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.


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