Rural round-up

March 30, 2015

Candid advocate top dairy woman – Sally Rae:

West Coast dairy farmer Katie Milne was recently named Dairy Woman of the Year. She talks to agribusiness reporter Sally Rae. 

Katie Milne is a straight shooter.

So it’s not hard to imagine those attending a meeting on the West Coast, in the early 1990s, took notice when she went along with some concerns about the Resource Management Act’s impact on her ability to farm.

There were a large number of Federated Farmers people there, but they were ”all older fellas with grey hair”. . .

Landcorp’s Carden optimistic despite low half year profit - Allan Barber:

The state owned farmer Landcorp last month reported a substantial drop in both revenue and profit for the six months ended 31 December last year, but CEO Steve Carden is still very positive about future prospects and the importance of Landcorp as a farming business.

In response to a question about the impact of dairy and whether the exposure to it has gone too far, he said he felt the balance was about right at a similar proportion to red meat which had traditionally been the dominant farming type. Dairy represented over half the turnover last year, but in the current year that percentage had fallen to 46%, as evident from the almost $10 million decline in first half year revenue. . .

Synlait releases Interim Report for 2015 financial year:

Synlait Milk has posted a $6.4 million net loss after tax for the first six months to 31 January in the 2015 financial year (FY15).

This result includes after tax unrealised foreign exchange losses of $6.8 million.

The underlying after tax financial performance of $0.4 million for the period was lower than expected and primarily due to delays in the shipment of infant formula and nutraceutical products.

A one-off, after tax product mix benefit of $7.5 million in the first half of FY14, combined with increased depreciation and interest costs from the commissioning of three growth initiatives projects in the second half of FY14, are the primary reasons for a $11.7 million variation between the underlying FY15 interim result of $0.4 million and the FY14 interim result of $12.1 million net profit after tax. . .

New kiwifruit variety revives industry – Jenna Lynch:

Kiwifruit growers are celebrating a bumper export season, with fruit volumes at their highest since the outbreak of the vine-killing disease Psa in 2010.

The disease devastated New Zealand’s kiwifruit industry, costing growers millions.

But a new variety has helped bring the industry back from the brink of collapse.

It’s the industry king, its green brother fetching a fraction of its price, but after years of small crop yield due to Psa the gold kiwifruit is back. . .

Kiwifruit industry set for strong growth in 2015 season:

The first kiwifruit charter ship for 2015 is set to sail from the Port of Tauranga tomorrow (Sunday 28 March), marking the start of a season promising strong growth with volumes back to pre-Psa levels this season, Zespri’s Chief Executive Lain Jager says.

The 2015 harvest began in orchards in Gisborne, Katikati and Te Puke last week, with the first charter shipments of gold kiwifruit leaving on the MV Atlantic Erica today for Zespri’s long-standing premium market of Japan. Zespri has chartered 55 refrigerated ships – including five ships direct to Shanghai – and 8,000 refrigerated containers to carry the 2015 Zespri harvest to 54 countries around the world. . .

Swedes farmer survey results coming in May:

The results of an in-depth farmer survey carried out to help understand the factors behind the toxic swedes issues that hit Southland dairy herds last year are expected to be available by the end of May.

DairyNZ’s Southland regional leader Richard Kyte says DairyNZ interviewed 134 affected and unaffected farmers and 34 graziers last year as part of its study into why many cows became ill after feeding on swedes last season. The detailed interviews followed a general short survey of all dairy farmers that generated more than 400 replies. Analysis of all the survey data is now nearly complete.

“We interviewed farmers across the region to help us understand whether farm management practices may have been a contributing factor. We had some delays in getting the data from the field as farmers got busy just as we started approaching them for information. Until all this analysis is complete, we won’t know if we need to gather more background information. We are expecting to have the results of all this work released to farmers from around mid to late May,” he says. . .

 

Consultation on Campylobacter performance targets open:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is asking for feedback on a range of proposed options for testing of Campylobacter in poultry.

The consultation considers the need for any change to Campylobacter performance targets – contamination limits poultry processors must meet as part of MPI’s routine testing for Campylobacter in broiler chickens.

Paul Dansted, MPI’s Acting Director Systems Audit, Assurance and Monitoring, says that while there have been significant improvements in the control of Campylobacter since performance targets were introduced, it’s important they are continually reviewed. . .

 


Rural round-up

March 15, 2015

Farmax conference to focus farmers and rural consultants on 2025 export goals:

Decision support software company, Farmax, believes it has a key tool pastoral farmers can use to help the agriculture industry achieve its goal of doubling exports by 2025. The company’s 2015 conference will focus on helping farmers and rural consultants gain confidence in the tools they need to achieve this objective.

Minister for Primary Industries Hon Nathan Guy will open the conference at Mac’s Function Centre in Wellington on 7-8 May.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Dr Scott Champion, OVERSEER general manager Caroline Read and Landcorp Farm Operations general manager Graeme Mulligan will also present over the two-day event. . .

Forestry leases returned to Māori owners:

Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew joined Māori owners and the community in Northland today to celebrate the surrender of a 740 hectare forestry lease.

The ceremony included the felling of the final trees to mark the end of what was originally a 99 year Crown lease. The trees are to be replanted by the landowner, Parengarenga A Incorporation.

“Partnership between the Incorporation and the Crown has been important to the development of forestry in the Far North,” Mrs Goodhew says. “By stabilising moving sand on the Aupouri peninsula this once unproductive land has been developed into a productive forest. . .

Drought may bite olive harvest:

A Wairarapa olive grower says the extremely dry conditions are taking a toll on trees and will bite into this year’s harvest.

Last year a record olive harvest was recorded in many parts of the country, helped by hot, dry summer conditions.

Olive New Zealand’s president, Andrew Taylor, said it was too early to say what this year’s harvest would be like from region to region, although it was likely that some growers will get lighter crops than the record amount last year.

But grower Ray Lilley, who owns White Rocks Olives at Martinborough, said the weather conditions this season would reduce the harvest, especially on younger trees. . .

Open Country posts record annual profit on surge in sales, sees ‘strong’ 2015:

(BusinessDesk) – Open Country Dairy, the dairy manufacturer controlled by Talley’s Group, reported a record profit for 2014 as revenue growth outpaced rising cost of sales, and said it expects a “strong” result in 2015.

Profit was $29.8 million in the 12 months ended Sept. 30, 2014, from $18.2 million in a 14-month period a year earlier, according to the Auckland-based company’s annual report. Open Country changed its balance date to Sept. 30 from July 31 in 2013.

Sales jumped to $908 million from $635 million, while cost of sales rose to $858 million from $597 million, allowing the company to increase gross profit by 31 percent. The 2014 year took in a season in which farmers received a record payout for their milk, while global dairy prices tumbled in the second half from near their highest levels in seven years. . .

Steak of Origin Underway:

Beef farmers nationwide are waiting in anticipation to see if their steaks will be named amongst the best in New Zealand.

The Beef + Lamb New Zealand Steak of Origin competition, supported by Zoetis, received over 300 entries from farmers, retailers, wholesalers and foodservice suppliers hoping to take out the title of the nation’s most tender and tasty steak.

Entries will now go on to be scientifically tested at Carne Technologies with colour and tenderness results determining the top 20% from each class, which will be announced as semi-finalists. . .

 

Villa Maria named fourth most admired wine brand in the world and first in New Zealand:

Today, Drinks International, one of the most trusted and respected global drink journals, named Villa Maria as the fourth most admired wine brand in the world, the only New Zealand winery to make the top 10 list. More than 200 of the world’s top masters of wine, sommeliers, educators and journalists took part in the annual poll, which pits wine brands from all regions, styles and qualities against each other.

The Academy of Masters of Wine, sommeliers, educators and journalists were tasked with critiquing and recognising the ‘Most Admired Wine Brands’ in the world and measured against the following list: . .


Rural round-up

February 7, 2015

Landcorp Farming 2014/15 half year financial results:

Landcorp Farming has recorded operating revenue of $109.8 million for the six months to 31 December 2014 and a net operating profit of $1 million.

Landcorp Chief Executive, Steven Carden, said the first six months had been challenging and Landcorp is reviewing its full year profit forecast of between $1 -$6 million.

“A result like this will come as no surprise given the milk price and drought challenges. However we have cushioned the impact of these external factors by anticipating them early. One example is our support of the Fonterra Guaranteed Milk Price Scheme and another is our proactive livestock management around the country ahead of the drought.

“The fall in milk prices has significantly impacted our revenue, although we remain on track for a modest profit. . .

Responsible access theme of commission – Mark Neeson:

With summer here and New Zealanders embarking on their annual migration to the outdoors, it is an ideal time to reflect on the widespread access so many of us enjoy to our country’s lakes, beaches, rivers and mountains.

The outdoors provides opportunities to explore new places, and experience solitude, challenge, adventure, and a different perspective on life.

It is this image of New Zealand that is celebrated and promoted around the world, helping to create a thriving tourist industry. . .

Storm damages crops – Leith Huffadine:

A Dumbarton fruitgrower says a storm on Sunday afternoon has ”written off” most of the crops on his property.

The man, who did not want to be named, said his corn, pumpkins and peaches had been damaged in the downpour, which was localised to Dumbarton, between Roxburgh and Ettrick, and some surrounding areas.

”There might be a wee bit left but not much. [There’s] nothing there of any value.” . . .

Family affair keeps family farming dream alive – Sonita Chandar:

The dreams of a Taranaki farmer have become reality although he did not live to see them to fruition.

Duncan and Fiona Corrigan planned to expand their Hawera farm but when Duncan died in October 2012 his family continued what he started.

Josh, 22, the second eldest of 10 children, put his career on hold and took on the challenge of managing it. . .

 US fans raise their glasses to Kiwi wine - Gerard Hutching:

The United States is likely to become New Zealand’s leading wine destination this year.

Although more litres were shipped to Britain last year, the US is tipped to soon overtake that amount.

In terms of value, Australia is just ahead of the US, but that should also change this year.

For the year ended November 2014, wine exports to the US were worth $348 million, to Australia $360m and Britain $332m. . .

New Zealand Rural Games added 22 new photos to the album: The Running of the Wools — at Queenstown NZ

More than 350 merino sheep from Bendigo and Mt Nicholas stations in downtown Queenstown to preview the ‪#‎Hilux‬ New Zealand Rural Games 2015.

New Zealand Rural Games's photo.New Zealand Rural Games's photo.
New Zealand Rural Games's photo.

 The Farming Show added 3 new photos.
A great start to the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games as 350 merinos were herded through central Queenstown! Looking forward to all the rest of the events kicking off tomorrow morning from 8! The Farming Show's photo.
The Farming Show's photo.


Rural round-up

December 24, 2014

The winding path for agri-food – Keith Woodford:

With another year winding down, it is time to reflect on how well the agri-food industries have been travelling, and to look forward to what the next twelve months might bring.

2014 will be the remembered as the year that the dairy industry started on the super highway but then hit a pot hole. Many in the industry expected a slow-down, but most have been surprised by the depth of the hole. It is also the year when the dairy industry began to recognise the full extent of the nitrogen leaching challenge.

For beef, 2014 was the best farming year there has ever been, and for sheep farmers it was also a positive year. The kiwifruit recovery gained momentum, and the wine industry moved forward. These outcomes have all occurred despite an exchange rate that for much of the year was at record highs. . . .

Landcorp seeks to fatten sheep returns through wool deal, milk – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) - Landcorp, New Zealand’s largest corporate farmer, is moving on two fronts to expand the money it makes from sheep, signing a three-year contract with NZ Merino to manage its entire wool clip and planning a trial of milking some of the flock.

The state-owned enterprise indicated last July it was taking a serious look at milking sheep as a way of getting a third income, along with meat and wool, from its flock.

Chief executive Steve Carden said while milking sheep is common offshore, most of it is consumed domestically and there is no real international player. Landcorp has been investigating establishing a premium, niche sheep milk brand from the 370,000 ewes it farms. . .

Venison companies working together:

The venison exporter and processor, Duncan and Co is hoping it will soon join other companies whose plants have been certified to supply venison to China.

This year seven venison processing plants received approval to export to China, which was a new market for New Zealand farmed deer meat.

Duncan and Co’s general marketing manager Glenn Tyrrell said it was hoping its plants would also be cleared for China in the new year.

And it was working with four other companies on a joint marketing project. . .

Avocado industry waits for China clearance:

The New Zealand avocado industry is waiting for clearance to export to China, as it expands its trade into Asian markets.

The Ministry for Primary Industries was negotiating an access agreement for China and avocados are at the top of its priority list for horticultural products.

Chief executive of New Zealand Avocado Jen Scoular said only Chile and Mexico had access to China for the fruit.

But she said avocado industry representatives attended a fruit and vegetable fair in Beijing last month, where Chinese officials indicated they saw no technical reasons why New Zealand should not be granted access as well. . .

Gibbston Valley Winery launches full-service bike centre to cater for growing demand:

Award-winning Gibbston Valley Winery is adding to the experiences that locals and visitors can enjoy at the winery with the opening of a new on-site bike centre.

Gibbston Valley Winery CEO Greg Hunt said the centre was the next stage in the company’s continued expansion, enabling them to cater to the growing demand for cycling facilities in the region and grow its biking product while also showcasing award-winning wine and food.

“Located across from the beautiful Kawarau River and next to Rabbit Ridge Bike Resort, our new biking centre gives people convenient access to some of the top biking trails in Queenstown and a premium Central Otago wine and food experience,” said Mr Hunt. . .

Silver Fern Farms Confirms Audited Result:

Silver Fern Farms has bounced back to profit and reduced debt for the 2014 year.

The co-operative is reporting a net profit before tax for the year of $1.8 million, a $38.3 million improvement on the 2013 season. Over the same period the company paid down $99 million in debt as part of a plan to reduce the cost of debt servicing to the company.

Chairman Rob Hewett says Silver Fern Farms’ shareholders will be heartened to see audited confirmation of the turnaround in profitability. . . 

Sealord nets a profit and pays dividend:

Sealord Group Ltd has reported a net profit after tax of NZD$25.4 million for its financial year ending 30th September 2014.

The result marks a return to profit for the Group following the exit from its Argentine fishing investment the previous year.

The result has enabled Sealord to declare a dividend of NZD $10.5 million to its shareholders.

Company revenues of NZD $448 million were slightly lower on the previous year due to unfavourable foreign exchange movements.

According to Chairman Matanuku Mahuika, the result represents a significant turnaround from the previous year. . .


Number matters not owner

November 3, 2014

The opposition and the other usual suspects are exercised by the government’s plan to sell some state houses and labelling it an asset sale. But Prime Minister John Key said:

“If at the end of the day, Housing NZ sells a few state houses, well, actually, that’s happened for a long period of time. We often trade our stock.

“So if we sell some individual state houses, it’s not an asset sale. If we sold Housing New Zealand or part of it, it would be, and we have absolutely no plans to sell.”

This is like Landcorp selling some of its farms.

I’d be happy if the SOE sold more, but selling farms isn’t the same as selling the company, just as selling some houses isn’t the same as selling the entity that owns them.

Mr Key said the Government was undertaking a massive redevelopment of state housing stock because many houses were in the wrong place or unsuitable for housing needs.

If the houses are in the wrong place, in poor condition, have too many or two few rooms or are otherwise not fit for purpose it is sensible to sell them.

The issue shouldn’t be who owns which houses but what’s the best way to ensure people who need a house can get it and the government is planning to increase the supply by building more state houses and also making it easier for other providers of social housing to build.

The number of houses available matters far more than who owns them.

 

 

 


Rural round-up

September 28, 2014

Building an educated workforce – Rick Powdrell:

How about that election result then! The most interesting result took place up in Te Tai Tokerau with Labour‘s Kelvin Davis being elected.  Can I give a big thumbs up to the average Kiwi voter who responded to electoral nastiness by sending one political movement packing.

New Zealanders have dodged a bullet and it restores your faith in democracy.  The party I am thinking about wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about what we farmers do on-farm either.

In this election, it was clear to me that some people do not understand that farming is the most international business we have.  A business you can’t up sticks and transfer with the click of a mouse.  It’s here because the people, climate, soils and temperature are all right here.  Industries collectively generating $35 billion a year; 73 percent of our merchandise exports.  . .

Nepalese adding value in Waimate – Sarah Rowland:

When Ikawai dairy farmer Lyle Green employed Nepalese Ashok Shrestha 11 years ago he was so impressed with his works ethic he looked for more.

Green’s uncle had told him of a hard-working Nepalese man who wasn’t being treated well in his job and to employ him if he could, but at the time Green had no vacancies.

However, when a position opened he tracked down Shrestha and employed him.

It turned out to be one of the best choices he had made for his business, he said.

When another employee left for another position Green asked Shrestha if he had a friend who wanted to come to work for him and he said he had two. . .

Loving it for the lifestyle – Gerard Hutching:

”I wouldn’t change it for anything – it’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle,” says Landcorp dairy farm manager Letitia Hamill.

At the age of 22, Hamill is the second youngest Landcorp farm manager in the country. And as a woman, she is a relative rarity for the state-owned enterprise, which has just five female managers out of 137.

Hamill manages one of the nine Landcorp Moutoa dairy farms in the Foxton region. At 68 hectares and running 216 cows, hers is one of four smaller properties in the complex. . .

Boost for breeding as salmon return to river  – David Bruce:

About 1% of a first release of 2000 salmon raised in the Waitaki River returned in the past fishing season, boosting breeding in a stream whose water was used to raise them.

The Waitaki Riparian Enhancement Society started hatching salmon at a hatchery next to Welcome Stream and released its first 2000 tagged fish in 2012.

They were due to start returning in the past season, and the first was caught in February.

Society secretary Linn Koevoet said five of those fish were weighed in at a competition and another three were reported caught. . .

‘Shear for life’ fundraiser - Yvonne O’Hara:

Two farmers hope to raise $24,000 for the Cancer Society by shearing sheep during a 24-hour ”Shear for Life” marathon in Tarras in February.

Farmer James Hill, of Teviot Valley, and stock manager Cole Wells, of Tarras, want to raise money for the society in memory of family members who had died of cancer.

Mr Hill’s father Dick died of stomach cancer in 2012 and Mr Wells lost his grandfather to prostate cancer. . .

Dairy delegation heads to US - Narelle Henson:

A group of 30 large-scale New Zealand dairy farmers and industry representatives are heading to the United States of America tomorrow to see what lessons they can bring home. 

The country is increasingly being punted as New Zealand’s major competition in the Chinese market.

The USA’s milk supply is around four times that of New Zealand, according to DairyNZ statistics, 40 per cent of which comes from 800 ”mega-dairies”, with 2000 or more cows.

Fieldays chief executive Jon Calder is going on the nine-day trip, and said lessons in keeping costs down would be a major focus. . .

 

Tongariro triumphs at Otiwhiti -Jackie Harrigan:

Told you we should have left the shield in the van.”

That was the triumphant cry from one of the supporters of the agri-skills team from Tongariro School last week when they won the Land Based Training Otiwhiti Station Interschool Challenge Shield at the Rangitikei station for the second year in a row.

Tongariro team leader Chicago Albert was proud of his team and of the win, saying they had been training hard to retain the shield. 

“I reckon it’s really cool to come back and win for a second time.” . .


Rural round-up

September 19, 2014

Farmers have spent millions in the Horizons region:

A Federated Farmers survey has revealed the average dairy farmer in the Horizons Region has spent over $110,000 on environmental management in the past five years.

“There are huge numbers being invested in the region, which tells a really positive story about where we are heading environmentally and the buy in that is coming from the farmers,” says James Stewart, Federated Farmers Manawatu-Rangitikei provincial president.

“As people vote tomorrow I genuinely hope they will realise that farmers are doing a lot to farm more sustainably.

“It is very difficult to put a number on environmental spending, but we wanted to try, so we sent a survey out to all 918 dairy farms via the Horizons Regional Council. We were stunned by the response, not just the figures but how many people replied during their busiest time of year, calving season. . .

 

Working group focused on clear advice:

The industry-led working group looking at the issues with swedes affecting dairy cattle in Southland says a key priority will be developing clear and agreed advice for farmers.

The group met for the first time this week, with DairyNZ’s Southland regional leader, Richard Kyte, chairing the meeting. The group includes representatives from Southland veterinary practices, Federated Farmers, Beef+Lamb NZ and PGG Wrightson Seeds. It also has specialist advisors on veterinary pathology and plant science.

“Evidence and science-based information is crucial and will be the focus of this group. Gathering this information is a work in progress and will involve all parties,” says Richard. . .

Dairying business woman takes top role:

Delwyn Knight has taken the role of general manager of Liberty Genetics where she is leading a team that’s making headway in the competitive dairy genetics market.

Although modest about landing the top job, Knight admits that she is one of very few women working in top dairy genetics roles, and she is excited about taking on the position.

“It’s great to be in a position where I can provide value and support to farmers when they are making important farming business decisions,” said Knight.

“I’m really looking forward to working directly with our farming clients, understanding what their needs are and supporting them to get the best results for their herds.” . . .

Robotic sheepdogs unlikely Kiwi farmers say:

At the risk of being out of step with technology, Federated Farmers is dubious robotic sheepdogs will replace the real thing anytime soon.  Reported late last month, European academics believe they have created an algorithm simulating sheepdog behaviour.

“I am not saying it won’t come to pass but it’ll be more like one farmer robot and its droid than dog trials being replaced by droid trials,” says Rick Powdrell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre spokesperson.

“Anyone who works with dogs and sheep knows there’s more to this than an algorithm.

“For starters, there is a primordial instinctive connection between the two animals.  How you simulate that I have no idea. . .

Landcorp completes  full purchase of Focus Genetics:

Landcorp Farming Ltd. is now sole owner of livestock genetics business, Focus Genetics. The announcement comes after Landcorp successfully acquired the remaining 33% shareholding from
Rissington Breedline.

Hawkes Bay based Focus Genetics is New Zealand’s largest red meat genetics business with 17 breeding partners throughout New Zealand.  Formed in 2011, Focus Genetics has since grown its
market share, serving more than 750 commercial farm operations. 

Last year the company sold over 4,000 rams, 800 bulls and 400 stags to farmers in New Zealand and overseas.
Gavin Foulsham, Focus Genetics CEO, said having one owner provided certainty for the company’s plans to invest more towards achieving greater rates of genetic improvement. 

It also means Focus could explore more sales opportunities offshore. . .

I want to eat a weka - Offsetting Behaviour:

It’s been more than five years since I first posted on Roger Beattie’s felicitous “Eat them to save them” campaign. And I still am not allowed to buy a weka for dinner.

Roger is one of New Zealand’s great enviropreneurs: the National Farming Review called him an Eco Anarchist. He loves the environment and sees the best way of saving it as ensuring that it’s profitable to save it. Weka are endangered, but they’re easily farmed and tasty. Why aren’t we raising them for the restaurant trade and conserving an endangered species in the process? The Department of Conservation says no. They say no incredibly incoherently. But their “No” is what matters. . .

Two gold medals for Goldie Wines:

Goldie Wines on Waiheke Island has won its first gold medals for new owners, University of Auckland and winemaker, Heinrich Storm.

Two Goldie Syrah wines from the 2013 vintage took two of the eight gold medals awarded in the Syrah category at the recent NZ International Wine Show.

The Goldie Syrah 2013 and Goldie Reserve Syrah 2013 were awarded gold in what Heinrich says is a significant achievement for the new operation.

“These medals are the first won since the University took over ownership of the vineyard in 2011 from Goldwater Wines,” he says. “Also for me it is significant, because they are my first as winemaker for Goldie Wines.” .  . .


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