Rural round-up

June 20, 2015

Environment Commissioner warns water quality is “not out of the woods yet”:

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, today released two reports on water quality, calling for further steps to safeguard the quality of New Zealand’s fresh water.

“To its credit, the Government has invested heavily in developing policy to improve the management of fresh water,” said Dr Wright. “The 2014 National Policy Statement is a major step forward. Some regional councils have already begun to act and there is a real sense of momentum.”

“But we are not out of the woods yet. Some lakes and streams are below bottom lines and many others are not far above them. And in many places, water quality continues to decline.” . .

PCE report constructively points to next steps in water reform:

The Government has welcomed the two reports released today from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment on managing New Zealand’s freshwater reforms.

“This report acknowledges the step change in improving freshwater management through the National Policy Statement in 2011 and the addition of the National Standards in 2014, but it also challenges the Government on the next steps. The report is timely in that it can feed into the work we are doing with iwi leaders and the reinvigorated Land and Water Forum. Our plan is to have a discussion document out on the next steps in freshwater reform early in 2016,” Dr Smith says.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has recommended six improvements to the Freshwater National Policy Statement. The recommendations are: . . .

 Federated Farmers supports PCE report:

Federated Farmers welcomes the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s report on Managing Water Quality which supports our long held position that the National Policy Statement (NPS) is a major step forward for water management in New Zealand.

Dr Jan Wright has reflected on what has been an effective couple of years since her last report, with a sense of significant momentum in the regions. She has made six recommendations which overall we agree with excluding concerns around the exceptions policy.

Ian MacKenzie, Federated Farmers Environment Spokesperson, says “We agree with the Commissioner’s recommendation for a more strategic approach in prioritising the more vulnerable catchments. To date some councils have spread their efforts too far and thin when they needed to prioritise and make some real progress on the ones that are under the most pressure.” . . .

Landcorp says 2015 earnings ‘on track’ despite weaker dairy prices – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Landcorp Farming, New Zealand’s largest corporate farmer, said it doesn’t need to downgrade its earnings outlook in the wake of falling dairy prices remain weak, as it sheltered from volatility by locking in a guaranteed price at the start of the season.

Dairy product prices slipped in this week’s GlobalDairyTrade auction to the weakest level in almost six years. State-owned Landcorp in October cut its forecast for this year’s operating profit to a range of $1 million to $6 million, from a previous forecast range of $8 million-$12 million, citing weaker milk prices. However the company said it is protected from some of the recent weakness by taking up Fonterra Cooperative Group’s guaranteed milk price. . .

Grass-fed infant formula venture for Synlait:

Canterbury dairy company Synlait is going into partnership with United States company Munchkin to create a new infant formula.

California-based Munchkin has seven offices around the world, and is a leading manufacturer of infant and toddler products.

Synlait’s managing director Doctor John Penno said the unique aspect of this agreement was the product will be grass-fed.

“We’re differentiating inside the farm gate and in a way that really epitomises the very good things about the New Zealand grazing system. . .

Fonterra debate on the wrong track – Andrew Hoggard:

The argument about how well Fonterra is performing is gathering pace. People are claiming there is a bloated management.  We have politicians calling for the CEO to take a pay-cut.  That CEO has just indicated possible redundancies as an outcome of an internal review.

The view seems to be that a number of support roles in New Zealand need to go and be replaced by people in the market.

Pub talk fixes on how many are earning more than what amount, and then assumes that if the pay is slashed the problem is sorted.

I think we sometimes forget how big Fonterra is.  You don’t pay small wages to top people to run a business like that. A far more sensible discussion for us to be having would be on what Fonterra pays in wages as a percentage of turnover. And then break that down by division.  Then compare with other successful dairy co-ops from around the world and see what lessons we can take. . .

Waikato Seasonal Outlook: A new drought and rainy period forecasting system is giving farmers and other primary producer a chance to adjust schedules to improve production and protect investments and livelihoods.

When it comes to climate risks in New Zealand, the bluster and rage of tropical storms can steal the stage. But what has really garnered attention over the last ten years are the recurring droughts some of which have affected not just regional New Zealand but the whole country. These events can flare up quickly, and can cause considerable economic damage and stress to farmers and the ecosystems under their stewardship.

Drought is often insidious and creeping, intensifying over many months, stunting or killing crops and limiting grass growth and quality as it develops, reducing groundwater levels and river flow and drying out water supplies. It represents a more frequently occurring and persistent climate hazards faced by New Zealand. Conversely, extended rainy periods and the occasional extreme rainfall event characterised by excessively high rainfall totals over a short duration and typically covering small geographical areas can lead to their own set of problems for the country. . .

 


Rural round-up

April 7, 2015

Sticky fingered thief nabs hives:

A Taranaki beekeeper has been stung by the theft of 20 hives containing up to a million bees.

Stephen Black said the theft had cost him thousands of dollars. The hives had at least 200 kilograms of honey, which was ready for harvest.

He said they were probably targeted because of the increasing value of manuka honey. . .

Kiwi invention manages polluting cow urine :

On dairy farms around the country, pastures and soil are struggling to absorb vast amounts of cow urine, creating a huge headache for farmers.

An Auckland company believes it has come up with a solution to stop nitrates from cow urine polluting soils and waterways, and also believes it will help farmers save money.

“Dairy farming, although it is bringing enormous benefits to the country’s economy, it is producing more nitrates that are getting into our waterways, so something has to be done,” says Dr Bert Quin.

That is what has led Dr Quin and his business partner, Geoff Bates, to come up with the invention they’ve nicknamed “Spikey”. . .

Zespri completes European planting – Gerard Hutching:

The Mafia is just one of the hazards that Zespri’s European supply manager Callum Kay has to be aware of, but he says its threat is well contained.

Based just south of Rome, Kay manages Zespri’s kiwifruit growing business in Italy and France. About 1400 hectares are planted in Italy, 400 ha in France.

The majority of the kiwifruit in Italy is grown in the Lazio region near Rome, followed by Veneto, Piedmont and Emilia Romagna in the north. About 5 per cent of plantings are in Calabria and Campania, home to the ‘Ndrangheta and Camorra criminal organisations. . .

Visitors increasingly vital for station – Sally Rae:

Lake Ohau Station managers Simon and Liko Inkersell are very aware they live in a special environment.

The 8322ha high country property, on the shores of Lake Ohau, is situated in a spectacular location, with increasing numbers of visitors in the area.

Part of their business was now also bringing people into the area, with the opening of the Lake Ohau Quarters two years ago, and accommodation was becoming a significant part of the operation, Mr Inkersell told an Otago Merino Association field day at the property recently. . .

Landcorp launches new brand – Gerard Hutching:

State-owned enterprise farmer Landcorp has launched a new brand called Pamu to identify its products.

It was a “great modern design” that had been tested with consumers in New Zealand and overeas.Meaning “to farm” in Maori, Pamu was a “fresh, original name which talks to who we are and what we do” said Landcorp chief executive Steve Carden. The cost of the exercise was $65,000.

Carden said the branding was all about adding value to products.

“Consumers are really interested in finding out about products and where they came from,” he said. . .

NMIT ready to harvest new varieties:

New grape varieties planted on Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT)’s Marlborough campus vineyard are ready for their first vintage this year.

 In 2012, NMIT viticulture and wine staff and students began replacing rows of Pinot Noir on the half-hectare on-campus vineyard with several new and classic varieties donated by Riversun Nursery in Gisborne.  They completed further plantings in 2013 and 2014.

NMIT viticulture tutor Glenn Kirkwood says the new varieties have all grown “incredibly well” on the fertile soil, however it remains to be seen how the fruit pans out.

‘FIRB’ screen locks out investors –  David Leyonhjelm:

NEW foreign investment rules for agricultural land purchases will choke farm sales in red tape, says DAVID LEYONHJELM.


I’VE met plenty of farmers my age who are thinking about and planning for the end of their farming days.

Some have succession plans with family members. But many don’t, and their plan is to sell. They’re not sentimental but they have a strong connection with their land, and they know its worth.

They also need to sell at a fair price. They’ve got debts to repay before funding their retirement. After a lifetime of investing in the farm, their superannuation nest egg doesn’t compare with those who have been ‘pay-as-you-go’ employees all their life.

The potential outcome of one who has decided it’s time to sell goes as follows. . .

 


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.

 

 

 


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