Rural round-up

November 12, 2018

Fonterra hopes for collaboration in review of regulating law – Jeremy Rees:

Fonterra has welcomed the review of the law which governs it and urged farmers and shareholders to work with the government to get it right.

At its annual meeting, Fonterra chairman John Monaghan told the 360 farmers in the audience that the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA), which regulated the company was a complex piece of legislation but it was important to get any changes right.

“Let’s be clear. Fonterra’s performance, good or bad, is not driven by DIRA,” he said.

“But an updated DIRA can deliver our shared vision for the future of the New Zealand dairy industry.”

The government began in May a review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 which sets the parameters for Fonterra, the co-operative dairy giant. . . 

Fonterra is under attack from all sides, and now from within, as it grapples with issues that date back to 2001. These restraints allow its competitors to pick away at its good bits. China holds a tariff lever over NZ policymakers – Guy Trafford:

A busy week for Fonterra with the appointment of the two new directors and one still to come. Later today comes the result of the asset review instigated after the poor results from last season.

One of the new directors, Leonie Guiney has made her position plain in September she was quoted saying she wants the company to shift its whole strategy away from investments, like Beingmate and China Farms, which she says are “beyond our capability”.

If Fonterra thought they may get an easier path in the future through a revamp of the DIRA, the indications coming out are any thing to go by they are going to be disappointed. In fact, some are suggesting that the goal posts have been moved further away with a 70% mark as the point which is more likely to trigger a freeing up of some of the constraints the Coop is required to operate under. . .

New directorate to run M bovis programme – Annette Scott:

The new Mycoplasma bovis Response Directorate will provide a more robust model for the ongoing response to the cattle disease.

The directorate has been established after the decision by the Government and industry to try to eradicate M bovis and in consultation with Ministry for Primary Industries staff.

MPI response and readiness director Geoff Gwyn has been appointed to lead the new body.

Gwyn has headed the M bovis response since the cattle disease was found in July 2017. . . .

Swarmstorm design to benefit beekeepers:

Hobby beekeepers could have an alternative product to recollect swarms and maintain bee reproduction rates thanks to the work of Massey University industrial design student Liam Brankin.

The 22 year-old has devised a prototype backpack he calls the Swarmstorm that uses a suction hose, similar to a household vacuum cleaner, to suck and capture bees into a cardboard container before they are transferred to hives to continue the reproduction and honey-producing process.

His design is part of the Exposure graduate exhibition of final year work by design, art, creative media and music students from the College of Creative Arts, which opens at the Wellington campus on Friday.  . . .

Commission authorises extending restrictions on infant formula marketing ;

The Commerce Commission has authorised members of the Infant Nutrition Council Limited to extend the advertising and marketing restrictions in their Code of Practice to cover infant formula products for children aged up to 12 months of age.

Currently, the restrictions only apply to infant formula products for children aged up to six months of age. The INC asked the Commission to authorise the extended advertising and marketing restrictions, as the extended restrictions may lessen competition. . .

Nursery industry congratulate Young Hort 2018 runner-up:

Runner up Young Horticulturalist of the year, Devin Westley, is an extraordinary young man with a huge passion for his work as a nurseryman and innovator in the industry.

His employer, Southern Woods Nursery and the NZ Plant Producers’ Industry are delighted with his placing in the New Zealand Young Horticulturalist 2018 competition.

Devin also took home awards for best practice, practical activities and best speech on the night at the award’s dinner in Auckland last night. . . 


Rural round-up

November 10, 2018

Leonie Guiney election could usher in new direction at Fonterra– Gerard Hutching:

Democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others.

Sometimes messy democracy delivers a result that sends an unmistakable message to the powers that be.

So in electing Leonie Guiney to the Fonterra board, dairy farmers have told their co-operative in no uncertain terms they have had enough of the status quo, and new thinking is needed in the wake of its $196 million loss – the first in its 17-year history.

Her election might not have happened if the board had got its way a few years ago when it was mulling over changes to the way directors were voted in. . . 

Labour-intensive task planting pumpkin field -Yvonne O’Hara:

Raewyn Officer, of Lake Roxburgh Village, intends to plant a 4.5ha block of land with about 30,000 grey pumpkin seeds, by hand, by herself, and she is happy to do so.

She works for Darryl Peirce, of Peirce Orchard (The Pumpkin Place), near Millers Flat, who has leased a 4.5ha paddock that lies between Ettrick and Millers Flat.

When Southern Rural Life spotted Ms Officer planting the seeds by hand on Saturday morning, Mr Peirce had already cultivated the soil and had laid one row of black plastic the length of the paddock, using an attachment on the back of his tractor.

He intended to do the same over the whole block, with each row 2.5m apart. . . 

Trade war means NZ picking sides – Hugh Stringleman:

A strategy is needed for New Zealand to avoid the worst effects of a new cold war between China and the United States, Rabobank Asia-Pacific strategist Michael Every says.

“The new cold war could be potentially earth-shattering for those countries which trade with both sides, forcing them declare allegiance or be told which side to support.”

The odds are strongly in favour of the US-China trade war escalating, Every said. . . 

Prickett takes on role at Pamu – Richard Rennie:

Freshwater campaigner Marnie Prickett has earned herself a seat at the table advising the country’s largest farming company on its environmental policies and direction. As a new member and chairwoman of Pamu’s Environmental Reference Group she intends to continue prodding the state-owned enterprise to greater levels of environmental responsibility, underpinned by a sense of excitement and urgency. She spoke to Richard Rennie.

Marnie Prickett was shoved into the glare of the contentious water quality debate two years ago when she headed the Choose Clean Water campaign. 

While not the first campaign pushing for better water quality around New Zealand it was notable for the way it pitched one heavyweight industry, tourism, against another, the pastoral farming sector.  . . 

Top dog trialist to pass on tips

One of the country’s top dog triallists is to hold a training class for owners of heading and huntaway dogs at the Ida Valley Station woolshed later this month.

Roger Tweed, of Waitahuna, will be providing tips, advice and suggestions during the workshop.

Hosted by the Omakau-Earnscleugh Collie Club, the class will be on November 18, from about 1pm.

Mr Tweed has been involved in the sport for many years. . . 

On the farm: Our guide to what’s happening in rural NZ:

What’s happening on farms and orchards around New Zealand? Each week Country Life reporters talk to people in rural areas across the country to find out.

Te Ika-a-Māui-North Island

Northland is a small tale of woe with no rain during the week, and limited moisture in the past three. Soils are drying out and the spring growth which normally continues into early November, hasn’t. Dargaville farmers are making some silage, but further north that’s not the case. Bull beef farmers are looking most glum they have in 20 years or so when it comes to prices too. . . 

Forget cattle, kangaroos are the future of farming – Christopher Cookson:

Recently, I was across the ditch in Australia for the first time in my life and as you do when you go to a new place, I decided to sample local foods. 

Looking around at meat in the supermarket, I was searching for something that would not drain my bank account and make it as dry as an Aussie farm.

Hiding away in a corner of the supermarket I found something you definitely don’t see in New Zealand: kangaroo meat. . . 


Rural round-up

November 9, 2018

Fonterra board gets controversial voice back – Sally Rae:

Fairlie farmer Leonie Guiney has returned to the Fonterra board, vowing to solve the co-operative’s ”reputational issues”.

Shareholders voted to elect Mrs Guiney and Zespri chairman Peter McBride to the board and they will take office at the close of today’s annual meeting at Fonterra’s Lichfield plant in the Waikato.

Sitting director Ashley Waugh, Maori Television chairman Jamie Tuuta, and John Nicholls were unsuccessful.

Mrs Guiney, who farms near Fairlie and is director of four dairy farming companies, served on the board from 2014 until last year. . . 

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council report questions value-add strategy – Gerard Hutching:

Fonterra has failed to deliver “meaningful returns” on shareholders’ capital since inception in 2001, a new Shareholders Council report says, which questions the value-add strategy.

The much vaunted value-add business has returned only 0.2 per cent a year more than ingredients or commodities, “significantly below the 1.3 per cent a year premium needed to justify the increased risk”.

“This is important because the value-add business units are now using an increasing share of Fonterra’s capital. For the first five years since inception – 2002-06 – the value-add business accounted for 36 per cent of Fonterra’s capital. This has increased to 50 per cent of Fonterra’s capital over the last five years.” . . 

Reducing sediment loss explored at field days – Ella Stokes:

Sediment mitigation was a hot topic at the field days hosted by the Pomahaka Water Care Group last week.

The farmer-led group has an overall target of improving water health – first on farm and also in the Pomahaka River.

Last week, there were three field days held in the West Otago area to explore solutions to reduce sediment loss, which is a major issue in the area.

Landcare Research environmental scientist and Pomahaka Water Care Group (PWCG) co-ordinator Craig Simpson said they had up to 70 people at one of the events. . . 

Youngsters keep old-timers happy – Neal Wallace:

Transforming a run-down farm into a high performance stock unit was satisfying for Ron Davis and Roger Chittock but their greatest pleasure came from seeing youngsters trained on it go on to successful farming careers.

Chittock has spent 37 years and Davis 29 years on the management board of the Salvation Army’s Jeff Farm, a 2630ha sheep, beef and deer property between Clinton and Gore in eastern Southland.

But overseeing the development of the 30,000 stock units farm was only part of their enjoyment.

Jeff Farm’s primary role is to train youth for agricultural careers and the two retiring board members say seeing young people grow and move into industry jobs was immensely satisfying. . . 

Goats ready to earn their keep – Neal Wallace:

Three years ago David Shaw questioned why he was still farming Cashmere goats.

This month garments made from fibre harvested from goats on his south Otago farm will be on sale in a new Untouched World retail store opening in Wanaka.

Potentially, the resurrected cashmere market could take several tonnes of fibre and he believes having about 25,000 Cashmere goats is achievable.

He has 1000 goats on his farm and has readily identified 5000 on other farms that could be crossed with Cashmere bucks. . . 

The apparel industry has rediscovered the wool from corriedale sheep – Heather Chalmers:

Demand from sportswear and fashion companies is sending the price of a previously written-off type of wool to record levels.

This has led the dual-purpose corriedale sheep breed to make a comeback, after many farmers chose to shift to more meat breeds.    

Corriedale wool is in the mid-micron range, coarser than most merino fibre, but far finer than crossbred wool that comprises most of the New Zealand clip. . . 

Five new Nuffield scholars named :

Five Nuffield scholarships have been awarded for 2019. They have gone to two dairy farmers, a sheep and beef farmer, an arable farmer and an analyst.

Ben Hancock was raised on his family’s Wairarapa hill country sheep and beef cattle farm. He now works in Wellington for Beef + Lamb New Zealand as a senior analyst, still near the farm he often returns to.

After working in research and conservation roles in NZ, the United States and Panama Hancock did a doctorate investigating ecosystem services. . . 

 


Rural round-up

November 7, 2018

Farmers re-elect dissident ex-director Leonie Guiney to Fonterra board – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group shareholders have effectively delivered a rebuke to the sitting board by voting to elect outspoken former director Leonie Guiney to the board while failing to support two of three board nominations.

Zespri chairman Peter McBride was also elected to the cooperative’s governance team, but board-backed Maori commercial leader Jamie Tuuta and an incumbent director, Ashleigh Waugh, both failed to gain the 50 percent support required for election to the board, as did self-nominated candidate John Nicholls, leaving one board seat unfilled ahead of Thursday’s annual meeting in Lichfield. . .

Early testing indicates Mycoplasma bovis eradication still possible – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Early results from nationwide bulk milk testing for Mycoplasma bovis suggests eradication remains possible, the Ministry for Primary Industries says.

To date, more than 51,000 of approximately 70,000 tests have been completed and only three farms have been confirmed to have the cattle disease.

Testing to date reinforces the theory the country is facing a single strain of the bacterial infection that affects cows. . .

 

Renewed FTA deal unlikely to bear more benefits for dairy industry – Craig McCulloch:

New Zealand looks highly unlikely to secure a better deal for dairy exporters as part of an improved free trade agreement with China. 

Under the current agreement, New Zealand’s dairy products are hit with higher tariffs once they reach a certain amount.

Those limits automatically expire by 2022 and 2024, but the dairy industry had hoped to bring those dates forward as part of negotiations to upgrade the overall deal. . .

Feds optimistic about local government review:

The thoroughness of an issues paper released today on local government funding and financing is cause for optimism, Federated Farmers President Katie Milne says.

“The Productivity Commission’s paper sets out key topics as it investigates what drives local government costs now and into the foreseeable future, and invites people to comment on the shortcomings of current systems, as well as suggest alternatives. . .

Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year 2019 nominations now open:

As Dairy Women’s Network nears the end of its 20th anniversary, it’s launching into its next celebration by announcing the opening of nominations for the 2019 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year.

Next year will mark the eighth year for the prestigious award which celebrates women who have made outstanding contributions to New Zealand’s dairy industry.

Dairy Women’s Network CEO Jules Benton says with 2019 her first Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year Awards as CEO, she’s looking forward to celebrating the leadership and diversity of women in the dairy industry.

Research forum helps build New Zealand’s primary sector workforce:

The Primary Industry Capability Alliance (PICA) is set to host a one-day research forum for organisations, businesses and government agencies interested in building the human capability of New Zealand’s primary sectors.

Delegates will be updated with the latest analysis, research and various initiatives relating to the sector’s workforce. “For our primary sectors to continue leading the world,” PICA’s CEO Michelle Glogau says, “we need to attract and retain a diverse range of people with different talents in a diverse range of roles. Robotics engineers, geneticists, farm managers…We need 50,000 more people to join the sector by 2025.” . . 


Guiney election sends message to Fonterra

November 7, 2018

Fonterra shareholders have sent a clear message to the Fonterra board with the re-election of Leonie Guiney:

Discarded former Fonterra board member Leonie Guiney has side-stepped the official selection process to win farmer backing to regain her seat.

She will be joined by retiring Zespri chairman Peter McBride. The other candidates incumbent director Ashley Waugh, approved candidate Jamie Tuuta and independent John Nicholls failed to get the required 50% approval so another election will be held to fill the one seat still vacant. 

The failure for any of these three to get the necessary 50% support indicates that many shareholders voted tactically – voting for only one or two of the successful candidates to ensure they got through.

Guiney, a Fairlie farmer and director of four farming companies served on Fonterra’s board from 2014 to 2017 but then failed to gain approval to stand again through the co-op’s selection process. McBride lives at Te Puna and has farming interests in Waikato and Bay of Plenty. He has extensive experience in the kiwifruit industry and has recently announced that he will step down as chairman of Zespri in February.

A lot of shareholders aren’t happy with the way the board controls who can stand and many weren’t impressed when Leonie wasn’t approved to stand again.

On top of that is the company’s performance which is causing considerable angst.

This result shows shareholders are far from happy.

The board already has a new chair and acting chief executive who have clearly signaled a need for change.

The election result gives a mandate for that and a very clear message that shareholders are looking for significant improvements.

 


Rural round-up

October 25, 2018

Formerly gagged Fonterra director seeks re-election – Sally Rae:

Former gagged Fonterra director Leonie Guiney says she can see very clearly how to solve the co-operative’s “reputational issues”.

The South Canterbury dairy farmer is seeking election to the board in this year’s director elections through the self-nomination process.

Mrs Guiney recently settled a defamation claim against the Fonterra board, over a letter the board sent Fonterra’s 10,000-odd farmer-shareholders explaining why it had sought a court injunction gagging her from speaking about the business.

She left the board last year after serving three years. She said she departed because she was prevented from re-contesting her seat when it came up by rotation, the New Zealand Herald reported. . . 

Transforming a ‘nasty little wet farm’ into an award winner:

When you talk to Matamata dairy farmers Rod and Sandra McKinnon about environmental sustainability it’s easy to understand why the couple won the 2017/18 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

When Rod and Sandra McKinnon bought a 44-hectare farm near Matamata in 1992 some people thought they were crazy.

‘I remember someone describing it as a ‘nasty little wet farm’, but it had a stream and some native bush and we could see the potential”, says Sandra.

Fast forward 26 years and following some serious hard work and expansion the farm (now 194-hectares, milking 400 cows on 155-hectares effective) is an award winner, with Rod and Sandra taking out the supreme title at the 2017/18 Waikato Ballance Farm Environmental Awards. . .

NZ Shareholders Association to vote against Wrightson’s sale:

The New Zealand Shareholders’ Association will vote against the $434 million sale of PGG Wrightson’s seeds division to a Danish cooperative.

The retail investor lobby says the mostly cash offer from DLF Seeds is attractive at face value, with a $292 million capital return attached. However, that short-term gain will shrink Wrightson to less than half its current size and leave it holding businesses inferior to the grains and seeds division.

“It seems to us that if shareholders accept DLF’s offer, they will potentially lose in the long run unless PGW can pull a rabbit out of the hat and grow the rump business,” the Shareholders’ Association said.

Discerning customers drive demand for West Coast butter:

New Zealand sales of Westgold butter have just soared past the three million mark, on the back of a consumer shift towards more natural fats.

Produced in Hokitika by Westland Milk Products, Westgold is marketed as the ‘everyday gourmet butter’. It appeared in nearly a quarter of Kiwi fridges last year, and Westgold’s salted butter was the third most purchased butter in North Island New World supermarkets, according to recent Nielsen data. . .

Allbirds: the billion dollar eco trainers brand that’s about to take London by storm – Chloe Street:

Two years ago, San Francisco-based sustainable sneakers brand Allbirds launched with one style of shoe: the Wool Runner; a pair of minimal, slightly fuzzy lace-up trainers crafted from superfine merino wool.

They were the first trainers ever to have been made from the material, and in the first week of trading, Time magazine wrote a splashy article billing them ‘the world’s most comfortable shoes.’

Customers – including half of Silicon Valley’s tech bros – and investors – including the likes of Leonardo Dicaprio – came in droves. Fast-forward two years and the company, who recently sold its millionth pair, has just raised an additional $50 million in funding, valuing it at over $1 billion.

Drystock farm offers a sweet opportunity :

A coastal sheep and beef farm – which also sustains an eco’ tourism business and commercial honey-production venture – has been placed on the market for sale.

Kawakawa Station at Ngawi near Cape Palliser on the south-eastern tip of the North Island is a 1,379 hectare waterfront property traditionally capable of carrying approximately 5115 stock units over winter. As well as running the freehold block, Kawakawa Station also leases some 785 hectares of adjoining hillside grazing land to feed the Romney herd. . . 

Substantial breeding and finishing farms go up for sale:

 A pair of adjoining sheep and beef breeding and finishing blocks – being run as one substantial farming operation serviced by its own airfield and fantastic laneway system – has been placed on the market for sale.

Combined, the two farms near Dannevirke in the Southern Hawke’s Bay encompass a total of 1,738 hectares of rolling countryside fenced into some 160 paddocks, and known as Rolling Downs Station. . . 

 


Rural round-up

September 25, 2018

Counting sheep a new challenge for Northland science students:

Counting sheep is often touted as a remedy to help troubled sleepers nod off.

But for Whangarei Boys’ High School students, counting sheep has become part of the curriculum.

Two classes of Year 11 science students are studying a learning module called ‘Keep calm and count sheep’.

The resource examines the nutritional requirements of ewes and the factors that influence sheep growth rates. . .

Strawberry crisis: How NZ growers can prevent ‘crisis contagion’ – Daniel Laufer:

The reputation of New Zealand’s strawberry industry could be contaminated by the needles found in Australian fruit, but our growers can still minimise the damage, writes Daniel Laufer.

New Zealand strawberry growers face a challenging situation with the tampering of Australian strawberries. How can they convince consumers to continue buying strawberries, despite the highly publicised incidents of needles in strawberries grown in Australia?

The issue has made the headlines here in New Zealand with the first reported case yesterday of tampered Australian imported strawberries in an Auckland supermarket. . .

Major fresh produce traceability project underway in New Zealand:

In light of the recent shocking Australian strawberry tampering event, the New Zealand produce industry is taking every action possible to reassure customers their safety systems are robust.

United Fresh is the New Zealand pan-produce organisation that is currently leading a major New Zealand-led project reviewing traceability systems in our produce sector. . .

Final candidates for Fonterra elections announced:

Following the completion of the Self Nomination Process for the 2018 Directors’ Election Process, there are five candidates standing for three places on the Fonterra Board in 2018.

Peter McBride, Jamie Tuuta and Ashley Waugh were announced two weeks ago as the Independent Nomination Process candidates. All three candidates were nominated by the Fonterra Board after being recommended by the Independent Selection Panel. The process for their nomination was supported by the Shareholders’ Council in accordance with the Independent Nomination Process . .

Outspoken Fonterra critic launches campaign for board seatB –Nikki Mandow

Sept. 24 (BusinessDesk) – Outspoken former Fonterra director Leonie Guiney, who was temporarily gagged by the cooperative after losing her seat on the board last year, is seeking re-election in November.

Guiney, who has strongly criticised the strategy that led to Fonterra investing approximately $1.5 billion in now-failing assets like Beingmate and China Farms, is one of two self-nominated candidates. There are three official board nominees, and three places available. . .

Dairy co-operatives struggle without retained earnings – Keith Woodford:

Currently there are three dairy co-operatives in New Zealand – Fonterra, Westland and Tatua.  The first two are struggling for capital, whereas the third, the tiny Tatua, has been an ongoing success story of prosperity.

The essence of the difference lies in retained earnings and their productive use.

Comparative statistics for the three co-operatives are available for the six years from 2010/11 through to 2016/17. In that time Fonterra retained a total of 70c of capital per kg milksolids, Westland retained 84c, and Tatua retained $4.85. Those numbers spell it out in spades. . .

FarmIQ powers Farmlands’ SafeFarm:

New Zealand’s most comprehensive farm management software provider has partnered with the country’s largest farmer retail co-operative, Farmlands, to launch SafeFarm, a complete Health and Safety software system designed with New Zealand farmers in mind.

SafeFarm is built on FarmIQ’s software platform, utilising much of the mapping, recording, reporting and analytical capabilities inherent in FarmIQ.

The SafeFarm software package is available free of charge to Farmlands’ shareholders. Users of the application can seamlessly upgrade and trial FarmIQ’s newly launched range of farm management subscriptions from within SafeFarm. . .

 

The original performance fibre merino wool proves its natural function for transseasonal delivery – Louisa Smith:

As the original performance fiber, wool, in particular merino wool, has reemerged as a key contender for the sports and outdoors market. Natural, recyclable and also biodegradable, it is fast becoming a key contender for its breathability, thermal regulation and anti-odor, all inherent functions that appeal to the consumer, combined with its natural DNA.

Sustainability is a key factor through recycling and biodegradable functionality

Natural fibers, including cotton and silk are entering the performance sector, but for merino wool, the anti-odor benefits give it a heads up as this becomes a major trend in the sports and outdoors sector. Not just for the elimination of nasty body odors after high impact activity, but also a reduction in home launderings that benefit and environmentally friendly approach. . .


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