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. . .


Rural round-up

December 8, 2017

Dairy not all about milking it:

A Lincoln University pilot study is backing the importance of environmental and social responsibility, as well as the bottom line, to dairy farmers.

Seeing themselves as “guardians of their land” and adopting environmentally friendly ways of farming is a key component of the farmers’ personal convictions.

The study, What really drives dairy production systems: economic rationale or social and environmental responsibility? surveyed owners, share milkers and managers, to format a questionnaire for much larger sample of interviews with farmers, due to take place in January. . .

Day a chance to experience life on a farm – Sally Rae:

When Duncan Wells left secondary school, he was encouraged not to go farming.

It was during the farming downturn in the 1980s and his farming father suggested he get some other skills.

So he became an electrician and worked for a few years before giving in to his passion for the dairy sector.

Now Mr Wells and his wife Anne-Marie are sharing that passion with others – opening the gates of their Outram dairy business, Huntly Road Dairies, to allow the public to experience a taste of farm life.

On Sunday, Fonterra has organised an ”open gates” initiative, with 40 selected farms around the country opening for the day. . . 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand supporting sustainable hill country scientific programme:

A scientific programme aimed at improving the sustainability of hill country for sheep and beef farming is to be launched with the support of Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

The project, which is backed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Partnership Scheme, will look at ways to invigorate hill country by developing sustainable production systems.

A strategy and action plan to increase the sustainability of hill country farming (economic, environmental, social and cultural) will be one of the key pr iorities for the initiative.  . . 

NZ Beef prices expected to hold firm in the face of expanding global production:

New Zealand beef prices moved marginally higher in quarter three and are expected to hold relatively firm in the coming months despite expanding global beef production generating intense competition in global markets, according to Rabobank’s latest Beef Quarterly report.

Rabobank animal proteins analyst Blake Holgate said stronger-than-anticipated demand for New Zealand beef in key export markets, combined with restricted domestic supplies and a weakening New Zealand dollar, resulted in a marginal increase in New Zealand slaughter prices in quarter three. . . 

Focus on New Zealand brands needed in face of trade uncertainty:

Uncertainty over Brexit means New Zealand needs to urgently focus on developing brands and differentiating our agricultural exports.

Senior lecturer in Agribusiness Management Dr Nic Lees, said New Zealand produces some of the best fruit, wine, meat, seafood and dairy products in the world but around 70 per cent reaches the consumer with no identification that is sourced from here.

“Sudden changes such as Brexit remind us that relying on undifferentiated commodity exports leaves us vulnerable to sudden changes in government policies,” Dr Lees said.

“When consumers demand a branded product, it is difficult for governments to shut it out of the market.” . .

Fonterra imposes grading system on milk fat with ‘excessive’ PKE, Fed Farmers confirms – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group has followed through on its work into the impact of palm kernel expeller on the composition of fat in the milk it collects with a grading system that will start in September 2018.

The new system follows consultation with farmers and is the latest step in Fonterra’s efforts to reinforce its Trusted Goodness logo, which is designed to appeal to consumers who want sustainable and ethical practices in food production and is underpinned by New Zealand’s “natural, grass-fed advantage”. But Fonterra’s research has shown that PKE also has implications for dairy product manufacturing and sales in global markets of products such as butter. . . 

New PKE grading system warrants contractual clause change for farmers:

Federated Farmers is reminding dairy farmers and sharemilkers to update existing business agreements as they face joint liability to meet upcoming changes for using palm kernel (PKE) as feed.

Dairy co-operative Fonterra is introducing a grading system next September to measure milk fat composition, which changes with excessive use of PKE impacting on manufacturing capability and seasonal customer preferences.

Fonterra farmers who don’t comply with new recommended levels for cows’ PKE intake will be penalised. . . 

Synlait opens new Wetmix kitchen:

Synlait Milk  has today officially opened its new Wetmix kitchen, which will enable it to simultaneously run both large-scale infant formula spray dryers.

This will double the amount of infant formula powder which can be produced at the Dunsandel site, from 40,000 metric tonnes (MT) to 80,000 MT per year.

“We were at the point where our current Wetmix facility was at capacity, and our consumer demand was continuing to grow. Building this new Wetmix kitchen will relieve that pressure,” says John Penno, Managing Director and CEO. . . 

New arrangement simplifies meat exports to Egypt:

A new arrangement signed recently will simplify New Zealand’s meat product exports to Egypt, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said today.

Under the new arrangement, Egyptian authorities will no longer have to visit each individual meat premises that wishes to export to Egypt.

The arrangement was signed by MPI Director-General Martyn Dunne and Egyptian Deputy Minister for Agriculture Dr Mona Mehrez in Wellington. . . 


Rural round-up

November 30, 2017

Mouldy hay bale discovery leads to new NZ cheese – Adriana Weber:

A discovery in a mouldy bale of hay has led to a new type of cheese its makers hope will put New Zealand on the map.

Whitestone Cheese, a family-run business based in Oamaru, has discovered a new, local blue mould culture.

Chief executive Simon Berry said he spent about six months trying to find a version of Penicillium roqueforti, originally found in limestone caves in France.

He and his head cheesemaker set out to swab similar caves in Otago, and had come close to calling it quits when they received a timely phone call. . . 

Our world of cheesecraft :

We’re often asked, how many of your cheese recipes come from the New World versus those based on old recipes? Great question…

 Cheese is just like wine, their heritage styles date back to old Europe and Middle East. And just like wine, each little village in Europe put their own twist on cheese recipes to forge their own style. Such as Camembert being from Camembert, while Brie is from Brie.

 This Old World would soon branch out into the new. As civilizations split and expanded around the globe, up popped the New World producers. In the case of wine, California’s Napa Valley, South Africa, Australia, Argentina and New Zealand all joined this group. They each made the most of similar climatic conditions to grow European grape varieties and developed their take on traditional wines.

 It’s exactly the same with cheese. Thousands of miles from the traditional home of Brie and Camembert, at Whitestone we discovered that the local great grass growing combined with fantastic dairy meant we could produce European style cheeses. The result was a Mt Domet Double Cream Brie, Waitaki Camembert and Lindis Pass Brie all named after local source icons, stamping our kiwi regional characteristics to these classics. . . 

Storm hits early crop of cherries – Tom Kitchin:

One Teviot Valley orchardist says between 30% and 40% of his crop was damaged because of the sudden torrential Central Otago downpours.

He has also had to lay off staff for the next 10 days.

Other orchards in the valley and Alexandra-Clyde area have fared somewhat better.

The Teviot Valley orchardist, who did not wish to be named, said his first varieties of cherry, Burlat and Earlise, were severely affected by Sunday’s downpour.

He said his varieties of cherries came earlier than other pre-Christmas and post-Christmas varieties.

About 30% to 40% of his crop was damaged by 50-60mm of rain, so he had to lay off staff.

”Roxburgh’s feeling it at the moment. I employ local people. I feel sorry for them.” . . 

Synlait founder Penno to step down as CEO after 12 years, will remain a director –  Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Synlait Milk founder and chief executive John Penno is to step down after 12 years leading the Dunsandel-based milk processor, whose shares have almost tripled since listing in July 2013.

Penno will step down in the next 12 months in what the company said would be an orderly transition. He will stay on during an international search for his successor.

Penno, who has spent a total of 17 years with the company, said he was ” looking forward to getting back to my entrepreneurial roots and will be looking for opportunities to get involved with start-ups and young companies, which is where my wife, Maury, and I want to continue to make a contribution.” . . 

Celebrating the Kiwi inventor who transformed dairy farming:

Global dairy equipment company DeLaval today celebrated 100 years since the launch of the world’s first commercially successful milking machine by sharing the story of an unknown Kiwi inventor.

At an event held in Hamilton today, the company recognised the vision and innovation of Norman John Daysh. In the early 1900s, Norman invented the first commercial vacuum-pump milking machine that went on to revolutionize the dairy industry.

Norman’s grandchildren John Daysh and Mary Daysh were the guests of honour at the centenary event. John Daysh said he is thrilled his Grandfather is receiving recognition one hundred years after his machine was launched to the world, saying it’s been an untold story until now. . . 

Famous Cambridge stud sold:

One of the country’s most famous horse studs has been sold.

Cambridge Stud has been sold by champion breeder Sir Patrick Hogan.

It has been bought by businessman Brendan Lindsay, who founded and recently sold the Sistema plastic business, and his wife Jo Lindsay. . .

Strong Farm Machinery Sales Herald Strong 2018:

Sales of tractors are strong and the farm machinery sector is employing more workers, demonstrating a positive outlook in the primary industry, says NZ Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA) President, Roger Nehoff.

Mr Nehoff said in the year to date (end of October) the total number of tractor sales was up about 11% on the year before with some regions up by 45 to 50%. Overall sales were 3164, compared with 2849 for the same period in 2016 and 2978 in 2015.

In addition, the total number of people employed in the tractor and farm machinery sales and servicing sector had increased by more than 350 since 2015 and was now at 2846. . . 

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Rural round-up

November 22, 2017

A Kauri in the Forest – Michael Spaans:

Federated Farmers is extremely saddened to learn of the passing of DairyNZ chairman Michael Spaans.

Federated Farmers extends its condolences to the Spaan family at this difficult time.
Mr Spaans was renowned for his commitment and dedication to the dairy sector and held several key positions as a director at Fonterra and board member at DairyNZ between 2008 – 2015. . .

Taranaki young farmers take on NZ Dairy Industry Awards challenge:

Several NZ Young Farmers members look set to go head-to-head in Taranaki’s longest-running dairy awards programme.

James Holgate, 25, and Buddy Sharpe, 20, have entered the prestigious New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

They’ll both be vying to take out the title of 2018 Taranaki Dairy Manager of the Year.

James Holgate is in his second season as a herd manager on Tony and Lorraine Lash’s 350-cow dairy farm at Midhirst. . . 

Affected farmer criticises handling of cattle disease – Sally Brooker:

A dairy farmer whose herd is infected with Mycoplasma bovis feels let down by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Leo Bensegues revealed his situation at a packed public meeting in the Morven Community Hall last night.

About 200 people crammed into the venue for the sixth meeting hosted by the ministry since the bacterial cattle disease was  discovered  on farms near Waimate in July.

Mr Bensegues asked ministry officials if they would change their biosecurity protocols if he could show they were not working.

Technical liaison officer Victoria Barrell assured him they would. . . 

 

New Zealander nominated for top global wine role:

New Zealand Winegrowers welcomes the New Zealand government’s nomination of Dr John Barker as a candidate for the role of Director General of the International Organisation of Vine & Wine (OIV).

The OIV is the inter-governmental scientific and technical reference body for wine. Based in Paris, with 46 members accounting for more than 85% of global wine production and nearly 80% of world consumption, it is sometimes called the ‘UN of wine’.

“Dr Barker is an ideal candidate. He has deep understanding and expertise in the global vine and wine sector built on 20 years of experience,” said CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers, Philip Gregan. . . 

A2 Milk revenue, profit pushes higher in first four months of FY18 – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk, which markets milk with a protein variant said to have health benefits, says both revenue and net profit jumped in the first four months of the current financial year as it continues to benefit from strong demand for its infant formula.

Revenue climbed 69 percent to $262.2 million in the four months ended Oct. 30 from the same four months a year earlier, while net profit more than doubled to $52.3 million, the company told shareholders at today’s annual meeting in Auckland. Group earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization were $78.4 million, up 120.8 percent on the same four months a year earlier. . . 

Synlait Auckland officially opened, doubles infant formula packaging capacity:

Synlait Milk has opened its new Auckland site, which is home to its second state-of-the-art blending and consumer packaging facility.

Located in Mangere, the site was officially opened today by Auckland Mayor Phil Goff at a ceremony alongside all staff.

“We’re expecting customer demand for consumer packaged products to increase significantly in the near term,” said John Penno, Synlait’s Managing Director and CEO. . . 

New Zealand ag-tech increases farm revenue and consumer appeal:

One of the greatest costs to farmers tending an estimated one billion sheep globally is in lost productivity from parasites and ineffective drench programs. The result of a three year R&D project, funded by Sainsbury’s – the UK’s second largest supermarket chain – has demonstrated use of technology developed in New Zealand can save farmers in their supply chain alone around $19 million annually.

Dunedin based ag-tech company Techion Group’s combination of an internet connected device, data management system and connectivity to veterinary expertise delivers an effective means to manage parasites and drenching programs which affect the health and growth of animals. . . 

‘First Wolrd’ disputes can cause ‘third world’ dliemnas – Jennie Schmidt:

The majority of Americans know very little about genetically modified food. They’ll even tell you so: In a poll by the Annenberg Public Policy Center last year, 63 percent rated their understanding of GMOs as “poor” or “fair.” Only 4 percent called it “excellent.”

That’s why Congress is investing $3 million in the Food and Drug Administration specifically to be used for an education campaign. Before the FDA spends the money, however, it’s asking the public for input: This month, it has held forums in Charlotte, N.C., and San Francisco. Online comments are open until November 17.

The skinflint in me worries about this expense: Does a government with a national debt of $20 trillion really need to use its limited resources this way?

The realist in me observes that the spending decision already has been made, so we might as well quit wondering about “whether” and start thinking about “how.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

August 22, 2017

Honesty breeds motivation in deer farmers’ support group – Tim Fulton:

A North Otago deer farmer tells Tim Fulton about how joining a farmers’ Advance Party has helped him make production gains.

A network of deer farmers is helping “geographic outliers” Dallas and Sarah Newlands to prepare for the biggest investment of their farming career.

The Newlands of North Otago are fourth-generation farmers 20km inland from Maheno, running the family’s 111-year old Viewmont property and a newer acquisition, Maraeweka.

They’re on rolling country, surrounded by dairy farmers but reliant on trough and small-scale water supply schemes to shield them against drought. . .

New tech simplifies DNA sequencing for primary sector – Alexa Cook:

Improvements to new DNA sequencing technology will help researchers use genetics to solve problems faster in animals, plants and other organisms, a Palmerston North scientist says.

Rob Elshire and his wife Robyn run a genetic analysis centre in Palmerston North and say they’ve developed an open-source DNA analysis method that can generate 300 percent more data than other technology, but at the same cost.

Similar science was used to create a gold kiwifruit variety to be resistant to the vine disease PSA. . . 

Westland appoints new Chief Financial Officer:

Westland welcomes a new Chief Financial Officer with some 20 years’ experience of international business finance on 21 August.

Toni Brendish, Chief Executive of Westland Milk Products, New Zealand’s second largest dairy co-operative, has appointed British-born Dorian Devers to the CFO role at Westland.

“I’m very excited about the potential for Westland with an appointment of someone of Dorian’s calibre,” Brendish said.  . . 

Synlait Cements Relationship with New Hope Nutritionals:

Synlait  has today announced a new supply agreement with New Hope Nutritionals for production of their infant formula brands.

The arrangement provides certainty of supply for both companies over a five year period.

“This supply agreement has clarified our infant formula partnership with New Hope Nutritionals for the near future, allowing both of us to plan with confidence,” said John Penno, Synlait’s Managing Director and CEO. . . 

World’s rarest wading bird released in Mackenzie Basin:

51 black stilt, the world’s rarest wading bird, are being released at Mount Gerald station in the Mackenzie basin today.

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says the birds will add to the 60 released into the Tasman valley earlier this month, significantly boosting the wild population.

“DOC works really hard on black stilt (kakī) recovery, controlling predators in their braided river habitats and hatching and rearing chicks in aviaries before releasing them into the wild. This programme has helped build numbers in the wild from a low of 23 to more than 106 adult birds today,” Ms Barry says. . . 

Top two North Island young winemakers off to national final:

The annual Tonellerie de Mercurey Young Winemaker of the Year regional competition was held at EIT (Eastern Institute of Technology), Hawkes Bay on Friday with Sara Addis from Trinity Hill Winery taking out first place and Tom Hindmarsh from Martinborough’s Dry River coming a close second, in third place was Hadiee Johnson from Te Awa.

Both Sara and Tom will go on to represent the North Island at the Tonellerie de Mercurey National competition in Auckland, competing against the first and second place winners from the South Island on Wednesday 20th September. . . 

Dairy industry body joins GIA biosecurity partnership:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) has become the fifteenth and largest industry sector to join the Government Industry Agreement (GIA) biosecurity partnership, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

DCANZ is the national organisation representing the dairy processor and exporters sector, comprised of 11 members responsible for 99% of the milk processed in New Zealand.

“It’s very pleasing to have DCANZ working with the Ministry for Primary Industries and other industry partners on biosecurity,” says Mr Guy.. . .

Dispatch from NZ no. 2 Resource Management Act (RMA) – Jonathan Baker:

In 1991, New Zealand created an overarching and ambitious piece of legislation. The Resource Management Act (RMA), pulled together and replaced a whole host of existing legislation covering town and country planning, pollution consents, land use and environmental legislation.

The RMA was developed over time, out of a recognition that the legislative framework was insuficient to address the emerging recognition of sustainable development as introduced by the Brundtland Commission. A Review Group led the process which occured aco]ross a change of Government. . . 


Rural round-up

August 14, 2017

“Parallel Parker” Needs to Do A Better Job of Lining Up Labour’s Water Policy:

Federated Farmers wants Labour to honour the commitment it made to only look at charging overseas-owned water bottlers and to permanently park its discriminatory tax on water that will divide communities and undermine regional economies.

On 21 June this year, then Labour leader Andrew Little told the Federated Farmers national conference, in front of the media, that they were not going to tax water across the board – just look at water bottling. When news reports on this started to come out, Labour changed its tune.

At the beginning of this week Mr Parker was telling us it would apply to “large commercial users”, but now, and the end of the week, we hear it won’t apply to the very large companies putting water in bottled products right now in central Auckland. . . 

Labour could have knocked the water debate out of the park; But the economics of its royalties policy just don’t work; Let’s hope they get some nationalistic headlines out of it before questions are asked – Alex Tarrant:

Labour this election had the opportunity to knock the water pricing debate out of the park. Jacinda Ardern’s announcement Wednesday was instead a nod to politics over policy.

On the face it, the headline announcement that all commercial water users would be charged based on usage was a welcome addition to the water allocation and pricing debate in New Zealand this year.

But going beneath the surface throws up more questions than answers. These mainly stem from the policy’s central theme of different royalty rates applying to different water users, and depending on the quality of water used.

I made my views clear on this issue back in March. Let’s have a proper water pricing debate that encompasses all water use. We also need clarification on who owns water before we go about charging for it. . . 

Govt sets out path to better freshwater:

The Government’s new National Policy Statement (NPS) on Freshwater Management will deliver cleaner lakes and rivers with ambitious new targets for improving their recreational and ecological health, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“The new policy confirms the Government’s national target of 90 per cent of rivers and lakes being swimmable by 2040. The policy has been strengthened following consultation by requiring regional councils to set regional targets and regularly reporting on achieving these. This ambitious plan will require 1000km of waterways be improved to a higher grading each year. It is being supported by new national environmental regulations governing activities like fencing stock out of waterways and forestry. . . 

Farmers welcome support to improve environment:

The Government’s announcement of $44 million to support freshwater improvement projects is welcomed by Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

B+LNZ Chief Executive Sam McIvor says that over the past two years, in particular, the organisation has responded to farmer demand for support in the environment space. “Through this work, we’ve identified that – while farmers want to take action – knowing where to start and what to prioritise can be a barrier.

“This government funding is timely and will help us better support farmers to deliver on their water quality ambitions.” . . 

California crops rot as immigration crackdown creates farm worker shortage – Chris Morris:

Vegetable prices may be going up soon, as a shortage of migrant workers is resulting in lost crops in California.

Farmers say they’re having trouble hiring enough people to work during harvest season, causing some crops to rot before they can be picked. Already, the situation has triggered losses of more than $13 million in two California counties alone, according to NBC News.

The ongoing battle about U.S. immigration policies is blamed for the shortage. The vast majority of California’s farm workers are foreign born, with many coming from Mexico. However, the PEW Research Center reports more Mexicans are leaving the U.S. than coming here. . .

Collaboration essential for sustainable dairy farming:

If a future in sustainable farming is to be achieved in the coming years, companies in both the private and public sector need to be working both faster and more collaboratively, says dairy farm investment company Fortuna Group.

Southland-based Fortuna Group, along with Dairy Green, are the innovators at the forefront of New Zealand’s methane recovery system.

While there are other methane recovery plants in New Zealand, the partnership’s plant at Glenarlea Farms in Otautau is the only one that is consistently and reliably generating electricity from methane.  . . 

Lower fruit prices bittersweet due to high vegetable prices:

Fruit prices fell 5.2 percent in July 2017, contributing to a 0.2 percent fall in food prices, Stats NZ said today.

Cheaper avocados and strawberries led the fall in fruit prices in July. Avocado prices fell 29 percent in July, coming off a near-record high in June, and strawberry prices fell 23 percent. The average price for a 250g punnet of strawberries was $5.92 in July 2017, compared with $7.71 in June.

“Strawberries are unseasonably cheap for this time of year,” consumer prices manager Matthew Haigh said. “They typically reach their lowest price in December, but are currently dropping in price due to more imports from Australia.” . . 

NZ wool sale volumes rise at double auction across North, South islands  – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – A higher volume of wool was sold at auction in New Zealand this week after organisers skipped a week and held a double auction across both islands.

Some 80 percent of the 15,054 wool bales offered at auctions in Napier in the North Island and Christchurch in the South Island were sold yesterday, AgriHQ said. That’s ahead of the 72 percent clearance rate for the 2016/17 season which ended June 30, and the average 77 percent rate for the first six weeks of the current season. . . .

Sanity prevails over proposed animal manure imports says Feds:

Sanity based on sound science has prevailed says Federated Farmers after the Government confirmed it would no longer be permitting imports of products containing animal manure.

The decision follows a Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) investigation which discovered imported compost from the Netherlands, intended for mushroom growing, contained animal manure.

“This is the right decision and we are glad the Government has taken this step. Federated Farmers made a strong submission earlier in the year against these imports,” says Guy Wigley, Federated Farmers’ Biosecurity Spokesperson. . . 

Synlait Invests in Category Management to Target Growth:

Synlait Milk is investing in category management capability to support increased business development in existing and new categories.

“Building discipline in category management is a crucial step in our pursuit of profitable, and sustainable, growth opportunities,” says John Penno, Synlait’s Managing Director and CEO.

“We’re here to make the most from milk. Category management will allow us to continue planning our growth into the most profitable categories, products and customers, and to monitor our progress against those plans.” . . 

Fonterra hailed as top NZ co-op:

Fonterra has been judged New Zealand’s top co-operative business of the year, and praised for a “stunning financial turnaround, generous social responsibility programmes and a high profile campaign proudly proclaiming its Kiwi farmer-owned, co-operative status”. 

The sector’s peak body Cooperative Business New Zealand (CBNZ) made the award at a function in Auckland last night.

Shareholders’ Council Chair Duncan Coull, who collected the award, says our farmers should take real pride in this special recognition for their co-op.

“Our farmer shareholders set themselves high standards, and it’s their daily hard work and commitment that drives the success of the co-op. I also want to recognise the energy and contribution of our staff in helping build a co-op that returns such value to shareholders, local communities and the New Zealand economy.”  . . 


Rural round-up

October 25, 2016

Golden harvest from Fiordland farm – Sally Rae:

Growing saffron and Fiordland might sound an unlikely combination.

But Te Anau couple Steve and Jo Daley have big plans for their fledgling organic operation with an ambitious goal of becoming world-renowned for the costly spice.

“It’s just so damn exciting, the product, and people are so interested in what we’re doing,” Mr Daley said.

Mr and Mrs Daley have 1.5million crocus corms on their property and their intention is to  increase that  to 50million, which would make them the biggest saffron producers in New Zealand.

With a day job as a fencing contractor, Mr Daley, while stationed behind the post driver, got thinking about other ways to make a living.  . . 

Sand and milk: Dairy farming in the desert – Sally Rae:

For Clayton Buckley, the past 12 years working for Almarai — the world’s largest vertically integrated dairy company — have been quite an experience.

Suffice to say, it was ‘‘not like farming here’’, he said during a recent visit home. 

Mr Buckley (35) was brought up in North Canterbury, where his father Russ was a ‘‘part-time’’ deer farmer.

He used to head south during school holidays to stay with his aunt and uncle Gail and Trevor Meikle and help on their farm, near Oamaru.

He enjoyed it so much that when he was about nine, he announced to his parents he was going to buy Mr and Mrs Meikle’s farm, he recalled. . . 

Quad bike deaths at record high – Catherine Hutton:

The number of deaths from quad bike accidents has reached a record annual high of 14, and an agriculture expert says the rate is predicted to rise.

A quad bike accident in Taupō on Saturday night left one person dead and another with moderate injuries, bringing the number of deaths from quad bikes this year to 14, a record for a single year.

The former director of Lincoln University’s Telford campus, Charley Lamb, said the deaths were occurring as a result of crush injuries, which research showed roll bars would prevent.

“Very few bikes have roll over protection, which of course they should do. Whether people want to debate that and argue that, they can. But they used to do the same about safety frames on tractors and they did the same about seatbelts in cars.” . . 

DIRA changes don’t go far enough – Neal Wallace:

Fonterra has criticised proposed changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act as not going far enough because they continue to impose constraints on the co-operative that help its competitors.  

The proposed changes to DIRA announced by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy provided a mixed bag for Fonterra which its Farm Source chief operating officer Miles Hurrell labelled a “lost opportunity to address artificial constraints”.  

While an end was in sight for the requirement to sell milk to its largest competitors, Hurrell said Fonterra was still obligated to accept and process all milk produced which meant shareholders having to invest in stainless steel. . . 

Age ousts three directors – Sally Rae:

Three directors, including founder and chairman Graham Cooney, have stepped down from the board of Blue Sky Meats due to an age-related clause in the company’s constitution.

A letter sent to suppliers of the Southland-based meat company this week, signed by chairman Scott O’Donnell and directors Peter Carnahan and Andy Lowe, said Mr Cooney, Peter Houlker and Malcolm McMillan were unable to continue as the constitution precluded any individual from being a director once they reached 65. . . 

Don’t blame staff – Annette Scott:

Agri businesses are bad at attracting the right staff rather than being victims of a shortage of skilled and experienced people, Synlait Milk chief executive John Penno says.  

“Effectively, I’m saying our primary industry business models are not strong enough to compete for the right people.  

“We need leaders growing up in our businesses and we need businesses growing these leaders.”  Penno focused on the challenges of knowledge and skills for land-based industries towards 2030, in a presentation to an Agricultural and Horticultural Science Institute forum.  

“This really made me think,” Penno said. . . 

A changing of the guard for DWN:

Dairy Women’s Network has a new skipper at the helm after today’s AGM, with incumbent chair Justine Kidd stepping down and Cathy Brown of Pahoia being warmly welcomed into the role.

A crowd of about 60 DWN members, staff and sponsors gathered at Wintec in Hamilton today to celebrate another successful year for the 9000-strong not-for-profit organisation that is dedicated to supporting and inspiring women to succeed in the business of dairying.

Brown has been involved with DWN since the late 90s, first hearing about the organisation when she worked at CRV Ambreed. She quickly became a member of what was at that point a largely internet based network and attended the organisation’s first conference in 2001. . . 


Cathy Brown (left) with Justine Kidd.

‘Good dog’ makes dog training easier – Anna Holland:

Two words I find invaluable when training dogs are “good dog”.

The secret to their effectiveness is understanding, timing and correct usage; overuse them and their power is lost.

Not only do you need to understand when and how to use “good dog”, but the dog needs to understand the meaning. I once commented to someone, “You never say ‘good dog’.” And the next thing he was like a stuck record with the words; the trouble is he may as well have been speaking a foreign language because the words had no meaning for his dogs. . . 


Rural round-up

July 18, 2016

Market monopolies a bigger threat to agricultural markets than subsidies – Gerald Piddock:

Market monopolies and not subsidies are the biggest threat to economic sustainability in world agricultural markets, says an international expert.

Belgium-based AgriCord managing director Ignance Coussement said the existence of the monopolies made it difficult for smaller farmers around the world to compete against larger scale “industrialised’ farmers within a nation’s domestic market.

How smaller family farming enterprises competed against these larger scale farms in the market was a tricky issue, he said. . . 

John Key to push for Indonesia to lift beef trade restrictions for Kiwi exporters – Sam Sachdeva:

Prime Minister John Key hopes rising beef prices, as well as a global trade case, will encourage Indonesia to lift restrictions on Kiwi beef imports.

Key has promised to raise concerns with Indonesian president Joko Widodo when the pair meet in Jakarta on Tuesday evening (NZ time).

New Zealand has joined 14 other countries in taking action against Indonesia through the World Trade Organisation over its beef import restrictions and quotas. . . 

When computers became part of NZ farming:

Lincoln University’s role in making the computer one of the essential tools on the farm is told in a new book by Dr Peter Nuthall, an Honorary Associate Professor in Lincoln’s Department of Land Management and Systems.

‘Dare to compute. The early years in the development and uptake of farm computer systems’ is written about the Kellogg Farm Management Unit (KFMU) at Lincoln, which Dr Nuthall founded and was head of for all but two years of its existence, from 1980 to 1995.  

The unit was initially funded by the Kellogg Foundation in the United States, a philanthropic fund. KFMU aimed to develop computer software for farm and horticultural property managers, and train them in its use.  

Dr Nuthall says the history of the unit needs to be told as it played an important part in introducing computer technology and software to primary producers in New Zealand and Australia. . . 

Quarterly tractor sales buoyant despite dairy payout:

“New Zealand Tractor sales are relatively buoyant, despite the current dairy payout,” says NZ Tractor and Machinery Association President, Mark Hamilton-Manns.

The second quarter results of New Zealand tractor sales, compiled by the NZ Tractor and Machinery Association, show tractor sales declined slightly, by 8.5%, compared to the same quarter last year. Several segments saw an increase, however, including the consumer segment which grew by 15%, as more Kiwis bought smaller 20–60hp compact tractors for their lifestyle blocks, hire fleets and some commercial applications. . . 

Early Winter Sees Prices Ease:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were seven fewer farm sales (-1.5%) for the three months ended June 2016 than for the three months ended June 2015. Overall, there were 472 farm sales in the three months ended June 2016, compared to 489 farm sales for the three months ended May 2016 (-3.5%), and 479 farm sales for the three months ended June 2015. . . 

Manuka honey buzz boosts farmland prices Alexa Cook:

Demand for manuka honey has boosted the value of farmland, with many properties doubling price over the past couple of years, a real estate firm says.

The manuka honey industry has surged, with exports growing by 45 percent last year to $281 million. New Zealand is now the third largest exporter of honey by value.

Bayleys Real Estate rural agent Mark Monckton, who is based in Taranaki, said the growth was good news for some of his region’s more remote farming businesses. . . 

 Landmark merger a win-win for organic sector:

The organic community celebrated the landmark merger of two long-established charitable organisations yesterday. Members of the Soil & Health Association of NZ Inc and the New Zealand Biological Producers and Consumers Society Inc (BioGro Society) voted in favour of the proposal. This means that the Society will transfer its assets to Soil & Health, on winding up on 30 September.

The merger brings together the skills and resources of the two charities into one strong, unified organic sector body.

Soil & Health will become the proud new owner of BioGro NZ Ltd, New Zealand’s largest organic certification agency. This will empower Soil & Health to carry out its vital education and advocacy work for healthy soil, healthy food and healthy people. . . 

Synlait GM Accepts next international role:

Michael Stein, Synlait’s General Manager Quality and Regulatory, has accepted the role of Quality and Food Safety Director, Asia Pacific, with Danone Nutricia Early Life Nutrition.

“This is a great personal and professional opportunity for Michael and a clear milestone in his international career,” said John Penno, Synlait’s CEO and Managing Director.

Mr Penno was disappointed to learn Mr Stein will depart Synlait at the end of September 2016, but fully supports his decision. . . 


Rural round-up

June 8, 2015

New convener’s eyes on support system – Sally Rae:

When Julie Dee headed to the Dairy Women’s Network conference in Invercargill in March, she was feeling a little disillusioned.

With a declining payout and various other challenges, she went with a friend, mostly to support and connect with her and to have a couple of days away.

But the conference proved to be a ”revelation” and Mrs Dee (37) became so inspired that she is now the new voluntary convener for Dairy Women’s Network (DWN) in North Otago. . .

Focus on rural mental health: – John Maslin:

Plunging dairy prices will continue to put enormous pressures on the mental well-being of some sectors of the farming community, and the head of Rural Women NZ says farmers must understand when they need help.

Wendy McGowan was guest at the Lower North Island regional conference held in Wanganui at the weekend, an event organised by the Fordell-Mangamahu branch of the organisation. . .

Big week out for agricultural sector:

The centre of attention for rural New Zealand this week will be Mystery Creek outside Hamilton, where the 47th national Agricultural Fieldays opens its gates on Wednesday.

The big week out for the agricultural sector keeps getting bigger.

Chief executive Jon Calder said it had topped 1000 exhibitors for the first time.

Regular visitors to Fieldays would notice some significant changes.

“In the last 12 weeks, we moved over 100,000 cubic metres of earth to create 100 new exhibition sites, which have been taken up by our customers, so the site looks and feels a lot different this year. . .

Synlait forecast milk price for 2015 / 2016 season:

Synlait Milk’s forecast milk price for the upcoming 2015 / 2016 dairy season is $5.50 kgMS.

“Despite the small recovery in commodity prices we saw earlier this year, the market has not delivered the stability we had hoped for,” said John Penno, Synlait’s Managing Director.

“We’re very aware of how financially tough this current season is for our suppliers. We are confident commodity prices will recover over time and our 2015 / 2016 forecast milk price assumes we will see the beginning of this recovery from the current low prices.” . . .

 

Smaller, excellent quality vintage further enhances New Zealand’s reputation as a world class wine producer:

The 2015 New Zealand grape harvest has been completed with grape growers and winemakers across the country incredibly pleased with the quality and flavours of the 2015 vintage wines.

As all New Zealanders will be aware, we enjoyed a fabulous summer which provided excellent conditions for ripening grapes across the country, said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. “As a result we expect vibrant, fruit driven wines which are true expressions of our grape growing regions.”

While quality will be high, the vintage size totalled 326,000 tonnes – down 27% on the record 2014 vintage. Despite the excellent summer, the cool spring weather contributed to the marked reduction in the crop. . .

 

James Rebanks, Man of Sheep, Man of Letters –  Roslyn Sulcasjune:

MATTERDALE, England — James Rebanks picked up a newborn lamb by the scruff of its neck and set it on its feet. It stood, shaking and weak. “We’re going to lose that one,” he said. He got back onto the quad bike that he uses to patrol his farm, 300 acres of hilly land near this parish in the Lake District, where his family has farmed for about 600 years. “Sometimes it happens,” he said stoically.

Birth, death and everything in between are Mr. Rebanks’s daily bread as a sheep farmer in this beautiful but inhospitable terrain in the northwestern part of the country. But he is no isolated, anachronistic figure striding into the hills, shepherd’s crook in hand. (Although he certainly has one.) He has a degree from Oxford, a Twitter account with almost 65,000 followers, a best-selling book and a part-time job as an adviser to Unesco. . .  (Hat tip: Beaties Book Blog)


Rural round-up

May 26, 2014

Golden times return for kiwifruit trade – Jamie Gray:

Just as the last rites were about to be administered to the New Zealand kiwifruit industry, a new disease-resistant variety has restored grower confidence to where it was just before the devastating Psa virus swept through Bay of Plenty orchards late in 2010.

Orchard prices have rebounded, investment has started again and fruit prices are better than for more than 10 years, giving growers reason to be more optimistic, industry representatives say.

Psa has already had a big impact on kiwifruit “gold” volumes, which fell by 55 per cent in 2013/14 compared with the previous season and to the lowest ever, but higher prices overall have helped to boost returns. Zespri estimates that this season will yield 17 million trays of Gold, up from 11 million trays in the previous season — thanks mostly to the fact that the new variety, called Gold3, is Psa-tolerant compared with its highly susceptible predecessor, Hort16A. . .

Open day showcase for award winner – Sally Rae:

”Capturing sunlight in a form you can eat.”

That is how Wayne McIntosh describes the fruit produced on his family’s award-winning orchard at Earnscleugh, near Alexandra.

Mr McIntosh, who has been managing the orchard for 10 years, was the supreme winner of this year’s Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards and hosted a field day on the property on Wednesday.

The 64ha property has about 34,000 trees producing cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, apples and a range of trial fruits. . .

Dairy boss picks industry evolution – Jamie Gray:

The acquisition by French food giant Danone of two New Zealand dairy companies last month signals a new phase in the evolution of the local dairy industry – one in which manufacturers will get closer to their brands, says Synlait Milk managing director John Penno.

Danone last month said it had entered an agreement to buy processing firms Sutton Group and Gardians.

The announcement came as the dairy industry negotiated its way through new Chinese infant formula regulations.

Auckland company Sutton is best known for contract manufacturing of infant formula; Gardians has a milk powder spray drying plant in Otago. . . .

Pastoral lifestyles on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau – Keith Woodford:

This week I am writing from the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau in Western China, at 3600 metres above sea level. The Plateau is part of China’s pastoral zone where lifestyles are based on sheep and yak farming systems. I am here with three New Zealand colleagues from Lincoln University and AgResearch. Jim Moir is our soils specialist, Phil Rolston is our agronomy specialist, and Sharon (Xiaomeng) Lucock is our science and general translator who also helps co-ordinate the program. We are working with colleagues from Qinghai University, and also working with a commercial partner who processes yak milk into yoghurt which sells as far afield as Beijing and Shanghai.

The zone that we are working in is part of the Sanjiangyuan (Source of Three Rivers) Ecological Zone with an area 25% larger than all of New Zealand. The winter lasts for more than six months and the growing season is limited to late May through to the end of September. . . .

Theme recognises Fieldays’ future success – Tony Benny:

The theme for the National Fieldays premier feature this year recognises that the future success of New Zealand agriculture rests on effective use of all resources, says Fieldays chief executive Jon Calder.

Called Managing resources for a competitive advantage, the theme recognises that resources can be human, capital, natural, assets or livestock.

“There’s really a two-fold view. One is that we have got strength and capability in the way we manage our resources and the other is looking at what the future holds in terms of new innovations, new technology and new ways of managing resources,” he says.  . .

Volunteers key to Fieldays success – Sonita Chandar:

While visitors to the NZ National Agricultural Fieldays check out the latest products and innovations from the rural sector, a dedicated team of staff and volunteers work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure all is running smoothly. 

“We have a team of around 36 fulltime staff five of who work solely on Fieldays and more than 120 volunteers,” said Mystery Creek membership administrator Sierra Jenkins.

“Every single one of the volunteers is invaluable and without them the event wouldn’t be the success it is.” 

Volunteers are split into four teams covering all aspects of Fieldays. Around 30 people work in the guest services area overseen by Shirley Murphy. . .

Happy Beef month! We keep one of our steers every so often to use as meat for our family to eat..... it lasts us forever! #EATBEEF Some have pointed out some flaws in this picture and we apologize for that! (It's not ours) But the message to take away is that one steer feeds a lot of people!! (Picture via Kansas Department of Agriculture)


Rural round-up

March 28, 2014

Dairy factories spending up – Alan Wood & Cecile Meier:

South Island dairy processors are upsizing with nearly $135 million of extra factory investment to chase a growing milk powder export market.

Synlait Milk yesterday committed an extra $32m to help expand milk drying capacity at its Dunsandel plant.

Competitor Westland Milk Products said it would invest $102m on a new nutritionals-infant formula dryer in Hokitika.

Both companies have undergone rapid growth, though yesterday NZX-listed Synlait Milk said issues remained with the Chinese infant formula market. . . .

Westland dairy expansion welcomed by most – Cecile Meier:

Despite a few reservations, Hokitika’s community supports Westland Milk Products’ plans to expand its dairy factory with a $102 million new nutritional milk dryer.

The Westland District Council held a hearing this week on the company’s resource consent application to build the new spray dryer.

Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn said the move would bring excellent employment prospects for the region.

Hundreds of farmer suppliers to Westland Milk would also benefit from the added value the new facility could bring to their milk.

“Dairy farming is going from strength to strength. It’s a very good move for the West Coast.” . . .

 

Big dry is being monitored closely – James Houghton:

Many of you are wondering why the Government has not declared a drought in Waikato and Northland areas.  Whilst, they do not actually declare a drought as such, when appropriate, the Government can declare the impact of a drought as an adverse event under its Primary Sector Recovery Policy, and provide recovery assistance. For this to happen, basically you and the community have got to not be coping. The declaration of an adverse event is not about the event itself, but rather the impact of the event.

It is important for you as a community to understand this and take stock of how bad the situation really is, and what value a declaration will actually bring. There would not be a lot of financial support for those struggling unless they are at the point where they are struggling to or can’t meet their living costs. The declaration would provide some funding for the Rural Support Trusts; however, on this particular occasion they have made themselves available for contact regardless.

I can assure you the Ministry for Primary Industries has been monitoring the conditions over the last few months by keeping close contact with Federated Farmers and other stakeholders to understand if farmers are coping. They are not in any doubt that a drought does exist, and they are monitoring the situation closely. . . .

Rare native fish found on farm:

A farm restoration project has led to a fishy discovery for Rory Foley.

Foley has a deer farm in the Hook catchment, near Waimate in South Canterbury.

He has spent the past few years improving parts of the catchment that were previously degraded.

However, the efforts have also led to an unlikely spin-off effect, which was only discovered in the past couple of months: the area is now home to rare mudfish. . .

 Synlait Milk shares punished for over-optimistic forecasts, Chinese regulatory speed bumps – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Investors punished Synlait Milk shares after the dairy processor was forced to wind back the bullish profit forecast it gave in January because of disruptions from increased Chinese regulations on infant formula and unfavourable foreign exchange movements.

The stock dropped 7.3 percent to a three-week low of $3.70, trimming their gains from last year’s initial public offering to 68 percent. The full-year profit forecast was cut to a range of $25 million to $30 million, down from the $30 million-to-$35 million estimate given in January, Synlait said today.

“In January we under-estimated the full impact,” managing director John Penno told BusinessDesk. “The Chinese regulations had been signalled for some time but what’s become apparent since December is how fast they are going to move.” . . .

Farm Days’ a marketing and educational success:

Federated Farmers Farm Days are a huge success in education and tourism. The Federation’s Bay of Plenty province saw 980 people come through the farm gate on Sunday to see what farming is all about.

“Our Farm Day is a great way for everyone to get involved in the region’s rural community. This year was a particular success with 60 percent of the visitors having either never been on farm or to a Farm Day before,” said Rick Powdrell, Federated Farmers Bay of Plenty provincial president.

“It is an opportunity to get urban people out, especially the children, to learn where their food comes from. Regardless of what age the visitors were they said they all learnt something. . .

Iconic North Island farm sells:

One of the most highly valued sheep and beef properties in New Zealand has been sold. The 4,839 hectare Mangaohane Station located just off the Taihape to Napier Highway between the Rangitikei River and the Ruahine Forest Park.

It has been sold by the family of previous owner, the late Jim Bull. Jim was known as ‘The Potato King”, and bought Mangaohane at auction in 1973 for what was then a record price.

During the last 40 years, the property has been dramatically transformed – with 1500 hectares of scrub cleared, and a further 1200 hectares of tussock developed into top quality high producing pasture. . . .

 


Rural round-up

February 3, 2014

Wairarapa Farmer wins NZ Rural Wetland Champion 2014 award:

Combining good farming practices with proactive steps to look after the wetlands on their beef and dairy farm, has earned the Donald family in the Wairarapa, the title of “National Rural Wetland Champion for 2014”.

To celebrate World Wetlands Day 2014 (Sunday February 2) the National Wetland Trust and the Department of Conservation (DOC) worked with regional councils around the country to find New Zealand’s most wetland-friendly farming families.

Wetlands are important to maintaining a healthy environment, playing a key role in water purification and flood control. Protecting wetlands and minimising the impact of farming on these ecosystems benefits everyone. . .

Tighter PKE screening welcomed:

Federated Farmers is pleased 4mm is being proposed as the minimum screening mesh for Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE) entering New Zealand.

“From 21 April, when the screening is set to commence, confidence in PKE as an imported animal feed should improve,” says Bruce Wills, the President of Federated Farmers.

“PKE is a recycled waste by-product of Palm Oil production. It does not drive that industry’s demand, just as plastic recycling does not drive demand for petrochemicals.

“If PKE isn’t used as supplementary animal feed, it is otherwise composted, burnt as waste and even sold as fuel for furnaces. . . .

Minister marks World Wetlands Day:

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith today marked this year’s World Wetlands Day with the launch of a new stamp in the Game Bird Habitat Collection Series.

“The Game Bird Habitat Stamp programme is aimed at raising funds to protect and enhance the habitat of our game birds. It’s a simple and inexpensive way to enable New Zealanders to give direct support to a great cause,” Dr Smith says.

The 2014 stamp features the pukeko, painted by landscape and wildlife artist Jeanette Blackburn, and the background habitat on the stamp is the Para Wetland in Marlborough. As well as the stamp, this year’s collection includes other related items such as a miniature sheet, first day cover and a limited edition signed Artist Print.

The items are sold through New Zealand Post to collectors and also used by Fish & Game to endorse hunting licences, with the funds raised going towards habitat conservation projects.  . . .

Inventor off to Cologne trade fair – Mark Price:

The Lake Hawea man who developed the what he branded the ”Slammertool” is taking it to what he calls the hand tool equivalent of the Olympics.

T. J. Irvin will attend the 142,000sq m international hardware fair Eisenwarenmesse in Cologne, Germany, from March 9-12.

”That No8 wire mentality New Zealand prides itself on – Eisenwarenmesse is the Olympics of that.”

He told the Otago Daily Times yesterday he would rather be at the Winter Olympics in Sochi but could not turn down an invitation to put his multi-purpose Slammertool up against the world’s best new tools – even though the trip will cost him $44,000. . .

Synlait’s John Penno explains the company’s success – Jamie Ball:

In the first of a two-part NBR ONLINE interview, primary industries reporter Jamie Ball talks to Synlait’s John Penno on how and why it currently all seems to be going so right for the Dunsandel-based milk company.

Canterbury-based Synlait group was founded in 2000. In February 2013, Synlait Farms and Synlait Milk were separated. Synlait Milk floated last July and is now 39.12%-owned by Chinese company Bright Dairy, 8.4% by Japan’s Mitsui & Co, and 7.5% by Dutch dairy giant FrieslandCampina. Synlait Milk’s IPO offer price, announced in July, was $2.20. Earlier this week, shares were trading at $3.82, a gain of 74%, valuing the company at $560 million. On January 28, Synlait Milk announced an increase of its forecast milk price for the FY2014 season from $8.00 per kg/MS to a range of $8.30 to $8.40 per kg/MS.The company also lifted its advance rates for the season effective from January, to be paid February, from $5.00 per kg/MS to $6.40 per kg/MS. Synlait Milk anticipates net profit of between $30 million and $35 million in the year ending July 31, up from the $19.67 million forecast in the company’s prospectus when it listed in July. . .

 

Synlait Milk joins board of leading industry body:

Canterbury dairy product manufacturer Synlait Milk has joined the Board of the Infant Nutrition Council (INC), allowing it to take a greater leadership role in industry issues.

INC, which represents 95% of the infant formula industry in New Zealand and Australia by volume, has welcomed Synlait to the new role and says the move will benefit both consumers and the industry.

“Synlait Milk is a fantastic New Zealand company, we are delighted to have them join our Board,” INC Chief Executive Jan Carey said.

“The Infant Nutrition Council is firmly committed to ensuring the safety and integrity of New Zealand’s infant formula industry. . .

 

Why Australians should support farmers during drought: NFF – Brent Finlay:

A recent editorial on drought assistance (Australian Financial Review 17 Jan 2014  “Don’t subsidise low rainfall”) raised the valid question – should Australians support farmers during drought?

In short, the answer has to be ‘yes’ if Australians want their high-quality food and fibre to continue to be produced on Australian soil.

A Productivity Commission report in 2009 concluded that the Interest Rate subsidies of the past did not necessarily reward farmers who were the best prepared for the droughts – an unavoidable feature of farming in Australia. As a result, it was the Gillard Labor Government, not Barnaby Joyce, as your editorial incorrectly suggested, that introduced concessional loans as a business restructuring support mechanism during severe downturns.

Additionally, it’s incorrect to say the Abbott Government ignored the PC report, or the need for fundamental shifts in the way drought support is structured, when extending this measure to cope with the rapidly deteriorating climatic conditions it faced upon election. . . .

US billionaire Foley may buy Martinborough Vineyard:

(BusinessDesk) – American billionaire Bill Foley may add to his wine interests in the Wairarapa region with the acquisition of pinot noir pioneer Martinborough Vineyard Estates.

Foley, through NZAX-listed Foley Family Wines, hasn’t yet gone through the due diligence process and isn’t at the stage of agreeing a price for the Martinborough vineyard, said chief executive Mark Turnbull. The parties are aiming to complete the transaction by March 31.

The business would add to the Te Kairanga Wines company, just down the road in the town of Martinborough that Foley acquired in 2011. Foley has been expanding his wine interests while building what Turnbull has called a vertical integration strategy which has included taking a 24.9 percent stake in celebrity chef Simon Gault’s Nourish Group restaurant chain. . .


Rural round-up

November 29, 2013

Irrigation ‘doesn’t always mean dairying’ – Tim Fulton:

A farm adviser who did financial estimates for the Ruataniwha and Central Plains irrigation schemes says access to irrigation doesn’t lead farmers automatically to dairying.

Hugh Eaton, from Macfarlane Rural Business, outlined the options at an irrigation field day at the Rathgen family’s mixed-farming operation near Timaru.

The Rathgens have a home farm at Esk Valley, a dairy block at St Andrews and another at nearby Otaio, some of which may join the proposed Hunter Downs scheme. . .

Nitrate in Canterbury groundwater – Carl Hanson:

Nitrate concentrations in Canterbury groundwater have been prominent in the media recently. Headlines have included phrases like “ticking time bomb”, “scaremongering” and “freaking out much of Canterbury”.

What I want to do in this article is to present the state of nitrate concentrations in Canterbury groundwater, and the trends we see in those concentrations, as objectively as I can, avoiding any emotive language.

First, the concentrations. Based on the data from our regional long-term monitoring programme, which includes approximately 300 wells distributed across the region, nitrate concentrations in Canterbury groundwater fall into two groups:

Sharing ideas in the global farming village – Sue O’Dowd:

Taranaki sheep and beef farming identity Bryan Hocken loves to play host.

He presents a unique blend of bonhomie, humour, a passion for his industry and a ready-to-share approach to anyone who happens to pop along to his 485 hectare Tarata farm, about 25 kilometres east of Inglewood.

Not that you would just pop along.

The farm seems remote after a picturesque drive over the winding Tarata Saddle and along the 3km Toe Toe Rd beside the Waitara River.

On the journey traffic is scarce so a single traffic light in the middle of nowhere on the road to the farm raises a chuckle – as do a plethora of signs saying things like “Wannabe Dairy Farm” and “High St”. . .

Synlait Farms shareholders keen to cash in – Alan Williams:

Synlait Farms shareholders have raced to cash in on the takeover offer led by China’s Shanghai Pengxin group.

The acceptance level had reached 91.16% by last Tuesday, meeting the 90% minimum level that was a condition of the offer just more than three weeks after the offer was received by shareholders and well inside the original December 6 closing date.

SFL Holdings, the vehicle through which Shanghai Pengxin and partners Juliet Maclean and John Penno are making the offer, has extended the date to December 20. . .

Research into apricots ‘exciting’ – Yvonne O’Hara:

Research being carried out at Plant and Food Research (PFR) in Clyde will contribute to higher-quality and better-tasting apricots that ripen more slowly and reach overseas markets in better condition.

Scientist Jill Stanley, based in Clyde, and Dr Ringo Feng, who is based in Auckland, are looking at fruit respiration and ethylene production, as well as fruit maturity, light levels, wood age and atmospheric modification.

Ethylene is a naturally-occurring gaseous hormone given off by the fruit, which accelerates ripening. A range of seedlings have been bred at the Clyde Research Centre which have characteristics that include low ethylene production. . . .

Research targets women – Yvonne O’Hara:

Dairy Womens’ Network (DWN) has launched Project Pathfinder, a programme designed to encourage more women in the dairy industry to take on leadership roles at community and governance levels.

DWN’s trust board deputy chairwoman Cathy Brown, of Tauranga, said DWN had received $180,000 from the Sustainable Farming Fund to develop the three-year project in association with DairyNZ and AgResearch.

”We are at the beginning [of the project] and most of the research will be done in year one,” Mrs Brown said.

One of the first steps was to carry out a survey about dairying women in business and in leadership roles. It finished this month. . .

Angus farmers get lesson from NZ – Tim Cronshaw:

Scottish angus breeder James Playfair-Hannay would like to take New Zealand bloodlines back with him to the home of the breed, after judging the angus fields in the cattle ring at the Canterbury A&P Show.

However, the high praise from the owner of Tofts Pedigree Livestock in Kelso does not extend to every angus entry.

“There are some wonderful functional animals which look to be pretty proficient, and we could use the genetics back home. Then there are some other animals that are not what we are looking for.

“We are looking to produce a 300 to 350-kilogram carcass off grass at 18 months, or earlier if we can.” . . .


Rural round-up

November 4, 2013

Few farms in foreign hands says English – Alan Wood:

Foreign investment in New Zealand farmland, including dairy farms, remains relatively low and has significant safeguards, Finance Minister Bill English says.

Some investment, including that in the Crafar farms in the North Island by the Chinese, has raised the hackles of some Kiwis.

For example, Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa spokesman Murray Horton says he is firmly against ownership of New Zealand land by foreigners, whether they be Chinese, American, Australian or British.

Last month the China-based Shanghai Pengxin Group announced a takeover bid for Synlait Farms, in association with two of Synlait’s founders, John Penno and Juliet Maclean. . .

The Industrialisation of American Dairying and the Implications for New Zealand: Keith Woodford:

The ‘handout notes’ that follow were written  for a Lincoln University Dairy Farm Focus Day on 10 October 2013. These focus days are held every two months. This one was attended by about 200 farmers and rural professionals. I gave the presentation as Lincoln’s Professor of Farm Management and Agribusiness, standing on a trailer out in the paddock – so basically it was all ad libbed without visual aids. Actually,  sometimes it is fun to talk without the distraction of powerpoints!

Background

  • The American dairy industry is rapidly transforming to an industrial model based on large scale (>2000 cow) mega farms.
  • As of 2013, approximately 40% of American production comes from 800 mega farms.
  • Another 30% comes from a further 2500 farms, each with between 500 and 2,000 cows.
  • The final 30% comes from more than 50,000 farms with less than 500 cows
  • The mega farms have costs of production that are much lower than the smaller farms. . .

 

Farming robot could bring the cows in – Jill Galloway:

“Like a four-wheel-drive wheelchair on steroids” is how Andrew Manderson describes his Agri-Rover.

He designed the prototype farm robot which was built by a team from AgResearch and Lincoln University, using industrial parts and costing $4000.

It was a robust machine and had a powerful engine, said Dr Manderson.

It would comfortably trundle around a paddock, so long as it didn’t encounter a gradient of more than 20 degrees.

He said it had a top speed of 5kmh, but with a few adjustments it could really motor.

(Click on the link above to see a video of the robot in action)

Winning the battle against boxthorn pest – Ruth Grundy:

Graeme Loh is the first to admit he is more ”exterminator” than ”nurturer”.

He is the Department of Conservation (Doc) ranger who oversees one of the country’s newest reserves, a prominent and ancient limestone outcrop at Gards Rd, between Duntroon and Kurow.

He said his main focus was to eradicate an aggressive exotic invader – boxthorn – which threatened to appropriate this national treasure.

”People don’t realise how bad a weed it is and how difficult it is to remove.” . . .

Farmsafe says quad bike research backs roll bars – Anna Vidot:

Farm safety advocates say the science is in, and now is the time to start encouraging people to use quad bikes with roll bars.

Manufacturers of the vehicles have long argued that crush protection bars cause more injuries than they prevent, and take the focus away from other safety measures like helmets and proper training.

But Farmsafe Australia says there’s mounting evidence that crush protection bars are more likely to save a life than not, if a quad bike rolls. . . .

Dogs queue up for aversion training

Kiwi advocate Lesley Baigent  was  gratified by the response  to Saturday’s kiwi aversion  training session for dogs at the
Raetea reserve, at the northern foot of the Mangamuka  Gorge.

Dogs were literally queuing  up to undergo the training,  which involves a special collar  delivering an electric shock at  the appropriate moment to  persuade the dogs that kiwi  are best left alone. Success rates varied, Lesley said, and there were certainly  no expectations of 100 per  cent. . . .


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