Rural round-up

November 25, 2017

Farmer led project highlights innovative environmental work:

A North Canterbury river awarded as the country’s most improved- is testament to innovative environmental work undertaken by farmers and their community says Federated Farmers.

The Hurunui district’s Pahau River was bestowed supreme winner at last night’s 2017 National River Awards, achieving significant reduction in bacteria E coli levels over the past 10 years.

The river reportedly runs through one of the most densely irrigated catchments in the country. It had also demonstrated decreasing levels in nitrogen and phosphorous. . . 

Alliance Group Doubles Annual Earnings as Meat Prices Recover, Targets Fatter Profitability:

(BusinessDesk) – Alliance Group, the world’s biggest sheepmeat exporter, doubled annual earnings as its sales rose 15 percent with a recovery in global meat prices, but wants to lift profitability further.

Operating earnings rose to $20.2 million in the year ended Sept. 30 from $10.1 million a year earlier, the Invercargill-based company said in a statement. It paid $11.4 million to its 5,000 farmer shareholders, up from $9.8 million, while revenue rose to $1.53 billion from $1.36 billion.

“We are welcoming new shareholders, achieving a stronger balance sheet, improving our profitability and most importantly, offering better livestock pricing for our farmers,” chair Murray Taggart said. “Alliance has a wide range of short, medium and long-term programmes underway as we seek to gain deeper market penetration and capture more value from existing markets.”. . .

Tax Working Group should have an Agri-sector voice:

 

A new Tax Working Group should have primary sector representation says Federated Farmers.

Sir Michael Cullen is to chair the Group from February next year and the Federation recommends that farming and fellow industry stakeholders get a voice.

“Ideally it would be good to have someone on the Group who understands the agri-sector and its tax issues. Given the likely focus on environmental taxation, capital gains and land taxes, it would same a reasonable thing to do,” says Federated Farmers Vice President Andrew Hoggard. . . 

Jersey Benne harvest delayed – Sally Brooker:

While the new potato season is being celebrated in a national campaign, North Otago’s Jersey Benne harvest has hardly begun.

Potatoes New Zealand is promoting the ”humble potato” with television advertising, having showcased varieties, recipes and nutritional facts to food writers and the media at an Auckland event. Potato growers from throughout the country took along samples of their produce being dug this month.

However, a shortage of cauliflower and broccoli has prompted one of North Otago’s biggest growers to delay his potato-digging.

Peter Armstrong, of Armstrong and Co, plants potatoes on several properties in the Totara and Kakanui areas south of Oamaru, where the soil and microclimate result in sought-after Jersey Bennes. . . 

Take alternative protein seriously, analyst warns – Alexa Cook:

The meat industry should not be complacent about the threat of alternative protein food products, a report warns.

The international Rabobank report looks into the success of alternative proteins, including plant-based meat substitutes, insect or algae-based products, and lab-grown meat.

The products were on the verge of becoming mainstream and ‘stealing’ growth from traditional meat product markets, it said.

The report projected that the market for alternative protein would grow 8 percent each year in the European Union, and six percent each year in the US and Canada. . . 

Zespri wins top award for best growth strategy:

Zespri was recognised last night in the 2017 Deloitte Top 200 Awards for its strong growth strategy, with the kiwifruit marketing company on track to more than double global sales to $4.5 billion by 2025.

Zespri Chief Executive Dan Mathieson says the 2degrees Best Growth Strategy award is welcome recognition for the work done across the industry to grow a genuine global sales and marketing organisation and drive demand for Zespri’s premium kiwifruit.

“This award is real testament to the great team we have at Zespri – passionate, dedicated people around the world who bring to life our global grower-to-consumer strategy day in and day out – and the long-term partnerships we have with our customers. . . 

Agritech Programme Focusing on Digital Technologies:

Artificial intelligence, machine learning and smart data are major themes at next year’s MobileTECH 2018. This is one of New Zealand’s largest agritech events and will see technology leaders from throughout the agricultural, horticultural and forestry sectors gather in Rotorua in late March.

The pace of change within the primary sector is continuing to be driven by advances in new digital technologies. While New Zealand has been a world leader in traditional farming systems, it is critical for the sector to maintain and grow productivity through the smart adoption of these new innovations. . . 

You can download the poster here.


Too much weather

December 3, 2014

Southern contractors are struggling in wet and cold weather:

The dreadfully wet season being experienced in the southern part of the country is leaving many rural contractors and farmers under huge pressure and stress, claims Rural Contractors NZ.

 RCNZ vice president and Southland-based contractor David Kean says there are reports of contractors not being able to get work done, struggling with their finances and some having to lay staff off.

“Many contractors are really feeling it and the stress is starting to tell on both them and their businesses. Our advice is simple: ask for help and talk to the appropriate agencies before things get out of hand,” he explains.

Meanwhile, there’s the opposite problem in Canterbury – which has had lots of strong, cold Norwest winds and very little rain over the past couple of months – meaning there is very little work to do now after a busy start to the season. 

Mr Kean says if rural contractors are struggling to pay bills and/or staff they should be in contact with both Work and Income NZ and the IRD for assistance and advice.

“It is far better for people to be proactive; admit they have issues to deal with and seek the appropriate help – rather than just bottling it up or letting any problems get out of hand.

“Both IRD and WINZ are there to provide help in these kinds of situations and they have the people and expertise to offer advice and assistance.”

Mr Kean says Rural Contractors NZ is also there to help members and to act as support network for contractors who are feeling under pressure.

“However, we are not experts in financial matters or if people are coming under mental duress,” he adds.

“We are telling people they should be talking with their accountants and financial advisors about their business and with their families and medical professionals if they are under pressure themselves.”

The chair of the Rural Health Alliance Aoteoroa NZ (RHAANZ) Dr Jo Scott-Jones agrees.

“We know rural people tend to delay seeking help until they can no longer work, but it is true that a ‘stitch in time saves nine’”, Dr Scott-Jones says.  “Talking to a GP or practice nurse about stress seems to cause people difficulty. But anyone in this situation should know it is never as hard as you think and the benefits that flow from sharing some of the burden and talking through the way you feel can be enormous.”  

 Mr Kean adds that talking with professionals, as well as family and friends is an important step in getting the proper advice and help – when and where it is needed.

“Farmers also need to be aware of the pressure contractors are under and have to be realistic about getting work done,” he adds. “The last couple of months have been so wet that even if the weather cleared today it is going to take a long time to clear the back log of work and get everyone caught up again.”

Further north it was too wet in winter and now it’s too dry:

Weeks of persistent wind with little rain are putting farmers on edge in eastern areas of the country, from Gisborne to Canterbury.

Federated Farmers Gisborne Wairoa president Sandra Faulkner said soil moisture levels in that region were well down on normal for the time of year. . .

We didn’t really have a summer last year then had a very wet start to winter but we’ve had little significant rain since July and there’s all the signs of a looming drought.

That doesn’t mean we’re having good weather, it’s still cold which is slowing pasture growth and potato crops.

In contrast, a wet winter, less sunlight and cooler temperatures are being blamed for hampering potato crops and creating a shortage of the vegetable.

Potatoes New Zealand said there was more demand than growers could supply and that was having a flow on effect on companies such as potato chip processors.

Chief executive Champak Mehta said none of the previous season’s crops were left in storage and the new season’s potatoes were taking longer to hit the shelves. . .

North Otago is justly famed for its new potatoes but picking started only a week or so ago.

We didn’t plant ours in the garden until after labour weekend and they’re still a good couple of weeks ago from giving us anything to pick.

But I bought a box of Rare Earth  Jersey Bennes at the Oamaru Farmers’ Market on Sunday – they were delicious.


Rural round-up

November 19, 2014

Peony growers’ business blooming – Sally Rae:

When Rodger and Cindy Whitson decided to get into the cut flower industry back in 2000, they started with a bare paddock and no horticultural knowledge.

They trialled gentians, viburnum and peonies before deciding peonies were best suited to their property, near Mosgiel.

Peony plant numbers have since swelled from 2000 to about 10,000, with plans for more plantings. . .

 Profitable harvest of Jersey Bennes – Sally Brooker:

North Otago’s most famous produce is being harvested for the new season.

Rows of Jersey Benne potatoes are coming out of paddocks in the Totara area just south of Oamaru, renowned for the tarry, fertile soils that produce exceptional early spuds.

A workforce boosted by tertiary and secondary students as they finish their exams is picking and packing the Jersey Bennes.

Organic horticulturist Marty Quennell said his harvest started early this year – the week before Labour Weekend. That meant he had the market to himself for the first three weeks, when a premium price was being paid. With others growers now getting going, the price would drop back, he said. . .

NZ tractor sales set to match records this year on buoyant farming – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand tractor sales are expected to match record highs for the modern farming era this year, as farming incomes are boosted by high milk prices and good growing conditions.

Sales of tractors of at least 40 horsepower, the most common measure for farm tractors, have reached 2,536 in the first nine months of this year and are expected to climb by year’s end to match the 3,515 total for 2005, the highest level since the Tractor and Machinery Association began gathering the data in 1990. Some 60 percent of the nation’s farm tractor sales are estimated to relate to the dairy industry.

Farmers had more cash this year to buy farm equipment such as tractors after Fonterra Cooperative Group paid out a record $8.40 per kilogram of milk solids and the agriculture sector generally benefited from good growing conditions which meant farmers could boost production without having to divert funds into areas such as extra stock feed. . . .

 Ambitious predator-free plan launched:

A group of prominent individuals and private businesses has joined forces with the Department of Conservation in a plan to eradicate all pests from mainland New Zealand.

The Predator Free New Zealand Trust unveiled its vision of an Aotearoa free of rats, stoats and possums at the Place To Live conference in Whanganui today.

Trust chairman Devon McLean said that the secret weapon in the battle against pests would be the thousands of New Zealanders already dedicated to controlling predators.

China-Australia FTA milks NZ’s – Nigel Stirling:

Australia’s new trade agreement with China could give it an edge in milk powder exports unless New Zealand can invoke a clause in its own agreement to get similar tariff concessions.

The two countries yesterday announced the end of ten years of talks for a free trade agreement which Australia says is superior to NZ’s 2008 deal which allowed for the full elimination of tariffs on dairy products by 2019.

Australia’s deal allows for the elimination of tariffs on dairy products within eleven years, but crucially does not include the use of special safeguards by China to protect its farmers from surges of imported skim milk powder from Australia. . .

A2 Milk to list on ASX in 1Q 2015 – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co, the milk marketing company, is planning to list on the Australian stock exchange next year, where it has 9 percent of the fresh milk market sold in grocery stores.

The Auckland-based company doesn’t plan to raise any new capital in a float on the ASX and will keep its New Zealand incorporation and NZX listing, it said in a statement. It has hired Goldman Sachs New Zealand and DLA Piper Australia to manage the listing, and hopes to join the Australian bourse in the first quarter of 2015.

In August, managing director Geoffrey Babidge called the Australian market A2’s “big cash generator”, and said it will bankroll its push into new markets. The company reported annual sales rose 17 percent to $111 million in the year ended June 30, of which 96 percent came from Australian sales. A2 reported a drop in annual profit to $10,000 from $4.1 million a year earlier, as the strength of the kiwi dollar against its Australian counterpart weighed on sales. . .

Ballance helps farmers better weather the weather:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients has joined forces with NIWA to bring advanced hi-resolution weather, climate and environmental forecasts to farmers via the co-operative’s Ag Hub online farm management system.

Announcing the partnership, Ballance General Manager AgInformation Graeme Martin said farm profitability and sustainability are increasingly affected by variable weather patterns, growing conditions and the availability of water.

“Farmers are looking for the best possible support to make operational decisions. NIWA’s advanced forecasting systems and its national climate station network are at the leading edge of weather and environmental information. . .


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