Rural round-up

November 6, 2015

Lochinver Station sells to New Zealand buyer:

One of New Zealand’s largest farms, Lochinver Station in the central North Island, will remain in New Zealand ownership following its sale for an undisclosed sum to privately owned New Zealand farming group Rimanui Farms Ltd.

It will take over the ownership of the 13,843 hectare sheep and beef station, upon settlement of the sale in March next year, from one of New Zealand’s largest private companies, Stevenson Group Limited, which has owned it for more than half a century.

Bayleys Real Estate recommenced marketing the property last month after the Government announced it had turned down an Overseas Investment Office application from Chinese company Shanghai Pengxin’s subsidiary Pure 100 to buy the property. . . 

IrrigationNZ calls for 350,000ha more land to be irrigated – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – IrrigationNZ is calling for a dramatic escalation in irrigation, saying New Zealand could bring water to an additional 350,000 hectares by 2025, boosting agricultural production and providing a buffer against weather events such as El Nino-induced drought.

The lobby group wants a 50 percent increase in irrigated land in the next 10 years, according to its industry snapshot released today. New Zealand currently has about 720,000 hectares of irrigated land, and IrrigationNZ has produced a map showing where irrigation could be expanded, pushing total watered land to more than 1 million hectares.

Chief executive Andrew Curtis said New Zealand’s primary production growth is being hampered by a lack of a reliable water supply, which ultimately holds back economic growth. . . 

No jobs?  move to the regions, urges govt:

Unemployed people are being urged to look to the regions for work by the government, after the unemployment rate broke the 6 percent mark yesterday.

The rate is now at its highest point in two years and economists have predicted that it is likely to rise further.

Listen to more on Morning Report ( 4 min 32 sec )

But Steven Joyce, Minister of Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment told Morning Report it was a “multi-regional story”, with lot of shifts around the country.

He said that in some regions such as Otago and Northland, there were shortages of people applying for jobs, and unemployed people should consider moving if they could. . . 

Forestry joins GIA biosecurity agreement:

The forestry industry has become the sixth industry group to join the Government Industry Agreement (GIA) biosecurity partnership, Primary Industries Ministers Nathan Guy and Jo Goodhew have announced today.

“It’s great to have the New Zealand Forest Owners Association (FOA) onboard, working with the Ministry for Primary Industries to manage and respond to the most important biosecurity risks,” says Mr Guy.

“A growing number of industries have now signed up to work together with the Government through the GIA.” . . 

Forest defence bolstered by agreement with government:

The Forest Owners Association says having a biosecurity agreement with the government is a vital part of the forest industry’s defence system.

FOA chief executive David Rhodes and primary industries minister Nathan Guy today signed what is known as a Government-Industry Agreement at Parliament. The agreement defines where responsibilities and costs will fall in the event of an outbreak of a serious forest pest or disease.

“For 50 years we have had a forest health surveillance scheme that is seen by overseas experts as one of the best in the world. But being ‘best’ is not good enough, we need it to be as near to perfect as we can make it,” says Mr Rhodes. . . 

FMG's photo.


Rural round-up

October 15, 2015

Farmer saved seed to be retained:

The recently concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks have created disappointing doomsayer discourse.

Some misinformed commentators have a view that farmers will be stopped from saving some seed from their crops.

NZ Plant Breeding and Research Association (PBRA) President Tom Bruynel says there is no intent at all by the seed industry to get rid of farmer saved seed.

He says the Association and the Arable Industry Group of Federated Farmers have been jointly saying that the right to save seed needs to be part of any updated plants legislation and there is agreement in principle that there be a fair and simple system of royalty collection for seed that has been kept back for sowing. . . .

Judicial review sought of Lochinver decision:

Pure 100 Farm Limited (Pure 100), a subsidiary of Shanghai Pengxin, is seeking a judicial review of the Government’s decision to decline its application to purchase Lochinver Station.

Announcing the decision, Terry Lee, Director of Milk New Zealand (a subsidiary of Shanghai Pengxin) said the aim of the review is to obtain clarity on the ‘counterfactual’ to be used when assessing sales of non-urban land of greater than 5 hectares to overseas investors.

“To assess the benefits of an investment in such land, the regulator assesses the application against 21 factors which are laid out in the Overseas Investment Act and the Overseas Investment Regulations. These benefits are assessed relative to what would have occurred if this particular investment was not to occur i.e. ‘the counterfactual’. . . 

Ploughing the perfect well-turned furrow – Kate Taylor:

The drawcard of ploughing competitions for Tirau farmer Angela Taylor are the challenge and the camaraderie.

“There’s a lot of technique to it and you need a lot of concentration,” she says.

“There’s the satisfaction of achieving and improving, and the pride when you look at the straight furrows afterwards.” . . .

Innovation key to food security – Daniel Kruithoff:

AUSTRALIAN Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has put innovation at the heart of the government’s efforts to improve the country’s global competitiveness.

The government’s renewed focus on the pivotal role innovation plays in helping us overcome complex challenges is welcome.

And I can think of no more complex challenge than sustainably producing enough food to meet rapidly rising global demand.

It is hard to not be alarmed by the looming collision of a rapidly growing population and a changing, more volatile climate. . . 

Organic GMOs Could Be The Future of Food — If We Let Them – Ferris Jabr:

Two years ago, I traveled to Woodland, California, to meet scientists who were developing tastier and more nutritious fruits and vegetables. On the way to the research center, my taxi driver asked what had brought me to town. “Well,” I started, “I’m a journalist and I’m here to visit Monsanto.” “Monsanto? They do all that unnatural GMO stuff, right?” “They do make a lot of GMOs,” I replied, “but the scientists I’m visiting do not use genetic engineering.” Instead, they perform marker-assisted breeding. They chip off tiny bits of seeds and young plants and analyze their genes in search of desirable traits. Then they use that information to decide which seeds to plant and, later, cross-pollinate and which ones to reject, speeding up the traditional plant breeding process. “And that’s not GMO?” my driver asked. “Since they are just reading the DNA, not changing it, it’s technically not a form of genetic engineering,” I answered.

I was about to go on, but I caught myself. In part because I worried that I was on the verge of subjecting another human to an unexpected seminar on plant genetics. But, more fundamentally, because I realized that what I had just said was wrong. Of course the breeders at Monsanto were changing the plants’ DNA. That is what breeders everywhere have done for centuries, regardless of their tools. That is what the pioneers of agriculture started doing at least 10,000 years ago. That is what sex itself does: it shakes up DNA. In that moment, I realized just how meaningless the term GMO is, and how obfuscating it is, too. . . 


Rural round-up

September 18, 2015

Why the government has finally stopped a Chinese farm purchase – Politik:

The offer by a Chinese company to buy Lochinver station was turned down by the Government largely because the potential buyer was not proposing to invest much more money on the station.

Government sources have told POLITIK that the buyer, Shanghai Pengxin subsidiary, Pure 100 Farm, was proposing to spend only another $3 million extra on the station.

“What’s that – two and half Auckland houses?” said the source. . . 

Lochinver decision was a slow process:

The Overseas Investment Office could be in for an overhaul after concerns about the time taken to make a decision over Lochinver Station.

Shanghai Pengxin had agreed to buy the country’s biggest dairy farm for $88 million but ministers said there weren’t enough benefits for the country.

It took 14 months before the deal was finally blocked, and the owners are angry at the delays.

The Prime Minister admits it is a slow process which needs to change. . .

Federated Farmers welcomes government decision on Lochinver sale:

While Federated Farmers supports positive overseas investment into New Zealand’s farming system, it has welcomed today’s announcement by the Government that it has declined the sale of Lochinver Station to Shanghai Pengxin Group Co. Limited.

“New Zealand absolutely needs foreign investment, but there has to be clearly demonstrated benefit to the local and national economy. This was not proven here and we believe the Lochinver decision reinforces the importance of changes made to the Overseas Investment Office rules over recent years,” says Dr William Rolleston, President of Federated Farmers. . . 

Putting a dollar value on using good beef genetics:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Genetics is launching a new progeny test to put a dollar value on the extra profit that can be added to the dairy-beef supply chain by using good beef genetics.

At its core, the four-year test will calculate the additional value that can be added by using high-genetic-merit beef bulls, versus the unrecorded bulls traditionally used as “follow-on bulls” in most New Zealand dairy systems. What are the financial advantages for the dairy farmer, calf rearer and beef finisher?

Limestone Downs near Port Waikato is a high-profile trust-owned property, covering 3,200ha and wintering about 27,000 stock units. It has a long-standing relationship with Massey University and is often used to trial research projects in a commercial setting. The operation converted 350ha to a dairy milking platform two years ago and runs 610 Friesian cows and 190 heifers.

Ewe won’t believe the number of lambs –  Cameron Massey:

A first time mum in Thames doesn’t do it by halves – giving birth to quintuplet lambs.

Thames resident and ex-sheep farmer Weston Finlay keeps sheep on his property to keep the lawns in check and when he was offered a second ewe to accompany his first he couldn’t see any problem.

Only the new sheep was not a ewe at all. . .

Dos and Don’ts of bringing up a pet lamb: – Peter Fowler:

It’s that time of year again: schools around the country are holding pet days, and pet lambs proving a popular option. 

But bringing up a pet lamb can be fraught with difficulty. Rural News went to Elsthorpe Primary School in central Hawke’s Bay to find out from one of the winners of the pet lamb competition what it takes to bring up a champion lamb.

Phoebe, who has been a winner in the competition for four years in a row, said the first consideration was having enough space for the lamb.

Economic growth boosted by services and primary industries

Growth in services and primary industries supported a 0.4 percent increase in GDP in the June 2015 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today.

Agricultural production increased 3 percent in the June 2015 quarter, due to increased meat and dairy farming.

“Despite falling milk prices, we’re seeing growth in dairy production,” national accounts manager Gary Dunnet said. “But over the year, agriculture is up only a little, due to dry conditions last summer.” . . 

Hunt for great dairy pastures is on again:

The hunt is on for great dairy pastures in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty.

Entries are now open for the Pasture Renewal Persistence Competition run by the DairyNZ-led Pasture Improvement Leadership Group.
Competition organiser and DairyNZ developer Sally Peel says pasture renewal is one of the first steps to achieving high performing pastures. Improving poor yielding paddocks through good renewal practices can achieve substantial increase in pasture tonnage.

The competition has been running for five years with winners from all across the two regions.
Robert Garshaw of Waiuku won the 2014 best first year pasture. “Decisions such as cultivar and endophyte choice do matter. It’s really important to figure out what works well out of your farm and make the most of the establishment period,” says Robert. . . 

 


Ministers say no to Lochinver sale

September 17, 2015

Ministers have declined an application by a foreign company to buy Lochinver Station:

An overseas company’s application to purchase Lochinver Station has been declined because the benefits to New Zealand are not substantial and identifiable, Ministers Paula Bennett and Louise Upston say.

Pure 100 Farm Ltd, a subsidiary of China-based Shanghai Pengxin, applied to the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) last year to buy the 13,800 ha farm near Taupo for $88 million.

“Because Lochinver Station is classified by law as sensitive land, Ministers must consider whether the application meets the requirements set out in the Overseas Investment Act,” Associate Finance Minister Paula Bennett says.

“While we recognise and support the importance of overseas investment, the Overseas Investment Act states it is a privilege for overseas people to own sensitive New Zealand assets and therefore requires such investments to meet statutory criteria for consent.

“After detailed and careful individual consideration, we are not satisfied there will be, or is likely to be, a substantial benefit to New Zealand – a key requirement for applications of sensitive land of this size.”

While the OIO said the question of whether the benefits of the potential investment to New Zealand are or could be substantial and identifiable was finely balanced, it recommended approving the application.

“We agreed parts of the proposed investment could benefit New Zealand but in our judgement on the overall balance of evidence, the benefits are not likely to be substantial and identifiable,” Land Information Minister Louise Upston says.

“This proposed sale didn’t pass a test we are required to exercise Ministerial judgement on.

“This is an example of our system working well.  The OIO conducted a thorough investigation before making a finely balanced recommendation.  Ministers carefully assessed the evidence and ultimately came to different view.”

A summary of the reasons for the Ministers’ decision can be found here.

This decision shows the bar for overseas ownership of farm land is set very high.

It is very difficult for a would-be foreign buyer to prove that it would provide more benefits than a local one, even if the local is hypothetical.

 


Rural round-up

August 18, 2014

The circus of foreign ownership – Dr William Rolleston:

The Election has suddenly sparked into life. It was not a policy, a pratfall or a stunt, but Shanghai Pengxin Group’s Overseas Investment Office (OIO) application to buy Lochinver Station.

While Federated Farmers has taken the principled position of trying to learn what the ‘substantial and identifiable benefit’ to New Zealand is of this proposed sale, others have gone off the proverbial deep end.  National has been far too dismissive of concerns being raised in some quarters. Labour has gone to the opposite end by announcing they’d block the sale, along with the Greens.  Meanwhile, NZ First will go further and stop all foreign sales of New Zealand farmland.  That seems to be the position of Colin Craig, who stepped into Mr Peters shoes by breaking this story.

What everyone seems to have forgotten is process.  Our overseas investment rules are meant to operate on fair play under the guise of the OIO.  Instead, it has turned into an election political circus. The coverage of which, has gone global, given the media who have contacted me. . .

Meat and fibre’s time to shine – Rick Powdrell:

Boy oh boy, doesn’t it feel good to be a sheep and beef farmer for once. Of course it wasn’t always that way.  We were the dairy industry for decades, almost as soon as the Dunedin slipped out of Port Chalmers in1882, we rode the sheep’s back.  The good times operated under a simple business model.  We grew meat and fibre and Britain needed it.

Through war and peace, these good times seemed destined to run forever.  Our success blinded us to what the bright sparks at companies like DuPont were doing.  That was until they ‘wool-jacked’ us with oil based fibres.  That wasn’t helped by lamb being seen in the 1970s as your grans’ meal. You could have lamb cooked anyway you wanted as long as it came in a roasting tin.  Other meats became trendier and in some instances, cheaper, while our industry was trapped in a Sunday roast.  . .

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Demand drops for malting barley – Annette Scott:

A shrinking number of Kiwi beer drinkers is creating less demand for malting barley.

As beer consumption falls, coupled with higher prices for New Zealand barley, breweries require less malt and malting companies less barley.

Marton-based malting company Malteurop NZ operations manager Tiago Cabral said New Zealanders’ drinking habits were having an impact on the company. . .

 

Worth sharing - thanks The Horse Mafia

NSW $10m beef deal with China – Roderick Makim:

NSW beef suppliers have secured a $10 million export deal to the Chinese market.

Producers including Andrews Meat Industries in Lidcombe and the Northern Co-operative Meat Company Ltd in Casino are among the NSW suppliers involved in the deal, Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner said today.

Mr Stoner announced the deal while visiting Hong Kong and Shenzhen for a three-day trade mission along with representatives from a range of NSW food companies. . . .


70,000,000 reasons for sale

August 10, 2014

Tim Worstall, writing at Forbes, says there’s 70,000,000 reasons for selling Lochinver Station:

There’s a slightly bizarre argument going on over in New Zealand over the ownership of a large farm, Lochinver Station. The argument is over whether it’s right or not for it to be sold to a Chinese company. There’s so many things wrong with even having the debate that it’s difficult for we foreigners to get our minds around it. For a start the very definition of private property is that you can dispose of said property as you wish. If you can’t then it’s not actually private property any more. But more than that the basis of the argument against allowing the sale seems to be that the sale should be in New Zealand’s economic interest as a whole. Which, of course, it is, there’s 70 million benefits coming into the country in the form of the $70 million that’s being paid for it. Why the debate continues after this is a mystery. . .

The debate continues because of emotion and politics.

. . . To which I would just add that one about the 70 million benefits. A foreigner (a corporation, an individual, it doesn’t matter) is bringing money into the country to pay for Lochinver Station. The price that’s being paid is, by definition, everyone’s best guess as to the total current value of all of the future profits from that farming operation. This is thus an addition of $70 million to New Zealand’s capital stock. Before, there was the farm worth $70 million. After the sale there will still be the farm, which will still employ people, pay taxes and so on. And also the family operation that used to run the farm now has $70 million. The deal adds to the capital stock of the country and what makes a place richer is increasing the amount of capital that is added to the labour of that place. Thus there’s 70 million benefits to the sale, each dollar being paid over being a benefit of one dollar.

Other than a xenophobic appeal to economic populism (and those with long memories might care to ponder on where said autarkic populism led the economy under Robert Muldoon) there’s really nothing at all to support the idea that Lochinver Station cannot be sold to anyone at all who wants to buy it.

Private property rights and economics mean nothing to the xenophobes opposing the sale.

They also fail to see the benefits to the seller and the country from those $70,000,000 and all the other money the would-be purchaser, Shanghai Pengxin,  will have to put into the farm to meet the very strict criteria of the Overseas Investment Office.


We’ve grown

August 9, 2014

Foreign investment is an issue which bubbles away in the background with the occasional boil over, usually based on emotion not facts.

This week’s fuss over the sale of Lochinver Station is a prime example.

The rules for foreign investment were already tight and National tightened them further.

Foreign buyers of sensitive land must convince the Overseas Investment Office they can meet strict criteria – including delivering greater economic, environmental and social benefits than a local buyer would.

This isn’t just a matter of ticking boxes.

A friend manages farms owned by a foreign company and he says they are strictly monitored to ensure they are doing what they said they’d do.

This isn’t good enough for politicians who sense an opportunity to grab a headline and garner votes.

The concern is that if emotion rules, New Zealand and New Zealanders will be poorer.

Foreign investment brings benefits as John Roughan points out:

Foreign investment seems to have done us no harm. In fact we would be a smaller, meaner, more worried place without it. We’ve grown.

Prime Minister John Key has said if there’s a run on our land the government will act.

There is a need for a discussion on what would constitute a run and the total area of foreign ownership we should allow.

But that should be based on reason not emotion.

Foreign investment has helped us grow and poor policy based on  political opportunism by politicians desperate for attention could threaten future growth.

We’ve grown and we need some foreign investment to ensure we keep growing.


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