Rural round-up

April 30, 2020

Farmers ask government to align domestic, international emissions target – Eric Fryberg:

Two major farming groups have urged the Climate Change Commission to align New Zealand’s domestic policy with its international promises on climate change.

Dairy NZ and Beef and Lamb said it did not make sense for the government to do one thing within New Zealand and something else for the rest of the world.

Their concern was based on the relative importance of different greenhouse gases.

Domestically, the government has legislated a different emissions reduction target for long-lived gases like carbon dioxide, compared with a short-lived gas like methane. . .

Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year finalists reflect depth and diversity in the industry:

Three woman contributing to the dairy industry in very different ways are this year’s finalists in the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award.

Ngai Tahu Farming Technical Farm Manager Ash-Leigh Campbell from Christchurch, Auckland based microbiologist and bio chemist Natasha Maguire and West Coast dairy farmer Heather McKay are all in the running for the prestigious dairy award managed by the Dairy Women’s Network being announced early next month.

Dairy Women’s Network Trustee and a member of the awards judging panel Alison Gibb said all three finalists came from such different directions and perspectives which highlighted the depth and diversity of how women are contributing to the dairy industry in New Zealand. . . 

Ag exports a ‘godsend’ – Pam Tipa:

Primary product prices will fall further this year but remain at reasonable levels before some improvement in 2021, according to BNZ senior economist Doug Steel.

However, the falls – so far this year – have not been as much as might have been expected, he says.

“The defensive qualities of NZ’s food-heavy export mix may well be a Godsend for the economy as a whole during the current turmoil. If nothing else, it is easy to imagine a new-found appreciation for where our food comes from,” Steel told Rural News. . .

Ritchie instrumental in driving positive change for red meat sector – Allan Barber:

Tim Ritchie came into the Meat Industry Association as CEO at the end of 2007, initially intended to be for an 18 month period, and retired earlier this month over 12 years later. His first task was the planned merger of the processor representative organisation with Meat & Wool, the forerunner of Beef + Lamb NZ, which was strongly promoted by Keith Cooper, then CEO of Silver Fern Farms, and Meat & Wool chairman, Mike Petersen.

The merger was doomed to fail after dissension among the processors, some of which failed to see how the two organisations, one a member funded trade association and the other a farmer levy funded body, could possibly work as one. History has clearly shown the logic behind the eventual outcome which has seen MIA and B+LNZ each carving out a clearly defined role to the ultimate benefit of the red meat sector. . . 

Cautious optimism over apple exports – Peter Burke:

NZ Apples and Pears says while it’s early days yet, apple export volumes for this year are only slightly behind last year.

Alan Pollard, chief executive of NZ Apples and Pears, says so far there has only been 25% harvested, but the signs are encouraging and he’s cautiously optimistic.

He’s predicting that it may be a reasonable year, but not a great year. . .

An historic month:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 50 less farm sales (-15.1%) for the three months ended March 2020 than for the three months ended March 2019. Overall, there were 281 farm sales in the three months ended March 2020, compared to 329 farm sales for the three months ended February 2020 (-14.6%), and 331 farm sales for the three months ended March 2019. 1,216 farms were sold in the year to March 2020, 15.9% fewer than were sold in the year to March 2019, with 32.6% less Dairy farms, 14.3% less Grazing farms, 26.1% less Finishing farms and 14.1% less Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to March 2020 was $21,130 compared to $23,383 recorded for three months ended March 2019 (-9.6%). The median price per hectare increased 2.7% compared to February 2020. . . 


Rural round-up

January 31, 2017

 – Allan Barber:

When sheep and beef farmers in New Zealand grumpily ponder their forecast returns for 2016-17, they may be able to take some comfort from the precarious state of farmers in Europe, particularly the UK where they are facing even more uncertainty of income.

Private Eye’s Bio-Waste Spreader column contrasts the rhetoric of the Environment Minister saying farm subsidies must be abolished post Brexit with a report by her own Ministry, Defra, which finds British farmers would be unable to keep going without them. In the 2014/15 year dairy farms were the most profitable averaging GB Pounds 12,700, whereas cropping farms made GBP 100, lowland livestock farms (most like our sheep and beef) lost GBP 10,900 and grain growers did even worse. These profits or losses came before farmers paid themselves any wages or drawings. . . 

Heavy market share losses affect Silver Fern Farms’ financial performance – Allan Barber:

In recent weeks there has been an exchange of views about PPCS’s acrimonious takeover of Richmond in 2003. Keith Cooper, ex CEO of the renamed Silver Fern Farms, emerged from anonymity in Middlemarch to castigate the appointment of Sam Robinson to the board of Silver Fern Farms as the Shanghai Maling representative. He was critical of Richmond’s rejection of the original approach by PPCS to buy the Freesia Investments shares from the Meat Board in the mid-1990s and Robinson’s role as Richmond’s chairman.

Farmer, SFF shareholder and columnist Steve Wyn-Harris took Keith to task on the grounds of selective memory of what actually happened during the bitter but ultimately successful campaign by PPCS to buy Richmond. I must confess my recollection of events, without being in any way personally involved, is closer to Steve’s perspective than Keith’s and I still remember clearly Ron Clarke’s superb last column on the topic just before he died which was an eloquent attack on what he considered PPCS’s underhand approach. At the time Justice William Young referred to the company’s “gross commercial misconduct.” . . 

 

Quake ends dairy farmer’s season – Nigel Malthus:

Don Galletly’s Loch Ness dairy farm on the Emu Plain, near Waiau, remains the only one in North Canterbury unable to milk since the November 14 quake.

While farms either side were back up and operating within a few days, Galletly’s rotary shed is deemed a write-off.

“Three-quarters of the season is down the drain for us,” he told Rural News. . . 

Patriotism means we should eat more lamb – Jamie Mackay:

 . . On the subject of one-man crusades, last week on my radio show I launched my 2017 tilt at a windmill. In fairness, past crusades have had mixed results. While I failed to bring back rucking, I proudly and vicariously claimed some reflected glory when Fonterra, to its eternal credit, brought back milk in schools.

I also like to think I played a small part in the media publicity which aided a much-deserved knighthood for David Fagan. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

So what’s 2017’s on-air crusade? I reckon we should be like the Ockers in the West Island and make it a patriotic pastime to eat lamb on our national day. And if we can’t agree to do that because, let’s face it, we don’t agree on much on Waitangi Day, maybe we could all eat lamb on what I’d like to be our national day, April 25. . . . 

 

Image may contain: one or more people, hat and outdoor

Farming is like any other job. Only you punch in at age 5 and never punch out.


Rural round-up

November 30, 2015

Climate change: Call to recognise farmers’ efforts – Anders Crofoot:

The Paris climate change meeting represents an opportunity for the world to agree the terms for the next global effort to reduce emissions.

Negotiations have continued for a number of years and, with the Kyoto Protocol having effectively lapsed at the end of 2012, farmers are hopeful of an agreement which better recognises the services we provide civil society.

For better or worse, the Kyoto Protocol bundled biological emissions from food production together with fossil fuel emissions from industry, energy and transport. With agricultural emissions representing a relatively minor proportion of national emissions among most countries, the focus naturally remains on other sources. . . 

Season has contrasting impact on Silver Fern Farms and Alliance – Allan Barber:

The two biggest meat processors had contrasting experiences during the 2015 season to judge by their annual results and accompanying comments. There is no doubt Silver Fern Farms found life easier than Alliance, with respect to the year in question. SFF must also have heaved an enormous sigh of relief after its improvement from the previous three years.

The bare facts of the differing results are NPAT of $24.9 million and dramatically reduced debt for SFF and $4.6 million NPAT for Alliance accompanied by a marginal reduction in equity ratio. Alliance’s performance was slightly worse than 2014, disappointing as chairman Murray Taggart agreed, whereas SFF’s result was a massive improvement on the previous year. Neither result represented a satisfactory return on assets, but signs for the future are positive. . . 

Federated Farmers signs Land & Water Forum Report but with conditions attached:

Federated Farmers has today added its name to the signatories of the fourth report of the Land & Water Forum after receiving the conditional support of its National Council.

The National Council, meeting in Wellington over 26 and 27 November, comprises the presidents of Federated Farmers’ 24 provinces, its National Board and representatives of its seven industry groups.

“Federated Farmers has been deeply involved in and committed to the Land & Water Forum since its formation in 2009, playing an active role in the development of this and the previous three forum reports,” says Federated Farmers Water spokesperson Chris Allen. . . 

Farm gate milk price won’t recover until mid-2016 – Westland:

Westland Milk Products believes the farm gate milk price will not recover until the middle of next year because overseas buyers have already reacted to predictions of falling production and drought.

Chief executive Rod Quin said the brief upward spike in prices at the Global Dairy Trade auction six weeks ago was overseas buyers moving to secure supply.

Westland Milk Products, which has about 500 shareholders, held its AGM this week and Mr Quin said the payout forecast remained around $4.90 to the early five dollar mark, which was less than farmers needed to break even.

He said that was unlikely to change because it looked like there would be more pressure on prices in the next couple of months. . . 

Silver Fern Farms paid former CEO Keith Cooper more than $1.8M in 2015 – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Silver Fern Farms, New Zealand’s largest meat processor, paid former chief executive Keith Cooper more than $1.8 million last financial year, reflecting his long service with the company.

Cooper, who joined the cooperative in 1989 and was chief executive for eight years, was paid between $1.84 million and $1.85 million in the company’s 2015 financial year ended Sept. 30, Silver Fern Farms said in its annual report, where it is required to detail the number of employees that it paid $100,000 or more.

“The payments made to him reflect a combination of base salary for a period, a short-term incentive related to the prior year, a retention incentive that related to prior and future years, annual and long-service leave as well as a payment that reflected his significant contribution to the company over the prior 18 years, the most recent eight as chief executive,” the Dunedin-based company said. . . 

 

NZ Farming's photo.

 

 


Rural round-up

December 19, 2013

SFF implements salary freeze – Nigel Stirling:

Silver Fern Farms (SFF) is implementing a salary freeze as part of a range of measures to get the meat processor back to profitability.

The move, revealed at the company’s AGM in Dunedin today, holds all salaried employees’ remuneration at current levels for a period of 12 months.

The company last year paid wages, salaries and benefits of $315.1m, up from $290.2m the previous year.

Chief executive Keith Cooper outlined further steps to turnaround the company’s performance including land disposals and exiting some stock financing arrangements. . .

Farming – change the perception – Will Wilson:

Agriculture must tread carefully in its bid to attract new entrants to ensure it does not undervalue and trivialise the incredible amount of hard work and education required to be success in the industry.

Agriculture is such a catch all term for a huge range of very specialist professions, yet from the outside the perception is the drip fed image of the village idiot on a tractor or the floppy haired Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in his cable knit.

As an industry agriculture continue to pander to this image because it’s media friendly and easier than finding out and explaining the real demands of modern agriculture. . .

Financial report shows agriculture is well on track:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see the Government’s half year Economic and Fiscal Update report showing a faster growing economy, with the agriculture industry being well on its way to doubling its exports by 2025.

“We have long advocated for economic restraint, and it is great to see the $86 million surplus forecast for 2014/15 is up ever so slightly on the surplus forecast in May,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“Agriculture has had a great start, with the tradable sector growing 11.1 percent since 2009 compared with non-tradeables up 6.6 percent, however resource pressures are growing and next year we will likely see a tightening of monetary policy to dampen inflation. Farmers and exporters will need the Government to keep spending and debt under control in order to take the pressure off interest rates and the exchange rate. . .

Commission releases final report on Fonterra’s milk price manual:

Issued 16 December 2013, Release No. 56

The Commerce Commission has today released its final report on its statutory review of Fonterra’s milk price manual. The manual determines how Fonterra calculates the farm gate milk price, which is the price paid by Fonterra to dairy farmers for their raw milk.

This is the first of two statutory reviews that the Commission is required to undertake each milk season under the 2012 amendments to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 (DIRA).

The Commission has concluded the 2013/14 Milk Price Manual is largely consistent with the purpose of the DIRA milk monitoring regime. . .

MG lifts milk price to $6.25/kg :

MURRAY Goulburn (MG) has announced a third step-up in the farmgate price (excluding the NSW-Sydney region) for the 2013-14 season of $0.18 per kilogram butterfat and $0.38/kg protein.

This step-up takes MG’s weighted-average, available price to $6.25/kg milk solids.

MG has also increased its end of season forecast to a range of $6.30-$6.50/kg milk solids.

“Global demand for dairy foods remains strong and as a result prices for key dairy ingredients, such as whole milk powder, have remained at near record levels for an unprecedented period,” MG managing director Gary Helou, said. . .

Canterbury style zone committee comes to the Wairarapa:

Federated Farmers’ Wairarapa welcomes the formation of the Ruamahanga Whaitua Committee and its commitment to balance environmental and economic values for the Ruamahanga Catchment.

“The Whaitua committee makeup is well balanced to deliver sustainable and workable rules for the Catchment and the Wairarapa,” says Federated Farmers’ Wairarapa provincial president Jamie Falloon.

“We thank the people involved for putting their names forward for what will be a pretty busy two year period.

“It will be a challenging process and will require all parties to be fully involved in discussions to find outcomes that are what the community wants. . .

Workshops help dairy farmers drive better production and profit:

Farm nutrient company SealesWinslow is running a series of seminars and workshops to help dairy farmers achieve higher production, margins and profits.

SealesWinslow’s “Routes to Profitable Milk Production” roadshow, which kicked off in the Waikato in late October, has been rated highly for content and relevance by farmers attending.

Animal nutrition expert for SealesWinslow, James Hague, has been demonstrating how farmers can master the art of balancing the diet to fully feed the herd and benefit from better production from grass, higher production per cow and per hectare, higher margins and more profit. . . .


Jobs go jobs come

October 31, 2013

Jobs go.

It’s hard for everyone involved but for all sorts of reasons businesses change and the number of people they employ does too,

Sometimes it’s because of the introduction of more automation or the introduction of new technology which improves productivity but reduces the need for so many staff.

Sometimes it’s because a business loses customers or fails completely.

Fortunately while jobs go they also come and there’s good news for the Clutha District with 40 new jobs for Finegand from new casings plant.

A new added value casing facility at Silver Fern Farms’ Finegand plant will see 40 new roles created in the Clutha region.

Silver Fern Farms’ Chief Executive Keith Cooper says the million dollar facility will take previously exported part-processed “green lamb runners” through to a processed sausage casing stage for export markets across the world.

“This development will create 40 new full time roles across our Balclutha – Finegand operations. It will create value from a product that will add to the profitability of our sheep meat business in the short-medium term,” Mr Cooper says.

Clutha District Mayor Bryan Cadogan, who previously worked in a casing plant, says the move is good news for Balclutha’s Ready Steady Work programme.

“We have a Mayor’s Taskforce for Jobs initiative for Clutha, which is aiming for zero unemployment for youth in the Clutha District. Silver Fern Farms have been a supporter of this programme from the start. These 40 new roles in our district will be a great help for our ambitions of realising this goal,” Mr Cadogan says.

Green casings will be brought to Finegand from four Silver Fern Farms’ plants across the country, making it one of the larger casing facilities in New Zealand Mr Cooper says.

“The plant will be operational year-round so our customers can have a reliable and high quality source of clean, salted casings.”

Previously the green runners had been exported in part-processed form to China for further processing.

Finegand previously had a casing facility which closed in 2005 due to the then demand for green runners. The new facility has a process which is forecast to use less than half of the water requirements of the previous system.

Forty new jobs is significant for a small town.

It’s good news for the people who will get jobs and the wider district.

This time next year one town or city in New Zealand will get a boost that will lead to more jobs when it becomes Chorus’s #gigatown.

New Zealand’s sharpest town, Oamaru, is doing it’s best to become the Southern Hemisphere’s first #gigatown – #gigatownoamaru.


Rural round-up

April 6, 2013

Gore couple take home Sharemilker of Year title – Terri Russell:

More than 500 people attended the 2013 Southland Dairy Industry Awards in Invercargill last night to celebrate the achievements of standout individuals in Southland’s dairy industry.

Gore sharemilkers Don and Jess Moore, who are in their second season 50 per cent sharemilking 950 cows, were named the Sharemilker-Equity Farmers of the Year.

The couple said that entering into the awards made them look at their business closely – from the day-to-day running to goals for the future.

“We also enjoy the opportunity to network with some of the standout leaders within the dairy industry, as that is what makes this industry so strong,” they said. . .

Government’s irrigation promises offer hope to farmers:

The comments from Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy re-confirming the government’s commitment to supporting large scale irrigation projects are exactly what drought-stricken farmers needed to hear, Federated Farmers national president Bruce Wills says.

“It is great to see Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy publically reiterating the Government’s commitment to investing up to $400 million to encourage third-party capital investment in regional water storage projects to better insure farmers against droughts such as the one currently ravaging the North Island,” Wills says.

“We need these schemes because no matter how many on-farm water dams farmers build, they will never have enough capacity to see us through droughts like this one.

“It is not just farmers who will feel the effects of the prolonged dry season. The entire New Zealand economy is set to take a $2 billion hit, which will affect everyone, from all walks of life, everywhere in the country. . .

Shear speed triumph for Fagan:

Veteran shearer David Fagan threw down the gauntlet to his rivals on the first night of the 29th New Zealand Shearing Championships when he won the competition’s annual Speedshear in Te Kuiti last night.

The 51-year-old Fagan blasted the wool off his final sheep in 22.52 seconds to win the $1000 first prize in front of his home crowd in the Waitomo Cultural and Arts Centre, where he’s been the star of the show since the Championships were first held in Te Kuiti in 1985.

Hastings shearer Dion King, who had headed the 10 qualifiers after the heats, finished second in 23.1sec, while Digger Balme, originally from Tuakau but based in Te Kuiti for many years, was third, in 24.26sec. . .

SFF firms stance against co-op:

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Keith Cooper has further distanced the company from calls to centralise the red meat industry.

A Meat Industry Excellence Group meeting in Gore last month attracted about 1000 farmers wanting changes to the meat industry and many supported reordering the country’s meat companies into one co-operative controlling a majority of product.

The Southland Times reported Silver Fern Farms did not support the idea because it felt it did not necessarily reflect the best interests of its shareholders. . .

Sealord’s results marred by Argentinian impairment as other units prosper – Jonathan Underhill

(BusinessDesk) – Sealord, New Zealand’s second-largest fishing company, reported a full-year profit that was dented by a charge against its Argentinian business, where a soaring peso and rampant inflation are driving up costs.

Profit was $5.2 million in the 12 months ended Sept. 30, from $13.4 million in the corresponding 15 month period, according to the Nelson-based company’s annual report. Sealord’s holding company, Kura, changed its balance sheet in the interim. Sales were $487 million in the latest year.

Sealord, which is jointly owned by Maori tribal interests through Aotearoa Fisheries and Japan’s Nippon Suisan Kaisha, took a $10 million charge against its Yuken business in Argentina in 2012, notes to its accounts show. That business also had an operating loss of $7 million in the period, so effectively $17 million was shaved off Sealord’s results in the latest period. . .

Seize the day – Valerie Davies:

Today was not one of those days, but One of Those Days.  Yesterday, as I watched the tiny, greenery- yallery birds we call silver- eyes in the trees, hunting for insects and the like, I thought how I hadn’t seen the cock pheasant for months. He must have found another home, I thought.

When I awoke this morning I jumped out of bed and looked out of the open window to the sea as usual. There, right below my window, was the pheasant, in the garden bed with the bromeliads. He slowly pecked and ambled his way down through the vegetable beds to the petanque court, and then sauntereded off down the path into the wild patch. A moment earlier or later, and I would have missed him. Do I believe in coincidences, or did the pheasant pick up my wave-length? . . . (you’ll have to click the link above to get to the rural theme and a good read).

Sheep etiquette in New Zealand:

Follow the journey of Luca an Italian tourist exploring Lake Tekapo. In this beautiful alpine village in the heart of the South Island, Luca enjoys the stunning scenery, wonderful attractions and the hospitality of the locals. What he wasn’t prepared for was the uninvited but special friendship he would establish with Lulu…….. confirming for Luca, South Canterbury is a great place to make friends! . . .

And from Facebook:

DV6<


SFF $31.1m loss

November 13, 2012

Silver Fern Farms has reported a net operating loss of $31.1 million from total revenue of $2 billion.

. . .  Chief Executive Keith Cooper commented that Silver Fern Farms operates in an environment where many outcomes are beyond the company’s control but materially impact on the business. 

 “Climatically  we  went  into  the  2011/12  season  with  ideal  pasture  growing  conditions  which  meant  livestock  was  held  on  farm  for  valid  reasons.  This  resulted  in  markets  being  short  of  product  versus historical supply patterns. Off the back of this, we saw global prices for lamb in particular, escalate to  unsustainable levels, which resulted in a sharp fall in demand, and which then led to a significant decline  in value. This market correction was subsequently reflected back to suppliers and, in turn, caused write-downs in inventory valuations throughout the financial year of circa $25.6 million.  Through this period,   Silver Fern Farms had to manage business continuity – supplying to customers and operating processing  assets – which meant we had to compete for livestock at unsustainable prices which further contributed to the problem.  . .

SFF wasn’t alone in facing these problems.

Strong competition for stock was good for farmers in the short term but bad for the companies.


Rural round-up

October 8, 2012

Season just ended could produce messy results – Allan Barber:

The two largest processors and exporters, Silver Fern Farms and Alliance, have captured the headlines in the last couple of weeks.

Hot on the heels of its announced intention to close its sheepmeat chain at Mataura, Alliance has come out with an offer to suppliers of $20 in November per lamb contracted before the end of October.

From the other cooperative camp Keith Cooper, CEO of SFF, last week sent an email out to suppliers which highlighted the disappointing financial result for the year ended 30 September because of the exchange rate and declining sheepmeat values in January and February not being reflected in procurement prices . . .

Australian shearer cleans up on Saturday, back on job today – Lynda van Kempen:

It will be business as usual today for triple New Zealand Merino Shearing champion Damien Boyle, who will be back in the shed, but this time no trophies are at stake.

The Western Australian farmer won his third successive open title on Saturday night, at the 51st fine wool shearing championship, staged over two days, in Alexandra.

Boyle and his family have been long-time supporters of the event, competing for the past 15 years. . .

Best laid plans turn into new ambitions – Sally Rae:

Ever since she could remember, Carolyn Beaver wanted to be a veterinarian.

With a passion for animals and anything medical, it seemed a natural choice for the young woman from Whangarei.

She graduated from Massey University as a veterinary surgeon in 1999 and spent three years working as a mixed-animal practitioner in Whangarei, while also doing volunteer ambulance work for St John. . .

US milk production picks up – Dr Jon Hauser:

Last week we, along with others in the dairy press, reported the news from the USDA that US August milk production had declined for the first time in 31 months (“US milk production in YOY negative,” Xcheque.com, 21 September 2012).

According to the USDA August production was down 0.2 per cent relative to August last year. Using year-on-year analysis the US milk production only began falling in August, leaving the question open as to whether it will keep going down or if it has reached a floor. Rising feed prices brought about by the US drought definitely point to an ongoing decline.

However, as we’re fond of saying here at Xcheque, year-on-year comparisons can be misleading! . . .

ECan decision facilitates plains irrigation – Marta Steeman:

A landmark decision by Environment Canterbury paves the way for the controversial Central Plains Water scheme in Canterbury.

Environment Canterbury is recommending to the government changes to the National Water Conservation Order for the Rakaia River which will help introduce more irrigation on the Canterbury Plains.

ECan said on Thursday it had adopted the report and recommendations of independent hearing commissioners who heard electricity firm TrustPower’s application for the changes. . .

Lamb prices hurting Americans – Gerald Piddock:

New Zealand farmers are not the only lamb producers facing tough times.

North American sheep farmers have had a 40 per cent drop in lamb prices with values now sitting where they were a decade ago, Beef+Lamb North American representative Andrew Burt said.

Mr Burt is back in New Zealand having recently taken up the role of Beef+Lamb’s chief economist.

US lamb producers were forecasting an over-supply of lamb for this coming season he said. . .

Improving water quality in Lake Rotorua and good fish stocks int he Manawatu Rvier show that benefits are building from community water quality gains – Bruce Wills:

According to Fish & Game’s Wellington Manager, Phil Teal, employers should have been on sickie patrol from Monday, since that signalled the start of the 2012/13 sports fishing season.

What is more, according to Fish & Game, rivers such as the Waikanae, Otaki, Hutt, Ruamahanga, Manawatu and Rangitikei will be running clear and apparently this is ideal for trout fishing.

If trout is the canary of our waterways – though I would prefer native fish instead – then Fish & Game’s “recent monitoring has also shown good numbers of trout in the rivers, so prospects are looking good…Wellington, Wairarapa, the Kapiti Coast and Manawatu have world-class trout fishing opportunities right on the doorstep – these regions have a growing reputation for quality river fishing”. . . 


Rural round-up

August 19, 2012

First product off the line at Fonterra Darfield:

The first bags of whole milk powder have rolled off the production line at Fonterra’s new $200 million manufacturing site near Darfield in Canterbury and are bound for South East Asia, China and the Middle East.

Brent Taylor, our Director of Operations – NZ Milk, says it was smooth running for the new plant, which produced 40 metric tonnes of product in its first full day of operations.

“It has taken less than two years to bring the project together and it is a significant achievement for us and good news for Canterbury and the wider Christchurch rebuild, he says. . .

Tree Harvesting Invention Named New Zealand Winner of the James Dyson Award :

A tree harvesting device has won the New Zealand leg of the twelfth annual James Dyson Award, a product design competition.

Current harvesting methods require return visits to a forest, causing soil erosion and damage to surrounding trees. Nick Ross, an industrial design graduate from Massey University, has devised a solution that cuts trees right from ground level, and feeds them straight into the machine. An extraction process is then engaged to return needles back to the soil for nutrients, while the branches gathered in a separate container can be re-used as an alternative energy fuel. . .

Meanwhile in the asylum – Offsetting Behaviour:

I like to think of New Zealand as being the Outside of the Asylum.

Outside of the Asylum, farmers are free to sell their produce.

Today’s news from inside the asylum: hosting a 10 year old’s birthday party and selling a bit of farm produce at the event
hosted on your farm gets you thousands of dollars in fines
. . .

Gibbston Valley Winery celebrates two special ‘birthdays’

A Central Otago winery celebrating its 25th commercial grape harvest with a black tie dinner next month will also mark a milestone of a different kind.

The Gibbston Valley Winery anniversary dinner event on September 1 will kick start the award-winning winery’s support of national charity Cure Kids, with all proceeds from the night’s auctions going to the charity.

In keeping with that support, the dinner will also celebrate the remarkable story of Cure Kids ambassador and Queenstown resident Sophie Newbold, who celebrates her 18th birthday on September 14. . .

Boot camp to inspire development of New Zealand Inc – Allan Barber:

This week a high powered Boot Camp, attended by a group of key New Zealand agribusiness executives, will take place at Stanford University, California, with facilitation by Professor of Marketing Baba Shiv whose research expertise is in neuroeconomics.

The Boot Camp is the brainchild of Keith Cooper from Silver Fern Farms and John Brakenridge, Chief Executive of NZ Merino, who visited Stanford to discover new ideas on how to market Silere lamb from the two companies’ JV established last year with assistance from the Primary Growth Partnership fund. . .


Rural round-up

May 1, 2012

Top Sheep Breeding Operation Wins Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Well-known Wairarapa hill-country sheep and beef farm Wairere Station has been named Supreme winner of the 2012 Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Owned by the Derek Daniell Trust and situated north east of Masterton, the 1206ha property is home to an internationally recognised Romney sheep stud.

Ballance Farm Environment Award (BFEA) judges described Wairere as“a sustainable, innovative and financially-sound farming operation”.

“Strong consideration has always been given to conservation practices alongside the ability to be a leading entrepreneur of sheep genetics in New Zealand.” . . .

Cow pooling and homekill:

With ‘cow pooling’ in the spotlight following TV One’s Sunday programme, Federated Farmers Rural Butchers believes it has a role to play in reconnecting the public to their food.

“From what I saw on Sunday last night, ‘cow pooling’ seemed legitimate,” says Mike Hanson, Federated Farmers Rural Butchers chairperson.

“The impression I got was that people owned the farm animal and had it processed through a licensed abattoir. If that’s the case the meat is legitimate. So much so, they’ll even pay a Beef+Lamb NZ levy on it. . .

Go Young Farmer:

After 22 District Finals and seven Regional Finals featuring New Zealand’s best young farming talent, The National Bank Young Farmer Contest is down to the last seven Contestants.  They’ll battle it out in Dunedin from 23 May – 26 May 2012 to see who will take the title. 

There’ll be plenty of pressure on the seven Grand Finalists.  And when the going gets tough, a bit of support can make all the difference. . .

Fortunately, even if you can’t be in Dunedin for the Grand Final, you can still cheer on your favourite contestant.

The National Bank’s goyoungfarmer.co.nz website is the next best thing to being there.

 

Differences more apparent than real – Allan Barber:

In spite of recent disagreements, most notably between Keith Cooper of Silver Fern Farms and Beef and Lamb NZ, there doesn’t appear to be too much wrong with relationships between meat companies and the industry good organisation representing sheep and beef farmers

Cooper has listed several bones of contention which pushed him to the point of resigning from the B&LNZ board – the proposal for PGP funding had several aspects which cut across FarmIQ, the launch of the Suretrim industry trim standard went ahead without getting full commitment from the processors, and, in his own words, the straw that broke the camel’s back was an article in the Christchurch Press in late January quoting B&LNZ chairman Mike Petersen on the sustainability of lamb prices. . .

Crafar farms sale appears to be over at last – Allan Barber:

The sale of 16 assorted, somewhat rundown dairy farms to the Chinese buyer, Shanghai Pengxin, looks as though it can finally go ahead, although there is still talk of an appeal by the group headed by Sir Michael Fay.

It is hard to see on what basis an appeal could be successful, because the OIO tightened its criteria for recommending the Chinese bid which was already required to jump through more hoops than any previous application for foreign ownership. The Ministers were satisfied by the OIO’s changes and would clearly have taken great care not to land the Government in any more embarrassment over the issue. . .


Rural round up

March 1, 2012

US dairy lobby drops oppostion to NZ export access:

An American dairy producers’ group has dropped its longstanding opposition to New Zealand dairy exports being included in the nine-country trade talks known as the TransPacific Partnership, or TPP.

The backdown by the United States Dairy Export Council comes as New Zealand negotiators prepare to take on the US over dairy access in the talks. . .

NZ Farming Systems ekes out $US 367000 1h profit:

NZ Farming Systems Uruguay, the South American dairy farmer that was bailed out by Singaporean owner Olam International, eked out a small profit in the first half on higher milk sales and a one-time accounting gain on he value of livestock.

Profit was US$367,000 in the six months ended Dec. 31, from a loss of $6.77 million a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Sales jumped 81 percent to $34 million.

Farming Systems first-half result would have been a loss of $5.1 million, if not for a fair-value adjustment on livestock of US$5.5 million. In the year-earlier period there was no adjustment.. .

North Island beef processing competition heats up – Allan Barber:

In spite of the slow start to theNorthIslandseason, currently 18% behind last year, forecasts suggest it will catch up, even exceed last season. But it is certain to come late with dairy farmers likely to keep milking as long as they can, unless we get an unseasonably cold early winter. What’s also certain is there will be plenty of processing capacity to handle it, especially when the Te Aroha rebuild is finished. . .

Battle of employment philosophies spreading – Allan Barber:

The weekend’s announcement by AFFCO of a lockout at five of itsNorth Islandmeat plants comes hard on the heels of the three week strike by the Ports of Auckland stevedores, following several months of increasingly acrimonious negotiations.

 Unless it gets agreement to its proposal, AFFCO intends to lock out 758 of its meat workers covered under the Core Collective Agreement which expired last September and which the company has been trying to renegotiate unsuccessfully with the Meat Workers Union for some months now. . .

Cooper’s resignation signals broader meat industry frsutration – Allan Barber:

Keith Cooper’s resignation from the board of Beef & Lamb New Zealand, sudden as it appeared to be, had been brewing for a time. Cooper had previously expressed frustration with farmer directors’ lack of commercial awareness, terming it naivety, and obviously believed B&LNZ was getting involved in areas it should leave to the meat companies, such as market development. . .

Australian Dairy conference – the use of social media by dairy farmers– Pasture to Profit:

“Consumers don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!” This was one of the powerful messages from Charlie Arnot CEO of the Centre of Food Integrity (@foodintegrity, @charlie_Arnot) presented at the Australian Dairy conference (#ausdairy) in Warragul, Victoria, Australia.

Charlie spoke of the need for all farmers to acquire a “Social License to operate” by building trust with not only the local community but in fact all consumers & customers of the food farmers produce.  http://www.foodintegrity.org/   Trying to defend farmers & farming practices by arguing with science or attacking the attackers is clearly failing. . .

Smart on-farm management is good risk maangement – Pasture to Profit:

Simple low cost On farm management changes can substantially contribute to a better environmental outcome. This is a really powerful & positive message to come out of the Massey University’s Fertilizer & Lime Research Centre’s conference held last week at Massey’s campus at Palmerston North, NZ.

Over 3 days there were papers from researchers, consultants, farmers, Regional Councils, the fertilizer industry & environmental groups…..


Rural round-up

February 25, 2012

Kiwi battler rides again – Sally Rae:

It would be fair to say Linda Barnes is a battler.   

Wild horses, or, in her case, a brain haemorrhage five months      ago, would not stop her from notching up her 20th Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust cavalcade . . .

Keith Cooper quits Beef + Lamb – Rebecca Harper:

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Keith Cooper has resigned as director from the board of Beef + Lamb New Zealand, sticking the knife in by questioning the need for industry good organisations.

With the upcoming director elections, Cooper said it was time to consider whether there was a better way of doing things.

But B+L NZ chairman Mike Petersen called his comments an “outrageous attack” on an organisation that was voted in by farmers, saying farmers should be the ones making the call on whether it existed or not. . .

Apropos of that:

Cooper’s sudden resignation from Beef & Lamb not so surprising – Allan Barber:

Silver Fern Farms CEO Keith Cooper’s decision to resign his directorship of Beef & Lamb New Zealand has obviously come out of the blue, if Chairman Mike Petersen’s reaction is anything to go by. But it seems Cooper has been questioning the relationship between processors and the farmer elected body, particularly since its call for the reintroduction of the national carcase classification scheme, although there are signs that he also objects to projects subsidised by B&LNZ competing with SFF’s investment in the FarmIQ Primary Growth Partnership programme. . .

A2 more than triples 1H Net profit as sales jump 56%:

 A2 Corporation, the NZAX-listed alternative milk company, said first-half net profit more than tripled, boosted by a legal settlement, as sales jumped 56 percent.

Net profit rose to $3.1 million in the six months ended Dec. 31, including a $1.1 million settlement of a legal dispute with a former Korean licensee, compared with $900,000 in the same six months of 2010, it said in a statement.

Sales rose to $30.1 million from $19.3 million with the vast majority of revenue in Australia where the company said it now has 4.7 percent of fresh milk in the grocery category.

Chairman Cliff Cook said the company’s results were very pleasing in the face of price discounting of fresh milk in Australia.

“While the Australian supermarket chains are going head-to-head in discounting standard milk, a2 brand sales have continued to accelerate with no change in our pricing,” Cook said.


Who’s got the rural power?

December 1, 2009

If I’d been compiling a Primary Sector Power List I’d have had Jacqueline Rowarth on it.

Director of Agriculture at Massey University and is the inaugural Federated Farmers’ agricultural personality of the year.

She was also one of the panelists who drew up the Listener’s 2009 Power List which is why she doesn’t appear on it.

The top spot on the Listener’s list of  people who wield the power in the primary sector went to Chris Kelly, Landcorp’s chief executive.

He’s followed by Henry Van der Heyden,  Peter and Andrew Talley, Alan Hubbard and Silver Fern Farms chief executive Keith Cooper.

I wouldn’t have put anyone from SFF on that list. The company does very well with PR but its performance doesn’t match its rhetoric.

If you set aside the settlement from PGG Wrightson in compensation for the failed merger bid and other one-off payments the company’s operating profit for the year was only $5.1m.

Contrast that with Alliance Group which does very little PR but made an operating profit of $67.9m.

Sheep and beef farmers are very grumpy and with good reason. Last season’s long awaited increase in prices was short lived and this season’s forecasts aren’t looking very bright.  But most of the grumpiness and concern is from SFF shareholders and suppliers and I don’t think they’d be voting anyone from the company on to a power list.


SFF offer undersubscribed

October 13, 2009

Silver Fern Farms rights issue raised about $21 million.

The company’s putting a positive spin on it but that’s less than half what they were hoping for.

However, there is no cause for panic. SFF still has the support of its bankers for which we can be grateful because the industry needs financially stable companies.

And SFF had a good news story when it launched consumer-ready chill packs in French supermarkets last week.

Chief executive Keith Cooper said:

‘It’s a first for New Zealand chilled lamb and a first for Intermarche… Small single muscle leg roasts, boneless rumps, French racks, and lamb stir fry are a new generation of products aimed at smaller households who still want the exquisite flavour of lamb without having to visit a restaurant to ensure a superb meal experience.’

Demand for lamb internationally is holding up but it won’t be an easy season for meat companies or farmers.

The high dollar is eroding returns, lamb is expected to earn $1 a kilo less than last season. That means we can expect about $70 for a lamb which would have earned about $85 to $90 a year ago.


SFF & PGW no longer good friends?

February 18, 2009

Silver Fern Farms is not impressed by the offer of $10 million from PGG Wrightson in compensation for failing to complete a partnership deal last year.

PGG Wrightson (PGGW) yesterday issued a statement offering mediation and $10 million in compensation to Silver Fern Farms.

Silver Fern chief executive Keith Cooper was caught unaware by PGGW’s press release, a tactic he said was antagonistic.

“It is particularly antagonistic to start playing negotiations via the media with something that appears to be heading towards the courts.”

When two parties start communicating via media release it’s a sure sign their relationship is deteriorating.

PGW’s half year report is due out next week and it’s unlikely to be very pretty.

The company’s offer to take a 50% stake in SFF upset a lot of its clients. It didn’t go down well with a lot of its staff either, some of whom have left the company and set up in opposition to it.

On top of that drought and other problems in Uruguay combined with the fall in the international price for milk will be hurting its dairying venutres there.


SFF breaches banking covenant

December 10, 2008

The fall in the value of the dollar is usually good for exporters but it is causing problems for our largest meat company.

Silver Fern Farms, formerly PPCS, has breached its banking covenant and has asked its banks to consider a waiver.

The New Zealand dollar’s rapid decline against the US dollar has meant that the meat exporter is not complying with its minimum shareholders funds covenant.

The co-operative, New Zealand’s largest meat company, marks to market its foreign currency hedging and so its value has been eroded by the kiwi’s fall.

. . . The non-compliance related to Silver Fern Farms’ banking facilities, and not its bonds.

The NZ Herald quotes SFF CEO Keith Cooper saying it’s a technical issue:

“It’s a timing issue,” he said. “It’s valued at the month end and it changes every month end and it will quite quickly reverse itself out but at the time of the measure it causes this non-compliance.”


SFF cans beef contracts

December 8, 2008

Silver Fern Farms has left farmers fuming after pulling contracts it had been offering for beef after a 25% fall in the price on international markets.

Jamie McKay interviewed SFF CEO Keith Cooper on this issue on Friday’s Farming Show.

Cooper said they weren’t contracts they were applications to supply which is technically right but farmers who signed the offers and bought stock on the back of the price they were expecting to get aren’t impressed.


SFF scraps PGW deal

November 3, 2008

Silver Fern Farms has formally put an end to the $220 million deal with PGG Wrightson after PGW defaulted on its agreement to take a 50% stake in SFF.

Although Silver Fern has axed the deal, the cooperative said it had not yet decided what compensation it will seek for Wrightson’s failure to pay the first instalment of $145 million.

It simply said that Silver Fern’s default on October 1 “has left Silver Fern Farms with no alternative but to terminate the agreement relating to the proposal”.

This followed “continuous discussions” and the inability by Wrightson to deliver any level of certainty as to a possible settlement date over an adequate period of time.

“Termination of the agreement was a necessary step to provide certainty to our shareholders and other stakeholders,” said Silver Fern chief executive Keith Cooper.

“We have not determined the amount or form of compensation we will seek to recover,” he said.

“If any alternative arrangement is agreed and implemented, then this issue will be addressed as part of those arrangements.”

SFF has the right to seek compensation but they will be mindful that if they do they may jeopardise their  relationship with PGW and they won’t want to do that if they want PGW stock agents to procure stock for them.


SFF votes for PGW offer

September 8, 2008

Silver Fern shareholders have voted to accept PGG Wrightson’s offer to take a 50% stake in their company.

The counting is still going on but they already have the 75% majority needed for the deal to go ahead.

Jamie McKay has just interviewed SFF chief executive Ketih Cooper about the vote on what happens next on The Farming Show. It will be on line here later.

[Update: TV3 reports on the result and what it means here.]

[U[date 2 – Rural Network reports more fully here.]


More SFF jobs lost

July 22, 2008

At least a couple of hundred people will lose their jobs when Silver Fern Farms closes its sheep and lamb slaughtering and processing plant at Belfast.

SFF chief executive Keith Cooper said the closure of the slaughter operations was the final instalment of its Project Rightsize for 2008, a programme which was designed to align processing capacity with supply, enhance financial performance, and re-position the business as a true marketing organisation under the Silver Fern brand.

It reflects the overall decline in South Island sheep and lamb numbers, which are expected to drop by an estimated 2.2 million units next year, as conversions in traditional sheep and lamb farming areas to dairy and alternate land uses translate into lower stock units.

Cooper said SFF projections were broadly aligned with Meat and Wool Economic Service forecasts that signal an overall reduction in livestock over at least the next three years.

There were also specific issues that make the slaughter processing operation at Canterbury less tenable. These include the requirement for capital investment in effluent management systems, environmental upgrading, and limited development options compared to other key sites.

“The proximity to residential zoning also contributed to the decision,” he said.

The processors boning room facilities would continue to operate as usual, as the company needed to retain its processing capability to meet increased demand for chilled product across the business, Cooper said.

Cooper said while no further closures are planned, all operations are subject to ongoing review based on site economics.

With this proposal, Silver Farm Farms would have reduced the number of full operating sites by six, with lamb capacity reduced by five chains.

Since February 2007 the company has reduced debt by $150 million.

“These decisive actions, coupled to the proposed partnership with PGG Wrightson and commitment of additional capital of $220 million, should now address the concerns Alliance had with a merger last year and create the opportunity for Alliance to recommence merger discussions,” Cooper said.

“This can only benefit suppliers to the two co-operatives.” 

The admission that Alliance’s concerns over last year’s proposed merger is interesting but it doesn’ explain why SFF spurned Alliance’s mega-merger proposal this year.

As for creating an opportunity for Alliance to recommence merger discussion, It’s possible I’m not talking to the right people, but those I am discussing the issue are strongly opposed to PGW’s involvement with SFF and that would make a merger with Alliance less likely not more.


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