Rural round-up


Landcorp forecasts bigger loss this year, no dividend – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Landcorp Farming, the state-owned farmer, won’t pay a dividend to the government for a second consecutive year as low milk prices erode earnings from its dairy business.

The company expects to post a net operating loss of between $8 million and $9 million in its current financial year ending June 30, chief financial officer Steve McJorrow told parliament’s primary production select committee in Wellington. That’s a bigger loss than the $1 million to $6 million it forecast in December, and compares with a net operating profit of $4.9 million last year. The projected loss means Landcorp won’t pay a dividend for the year, McJorrow told BusinessDesk after the select committee meeting. . . 

Drought relief in the pipeline for North Otago – Rob Tipa:

Farmers in the North Otago downlands between Duntroon, Enfield and Herbert will be happy to leave behind the stresses of desperately dry summers when the taps are opened on an expanded irrigation scheme covering an extra 25,000 hectares next spring.

In December, this region was shaping up for a summer from hell as farmers were forced to destock quickly with predictions of an El Nino long, hot summer drought.

The North Otago Irrigation Company, which currently supplies about 100 shareholders with irrigation water from the Waitaki River, was running at full capacity in November and December to cope with demand. . . 

North dairy farms lift collective environmental record:

Northland’s dairy farms are collectively lifting their environmental compliance performance with record numbers achieving full compliance last season.

Joe Carr, chairman of the Northland Regional Council’s Environmental Management Committee, says 65 percent of the more than 900 farms inspected over four months from mid-August last year had achieved full compliance, the highest rate ever recorded.

Councillor Carr, an Okaihau-based beef farmer and forest owner who represents the council’s Hokianga-Kaikohe constituency, says 944 farms were visited by the council or its contractor last season. . . 

Wall to wall sky – it’s a big country – Kate Taylor:

Most travellers drive around the South Island looking up at the picturesque high country. Kate Taylor jumped at the opportunity to experience the views up close with four-wheel-drive company NZ Adventures.

Asking how four-wheel-drive a four-wheel-drive trip will be is probably not a good start for my 1250-kilometre high country safari down the South Island.

Usually I would class myself as a good vehicle passenger – chatty, happy and with not an ounce of carsickness. But I think my hosts receive the occasional message about my state of mind… a tight grip on the door handle, mouth firmly shut and eyes to the upward view.

The trip caters for people with their own 4WD vehicles and preferably drivers with 4WD experience. Certainly, some of the places driven in the tour are not for the fainthearted, with sheer drops on the side of the tracks or long, steep inclines up to spectacular views and back down again. . . 

Journey to the top of the world – Kate Taylor:

Kate Taylor concludes her three-part series about a 4WD high country safari from Blenheim to Cardrona. The final days of the six-day journey are more familiar territory for the Otago farmer’s daughter.

Standing beside the monstrous Leaning Rock high above the Cromwell Gorge, I assume the tour guide is joking when he says I can see the Blue Mountains where I grew up.

After all, we had already been on top of one Blue Mountain in North Canterbury and driven through part of Blue Mountain Station in Mid Canterbury.

But there they are – no bird’s eye view of West Otago but undoubtedly the Blue Mountains in the distance. . .

I couldn’t find part 2 of this series, if you come across it please post the link in comments.


Is Fonterra’ strategy outdate – Jacqueline Rowarth:

More developments in dairy processing operations, this time in Northland, are yet another nail in what must not be allowed to become Fonterra’s coffin.

The dairy farmers in the region will, potentially, have a choice of which company to supply. The dilemma for them is whether they continue to support their co-operative or move to a new company promising good returns.

The promise is based on the demand in China for UHT milk and ice cream: China is now believed to be the biggest ice cream market globally. Chinese spending on ice-cream increased over 50% between 2009 and 2014. Furthermore, consumption is still under a quarter of that consumed by Americans, giving plenty of room for further increases. The new company should be onto a winner. . . 

Canterbury farmer unofficially tops world crop record – Monique Steele:

A Canterbury farmer with a wheat crop yielding above the world record missed out on glory because it was never officially recorded.

Leeston farmer David Birkett harvested 16.7 tonnes a hectare from his feed-wheat crop which would have topped the existing record of 16.519t/ha held in the United Kingdom.

He suspected he was heading for a personal best, but decided against bringing in officials to verify a Guinness world record attempt. . . 

Southern Dairy Hub site found:

Southern Dairy Hub (SDH) chair Maurice Hardie says the vision of a southern research and development dairying centre is much closer to being realised with a conditional agreement on two properties now having been reached pending the satisfaction of a number of minimum requirements for both parties.

“This is an important milestone in our plan to build a facility that is a partnership between local farmers, DairyNZ and AgResearch; the new farm will enable local dairy farming issues to be researched on southern soils in southern conditions,” he says. . .

NZ Rural (for now) Party


The New Zealand Rural Party is holding its first public meeting this weekend   but it might not be the Rural party at the end of it.

The meeting will establish an executive, approve the draft constitution and discuss the party’s name.

The party was founded by Horeke farmer, forester and Northland regional councillor Joe Carr and Okaihau farmer, contractor and former Far North Holdings director Ken Rintoul, who claim political parties that had traditionally had provincial New Zealand’s interests at heart were now focused on the major urban centres. . .

The party was formed a few months ago but is not yet registered  and its founders are already have second thoughts about its name.

Co-founder Ken Rintoul says . . . the party has attracted around 250 members over the past four months and is about half way to reaching the 500 needed to become a registered political party.

He says it has also become clear that its policies on helping New Zealand’s exporters and manufacturers have struck a chord with far more than just rural communities and the party’s name may well have to change.

Hmm, how does that sit with this statement on its website?:

Your political voice from New Zealand’s rural communities, towns, service sectors and value added manufacturers.

A party ought to work out what and who it stands for before it’s established.

Not having done that, isn’t stopping its founders, though.

. . . In 2014 they will field candidates in the general election but as a relatively small blip on the political horizon can the NZ Rural Party seriously expect to make any impact in Wellington?

”Look at the Maori Party” exclaims Joe Carr.’ Four people holding the balance of power!”. . .

Those four people also hold seats which are designated as Maori seats. Without the seats it is very unlikely they would be in parliament and it would be much harder for a new party to win general seats.

It would be harder still for a rural party when there are so few rural voters.

Statistically farmers make up 6%of the population while the provincial community is 22%. Including forestry and other rural workers the entire rural population is less than 25% of the whole and yet-and this is where the NZ Rural Party believes it can generate political persuasiveness-the rural sector contributes 60% of the country’s export gross domestic product. . .

It’s not easy for a new party to get traction without standing for something which sets it apart from the others and the Rural (for now) Party’s policies don’t do that:

•   NZ Exchange rate is too high

•   Local Government Reforms should continue

•   ETS-No tax on animal emissions

•   Too much bureaucratic RMA

•   The nation owns water

•   Infrastructure-Rural NZ road funding – shafted by Government

•   Full reciprocal land purchasing rights for New Zealanders in foreign countries

•   Productivity and profitability should be encouraged

•   Rural NZ has much to offer

Most of these aren’t even policies, they’re statements of problems and opinions.

The party might be able to work out exactly who it’s trying to represent.

It might be able to find a name which suits those diverse adherents.

It might double its membership to the 500 required for registration.

It might be able to develop policies.

It might even find some poor deluded souls willing to stand as candidates.

But its chances of getting into parliament are about the same as mine of winning Lotto tonight – and I haven’t got a ticket.

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