Rural round-up

11/07/2020

Farmers paying on land lost to erosion – Mike Houlahan:

Farmers whose properties are alongside the Waitaki River are irate they are being charged rates on land which has been washed away.

Waimate farmer Gert van’t Klooster lost 4ha of farmland when Meridian Energy spilled water from its hydro-electric storage on the Waitaki in December.

While Mr van’t Klooster could accept that Meridian was operating within its consent, he said he found it much harder to pay Environment Canterbury rates on land which was no longer part of his property.

“I have a bill now from ECan on land which isn’t there. It doesn’t generate any income, and there are mortgages to pay on that land, too,” he said. . .

Slight dip in 2019-20 milk collection – Sudesh Kissun:

Fonterra’s milk collection last season was slightly down as North Island farmers faced a crippling drought.

However, the 2.1% dip in North Island milk was offset by the South Island where full season collection was up 2.1%.

The cooperative’s total milk production in 2019-20 reached 1,517 million kgMS, down 0.4% on the previous season.

Full season collection for the North Island was 874.6 million kgMS and for the South Island, 642.5 million kgMS. . .

Couple’s flexible approach paying off  – Yvonne O’Hara:

Waimumu sheep and beef farmers Jason and Debbie Smith have a “take it as it comes” approach to farming and it is paying off — despite their operation being affected by Covid-19.

The couple have a 747ha property and this year are fattening 23,000 store lambs as well as running 200 beef cattle under Smith Farming 2018 Ltd, a move made as part of their succession planning.

That is in addition to the 7000 lambs they bred themselves. . .

Agritech has a plan – Tony Benny:

The New Zealand agritech sector is pushing ahead with ambitious plans to grow its exports with $11.4 million Budget funding and despite covid-19 disruption.

Though the launch of the Agritech Industry Transformation Plan in April had to be delayed work has continued behind the scenes to realise the Government’s desire to take NZ farming technology to the world.

“We’ve been talking to the Government pretty much every week over the past three months about the plan,” Agritech NZ executive director Peter Wren-Hilton says. . .

Grain deal gets over the line – Annette Scott:

The arable sector’s biosecurity partnership has been signed.

Five key members have joined forces to form Seed and Grain Readiness and Response to work with the Government to protect the industry from new weed, pest and disease incursions. 

Federated Farmers, the Foundation for Arable Research, the Flour Millers Association, the Grain and Seed Trade Association and United Wheat Growers spent years discussing signing the Government-Industry Agreement for Biosecurity Readiness and Response. . . 

Lockdown reading lessons from New Zealand – John Elliot:

One positive of lockdown is that it has given us the most valuable currency of all which is time,” Katie Piper.

For me, a member of the ‘vulnerable age group’, Covid-19 hasn’t been all bad.

I’ve dusted off the dumb-bells, watched some fabulous programmes on Sky TV and caught up with my reading. Many of the books have been in my possession for years unread.

Some I have read several times. Two of the more interesting came from New Zealand. Their titles, ‘The Intuitive Farmer’ and ‘The Resilient Farmer’ hint at their contents. . .


Rural round-up

21/09/2019

New water policies will hobble farmers – Simon Davies:

Farmers are being hamstrung by well-meaning but poorly targeted regulation, writes Simon Davies of Otago Federated Farmers.

Today, while crutching my breeding rams, I was considering the latest policy package from central government.

To be fair there was not a lot of constructive thought undertaken, as this task is a fairly intense activity as those of you who have done it know. For those of you who have not, crutching rams (removing the wool around the tail and between the legs for hygiene purposes) is a bit like wrestling 80 to 100kg sacks of potatoes that fight back.

As I was struggling with a sore back, the term hamstrung came to mind. . .

How did farmers become public enemy number one? – Rachael Kelly:

Last November, Southland dairy farmer Jason Herrick contemplated taking his own life.

A wet spring had turned his farm to mud, his family was “going through some stuff” and anti-farming messages on social media all affected his self-worth.

They’re our number one export producers, an industry that was once seen as the proud back-bone of the nation.

But farmers are almost becoming ashamed of what they do because they’re being attacked from all fronts, Herrick says. . . .

No quick change to farm systems – Pam Tipa::

People don’t appreciate how difficult it is to change farm systems quickly, says Pāmu chief executive Steven Carden.

“They are difficult biological systems and people who are not in farming expect you to be able to switch on the new system overnight,” he told Dairy News.

“It takes a long time to get those changes right, to embed the new technologies in farm systems to make them work effectively. Farmers fundamentally are small business people who can’t risk their entire business with a big shift in how they operate one year to the next. . .

They like you – Luke Chivers:

Public perceptions of farming are more positive than farmers think, a survey shows.

“The strong theme we have heard from farmers in the past is that they do not feel well-liked by their urban counterparts. However, when you poll the general population, this is simply not true,” UMR research executive director Marc Elliot says.

UMR surveyed more than 1000 people last month and found the response at odds with the view held by many in primary industries. 

New Zealanders are almost five times as likely to hold a positive view of sheep and beef farming than a negative one, the research showed. . .

Tractor protest on Saturday – Hugh Stringleman:

Northland farmers have been asked to join a tractor protest over the costs and effects of Government regulations.

Protest organiser and dairy farmer Mark Dawson said the event will be on the southern side of Ruawai township in the Kaipara District between 11am and 1pm on Saturday.

It will be a symbolic protest aimed at what he believes will be the horrendous effects on farming of the proposed freshwater legislation.

Northland MP Matt King, National, has promised support along with Kaipara mayor and beef farmer Jason Smith. . .

ORC candidates quizzed on future of farming :

How do candidates standing for the Otago Regional Council see the future of farming in Otago? That question and others has been posed to all candidates by Southern Rural Life ahead of next month’s local body election. It is shaping up to be an interesting election, with 28 people vying for 12 positions.

All candidates were asked by Southern Rural Life to respond to the following questions and their responses are below (responses were not received from Matt Kraemer, Andrew Noone, Gail May-Sherman and Gordon Dickson)

Question 1
Why are you standing for council?

Question 2
How do you see the future of farming in Otago?

Question 3
Good management practice and improvements to some farming activities will be needed if Otago’s water aspirations are to be achieved. What approach to regulation and rules do you support and where do you think partnerships,  incentives and industry support might fit in (if at all)?

Question 4
Do you think there should be discretion for regional councils to determine local solutions for local issues or should a centralized response always apply instead? . . .

c


6th generation heads H&Js

25/08/2013

The sixth generation of the Smith family is taking over the reins of H & J Smith.

One of the South Island’s most prominent businessmen is ‘handing over the mantle’ of the family business after 31 years at the helm.

H&J Smith Holdings Ltd Chairman John Ward, on behalf of the board of directors, has announced that Managing Director Acton Smith has stepped down and his eldest son Jason Smith will take over the role.

Acton Smith, 66, said he and Jason had spent the past few years working on a succession plan and that he was “extremely proud” to hand over to his son, confident in the ability of the next generation to meet new challenges with the support of key people in the company.

Jason, 43, will be the sixth-generation Smith family member to take over the reins since the first store was opened in Dee Street, Invercargill, by brother-and-sister team Helen and John William Smith at the turn of the last century.

Helen, the store’s first manager, doubled the business and opened another store in Gore in 1905. She was succeeded by John after she died in the flu epidemic of 1919 and John went on to take the business successfully through the depression.

John’s son Jock became Managing Director in 1960. Jock retired in 1982 when Acton took over the role.

More than 110 years on and the H&J Smith brand is a Southland success story, a family business that employs more than 400 people with five H&J Smith and two Mitre 10 branches across Southland and Queenstown.

 Acton Smith said he was fortunate to have had 10 years’ preparation and close involvement working with Jason as his father had done before him, so felt confident handing over the family business, wishing him the same rewards, successes and support that he had enjoyed.

“Since he built and ran the ‘element’ sports store in Queenstown on behalf of the family and went on to develop our Mitre 10 and Mitre 10 Mega programme, Jason has become more and more involved with the ownership and direction of the family business and comes to the Managing Director position with the confidence and goodwill of the directors and family,” said Mr Smith.

“The last 30 years have been extremely challenging.

“I pride myself in the fact that the company has been nimble enough to outlast the great rural meltdown that occurred as a result of Rogernomics, 1987’s share market crash, the collapse of the Asian business market and of course the global financial crisis of 2008.

“But now new challenges, regulations and technology require a new set of management techniques and a willingness to explore and try new options.”

While Acton Smith said he and Jason had been planning for the handover for some time, it was a serious bout of pneumonia on a recent holiday in Fiji that finally made up his mind.

“That was the cue card for me to exit stage right, hand over the day-to-day running of the business to Jason, dedicate my time to finishing off the big Stadium Southland project, and smell the roses.”

The move was approved by the H&J Smith Holdings board on August 15. Acton Smith will remain a lifetime director of the company.

Jason Smith described his father as a colleague, coach and mentor, whose numerous achievements he was extremely proud of.

“Acton has unselfishly committed over 40 years to H&J Smith Limited, the Southland Building Society, Mitre 10 (NZ) Limited, and the Stadium Southland Trust as well as to the Southland and wider New Zealand business community,” he said.

“He’s been an excellent role model who has provided me with sound advice, clear guidance as required, and has supported my development throughout these years.”

Jason said he was thrilled to lead the company into a new era, with the same unwavering commitment and enthusiasm that his father brought to the role.

Major projects underway include pursuing resource consent applications to build a MEGA Store in Queenstown, and introduce new POS and merchandising systems into H&J Smith and Outdoor World. In Invercargill, the company is developing the old Mitre 10 Store to relocate the Invercargill Outdoor World Store into a new large store and is redeveloping the third floor of the original H&J Smith store.

The company operates five H&J Smith stores in Invercargill, Gore, Remarkables Park, Balclutha and Te Anau, two H&J’s Outdoor World stores in Invercargill and Remarkables Park, two Mitre 10 Stores including Mitre 10 MEGA Invercargill and Remarkables Park Mitre 10 (franchised) as well as Paper Plus Invercargill (Franchise) inside the Invercargill store, Take Note (Franchise) inside the Gore store and H&J’s Electrical Limited.

In a message to staff Acton Smith paid tribute to all those he had worked with over the years for “sharing his dreams and aspirations.”

“I’ve been privileged over my time to have worked with a group of outstanding people who brought to this organisation commitment, hard work, strong ethical behaviour and an absolute willingness to go the extra mile during the challenges we faced.

“Together we have left an organisation that is stronger and better placed than from the day I joined it.”

H & J’s is a Southland institution. It’s longevity owes a lot to the values and leadership of successive generations of the Smith family.


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