Rural round-up

June 24, 2015

Still more milk than market – Rabobank’s latest dairy outlook:

A recovery in global dairy prices is still on the horizon, however burgeoning stocks have pushed out any sustained upturn in the market until the first-half of 2016, according to Rabobank’s latest Dairy Quarterly report.

The global outlook, released exclusively to Rabobank’s agribusiness clients earlier this week, reaffirms the bank’s position that a recovery phase is imminent, however it has pushed out the timeframe by at least three months. . .

 The good and bad of farming with lifestyle neighbours – Kate Taylor:

The views from Philip and Robyn Holt’s farm, Maraetara, are spectacular – across the Ahuriri estuary to Hawke Bay and Napier Hill.

They’re not the only ones to appreciate it though. When Philip was growing up the only neighbours were other farmers. Now houses dot the hillsides and Maraetara has boundaries with about 70 neighbours.

This growth of lifestyle blocks has negatives and positives, says Philip. . .

NZ beekeeper plans bee sanctuary on Niue – Cheryl Norrie:

When beekeeper Andy Cory went to Niue in 1999 in search of a honey business, he had to hack his way through a jungle to find a collection of beehives which had been abandoned 30 years previously.

He remembers finding 240 hives.

“They were all rotten and had fallen on their sides. The bees were still in them and they were fine.” . . .

Too little data to pinpoint cause of NZ beehive deaths – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – The sudden and devastating demise of honey bee hives, known overseas as colony collapse disorder, may threaten New Zealand’s $5.1 billion apiculture industry, after thousands of colonies were lost over last spring.

North Island beekeepers spanning the Coromandel, Great Barrier, Wairarapa and Taranaki suffered significant losses with some reporting up to 95 percent of adult bees disappearing from hives. However, a lack of reporting to the Ministry for Primary Industries or the Environmental Protection Agency meant there was no certainty about whether the sudden collapses were linked, the New Zealand Apiculture Conference in Taupo heard. . .

Farm debt pressures being surveyed:

Lincoln University researchers want to know how farmers and their families are dealing with being in debt and the stress it can bring.

Bruce Greig, Dr Kevin Old and Dr Peter Nuthall, from the University’s Faculty of Agribusiness and Commerce, are conducting a nationwide survey investigating farm debt and the level of anxiety experienced by farmers who incur it.

Mr Greig says they want to discover how they manage debt as it is one of the many skills farmers require. . .

NZ lambskin, sheepskin face ‘lose-lose’ with over-supply, weak demand – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand exports of sheepskin and lambskin, at their lowest level in more than four years, are unlikely to recover any time soon as a glut of excess stock and weak demand weigh on prices.

The value of raw sheepskin and lambskin exports fell to $128.6 million in the year through April, the 15th straight decline in annual exports and the lowest level since January 2011, according to Statistics New Zealand data. The latest figures, for May, will be published on Friday. . .

 

Settlement reached over ASB rural interest rate swaps:

The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) has reached a settlement with ASB regarding the sale, promotion and marketing of interest rate swaps to some rural customers.

The Commerce Commission (the Commission) investigated ASB for the sale of interest swaps and reached a separate settlement with ASB in December 2014.

The FMA settlement was reached based on the conclusions from the Commission’s investigation and the FMA’s engagement with ASB in relation to its processes for selling and marketing interest rate swaps to rural customers. . .

 


Rural round-up

June 22, 2015

Fonterra – who loves ya baby? – Tim Hunter:

It’s so ironic. Fonterra [NZX: FCG], whose sole reason for being is to benefit its co-operative members, is so distrusted by them that it must have a Shareholders Council to oversee its board, even though the board is already completely controlled by shareholders.

The co-op is so successful it is the world’s largest processor of milk and the world’s biggest dairy exporter, yet its shareholders complain that its head office is not in a provincial town, even though there are barely any international flights from provincial airports.

Meanwhile, the business has become so economically important to New Zealand that non-shareholders argue Fonterra is too focused on processing milk and should be more like Nestle, which sells a lot of coffee, chocolate and instant noodles (although it probably doesn’t want to talk about noodles right now). . . 

 

Tight times for sharemilkers – Hugh Stringleman:

Most sharemilkers will be unable to write a break-even budget for the new dairy season and face several months of negative cash flows before dairy prices are expected to recover.

That is the market reality facing all dairy farmers, but especially taxing for sharemilkers of all descriptions given the low milk prices, incomes in the $1 to $2/kg range, and the lack of discretionary or deferrable spending.

Industry-wide, considerably more seasonal finance will be necessary because herd-owning sharemilkers (40-50% contracts) face losses between 30c and 50c/kg on all milk produced for the remainder of 2015. . .

 Survey captures cost of compliance – Richard Rennie:

Waikato dairy farmers have invested about $400 million in environmental compliance in recent years, but are uncertain about how long that investment will remain compliant.

New Zealand National Agricultural Fieldays scholar Thomas Macdonald has just issued findings from a survey he conducted on Waikato dairy farmers, determining how much they have invested in effluent management and compliant farm systems. . .

 AgResearch hub remodelled for Lincoln – Tim Cronshaw:

AgResearch’s soon to be built science hub programme will look much different from the operation first envisaged, writes Tim Cronshaw.

AgResearch is about to put out new master plans as more science and agriculture partners join its vision for innovation clusters at its main Lincoln and Palmerston North hubs in a nationwide $100 million restructuring programme.

Originally the research organisation was going to build its science centre for its Future Footprint programme on new ground connecting to the Lincoln University campus with the wider Crown Research Institute precinct.

Townie helps out – Annette Scott:

Christchurch businessman Grant Silvester launched a campaign earlier this month to help get feed to North Canterbury farms.

He has been thrilled at the amazing support the campaign has attracted and is more than confident of trucking in his goal of 500 bales of feed to the region.

Silvester, a self-described townie who sells cars and racing car parts from his Christchurch-based business, had seen how dry farms were while travelling through the area. . .

 Firm friendship: The sports star and the girl inventor – Narelle Henson:

It’s easy to see young inventer Ayla Hutchinson and her mentor, Bernice Mene are mates – even though they clearly have pretty different backgrounds.

Mene is a national figure, accomplished in the world of sport, Ayla is a teen inventor from the fields of Taranaki; introverted, inexperienced and – by her own admission – a little anxious.

Fifteen-year-old Ayla is the inventor of the Kindling Cracker, a wood-splitting device taking New Zealand by storm. She’s just signed “a massive” supply deal with major American corporate, Northern Tools + Equipment. The second 12-metre container of orders needs to be sent soon, but New Zealand demand keeps emptying it. She’s constantly being badgered with interview requests, and everywhere she goes people just keep asking how she came up with that invention. . .


Rural round-up

June 10, 2015

Two options for Wairarapa water storage:

Two options for water storage schemes in the Wairarapa have been selected for a feasibility study after six other options were ruled out.

A four-year investigation by the Wairarapa Water Use Project will now consider building reservoirs near Masterton at Black Creek and Tividale.

The two reservoirs would irrigate about 30,000 hectares from Masterton to Lake Wairarapa.

An independent study calculates the scheme could add $157 million to the Wellington regional economy each year and create 1,200 new jobs. . .

 Plea for open minds on Wairarapa water project:

A Wairarapa farming leader is asking people to keep an open mind on plans for large scale irrigation in the region as a feasibility study begins on two potential dam sites.

Following four years of investigation so far, the Wairarapa Water Use Project will focus on building reservoirs near Masterton, at Black Creek and Tividale.

They could irrigate almost 30,000 hectares, stretching from north of Masterton and southwest of Greytown to the north of Lake Wairarapa. . .

Young couple learn from old hands – Barbara Gillham:

AFTER several years’ farm leasing, sheep and beef farmers Tom Cranswick and his fiancé Ellie Meadows see the equity partnership they have recently entered as an exciting step in their farming career.

In April the couple became equity partners with brothers Peter and Andrew Gawith and their wives on an 830ha-effective farm near Gladstone, Wairarapa.

The farm has been in the Gawith family for three generations, and Peter has been farming it since taking it over from his parents. Andrew is an economist who lives and works in Wellington. . .

Fieldays fencer aims for 60th birthday win – Te Ahua Maitland:

After 40 years of competing, Nick Liefting is preparing to lace up his boots one last time for this year’s Fieldays at Mystery Creek Golden Pliers fencing competition.

The Pukekohe contractor is set to retire following his 60th birthday. His presence this year will make him the first 60-year-old to compete at the Golden Pliers competition, an achievement which crowns appearances that started when he was just 19. . .

Biowaste key ingredient for growing profits:

New research from Lincoln University suggests biowaste can be used on former pine plantations to generate big economic returns.
Four years of research in a greenhouse environment found the waste, which might include sewage and dairy shed effluent, can be used to rapidly establish native vegetation on former pine forest soils.

Early estimates suggest the natives could produce a financial return of over $200 million annually. . .

Be more than just average statistics: 

Averages are a great mathematical tool and brilliant for hiding poorer performing results because they get dragged up by higher results.
Unfortunately the reverse also happens: the top performing results get dragged down into the general population. This is fine when we are only interested in trends in the status quo, but the dairy industry today needs change.

The dairy industry faces a number of challenges – environmental, welfare and profitability to name a few. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

June 1, 2015

Fonterra signals major shake-up – Neal Wallace:

Fonterra has signaled the possibility of a major shake-up throughout its operations entailing job losses from senior management down.

Fonterra has signaled the possibility of a major shake-up throughout its operations entailing job losses from senior management down.

It today confirmed it had launched an in-depth review of its business, when questioned by the New Zealand Farmers Weekly. . .

 Synlait’s tough road to riches – Neal Wallace:

Potential riches bypassing Synlait became apparent a year after the Canterbury company opened its milk drying plant.

Customers were buying powder to make their own infant formula and while Synlait had plans to eventually enter the added-value game, such was the demand for its powder and rate of international growth in formula, a strategy rethink was required, managing director John Penno said.

“It gave us an insight to the demand. We saw growth, we saw the market and we saw why they were coming to Synlait.” . . .

 The great Kiwi earthworm survey:

AgResearch scientists want farmer help to better understand the distribution of one of the little known heroes of New Zealand agricultural production.

Earthworms play a vital role in the soil by decomposing organic matter, making nutrients available to plants and creating burrows in the soil to improve the movement of air and water. Studies have shown the introduction of surface-active earthworms improves annual pasture growth significantly as well as boosting environmental performance and extending the growing season. . .

Doors open at training farm:

Waipaoa Station Training Trust is holding an open day on June 6 and 7 as part of its selection of cadets for 2016.

The two-year cadet training scheme is based at Waipaoa Station, a commercial sheep and beef farm 70km from Gisborne.

Each year five new cadets are selected, to learn practical skills and sit in classroom lectures. The cadets live on the station. . .

New Zealand ‘brand’ not being seen:

Many overseas consumers are unaware their food originates in New Zealand, undermining attempts to promote our “clean and green” and premium brand image, a new study finds.

It shows there are significant opportunities for New Zealand premium consumer food and beverage products in overseas markets but we are missing out because we are not communicating to consumers.

“Maximising Export Returns; Communicating New Zealand’s credence attributes to international consumers”, by Lincoln University Agribusiness and Food Marketing Programme Director Nic Lees andAgribusiness and Economics Research Unit director Professor Caroline Saunders, finds having a visible label and a good relationship with industry buyers could improve the situation. . .

Growing knowledge through collaboration:

A collaborative workshop to help food producers gain specialist knowledge and skills was held at Lincoln University 27 May.

Entitled “Growing You”, it is part of a series covering topics such as sustainable weed management and sustainable pest and disease management, and was a joint effort of the University, MG Marketing, and the Lincoln-based Biological Husbandry Unit (BHU) and Bio-Protection Research Centre (BPRC).

MG Marketing is a co-operative organisation with over 90 years of growing, distributing and selling fresh vegetables and fruit. . .

 TB rate collection to continue one more year:

Waikato Regional Council has today agreed to continue collecting the rate for the national bovine tuberculosis (TB) programme, but at a reduced amount of $500,000.

Only ratepayers with properties two hectares or greater in area will pay this rate, which will be 23 per cent less than in 2014/15.

In making its decision during the first day of 2015-2025 Long Term Plan deliberations, the council made it clear 2015/16 would be the last year it would collect the rate. . .


Rural round-up

May 30, 2015

Ahuwhenua Trophy winner congratulated:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell have tonight congratulated Mangaroa Station, this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy winner.

Mangaroa Station was presented with the 2015 Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Māori Excellence in Farming award at an awards dinner tonight in Whanganui.

“The owners of Mangaroa Station set a fantastic example to other Māori landowners of what can be achieved through ambition and hard work,” says Mr Guy.

“They’ve created a successful family-run farm and sustainably developed their land for future generations.” . . .

Farmers confronting second season of low dairy payouts:

Federated Farmers says the latest Fonterra $5.25 payout prediction for farmers for next season is a signal that the low payment this year is not a one off.

Dairy chairman Andrew Hoggard says a more immediate impact will be felt from a further 10 cents a kilo reduction in the current season payout down to $4.40.

“This will make it really tough for farmers managing their cashflows through the low winter months with the likelihood of little or no retro payments helping to smooth out that cashflow.”

Hoggard notes Fonterra’s advance rate of $3.66 isn’t scheduled to pick up to $4.17 until February 2016, for the milk produced in January. . .

Swede survey results show multiple factors to manage:

Industry body DairyNZ is advising farmers to focus on managing a number of factors involved in feeding swedes this season, including the proportion of swede that makes up the diet of their cows.

In the wake of preliminary analysis of an in-depth farmer survey, DairyNZ’s Southland/South Otago regional leader Richard Kyte says farmers have been advised<http://www.dairynz.co.nz/swedes> of its key findings including that cow ill-health increased last season as the proportion of swedes fed as part of the total diet increased. Feeding swedes on the milking platform (farm) in spring when cows approached calving and early lactation also increased the incidence of ill-health. . .

Agri-event to strengthen links between research and industry:

On the eve of Fieldays, the University of Waikato will host agri-stakeholders at an event to showcase its latest research and strengthen links with the agricultural industry. It features a presentation on the importance of soils, a panel discussion on how industry can work with Waikato, and the presentation of the 2015 New Zealand National Agricultural Fieldays Sir Don Llewellyn Scholarship prize.

The importance of soils

University of Waikato soil expert, Professor Louis Schipper, will discuss how we can improve the environmental outcomes of farming by looking at the use of soils to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and approaches to help reduce nitrogen losses to waterways. . .

Growing knowledge through collaboration:

A collaborative workshop to help food producers gain specialist knowledge and skills was held at Lincoln University yesterday.

Entitled “Growing You”, it is part of a series covering topics such as sustainable weed management and sustainable pest and disease management, and was a joint effort of the University, MG Marketing, and the Lincoln-based Biological Husbandry Unit (BHU) and Bio-Protection Research Centre (BPRC).

MG Marketing is a co-operative organisation with over 90 years of growing, distributing and selling fresh vegetables and fruit. . .

Blue cod fishery consultation launch:

Consultation on new proposals to manage the blue cod fishery in the Marlborough Sounds will begin on 2 June.

The Blue Cod Management Group, which developed these proposals, is made up of recreational and commercial fishing representatives and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

Group spokesperson, Eric Jorgensen, says the proposals were developed following feedback from the community and an analysis of the science earlier this year.

“Our goal is a sustainable fishery for the current and future generations. Your feedback on these proposals will help us arrive at the best way forward. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Using Online Tool to Engage with More Sheep And Beef Farmers:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has launched a new interactive communication tool, “Farmers’ Voice” to provide another way to engage with sheep and beef farmers and provide a forum for them to share information with each other.

B+LNZ chief executive, Dr Scott Champion said Farmers’ Voice will be accessed through the B+LNZ website atbeeflambnz.com/farmersvoice and would be another way to get information to farmers and receive feedback on topical issues. It is designed to complement existing face-to-face, print, radio and electronic channels used by B+LNZ.

“As an online forum, Farmers’ Voice provides the opportunity to post stories and videos, follow blogs, have online conversations and run quick polls on a topical question. . .

Pomahaka Project Scales Up:

Following the success of a one year scoping exercise NZ Landcare Trust has secured nearly $150,000 from MPI’s Sustainable Farming Fund to facilitate a catchment scale project within the Pomahaka catchment. With support from Pomahaka Farmers Water Care Group and the Pomahaka Stakeholders Group the ‘Pathway for the Pomahaka’ project will utilise and showcase industry tools that demonstrate the benefits of good farm management practices on water quality. . .

Finer Wools Firm, Coarse Wools Ease:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s Marketing Executive, Mr Paul Steel reports that continued shipping pressure for China kept Finer Crossbreds firm however coarse wools eased as volumes available increase.

The weighted indicator remained unchanged compared to the last sale on 21st May.

Of the 8,900 bales on offer, 94 percent sold. . .


Rural round-up

May 24, 2015

Farming at 17: Cheviot teen raises sheep, cattle – Beck Eleven:

Louisa McClintock is just 17 but with her 80-year-old grandfather by her side, she’s taking on a dry North Canterbury farm. BECK ELEVEN watches two generations work together.

For a teenage girl, she’s got a decent pair of lungs.

It’s another dry day in Cheviot, North Canterbury and Louisa McClintock is driving a couple of hundred sheep through a race, funnelling the corriedales towards the shower dip to stave off lice and fly strike. . .

Rural Broadband extension secured:

The passing of the Telecommunications (Development Levy) Amendment Levy Bill underscores the Government’s commitment to extending enhanced connectivity to regional New Zealand, says Communications Minister Amy Adams

The Bill passed last night with support from all parties, other than Labour.

“The extension of the Telecommunications Development Levy (TDL) will fund the $100 million expansion of fast, reliable broadband to the regions. It will also establish a $50 million fund to extend mobile coverage in black spot areas such as along main highways and in popular tourist destinations,” says Ms Adams. . .

Farming women band together – Rebecca Harper:

A gap in the market for a women’s progress group focusing on sheep and beef has been addressed by the new Wairarapa Rural Women’s Initiative. 

Sheep and beef farmer and Baker & Associates agribusiness consultant Ellie Meadows cottoned on to the need for such a group after speaking to other like-minded farmers, Lynley Wyeth and Lucy Thorneycroft.

Both women had taken part in the Understanding Your Farm Business course run by the Agri Women’s Development Trust and wondered “what next”? . .

 Seeing green – Sandra Taylor:

Seeing a bulk of greenfeed in a scorched landscape was enough to make any farmer salivate this summer and growing bulk is what forage maize does best.

A number of dryland farmers in Canterbury have been growing forage maize and while it generates a bulk of feed at a time of the year when little else grows, as a feed it is not suitable for every class of stock.

Charlotte Westwood, an animal nutritionist and vet with PGG Wrightson Seeds, cautions against feeding it to young stock such as newly weaned beef calves. . .

Budget funding boost welcomed:

A 20 per cent increase in tertiary funding for agriculture announced in today’s budget is being welcomed by Lincoln University Deputy Vice-Chancellor International and Business Development Jeremy Baker.

The increase is part of an $85.8 million boost over four years for targeted increases in tuition rates at degree level and above, which also includes a 7.5 per cent increase for science.

Mr Baker described the announcement as recognition of the vital role agriculture plays in the New Zealand economy, and for institutions like Lincoln University, with its specific land-based focus, in providing world-class graduates to meet the growing demand in the sector for highly-trained workers.

It shows the area is a priority for the Government and for New Zealand, he says, as it needs to be. . .

Resilient farmer Doug Avery will lead a tlak on drought in North Canterbury – Kim Nutbrown:

North Canterbury farmers are being urged to heed the advice of Doug Avery who will visit the drought-stricken area next week.

Farmers in the Cheviot area are experiencing record low rainfalls, putting their businesses under extreme stress.

Many are searching for a stress-relief valve. . . .


Rural round-up

May 12, 2015

Initiative promotes agricultural careers – Sally Rae:

When it comes to his career, Leon Olsson’s only regret is that he did not get into the agricultural sector earlier.

Mr Olsson (26), who manages a dry stock farm at Ranfurly which is part of a large scale dairy operation, told pupils at John McGlashan College, in Dunedin, this recently.

It was part of Soil Makes Sense, an initiative supported by Lincoln University and DairyNZ aimed at promoting the opportunities available in the primary industries.

A panel of speakers outlined their own career paths and involvement in the sector. . .

New agribusiness course – Sally Rae:

The opportunities for young people to forge a professional career in the agribusiness sector are ”so diverse”, John McGlashan College principal Neil Garry says.

The Dunedin school was one of seven New Zealand secondary schools invited to become ”lead schools” for the Centre of Excellence for Agricultural Science and Business, the brainchild of St Paul’s Collegiate School in Hamilton.

The joint venture between St Paul’s and agricultural industry partners aimed to deliver and roll out an agribusiness programme to secondary schools throughout New Zealand. . .

Backing for speed limit cut:

The head of road policing is backing lowering the speed limit on many rural roads to 70 or 80 kilometres an hour in the wake of a horrendous weekend of deaths.

Ten people were killed in five separate crashes in a weekend police said was a shocking toll not seen for at least 30 years.

Assistant Commissioner for Road Policing Dave Cliff told Morning Report many roads around the country were simply not designed for the usual 100 km/h speed limit. . .

Farmers back Fonterra – Neal Wallace:

Last week Farmers Weekly gathered the thoughts of southern dairy farmers as they contemplated a winter facing low payouts while coping with the drought hangover. This week Neal Wallace and Hugh Stringleman spoke to some of their North Island counterparts to see what they are thinking. It seems they staunchly back Fonterra but that doesn’t mean they don’t have some advice on how it could improve.

When will it end?

Te Awamutu dairy farmer Brad Eyre remains convinced Fonterra is the right vehicle for the industry. It has just hit a rough patch. . .

Budget 2015: New Afforestation Grant Scheme:

The Government has today confirmed a multi-million dollar reboot of the popular Afforestation Grant Scheme (AGS), Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew says.

The new version of the scheme will see $22.5 million invested over the next six years to encourage the planting of an expected 15,000 hectares of new forest.

“The new scheme will take up where its highly successful predecessor left off,” Mrs Goodhew says. “Farmers and landowners can again use the AGS to make better use of marginal land and increase farming diversification.”

Under the previous scheme, from 2008 to 2013, more than 12,000 hectares of new forest was planted, much of it on erosion prone land. This improved water quality and reduced the impact of severe flooding. . .

Gypsy Day – Effluent Management Doesn’t Stop at the Farm Gate:

Waikato Regional Council is reminding dairy farmers of the importance of good stock effluent management during the upcoming Gypsy Day on 1 June.

That’s the day when thousands of cows will be transported from one farm to another, meaning potential for effluent to spill on to roads creating hazardous driving conditions.

To help reduce the amount of stock effluent produced in transit, the council stresses the importance of preparing animals prior to transport, including not giving them green feed for 4 – 6 hours before their journey. . .


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