Rural round-up

July 30, 2017

Restrictions on group’s farms – Sally Rae:

Sixteen properties belonging to the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group in South Canterbury have had Restricted Place Notices imposed on them by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) after the outbreak of the bacterial cattle disease mycoplasma bovis.

The effect of the notices is to control the movement of stock.

Two dozen cows on one of the group’s farms have tested positive for the disease and are the first in New Zealand to have the disease. A further 150 cows on the property have signs of infection.

MPI veterinarians are working with local vets to assess stock on the affected farm, which has a milking herd of about 1000 cows.

MPI regional controller Dr Chris Rodwell said the situation was well under control, praising Glenavy farmer Aad van Leeuwen for the way he had handled the outbreak. . .

Immigration announcement: Disappointing but there’s hope, says DairyNZ:

DairyNZ is disappointed that today’s announcement by Government has not addressed the concerns raised about migrant staff.

However, DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says there is hope for farmers who need to employ people from overseas.

“Government has committed to tackling the issues as a priority to help provide certainty for farmers who need to employ migrant staff, and those staff members themselves, as well as their families.” . . .

Opening the farm gates  – Sonita Chandra:

Metaphorically speaking, dairy farmers have closed their farm gates in recent times for fear of criticism, but this now needs to change, says Federated Farmers dairy vice-chairman Wayne Langford.

“The farm gates need to be opened again so that we can show what we are doing, but also see what our communities want us to be doing.

“As dairy farmers, we have to be proud of the industry and proud of what we are doing. If we are not proud of it, then we need to make changes.” . .

Top performing farm quick to adopt tech :

Take a scenic drive ten minutes west of Masterton in the Wairarapa and you’ll be greeted with a rustic sign announcing your arrival at “Spring Valley farms”. Nestled deep in the Kaituna valley, it’s the home of Matt and Lynley Wyeth and their two sons.

Spring Valley Enterprises farms roughly ten thousand sheep and another four thousand stock units made up of three hundred Angus breeding cows. It sits on 16 hundred hectares of hard hill country with some decent quality flat lands. It consistently rates in the top 5 per cent of performers in the red meat industry, in part this is due to their early adoption of agri-tech.

The Wyeth’s employ a range of technology each with a specific, measurable outcome that allows them to make small tweaks, accumulatively, saving them money. . .

Plan for calving – include talking to staff about risks:

Farmers preparing for calving should also be thinking about effective ways to keep workers safe and well, said WorkSafes Agriculture Sector Lead Al McCone.28 July 2017

Plan for calving – include talking to workers about risks

Farmers preparing for calving should also be thinking about effective ways to keep workers safe and well, said WorkSafe’s Agriculture Sector Lead Al McCone. . .

Zespri opens new pan-American office in California, growing sales:

It was an all-New Zealand affair in Orange County, California today as Zespri officially opened its regional office to manage growing sales across Northern, Central and Southern America.

Zespri Chief Executive Lain Jager says Zespri is growing strongly across North America with most of this growth coming from the new gold variety Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit, which is proving hugely popular.

“The New Zealand kiwifruit industry is on track to more than double sales to $4.5 billion by 2025 and an important part of this growth will come from developing markets like North America, as well growing sales in our more established markets. Zespri is relaunching the kiwifruit category in the United States and the wider Americas region to attract new consumers and grow sales,” says Mr Jager. . .


Rural round-up

July 24, 2017

Help sought for flood-hit farmers – Timothy Brown:

The Otago Regional Council is calling on any farmers in the wider region able to offer support to those affected by the weekend’s deluge to contact Federated Farmers.

Dozens of properties on the Taieri Plains remain evacuated with paddocks and pastures inundated with water from a wild storm that began on Friday afternoon.

Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead said on Sunday it would be a difficult road ahead for farmers affected by the downpour and they would need assistance from the wider rural community.

“Federated Farmers is seeking assistance with feed and grazing,” he said. . . 

NZ the home of real free-range meat – Rod Slater:

The arrival of alternative proteins creates an opportunity for New Zealand to sell its natural pasture-to-plate story, says Beef + Lamb NZ marketing supremo Rod Slater.

 I want to address a certain issue that’s been driving plenty of chatter, both among those in the industry and those interested in food, our environment and our economy, and that’s the rise of alternative proteins.

There is no denying that this conversation, which is not just isolated to New Zealand, is gaining momentum and given the speed in which our current world operates we have no choice but to take notice of it.

However, I’m a huge believer that in every challenge lies a greater opportunity and I believe that if we adapt at speed we can make the most of the situation facing our industry. . . 

Meat substitutes’ rise a danger to NZ farmers – KPMG – Alexa Cook

New Zealand farmers could be under threat from a rise in plant-based products that mimic animal products such as burger patties, KPMG says.

Its global head of agribusiness, Ian Proudfoot, said he has been to Silicon Valley and seen firsthand what alternative proteins were on the menu.

Mr Proudfoot said New Zealand meat and dairy producers needed to identify what level of risk the products presented for their industry and plan accordingly.

The threat of vegetarian alternatives to meat products was looming as companies were beginning to create products that would genuinely appeal to consumers, Mr Proudfoot said. . . 

Dairy beef profitable for beef and dairy – Allan Barber:

For well over 20 years one of the largest challenges in the meat industry has been dairy farmers’ lack of recognition of the opportunity to make more money from their calves by selling them to calf rearers for beef production. There have always been calf rearers willing to stick their neck out and buy calves, but this was highly dependent on both beef and milk price. But for dairy farmers it was easier to select their replacement heifers and put the rest on the bobby calf truck, rather than find rearers to take the bull calves or keep them on the farm for up to three months.

The importance of dairy beef has been inevitable ever since the dairy industry started to increase in size at the expense of the sheep and beef industry which was forced to retreat further up the hillside to land unsuitable for other farming types. 70% of cattle born in New Zealand are born on the dairy farm and dairy cows now outnumber beef cows by about five to one which makes it essential to encourage the dairy industry to assume a significant role in breeding replacement beef cattle. . . 

New Zealand Landcare Trust regional coordinator Annette Litherland ready for top of the south challenge – Jeffrey Kitt:

They are big shoes to fill after 18 years, but Annette Litherland says she is determined to continue the fight for farmers and the environment.

Annette has taken over as the New Zealand Landcare Trust regional co-ordinator for Nelson and Marlborough, taking the top job from Barbara Stuart following her retirement.

Barbara worked for the trust since 1999, finding her niche in helping farmers reduce their impact on the land and seeing a huge shift in attitudes about sustainability. . . 

LIC full year results announcement:

Farmer-owned co-operative, Livestock Improvement Corporation Limited (NZX: LIC), announces its financial results for the year ending 31 May 2017.

As forecast in the half year result in February, LIC has returned to a modest level of profitability in the 2016-2017 year.

Strong performance in its core services of artificial breeding and herd testing, and a reduction in operating costs across the business all contributed to a positive result and a return in value to all shareholders. . . 

Great progress with PEFC Eco-Certification of NZ forest practices:

Illegal forest management practices are a global problem. Governments and markets around the world are increasingly requiring proof of legality for harvested wood products. This has created a demand for labelling and endorsement of sustainably managed and legally harvested forest and wood products.

The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) is an eco-certification system that is recognised as providing assurance of legality and sustainability and is increasingly required for access to some of NZ’s major markets. . . 

Agricultural Census a valuable resource to farmers and wider primary sector:

This year’s Agricultural Production Census is an important survey that assists all farmers and the primary sector says Federated Farmers.

Farmers are generally bombarded with questionnaires and surveys and replying can be time consuming, but the Federation recommends that members take time to fill in the census and answer the questions accurately.

The compulsory survey, conducted every five years by Statistics New Zealand, is a valuable outlet for monitoring industry trends and a resource used by local authorities. . . 

Australian MPs visit to discuss biosecurity and water use efficiency:

A delegation from the Australian House of Representatives Standing Committee on Agriculture and Water Resources is visiting New Zealand 23-27 July 2017. The visit is part of an annual exchange of select committees between New Zealand and Australian Parliaments.

New Zealand’s Speaker, Rt Hon David Carter, is pleased to host this visit.

“The Australia-New Zealand agriculture and science relationship is very significant. This visit will enable the parliamentary delegation to cover important inquiry topics for Australia with New Zealand’s Primary Production Committee members as well as New Zealand academic, farming and business sectors. It is an opportunity to share information of mutual benefit.” . . 

Government funding wetland enhancement project:

Hohepa Hawke’s Bay has been awarded nearly $175,000 from the Government’s Community Environment Fund to restore and increase a wetland adjacent to the Taipo Stream in Napier, Associate Minister Scott Simpson announced today.

Hohepa Hawke’s Bay is owned by the Hohepa Homes Trust, which has provided homes, education and vocational services in Hawke’s Bay to people with intellectual disabilities since 1957.

“The wetland is an important natural habitat for many native and endangered species. The two-year Lower Taipo Stream Environmental Enhancement project will increase the wetland by at least 6 hectares, providing additional habitat for the nationally endangered matuku or Australasian bittern,” Mr Simpson says. . . 

It’s not all gold for some kiwifruit growers:

Despite what people might believe, some kiwifruit growers are a long way from recovering from the 2010 Psa-V outbreak which devastated the kiwifruit industry in New Zealand, Te Puke kiwifruit grower Alistair Reese said today.

“It really concerns me that a lot of the commentary about the kiwifruit industry is that Sun Gold (“G3”) has been the ‘saviour’ post PSA, and that the industry is now doing very well because of the new varieties. . . 

Can New Zealand repeat stellar success in 2017 Sydney International Wine Competition? Entries invited from NZ wineries for 38th Competition:

New Zealand wineries are expected to holder even greater sway in this year’s Sydney International Wine Competition, following the huge success of Kiwi producers in the 2017 judging.

Entries for this year’s Competition – the only international wine show that judges all its finalists in combination with appropriate food – can be made up till 15 September, with judging in mid-October and provisional award and trophy winners notified by the end of October. . . 


Rural round-up

April 26, 2017

 Farmers feel dairying presented unjustly in TV programme – Joyce Wyllie:

None of us chose where we were born or which family we were delivered into. I’m very blessed with wonderful parents and reared on a farm up a valley north of Gisborne. My happy, stimulating childhood was varied and colourful except for learning about right and wrong, that was back and white. Our home had no TV, but plenty of books, routines, chores, homework, good habits and a healthy sense of fairness.

Mum and Dad were both people of high integrity who valued honesty and justice and taught us to treat our neighbours as we would like to be treated. Those solid standards were set for us to live up to and I hope to pass them on to the next generation for our children’s benefit. Consequently I am conscious of fairness and won’t be the only one who has noticed with increasing alarm the put downs, insults and the unjust tactics we witness on TV screens every day.

It’s meant to pass as entertainment, or debate, or news, and occasionally as documentary. Recently the programme, The Price of Milk, was heavily promoted proudly touting to be giving the farmers’ side of the story. . .

Thirst for high-end ‘craft milk’ drives Nelson dairy farmer upmarket – Julie Iles:

A Nelson dairy farmer is jump-starting a craft milk industry.

Seventh-generation dairy farmer Julian Raine’s family has been dairy farming for more than 80 years.

The family is now on a mission to bring back “how milk used to be” to the mainstream market.

“We are not highly industrialised, we are kind of the equivalent of craft beer in the dairy industry.” . . 

Beef and lamb help correct iron deficiency – Rod Slater:

Calling on all farmers, it’s your time to wave your flag proudly in a bid to support raising iron levels across our country.

As we know, beef and lamb is one of the most iron rich foods in our diet and next month marks World Iron Awareness Week running from May 1 – 7. Like everything we do in our offices, World Iron Awareness Week is something we are very passionate about – it’s hard not to be when you hear some of the facts around iron deficiency in New Zealand.

– low iron levels are evident in one in 14 adult women over the age of 15 years.

– 8 out of 10 toddlers don’t meet the recommended daily intake of dietary iron.

– 14 per cent of children under the age of 2 are iron deficient.

– 40 per cent of New Zealand women don’t get enough iron in their diet, and many go on to experience iron deficiency. . .

Zespri forecasts record profit from Gold3 licence revenue – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – Zespri International, the country’s kiwifruit export marketing body, expects to post a record profit this year due to increased revenue from the allocation of licences to grow the Gold3 variety.

The Mount Maunganui-based company forecast net profit of between $98 million and $103 million in the year ending March 31, 2018, it said in a letter to growers and shareholders. That’s ahead of its expectation for the 12 months ended March 31 this year of between $71 million and $74 million, and up from a profit of $35.8 million in 2016. . . 

Federated Farmers: Gypsum can reduce agricultural emissions:

Agricultural systems are leaky and losses of phosphorus, nitrogen, organic matter and suspended solids can impact on water quality.

While direct contamination of surface water can be prevented by avoiding livestock access and effluent discharge, it is less straightforward to prevent losses over and through soil that can eventually reach waterways.

These less direct losses are affected by complex hydrological and chemical factors.
Gypsum has long been used as a soil conditioner and fertiliser but it is only recently that gypsum’s potential for reducing agricultural emissions to waterways has been researched.
. .

Hogan warns of UK-US ‘bloodbath’ in future agri-trade talks – Philip Clarke:

EU agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan is predicting a “bloodbath” over the terms of any future UK-US free-trade agreement after Brexit.

Addressing an event organised by the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) in County Kildare, Mr Hogan said the UK had made it clear it intends to pursue its own international trade agenda once it leaves the European Union.

See also: Countryside Alliance demands ‘pragmatic’ trade deals

However, he said “fault lines” were already emerging with respect to any UK-US trade agreement. . .


Rural round-up

August 16, 2016

Top-up feed no longer enough – Fed Farmers:

Bringing in supplementary feed is no longer an option for drought-stricken north Canterbury farmers.

Rain at the weekend brought some hope to replenishing food stocks, but it will be a long haul before the herds could return.

Federated Farmers north Canterbury president Lynda Murchison says feeding livestock is unsustainable.

“This drought is so prolonged and so widespread that bringing feed in is not really an option anymore. The amount of feed you have to bring in is just too big.” . . 

Time to move on and accept the value of 1080:

Federated Farmers is mystified as to why people are still complaining about the use of 1080, long after it’s been established as a key tool in New Zealand’s environmental protection system.

The Commissioner for the Environment concluded five years ago that 1080 was the only viable tool for protection against pests on much of New Zealand’s conservation land.

Federated Farmers Taranaki vice president Donald McIntyre says the Department of Conservation’s planned use of 1080 on Mount Taranaki this month must go ahead.

“If we want to keep the kiwi, the rata and all the rest of New Zealand’s native flora and fauna, then we have to accept the use of 1080,” he says. . . 

Horticultural Pioneer John Paynter receives top honours:

Horticultural pioneer John Paynter, whose lifetime ambition is seeing Hastings Heretaunga Plains planted in fruit trees, is this year’s recipient of the Pipfruit New Zealand Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Pipfruit Industry.

Mr Paynter is the first grower in New Zealand to receive the award since it was established in 2013. He was presented with the award at the Horticultural Conference and Awards dinner held in Nelson last night – home to where his family first started growing apples in 1862. . . 

Biosecurity – it’s everyone’s business, join the conversation:

The Ministry for Primary Industries will be holding six hui and public meetings around the country during August and September, to give New Zealanders the opportunity to join a national conversation about managing biosecurity risks to New Zealand.

At the meetings, people will be asked their views about how we can all work together to keep New Zealand free from pests and diseases, because our lifestyles, livelihoods, environment, and the growth of our nation depend on it. . . 

Moth move could curb stinking horehound – Alexa Cook:

A high country sheep farmer wants the government to introduce two types of moth into New Zealand to help control a putrid-smelling lucerne crop weed called horehound.

Horehound looks like mint and is recognised as one of the worst lucerne weeds – sticking to sheep wool and reducing its value, and it can also taint the meat if large amounts are eaten.

Lake Tekapo farmer Gavin Loxton, who formed the Horehound Biocontrol Group, is working with Landcare Research to survey farmers and then apply for government funding to introduce two moths to control it. . . 

Top risks for world’s pollinators named – Alexa Cook:

An international study has narrowed down the biggest risks for pollinators, with the hope of preventing further threats to global food production.

The research identified six risks that need urgent attention, including corporate control of agriculture, diversifying pollinator species, the effects of climate change and reducing chemicals in non-agricultural settings.

David Pattemore from Plant & Food Research was a co-author of the study, and said the findings were mixed. . . .

Ballance Farm Environment Awards Highlight Good Work:

Entering the Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards gave Patumahoe dairy farmers Brian and Pirkko Gallagher a chance to showcase some of the good work they’d been doing on their farm.

“We’d only recently finished installing our new effluent system and so we were keen to show that off to the judges and see what they thought of it,” Brian says.

The Gallaghers also wanted to acknowledge the support of Auckland Regional Council, which provided assistance for the planting of trees and shrubs around the five-million litre pond.

Brian says the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) offered a valuable outside perspective of their farming operation. . . 

Zespri to resume China shipments – Edwin Mitson

(BusinessDesk) – Zespri International, the kiwifruit marketer, is due to resume shipments to China later this week following an overhaul of the process for checking kiwifruit prior to export.

On Aug. 5, the Tauranga-based company said it had temporarily halted exports to the country after China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) issued a risk notification and strengthened inspection and quarantine processes on New Zealand kiwifruit entering Chinese ports when it found the fungus Neofabraea actinidiae. It causes fruit to rot but has no food safety implications.

Prime Minister John Key last week insisted that there was no link between Zespri’s problems and reports that China had threatened to retaliate if New Zealand launched an investigation into whether Beijing was selling steel to NZ below cost, a practice known as ‘dumping’. Key told his weekly media conference that “people should be careful about joining dots.” . . 

Sheep producers from the Tri-Lamb Group meet in New Zealand to discuss common interests:

Young sheep industry leaders from New Zealand, Australia and the United States are getting together in New Zealand this week to discuss common interests and look at the New Zealand sheep industry first-hand.

The trip is one of the annual activities of the Tri-Lamb Group, giving young leaders a taste of sheep farming in each of the three member countries, and this time, showcasing New Zealand’s unique farm management systems.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Northern South Island Farmer Director, Phil Smith says the forum is designed to encourage young producers and leaders from the three countries to share ideas, network and to broaden understanding of sheep production practices in all three countries. . . 


Rural round-up

August 8, 2016

Expansion of Marlborough wine industry depends on finding enough labour and overcoming accommodation shortages – Oliver Lewis:

To grow any further, the Marlborough wine industry needs accommodation and it needs labour. Reporter Oliver Lewis takes a look at the challenge facing the $1 billion industry.

Behind every bottle of Marlborough sauvignon blanc, the wine that put New Zealand on the map, lies the unseen work of thousands of pairs of hands.

From a handful of vineyards in the 1970s to the engine room of the pumping wine export economy, the Marlborough wine industry has transformed the physical and social landscape of the region. . . 

Possum industry works towards its own demise – Gerard Hutching:

For an industry that has been delivered a death sentence by the Government, the possum fur and meat business is showing vigorous signs of life.

The New Zealand Fur Council says possum fur alone is worth $130 million a year and employs about 1500 people. But if National’s recently announced plan to rid the country of possums by 2050 comes true, the industry will go bust.

Some top trappers are earning six figure sums a year for their work, says one Northland fur agent. . . 

Primary ITO seeks new boss :

Mark Jeffries has resigned as chief executive of Primary ITO, the facilitating organisation for training over 30 sectors in agriculture, horticulture, equestrian, seafood, sports turf and food processing.  

He had been in the role for two years and his last day would be Friday, August 19.  

Board chairman Mark Darrow said Jeffries had effectively consolidated the recently merged organisation. . . 

New Zealand plants another million apple trees as Industry Leads the World:

A million more new apple trees are being planted across the country as international demand for New Zealand apples continues to soar, the industry’s leader announced today.

Pipfruit New Zealand’s chief executive Alan Pollard, who is in Nelson for the Horticulture Conference said New Zealand’s world-leading apple industry is transforming into a billion dollar export business.

“All of our growing regions are experiencing increased industry investment. Our apple industry is putting tens and hundreds of millions of dollars back into the local economies of our growing regions with huge spin-offs for local businesses and for growing jobs. . . 

Zespri puts kiwifruit exports to China on hold

Zespri has temporarily halted all kiwifruit exports to its biggest market, China, after fungus was reportedly found in two containers during routine checks.

This comes after Chinese officials warned Zespri last month there could be retaliation if New Zealand investigated claims of steel dumping.

But Zespri general manager of grower and external relations David Courtney told Checkpoint with John Campbell these sorts of issues did crop up from time to time.

He said the fungus had not been found before on New Zealand kiwifruit in China or in any other market, but it had been present on fruit in New Zealand for 20 years. . . 

Washed out road severs rural Hawke’s Bay community from outside world – again – Simon Hendery:

Heavy rain washed out a section of McVicar Rd, off the Napier-Taupo highway north of Te Pohue, on Saturday morning.

The washout cut road access to and from State Highway 5 for several farming families and a holiday park, the Mountain Valley Adventure Lodge, which is located at the end of the road.

The McVicar Rd residents also lost their power and phone lines during the extreme weekend weather, and are among about 300 rural Taupo Plains customers who have been warned they could be without electricity for up to a week. . . 

Parish ponders what to do with its church – Jono Edwards:

Tarras locals may have to buy their community church if they wish to continue using it, as a possible sale looms.

The property, in Church Lane, Tarras, is owned by the Upper Clutha Presbyterian Parish. Since 1958, it has been managed under a joint use agreement by Anglicans and Presbyterians.

In 2014, Presbyterian services ceased as the last active member of the congregation left the area. . . 

 


Rural round-up

July 26, 2016

Kiwifruit exports reach record levels:

In June 2016, kiwifruit exports rose $105 million (47 percent) from June 2015 to reach $331 million, Statistics New Zealand said today. Overall, goods exports rose $109 million (2.6 percent) in June 2016 (to $4.3 billion).

The June 2016 rise was across all our top kiwifruit export destinations, but particularly Japan (up $55 million) and China (up $39 million). The quantities of kiwifruit exported also rose (up 32 percent), with gold kiwifruit up 49 percent, and green kiwifruit up 21 percent. . . .

New researchers should focus on primary industry:

Federated Farmers wants a plan to attract the world’s top scientists to New Zealand to concentrate on those who will work on primary sector initiatives and the environment.

Federated Farmers President Dr William Rolleston says it makes sense for the government’s $35 million ‘Entrepreneurial Universities’ programme to build knowledge in areas which are key to New Zealand’s economic and environmental needs.

The four year programme, announced by Minister Steven Joyce on Wednesday, aims to encourage the world’s leading researchers to bring their teams to work in New Zealand.

“This programme will help New Zealand keep up with the scientific developments already going on around the globe. . . 

Feds congratulates government on ambitious pest eradication project:

Federated Farmers fully backs the target to completely eradicate introduced predators from New Zealand by 2050 announced by the government today and agrees with the government that emerging technologies is now making such an ambitious target possible.

This project is going to require a team effort from scientists, farmers, government, politicians and rural communities.

“Our farmers live and work in our natural environment every day and in that sense are stewards of a significant part of New Zealand’s land, says Federated Farmers spokesperson for pest management Chris Allen.

“Farmers already spend a substantial amount of money on pest management. They also pay levies to OSPRI, to control vectors of tuberculosis, such as stoats and possums. . . 

Beekeepers stung by swarm of hive thefts –  Wilhelmina Shrimpton:

Beekeepers are seeking an urgent meeting with police as an increasing number of sticky-fingered thieves make off with beehives across the country.

The most recent incident was in Northland, where around $500,000-worth of hives were stolen from Topuni Forest more than a week ago. 

Some call the honey liquid gold – and for very good reason.

“If you’re getting high-grade manuka honey, the beekeepers can expect to get about $60 a kilogram,” Apiculture New Zealand’s Daniel Paul said. . . 

Profit warning makes Silver Fern Farms’ deal more critical – Allan Barber:

Last week’s profit warning from SFF chairman Rob Hewitt confirmed what industry observers suspected – this season has been affected by a combination of factors which has made achievement of the budgeted profit more remote than ever. At the half year Hewett had already warned the year end result would be materially different from budget without specifying numbers. The latest warning indicates break even at best.

The current season has suffered from reduced livestock volumes, regular rain and grass growth in most parts of the country which even out supply patterns, and an obstinately strong NZ dollar. Processors have been squeezed at both ends, paying too much for livestock and not earning enough from the market. . .

Nervous times at Silver Fern Farms – Keith Woodford:

Silver Fern Farms announced last week to its farmer suppliers that it now expects no more than a breakeven return for the year ending 30 September 2016.  This should focus the minds of its farmer shareholders, who vote on 12 August as to whether or not Silver Fern Farms should proceed with the partial takeover by Shanghai Maling. 

The disappointing projected financial outcome – which could yet get worse – reinforces the notion that Silver Fern Farms lacks the necessary financial resilience to go it alone. There is increasing risk that without completion of the Shanghai Maling buy-in, that Silver Fern Farms will lose the support of its bankers and be placed in receivership. That is not an attractive option, for what has in recent years been New Zealand’s largest meat processor. . . 

UK milk production drops 10% in a year – Alexa Cook:

Many British dairy farmers are getting out of the industry due to plummeting milk prices and production, says a UK dairy analyst.

Farmers are being paid from 10 to 30 pence a litre at a time when most farms need 25 to 30 pence a litre to meet the cost of production.

The UK’s Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) – the British equivalent of DairyNZ – has reported more than 1000 farms have closed since June 2013, leaving about 9500 in operation.

The board’s senior dairy analyst Luke Crossman said milk production had fallen off sharply. . . 

Pea growers work with MPI to rid Wairarapa of weevil pest:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), and local pea growers, are planning urgent action to eradicate a small Wairarapa population of a newly discovered weevil that damages pea crops.

The pea weevil (Bruchus pisorum) has been found in pea seeds grown on 8 different Wairarapa properties. It has also been found in 3 seed storage facilities in the region.

The weevil larvae feed on growing pea pods, damaging crops. Its discovery in the Wairarapa has long-term implications for pea production in New Zealand and the pea growing industry is strongly supportive of moves to attempt to get rid of it. . . 

NZDF-Led Projects Boost Drought Resilience of Tongan Communities:

Community projects undertaken by a multi-national task group led by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) are expected to reduce the vulnerability of remote communities to the impact of drought, Tongan officlals say.

The projects, designed to improve water storage in two main islands in Tonga’s Ha’apai island group, were undertaken as part of Exercise Tropic Twilight 2016 and have been formally handed over today to the Tongan Government.

“Tropic Twilight conducted a vast range of activities that will directly improve the resilience of communities in Ha’apai in addressing some water security issues and safety equipment shortages. It was also an opportune time to collaborate with partners to address health issues,” said Tongan Deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni. . . 

Punakaiki Fund Invests in Agtract:

Taranaki rural job management software Agtract has closed a funding round with high-growth investorPunakaiki Fund.

The Agtract software drastically reduces the time it takes for rural contractors to do management tasks and create invoices, saving them up to a week’s work each month.

“Agtract does the administrative grunt work so rural contractors can do what they do best: helping farmers,” says CEO Chris West, who co-founded Agtract with his brother James after feeling the pain first hand of having to do admin work for a rural contractor.

“I was an employee of a contractor in Taranaki and had to fill in job sheet after job sheet. So much of what I did was repetitive, and even more of what the contractor did could’ve been automated. I created an early software solution, saw that it saved time and money, and realised I was onto a winner. Agtract is the result.” . . .


Rural round-up

June 23, 2016

Retiring prof’s work continues – Sally Rae:

Prof Frank Griffin describes his lengthy career in animal science at the University of Otago in his own inimitable way.

“It’s been absolutely amazing. I’ve had a party every day; it’s really been fun,” he said.

Official retirement might be looming at the end of the month for the popular professor but his association with the university, where he has worked since 1973, is unlikely to end. . . 

Port dairy cows spared – Sally Rae:

Port Chalmers dairy farmer Merrall MacNeille is looking at various options to get his milk back on the market.

He was recently ordered to stop selling raw milk after a tuberculosis-positive heifer was discovered on his property.

He was able to supply milk for pasteurisation and, using a small pasteuriser, hoped to have “something on the shelf” by the end of August.

Other options were also being explored and Mr MacNeille said they would “get there one way or another”. . . 

Zespri raises profit forecast range to recognise $50M of Gold3 licence revenue :

(BusinessDesk) – Zespri International, the kiwifruit marketer, raised its full-year profit forecast to take into account licence revenue of $50 million from the release of 400 hectares of Gold3 licence in 2016.

Zespri is now forecasting profit of $70 million to $75 million for the 2016/17 year, up from the range of $25 million to $30 million it gave in April. The earlier forecast excluded revenue from the release of Gold3 licences that were tendered in May.

The closed tender bid process attracted broad participation from the industry with 1,376 hectares bid and 266 successful bidders for the 400 hectares of the SunGold licence, Zespri said. Half the hectares were restricted to Green and Green14/Sweet Green growers to provide an opportunity for existing green growers to convert over to SunGold, it said. . . 

Seeka handles record volumes:

Seeka Kiwifruit Industries Limited advises that it has completed kiwifruit packing operations in Australia and New Zealand for the 2016 season. The Company has handled record volumes in the packing season, with more than 30M trays handled in New Zealand for the first time. Seeka now heads into the storage and inventory management portion of the season in New Zealand, while at the same time it completes its kiwifruit sales program in Australia. The Australian pear selling season is anticipated to complete in October.

New Zealand volumes handled by Seeka were up by 16.6% at 30.8m trays. This figure includes approximately 700k trays that will be removed from the inventory or at time of packing, through crop management. All volumes have been handled within the company’s infrastructure, and Seeka now moves to managing more than 16M trays in store. . . 

Police investigate ‘dear old lady’s’ pet sheep:

An elderly Waikato woman has been left distressed after four of her pet sheep were killed and their body parts strewn across her paddock.

Cambridge police say someone jumped the “dear old lady’s” farm fence on Tirau Road on Friday night and killed the four pregnant ewes.

“They left the offal and heads in the paddock for her to find the next morning,” police said on their Facebook page. . .

Greenpeace launches legal challenge against controversial $1b dam plan:

Greenpeace NZ is launching a legal challenge against a controversial plan to build a dam that’s set to cost close to $1 billion and will pollute a region’s rivers.

Today, Greenpeace will file a judicial review of resource consents granted by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to extend the area of land area that can be irrigated by the Ruataniwha scheme, which will aid the expansion of dairy farms in the region. 

The motion, to be lodged at the High Court in Napier, challenges two resource consents given to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company in January, which were granted without public notification on the basis of a Council assessment that any environmental effects would be no more than “minor”. . . 


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