Rural round-up

August 13, 2018

Synlait Milk’s $2b man John Penno only wanted to be a farmer – Heather Chalmers:

John Penno says he only wanted to be a farmer; instead he set up a major export dairy company.   

On August 10, the Synlait Milk managing director officially stepped down after turning a bare paddock near Dunsandel in Central Canterbury into a multi-product company now worth $2 billion.

With a second $260 million nutritional powder manufacturing site at Pokeno, in north Waikato, set to start processing next year for the 2019-20 season, the company had much more growth to come, he said.   . . 

Lake Opuha holds out for last minute winter snow – Pat Deavoll:

It’s not just the ski fields looking for a late-season top-up of snow.

Opuha Water chief executive Andrew Mockford is hoping “mother nature will finish the winter with a flourish” and provide the much-needed snow to melt and fill irrigation reservoir Lake Opuha in South Canterbury.

There was less snow than usual this year and it was higher up the mountain, he said. . . 

 

Red meat sector confident despite some head winds – Allan Barber:

Since I attended the 2016 conference, having missed last year’s, several things have changed considerably: two years ago Donald Trump wasn’t President, Silver Fern Farms hadn’t concluded its capital raising with a Chinese investor, alternative proteins and non-meat burgers weren’t on the industry’s radar and there was little recognition of the need for a Red Meat Story.

This year the conference programme acknowledged these changes by focusing on disruption to global trade, the China influence, heightened consumer expectations, the effects of the digital revolution and the importance of building consumer trust by telling our story about product provenance, traceability and environmental credibility. The conference was very well attended by farmers, processors and service providers, all of whom were optimistic about meeting the challenges ahead of an industry which has faced many different threats to its survival in the past 140 years. . . 

Unyielding weather for European fruit and vegetable growers, how is the heat impacting crops?

Wrinkled tomato skins, curly cucumbers and small plums – these are some of the effects of drought on fruit and vegetables in Northern Europe. Exactly how great is the impact of heat and water shortages on crops, yields and growers in the region?

Hot and dry weather affects field crop farming the most, says Cindy van Rijswick, RaboResearch Fruit and Vegetable Analyst. “Yields are lower, but fruits and vegetables are also smaller in size and sometimes have quality issues. Because of the high temperatures or lack of water, growers have smaller plums, wrinkled tomatoes, and more misshapen cucumbers. In the coming months, the harvest of apples, pears and potatoes may potentially be smaller in size and yield too.” . . 

Agribusiness professional wins Future Leader role:

As a full-time rural valuer and part-time farmer George Macmillan has insights into many aspects of the agricultural industry.

Based in the Hawkes Bay, he lives close to his family’s 380ha sheep and beef farm south west of Hastings and has recently taken over the lease of a 50ha block. As a foot in the door towards land ownership, he will use the block to grow out the dairy cross beef calves he rears every year to heavier weights and will possibly finish a small number.

George, along with Northland farmer Mack Talbot Lynn, has been appointed a Beef + Lamb New Zealand Future Leader and will represent New Zealand at the International Beef Alliance conference in Canada in September. . .

For farmers, traumas tariffs are far worse than any bad trade deal – Bart Ruth:

As a candidate, Donald Trump promised to open new markets to trade, rein in regulatory overreach, cut government spending, and rebuild infrastructure and communication networks to enable rural America to compete in the global economy.

While there have been some positive changes under President Trump – when it comes to American agriculture, we are headed toward economic disaster.

As a sixth-generation farmer and a lifelong Republican, I am alarmed over the impacts that the administration’s actions are having on the agriculture economy and rural America. President Trump has shown a blatant disregard for international institutions, sound science, proven economic theory, and the history of protectionist policy. . .


Rural round-up

July 9, 2018

Documentary explores Dannevirke sheep shearers’ international success – Kerry Harvey:

Overseas visitors are flocking to Dannevirke – looking to get down and dirty in the shearing shed.

The tourists come from all over Europe to learn from – and work for – Paewai-Mullins Shearing, a fourth-generation family business which is at the centre of Māori TV’s new documentary series Shear Bro.

“We’ve got the best teachers here and that’s why we get such a big influx of foreign shearers,” says Tuma Mullins, a world-class trainer who has worked in shearing sheds around the world. . .

Takapau farmer a public hit at Young Farmer of the Year Competition – Andrew Ashton:

Takapau farmer Patrick Crawshaw admits he was pushed to the “absolute limit” at this year’s FMG Young Farmer of the Year grand final but says he “loved every minute of it”.

Speaking to Hawke’s Bay Today after taking on six other finalists over three days of gruelling competition in Invercargill, Crawshaw said he was feeling “tired but not too bad”.

“I learnt a lot through the process, it was a very cool project to go through but certainly one that challenges the body and mind more than anything. I’ve never pushed it that far before in my life. . . 

Disrupters are here – Annette Scott:

Red meat farmers are facing the biggest disruption in more than 30 years, Beef  + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Sam McIvor told farmers at the annual FarmSmart conference in Christchurch.

“We are facing a bigger disruption for our sector than seen in the 1980s when a lamb was $4 and a ewe 50c, if you could get killing space.

McIvor outlined seven forces B+LNZ has identified as driving disruption.

They include global and government institutions putting the impact of meat consumption on the agenda and while it will move slowly the conversation has started. . .

NZ kiwifruit experts share tips with Chinese growers – Gerard Hutching:

It used to be called the Chinese gooseberry; now New Zealand experts are showing Chinese growers how to create the perfect kiwifruit.

Even though China is the home of the kiwifruit, New Zealanders have honed the art of growing them and are now sharing their expertise.

It is all part of Zespri’s Project Bamboo, which aims to contract selected growers to supply the Tauranga-based marketer with fruit for its expanding Chinese market.

Sales in China reached $505 million at the end of June and turnover is expected to double in four years’ time. . .

Synlait applauds high performing farmers:

Synlait recognised high achievers in their milk supplier network at their annual conference in Christchurch for dairy farmers and partners on Thursday 28 June.

Nine accolades were up for grabs at the 2018 Synlait Dairy Honours Awards.

“We make a point of celebrating the significant achievements of an increasingly large number of high performing dairy farmers each year,” says John Penno, Synlait’s CEO and Managing Director. . . 

Icebreaker’s sustainability report sets new standard to follow – Lyn Meany:

Corporate sustainability reporting is almost de rigueur. According to the Governance & Accountability Institute, the number of S&P 500 companies issuing sustainability reports has grown from just 20 percent in 2011 to 82 percent in 2016. That’s quite a trend, and quite a good thing, for the companies and their stakeholders — but only if they do it right.

How can you ensure your sustainability report is a good thing for your company?

Many look at the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework as the gold standard for reporting in the private sector. It is not a quick or easy framework to use — but then again, no effective sustainability report is quick or easy. You have to set goals in all the expected categories: energy; waste; water; and so forth. You have to establish metrics and track your progress against those goals, then write, design and publish your report. . .

Premium Pāmu Venison conquering Auckland and US

From The Sugar Club at SkyCity  to the  Archive Bar and Bistro on Waiheke, premium quality venison from Pāmu in partnership with Duncan Venison and Carve, is livening up the plates of over a dozen restaurants in Auckland and further afield, with more queuing up.

Duncan Venison chief executive Andy Duncan says the demand for the Pāmu Venison is growing as chefs discover the superior taste and quality of the Bistro Fillet product. . .

WA farmers go full Monty to reveal mental health issues – Cally Dupe and Zoe Keenan:

A groundswell of goodwill and humour caused by farmers getting their kit off has drawn attention to a more serious issue: mental health.

The founder of popular Instagram page The Naked Farmer wrapped up his month-long tour of Western Australia this week, visiting farmers across the State.

From Dumbleyung to Kununurra, Victorian farmer Ben Brooksby and his best mate Emma Cross photographed WA grain, sheep and cattle farmers on their broadacre and pastoral properties. . .

 


Rural round-up

April 6, 2018

Vet companies importing illegal drugs likely source of Mycoplasma – Gerard Hutching:

Officials on the hunt for the source of the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis have narrowed their search to two properties in the upper North Island and one in Southland, sources say.

Two sources with a close knowledge of the situation said the North Island raids carried out in late March by Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) officials were related to veterinary businesses importing illegal drugs.

The Southland search involved a farm.

One of the sources said some veterinary pharmaceutical companies sold cheaper drugs not commonly used in New Zealand. . . 

Devastating disease has huge impact on those farmers affected – Joyce Wyllie:

 “It’s just a hill…get over it !” Golden Bay locals often repeat that slogan to visitors who find the long winding trip over the Takaka hill challenging and occasionally nausea inducing.

Getting over that hill has been more of a trial since cyclone Gita’s devastation and on-going closures during required major repairs. Much to relief of travellers, especially freight firms, the road crew are making great progress. We still have queues and convoys to make the trip but now one-lane flow is safe for all vehicles including truck and trailer units. Traffic controllers report 1000 to 1200 vehicles passing through daily which is a surprising number considering only 4000 of us live in Golden Bay.

Last week I left home before daybreak and already a stream of traffic was driving south through Takaka. Looking up from the bottom of the hill I could see dozens of headlights zig-zagging upwards through the blackness. It gives a sense of being on the move together and I wondered at the purpose of all these other travellers. Having to head over at restricted times does mean more organisation, earlier mornings and no chance to pop over and back for an appointment.

But any feelings of being hard done by hold ups and disgruntled about delays and disruptions to my routine and life were put in perspective when I listened to news on the radio. . . 

Woolhandler determined to succeed – Sally Rae:

Pagan Karauria believes it is mental training that has helped her perform so well on the competitive woolhandling circuit this season.

Karauria (29) won the open woolhandling title at the Royal Easter Show in Auckland at the weekend, beating world champion Joel Henare who helped mentor her to the win.

The Alexandra shearer reached more finals than ever before this season, bouncing back from the disappointment of narrowly missing out on a place in the New Zealand team for last year’s world championships in Invercargill.

Karauria was born into shearing royalty; her father Dion Morrell is a master shearer and world record-holder, while her mother Tina Rimene is a former world champion wool-handler.

She attributed her success this season to the mental training, mainly with her father and also some work she had done with Henare. . .

Husband and wife battle for top woolhandling honour – Doug Laing:

The opening day of the New Zealand Shearing and Woolhandling championships in Te Kuiti tomorrow could see a unique piece of matrimonial property decided by a couple whose family exemplify the adage “the family that plays together stays together.”

Ricci and Angela Stevens, of Napier, are currently tied for first place in Shearing Sports New Zealand’s 2017-2018 Senior woolhandling rankings going into the last event, the New Zealand Senior Woolhandling Championship, the final of which will be held late tomorrow afternoon.

Only Dannevirke woolhandler Ash Boyce can deny them the season’s honour, and then only if he reaches the championships final, and they don’t. . . 

Statistics eye-opener during push to connect rural Tararua – Christine McKay:

With 1311km of rural Tararua mapped for Connect Tararua, the results have been a real eye-opener, district councillor Alison Franklin says.

“Of the rural area mapped, 75.5 per cent has no cellphone coverage and 6.1 per cent can access four bars of reception,” she said.

Tararua District Mayor Tracey Collis said the statistics were incredibly powerful, even if some weren’t good to hear.

“Those statistics don’t include Tararua’s three biggest towns, but do include Norsewood.” . . 

Synlait to double lactoferrin capacity following new supply agreement:

Synlait Milk  has secured a multiyear lactoferrin supply agreement[1] that will underwrite an investment of approximately $18 million to double lactoferrin manufacturing capacity at Synlait Dunsandel.

“Lactoferrin is a high value, specialty ingredient used in a range of nutritional food products around the world. This agreement is a major step forward for our growing lactoferrin business and delivers to our strategic commitments,” says John Penno, Managing Director and CEO.

Lactoferrin is an iron-binding protein recognised for its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. As a naturally occurring milk protein, it is commonly used in infant formula products throughout the world. . . 


Good news from Fonterra & Synlait

March 21, 2018

Fonterra has announced an increase in the forecast milk payout:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today increased its forecast Farmgate Milk Price for the 2017/18 season to $6.55 per kgMS and announced a full year forecast dividend range of 25 – 35 cents per share with an interim dividend of 10 cents per share.

Chairman John Wilson says the ongoing strong global demand for dairy and stable global supply are continuing to support global prices, particularly for the important Whole Milk Powder category.

“Farmers will welcome a forecast cash payout of $6.80 – $6.90, which would be the third highest in the last decade. This is also good news for New Zealand as it represents around $10 billion flowing into the country’s economy. However, we are very aware of the challenges many of our farmers are facing this season with difficult weather conditions impacting production.

“While the global supply and demand picture remains positive and we expect prices to stay around current levels, we will be watching for any impact on market sentiment as spring production volumes build in Europe,” he added.

New from China isn’t all good though.

Fonterra’s Greater China business continues to perform well overall but the Co-operative has re- assessed the value of its Beingmate investment so that it reflects a fair value at this point in time.

Commenting on this decision, Mr Wilson says the Board has assessed the carrying value of Beingmate at $244 million and therefore taken an impairment of $405 million. . . 

Synlait Milk has announced a record half-year profit:

Synlait Milk  has reported a half year net profit after tax (NPAT) of $40.7 million for the six months ending 31 January 2018.

This is compared to $10.6 million for the same period last year (H1 FY17).

Synlait’s Managing Director and CEO, John Penno, says the strong earnings growth of $30.1 million has been driven by increases in manufacture and sales of our highest margin products, as well as improved margins and earlier sales of our ingredients products.

“The growth trajectory of canned infant formula has continued with total consumer packaged volumes almost tripling from the same period last year and up 36% on the second half of last year,” he says.

“Our relationship with The a2 Milk Company™ continues to strengthen where we remain their exclusive manufacturer for the important Australia, New Zealand and China market.”

“We have also renegotiated our supply agreements with New Hope Nutritionals and with Bright Dairy, which provides for four-fold volume growth over a five-year period. However, we don’t expect this to impact sales until FY19,” he says.

In the six months to 31 January 2018, Synlait has invested $34.5 million in capital expenditure throughout New Zealand. The major components of this were the Synlait Auckland blending and canning facility ($11.2 million) the new wetmix kitchen at Synlait Dunsandel ($18.4 million). Synlait also established a new research and development centre in Palmerston North. . . 

This is good news for farmers and the wider economy.

The anti-dairying movement gets a lot of attention, much of it based on mis-information and emotion, but that doesn’t change the importance of the industry as a major export earner.

 


Dairy following failed example of meat industry

March 14, 2018

Have we reached peak dairy factory?

The number of dairy factories sprouting in Waikato has got to the stage that farmers are concerned the industry has reached a tipping point.

They fear further growth could lead to overcapacity – too many milk processing sites – and dairying will follow the path of the meat industry, which over the past decade has been plagued by plant closures and job losses. . .

Fonterra Shareholder’s Council chairman and Waikato farmer Duncan Coull​ says it is becoming a national issue for the industry. It is bigger than Fonterra and an industry-wide discussion is needed to find a way to save it from itself.

“Do farmers really want to reach that tipping point because once that tipping point is reached, there is no turning back. We need to start asking ourselves the question as farmers what we want the industry to look like going forward.

“If farmers continue to allow capacity to be built and continued to supply that capacity, be very careful what we wish for, we are another red meat sector waiting to happen and we are another Australian dairy industry waiting to happen.” . . 

Farmers like some competition but it the meat industry found out at great cost – in money and human terms – that it is possible to have too much competition.

Synlait chief executive John Penno​ says the dairy industry is already at overcapacity and the vast bulk of the processing technology built in recent years has been large-scale milk powder plants producing dairy commodities.

“There’s no question in my mind that overcapacity across the industry exists. But the real question is, is it the right capacity? What is the total capacity is the wrong question.”

Synlait does not operate in that market and builds plants focusing on high-end, value-added products. . ..

Farmers are free to choose which company they supply.

A new one might look attractive, especially if it doesn’t require suppliers to buy shares.

But the lesson from the meat industry is that more competition isn’t always better for farmers or the industry.


Rural round-up

January 29, 2018

Raising profile of farm careers – Sally Rae:

Brought up in a Southland farming family, Olivia Ross grew up living and breathing  the red meat sector.

From raising pet lambs to seeing processing chains process the property’s lambs each year, her exposure to the industry was unlimited.

After leaving Takitimu Primary School in the rural township of Nightcaps, she headed to boarding school in Invercargill and that was when her association with, and understanding of, the urban population began. . . 

Strong sales show venison, velvet booming:

Confidence in the future profitability of venison and velvet production has flowed through to the market for sire stags, with strong sales reported throughout the country, Deer Industry New Zealand says.

Breeders reported a marked improvement on last year’s results. Although no stags broke the $100,000 mark, average prices were up strongly for most sales, several by more than 50%. The overall clearance rate was  94%, compared with 83% last year.

Venison schedule prices to farmers normally peak  each year in October before the last chilled shipments leave for Europe for the annual game meat season. This season, prices  continued to rise into January, with the published average now around a record $10.30kg for a carcass in the preferred weight range, DINZ chief executive Dan Coup said. . . 

Better dialogue needed to help bridge divide with farming’s critics – Andrew McGivern:

The weather certainly plays on people’s minds in different ways at this time of year.

Those planning a holiday at the beach naturally have a different perspective to those estimating pasture growth to determine if there will be a feed surplus or deficit for their animals.

Until last year, I would have never said that you can’t get too much rain over that late summer/early autumn period, but the Tasman Tempest closely followed by two cyclones made a liar out of me.

And with the early hot and dry start to summer we had in December, the immediate future for farmers in the Waikato was looking bleak. But we had that rain in early January and have now had a bit of a follow up, so once again the grass is growing, and things are starting to look up.

The decline in milk production has stirred the overseas markets up with GlobalDairyTrade prices improving. That also buoys farmers’ morale, knowing that it is strengthening the milk price. . . 

Synlait’s 2017 / 2018 Forecast Milk Price Remains Steady at $6.50:

Synlait Milk has reaffirmed its milk price forecast of $6.50 kgMS for the 2017 / 2018 season.

However the company has signalled that this forecast is dependent on commodity prices continuing to firm for the rest of the season.

“Our price of $6.50 kgMS has remained in place since May 2017, but global pricing remains unpredictable,” says John Penno, Managing Director and CEO. . . 

No regrets after going robotic – Mark Daniel:

While robotic (voluntary) milking systems appear to be gaining in popularity, the Fisher Farm, between Cambridge and Te Awamutu, has a head start on today’s converts.

Now well into its sixth season, the operation milks 300 cows over 80ha, and lays claim to the title of being the first farm in Waikato to install a DeLaval VMS.

When owner John Fisher first looked at the concept, the farm had a traditional herringbone milking shed without a feed pad, and was operated by two full-time staff and a relief milker.  . . 

 

Booming horticulture exports forecast to soon rise to $5.6b – Jamie Gray:

Horticulture is fast becoming agriculture’s “fourth engine” and will soon rival the meat industry in export receipts, ASB rural economist Nathan Penny says.

The Ministry for Primary Industries, in its latest update, said horticulture’s strong growth is forecast to continue, with exports expected to reach $5.4 billion for the year ending June before rising to $5.6b in the next year.

Meat and wool export revenue is forecast to increase 4.2 per cent to $8.7b in the year, supported by strong red meat prices and increasing exports of value-added products, then to $8.8b the following year. . . 

Hort’s performance worth watching as avocados smash records – Andrew Marshall:

Supercharged activity in several horticulture categories in recent years has prompted Rural Bank to tag the sector as one to watch closely in 2018.

In particular, a couple of notable movers smashing records in domestic and export markets are avocados and oranges.

In the vegetable industry, crops with increasing export market traction and likely price growth in the year ahead include asparagus, celery, broccoli and cauliflower, according to Rural Bank’s Ag Answers research team. . . 


Rural round-up

December 27, 2017

More than 100 people help farming family after tragedy – Andrew Owen:

About 40 shearers and a support crew of more than 60 helped a farming family complete one of the biggest tasks of the year, days after a tragic accident cost the lives of their son and his friend.

Craig “Yopp” Murphy, 31, and his mate Jason Payne, 34, died on December 9 when their ute rolled on a remote, privately-owned farm in Kohuratahi, in the Whangamomona Valley, about 76 kilometres inland from Stratford.

Craig Murphy’s funeral took place on Saturday, December 16, and four days later more than 100 people got to work helping his bereaved parents, Whangamomona Valley farmers Dan and Kathy Murphy, shear their 3400 sheep for free, a task that needed to be finished at the peak of the season before Christmas. . .

Hunter Downs scheme meets share target – Daniel Birchfield:

The 12,000ha Hunter Downs irrigation scheme is to go ahead, after the required number of shares were sold.

Hunter Downs Water Ltd, the company behind the proposal to use water from the Waitaki River on land towards Timaru, held its annual meeting on December 14, when it was expected a decision would be made on whether to proceed or return funds to those who had already made the commitment to take water.

After a delay of several days, Hunter Downs Water Ltd chairman Andrew Fraser announced yesterday the company had “secured sufficient farmer uptake to now enable it to proceed” and finalise the funding structure and contractual arrangements to start construction, which was likely to be early next year. . .

New trapping project already successful – Louise Scott:

A pest control operation to protect native birds in the Rees-Dart River delta is proving successful just one month in.

Glenorchy local Russell Varcoe has built and set four new trapping lines as part of the Routeburn Dart Wildlife Trust’s Braided River Project.

That includes 601 traps — of which 574 had been placed by last Friday.

It is hoped the project will protect five species classified by the Department of Conservation as either endangered or threatened: wrybills, black-fronted terns, banded dotterels, black-billed gulls and black stilts . .

Leading questions: Synlait Milk founder and chief executive John Penno:

Business leaders discuss the year just gone and what will affect them in 2018. Today: Synlait Milk founder and chief executive John Penno.

What is 2018 looking like for your business?

2017 was very busy – after opening a new infant formula blending and packaging facility in Auckland, and nearing capacity at our Dunsandel site, we are entering 2018 looking to build an infant formula manufacturing site somewhere in the upper North Island.

We’ll also be constructing a $125 million world-class milk packaging plant in Dunsandel to supply fresh milk and cream to South Island families through our new partnership with Foodstuffs South Island. . . 

 

 

Rain on Christmas wish-list as drought conditions become critical in outback Queensland – Eric Barker:

With less than half the average rainfall across many parts of western Queensland this year, rain is top of the Christmas wish-list for most graziers.

While widespread winter rain in 2016 lifted spirits, most of central and south-west Queensland has been officially drought declared for the past four years.

Grazier and Blackall Tambo Shire Mayor Andrew Martin said most of the area had been suffering below-average wet seasons before the drought declarations. . .


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