Rural round-up

April 24, 2018

Precious arable land – Eric Crampton:

I just don’t get the fixation with making sure that nobody builds a house on agricultural land.

The government plans to make it harder for councils to approve new homes and lifestyle blocks on productive land near urban areas.

A report out today, called Our Land 2018, shows New Zealand’s urban sprawl is eating up some of the country’s most versatile land.

It highlights that between 1990 and 2008, 29 percent of new urban areas were built on some of the country’s most versatile land. . . 

We are growing houses instead of food – Feds:

We are losing our most productive land to houses – that’s the most significant point Federated Farmers takes from the ‘Our Land 2018’ report released today.

The Ministry for the Environment report shows the pressure New Zealand agriculture is under from the loss of highly productive and versatile land due to urbanisation.

There was a 10% increase in urban areas from 2002 to 2012 and the loss would be even more now with the pressure on housing in the last few years. . . 

Auckland Council rates policy fails to value private land conservation:

Auckland Council is proposing to remove rates remission for privately owned land protected by QEII covenants.

QEII National Trust CEO Mike Jebson says “we are submitting against Auckland Council’s proposed policy. This policy discourages landowners from protecting natural heritage areas on their properties and fails to support protection of biodiversity on private land in the region.”

“QEII covenants often protect the habitat of threatened indigenous species, and provide corridors linking larger areas of private and public land set aside for conservation. The work landowners do in protecting their land, like excluding stock from the protected area, is critical in encouraging regeneration of native vegetation.” . .

 A2 shifts from a brand to a category, with Nestle and Mengniu now on board – Keith Woodford:

It is only six weeks since mega-sized Fonterra in New Zealand and medium-sized Freedom Foods in Australia announced their intention to produce A2 dairy products, these being products free of A1 beta-casein.  Since then, both Nestle and Mengniu have stepped up to announce that they too are developing brands for A2 infant nutrition products.

To place this in perspective, and as reported by Rabobank, Nestle is easily the largest global dairy company by turnover, followed by Lactalis, Danone, Dairy Farmers of America and then Fonterra. Further down comes Mengniu at number 11 globally, but number 2 in China.

It is now evident that dairy products free of A1 beta-casein are shifting from being a niche brand belonging to The a2 Milk Company (A2M) to becoming a broader dairy category. This was always going to happen, but the speed at which it is now occurring is taking most people by surprise. . . 

Livestock Improvement buys back $5.3M of shares to simplify structure – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – Farmer-owned cooperative Livestock Improvement Corp will buy back $5.3 million of its shares as part of its move to simplify its share structure.

In March the company’s shareholders voted to reclassify all cooperative control shares and investment shares into a single class of ordinary shares. Livestock Improvement said today that a small number of shareholders had elected to exercise their minority buy-out rights under the proposal. . . 

#SustainabilitySunday: A tale of two farms – Uptown Farms:

What you see above is crazy exciting for our family!

These two pictures are from two fields, only separated by an old fence row. The photos were taken about 4 foot apart. 

The farm in the bottom photo has been traditionally managed for north Missouri row crop farms. You see larger and more compacted soil clods, fairly typical of dirt in the area. 

On the farm in the top photo we have been using no-till and cover crop practices for three growing seasons. What you see, and would feel if you were here, is a light and loose soil. It’s full of organic matter without any compaction. (Think of potting soil compared to dirt from your backyard.) 

We have actually added soil to this farm by allowing crop residue and cover crops to decompose and turn to dirt. In only three years, we have changed the soil makeup of our farm.  . . 

Scales hunts for NZ agribusiness acquisitions to fit with apple export business – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – Scales Corp is eyeing potential agribusiness acquisitions that would fit well with its export apple business as the country’s largest apple grower aims to become the foremost investor in and grower of New Zealand agribusiness.

“We think New Zealand agribusinesses are in a good space, they make good products, and sell them to Asia,” chief executive Andy Borland told BusinessDesk. “We have over the years developed our skills around exporting and dealing with Asia, particularly China, and we are looking at businesses within New Zealand that would work with those sort of dynamics and be complementary to our apple business. We are really looking for those sort of New Zealand opportunities.” . . 

Good Idea! Feds Likes NZX Primary Sector Index Concept:

Federated Farmers congratulates the New Zealand Stock Exchange for coming up with the idea of creating a ‘primary sector index’ for investors.

The NZX intends to launch the new primary sector index later this year, where it will sit alongside the existing indices for other sectors such as energy, healthcare and real estate.

The index will include 15 companies, including Fonterra and A2 Milk. . . 

China begins to challenge multinationals in domestic infant formula market, says GlobalData :

CITIC Agri Fund Management, backed by Chinese state-owned CITIC Group, has recently agreed to buy a 25.18% stake in Hong Kong-based Ausnutria Dairy, one of the leading local suppliers of infant formula in the Chinese market. This clearly marks a change in direction for the government, which has hitherto been focusing its efforts on regulation in this sector, says leading data and analytics company GlobalData.

Local suppliers in China are yet to recover from the melamine contamination scandal in 2008, with parents continuing to put their faith in foreign-made milks even after a decade. . . 


Rural round-up

May 17, 2016

Venison outlook positive – Sally Rae:

New Zealand invested in a second venison processing plant because it was confident about the future of New Zealand venison, marketing general manager Glenn Tyrrell says.

The company, previously known as Duncan and Co, bought out the other shareholders of Otago Venison 18 months ago, to become the sole owner of the Mosgiel-based processing facility.

Mr Tyrrell, who has been involved with venison marketing for 30 years, told those attending the recent deer industry conference in Dunedin that the outlook was “very positive”. . . 

Fonterra advised to better inform – Sally Rae:

Fonterra’s milk price signalling needs to “drastically” improve for its farmers.

That is the message from Federated Farmers Otago dairy chairman Stephen Crawford, who says many need the information sooner to make decisions regarding wintering options and discretionary spending options.

“I understand farmers are sending a clear message to Fonterra this must improve,” Mr Crawford said in his annual report. . . 

Excluding stock from waterways concern for farmers – Sally Rae:

Stock exclusion from waterways may prove more contentious for meat and fibre farmers than the implications of the Otago Regional Council’s 6A water quality plan, Federated Farmers Otago meat and fibre chairman Simon McAtamney believes.

Late last year, the Land and Water Forum published its fourth report on water management and one of its key recommendations was to exclude all large livestock from waterways to protect the water quality of rivers and streams.

In his report to the branch’s annual meeting in Balclutha, Mr McAtamney said while sheep were exempt, it got “a little more complicated” with cattle and deer. . . 

Regulations among most challenging matters – Sally Rae:

Water quality, water quantity and local and regional government remain the principal challenges the collective agricultural industry faces, Federated Farmers Otago president Phill Hunt believes.

In his report to the branch’s annual meeting, Mr Hunt said the Otago Regional Council’s water quality plan 6A was still in its initial stages.

Implementation was ‘‘always going to be a challenge” and he was pleased compliance rates seemed to be increasing. . .

Biodiesel plant ready to fuel NZ cars – Adam Hollingworth:

Bits of beef and lamb we’d otherwise throw away are about to be turned into fuel by New Zealand’s first commercial biodiesel plant.

The plant will soon go online — and it’s hoped it’ll offset the carbon produced by as many as 17,000 diesel cars.

Ninety percent of what goes into the plant will come from cows and sheep, while the fatty bits will be melted into a green slush called tallow.

“It’s not used as a food source. A hundred percent of its produced here in New Zealand so there’s no deforestation associated with the production of tallow — it’s a by-product,” Z Energy biofuels manager Steve Alesech explained. . . 

Livestock Improvement flags proposal to split into two, allow outside investors – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Livestock Improvement Corp, the farmer-owned cooperative that focuses on dairy herd genetics, farm software and automation, has proposed splitting into two businesses and allowing outside shareholders to invest for the first time.

LIC, as the business is known, will embark on a nationwide roadshow starting on June 7 to discuss proposed changes to its capital structure. The split would create a genetics/farm management cooperative, working with New Zealand’s dairy farmers, and a new agri-technology company that would put LIC’s existing agri-tech activities into a new corporate structure and “invest in new and innovative products, servicing customers in New Zealand and offshore.” . . .

Fonterra confirms early final dividend payment:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today confirmed it will pay part of its forecast final dividend earlier, to support farmers during a time of extremely tight on-farm cash flows.

Chairman John Wilson said a solid performance during the nine months to 30 April in the current financial year enables the Co-operative to declare the 10 cents per share dividend today. Payment will be made on 7 June, bringing dividend payments so far this year to 30 cents per share.

“While the milk supply and demand imbalance continues to impact global milk prices and our forecast Farmgate Milk Price, the business is delivering on strategy and has maintained the good performance levels seen in the first six months of the financial year. . . 

Fonterra’s milk collection takes a dive – Tina Morrison:

Fonterra Cooperative Group says milk collection is down in New Zealand and Australia — its two largest markets — in the first 11 months of the season, during a period of weak dairy prices.

Milk collection across New Zealand fell 3.3 percent to 1.499 billion kilograms of milk solids in the season through to April 30.

The decline came exclusively in the North Island, while good weather conditions kept South Island production unchanged, Fonterra said in its Global Dairy Update. . . 

#431AM – Ansering the farmers of Fontterra’s call to “Tell Our Story“:

Our 10,500 farming families do amazing work – taking the purest of dairy from New Zealand to the world. They’re also proud of the Co-op they own and their contribution to our country.

It’s a great story that we see every day but the rest of New Zealand doesn’t always get to see it or hear about it.

While the rest of NZ sleeps, some people are up and at it – including the farmers of Fonterra. We want to celebrate the people who get the country up and running. . . 


Rural round-up

July 26, 2013

Report confirms drought worst in nearly 70 years:

A comparative study on the 2013 drought released today by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) confirms it was one of the most extreme on record for New Zealand and the worst since 1945-46. The 2013 drought was also one of the most widespread New Zealand has experienced with only the drought of 1972-73 that affected Wairarapa, Tasman, Otago and Southland coming close to its geographical spread.

The report states that the cause of the drought was not El Niño but in fact slow-moving or ‘blocking’ high pressure systems over the Tasman Sea and New Zealand over summer.

Commissioned by MPI and undertaken by NIWA, the study looked at two sets of data records – NIWA’s gridded Virtual Climate Station Network that goes back to 1972, and longer-term station records that go back to the early 1940s. . .

Animal cruelty has no place in the dairy industry:

Federated Farmers, DairyNZ and the New Zealand Veterinary Association, takes a strong stance against animal cruelty on-farms and breaking tails is unacceptable stockmanship.

“As a farmer it saddens me to hear these animal welfare charges because it goes against the very nature of a person working with animals.

“Mr Beaumont broke 40 tails out of the 200 cattle he harmed, goes against the very nature of a person who works with animals. It is indefensible, and he has let the industry down by letting his anger get the better of him,” says Chris Lewis, Waikato Dairy chairperson. . .

Drought takes its toll on Fonterra’s forecast:

Federated Farmers is not surprised Fonterra Cooperative Group has announced a decrease in its 2013 forecast earnings before interest and taxation. This is due to the impact of the drought and pressures in its Australian operations.

“I think farmers will be relieved Fonterra has reconfirmed the forecast cash payout will remain unchanged for the 2012/13 season at $6.12. However, the reality of this announcement is that everything has a flow on effect,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy vice-chairperson.

“All those people who have looked at the increased prices on the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) platform and then decided to buy more Fonterra units on the stock exchange may not have understood how it all works. Increases in GDT prices actually mean tighter margins as the base commodities that Fonterra uses to make its own products also rise in price. . .

Livestock Improvement FY profit falls 3% as bull value gains slow – Tina Morrison:

 Livestock Improvement Corp., a farmer cooperative that sells bull semen and provides a dairy genetics database, posted a 3 percent drop in annual profit because its elite breeding bulls didn’t increase in value as much as the previous year.

Profit fell to $23.7 million in the year ended May 31, from $24.4 million a year earlier, the Hamilton-based company said in a statement. The value of its 866 elite breeding bulls rose $2.7 million compared with a $9.4 million gain on its 870 bulls the year earlier.

LIC, as the company is known, is farmer owned through cooperative control shares and investment shares that trade on the NZAX market. The company, which excludes changes in elite bull valuations when setting returns to shareholders, will pay a record dividend of 54.91 cents per investment share, and 8.4 cents per cooperative control share. . .

Stump to Pump programme receives PGP funding boost:

An innovation programme that will pave the way for generating more value from forestry waste by converting it to liquid biofuels is to receive government funding through the Primary Growth Partnership.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has approved co-funding of $6.75 million for the 14-month ‘Stump to Pump’ PGP programme.

Stump to Pump partners Norske Skog and Z Energy will match funding of $6.75 million, bringing the project’s total funding to $13.5 million.

This relatively short-term PGP programme will study the feasibility, including the cost-effectiveness, of making biofuel from forestry waste. It will determine the commercial viability of establishing a modular test plant to process New Zealand forest waste into sustainable transport fuel. . .

Precision Agriculture Association wins bid to host international conference:

The recently-formed Precision Agriculture Association of New Zealand (PAANZ) will host the International Asian Conference on Precision Agriculture in 2017.

The bid was submitted in South Korea and New Zealand beat three other countries – Malaysia, India and Indonesia – for hosting rights. The conference is one of three large international conferences on precision agriculture (PA) held around the world each year. The 2013 conference was held in South Korea and attracted more than 150 attendees.

PAANZ Chairman Peter Barrowclough said the successful bid to host the conference was an early demonstration of the value of now having a national precision agriculture organisation up and running in New Zealand. “And, with our changing export markets and increasingly strong linkages with South East Asia, this will be an excellent vehicle for New Zealand to improve its global networks,” he said. . .


Rural round-up

October 26, 2012

‘Financial Delinquency” Foretells Failure For Farms

As farms continue to go into receivership and be sold off, the country’s only rural insolvency specialist believes more rural businesses will face going to the wall in the next 12 months.

Dennis Wood, who heads Act Three Rural Insolvency and Investigations, predicts rural receiverships numbers will keep pace with rising rural bank debt, currently around $49 billion.

He says that a disproportionate number of rural businesses account for a higher percentage of that debt, as the currency remains high and NZ continues to be exposed to global market forces.

Many rural businesses particularly in dairy, sheep & beef, viticulture and horticulture are experiencing acute financial stress. . .

Livestock Improvement in talks with Agria over $10m loan – Paul McBeth:

Livestock Improvement Corp, which has been compensating some farmers for selling bull semen that caused ‘hairy calf’ mutations, is in talks with Chinese-linked agriculture firm Agria Corp over a $10 million loan that is due for repayment next week.

The New Zealand farmer-owned company that sells bull semen and provides a dairy genetics database is in talks with Agria and the Chinese-linked firm’s senior lender about the loan and will update the market once those discussions are complete, it said in a statement yesterday. . .

Zespri Chairman Announces Plan To Step Down

Zespri Chairman John Loughlin has announced he will stand down as Chairman of the Board and as a director early next year, at a time still to be confirmed.

Mr Loughlin joined the Zespri Board as one of three independent directors on the eight-member board (the other five directors are grower-directors) in 2002. He became chairman of Zespri in August 2008.

“When I was re-elected in 2010, I signalled then that my intention was for this to be my last term serving on the Zespri Board. . .

Study shows flaws in mono-floral honey claims:

A study has indicated that many New Zealand honey that is claimed to be be mono-floral is not.

The study, conducted by Lincoln University, tested 64 New Zealand honeys labelled or coming from one type of plant.

It showed 29 samples did not contain the minimum pollen percentage required from one plant to allow it to be marketed as mono-floral. . .

A2 Corporation appoints China distributor:

A2 Corporation Limited (“A2C” or “the Company”) has today advanced the launch of a2™ brand milk powders and infant formula in China in 2013 with the appointment of an in-market Chinese distribution partner.

Developing an infant formula business in highly prospective markets is part of A2C’s strategic agenda. The global infant formula market is valued at greater than USD 17bn at the retail level, with China accounting for around USD 6bn and growing rapidly at approximately 12% per annum . . .

Arden Andersen: Biological agriculture world leader returns to NZ early 2013:

Arden Andersen, one of the world’s leading proponents of biological agriculture practices will be conducting two-day courses in Ashburton and Taupo in February 2013.

The emphasis of the courses for farmers, horticulturists and supporting advisors, is to clearly demonstrate how to grow nutrient-dense crops in larger quantities with fewer petrochemical inputs and a healthy bottom line.

Andersen, in his course ‘Grow your profits with food the world wants’, will provide attendees with the latest updates and practical applications of the natural sciences that underpin biological growing practices. . .

Dairy Woman of the Year nominations open for 2013 award:

Nominations will soon open for the 2013 Dairy Woman of the Year award which includes the chance to attend the year-long Women in Leadership course run by Global Women.

The scholarship, worth $25,000, is part of the award sponsored by Fonterra. This year’s nominations open on 1 November 2012 and close on 16 December 2012. The winner will be announced in March 2013. . .


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