Rural round-up

March 16, 2019

Scholar keen to bridge urban-rural divide – Sally Rae:

Emma Subtil sees the opportunities in the primary industries as “endless”.

And when she completes her masters degree in agribusiness at Lincoln University, she would love a job that helped improve relationships between people living in urban and rural areas.

`If I could get a job in that, I’d be a happy girl,” she said yesterday.

Miss Subtil (21) was recently awarded a $1500 World Congress Charitable Trust Scholarship through New Zealand Young Farmers. . . 

New mountain bike park for Wanaka:

A new mountain bike adventure park is set to open near Wanaka later this year.

The park – called Bike Glendhu – will eventually encompass 50km of awe-inspiring trails at Glendhu Bay, a 13-minute drive from Wanaka’s CBD. Located on one of New Zealand’s most picturesque farms at Glendhu Station, the eco-conscious park is designed for riders of all ages and intends to be a natural and positive shared space for the Wanaka community.

Local resident and keen rider John Wilson has joined forces with Glendhu Station owners John and Emily McRae to create the park, set to open to the public in spring 2019. . . 

CGT valuations would pile on costs, benefit no-one:

Valuing every single business, farm, rental property or family bach to comply with a Capital Gains Tax regime would impose billions of dollars of costs on New Zealanders while benefiting no-one apart from valuers, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.

“The Tax Working Group recommends small businesses, rental properties, family baches and farms be subject to a Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on all gains made after April 2021. As a result, eligible assets without an up to date market value would need a new valuation.

“Valuations don’t come cheap, especially for business owners who want a value robust enough to stand up in court if challenged by the IRD. If every small and medium-sized business owner in New Zealand had to pay for a new valuation at say $10,000 apiece, the cost to the wider economy would be about $5 billion. . . 

Homes wanted for wild horses mustered from Kaimanawa Ranges:

Homes are urgently being sought for 70 wild horses that are being mustered out of the Kaimanawa Ranges next month. 

The Department of Conservation said the animals needed to be removed from the the Waiouru Military Training Area in the Central North Island to keep the herd of wild horses there at a sustainable level of 300.

DOC operations manager Dave Lumley said this allowed for the horses in the herd to maintain best condition and also protects the fragile ecosystems, unique to the Moawhango Ecological Zone. . . 

 

‘Quality issues’ affect avocado growers in difficult season – Charlotte Cook:

Avocado growers profits have taken a hit due to quality issues among 2018’s smaller crop.

New Zealand Avocado chief executive Jen Scoular said wet weather, early maturity and growers not always following best practice were contributors to the difficult season.

Ms Scoular said the main avocado harvest ran from July to February but things had wrapped up a couple of weeks early this year with yields down.

Ms Scoular said 65-70 percent of all avocados grown in New Zealand were exported overseas, about 80 percent of which to Australia. . . 

Gold (and green) rush is underway:

The gold (and green) kiwifruit rush is underway.

The 2019 kiwifruit harvest has officially kicked off with the first of an estimated industry-wide 150 million trays picked and packed in Gisborne.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) Chief Executive Officer Nikki Johnson says Poverty Bay leads the charge because the crop matures more quickly there than the rest of the country. “Over March, orchards in the Bay of Plenty, Northland, Counties-Manukau, Waikato, Hawke’s Bay, the lower North Island and Tasman will follow suit – it’s going to be a bumper crop.” . . 

2019 Waikato Dairy Industry Award winners announced:

The major winners in the 2019 Waikato Dairy Industry Awards are first-time entrants who have wanted to enter the Awards since reading about the national winners in 2012 whilst still living in Wales.

Marc and Nia Jones were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year competition at the Waikato Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at the Sir Don Rowlands Centre at Karapiro last night. The other big winners were Joe Kehely, who became the 2019 Waikato Dairy Manager of the Year, and Matt Dawson, the 2019 Waikato Dairy Trainee of the Year. . . 

2019 Central Plateau Dairy Industry Award winners announced:

A first-time entrant with a passion for dairy farming, the environment and animals has won the 2019 Central Plateau Share Farmer of the Year.

Tom Bridgens was announced the winner of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year competition at the Central Plateau Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at the Energy Events Centre in Rotorua last night. The other big winners were Laurence Walden, who was named the 2019 Central Plateau Dairy Manager of the Year, and Harry Phipps, the 2019 Central Plateau Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The 22-year old is Contract Milking 300 cows on Rex and Loris Bates’ Tokoroa 80ha property and won $15,480 in prizes and four merit awards. . . 

2019 Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The major winners in the 2019 Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards, Matt Barr & Genna Maxwell believe one of the strengths of their business lies in being fourth-generation custodians of a family legacy, with opportunities for diversification.

The couple were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year competition at the Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at the TECT The Action Centre Pongakawa last night. The other big winners were Janamjot Singh Ghuman, who was named the 2019 Bay of Plenty Dairy Manager of the Year, and Alex Sainty, the 2019 Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Matt and Genna, are Lease Farmers for Viv Barr, on her 110ha, 410-cow Awakeri property. “Viv is an actively supportive land owner,” they say. . . 

2019 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The 2019 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners have found success through effective team work, increasing their skills and knowledge, and challenging themselves.

Ethan and Sarah Koch were named the 2019 Auckland/Hauraki Share Farmers of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at the Karaka Pavilion last night and won $12,900 in prizes and five merit awards. The other major winners were the 2019 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager of the Year Kyle Brennan, and the 2019 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee of the Year, Rebecca Casidy.

Ethan and Sarah (both aged 28), have backgrounds in building and teaching, and were runners-up in the same category in 2018. . . 


Rural round-up

February 15, 2019

Promising results from denitrification wall :

A world-first denitrification wall at Silverstream, North Canterbury designed to reduce high groundwater nitrate levels is working as anticipated.

The trial is led by the Institute of Environmental and Scientific Research (ESR).

So far the nitrate levels in groundwater have been reduced from 7.1mg/L to 0.5 mg/L by the wall at Silverstream Reserve. . . 

Thanks John, for the milk price – Sudesh Kissun:

Dairy farmers have former Fonterra chairman John Wilson to thank for the milk price they enjoy today, says Sir Henry van der Heyden.

In a eulogy at Wilson’s funeral in Hamilton early this month, van der Heyden told of Wilson’s relentless push for a fair and transparent milk price.

“His relentless questioning and his ability to process and retain vast amounts of information means we have a tremendous legacy from him in the milk price,” he said. . . 

Feds backs wool levy if there is a sound plan of action :

The Federated Farmers Meat & Wool Council has today voted to support a compulsory wool levy on producers – but only if the cross-industry Wool Working Group comes up with a clear, practicable and compelling blueprint for lifting wool’s profile and returns.

Delegates from the 24 Federated Farmers provinces meeting in Wellington agreed that unless a collaborative plan for wool research, development and marketing is formulated – and then widely backed – the death-knell for the crossbred wool industry in New Zealand would be sounded. . .

Are deer the new moa: Ecosystem re-wilding or a flight of fancy? – Nic Rawlence:

It’s the depths of winter and I’m squatting in the snow, surrounded by southern beech forest, using a pair of tweezers to pick up fresh steaming deer poo.

My wife Maria, and palaeoecologist Jamie Wood, from Landcare Research, are doubled over in laughter, having just given me the official job title of pooper scooper.

We’re helping Jamie collect deer poo as part of a project investigating whether introduced deer fill the same job vacancy as the extinct moa in what remains of our unique ecosystems – an ecological surrogate to re-wild New Zealand. . . 

You call that meat? Not so fast cattle ranchers say – Nathaniel Popper:

The cattle ranchers and farm bureaus of America are not going to give up their hold on the word meat without a fight.

In recent weeks, beef and farming industry groups have persuaded legislators in more than a dozen states to introduce laws that would make it illegal to use the word meat to describe burgers and sausages that are created from plant-based ingredients or are grown in labs. Just this week, new meat-labeling bills were introduced in Arizona and Arkansas.

These meat alternatives may look and taste and even bleed like meat, but cattle ranchers want to make sure that the new competition can’t use the meat label. . . 

Calling all young nurserymen and women :

We are delighted to announce the 2019 Young Achiever Award run by New Zealand Plant Producers is now open to receive entries.

The competition seeks to reward and recognise the best young nursery people in the country. The costs of running the competition and the prizes are generously supported by the HortiCentre Charitable Trust.

NZPPI chief executive Matthew Dolan says, “This is a fantastic opportunity for young people with careers in the primary sector to take the next steps in their careers and to compete with other nurserymen and women.” . .


Rural round-up

January 31, 2019

Brain tumour felled Fonterra’s last hands on chairman – Fran O’Sullivan:

John Wilson who died on Monday at just 54 years of age was possibly the last Fonterra chairman to take a hands on approach to governing New Zealand’s largest company.

It was inevitable that Wilson would play a strong and sometimes quite political role in public life in New Zealand – the upshot of Fonterra’s dominance of the dairy industry – at times locked into confrontational situations with equally strong-minded politicians on both sides of the House.

Wilson was passionately devoted to Fonterra; strong-willed, direct, not afraid of anyone – yet also imbued with sufficient charm, persuasiveness and an ability to ride through the hard-knuckled politics of the NZ dairy industry to survive many a battle until his last year as chair. . . 

‘Outrageous’: EU votes to reduce NZ export rights – Pattrick Smellie:

The European Union’s parliament has taken a decisive step towards unilaterally reducing New Zealand’s rights to export specified quantities of tariff-free sheepmeat, beef and dairy products to the trading bloc if and when Brexit occurs.

The move has been slammed as “outrageous” by former trade negotiator Charles Finny in a Tweet and “disappointing” by the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the proposed moves risk compounding “growing international economic uncertainty and rising trade tensions”. . . 

Expert evidence rejects water conservation order bid :

Evidence from nine experts supports Horticulture New Zealand’s evidence that a water conservation order (WCO) is not the way to ensure healthy Hawke’s Bay rivers, Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says.

Horticulture New Zealand opposes the application for the WCO in the Lower Ngaruroro River and the Clive River.

“This impacts our economy and our food supply and a WCO is a blunt instrument that has been surpassed with better national and regional planning tools,” Mr Chapman says. . . 

Guy Trafford analyses the sheep meat market showing the changes to where our product goes, and where our rivals are focusing – Guy Trafford:

With the uncertainty around Brexit and what the balance of future access to both the EU and the UK for sheep meat maybe it could be timely to have a look at the drivers of international sheep meat trade.

Australia and New Zealand account for approximately 90% of international trade and both have declining flock numbers. Since 1990 Australia have dropped from 180 mln down to 65 mln and New Zealand from 58 mln to around 28 mln today. It has only been the increased productivity of both flocks, in regard to meat production, that has kept the industry viable with the critical mass required to remain competitive. . . 

Synlait follows Fonterra with lower forecast farmgate payout – Paul McBeth:

 (BusinessDesk) – Synlait Milk has cut its forecast payout to farmers for the current season, following Fonterra’s lead, as weaker global demand and strong domestic production weighs on international prices.

The Rakaia-based milk producer expects to pay $6.25 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2019 season, down from its previous forecast of $6.75/kgMS. That projection will depend on commodity prices recovering for the rest of the season, something Synlait said it considers realistic. . . 

Scott Tech, Mt Cook Alpine Salmon in automated pin boning project – Jenny Ruth:

(BusinessDesk) – Scott Technology and Mt Cook Alpine Salmon have teamed up to automate the removal of pin bones from King salmon with backing of more than $500,000 from Seafood Innovations.

Brent Keelty, Mt Cook’s processing operations manager, says the only way currently of de-boning King salmon is by hand. . . 

World first IoT farming tech trial  NZ

A pioneering arable farming tech trial is expected to make a quantum leap to help boost New Zealand’s primary export revenue.

New Zealand has a low understanding of how the internet of things (IoT) can assist with farm management and sustainability and adoption of precision agriculture techniques also remains low.

New Zealand’s primary industry export revenue is forecast to reach $43.8 billion for the year to June 2019, an increase of 2.5 percent from 2018. . .

TracMap Data Now Available in FarmIQ:

Integrating two of the country’s leading farm software systems means farmers can now have TracMap Proof of Application data seamlessly passed to their FarmIQ account, ensuring records are updated quickly and accurately for compliance and management needs.

“This is an important development for FarmIQ’s customers. Many farmers have been asking us for Tracmap’s Proof of Application and Proof of Placement data for some time,” said FarmIQ chief executive Darryn Pegram. . . 

Should primary producers do more to protect their data?:

While farmers and horticulturalists continue to integrate new digital technologies into their businesses, this data reliance does bring with it new vulnerabilities and risks. The next generation of producers are doing away with basic spreadsheets and building their businesses using a real-time data streams and cloud-based platforms for analysis and storage.

In the past, a simple computer backup was, in many cases, all that was needed. It has now been replaced by a complex web of data-points, data validation, storage, security access and data control. . . 

New funding for 31 community-led projects:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has today announced funding of $9.8 million for 31 new Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) projects.

The SFF provides funding for projects led by farmers, growers, and foresters aimed at building economic, environmental and social sustainability in the primary sector. It has recently been replaced by MPI’s new Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) programme. The 31 projects were in the pipeline prior to its launch in October 2018.

“SFF has been instrumental in kicking off both small and large innovative, community-led projects, and laying the groundwork for SFF Futures,” says Steve Penno, Director of Investment Programmes.

“The new 31 projects cover areas from apiculture and dairy to soil management and horticulture, and are great examples of innovative thinking. . . 

Farmers furious at inclusion on Aussie Farms’ map – Alastair Dowie:

‘Ill-informed’ and ‘disgraceful’ are just some of the words Victorian farmers have used upon finding their details on the controversial Aussie Farms map.

Made public last week, the map identifies a large number of rural and farming enterprises, as well as some saleyards, abattoirs and intensive production operations, across Australia.

Many farmers are furious that their personal information has been displayed on the map without their permission. . . .

 


Former Fonterra chair John Wilson has died

January 28, 2019

Fonterra chair John Monaghan has announced the death of former chair, John Wilson:

. . . In July last year, John Wilson announced his intention to step down from the role of Chairman to focus on his health. He then retired from the Co-operative’s Board at its Annual Meeting last November.

In a note to the Co-operative’s farmer-owners earlier today, Fonterra Chairman John Monaghan said Wilson was a man whose dedication and commitment to the Co-operative ran deep.

We owe John and his family a debt of gratitude for all the time, energy and sheer hard graft he gave us as a farmer-owner, inaugural Chairman of the Fonterra Shareholder’s Council on merger, as a Farmer Elected Director from 2003, and as our Chairman from 2012.

John always brought dedication, commitment, and deep dairy knowledge to each of the representation and governance roles in which he served. On behalf of his fellow farmers he was the ultimate advocate for what we stand for.

We have lost a friend, colleague, leader and champion for our industry much too soon. Our thoughts and deep gratitude for all that he contributed go to his family and friends,” said Mr Monaghan.


Rural round-up

October 6, 2018

Acquifer scheme off and running – John Keast:

A switch was flicked, Rangitata River water bubbled in a basin, then slid along a man-made creek bed in the dry South Hinds riverbed.

It is there it will do its work: increase flows in the Hinds River – often dry in its middle reaches – replenish underlying aquifers, feed newly planted native plants, enhance a wetland and, it is hoped, enhance bores used to supply water to Mayfield.

The water was released last week as part of the work by the Managed Aquifer Recharge Governance Group’s project to boost aquifers, dilute nitrates and lift river and stream flows. . .

Alliance backed on long term approach – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group management has received a strong message from suppliers to keep investing in the company’s longer-term strategy, rather than take a short-term approach, chairman Murray Taggart says.

Mr Taggart and fellow directors and management are travelling the country, attending the co-operative’s annual roadshows.

Speaking to the Otago Daily Times yesterday, he said feedback from shareholders and suppliers had been “pleasantly positive.” . . .

Where once was gorse, blackberry and bracken are fields of lush grass, vegetables, and sprightly calves – Marty Sharpe:

Over the course of his 36 years Hemi Robinson has watched the area he calls home slowly decay.

Rust and algae-covered car bodies litter paddocks, once-loved weatherboard homes crumble quietly into the dirt and wave after wave of blackberry, gorse and bracken encroach and consume once fertile and productive land.

This is Raupunga, between Napier and Wairoa. Population 250-ish and falling. . .

Benevolent history repeats – Ross Hyland:

The Duncan, Perry and Howard families have a long connection with farming.

They were instrumental in setting up Smedley, Taratahi and Massey University and the latest generation is doing it again with a group of farms in Rangitikei, particularly Otiwhiti and Westoe, providing a start on the land for cadets from all round the country.

Much has been said and written of the Duncans of the Turakina Valley but the transformation that has been happening on Otiwhiti Station deserves some focus of its own.

The farm cadet training school was established at Otiwhiti by Charles and Joanna Duncan and Charles’ parents, David and Vicky, in 2006. With the addition of Jim and Diana Howard’s Westoe Farm near Marton it could well be the premier farm cadet training establishment in the region. . .

Farmers have choice of five candidates to fill three seats

Fonterra is conducting a wide-open contest among five nominees to fill three vacancies around its board table, which consists of seven farmer-directors and four independents.

The retirements of former chairman John Wilson through ill-health and of long-serving director Nicola Shadbolt mean Ashley Waugh is the only sitting director seeking re-election.

Because the co-operative recently reported its first loss in 17 years of operations Waugh is exposed to a possible backlash through the ballot box from disgruntled shareholders. . .

An innovative lamb product is vying for two of New Zealand’s top food awards:

Alliance Group’s Te Mana Lamb has been announced as a finalist in two categories of this year’s : Frozen, which is offered in association with Palmerston North City Council; and the NZ Food Safety Primary Sector Products Award.

The Primary Sector Products Award looks for single ingredient foods – those sold in their purest form, with minimal processing – where producers, researchers and manufacturers have added-value to primary products through introducing new varieties, cultivars or breeds.

Te Mana Lamb has been produced as part of the Omega Lamb Project – a Primary Growth Partnership led by Alliance, in association with farming group Headwaters New Zealand Ltd and the Ministry for Primary Industries. . . 


John Wilson stands down as Fonterra chair

July 27, 2018

John Wilson  has announced that he is standing down as Fonterra chair immediately and will retire from the board in November.

In an email to shareholders he said:

  • I have made the difficult decision to stand down as your Chairman to recover from a recent serious health scare.
  • Within the last month I have undergone a significant surgery.
  • I have made a very good recovery and am well but need on-going treatment.
  • I have been humbled by the support of my fellow Directors, and after deep discussions with them and with my family, I have decided to stand down as Chairman as of today and will retire from the Board at the Annual Meeting in November.
  • It has been a privilege to serve you as Chairman and give something back to this great Co-operative that continues to give my family and me so much.
  • As many of you will know from experience, governance roles are incredibly rewarding, but equally demanding on the individual and their families.
  • Continuing as Chairman when I cannot put my full energy and attention into the role is not appropriate.
  • I look forward to spending more time back on the farm with Belinda and the girls.
  • Long standing director, John Monaghan has been selected by the Board as the new Chairman of Fonterra.
  • John, who has been on the Board since 2008, has been closely involved in the process to appoint a new CEO to Fonterra and will now be responsible for advancing this appointment with the full involvement and support of the Board.
  • I know you will join me in putting your full support behind John and the Board as he leads the Co-operative through this critical period of CEO transition, the DIRA review, farmer flexibility, and the vision and purpose work alongside the Shareholders’ Council.

Fonterra is facing criticism from outside but the shareholders who are the farmers who supply the milk can’t argue with the second highest payout and John Wilson must get credit for that.

It is New Zealand’s only internationally rated company and the country ought to be proud of it.

It is constrained by some of the conditions of the DIRA regulations and the review is an opportunity to fix that.

A serious health scare is a serious business and he is doing the right thing for himself, his family and the company by standing down as chair. I wish him a full and speedy recovery.

Fonterra is in the process of appointing a new chief executive.

It isn’t always ideal to replace both the chair and CE at the same time.

But if a board is functioning properly and all board members are pulling their weight there ought to be no problems with new people in both positions.

John Monaghan served as chair of the Shareholders Council and has both the skills and experience to lead Fonterra well.

 


Rural round-up

June 25, 2018

Mycoplasm bovis can transfer to sheep, goats, deer, pigs and poultry – Keith Woodford:

Currently, there is a fervent ‘behind-the-scenes’ debate as to whether eradication of Mycoplasma bovis from New Zealand is feasible.

It is well over a month, possibly close to two months, since the international Technical Advisory Group (TAG) voted six to four in favour of eradication being feasible. This would have been based on information supplied to them by MPI and assessed over a telephone hook-up. New evidence since then provides further complexity and concerns.

First, there is extensive evidence from overseas that Mycoplasma bovis can transfer between species and that it can infect sheep, goats, pigs, deer and even poultry. Strictly speaking, this is not new evidence as it was sitting there all along in the scientific literature and easily found. However, the implications of this within the New Zealand environment have not been considered to date. . .

A killer worse than M bovis – Nigel Malthus:

A cattle disease prevalent on 100% of New Zealand farms is much more serious than Mycoplasma bovis, a veterinarian says.

Lincoln University Dairy Farm veterinarian Chris Norton told farmers at a recent focus day there that though M. bovis dominates the news, another disease — Johne’s — affects more farms and kills more cattle.

Johne’s was discovered first in Taranaki 100 years ago in one cow, Norton said. . . 

DoC explains game export process – Tim Fulton:

Deer and other game animal products are getting a new export process and the Department of Conservation (DOC) is trying to ensure exports aren’t stopped at foreign ports because of it.

Japanese border authorities last month stopped a New Zealand velvet exporter’s shipment at an airport because they did not recognise DOC’s approach to certifying legally hunted and farmed game animals.

DOC has been issuing certificates of export for deer, tahr and chamois products.

A new form letter from DOC director general Lou Sanson will list seven species of introduced deer plus Himalayan tahr, chamois and possums. 

They are introduced species that can be legally hunted and exported as trophies, velvet, fur and meat. . . 

Nats out building rural bridges – Annette Scott:

Life is not going to get easier anytime soon for rural New Zealanders, National Party leader Simon Bridges told a meeting of 300 people in Ashburton.

Bridges, as part of his Connecting with Communities regional roadshow, said increased intervention in people’s everyday lives and policies that will make it harder for regional businesses to operate are becoming reality under the Labour-led Government.

And changes to industrial relations law will directly affect regional economies.

The big increase in the minimum wage and amendments to the 90-day employment trial were prompting employers to think twice about taking on new staff. . . 

Nominations Documents Ready for 2018 Fonterra Board of Directors’ Election:

Nominations for the Fonterra Board of Directors’ Election open Friday, 6 July with an election to be held for three farmer-elected Directors.

This year John Wilson, Ashley Waugh and Nicola Shadbolt retire by rotation. They may all stand for re-election if they wish – none have announced their intentions at this stage. . .

Record entries for Hawke’s Bay Young Fruitgrower competition:

Eight of Hawke’s Bay’s top young horticulturists will face off in the Hawke’s Bay Young Fruitgrower of the Year competition in Napier on Thursday 28 and Friday 29 June.

This year’s entrants are:
Lisa Arnold, orchard operations assistant at Bostock NZ
Tom Dalziel, foreman at Mr Apple NZ
Ryan Gittings, York Group assistant manager at Sunfruit Orchards Ltd
Wade Miller, leading hand at Bostock NZ
Luke Scragg, senior leading hand at T&G
Philip Siagia, general orchard hand at Mr Apple NZ
Anthony Taueki, foreman at Mr Apple NZ
Lincoln Thomson, assistant manager at Sunfruit Orchards Ltd

Critical elements to maintain member loyalty in co-operatives :

To fully engage the members of co-operative and mutual enterprises, managers and directors of CME’s must understand their members wear four hats when engaging with their co-operative, according to a study conducted by researchers from The University of Western Australia.

The study analysed three Australian producer co-operatives including Co-operative Bulk Handling Ltd (CBH), Murray Goulburn Co-operative (MGC), and Geraldton Fisherman’s Co-operative Ltd (GFC), and examined the nature of member commitment and loyalty in co-operative and mutual enterprises (CMEs).

Professor Tim Mazzarol from UWA’s Business School and Institute of Agriculture says directors and managers of CME’s should recognise that members do wear multiple hats with which they engage with the enterprise. These hats are Investor, Patron, Owner and Community Member. . . 


Business not Minister’s business

June 14, 2018

NZ First MP Shane Jones has stomped with his clod hoppers where he has no business to be again:

Regional Development Minister Shane Jones has climbed into the leadership of dairy giant Fonterra, calling for chairman John Wilson to follow chief executive Theo Spierings out the door.

Jones said he told the company it should stop being political and instead focus on its business.

Says the Minister who uses personal attacks instead of polite discourse and ought to be focusing on politics not meddling in business.

They should focus less on interfering in politics and more on justifying the money they’ve lost overseas. I believe that they have become disconnected from the farming community.”

Jones said he had suggested to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor whether it was time to restructure the dairy co-op, and singled out Wilson for special mention.

Doesn’t he know that the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA), under which Fonterra was created, is under review already?

The leadership of Fonterra, I believe, starting with the chairman, is full of its own importance and has become disconnected.”

He said there was an absolute absence of accountability for the “enormous amounts of dough” that the current chairman had presided over.

This sounds very like a minister full of his own importance presiding over a billion dollar slush fund with little accountability.

The CEO has gone, well that’s only one party of the double-Dutch we’ve had to put up with in Fonterra over the last nine years. I thoroughly believe this … that as the CEO leaves Fonterra, the chairman should in quick order catch the next cab out of town.

Double-Dutch? Is this a xenophobic reference to the retiring CEO Theo Spierings and past chair Sir Henry van der Heyden who stepped down nearly a decade ago?

“I’ve been bloody disappointed that Fonterra, in my view, the leadership has not accepted that there’s a new Government and there is a new narrative and I’ve had a gutsful of them believing they are bigger then what they really are.” . .

Believing they’re bigger than they are? That’s rich coming from the party with far more power – and voter money – than its voter support at the election entitle it to.

This sort of tirade does nothing to reassure  businesses which are already very wary of the policies and directions of the government.:

The time has come for the Prime Minister to step in and discipline her Regional Economic Development Minister who repeatedly seeks publicity by attacking business leaders, National’s Regional Economic Development spokesperson Paul Goldsmith said today.

“Business confidence in New Zealand is plummeting and the reasons for that are mounting.

“The Government’s low growth policies like higher taxes and stronger unions are causing businesses to hire fewer people and invest less in growth and it has them concerned about the future of New Zealand and who can blame them?

“Because on top of that you have a loudmouth Regional Economic Development Minister who’s putting his own ego and need for publicity ahead of the interests of New Zealand.

“Shane Jones’ attacks on Fonterra’s leadership are the latest burp from a man who is fast losing any respect he once had.

“He says Fonterra’s leadership is ‘full of their own importance’.  That sounds like a more apt description of himself.

“He even added he’s ‘worried about the absolute absence of accountability for the enormous amounts of dough that the current Fonterrra chairman has presided over’.

“This is startling hypocrisy from the same man who defended his own region getting the lion’s share of funding from his billion-dollar Provincial Growth Fund by stating ‘to the winner goes the booty’.

“Well it’s not his booty and it’s clear Shane Jones has no idea what accountability means.

“This Government has decided to spend $3 billion over the next three years on regional economic development, including roundabouts and church restorations. It’s critical the responsible is up to the job and focused on doing his job well.

“At the moment, all he seems good for is attacking business leaders whenever a few days have gone by without some of the media coverage for which he craves.

A friend who was at the KPMG breakfast at which Jones launched his tirade said it was entirely inappropriate, and a very poor reflection on the MP and the government.

Fonterra is a co-operative. The performance of the company and its chair are the business of its shareholders not an MP.

There is some dissatisfaction and there are concerns but this season’s  milk price is the third highest since the company was formed.

Shareholders could well be more concerned about the MP who has no business interfering in their business than the chair’s performance.

So Jones’s loose lips could well strengthen the position of Wilson who is up for re-election this year.


Rural round-up

June 3, 2018

Already-stressed farmers will need to use all resources available to cope with the added impact of mycoplasma bovis. Their personal resilience faces a severe test – Daniel Tisch:

The mycoplasma bovis eradication programme underway will challenge farmer resilience. Resilience addresses the return to normal after a shock.

The shock felt by farmers from culling their herds has been widely reported. From what we know about resilience, this initial impact will be followed by a recovery period, in which the mental and emotional state of farmers will be affected for years.

The incidence of depression, suicide and other mental health conditions will rise.

An average of one farmer every other week commits suicide in New Zealand and this rate increases during stressful times such as a drought. International studies of farmers highlight their vulnerability. Many countries have programmes to support farmer resilience.  For example, US-lawmakers are currently discussing The Stress Act for farmers.  . . 

Just get on with it farmer says – Neal Wallace:

Leo and Maite Bensegues aren’t really interested in how Mycoplasma bovis arrived on their South Canterbury farm last August.

It meant the destruction of 950 cows and 222 yearlings but the Morven sharemilkers do not dwell on those dark days.

Instead the Argentinian who arrived in New Zealand in 2005 with $728 to his name focuses on the future and a day in late June when his farm will be declared free of the disease and he can start preparing for the calving of his recently bought 700-cow herd. . .

MPI answers questions:

When did Mycoplasma bovis arrive in New Zealand?

All the evidence we have is that Mycoplasma bovis arrived in New Zealand in late 2015 to early 2016. Investigations are ongoing.

Why do you think this?

We have two lots of evidence. A genetic clock and our tracking and tracing activity where we identify and test animals on farms that have received cattle or other risk items from Mycoplasma bovis positive farms, like milk for feeding calves.

What’s a genetic clock?

Since we discovered Mycoplasma bovis in NZ in July 2017 we have been gene sequencing the disease to identify its genetic fingerprint. . . 

Leisurely trip with cows allows rubbish pick-up – Jono Edwards:

Dairy farmers across the country braved the cold yesterday to embark on a yearly stock pilgrimage.

In some areas, they were concerned about the travel and mixing of stock that came with Gypsy Day in the era of Mycoplasma bovis.

Taieri dairy farmer Philip Wilson was not too worried about the  threat of the infection yesterday as he moved a small herd just 3km down the road. . . 

Wilson, Spierings argue valid comparisons, value-add – Hugh Stringleman:

For the Fonterra Scorecard series Farmers Weekly sought an interview with chairman John Wilson and chief executive Theo Spierings, now in his last year at the top of the world’s second-largest dairy processor and trader.

Aspects of Fonterra’s historical performance, Spiering’s strategies, the dairy industry review and Fonterra’s most-recent downgrade in earnings and dividends were discussed. It was their only joint interview with rural media during the past seven years. Hugh Stringleman reports. 

Fonterra’s performance

New Zealand dairy farmers who supply Fonterra now receive better payouts than their counterparts almost everywhere in the world, chairman John Wilson and chief executive Theo Spierings say. . .

New directors elected to Horticulture NZ board:

Horticulture New Zealand’s Board welcomes new director Bernadine Guilleux and re-elected director Mike Smith, after four well-qualified candidates contested two vacant roles on the Board.

Horticulture New Zealand’s President Julian Raine was advised of the results by Electionz, which ran an independent voting process for the Board.

Welcome Bay kiwifruit grower Mike Smith offered himself for re-election and Bernadine Guilleux, marketing manager at Balle Bros in Auckland, is a first-time candidate. . . 

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Rural round-up

May 28, 2018

Dairy farmers are an easy target and not alone in environmental guilt– Lyn Webster:

 As a dairy farmer I hear a lot of criticism about the perceived environmental impact of farming animals on land, and this has made me extremely environmentally aware.

Everywhere I look I see the environmental impact of humans: people just moving around, eating, breathing and living their lives.

Every buying decision we make has an impact – whether it be food, clothes off the internet from China or an overseas trip. TV advertising incessantly tells us to buy more and more things to make us happy, to make our children happy and to tick off our bucket list.  

Big shops bring us zillions of dollar’s worth of colourful plastic shaped into seemingly desirable objects, many of which are discarded quickly in the shape of broken toys, cracked garden gnomes and punctured plastic swimming pools. . . 

Sharemilker protects his herd ahead of Gypsy Day – Gerald Piddock:

A nervous Calvin Lauridsen​ has done all he can to protect his prized dairy herd from Mycoplasma bovis ahead of next week’s Gypsy Day.

The Arapuni farmer is in the final stages of packing up and leaving the 138 hectare farm he and wife Nadine have 50:50 share milked with 440 cows for the past eight years.

All that is left on the farm are a few items of machinery and his dairy herd, which is being picked up on Monday , the same day Cabinet will make a final decision whether to try and eradicate the disease or shift to a management regime.

So far, the cattle disease has spread to 39 farms since July last year, including the latest addition of a dairy farm near Cambridge.  . .

There’s more risk on moving day – Hugh Stringleman:

Several hundred sharemilkers and their cows will move farms on Gypsy Day with extra time-consuming and costly animal health precautions because of Mycoplasma bovis.

The spread of at-risk properties shows precautions must be taken for cattle movements in all dairying regions of the country, DairyNZ extension general manager Andrew Reid said.

About 3000 of the nation’s 12,000 dairy farms have sharemilkers and the standard contract length is three years.

Therefore up to 1000 herds could move at the end of the season though more likely several hundred will move on June 1, Reid said. . .

Former Fonterra director calls for chair Wilson to resign – Jamiie  Grey:

A former director of Fonterra has called on chairman John Wilson to “move on” after what he said was the co-operative’s ongoing underperformance.

Fonterra this week issued its nine-month business update which featured a strong farmgate milk price but which also highlighted a downward pressure on the company’s earnings.

Taranaki-based Harry Bayliss, a founding director who served on the board from 2001 to 2006, sent an email to existing board members on March 31 calling for Wilson to step down. A spokesman for Fonterra said it had no comment to make. . . 

Getting the good oil in Central – Yvonne O’Hara:

This season’s long summer has resulted in a bumper harvest for olive growers in Central Otago.

Lowburn’s Stephen Morris, his wife Olivia and his in-laws Alistair and Sue Stark own Olive Press Central Otago (Opco) on the family’s vineyard, St Bathans Range, near Cromwell.

Mr Morris has been busy during the past three weeks cold-processing olives to produce extra virgin olive oil,

The good summer has meant the fruit produces more oil with a better flavour, and promises to be one of the best they have had. . . 

Droving journey highlights ongoing drought in Queensland – Sally Cripps:

When Jodie Muntelwit and PJ Elliott decided to put 1200 head of their cattle on the road last October, they imagined it would only be for a month or two.

Eight months later, the mob of mostly weaners, under the care of Ned Elmy, an offsider and Ned’s 18 dogs, is trudging towards home at Corfield, living on hope and whatever Queensland’s stock routes can offer.

The season didn’t give PJ and Jodie the break they’d hoped for on their country north of Winton last summer, and the 150mm single fall in March at Weeba and Enryb Downs brought a half-hearted pasture response from most of their paddocks. . . 


Rural round-up

April 2, 2018

Action call over any found to have illegally brought in ‘M.bovis’ – Sally Rae:

Consequences are needed if any farmers have put other farmers, animals and livelihoods at risk, let alone the New Zealand economy, DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says.

Dr Mackle was responding to an announcement by the Ministry for Primary Industries yesterday that it had simultaneously executed search warrants at three locations as part of the Mycoplasma bovis investigation.

The New Zealand Herald reported there was growing speculation the bacterial cattle disease was introduced to New Zealand through illegally imported livestock drugs, and sources suggested Tuesday’s simultaneous searches were in Auckland and Southland. . .

Fonterra negotiating ‘roadblocks’ in China – Fran O’Sullivan:

Fonterra’s news that it was writing down its $774 million investment in Chinese infant formula company Beingmate by $405m inevitably dominated news headlines after the dairy co-operative announced its 2018 interim result to the NZX.

But that was eclipsed when chairman John Wilson announced the seven-year reign of his chief executive Theo Spierings was in its final phase.

It was a brutal press conference. . .

Food for thought: How to secure New Zealand’s food supply in the face of a changing climate – Tess Nicholl:

We take for granted the bounty on offer at our supermarkets, but destructive cyclones and the hottest month in 150 years are turning attention to how long New Zealand can provide fresh food for its growing population. Tess Nichol investigates.

On the outskirts of Dargaville, Andre de Bruin has been growing kumara for the past two decades.

He produces 40 hectares of the purple tuber annually, but last year his yield was halved thanks to what de Bruin calls a “perfect storm” — drought followed by unseasonal amounts of rain right before harvest.

“We had drought drought drought, then bam, floods,” he recalls. . .

Get the basics right – Sam Whitelock:

I come from a farming background and once I complete my rugby career I’ll be taking the lessons I’ve learnt from professional sport and applying them back on the farm. (Sam Whitelock, Farmstrong Ambassador)

Rugby has certainly taught me heaps about how to look after myself and handle pressure.

I reckon rugby and farming are really similar that way – there’s always targets to meet and results to achieve.

So how can you prepare for the ups and downs of it all? . .

Merino stud tour held in conjunction with awards – Yvonne O’Hara:

About 170 people took part in a two-day self-drive tour visiting eight merino studs in Central Otago earlier this month.

The tour was held in conjunction with the Otago Merino Association Awards, which were announced at a formal dinner in Alexandra on March 16.

The studs on the tour were Nine Mile Station, Malvern Downs, Earnscleugh Station, Matangi Station, Little Valley Station, Matarae Station, Stonehenge Station and Armidale Merino Stud.

Lunch was at Earnscleugh Station’s woolshed . .

 Art Basel Hong Kong 2018: Loro Piana’s cloud-like “The Gift of Kings” exhibition 590 panels of the world’s finest wool make for a jubilant immersive experience   – Alessandro De Toni:

In conjunction with Art Basel Hong Kong, Loro Piana—one of the world’s most prestigious cashmere and luxury fabric manufacturers—pays homage to its most renowned material known as The Gift of Kings.

It’s quite a bold name but it represents an incredibly fine, feather-light and rare wool sourced by Loro Piana through a 30-year-long collaboration with a selection of Merino sheep breeders in Australia and New Zealand. This material, measuring only 12 microns (one thousandth of a millimeter), is far finer than cashmere and only available in very limited quantities, meaning it’s quite extraordinary that it was used as the principal source material for this installation.


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.

 


Fonterra’s forecast milk payout falls

December 8, 2017

Fonterra has revised its forecast farmgate milk payout price from $6.75 to $6.40:

Chairman John Wilson says the lower forecast Farmgate Milk Price reflects a prudent approach to ongoing volatility in the global dairy market. The GlobalDairyTrade price for Whole Milk Powder is a big influencer of the Farmgate Milk Price and it has declined by almost 10 percent since 1 August 2017.  

“While the result of the arbitration with Danone has impacted our earnings guidance for the season, it has no influence on our forecast Farmgate Milk Price,” says Mr Wilson.

“What is driving this forecast is that despite demand for dairy remaining strong, particularly in China, other parts of Asia and Latin America, we are seeing strong production out of Europe and continued high levels of EU intervention stockpiles of Skim Milk Powder.

“This downward pressure on global prices is being partly offset by the lower NZ-US dollar exchange rate,” says Mr Wilson.

“Our strong financial position, customer order book at this point in the year, and confidence in demand means that the Board is able to increase the payments made in January by 10 cents per kgMS and will hold the Advance Rate through to the payments in May.

“In effect, our farmers will receive equal or higher payments for their milk over this period than were scheduled under the previous $6.75 milk price.

Fonterra has also updated its full season New Zealand milk collection forecast due to ongoing challenging weather conditions. The Co-operative has reduced its forecast by 1 per cent to 1,525 million kgMS – the same volume as last season. 

Given drops in GlobalDairyTrade price index in successive auctions, relieved by a very small lift this week, the drop in the forecast payout isn’t surprising.

It’s not the early Christmas present dairy farmers, sharemilkers, their staff and those who service and supply them were wanting, but it wasn’t unexpected and it’s still a reasonable return.

Of more concern is the dry weather.

A wet spring enable a late start to irrigation in North Otago but everyone’s watering as much as they can now.

At least here we have reliable water supplies.

Farmers in other areas where there is no irrigation, or where they face restrictions in dry weather, will be hoping forecasts for continuing hot weather and little or no rain are wrong.


Tributes to Michael Spaans

November 21, 2017

Michael Spaans, a former director of Fonterra and chair of DairyNZ has died.

Fonterra chair John Wilson paid tribute to him:

Sadly, today our Co-operative has lost one of our strongest people with former Director Michael Spaans passing away last night. He is survived by his wife Kristina and children Olivia, Logan and Harvey.

Earlier this year, Michael decided to step down from the Fonterra Board and focus on trying to recover from cancer. He and I go back many years and I saw him approach his illness in the same way he approached everything in life. He was resolute and determined and did his utmost to continue on as normal. It was a brave fight and I am sure that will not surprise those of you who knew him.

Michael was a proud dairy farmer with a passion for our Co-op and our industry. I have often talked about the importance of having leaders developing within our ranks and Michael is a very fine example. Michael served on the New Zealand Dairy Group Shareholder Council, before joining the Fonterra Shareholders’ Council at the time our Co-op was formed. He was also part of the first intake for the Fonterra Governance Development Programme, and later built his governance experience outside the industry including directorships with ASB Bank, Shoof International, DairyNZ, Manuka SA, Waikato Innovation Park, Innovation Waikato and Ospri New Zealand.

He then brought this experience, along with a huge level of energy and commitment to our Board, and won the respect of his fellow Directors and farmers for his willingness to listen and engage. Michael was a man who knew the importance of detail. He made sure that he knew this business extremely well, understood our strategy and was completely across the detail of the numbers. He always looked for constructive solutions and thought deeply about our Co-op’s governance and his role in the evolution of our business.

His insights and experience — along with his genuine interest and inquisitive mind — were also invaluable on Fonterra’s Milk Price Panel, the Co-operative Relations Committee, and the Audit and Finance Committee.

As late as last month, Michael was working for the betterment of New Zealand farmers in his capacity as Chairman of DairyNZ. He has also remained an ambassador for Fonterra on the international stage and in Wellington, recently speaking at the United Nations in New York on behalf of the Global Dairy Platform and all farmers.

We have lost a close friend, leader and an advocate of our industry much too soon. Our thoughts and deep gratitude for all that he contributed go to his family.

DairyNZ also paid tribute to him:

It is with great sadness that DairyNZ acknowledges the passing of (Reindert) Michael Spaans (54), husband, father, farmer, director, and recent chair of DairyNZ.

Michael Spaans

Michael has been a valuable member of the DairyNZ board since 2008 and was elected chair in November 2015. He was also a director of Fonterra from 2013 until January 2017 when illness forced an early retirement.  However, he continued on as a director of ASB and Shoof International, and with his farming interests in Canterbury, Chile, and the United States, as well as his home farm.

DairyNZ acting chair, Barry Harris, says: “Michael will be greatly missed by the board, our staff, our farmers and the wider Waikato community. His passion and knowledge of the sector, and dedication to improving outcomes for dairy farming profitability and sustainability are well known. We are going to miss his thoughtful debating and farmer-first approach to investment, his involvement with the dairy leaders group, his focus as chair of the Waikato Dairy Leaders Group and the group’s desire to improve the state of the Waikato River, and support for the Healthy Rivers plan in particular.”

Growing up on a family farm at Tauhei, near Morrinsville, Michael attended Mangateparu School, Morrinsville Intermediate and Morrinsville College. He later took over his parents’ farm at Manawaru, residing there with his wife Kristina and their three children, now aged 16, 20 and 22, until his passing.

A keen basketballer as a young man, Michael started farming life in Te Aroha as a young sharemilker, getting into governance around the time of the creation of Fonterra. He started with the old New Zealand Dairy Group shareholders’ council and continued to serve as Te Aroha Ward rep when the council and company became part of Fonterra. From there he has held many governance positions, dedicating his life to improving farming in New Zealand.

“Michael always had presence and not just because he was 6ft 9in tall, but because he was thoughtful, considered, and passionate about farming,” says DairyNZ’s chief Executive Dr Tim Mackle.

“Besides his love and dedication to his family, he was also dedicated to DairyNZ, even ill, he made such an effort to add value to our organisation.  He felt and was often quoted as saying how vital an organisation like DairyNZ was to act in the best interests of farmers, and the DairyNZ family are going to miss him.

“Our deepest sympathies lie with his family, especially his wife Kristina, who has also dedicated her past nine years to us too.”

A replacement chair of DairyNZ will be announced shortly, along with a replacement solution for a new farmer director.

Fifty four is far too young for a good man whose death will leave a large hole in his family and circle of friends.

Farming will also miss his contributions as a farmer, director and community stalwart.


Farmers’ pledge will work where water tax won’t

August 23, 2017

Farming leaders have pledged to make rivers swimmable:

In a first for the country, farming leaders have pledged to work together to help make New Zealand’s rivers swimmable for future generations.

The Farming Leaders’ Pledge has been signed today by a group of New Zealand pastoral farming leaders, that represent over 80% per cent of that country’s farmed land, committing them to an ambitious goal of working to make New Zealand’s rivers swimmable for their children and grandchildren.

Group spokesperson, Federated Farmers President and West Coast dairy farmer Katie Milne says the intent behind the pledge is clear.

“Many of our rivers are not in the condition we all want them to be. We are doing this because we want our kids and their kids to be able to swim in the same rivers that we did as children.  And by swim we mean swim. It’s as simple as that.

“We’re standing up and saying we haven’t always got this right. More work is required and we will play our part. While there has been progress on farm in the past 10 years, we know there is more to be done, and that it must be done fast, and together.

Clean rivers aren’t an abstract concept for farmers.

This is the water we drink and wash with every day, not something we might visit a very few times a year.

“Today isn’t about laying out the detail on the huge amount of work going on already on farms up and down the country and how these efforts will need to increase.

“It’s about us as farming leaders signalling our commitment to making New Zealand’s rivers swimmable and doing everything we can to achieve that.”

Ms Milne, says the group understands much of the work needed will be challenging for the farming sector.

Challenging yes, but a  lot will build on work already being undertaken.

“We haven’t put a timeline on our commitment.  Each community will need to decide that for themselves.  This goal will be difficult to meet and we don’t have all the answers today on how it’s going to be achieved”, she says.

“We know that we have work to do. We know it will be challenging for farmers. We know the answers are complex and we don’t have them all now.   This commitment is simply the right thing to do in playing our part to give back to future generations what we enjoyed as kids.”

The Farming Leaders Group is an informal grouping of New Zealand pastoral farming leaders that was established in May 2017 to work on issues of importance to the sector. 

The current membership is Mike Petersen (Sheep & Beef Farmer), Michael Spaans (Dairy Farmer and Dairy NZ Chair), James Parsons (Sheep & Beef Farmer and Beef + Lamb NZ Chair), John Loughlin (Meat Industry Association Chair), Katie Milne (Dairy Farmer and Federated Farmers President), Bruce Wills (Sheep & Beef Farmer and Ravensdown Director), and John Wilson (Dairy Farmer and Fonterra Chair).

The improvements already made have been done by farmers who understand the importance of clean water, without the crude instrument of a water tax which Megan  Hands describes as a kick in the guts for farmers:

There is no doubt that water management is top of mind for many of us this election, but none more so than our farmers and growers, particularly those with irrigation. It’s struck me that using the word farmer seems to irk many, as if it has some kind of negative connotation.

The reality is that New Zealand’s farmers collectively are a group of thousands of small, often family run businesses and their employees. Many are self-employed and punch well above their weight to compete on a global scale, often up against farmers from nations who receive significant subsidies from their governments to assist with their costs of production, top up their incomes or assist them to undertake environmental works.

Irrigation dates to back the Ancient Egyptians and, simply put, we have it because we need water to grow crops or feed for our animals. In the areas of the country that have the most irrigation, rainfall can be scarce, ranging from just 300mm in parts of Central Otago, through to 500-700mm in Canterbury and Marlborough, as compared with the 1,200mm that falls in Auckland annually. Irrigation is used by some farmers and growers to supplement that shortfall in rain and to remain resilient in drought years.

Irrigation schemes don’t just allow farmers to weather dry weather. They also augment natural flows in rivers and streams to improve water quality and enhance water life.

What then is the likely impact of Labour’s water tax policy on these families and their communities?

On the face of it phrases like “polluter pays” or “user pays: may sound appealing, but the balancing of the environmental, social, cultural and economic needs of our communities is more complex than that.

An important point to note from the outset is that nobody in New Zealand pays for water. Even in Auckland, Watercare charges for the treatment and reticulation of water to your home or business, not for the water itself. In the same way as you pay the council through your rates or water bill, Irrigators pay for the infrastructure through consenting, drilling of wells, installation and running of pumping stations or through payments to irrigation schemes with costs of up to $800 a hectare.

That’s what we pay for water from North Otago Irrigation COmpany’s scheme – $800 a hectare a year. On top of that we have to have an environmental farm plan which is independently audited each year.

When Labour’s policy was first announced, there was little detail of pricing. It appears now we are looking at a price of 2 cents per cubic metre, or 1000 Litres.

For some context, to apply 1mm of water over 1 hectare of land it takes 10,000 litres of water or 10 cubic metres. So, to supplement that shortfall of rainfall and sustain crop or pasture growth it quickly equates to large volumes of water.

To keep the maths simple, a 200ha cropping farm growing grain or grass seeds in mid Canterbury applying 500mm of irrigation water a year would have a new additional tax bill of $20,000 a year.

A 100hectare vineyard in Blenheim might use 199,500 cubic metres of water through a drip micro system and have an additional tax bill of $3,990.

Another dairy farmer well known on Twitter has calculated his annual water tax bill on his farm to be $53,000.

Suddenly a couple of cents doesn’t sound so small.

It’s not just the amount but that it will be taken from irrigators regardless of whether their practices are contributing to water quality problems, some will go to Iwi and some will go to regional councils.

What’s left after the costs of collection and distribution is supposed to be used to clean up waterways, but how? It it’s individual farms causing problems they should be responsible for fixing them and not at the cost of those who are already doing everything right.

The key drivers for irrigation requirements are the soil type and its ability to hold water, the crops water demand and the evapotranspiration of the area. In the examples above, grapes have a lower water demand than pasture or grain crops. There is a great deal of science and high level of management that goes into managing irrigation efficiently.

One arable farmer at a meeting in Ashburton on Friday said that he had calculated that at 2 cents/m3 his annual water tax bill could equate to half his annual income. Another wondered aloud what happens if he has a crop failure and he receives zero income for that year but still must pay the tax for the irrigation water he used?

What will happen in wet seasons, like the last one, when there was hardly any irrigation? Our power bill was about 10% of what it had been the previous season which indicates we used about a 10th of the irrigation.

And what will they do with the seagulls which are causing the only water quality problem in the Kakanui River?

In districts where there are significant areas of irrigation this tax would mean millions of dollars being removed from these local economies in additional tax. In these regional areas, the small towns and cities rely on primary industry to keep them going. For Ashburton and Timaru some estimates have come in around $40 million. Tim Cadogan, mayor of Central Otago, is quoted as saying the tax will cost his district $6 million dollars. That’s millions of dollars not transferred to local tradesman, the local café or the rural supplies store.

This proposed tax has been portrayed as the solution to NZ’s water quality problems, although the more we learn about this policy the more difficult it is to link the purported benefits with the method proposed. If Labour do as they say and return the tax to the areas from which it is collected (minus the percentage that goes to iwi), the areas with the poorest water quality will only receive a small slice of the tax. This is because there is almost no correlation between swimability of rivers and irrigation.

This policy is based not on facts but on the unsubstantiated belief that irrigation causes water degradation.

In our area it’s the opposite case. The Waiareka Creek that used to be a series of semi-stagnant ponds now flows clear  all year and water life has re-established because irrigation water is doing what nature couldn’t – maintain water flows.

One of the greatest concerns regarding this policy is the possibility it could make meeting required reductions in nutrient losses more difficult. Making changes on a farm to improve water quality is not cheap and any additional money squeezed out of what are often tight budgets may make it more difficult to do so. As an example, $20,000-30,000 can pay for three or four soil moisture meters to aid in more targeted use of irrigation or perhaps part of a new effluent system.

A water tax is a broad-brush approach to what are varied and complex issues. In my view identifying the contaminants causing the water quality problems for a catchment and targeting the management of those at catchment scale is a far superior approach than paying money to a government organisation in the hope that it will be returned to be spent the catchment it came from.

Last Friday David Parker, Labour’s spokesperson for freshwater fronted a public meeting in Ashburton. While I’d already been publicly critical of the approach of a water tax, I wanted to hear what he had to say in more depth than a media soundbite or the 300-word summary on the Labour party website. I’ve also long believed that there is a legitimate conversation to be had about how we should fund environmental infrastructure such as the Managed Aquifer Recharge site in Ashburton, new storm water systems or floating wetlands such as those installed at Te Arawa in Rotorua.

I was bitterly disappointed.

Mr Parker provided photos of poor farming practices to set the tone. Of the farming practices that we were seeing in the photos, not even one of them was related to irrigation and none were from Canterbury. Almost every single one of them would be illegal in Canterbury under the existing Land and Water Regional Plan putting your consent to farm or your access to irrigation water at risk of being cut off.

When questioned on the price, Mr Parker warned the room that he wasn’t there to negotiate and threatened the farmers in the room that if they pushed him it would be 2 cents instead of 1 cent. He continually referred to the farmers in the room as “you people”, taking aim at them and telling them they alone were responsible for the rural urban divide.

It is the responsibility of us all to manage our water well and that includes irrigators, towns and cities, and other commercial users. If we are going to tackle these challenges we must do it together, instead of pointing the finger at one another.

The management of our freshwater is important for our ecosystems, our businesses and our recreation. Water is precious to all of us and deserves far more sophisticated and collaborative policy development then soundbites and feel good election policies if we are to deliver the kaitiakitanga it deserves.

The pledge by the farmers’ group will work where the water tax won’t.

It will be led by and accomplished by farmers working with farmers, not politicians extracting a tax only some of which will be applied to improving water quality.


Rural round-up

July 4, 2017

Rare birds flourish in Canterbury cows’ paddocks – Conan Young:

A colony of 300 critically endangered birds has found an unlikely place to nest – in the middle of a paddock full of dairy cows.

The discovery was made late last year – black billed gulls building their nests on the Canterbury farm and then successfully raising their chicks, oblivious to the cows grazing nearby and the odd shower from a pivot irrigator.

Ornithologists were amazed to see the birds nesting in an area they had not been seen in for three years.

Last year’s unusual discovery was revealed on Thursday at a seminar organised by Braid – a group dedicated to saving the South Island’s braided rivers and the creatures that live there. . .

Common pesticides can harm bees, but the jury is still out on a global ban – Phil Lester:

Some of the world’s most widely used pesticides can be harmful to bees, according to the first large-scale studies aimed at measuring the impact of compounds called neonicotinoids on bees’ health. But the effects vary widely between different compounds and different countries, suggesting that more regional research will be needed to clarify the exact scale of the problem.

Neonicotinoids, which are typically coated onto seeds before planting rather than being sprayed onto crop plants, were developed with the aim of harming only those animals that eat the plants. But they are also found in the pollen and nectar of treated plants, potentially affecting beneficial organisms like bees. . . 

South Devon cattle ticket to world – Sally Rae:

South Devon cattle have taken Allanton farmer Brian Thomson all over the world.

And what he has discovered is that the breed, which originates from the southwest of England, adapts to whatever environment it is farmed in.

Mr Thomson recently stepped down as the president of the World South Devon Association after a three-year term.

He has been to every triennial world conference since 2005, seeing the breed in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, the United States and South Africa. . . 

McClay announces FTA negotiations with Pacific Alliance:

Trade Minister Todd McClay has announced the launch of free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru and says better market access and lower tariffs will be of real value to New Zealand exporters.

“This is a big win in the fight for better access for New Zealanders to important overseas markets. We’ve worked hard for trade talks with the Pacific Alliance over the last two years and today’s announcement will be welcome news for our exporters,” Mr McClay says. . . 

Fonterra Global Foodservice Takes Supreme ExportNZ Award:

Fonterra Global Foodservice has taken out the supreme award for the 2017 Air New Zealand Cargo ExportNZ Awards for Auckland and Waikato regions.

Judges were impressed with the $1.6 billion foodservice business (which is 80% exports) and growing at around 20% per annum, returning strong margins and true added value to the dairy industry and New Zealand. In tonight’s awards, it also won the Westpac Exporter of the Year (export revenue over $25 million) category. . . 

Supreme Award for Fonterra at 2017 ExportNZ Awards:

Winning the Supreme Award at the 2017 ExportNZ Awards for Auckland and Waikato is recognition the Co-operative’s product innovation is meeting changing customer expectations, says Fonterra Chairman John Wilson.

At an event in Auckland last night, ExportNZ Auckland and Waikato (divisions of the Employers and Manufacturers Association) gave their top award to Fonterra Foodservice after the Co-op earlier won the Westpac Exporter of the Year (total sales over $25 million) category. There were 25 finalists across seven categories of the awards, sponsored by Air New Zealand Cargo. . . 

Bayer Auckland/Northern Young Viticulturist of the Year 2017 announced:

Congratulations to Tim Adams from Obsidian who became the Bayer Auckland/Northern Young Viticulturist of the Year for the second year in a row on Friday 30 June at Goldie Estate.

Congratulations also goes to Jake Dromgool from The Landing in Kerikeri who came second and to Nick Pett from Cable Bay who came third.

The Auckland/Northern region was added to the Young Viticulturist of the Year competition last year and now in its second year the competition has grown already with seven contestants taking part.  . . 


Rural round-up

May 29, 2017

Garry Woods didn’t return home with his mates – doing a first aid course can be his legacy – Joyce Wyllie:

When you leave your warm bed in the morning you never know what the day will bring.

No matter where or who you are, how good your plans are, what the weather forecast is or what mood you are in, you can never know  what will happen in the hours ahead. We all understand this reality but sometimes it does become very life-alteringly real.

The South Island Dog Trial championships have just been held, and Jock and two of his mates travelled down to near Balclutha for the event.

Between them, they had nine dogs, reasonable hopes for a good run and modest aspirations for a trophy haul. They had plenty of anticipation for an enjoyable, entertaining week catching up with friends from around New Zealand, yarning, eating, watching dogs competing on the four courses, and talking dogs and nonsense. . . 

Immigration changes are good for South Island – Neal Wallace:

Immigration changes have proved to be a mixed bag for migrant dairy farm workers.

On the one hand a new South Island Contribution work visa allowed dairy workers caught up in a false document scandal to stay, provided they met certain criteria.

But other changes making residence more difficult were prompting some Filipino farm workers to look for work overseas.

North Island Filipino Farmer’s Association president Julius Gaoing said given the residence changes the special South Island visa gave those workers an advantage over dairy farm workers in the North Island. . . 

Consents to cost $50k? – Neal Wallace:

Seeking a resource consent from the Manawatu-Wanganui Regional Council has become a lot more complex and costlier following an Environment Court ruling that will have repercussions around the country.

Some believed complex consent applications from Horizons could now cost more than $50,000 but there was general agreement the ruling, sought by the Auckland-based Environmental Defence Society (EDS) and Wellington Fish and Game, would require councils to take a stricter definition of environmental plans. . . 

NZ would be stupid to spurn the TPP 11 deal – Charles Finny:

Former trade negotiator Charles Finny says there is still much to do to demystify the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Finny writes some Q&As to put the facts straight.

There is no value in TPP without the United States
This is not true for New Zealand. NZ does not have a free trade agreement with Japan but competitors such as Chile and Australia do. TPP 11 (TPP minus the US) would allow us to level the playing field with these competitors. There are meaningful liberalisation outcomes in other economies – Mexico, Peru and Canada, with whom we don’t have free trade deals.

But aren’t we imposing huge costs by this agreement to the benefit of the US?
There are some “costs” in the form of increased transparency for Pharmac, increased patent terms and longer copyright terms. And yes, these are things the US argued for in the original talks. But these “costs” are far more modest than the gains from the agreement cited above. . .

Loan repayments start in October – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s 15c increase in forecast payout for 2016-17 will go to repaying the support loan of 2014-15 for more than 70% of its supply farmers.

Based on the forecast, farmers who took the loan would have 15c deducted from their October payment, the final for this season.

That would recover about half of the $363 million still owed to Fonterra and interest of 2.47% would be charged on the balance.

If the $6.50 forecast for next season was maintained or bettered and the current payment schedule still applied, the final loan repayment would come out in September 2018, chairman John Wilson said. . . 

No automatic alt text available.

Stay home with sheep, it’s too peopley out there.

 


From $4.25 to $6.15

May 25, 2017

A year ago Fonterra announced an opening forecast milk payout of $.425 for the 2016-17 season.

The forecast has gradually crept up as world prices increased and yesterday the co-operative announced a forecast payout of $6.15.

Chairman John Wilson said the increase reflects the strong fundamentals supporting global dairy markets. “World dairy prices have risen in recent months and as we near the end of the season we have more visibility and certainty which makes us confident of our $6.15 position,” Mr Wilson said.

Fonterra also confirmed its forecast earnings per share range of 45 to 55 cents for the 2017 financial year, as it continues to target a full year dividend of 40 cents per share. “Some of the challenges we faced in the third quarter could continue, but the business is committed to a strong fourth quarter particularly in Ingredients sales. This means we have been able to confirm the earnings per share range.” Mr Wilson said.

“The higher forecast Farmgate Milk Price of $6.15 per kgMS and the target dividend of 40 cents per share gives a forecast cash payout of $6.55 for a 100% shared-up farmer which is good news for our farmers and their communities,” he said.

In a further signal of confidence in the market outlook for dairy, the Co-operative is forecasting an improved Farmgate Milk Price of $6.50 per kgMS for the 2018 season. The forecast earnings range for the 2018 financial year will be announced around the beginning of August.

“The increase in the forecast Milk Price for the current season and the improved forecast for 2017/18 will be welcome news for our farmers following two challenging seasons on farm,” Mr Wilson said.

“Stronger production in March and April has partly offset lower peak milk production and collections are now expected to be down 3% for the season, a much better outcome for our farmers than had been anticipated earlier in the year,” Mr Wilson said.

The last few seasons have been very tough, especially for those new to the industry who didn’t have the good payouts the preceded the downturn.

The increased forecast for the current season and an even better one for the coming season is very welcome.

It will be interesting to see if it has an impact on farm sales.

Some farmers, and some banks, have been holding selling farms until the payout increased in the expectation land prices  will too.


Rural round-up

February 23, 2017

Samuels sets world shearing record

Southland shearer Leon Samuels today set a new world solo eight-hours strongwool ewe-shearing record after a tally of 605 in a woolshed north of Gore.
Shearing at Argyle Station, Waikaia, Samuels was targeting the solo record of 603 set by Te Kuiti shearer Stacey Te Huia in December 2010.

He kept the large crew and growing number of supporters until the dying moments, claiming the record only in the last two minutes of the day which comprised four two-hours runs, the first starting at 7am, and the last ending when sheep number 605 was shut through the porthole just after 5pm. . . 

Fonterra confirms 2016/17 farmgate milk forecast:

Fonterra is required to consider its forecast Farmgate Milk Price every quarter as a condition of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act. For this purpose, Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today confirmed the forecast Farmgate Milk Price of $6.00 per kgMS announced in November.

When combined with the forecast earnings per share range for the 2017 financial year of 50 to 60 cents, the total pay-out available to farmers in the current season is forecast to be $6.50 to $6.60 before retentions.

Fonterra Chairman John Wilson says the Co-operative is confident that this forecast is at the right level, following the 75 cent rise in its forecast Farmgate Milk Price in November last year. . .

A semi-retired farmer hits back at Fonterra antis – Barrie Smith:

Over the last few months we have been hearing more from the anti-dairy group from around NZ.

Yes I am a semi-retired dairy farmer, have been involved in Federated Farmers since the age of 23 years, been a councillor on the Stratford County Council and Stratford District Council plus a term on our Regional Council.

It is through this period that one has been involved with research, development and hands-on involvement that makes me very confident our dairying and agriculture in Taranaki and NZ is in good heart.

Because of this, agriculture brings wealth to not only our economy but hundreds of thousands of families as well as feeding over one billion of our 7.4 billion world population. . .

Rotorua dairy farmer Chris Stevens runs three farms – Anne Boswell:

Kaharoa dairy farmer Chris Stevens has some advice for salespeople visiting her farm.

“If they come to the door and ask to speak to my husband, we are unlikely to do business,” she laughs.

Stevens, who grew up on a Gisborne dairy farm, admits she never had a great desire to run her and her husband Chris Haworth’s three dairy farms, but it is a role she has grown to love. . .

Battered Highfield woolshed to be saved – Amanda Bowes:

It may be buckled, bent and shifted off its piles from a ruptured fault running under it, but the historic Highfield woolshed near Waiau will be saved.

The woolshed, which was the first home for the Amuri A&P Association’s shows, was completely shifted off its piles during the November earthquake. . .

Backbench National MP milks cow, drinks milk – Jenna Lynch:

Think shearing a sheep is the ultimate display of being in touch with rural New Zealand?

Think again.

Try milking a cow and drinking the fruits of your labour.

That’s what National MP Barbara Kuriger did over the weekend at the Taranaki Vintage Machinery Club Vintage Hay Days.

Study finds farmers walk faster than any other occupation – Peter McCann:

People from farming backgrounds walk faster than any other occupation group, a study of Irish people aged over 50 years old has found.
The study was conducted by researchers at Trinity College Dublin and surveyed 5,985 from a range of backgrounds to examine relationships between changes in occupation during their lifetimes and physical functionality later in life.

The study, published in the Journals of Gerontology, found that respondents from farming backgrounds walked 0.04m/s faster compared with other occupational groups. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

December 13, 2016

Shearer drug-testing mooted – Alexa Cook:

The New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association says there is a problem with drugs in the industry, but it is hard to measure because testing is not widespread.

The association’s president, Jamie McConachie, said alcohol was a well-documented issue with shearing gangs, however the scale of drug use was less clear because it was harder for people to talk about and measure.

The Australian shearing industry has recently formed a group to try and tackle methamphetamine abuse.

Mr McConachie said New Zealand had similar problems, but he did not think it was as bad as Australia. . . 

Film keeps young plants warm, moist – Sally Rae:

Brian Michelle’s maize crop alongside the Outram-Mosgiel Rd is attracting a fair bit of attention.

That is because it has been planted using a biodegradable film that creates a greenhouse effect for the young plants.

The Samco system, owned by Pioneer, had been in New Zealand for a few years. Mr Michelle was the only farmer to use it on the Taieri this year although the system was increasingly being talked about, Farmlands technical field officer Kieran Fowler said.

In a single pass, the Samco  planting machine planted the maize seed, applied a pre-emergent herbicide and laid the biodegradable film. . . 

MPI produces super biosecurity dogs:

The Ministry for Primary Industries hopes a new breed of detector dog will produce its best biosecurity sniffers ever.

MPI detector beagle Clara gave birth to three male and three female puppies on 24 November. The sire was Morley, a harrier hound. Both dogs work for MPI at airports and ports to sniff out food and plant materials that pose biosecurity risk to New Zealand.

“It’s the first time anyone in the world has crossed a beagle and a harrier for detection work and we have very high expectations for this super-breed,” says MPI Detection Technology Manager Brett Hickman. . . 

Case studies of top performing dairy farms released:

New case studies on top performing dairy farms will help other farmers drive their economic and environmental performance, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

The studies are part of the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Farm Systems Change programme, which is looking at ways to help farmers boost performance by learning from the strongest performers.

“Last year the Government allocated $800,000 towards this project which is focused on understanding the drivers of farm performance and sharing that knowledge with others. . . 

Fonterra chairman urges new PM to continue push for trade deals –  Fiona Rotherham

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra chairman John Wilson has told investors in the cooperative’s unit fund that it’s critical the government continues driving regional and multi-lateral trade agreements.

At the annual meeting of the Fonterra Shareholders Fund, Wilson said he had gone on a number of trade missions with former Prime Minister John Key, who he said was a strong supporter and advocate of the New Zealand dairy industry.

“With his departure, it is critical that we continue to work closely with government to ensure trade strategy adapts to the changing global environment that has certainly seen significant political change during 2016,” he said. . . 

Feds Challenge Bill English’s Team to Continue Good Work:

 

Federated Farmers congratulates outgoing Prime Minister John Key after eight years leading the country, and looks forward to working with Bill English in the top job.

“John Key has been an outstanding Prime Minister and ambassador for our country.

“During his time in office he has overseen some profound challenges and changes,” Federated Farmers President Dr William Rolleston says. . . .

Tatua Appoints New CEO:

On Thursday 8 December 2016, the same day as its Annual General Meeting, The Tatua Co-operative Dairy Company Ltd announced the appointment of Brendhan Greaney to the position of Tatua Chief Executive Officer.

Chairman Stephen Allen who spoke to both Shareholders and Staff said, “after a professional, rigorous yet sensitive process, supported by executive search firm, Hobson Leavy, we are absolutely delighted to announce the appointment of one of our own people, Brendhan Greaney. Brendhan’s appointment is with immediate effect with the simultaneous retirement of previous and highly respected Chief Executive Officer, Paul McGilvary”. . . 

Atkins Ranch gains full non-GMO accreditation in US:

New Zealand’s Atkins Ranch is the first lamb exporter in the world to gain full non-GMO accreditation in America through the non-GMO project.

“It is something we’ve been working towards since the start of this year,” says New Zealand supply chain manager Pat Maher. “As of this week 100 per cent of our product is 100 per cent non-GMO project verified.”

Non-GMO project is an American-based organisation that provides third-party verification for non-GMO food and products. . . 


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