Rural round-up

August 11, 2018

Our farmed meat is a green food – Neal Wallace:

Exporters are not shy in promoting New Zealand red meat as grass-fed and free-range but recent studies by Oxford and Otago Universities have lumped our system in with feedlots to claim the industry is environmentally degrading and unsustainable. Neal Wallace investigates the true environmental impact of grass-fed beef.

Work to differentiate the environmental footprint of New Zealand’s pasture-based red meat sector from feedlot systems that have a far greater impact has begun.

Beef + Lamb NZ chief insight officer Jeremy Baker said NZ grass-fed, free-range beef has been included in international studies that claim beef production is a major contributor to climate change. . . 

Fonterra fund units drop to 3-year low as investors grow dark on capital structure – Paul McBeth:

Aug. 10 (BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund units, which gives outside investors exposure to Fonterra Cooperative Group, fell to a three-year low after the latest dividend downgrade added to scepticism about the efficacy of the cooperative’s structure.

The units dropped 2.7 percent to $4.97, adding to a 20 percent slide so far this year, and fell as low as $4.95, a level not seen since September 2015 when Fonterra was hit by a slump in global dairy prices and offered interest-free loans to its farmer shareholders to tide . . 

Fonterra announcement disappointing, definitive plan of action required:

Duncan Coull, Chairman of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Council, has expressed his absolute disappointment with today’s Board decision to reduce the 2017/18 forecast Farmgate Milk Price by five cents to $6.70 per kg/MS in order to support the balance sheet, and the decision to retain more of the Co-op’s earnings which will likely see no further dividend payment to Shareholders over the 10 cents distributed earlier in the year.

Mr Coull: “I can understand the Board’s rationale and that it is prudent to protect the balance sheet, but the fact that we find ourselves in this situation is unacceptable. . .

Fonterra’s credit rating safe but Shareholders’ Council labels payout cut ‘unacceptable‘ – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – S&P Global Ratings said there is no immediate impact on its rating on Fonterra Cooperative Group from the group’s lower farmgate milk price and dividend guidance for the year ended July 31, issued this morning.

However, the Fonterra Shareholders’ Council expressed deep disappointment, saying “the fact that we find ourselves in this situation is unacceptable” and took the unusual step of questioning the cooperative’s value creation record at a time when a new chief executive is being sought and the chairmanship has unexpectedly changed. . . 

Three Rivers catchment group catch up in Southland – Nicole Sharp:

Southland farmers are leading the way in environmental practices and 17 catchment groups are now established in the region. With six more in the wings, and half the region covered, reporter Nicole Sharp looks into some of the achievements to date.

When a group of farmers put their minds to it, anything is possible.

That is how the catchment group idea started in 2013, when some farmers in the Balfour area formed a group. . . 

Canterbury woman Ash-Leigh Campbell elected new chair of NZ Young Farmers Board:

A woman is at the helm of the NZ Young Farmers Board for the first time in 12 years.

Ash-Leigh Campbell was elected chair of the eight-member board yesterday, replacing Jason Te Brake.

The 27-year-old is a technical farm manager with Ngāi Tahu and helps oversee the management of eight dairy farms.

“I feel extremely privileged to be elected chair. I’m really looking forward to the role,” said Ash-Leigh. . .

Cereal yields down but growers remain positive:

Total hectares sown in wheat and barley this season is predicted to decrease by around 8%, but growers are positive about future prospects, Federated Farmers Arable Chairperson Karen Williams says.

Results from the Arable Industry Marketing Initiative (AIMI) July 1 Cereal Survey are out and confirm average yields are down compared to last season. Milling and feed wheat yields were down 12%, malting barley down 9%, feed barley down 10%, milling oats down 17% and feed oats down 6%.

“This is no surprise and reflects variable growing conditions (hot, dry, wet, cold) throughout the key crop establishment periods in late spring and early summer,” Karen says. . . 

Major international agritech announcement expected for NZ

In less than a fortnight, more than 30 New Zealand agritech leaders will make history in Silicon Valley.

They will be part of the international 2018 Silicon Valley agritech immersion programme and Conference, involving Silicon Valley Forum, Tauranga’s Wharf42, Agritech New Zealand, Callaghan Innovation, and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

Agritech New Zealand executive director Peter Wren-Hilton says the four-year-old Silicon Valley agritech connection will have a significant and long-term impact on New Zealand’s emerging agritech sector. . . 

Kerrygold butter is being taken to court over ‘false’ grass-fed cows claim – Katie Grant:

Customer can’t believe it’s not butter made from exclusively grass-fed cows

The company behind Kerrygold butter is facing legal action for advertising its products as being made from the milk of grass-fed cows.

A US customer has taken umbrage with the butter maker, hitting it with a class action lawsuit claiming that Kerrygold has “misled” consumers, leaving them “unable to exercise their right to choose grass-fed products”.

Kerrygold cow diet Kerrygold cows are fed grass, but not exclusively – they also eat various grains such as soy and corn at certain times of the year, according to Dyami Myers-Taylor, the customer in question. . .


Young Farmers and future ag benefit from bequest

July 13, 2017

A media release from Young Farmers announces the bequest of a farm to the organisation:

NZ Young Farmers have been donated a 74-hectare farm in Auckland and will use it as a vehicle to showcase agriculture to New Zealand youth.
Located between Manurewa and Whitford, the dairy farm was generously donated by the late Donald Pearson.
NZ Young Farmers CEO Terry Copeland said the farm would be a vehicle into the future and will offer exponential opportunities in displaying a wide range of industries including, horticulture, dairy and sheep and beef operations.
“This is not a money making exercise for NZ Young Famers but rather an amazing opportunity to further our emphasis on engaging with students in Auckland schools to showcase the vast array of careers available in the Agri-sector.”
Although details are yet to be finalised, Mr Copeland said he expected the farm to be a doorway to innovative technology and a masterclass in the future of farming.
“There is enormous possibilities and we are excited about the partnerships this will bring across the industry to communicate the opportunities the sector can offer New Zealand’s youth.
To have this facility in the heart of Auckland presented a substantial asset the industry needs and will play a significant in the Ministry of Primary Industries target of attracting an extra 50 000 employees to the sector by 2025.”
Recently Mr Copeland spoke of the need to make Auckland the next emphasis for attracting youth into Agri-food careers.
“How do we engage with the next generation in Auckland? Currently 39 per cent of all high school students in New Zealand reside in Auckland and only 29 per cent of all students reside in rural areas, so we have a real problem and this farm will give us a solution.”
Mr Copeland said NZ Young Farmers through its PGP partnership with DairyNZ and RMPP funding, is constantly working with urban schools to sell a positive message around Agri careers and the farm would add stronger foundations to that message.
“We will be able to let as many students as possible visit, explore and view the incredible opportunities this sector offers.”
The gift itself was extraordinary, because Mr Pearson (who has no children of his own) had no formal relationship with NZ Young Farmers, he said.
“But he knew he didn’t want his land carved up and sold off to residential housing. His passion for agriculture and belief in the organisation to use it to bring people into the sector has left a legacy that all of the Agri-sector will celebrate for decades to come.”
Donald’s friend Bryan said he and his Father in Law, Graham were keen to help NZ Young Farmers to set up the farm because they wanted to realise his dream.
The gift would ensure the farm’s future, with Bryan reporting he had already had one developer approach them.
“Donald initially didn’t know what he wanted to do with the farm if he died, but he knew what he didn’t want to happen, which was to have it end up all subdivided.”
NZ Young Farmers chairperson Jason Te Brake was excited about the opportunities the farm now afforded the organisation.
“The gifting of the farm was an extremely generous donation by Donald, and one which will play a significant role in allowing NZ Young Farmers to continue to connect and develop the future people of the primary industries. The farm is intended to showcase the primary industries to New Zealand youth, and this aligns perfectly with NZ Young Farmers strategic direction and compliments the rewarding results we are already achieving through our school based programmes.”
The farm will begin trading under NZ Young Farmers from September.

This farm would be worth about $3 million in the country. It’s development potential in Auckland  would make it even more valuable.

This is a very generous bequest and provides a wonderful opportunity for Young Farmers to close the urban-rural divide.

Agriculture, horticulture and supporting industries are in desperate need of staff yet they aren’t seen as attractive career opportunities by many city-raised young people.

This farm will help Young Farmers show case agriculture and horticulture to city kids and open their eyes to work and business opportunities.

It will also help teach them that farming can be sustainable – economically, socially and environmentally.


Rural round-up

November 10, 2015

Chefs see food as much more than a commodity – Rebecca Ryan:

There’s a new movement gaining momentum in the New Zealand food industry. ConversatioNZ, aiming to ”inspire and empower” by creating a strong sense of pride and respect for the country’s natural, edible resources, is a not-for-profit movement created to share the story of New Zealand food and push culinary boundaries. North Otago reporter Rebecca Ryan talks to North Otago chefs and ConversatioNZ advisory board members Bevan Smith and Fleur Sullivan about it

Thirteen years ago, Fleur Sullivan saw waste and an opportunity for people to enjoy ”beautiful, fresh fish” straight off the boats in Moeraki.

Her restaurant Fleur’s Place, she says, was formed after she saw the byproduct – the fish brains, the heads, the livers – being thrown overboard from fishing boats and she knew she could use what was being thrown away. . . 

Te Brake hits the accelerator – Ali Tocker:

Changing the guard at Young Farmers has propelled meat industry accountant Jason Te Brake into the hot seat as chairman. He talked to Ali Tocker about his career so far and his aspirations for the Young Farmers movement while he heads the board.

Jason Te Brake is clever, confident and committed – three qualities that have earned him the role of chairman of New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF).

The 27-year-old has his sights set on a strong and secure future for the group.

Woman’s passion for health and safety leads to award:

A passion for improving health and safety on New Zealand farms, and in particular the health of those working in the industry, has contributed to a West Coast farmer being named the winner of the rural category of the Women of Influence Award.

Katie Milne, a dairy farmer from Rotomanu, is also a member of the Federated Farmers Board, the National Animal Welfare Advisory Board, TB-Free West Coast and numerous other groups, including being a volunteer firefighter.

Ms Milne works closely with the Rural Health Alliance and travels the country talking to farmers about health and safety.

She said some farmers were not coping due to low or dropping returns, but help was available. . . 

Water scheme expanding down valley – Hamish Maclean:

The North Otago Irrigation Company’s $57 million expansion down the Kakanui Valley is well under way.

Last month, McConnell Dowell Constructors crews began laying the main line – 1.2m-diameter reinforced fibreglass pipes – that will stretch towards Herbert.

The company almost tripled the size of the head pond on Ngapara-Georgetown Rd and upgraded pump stations over the winter.

The project was still on target for the September 2016 hook-up, company chairman Leigh Hamilton said. . . .

Significantly Improved Result Confirmed for Silver Fern Farms:

Silver Fern Farms has confirmed a positive 2015 financial result and further inroads made on debt reduction.

For the financial year ended September 2015, the company achieved Earnings before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation (EBITDA) of $86.9m. This represented a 28 percent improvement on the $68.1m achieved in 2014. Net profit before tax for the year was $27.2m, up from $1.8m in 2014.

Chairman Rob Hewett said Silver Fern Farms’ shareholders will be pleased by the audited result. . . .

Potatoes ditch cadmium:

University of Canterbury researchers have developed potatoes that are resistant to cadmium, a toxic metal found in soil.

They say the finding could give growers here a new marketing edge.

Biotechnology lecturer Dr David Leung said their potatoes had a trait that could solve this problem and enhance New Zealand’s best potato varieties. . . 

 


Rural round-up

September 7, 2015

Drones monitor Fiordland’s rainbow trout – Hamish Clark:

Fish & Game is using drones to monitor prized rainbow trout spawning at one of the world’s top fishing spots.

The remote location is the Upper Waiau River, which runs from Lake Te Anau and borders Fiordland National Park.

At the moment fishing is off-limits, as the trout are busy spawning and burying their fertilised eggs. . . 

World-first Kiwi technology can be a big boost to lucrative forestry industry:

A Christchurch company believes it can add tens of millions of dollars to the multi-billion forest industry by cutting-edge hi-tech testing to find out which trees are suitable for the booming housing and building construction markets.

Fibre-gen has produced a world-first harvester head mounted sonic tool, the HITMAN PH330, which measures the strength of trees to see if they are suitable or not for high-end building construction. There are no known direct competitors in the global market as yet.

Fibre-gen is the leader in forest wood segregation sonic technology tools and was a finalist at the 2015 New Zealand Hi-Tech Awards. It has entered the New Zealand Innovators Award, with finalists being named next week on September 10. It is also a finalist in the 2015 Champion Canterbury Business Innovation Awards with winners being named in Christchurch on September 16. . . 

New Chairman leads New Zealand Young Farmers into the future

Jason Te Brake has been elected the new Chairman for New Zealand Young Farmers. Mr Te Brake takes the helm after Cole Groves stepped down after two years in the role.

Mr Te Brake has served on the Board as an elected member since May 2013, in this time he has taken on the role of Vice-Chairman and the Chairman of the National Committee of New Zealand Young Farmers. Mr Te Brake joined Young Farmers in 2010, and while he first joined with social intentions, Jason quickly found his way into governance. . . 

Community groups receive $918,000 in War on Weeds funding:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has announced a $918,000 commitment to the War on Weeds through this year’s round of Community Conservation Partnerships Fund grants.

$500,000 will go to a significant joint programme run by Weedbusters NZ and the QEII National Trust, and will be used to fund voluntary weedbusting efforts by community groups, alongside regional and local councils.

An additional $418,000 will go to other projects tackling problem plants such as old man’s beard, banana passionfruit and other members of the Dirty Dozen weeds launched on August 27. . .

‘Young Hort’ winner calls for more primary industry diversification:

The downturn in prices confronting dairy farmers is a timely reminder to those in horticulture to consider crop diversification now, while kiwifruit, pipfruit and wine exports are booming.

Outgoing New Zealand Young Horticulturist of the Year (YHOY) title holder and Whangarei kiwifruit grower, Patrick Malley, believes local farmers can learn from the diversification practices of their Californian counterparts.

Malley was speaking after just having returned from a fact finding travel scholarship to the United States, which was part of his prize for winning the NZ Young Horticulturist of the Year 2014 competition.

While the dairy industry is at the bottom of its commodity cycle, the kiwifruit and pipfruit industries arebooming, making it a good time to think about diversifying crop types to spread risk and create stability through commodity cycles. . . 

Let Ballance get your career started:

Soil scientists, engineers and farmers to vets, bankers and regulators, there are a wide range of careers which Ballance Agri-Nutrients is proud to support with its annual scholarship programme.

Warwick Catto, Science Strategy Manager at Ballance said the co-operative was always excited to see student talent interested in primary industry careers.

“The recent unprecedented interest in our dairy and red meat sectors sets the backdrop for the importance the sector has on New Zealand’s future growth and our place in the world.” . . 

Zespri launches new $15,000 scholarships:

Zespri has announced two new $15,000 scholarships to encourage New Zealand’s top secondary students to pursue a career in New Zealand’s fast-growing kiwifruit industry.

Zespri General Manager Grower & External Relations Dave Courtney explains that Zespri is looking to support and encourage tomorrow’sleaders into the horticulture sector.

“Kiwifruit is a global business; our industry earned $1.6 billion in sales revenue last year and we’re set to grow strongly over coming years. . . 

Canterbury Dairy Farmers Thrive On Environment Competition Experience:

Ashburton sharemilkers Sara and Stuart Russell have always strived to make their dairy operation as sustainable as possible. Entering the Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards helped them confirm they were on the right track.

“We wanted to see how our business compared with others, and we wanted to find out what we could do to improve in future,” says Sara.

She and Stuart, a former builder, 50:50 sharemilk 700 cows on 252ha (effective), south of Ashburton. The farm is owned by Sara’s parents Rick and Diana Bourke via the Bourke Family Trust.

The Russells entered the 2015 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) and won the LIC Dairy Farm Award in their first time in the competition. . . 

Free service boosts feed efficiency for dairy farmers:

In a bid to help dairy farmers in tight times, GrainCorp Feeds has announced that 150 clients nationwide will receive free access to a feed forecasting, tracking and monitoring service.

GrainCorp Feeds is working with technical specialists DairyClub to provide additional on-farm assessment, monitoring and technical support alongside Tracker™, an online tool which measures current milk production and shows how the farmer can use supplementary feed to achieve maximum return.

GrainCorp Feeds general manager Daniel Calcinai says to increase income from milk production, farmers have to feed strategically, which means the right feed at the right time. . . 


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