Now that’s social engineering. I guess my point here is that policy reformers should think carefully about the roadblocks government inadvertently puts up to Americans conducting a healthy family life. Maybe that’s tax policy. Maybe it’s welfare policy. . . .

I am not a fan of Working for Families when it is given to people earning well above the average wage.

However, I do accept it has a place at the lower end of the wage scale to ensure families are better off with a parent in work than on welfare.

Anecdotal evidence says it discourages  a second parent from seeking work because what’s earned is cancelled out by what’s lost in steep abatements from WFF.

If financial reward was a major consideration in the parent seeking work that could be the case.

Another issue which impacts on family life is the push for urban development which promotes infill-housing and going up rather than out.

Going up results in apartment blocks and in-fill housing – both usually have hardly any outside areas for relaxation and play which families need.

That is the norm in many other countries and isn’t a problem if there are plenty of public recreation areas which isn’t always the case.

The concern people have over the ageing population is not just a function of the post-war baby-boom. It’s a function of people having fewer or no children since then.

How many children people have, or if they have any at all, is entirely their business.

However, governments can influence that by policies which are or aren’t family friendly.

WFF is family friendly although it gives support to some who might not need it.

Sole parent benefits do support families in need, but they can also sabotage family relationships if the state is a better bread-winner than the absent parent.


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