Rural round-up

October 22, 2015

Dear Consumer: They tell me not to get angry.  But If I am honest, sometimes I do. – Uptown Girl:

Dear Concerned Consumer,

The marketing research tells me that I should focus on the positive when I address you.   I shouldn’t talk about the environment, or the health of my soil – they say you do not care about those things.

They tell me not to discuss the challenge of feeding the world.  I should not detail the challenges of feeding my own family on a farmer’s income, with ever rising input costs, unpredictable weather patterns and buyer preferences that change with the direction of the wind.  They tell me this doesn’t register with you. . . 

Dairy downturn costs NZ economy $4.8 billion – Gerald Piddock:

The full scale of the dairy downturn nationally has been revealed after new statistics showed a $4.9 billion fall in dairy-related income from the 2014-15 season.

The statistics from DairyNZ showed the value of milk production to the national economy dropped from $18.1b in 2013-14 to $13.2b in 2014-15.

Waikato has taken a $1.8b loss in dairy revenue, from $4.2b to $2.4b over the same period. . . 

Good practice – good farm – Andrew Hoggard:

The Sustainable Dairying: Workplace Action Plan launched last week at Lincoln is the roadmap to achieving the dairy industry’s work environment objectives.

It is part of  an original initiative developed in 2013 by Federated Farmers and DairyNZ and aims to encourage good employment practice by dairy farmers

Whether we like it or not the dairy industry suffers from a perception problem when it comes to employment practices.

Some of that perception is based on the fact that it’s a dirty job and you need to get up early. We can’t do much to change that. . . 

Hilgendorf legacy marked:

Charlotte Hilgendorf, left, Prue Frost, Jane von Dadelszen, and Henrietta Scott, a granddaughter and three great-granddaughters of pioneering New Zealand plant scientist, Lincoln University’s Professor Frederick William Hilgendorf, were given the plaque from the campus building named after him which is being demolished, at a lunch last week at the University.

Some of the history and architectural features of the building was presented to the family members, as well as some stories from those who worked in it. . . 

Minerality mysteries remain:

Ongoing wine research by Dr Wendy Parr of Lincoln University indicates that while minerality is not a figment of tasters’ sensorial imagination, the source of the perception remains a mystery, and the description should be used with caution in formal wine tasting and judging situations.

Minerality’ is used by wine professionals to describe the character of certain wines, with vague references made to wet stones, crushed rock and soil. Regarded variously as a taste, a smell, a trigeminal (mouth-feel) sensation, or all three, until now there’s been little agreement on what is actually meant by this common but enigmatic term, or whether it even exists. 

Intrigued by the lack of scientific knowledge and the plethora of anecdotal evidence around minerality, Dr Parr collaborated with scientists in France and at Plant and Food Research in New Zealand to investigate what the concept means in Sauvignon Blanc wines, and whether there are cultural differences in perceptions of minerality. . . 


Rat detected on Ulva Island:

A rat has invaded predator-free Ulva Island/Te Wharawhara off the coast of Stewart Island, the Department of Conservation says.

Rat prints were first detected on a tracking card near the Post Office Bay houses as part of a routine tracking card and trap check.

Rodent detecting dog Gadget and her handler Sandy King found signs of a rat in two areas after checking the island. . . 

Rural city living in Gore – Tracy Hicks:

In late 2013 Gore district councillors, still feeling pretty chuffed with the results from the local body elections, gathered for the traditional post-election retreat.

With our three-year term stretching ahead of us, little did anyone realise that what we were about to hear would significantly impact on our decision making.

A talk by leading demographer Prof Natalie Jackson was the catalyst we needed to stop talking about what we could do to make a difference to our future, and actually start doing something. . . .

Rural round-up

October 1, 2015

To the woman riding in my husband’s combine – Uptown Farms:

To the woman riding in my husband’s combine on a sales call,

I wouldn’t have thought much about you before last night.  Chances are, if you had tried to call on my husband and ride along in his combine I wouldn’t have known about it.  Most likely I would have been on a different farm, with a different farmer, trying to do my job in the same way you are doing yours.

I didn’t think of you before – but now I will.  Last night I read a post from a woman who was upset that a young, presumably attractive female, made a sales call to the farm – and rode in the cab of the combine with the farmer (the poster’s husband).  

For anyone not in the industry, it may sound funny that you would get into a combine with a customer. This time of year, the combine often acts as an office.  People who need to see the farmer go to the field and are often invited to ride along while they keep working.  Roughly 70% of the time that farmer will be a man.  

Women poured out of the woodwork to attack the sales rep, calling her unprofessional, unthoughtful, disrespectful and worse. . . 

Turning point for red meat sector – Allan Barber:

The Shanghai Maling Aquarius offer for 50% of Silver Fern Farms may not be the restructuring catalyst that MIE and some shareholders of both cooperatives were hoping for, but it certainly presages a dramatic change in the industry’s dynamics.

Assuming a positive shareholder vote on 16th October, for the first time in years all the major processors will have relatively strong balance sheets and will be in a position to compete on an equal basis. This is unlikely to bring about an immediate change in livestock procurement calculations, but different companies will progressively move to payments based on quality and specifications supplied for individual markets.

For too long the meat industry has been affected by an excess of processing capacity, under-capitalisation, procurement battles, inadequate market returns and, as a consequence of all this, falling livestock volumes. The recapitalisation of the country’s largest meat company potentially provides a solution to several if not all of these problems. . . 

Silver Fern receives an offer it can’t refuse – Allan Barber:

No wonder the deal between Silver Fern farms and Shanghai Mailing took so long to conclude, but from all appearances it was worth waiting for. Not that you would necessarily think so, if you read about the disappointment of some shareholders and the MIE group about the board’s unwillingness to give serious consideration to an alternative farmer offer of $40 million or some of the business commentary.

Going back several years, SFF wanted $120 million from its shareholders, hoped for $80 million and actually received $22 million. Nothing has really changed since then – good and bad years have followed each other, as livestock numbers and market prices fluctuated and the business struggled under a huge debt burden. . . 

Value-add key to improved returns for shareholders – Westland Milk Products:

Continuing its move into more value-added production is the best strategy to ensure shareholders competitive and sustainable returns Westland Milk Products says, as the co-operative confirmed a company average operating surplus available to shareholders for the 2014-15 season of $4.95 per kilo of milk solids (kgMS), before retentions.

Chief Executive Rod Quin says Westland, like dairy companies globally, has been adversely impacted by the “significantly lower” market prices in the last season, with total group revenue for the financial year 2014-15 down 23 percent on the previous year, at NZ$639 million.

However he says there is room for cautious optimism for an improvement and, accordingly, Westland has increased its forecast payout for the 2015-16 season by 30 cents to $4.90 – $5.30 per kgMS. . . 

Identifying insect species crucial to protect the environment:

Students at Lincoln University are covering the length and breadth of New Zealand to discover new insect species and keep ahead of potential threats to agriculture and the environment.

Bio-Protection Research Centre students, Francesco Martoni, Samuel Brown and Hamish Patrick have visited mountains, grasslands and forests to collect insect specimens. They have identified about 50 new species.

“This research, to understand what [insects] are present in New Zealand, is vital for us to recognise any change. Especially if it involves the introduction of species that may become pests, or spread disease,” says Dr Karen Armstrong, a Senior Researcher at Lincoln University, and the students’ supervisor.

“The only way to stay ahead of this, and to detect damaging interactions, is to know what is here. And for that, we need to produce experts in traditional taxonomy who are also trained to use modern technological approaches to describe and discover [insect species],” says Dr Armstrong. . .

Initiative gives support to rural schools:

Canterbury’s rural primary schools have been given a welcome boost, thanks to the support of local farmers and fertiliser company, Hatuma Dicalcic Phosphate Ltd.

The initiative, calls on farmers to nominate a school that they feel could benefit from Hatuma’s ‘Growing Minds’ fund. Over the last six years, Hatuma has donated over $30,000 to New Zealand’s rural schools through the programme.

One such beneficiary of the fund is Glentunnel School in mid-Canterbury, which attracted huge support from farmers. . . 

Chinese developer harvests first crop in Western Australia’s remote Ord Valley – Tom Edwards:

The Chinese-backed company developing the Ord River Irrigation Area in Western Australia’s east Kimberley is harvesting its first crop.

Kimberley Agricultural Investment is halfway through harvesting 360 hectares of chia in the Goomig farmland of Ord Stage 2.

Farm manager Luke McKay said it was an exciting milestone for the company and for the Ord agricultural zone in general.

“There’s been a fair bit of interest obviously, a lot of excitement about getting to this point,” he said. . . 

Wine Industry welcomes progress with South Korea Trade Deal

New Zealand Winegrowers welcomes news that the Tariff Amendment Bill was passed through Parliament on Friday, a big step towards implementing the Free Trade Agreement with South Korea.

The negotiators have achieved a great outcome for the wine industry, said Philip Gregan, ‘tariff free access into South Korea at the time the agreement comes into force represents a significant boost to our export ambitions in one of the key Asian markets.’ . . 

More Veterans Set to Go From Protecting America to Feeding America – Nicole Mormann:

For 200,000 U.S. service members transitioning out of the military each year, returning to civilian life will mean trading in their combat boots for a tractor and rubber galoshes, thanks to new farming-focused job-training programs created by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Last week, the USDA and the Department of Defense announced that agriculture will be one of the industries in which the government will provide career assistance and counseling programs to service members finishing their term of enlistment.

The program will give veterans the opportunity to gain farming skills through classroom instruction and registered apprenticeships from experienced farmers. In addition to educational opportunities, the USDA will offer financial assistance to beginning farmers or ranchers who lack the funds to purchase necessary farming equipment, land, livestock, and other resources. Returning service members are also eligible for housing support programs, which can range from repair loans to emergency placement assistance. . . 


Rural round-up

September 8, 2015

Passion for irrigation still runs deep – Sally Rae:

Dave Finlay describes himself simply as ”an irrigation man”.

Ingrained in his memory is his time farming a dryland property at Windsor, in North Otago, battling drought and having to sell his sheep in drought sales. It was, he recalls, ”nightmarish stuff”’.

Those challenging times resulted in him later become a driving force behind irrigation development in North Otago.

At 78, Mr Finlay shows no signs of slowing down, as he continues working as a rural sales consultant for PGG Wrightson Real Estate in Oamaru. . . 

Retailers’ revenge could slow dairy recovery:

While wholesale milk prices may be on their way up, we need to be aware of “retailers’ revenge”.

Lincoln University Agribusiness and Food Marketing Programme Director Nic Lees says two things need to happen for the market prices to recover to anywhere near previous levels.

“Retail prices need to fall to stimulate consumer demand and global supply needs to be reduced. Both of these take some time to occur.

“We are starting to see the milk tap being turned off with farmers’ globally selling cull cows and reducing supplement, and plans for future expansion and conversion are being put on hold.” . . 

Farm kids less likely to have asthma:

A new discovery has found that kids who grow up on farms are less likely to develop asthma and have a bigger immunity to allergies than the average city slicker.

It’s the kind of discovery that could completely change how we treat asthma in the future.

Nanotech scientist Michelle Dickinson joined Paul Henry this morning to explain how and why this is.

She says the study shows that farm dust in young children under the age of two can protect them from allergies later in life. . . 


Last few days to vote in 2015 Sheepmeat and Beef Levy Referendum:

There is still a significant number of farmers yet to vote in the 2015 Sheepmeat and Beef Levy Referendum before it closes on Thursday this week (10 September).

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman, James Parsons said as of this morning 5,195 farmers (30 per cent of registered farmers) had cast their vote.

“It’s really important for the organisation that it has a strong mandate from farmers if they want Beef + Lamb New Zealand working for them in the next six years. . . 

Members sought for forest levy board:

Nominations are open for members of the Forest Growers Levy Trust board. There are vacancies for two members representing owners of large forests and one representing owners of smaller forests.

This is the first election since a commodity levy was applied to harvested plantation logs in January 2014. The levy raised $7.96 million in 2014 for activities that benefit all forest owners, including research, forest health, safety and training.

“Half of the six elected board members have retired this year after only one year in office. This sets in motion a rotational retirement policy for directors that will see half their number retiring every second year after a four-year term,” says trust chair Geoff Thompson. . . 

Dairy Graziers proactivity will stave off cost:

As the fallout from the steep decline in global diary prices spreads, Crowe Horwath agribusiness specialist Haylee Preston is advising dairy graziers to be proactive to avoid being out-of-pocket this coming season.

“With budgets under pressure from severely restricted cash flows, dairy farmers are moving to cut costs, with many looking to tweak their farming systems accordingly,” says Preston.

“In many farming operations, supplementary feed and grazing are a significant cost when it comes to production,” indicates Preston. “This means they will be some of the most closely scrutinised costs given the current drive to save.” . . 

Farm Environment Competition Pays Off For Young Taranaki Farmers:

Sami and Laura Werder are young and enthusiastic farmers with big plans for improving the sustainability of their new Taranaki sheep and beef farm. So entering the 2015 Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards was a great way to check their plans were on the right track.

The Werders bought their 378ha breeding and finishing property at Huiroa, east of Stratford, two years ago and are currently in the process of developing the farm through subdivision, improved access and a new water system.

“We were both raised on farms and we were lucky to have help from family to get into our own farm,” says Sami, a former rural banker. . . 

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Annual Report 2015:

The Ballance Agri-Nutrients Limited Annual Report for the year ended 31 May 2015 is now available online at

Our interactive report includes video content and links to additional resources, as well as access to our full financial statements. . . 

Farmers can cut nitrogen loss with new N-Protect:

Farmers facing warm and dry conditions and who need to minimise losses of nitrogen into the air, have a new tool in the toolbox thanks to Ravensdown.

The co-operative’s new N-Protect has a urease inhibitor coating around the urea granule to reduce nitrogen loss to the atmosphere, otherwise known as volatilisation. This can lead to more growth-giving nitrogen kept available for the plant enabling production gains in a critical season for farmers facing El Nino conditions.

“Our advice has always been that there are several ways to ‘skin the N-loss cat’. These range from good management practice to urease inhibiting products like new N-Protect,” explained Lloyd Glenny, Fertiliser Product Manager at Ravensdown. . . 

Be careful with cheap grass seed:

Think twice before buying cheap pasture seed this spring – you may well get more (or less) than you bargained for, and not in a good way.

That’s the advice to farmers looking to save money re-sowing paddocks left bare after winter crop.

With poor germination, high weed content and/or minimal endophyte, cheap seed almost always works out to be anything but cheap at the best of times, pasture experts say.

“It’s even more of a false economy when cash is tight, because farmers need all the good grazing they can get,” says Agriseeds’ Graham Kerr. “No-one can afford paddocks to fail this spring.”

His advice? “Concentrate on sowing a smaller area of land, better. Use proprietary pasture seed which has guaranteed purity, germination and endophyte, so you know what you’re really planting, and do the best job possible of getting it into the ground so it establishes well.” . . 

Rural round-up

September 5, 2015

Rumours of Silver Fern Farms China deal – Sally Rae:

Farmers have been urged not to be ”seduced” by short-term gains as rumours swirl that an announcement by Silver Fern Farms of a 50-50 joint venture with a Chinese company is imminent.

Heriot farmer Allan Richardson, who has led a group of shareholders seeking a meeting to discuss a possible merger with Alliance Group, believed foreign ownership of the co-operative was ”just around the corner”.

Mr Richardson expected Silver Fern Farms could make an announcement to farmers within the next week. . .

Stick to your guns Mr Groser – Andrew Hoggard:

When examining the current low dairy payout there are a number of factors that come into play.

One overriding issue is the protected nature of dairy trade throughout the world. For some strange reason, dairy seems to be one of the most protected food commodities.

This high level of protection means there is only a small global market for dairy products that are freely traded and so, if we get even the slightest market shock, you get quite a big price fluctuation whether it’s up or down.

For me, this emphasises how critically important breaking down trade barriers are for New Zealand’s prosperity not only on farm, but for all those regional economies that rely so heavily on agriculture. . . 

Farmers fear return to ‘desert’ conditions:

A farmer in the heart of the North Canterbury drought says a prolonged dry spell brought on by El Niño will put already struggling farmers in dire straits.

Vince Daily, who runs a 160 hectare cropping farm in Cheviot, said the NIWA weather station on his farm showed the soil moisture level was at 30 percent, rather than the normal 100 percent it is at at this time of year.

Mr Daily said any drought caused by El Niño would just be a continuation of the current conditions.

“We could lose 2 or 3 percent moisture a day and in 20 days you could be back to looking like a desert again,” he said. . .

Building a talent pipeline with New Zealand Young Farmers:

Being part of a TeenAg club at high school kept Northland teenager Sam Moscrip in school longer than he had intended, and it has opened him up to many new possibilities in the primary industries.

The TeenAg club format has been developed by New Zealand Young Farmers as a way for younger people to get started with the movement.

Young Farmers are taking a “pipeline” approach, explains NZYF chief executive Terry Copeland, developing a format to suit each age group around the Young Farmers set-up. New Zealand Young Farmers has existed for more than 80 years and is for people aged 16 to 31. . .

Decision time for dairy support farmers – Rick Powdrell:

As the New Zealand dairy industry has expanded rapidly in recent years so too has the dairy support farm.

So what is the dairy downturn going to mean for the dairy support farmer?

This is an important question which needs some serious thought by both sides of the industry.

Already we have seen many dairy animals not go out to the previously arranged winter feed.

Thankfully for those farmers who had grown this feed, the Mainland drought and North Island floods meant there was an alternative option to sell it. . . 

Calf rearing popular again – Tim Fulton:

Rearing calves on weight gain has leapt back into fashion on dairy units around the country.

A beef-cross calf reared to 100kg may have netted a dairy farmer $400-$500 this season, PGG Wrightson general manager of livestock Peter Moore said.

“If you look over the country there’s been a lot more calves reared than in the past,” he said.Farmers were rearing good Friesian bull calves or the male offspring of Angus or Hereford cows mated late in previous seasons. . .

Wool world record: 40kg fleece shorn off overgrown sheep RSPCA says:

Wool shorn off an overgrown sheep found near Canberra on Wednesday has set an “unofficial” world record for the heaviest fleece removed in one shearing, the RSPCA says.

The sheep, dubbed Chris, underwent a risky shearing operation to remove 40.45 kilograms of wool.

It smashed the previous world record held by a sheep in New Zealand called Shrek, whose fleece weighed 27 kilograms. . .

NZ wool trades at record high amid tight supply – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand wool is trading at record high prices, pushed up by strong demand and limited supply, though the outlook is murky.

The price for clean 29-micron wool changed hands at a record $10.45 a kilogram at yesterday’s North Island auction, up from $9.95/kg at the previous North Island auction on Aug. 13, according to AgriHQ. Meanwhile, the price for 27-micron wool jumped to $10.90/kg, up from $10.70/kg at the previous North Island auction and at its highest level since October 2002, AgriHQ said. . . 

Solutions sought for saving summer fruit:

Combating pests and diseases of tree-based crops and summer fruits was the target of the latest MG Marketing ‘Growing You’ workshop held recently at Lincoln.

MG Marketing, a co-operative organization that has over 90 year of successful record of growing, distributing and selling a comprehensive range of fresh vegetables and fruit, in collaboration with Lincoln University, the Biological Husbandry Unit (BHU) and the Bio-protection Research Centre (BPRC) developed workshops for growers and commercial operators from all around New Zealand to advance their scientific knowledge and practical skills.

About 20 of MG Marketing’s top growers from diverse operations such as cherries, feijoa, raspberry, citrus, and tree-based fruits, from across New Zealand travelled to Lincoln for the workshop. . . 

Rural round-up

August 21, 2015

Reducing waste to feed the world:

A 2013 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) agreement to reduce food waste by 10 percent across the region is picking up pace as researchers and technical team members work towards their 2017 goal of developing effective strategies and actions to address urgent global food waste issues.

A third of the edible parts of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. That translates into about 1.3 billion ton per year. Lincoln University Associate Professor James Morton says reducing food waste is the logical first step in meeting the needs of a growing world population, which is predicted to reach nine billion by 2050. He recently attended the second of three APEC ‘Multi-Year Project’ meetings focused on addressing global food waste, where he spoke around the need to measure and reduce wastage in the livestock chain. . . 

Democracy, apathy or revolution – Allan Barber:

MIE has to be given credit for its persistence with its campaign to persuade Silver Fern Farms and Alliance to look seriously at the benefits of merging as opposed to continuing to beat their respective heads against the brick wall of competition. But the outcome depends on several planets aligning at the same time.

The present state of flux exists because of the uncertainty surrounding the results of SFF’s capital raising exercise, still to be announced at the time of writing, the outcome of two special general meetings called by a minimum of 5% of the shareholders in the cooperatives, and last but not least, the attitude of the majority of those shareholders.

The latest step in this process is the concept of Newco – the Visionary Meat Cooperative which expands on the Big Red proposal contained originally in MIE’s Pathways to Long-term Sustainability report launched in April. There is more detailed financial analysis in the latest concept plan which implies a net profit of $92.4 million in the fourth year after merger compared with a combined profit of $6.7 million if the companies remain separate. . . 

Revolutionary new trawling method improves quality of catch:

A revolutionary new sustainable trawling method is showing great potential for increasing the value of New Zealand’s fisheries by more than $43 million per year by 2025, industry leaders heard in Wellington today.

The Precision Seafood Harvesting (PSH) technology known as a Modular Harvest System (MHS) is a potential replacement for traditional fishing methods. Using a large flexible PVC liner with specifically sized holes along its length, it allows undersized fish to escape before being brought on board a fishing vessel. In addition, the fish that are brought on board stay in good condition because they are still swimming in the liner when they’re on the deck, resulting in less stress and reduced likelihood of injury. . . 

Seizing the global opportunities for New Zealand seafood:

The growing global demand for environmentally sustainable, natural, healthy food offers great opportunities for the New Zealand seafood industry, Seafood New Zealand Chairman George Clement says.

Speaking at the New Zealand Seafood Industry Conference in Wellington today, Mr Clement referred to the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) prediction that global food production will need to increase by 40 per cent by 2030 and seventy per cent by 2050.

Growth in global seafood production (3.2 per cent annually) continues to outpace population growth (1.6 per cent annually), he said. . . 

New Zealand fish stocks performing well:

New Zealand’s fisheries are performing well overall, Dr Pamela Mace, the Principal Advisor Fisheries Science, with the Ministry for Primary Industries said today.

She was providing an update on the status of New Zealand’s marine fisheries at the New Zealand Seafood Industry conference.

“New Zealand’s fisheries are performing extremely well overall, at least as good as or beyond the standard of the best in the world,” she said. . . 

New Role Encourages Home Grown Talent:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Genetics has appointed Dr Phillip Wilcox as its inaugural senior lecturer in quantitative genetics* at the University of Otago.

Dr Wilcox has a background in molecular and quantitative genetics and comes from the forestry-focused Crown Research Institute, Scion, where he was a senior scientist. He was also a part-time senior research fellow with the University of Otago’s Department of Biochemistry, working in the field of human genetics. . . 

Seeka Kiwifruit Industries Six Months to 30 June 2015 [Unaudited]:

Directors and management are pleased to present Seeka’s financial results for the six months to 30 June 2015. It was a challenging six months for the Company with a fire significantly damaging Seeka’s Oakside post-harvest facility just prior to harvest, then having to focus on managing a record 27.7m trays of kiwifruit; the first major lift in production since 2011’s previous high of 27.1m trays.

Profits are up. Profit before tax this half year is ahead of the previous corresponding period (pcp) by $2.87m [+115%] at $5.36m, reflecting record kiwifruit volumes handled by post-harvest along with good earnings achieved by the orchard division. The half year results include an allowance for the full second year cost of the three-year grower share scheme totalling $2.55m. . . .

Ballance Farm Environment Awards good for farmers and good for the industry, say Horizons entrants:

Halcombe dairy farmers George and Ellen Bartlett entered the 2015 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) because they wanted to support their industry and learn more about sustainability.

Winning three category awards in their first time in the competition was a bonus for the Bartletts, who run a 950-cow operation on 526ha north of Feilding.

“We certainly didn’t expect to win anything,” says Ellen, “we entered because we wanted to find out what we were doing right and what things we could improve on in future. We also felt it was important to support the awards because they do such a great job of showcasing the good work being done by farmers.” . . 

Share Farmer Contest Heralds New Era:

The 2016 Share Farmer of the Year competition has big boots to fill – taking over from the highly regarded sharemilker competition.

New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Executive Chair Gavin Roden says the Share Farmer of the Year is a hybrid of the sharemilker competition, with changes that better position it within the dairy industry’s evolving farm ownership and employment structures.

“We think the changes will make the contest better and enable more people to enter and gain the benefits from entering. . . 

Wanaka lake weed reduced by two thirds:

Lake Wanaka is healthier than it has been in decades, thanks to weed control work led by Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), Minister for Land Information Louise Upston said today.

“In 2005, LINZ and a number of other agencies developed a 10-year strategy to deal with lagarosiphon. A decade on, two-thirds of the lake is clear of the aquatic weed, and LINZ is ready to begin the next phase of control work.

“These results show how LINZ’s collaboration with others is helping protect New Zealand’s iconic landscapes and waterways,” Ms Upston said. . . 

Rural round-up

August 17, 2015

More women working NZ farms – Suzette Howe:

New Zealand is seeing a rise in the number of women working in farming. For years farming has been mainly viewed as a man’s world, but the tide is turning.

Nestled away on a north Canterbury farm, Louisa McClintock is not your average teenage girl. At just 17 she’s fallen in love with farming. She has quit school and is taking up the reins of her granddad’s farm.

“Everyone thought I was going to stay at school till year 13 and do the whole nine yards and go to uni, but I don’t think there’s anything I’d rather be doing; farming is it,” she says. . . 

Getting through the tough times – Andrew Hoggard:

We at least now know where we are with the much anticipated Fonterra forecast payment.  A price of $3.85 per kilo of milk solids is a real shocker.  There’s not going to be many farmers making anything on that payout.

That said, what can realistically be done about helping farmers through the tough times ahead for at least the next few months?

First, there is the no brainer stuff.  Talk to the bank manager.  Talk to advisers.  Put a bit more effort into communication with the family – they will be feeling the pressure as well.  . . 

Water Proposals jeopardise Southland’s farming future

Federated Farmers Southland strongly opposes Environment Southland’s draft ‘Water and Land Plan and are planning meetings to discuss the rural community’s concerns.

President of Federated Farmers Southland, Allan Baird, says “In its current form, the cost to Southland farmers will be crippling and there will be large flow on affects for the wider Southland economy.”

“As proposed, this Plan would severely limit or prohibit development, flexibility, and innovation for farming businesses, which will have huge consequences for Southland’s economy.”

“Farmers want good water quality just like every other Southlander; by progressing the current outcomes based approach that focuses our resources on the priority hot spots. This is consistent with what the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment is encouraging in her recent report, but we can’t do that without the flexibility to adapt to the environment and regulatory changes.”    . . .

NZ and Australia likely to trigger milk quota – Allan Barber:

For the first time since 2004 New Zealand and Australian beef exporters look almost certain to run out of US beef quota before the end of the year. High kills in both countries have seen an excess of beef being processed, well ahead of the normal annual production trend.

New Zealand’s annual quota allows shipments of 213,402 tonnes, much of it manufacturing beef for the fast food industry, but also higher value prime beef cuts in the pre Christmas period. If the quota runs out, these cuts will be at risk. The excess production this year is a direct result of the high cow cull because of the downturn in dairy prices. One processor told me the present slaughter rate was four times the normal amount. . . 

Reducing waste to feed the world:

A 2013 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) agreement to reduce food waste by 10 percent across the region is picking up pace as researchers and technical team members work towards their 2017 goal of developing effective strategies and actions to address urgent global food waste issues.

A third of the edible parts of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. That translates into about 1.3 billion ton per year. Lincoln University Associate Professor James Morton says reducing food waste is the logical first step in meeting the needs of a growing world population, which is predicted to reach nine billion by 2050. He recently attended the second of three APEC ‘Multi-Year Project’ meetings focused on addressing global food waste, where he spoke around the need to measure and reduce wastage in the livestock chain. . . 

TPP – it’s time for a breather – Keith Woodford:

The failure to reach closure at the recent TPP negotiations in Hawaii may be a blessing for New Zealand. It may give some time for our negotiators to reflect on what we hope to achieve and what we are prepared to concede.

Most farmers will be supporters of the TPP. They will be working on the apparently reasonable assumption that more free trade has to be good value. . .

Commission releases draft report on 2014/15 review of Fonterra’s base milk price calculation:

The Commerce Commission today released its draft report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2014/15 dairy season. The base milk price is the price Fonterra pays to farmers for raw milk and is currently set by Fonterra at $4.40 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2014/15 season.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s calculation of the base milk price each year as part of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act’s (DIRA) milk price monitoring regime. The review assesses whether Fonterra’s approach delivers incentives for it to operate efficiently and provides for contestability in the market for purchasing farmers’ milk.

The Commission’s overall view is that Fonterra’s calculation of the 2014/15 base milk price is largely consistent with both the efficiency and contestability purposes of the DIRA. . . 


Rural round-up

July 23, 2015

Potential for dairy farmers to increase income from calves:

In a welcome departure from dismal news on the dairy front, farmers are being told that a simple change to their herd mating plans could increase their income from calves.

The advice is one outcome from the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Dairy Beef Integration Programme which is looking at the impact of using good beef genetics in a dairy beef supply chain.

The aim of the AgResearch managed research is to confirm the impact the strategy could have for dairy farmers and others in the supply chain. Early results show clear advantage – and potential additional profit – to dairy farmers from the use of proven beef genetics. . .

 Tiny mite a buzzkill for NZ’s wasps: – Nick Butcher:

A Landcare Research scientist says a tiny mite found on the back of wasps could be helping control the spread of the pests, which sting the country’s primary industries by about $130 million a year.

Wasps also pose a hazard to people and harm the native bird population by competing with them for food, including honeydew and other insects.

Dr Bob Brown discovered the unnamed mite in 2011. He said his studies showed wasp nests infested with the mites were 50 to 70 percent smaller than uninfested nests. . .

Efforts continue to get to the bottom of NAIT puzzle – Allan Barber:

The saga continues, as my Warkworth friend attempts to find out how NAIT intends to ensure correct reconciliation of livestock records, but as yet without a totally satisfactory answer. After further contact, NAIT’s acting Group Manager Sam McIvor replied with answers to the main points raised and I understand the conversation will continue, as both parties try to convince the other of their respective point of view.

At its most basic, the debate centres round the issue of ensuring 100% accuracy which is only possible, if there is 100% retention of tags at the time of stock movement or every animal has a second or reserve tag. At present NAIT estimates there is 98% retention. My friend who came through the mad cow disease disaster as well as FMD outbreaks in the UK is adamant the only acceptable position is 100% accuracy in the event of a disease outbreak. . .

Duncan Coull New Shareholders’ Council Chairman:

Duncan Coull has been elected unopposed to the position of Chairman of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Council.

Mr Coull was first elected to the Council in 2010 to represent Fonterra Farmers in Otorohanga and served as the Council’s Deputy Chair for the past 12 months.

Mr Coull: “It is a privilege to be elected to lead the Council and I thank Councillors for the support I continue to receive. . .

 New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated Annual General Meeting:

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) held its Annual General Meeting today, Wednesday 22 July 2015, updating growers on its key projects and reflected on a successful year.

NZKGI President, Neil Trebilco, says grower confidence and orchard values have continued to increase over the last twelve months.

“The main factors in this increasing optimism are the reduced effects of Psa and increasing OGRs per tray, particularly for Green. . .


Dairy farm prices stalling, lifestyle blocks strong, REINZ data shows – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Farm sales are down 9 per cent in the year to June and dairy farm prices have begun a slight downward trend, according to the latest Real Estate Institute of New Zealand data.

There were 62, or 11.5 percent, fewer farm sales for the three months ended June, compared to the same period a year ago and the overall year to date is down 9 percent to a total of 1,737 farms sold.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to June was $29,141, compared to $26,634 in the same period the previous year, up 9.5 percent. But the All Farm Price Index, which adjusts for differences in farm size, location and farming type, rose by just under 1 percent in June compared to the same month in 2014. . . .

Expert’s visit fruition of relationship cultivation:

Feijoas and Kiwifruit have been on the menu as Lincoln hosted a plant specialist recently to initiate closer working ties around food production with a Chinese province of 90 million people.

Feijoa expert Dr Meng Zhang, of Southwest University of Science and Technology (SWUST) in Sichuan Province, spent a month with Lincoln University and the Bio-Protection Research Centre (BPRC) at Lincoln specifically to learn more about New Zealand horticulture production systems, biological protection and bio-control.

The visit comes a few months after SWUST’s President, Jun-bo Wang, and Director Guan-zhi Zhang, were in Lincoln as part of a large Sichuan trade delegation intended to further extend co-operation between the two institutes. . .


Weaker New Zealand Dollar Helps Wool Prices:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the weakening New Zealand dollar helped local prices this week with most types increasing by the corresponding currency change.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was down 2.04 percent compared to the last sale on 9th July.

Of the 7,900 bales on offer from the South Island, 88 percent sold with types suitable for in the grease shipments coming under strong competition. . .

New production quality accreditation for animal feed:

New Zealand animal feed manufacturers now have a quality of production accreditation.

FeedSafeNZ is a new accreditation available to New Zealand Feed Manufacturers Association (NZFMA) members who pass independent audit standards as to quality of feed production. The FeedSafeNZ accreditation has two main aims: to provide safe feed for animals and thereby to protect the safety of human food.

Michael Brooks, NZFMA Executive Director says, “High quality feed is vital not only for the health and wellbeing of animals but also for humans, so it’s imperative that feed is manufactured to strict guidelines and is packed and stored correctly to ensure its quality is maintained. . .



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