Rural round-up

April 15, 2018

Water schemes left high and dry – Annette Scott:

The canning of Crown funding for water schemes is a “kick in the guts” for rural communities, especially when six regions have been declared in drought this year, National Party agriculture spokesman Nathan Guy says.

“This Government has now raided $100 million and effectively pulled the plug on any lifeline for rural communities,” Guy said.

“These projects, such as Hunter Downs and Hurunui, are about rural communities providing for much wider regional development and what needs to be remembered is that this Crown funding is not a grant. It’s a loan and it’s all paid back. . . 

Jeff Grant becomes Kiwi meat’s Brexit rep:

OSPRI and AgResearch chairman Jeff Grant has been appointed at the meat industry’s Brexit representative to be based in London.

On behalf of Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association the former National MP will provide the red meat sector’s response to Brexit.

Grant will work closely with B+LNZ’s Europe representative, the Government and commercial interests to help strengthen the red meat sector’s ties with the United Kingdom and safeguard NZ’s exports to the key market. . . 

Ploughing with horses luck of the draw – Nicole Sharp:

Straight and steady is the aim of the game, but it is no easy task with Anna and Nugget, who have minds of their own.

The two Clydesdales are part of Sean Leslie and Casey Rae’s horse ploughing team, from Middlemarch, which will be competing at the New Zealand Ploughing Championships in Thornbury this weekend.

They are one of six horse teams competing in the event and they will attempt to plough the straightest, neatest and tidiest plot, but a lot of it was luck of the draw, Mr Leslie said.

“It does depend on soil conditions and being able to tackle it and master it.” . . 

Auckland Council rates policy fails to value private land conservation:

Auckland Council is proposing to remove rates remission for privately owned land protected by QEII covenants.

QEII National Trust CEO Mike Jebson says “we are submitting against Auckland Council’s proposed policy. This policy discourages landowners from protecting natural heritage areas on their properties and fails to support protection of biodiversity on private land in the region.”

“QEII covenants often protect the habitat of threatened indigenous species, and provide corridors linking larger areas of private and public land set aside for conservation. The work landowners do in protecting their land, like excluding stock from the protected area, is critical in encouraging regeneration of native vegetation.” . . 

NZX targets ‘natural advantage’ in primary industries with new index, dairy derivatives expansion – Paul McBeth;

(BusinessDesk) – NZX wants to capture New Zealand’s “natural advantage” in the primary sector with a new index tracking listed industry players and build on the early success of its dairy derivatives market, says chief executive Mark Peterson.

The Wellington-based company is in the process of refocusing on its core market business to revive investor interest in the capital markets. Among those initiatives is a drive to capture New Zealand’s comparative advantage in agriculture and horticulture, and Peterson told shareholders at today’s annual meeting in Christchurch a new index will be launched in the second quarter including stocks such as a2 Milk Co, Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund, Comvita, New Zealand King Salmon, Scales Corp, Sanford, and Seeka. . . 

Working Lands: A Missouri farmer saves prairie and grassland birds – Joel Vance:

Tom Smith’s anthem could be “Don’t Fence Me In,” except that he has a fencing company. His customers can be bizarre; one wanted a 10-foot fence to protect his garden from starving mobs fleeing Kansas City and St. Louis, which, he was convinced, would burn to the ground within two years.

But most are more ordinary landowners to whom Smith, a 63-year-old cattleman, preaches the value of native grass. Smith raises about 90 grass-fed feeder calves on 627 leased acres of Hi Lonesome Prairie, a state-owned property near his Cole Camp, Missouri, home. “When I found a neighbor was planning to plow a patch of big bluestem,” Smith says, “I told him, ‘Oh, man, don’t plow that. What you’ve got there is native prairie.’ . . 

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Rural round-up

July 17, 2017

Susatainability key to role as new AgResearch leader – Sally Rae:

The big thrust for AgResearch in the future has to be around farm and environmental sustainability issues, new chairman Jeff Grant says.

His focus would be continuing to build on AgResearch’s ability to deliver science that was “highly relevant” to the future of farming.

Regional council changes, in a bid to get better outcomes around land and water, would force AgResearch to provide the science to ‘‘get the answers’’ and the tools for farmers.

“I see the organisation as being the lead provider of answers that allow farmers to meet the expectations for producing high quality food in natural and sustainable environments, while also being able to run a viable business. . .

Cattle grazing on river edges keeps weed ‘shambles’ down on extensive farms – Bob Todhunter:

With alI the bad publicity our rivers are receiving I feel the general public is confused between extensive and intensive grazing.

I would like to make some observations about stock grazing alongside waterways. I am no scientist, however I do have 70-plus years of practical observation.

I remember being taught fishing by my grandfather in the 1950s on the rivers of the Canterbury Plains when sheep and cattle were grazed extensively by the riverbeds. . .

Pine tree seedlings in short supply after poor growing season  – Jill Galloway:

A shortage of pine tree seedlings after a poor growing season for tree nurseries has hit some forest owners and farm foresters.

Patrick Murray ,who is owner of Murray’s Nurseries at Woodville in Tararua, said he had turned down orders of 1.2 million pines.

“We grew around five million pinus radiata but could easily have sold more. It has been a wet summer and poor autumn and that affected badly the growth of the trees.” . . 

EU farmer subsidies under threat – Nigel Stirling:

There are signs that the massive subsidisation of European agriculture could be cut back.

New Zealand has long fought the policy, which tops up the incomes of millions of European farmers.

For decades, NZ has argued the policy keeps European production higher than justified by market prices, and supply on global markets out of kilter with demand. . .

Alliance looks to food service growth – Alan Williams:

Alliance Group hopes that its new food service business will be achieving annual sales above $100 million in the next three years or so.

A four-strong development team is working up a pilot programme in the United Kingdom that the meat exporter will use as a springboard for wider Europe, and into Asian markets as well, general manager sales Murray Brown said.

“Who knows how it could go – we’re a $1.5 billion business and if we could get the food service up to 10% of total sales over three years that would be $100m to $150m.” . .

Nitrate data suggests a corner turned – Nicole Sharp:

Environment Southland’s latest water quality report shows a trend of decreasing or indeterminate nitrogen levels and Southland farmers deserve a pat on the back for this, Agribusiness farm consultant Deane Carson says.

Nitrate levels in Southland had always been an area of significant concern for him, and for a while were somewhat out of control, he said.

But the latest report showed the majority of the sites were indeterminate for nitrite­nitrate nitrogen (NNN) levels over the five years covered and nine of the 49 sites had a decreasing trend. . .


Rural round-up

August 19, 2015

Dairy price correction a confidence boost – BusinessNZ:

The uptick in dairy prices at the latest auction should put some confidence back into the economy that should never have been lacking anyway, says BusinessNZ chief executive Phil O’Reilly.

Prices at the latest GlobalDairyTrade rose an average of 14.8 percent, with the all-important whole milk category rising by more than 19 percent, ending a five-month run of 10 consecutive falls.

“It’s been a long time coming, but I guess we’ve got to remain cautious,” says Federated Farmers spokesman Andrew Hoggard. . . 

Auction result welcome but industry needs to remain vigilant:

Federated Farmers has welcomed the outcome of this morning’s GlobalDairyTrade auction, but says those in the dairy industry need to remain vigilant.

Dairy Industry Chair Andrew Hoggard says “The outcome of this morning’s auction suggests there might be light at the end of the tunnel, but what the industry needs is for this to continue and hold.” . . .

Fonterra calls for a halt to having to accept all milk and supply other large entrants –  Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s largest dairy exporter, said it should no longer be required to accept all milk from new suppliers or to have to make milk available to large processors, apart from Goodman Fielder.

In submissions to the Commerce Commission, which is undertaking a government-ordered review of the industry’s competitiveness, rival processors have said they either want the status quo or the regulations tightened.

Fonterra said it recognises part of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA) continues to benefit the dairy industry and New Zealand but some parts are no longer “necessary or efficient” given significant industry changes since 2001, particularly the continuing entry of well-resourced competitors. . . 

Fonterra’s submission is here.

Auditor General to examine Saudi farm deal:

The controversial deal that saw $11.5 million of taxpayer money on a Saudi farm is to be examined by the Auditor-General.

Lyn Provost has announced she will carry out an inquiry into the expenditure of public money on the Saudi Arabia Food Security Partnership.

Mrs Provost received several requests, including from members of Parliament, the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union, and in a petition from over 10,000 New Zealanders, to inquire into aspects of the deal. . . 

 

Dairy prices set for ‘substantial recovery’ by mid-2016, Rabobank says – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Dairy prices, which have slumped to a six-year low, are set for a substantial recovery by mid-2016, according to agri banking specialist Rabobank.

Average dairy product prices plunged to the lowest level since August 2009 at the last GlobalDairyTrade auction a fortnight ago, amid increased supply and weak demand. Still, the factors to trigger a turnaround are now in place and a substantial improvement in prices is expected by mid-2016, Rabobank said in its dairy industry note ‘Riding Out the Storm’.

Rabobank says dairy prices are set to rise as milk price reductions in China start to choke off domestic production growth, lower New Zealand production leads to a supply-side adjustment in export regions, the collapse in international commodity prices reduces supply growth from the US and EU, and as accelerated dairy consumption growth depletes current accumulated stocks. . . 

The short, the medium and the long term for dairy – Keith Woodford:

With calving in full swing, most dairy farmers have no time to think about anything but today. Things are indeed grim and the short term focus has to be on survival. For the next few weeks, there is some logic to focusing on the simple day to day things that can be influenced. Even in the good times, these are the things that often separate out the best from the not so good.

Despite the gloom, most of the farmers I know do seem to have things well under control. Perhaps that is because most of my mates have lived through tough times before, back in the 80s and 90s. They have always assumed that at some time a storm would burst upon them and so they have not panicked. Rather, they have been quietly and sequentially battening down the hatches for more than 12 months. . . 

Meat industry shareholder groups merge to push their case for reform – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – The two shareholder groups representing Silver Fern Farms and Alliance farmers have joined forces in a bid to encourage the two meat cooperatives to follow suit and work collaboratively.

Each shareholder group has separately gained the 5 percent farmer support needed to call special meetings of their respective cooperatives to try and force the boards to investigate the benefits and risks of a merger, though dates have not yet been set for either.

Alliance shareholder Jeff Grant said it is best to wait on the outcome of Silver Fern Farm’s current capital raising before holding either meeting.

“If the capital raise changes the structure of the cooperative to be a non cooperative or in foreign ownership then it would be pointless having an SGM (special general meeting) at all,” he said. . . 

 High Beef Prices Are Fueling a Revival of Cattle Rustling in the Plains States –  Michael Graczyk:

Doug Hutchison wears a badge and carries a gun but his most effective weapon in the pursuit of livestock thieves in the nation’s largest cattle-producing territory may be his smartphone.

With it, Hutchison, one of 30 Special Rangers with the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, photographs suspected stolen livestock, accesses the association’s databases of livestock brands and reports of missing animals and consults with sheriff’s offices.

“I think it’s one of the greatest tools in the world,” said Hutchison, wearing a cowboy hat and jeans, his boots mired in the mud and manure of noisy auction stockyard corrals filled with nervous cattle. . .  Hat tip: AEIDEAS

Outdoors Lobby Wants Recreational Only Fisheries:

A national outdoor recreational advocacy group wants freshwater fish species such as whitebait, eels and some saltwater species ”recreational only.”

The call by the Council of Outdoor Recreational Associations (CORANZ) an umbrella group of outdoor recreational organisations, was in response to Massey University researcher Mike Joy’s call to remove whitebait and eels from commercial status and protect them by a “recreational only” classification.

Bill Benfield, co-chairman CORANZ, conservationist and author, said that commercialised species, almost without exception, struggled to be sustainable in the face of human greed. . .

 And from Kansas Department of Agriculture:
Kansas Department of Agriculture's photo.


Rural round-up

April 2, 2015

MIE plan stimulates debate but won’t fix the problem – Allan Barber:

The Pathways to Long-Term Sustainability document launched earlier this month makes some very valid points about the red meat industry’s shortcomings, but its recommendations are almost certainly impossible to implement.

Even if the processors are willing to consider capacity rationalisation, it won’t be on the scale envisaged by the GHD consultants and judging by Sir Graeme Harrison’s remarks ANZCO won’t be part of it; nor will AFFCO unless the Talleys undergo a St Paul like conversion on the road to Motueka. This leaves the cooperatives, with Rob Hewett prepared to consider merging with Alliance, although he isn’t holding his breath, while Murray Taggart remains very lukewarm.

The common theme evident from all the company chairmen is the fundamental need for any solution to be commercially justifiable from the companies’ perspective. The problem with this particular stance is the conflict with the farmer bias of MIE’s proposals. . .

Wine and Spirit geographical registration coming:

Trade Minister Tim Groser and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Paul Goldsmith today announced that Government will implement the Geographical Indications (Wine and Spirits) Registration Act.

“The Act will set up a registration regime for wine and spirit geographical indications, similar to the trademark registration regime,” Mr Groser says.

A geographical indication shows that a product comes from a specific geographical region and has special qualities or a reputation due to that origin.  Well known products that are identified by geographical indications include Champagne, Scotch Whisky and Prosciutto de Parma.

The use of geographical indications by New Zealand producers is largely confined to the wine industry. . .

Implementation of Act is a big step forward for the New Zealand wine industry:

New Zealand Winegrowers warmly welcomes the announcement that Government will implement the Geographical Indications Registration Act.

Geographical indications identify wines as originating in a region or locality says Philip Gregan, CEO, New Zealand Winegrowers. The Act will set up a registration system for wine geographical indications, similar to the trademark registration system. . .

 

$7.8m for new sustainable farming projects:

29 new projects have been approved for $7.8 million in new funding over four years through the Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF), Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“These are grass-roots projects that support farmers, growers and foresters to tackle shared problems and develop new opportunities. They will deliver real economic, environmental and social benefits.

“For example, one project will develop industry tools for farmers to improve their farm practices to improve water quality and infrastructure, while reducing nutrient loss. . .

Forestry projects identify practical solutions:

New Zealand’s forestry sector will benefit from five new projects in the latest round of the Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF), Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew announced today.

“Around $1.2 million has been committed over four financial years towards five new SFF projects involving the forestry sector,” Ms Goodhew says.  “SFF continues to be a great example of government supporting foresters to ensure the sustainability of our primary industries.”

The forestry projects are part of the 29 new SFF projects announced today—following the 2015/16 SFF funding round held last year. . .

New OSPRI Chief Executive appointed:

OSPRI Chairman Jeff Grant has today announced the appointment of Michelle Edge as Chief Executive of OSPRI.

Ms Edge brings a wealth of agricultural industry experience to the position having had an extensive career spanning scientific research, government regulation, policy and industry organisations within the Australian agricultural sector.

She was most recently Chief Executive of Australian Meat Processor Corporation – a levy-funded research, development and extension organisation operating in the red meat sector. . .

IrrigationNZ welcomes OVERSEER 6.2 despite forecast Nitrate loss spike:

IrrigationNZ says any short-term pain for irrigating farmers who end up with worse nitrate leaching results in OVERSEER 6.2 will be out-weighed by the benefits of more realistic irrigation modelling.

To prevent issues arising from OVERSEER 6.2’s introduction, IrrigationNZ and OVERSEER’s General Manager Dr Caroline Read have been working to inform affected regional councils to reduce compliance concerns. The industry body says irrigating farmers also need to be proactive and familiarise themselves with the new software.

The latest version of OVERSEER® Nutrient budgets (OVERSEER 6.2) launches later this month and IrrigationNZ says some irrigators will see increased nitrate loss estimates for their properties due to more accurate modelling. This may impact on their compliance under regional council regulations. . .

Nitrogen dollars dissolving in thin air:

Millions of dollars’ worth of nitrogen is vanishing into thin air, causing losses to farmers and to New Zealand in wasted import dollars.

That’s the conclusion reached in field trials completed as part of the Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ Clearview Innovations Primary Growth Partnership programme to measure ammonia losses from standard urea and urea treated with a nitrogen stabiliser. These losses occur when the nitrogen in the urea volatilises into ammonia.

While farmers try to avoid the loss by applying urea when wet weather is forecast, research by Landcare Research and Ballance has shown a good 5 to 10 mm of rain is needed within eight hours of application to reduce ammonia loss – a finding consistent with research in New Zealand in the 1980s. . .


Rural round-up

March 6, 2014

MIE seek funds from Beef + Lamb – Allan Barber:

MIE Chairman John McCarthy put out a press release on Tuesday pressing Beef + Lamb NZ to put its weight behind the remit to the AGM in March which asks “that Beef + Lamb New Zealand provide funding support to the Meat Industry Excellence Group to secure red meat sector reform.”

This maintains the pressure of a campaign waged by MIE for some months now, but I get the impression the sector reform group is no closer to stating how it intends to achieve the reform it wants. The press release says an estimated $200,000 is needed next year to “meet expenses for travel, meetings and other activities associated with driving the reform process.”

The stated justification is B+LNZ has no mandate beyond the farm gate, whereas MIE has ‘runs on the board’ with the successful election of directors to the boards of Alliance and Silver Fern Farms. MIE’s focus is now on processing and marketing issues in the sector.  . .

Sheep farmers pushing for retention of Invermay – Allan Barber:

A group of southern sheep breeders and sheep and deer farmers is strongly lobbying the government to attend a meeting in Gore to be held next Wednesday 12th March. The meeting, to be chaired by past chairman of Beef + Lamb NZ Jeff Grant, will be the first time AgResearch has fronted up to breeders and farmers to talk to them about the planned transfer of research scientists from Invermay to Lincoln.

The purpose of the meeting with AgResearch Board and Management is to hear them outline the proposed shift to Lincoln and the residual science to be retained at Invermay, and for AgResearch to hear the views of their stakeholders. . .

Brown fat ‘key’ to lamb survival:

AgResearch scientists are investigating a special type of fat that new-born lambs use to generate heat and which has a bearing on survival rates.

A research physiologist at the Grasslands campus in Palmerston North, Sue McCoard, says they’ve found that giving nutritional supplements to ewes during pregnancy can boost the amount of brown fat in lambs.

She says that could hold the key to whether lambs, especially twins or triplets, survive cold weather. . .

Waikato farmers desperate for rain

Waikato farmers are praying for rain amid fears of another drought.

Some rivers and streams are running at near record lows for this time of the year and soil is drying out.

Waikato Regional Council’s Chris McLay says the problem is widespread. . . .

Ballance invests in future science talent:

Five university students studying towards a degree in New Zealand’s vibrant primary industry have been awarded Ballance Agri-Nutrients scholarships.

Each scholarship is worth $4000 a year and can be held for a maximum of three years. Scholarships are open to family members of Ballance shareholders or shareholders of an entity (and beneficiaries of that shareholding) with shares in Ballance, as well as family members of company employees.

Warwick Catto, Research and Development Manager at Ballance Agri-Nutrients, says the calibre of this year’s applicants were again of a very high standard and shows that the industry’s future is in safe hands. . .

Farmers Mill Leading the Way With 100% NZ Flour and Innovative Baking Supplies:

A state-of-the-art, brand new mill is the reason Farmers Mill Flour is providing bakers throughout the country with uniquely customised, fully traceable flour and baking supplies.

Farmers Mill, based in Timaru, boasts new milling equipment which has been designed to mill New Zealand wheat to an exceptionally high standard and produces premium biscuit, all-purpose baking, cake, pastry and bread flours to unique, high end specifications.

Since its opening in June last year, the business has grown substantially to become a leading producer for the New Zealand baking industry supplying to iconic brands such as Griffins Foods, Couplands Bakeries, French Bakery and Baker Boys. Examples of key retail outlets using Farmers Mill flour for artisan breads and pastry based products include Little and Friday in Auckland and Rangiora Bakery in Canterbury. . . .

Local Baby Formula Maker NuZtri joins Infant Nutrition Council:

Locally owned Best Health Products Limited producers of NuZtri Premium Formula and fortified Milk Powder products announced today it has been accepted into the Infant Nutrition Council of Australia and New Zealand (INC). On the 20th February this year, Jan Carey, CEO of the Infant Nutrition Council visited the Best Health Limited’s Head Office and RMP facility (Risk Management Program) in Christchurch to view the operation and sign the agreement.

“After successfully completing INC’s assessment we are truly delighted to be approved as an associated member of this prestigious Infant Nutrition Organisation”, said Craig Calder General Manager of NuZtri. . .

 


Rural round-up

May 5, 2013

Multiple causes for colony collapse – report – by Seth Borenstein:

A new federal report blames a combination of problems for a mysterious and dramatic disappearance of US honeybees since 2006.

The intertwined factors cited include a parasitic mite, multiple viruses, bacteria, poor nutrition, genetics, habitat loss and pesticides.

The multiple causes make it harder to do something about what’s called colony collapse disorder, experts say. The disorder has caused as much as one-third of the nation’s bees to just disappear each winter since 2006. 

Bees, especially honeybees, are needed to pollinate crops.

The federal report, issued Thursday by the Agriculture Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, said the biggest culprit is the parasitic mite varroa destructor, calling it “the single most detrimental pest of honeybees”. . .

And the top steaks are…:

After an intense semi-final tasting today, the top 20 sirloin steaks have been found to compete in the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Steak of Origin Grand Final.

Today’s semi-final saw over 70 steaks tasted by a panel of chefs and foodwriters, including 2012 MasterChef winner Chelsea Winter.

Winter says the quality of the product on show made marking the steaks very difficult.

“I love a steak at the best of times and to taste some of the best in the country was a great experience. It was a hard job as they were each of such high quality, but someone has to do it!” says Winter. . .

Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track Nominated For Green Ribbon Award:

The Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track has been nominated as a finalist in the Green Economy category for the 2013 Green Ribbon Awards for the second consecutive year. Honouring outstanding contributions to protecting New Zealand’s environment, the Green Ribbon Awards are conferred by the Ministry for the Environment.

Environment Minister Amy Adams announced 32 finalists in 11 award categories that recognise individuals, businesses, communities and youth, as well as larger organisations.

“All the finalists have shown great dedication and initiative. I am looking forward to meeting them and learning first-hand about the great work they are all doing to help New Zealand’s environment,” Ms Adams says. . .

Growers, Importers Scramble to Meet New Brassica Rules:

A snap change to government import rules for brassica seeds has caught New Zealand producers on the hop as they prepare for sowing the high value crops.

The new rules, including mandatory fungicide treatment, mean significant delays to shipments and serious production issues for some growers already working to very tight planting schedules.

Thomas Chin, general manager of the New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association, says the Ministry for Primary Industries gave no warning of the change and no immediate explanation. . .

Appointment Of AGMARDT’s Associate Board Member:

AGMARDT has announced the appointment of James Allen as an Associate Board Member to join its Board of Trustees.

AGMARDT is an independent not-for-profit trust that aims to foster and encourage leadership, innovation and research capability within the agricultural, horticultural and forestry sectors of New Zealand.

AGMARDT Chairman Jeff Grant said that the purpose of creating the Associate Board Member position is to provide an emerging agribusiness leader with an opportunity to observe and experience governance in action within an innovative agribusiness environment. . .


Rural round-up

February 16, 2013

OSPRI New Zealand seeking to add value to primary sector:

The name of the new organisation being formed through the merger of the Animal Health Board (AHB) and NAIT has been announced.

Chairman of the board, Jeff Grant, told a Stakeholders’ Council meeting today that in line with its intention to provide operational solutions for New Zealand’s primary industries, the organisation would be called OSPRI New Zealand.

“I would like to think that in five years’ time we will have gained recognition for having one of the best biosecurity and pest management strategies anywhere in the world,” said Mr Grant after the meeting. . .

Purchase of unique North Otago reserve announced:

Critically endangered plants and a rare limestone ecosystem have been protected through the purchase of a 20 hectare reserve at Gards Road, near Duntroon in the Waitaki Valley, Minister of Conservation Dr Nick Smith announced today.

The purchase of the new scenic reserve, from David and Lorraine Parker’s farm, was completed through the Nature Heritage Fund and is the first of its kind in the region.

“In the past we have seen a greater focus on protecting the high country in this area through processes such as tenure review, so it is a credit to the Parkers that we have now secured the protection of this threatened lowland habitat,” Dr Smith says. . .

Improvement in Bay dairy farm compliance:

Bay of Plenty farmers are doing better in complying with Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s dairy farm effluent requirements – but they could improve.

This week’s Regional Council Operations, Monitoring and Regulation Committee meeting heard that 74 percent of the 297 farms visited during the dairy season were fully complying with their consent conditions, an improvement on last season’s 67 percent. Significant non-compliance, where effluent is overflowing to land where it could, or did, flow into a water course, dropped from 14 to 11 percent.

Regional Council Pollution Prevention Manager Nick Zaman said the number of significant non-complying farms was the lowest since the 2008-2009 season. . .

Crowds turn out for Southern Shears – Terri Russell:

About 100 people have braved Gore’s wet weather this morning to catch the start of the 2013 Southern Shears.

The event kicked-off at 9am with the open wooldhandling competitions. There are junior, senior and open heats, semi-finals and finals, as well as a North v South challenge.

Southern Shears chairman Chas Tohiariki said it was good to see such strong numbers in the lower grades, with fifteen entries in the junior heats.

Woolhandlers were judged on their workmanship on the board, sorting and quality of fleece, throws, tidiness and times, Mr Tohiariki said. . .

More products in UK store tainted by horse meat:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc’s British supermarket arm, Asda, said on Thursday it had discovered horse DNA in its beef bolognese sauce and was withdrawing that product and three others from its stores.”We have a preliminary test result that suggests the presence of horse DNA in our 500g Beef Bolognese sauce. As you’d expect, we have withdrawn this product from our shelves,”

Asda spokeswoman Jo Newbould said. Asda has about 550 shops across the UK.”We are taking a belt-and-braces approach so in addition, as a precaution, we’re also withdrawing three other beef-based products produced by the same supplier,” she said.The three other products are beef broth soup, meat feast pasta sauce and chilli con carne soup. Asda said it does not have positive test results for horse DNA in those products. It said the products were made at the Irish food group Greencore’s plant in Bristol. . .

Goats Chuffed, Not Gruff:

An agreement among various producer representatives to have equal representation on the Federated Farmers Goats Industry Group means the industry can look forward to a brighter future, says John Woodward, Mohair New Zealand (Inc.) chairman.

“Goat meat is the world’s most consumed meat and, with fewer calories, fat and cholesterol than chicken, is a very healthy option, but at present the New Zealand goat industries remain under rated and under utilised,” Woodward says.

“We expect that as a result of changes made at the Federated Farmers goats industry group conference held at Pukekohe earlier this week, this will start to change. . .


Rural round-up

December 23, 2012

DairyNZ Chairman to speak at Oxford Farming Conference:

New Zealand dairy farming will be front and centre at a prestigious farming conference being held in Oxford in England from January 2-4, 2013.

DairyNZ Chairman John Luxton has been invited to give his personal perspective on the New Zealand dairy farming experience at the Oxford Farming Conference examining the role of farming within British society.

Mr Luxton is one of a number of speakers lined up to present on a range of topics, including a seminal piece of work which quantifies the non-direct contributions farming makes to British society in a financial context and an Oxford Union Debate on economies of scale in agriculture. . .

Boilogicals showing worth trust member says – Tim Fulton:

The Rotorua Lakes and Lands Trust, a joint venture between Te Arawa Federation of Maori Authorities and Pakeha farmers, has spent at least a decade studying nutrient management around the Central Plateau and is convinced that biological systems are a worthwhile tool against nutrient leaching.

Now all the trust wishes for is greater funding and sustained expertise to win more people over.

Farmers who have turned to biological systems are often anxious about the increased use of synthetic fertilisers that has caused economic and environmental concerns. Fertiliser costs and problems with water quality typically shape as the major problems. . .

Rural women at heart of regional support:

New Zealanders have big hearts.  A new report on philanthropy shows New Zealanders gave about $2.67 billion to charitable and community causes during 2011, a level of generosity that was boosted by sympathy for people affected by the Christchurch earthquakes.

Rural Women were at the forefront of that generosity. The “big ticket item” supporting Cantabrians has been the Aftersocks™ campaign. Rural Women sold 19,000 pairs, raising more than $130,000 for the Christchurch Mayoral Fund.

While the funky black and red striped socks featuring the February 22 seismic shake grabbed headlines and orders from around the world, behind the scenes Rural Women members were quietly getting on with a host of other projects that helped make their communities a better place to live, or gave some deserving cause a boost. . .

Favourable season boosts September quarter primary exports:

Higher volumes of exports resulting from last year’s favourable production season have boosted primary sector revenue this past quarter.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) today released its report of production and trade statistics for the September 2012 quarter.

Primary sector export revenue at $7.12 billion for the quarter was up 4.7 percent on the previous September quarter, and at $32.43 billion for the year to September was up 0.5 percent on the previous year. . .

PGW to set up showcase in China – Alan Wood:

PGG Wrightson is developing an agricultural showcase with majority shareholder Agria in a “hi-tech” industrial park in western China.

The agricultural showcase would serve as a strategic platform for the firms to expand agri-tech business and broader collaboration between China and New Zealand, the companies said.

New Zealand’s experience in the field of animal husbandry, agricultural co-operative societies and information systems would be applied in the showcase.

PGG Wrightson and Agria said they had signed a memorandum of understanding with a Chinese administrative authority for the Yangling Agricultural High-Tech Industries Demonstration Zone. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand election in Western North Island:

Two nominations have been received for the Farmer Director position in Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Western North Island electorate.

They are Kirsten Bryant (incumbent) of Fordell and John McCarthy of Ohakune.

Farmers in this electorate must be on the Beef + Lamb New Zealand electoral roll by 5 pm on Wednesday 23 January 2013 to be eligible to vote. They must also have owned (on 30 June 2012) at least 250 sheep, or 50 beef cattle or 100 dairy cattle. . .

New plates and tastes at Gibbston Valley Winery’s Vintner’s Kitchen

Renowned Central Otago winery Gibbston Valley Winery is launching a Vintner’s Kitchen experience from today (Friday December 21), offering visitors a ‘taste’ of the multi-award-winning experience.

Gibbston Valley Winery CEO Greg Hunt said the new Vintner’s Kitchen tasting and café area was designed to provide a casual, friendly and welcoming space for visitors at any time of the day.

“It’s aimed at those who might not have the time to stay for lunch, want to combine wine tasting with a small plate of matching food, or are simply looking for a coffee or a cold drink,” he said. . .

New Appointment to AGMARDT General Manager Position

AGMARDT has secured the services of a well-respected and knowledgeable agricultural businessman. The Chairman of the AGMARDT Board of Trustees, Jeff Grant, is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr Malcolm Nitschke to the position of General Manager.

Mr Nitschke comes from a strong background in the agricultural sector and brings with him a vast wealth of knowledge gained during his extensive time as an Agri Banker, and latterly as Head of Lending Services Agri, at ANZ and formerly National Bank, as well as owning his own farm at Marton. . .


Rural round-up

May 5, 2012

Salmon farm expansion plans:

Nelson leaders predict major growth for region

Nelson businesses, the Seafood processing union and the city’s mayor are firmly behind NZ King Salmon’s expansion plans saying they will result in increased downstream employment at a time when young people are leaving in droves.

Business owners also say the company is a responsible producer of high quality products wanted by the world and it is “not going to bastardise their own environment”.

City Mayor Aldo Miccio says Nelson backs winners and aquaculture is a new and exciting industry the region needs and wants. . .

More university science funding positve for rural sector:

The Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science says the Government’s new focus on science and technology at the tertiary level is long overdue.

The Government is asking universities and polytechnics to increase their enrolments in science, technology, engineering and maths.

It is to increase funding for those subjects in the Budget this month. . .

Good news for high country with Pastoral Lease ammendment:

After a prolonged battle, including the Minaret case in the Land Valuation Court, New Zealand’s High Country farmers welcome the passing of Crown Pastoral Land (Rent for Pastoral Leases) Amendment Act in Parliament, clarifying that pastoral lease farm rents are to be based on pastoral rather than landscape values.

“Federated Farmers asked the government to make the Pastoral Land Act workable and to give certainty around how rents would be calculated. We are grateful they listened,”Federated Farmers High Country chairperson, Graham Reed says.

“This is not a hand out; it simply means rents are set to reflect High Country farming businesses’ real earning capacity. This amendment allows us to live and work without the spectre of unfair rises simply because of our farms’ locations. That was certainly the intention behind the use of the word “pastoral” in the Crown Pastoral Land Act 1998, describing the restricted land use on which valuations should be based. . .

License to operate: A regulatory barrier or market opportunity?

The AGMARDT Agribusiness Breakfast provides an annual forum to discuss issues of national interest to the rural community. This year’s theme is‘License to Operate: a regulatory barrier or market opportunity?’ and includes presentations by Dr Andrew West, Bryce Johnson, Willy Leferink and Graham Stuart.

The AGMARDT Agribusiness Breakfast will be held on Friday the 25th of May on Level 4 of the Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, commencing at 7.30am sharp and will be hosted by AGMARDT’s Chairman Jeff Grant.

“In setting the theme for this year’s AGMARDT Agribusiness Breakfast, we wanted to raise awareness within the farming community of an issue that is going attract increasing attention in the years ahead,”said Mr Grant. . .

Dairy Awards final sells-out:

Nearly 700 people will attend the 2012 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner, where the winners of the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions will be announced.

National convenor Chris Keeping says final judging is underway for the 36 finalists representing 12 regions across the country. The finalists converge on Auckland next week for a series of activities and to participate in the final judging component, an interview.

“It’s a really exciting time for the finalists, especially once the pressure of final judging is off. They really enjoy the opportunity to meet each other and spend time together while doing activities out of their comfort zone. It’ll be a time they cherish for years to come.” . . .


First wool battle lost but campaign not over

February 20, 2011

The announcement that Wool Partners Co-operative was unable to get half the national wool clip signed up wasn’t unexpected.

It was always a big ask and the continued extensions to closing day showed the co-op was struggling to get the support it needed.

Opposition from other players, which included misinformation didn’t help, and rising prices might have persuaded some that the co-op wasn’t needed.

However, the loss of this battle doesn’t mean the campaign is over.

Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre spokesman said the co-op is down but not out.

“To be successful, truly successful, a cooperative has to be built from the bottom up.  What I take heart from is that despite some of the worst years for profitability, so many had shared up.

“Yet wool growers have now spoken and the requirements of the WPC prospectus have not been met so we need to move on.

“Federated Farmers is determined to make certain that we don’t look back on this day as an opportunity wasted. 

It’s why Federated Farmers is keen to talk with Wool Partners International and all industry players about a grower owned model. I’m still personally convinced that together in a cooperative we can make things happen for our industry. 

“Consolidation and unity is important to wool growers as is much closer involvement in the selling of our fibre.

“There have been many reports into wool but most conclude that farmers should remain owners of their fibre until at least the end of first stage processing.  There’s something fundamental about that.

“WPC put up an option that they felt might meet this requirement and got the largest voluntary capital raising the wool industry has ever seen, with 40 million kilograms committed.

“That tells me a sizeable minority of wool growers want a cooperative. They put their money where their mouth was.

“Doing nothing isn’t an option for farmers or the meat and wool industry.  Wool is integral to the sheep industry’s long term prosperity.

Although the meat industry has got most of the blame for poor returns in recent years, low prices for wool, pelts, tallow and other by-prooducts was also responsible.

A shortage of sheep and rising demand for wool is giving much better prices this season but unless there are some fundamental changes to the way wool is marketed we can’t rely on them holding up.

WPC chair Jeff Grant offers some hope for those who want to see some changes:

WPC planned to raise $65 million to buy assets and use the commitment from growers to supply half the country’s wool clip, to have a greater influence on the market.

They planned to secure contracts with carpet retailers in Europe, United Kingdom and the United States and use brands linked to New Zealand’s and wool’s natural, sustainable environment and production systems to command premium prices and grow market share.

At present, most coarse or strong wool is sold at auction or directly to merchants with little or no use of those attributes, which Mr Grant said were increasingly being demanded by discerning customers.

But efforts to change the way strong wool is sold may not have died out, with backers of WPC saying there was sufficient interest from farmers to see if an alternative structure can be salvaged.

WPC had some good ideas to add value to wool and ensure farmers got more for their clip.

The directors won’t be able to do all they’d planned with a lesser amount of wool but I hope they have a Plan B which enables those farmers who are prepared to commit to them to do so and share the better returns.


Wool co-op the way to go

November 10, 2010

Wool is a natural, renewable, sustainably produced product.

It ought to be earning a premium because of that but strong wool is worth only about $3.50 to $4 a kilo, greasy. That’s less than growers get in Britain now and about a quarter the price New Zealand farmers received 20 years ago.

Several factors are responsible for this, among  which is poor marketing, but if the capital raising attempt by Wool Partners Co-operative is successful then that will change.

WPC chair Jeff Grant made a convincing case when he spoke to a farmer meeting in North Otago yesterday – one of nearly dozens being held throughout the country to convince farmers to back its plan to control at least 50% of the national wool clip.

The company aims:

To be innovative in the way wool is marketed.
For wool prices at farm to become stronger the price of wool products in the market must be strong. Wool Partners will be active in supporting its customers in meeting the needs of consumers. 

To develop an integrated supply chain to market.
In other words to have within the company the capability to take wool from farm to market in the most efficient way possible.

To consolidate as much of the New Zealand clip as possible.
The economies of scale in doing this are significant and it means that an improved and co-ordinated offer can be made to the market.

To create a grower controlled company.
Wool Partners will be owned by growers through Wool Grower Holdings and will work to improve the value of wool at market and at farm.

Farmers I spoke to after the meeting were prepared to support the initiative.

The least enthusiastic reckoned WPC couldn’t do worse than what’s happening now.

The optimists said WPC was providing growers with an opportunity to turn around more than 20 years of dwindling returns and they were going to seize it.


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