Rural round-up

March 21, 2020

Coronavirus: Fonterra, New Zealand is counting on you now like never before – Andrea Fox:

Fonterra chairman John Monaghan in his opening remarks about this week’s strong half-year result said against the backdrop of coronavirus turmoil, the big dairy company’s news “may sound somewhat trivial”.

We knew what he meant, but he couldn’t have been more wrong.

The financial performance of New Zealand’s biggest company and the world’s fourth-largest dairy company assumes towering new importance because of that turmoil.

Dairying was an economic sword for New Zealand against the GFC. . . 

New Zealand’s food supply needs protecting:

The animal medicines and crop protection lobby group Agcarm applauds the government’s efforts to protect the health of New Zealanders in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, buts asks that support is extended to the farming community for maintaining essential food supplies.

Agcarm chief executive says “our rural communities are needed more than ever to ensure that this health crisis doesn’t turn into a hunger crisis”. Food production must be prioritised as an essential part of the COVID-19 response.

“We must maintain the uninterrupted movement of animal medicine and crop protection products, seeds and feed so that our farmers can keep healthy livestock and maintain an abundant supply of meat, fruits, vegetables and grains.” . . 

Still in business – Annette Scott:

Rural people are urged to band together in keeping safe as they ride the tough times of the coronavirus pandemic.

Social resilience is key and if everyone works together “we will get through this,” the Mental Health Foundation says.

Agriculture is still in business and likely to lead the bounce back, ASB rural economist Nathan Penny says.

“Farming is likely to be the quickest to rebound from the fallout from coronavirus. . . 

Drought starting to bite hard – Colin Williscroft:

Drought shouts organised by North Island rural support trusts have been put on hold by restrictions on gatherings.

Rural Support Trust chairman Neil Bateup says the social events bringing farmers together to deal with the drought and take their minds off some of its problems are no longer an option as the focus goes on keeping farmers and trust staff safe from covid-19.

It does not affect the trust’s other services.

“We’re absolutely determined to continue with the one-on-one support and advice to farmers.

“That will not be interrupted but we’re putting some protocols in place to keep everyone safe.” . . 

Dairy farm sales low but recovering – Maja Burry:

New figures from the Real Estate Institute show dairy farm sales remain slow, with only one dairy farm changing hands in Canterbury in the last nine months.

Data released yesterday shows 1253 farms were sold in the year to February 2020, 14.8 percent fewer than were sold in the year to February 2019, with 37 percent less dairy farms, 10 percent less grazing farms, 27.9 percent less finishing farms and 9.9 percent less arable farms sold over the same period.

The institute’s rural spokesperson Brian Peacocke said the data reflected a rural industry under pressure in terms of volumes and values, particularly the dairy sector. . . 

Synlait Milk’s first half profit drops 30 percent :

Synlait Milk has reported a 30 percent fall in its first half profit as its costs rose despite higher revenue.

The dairy company’s net profit for the six month ended January was $26.2 million, compared with $37.3 million the year before.

Revenue rose 19 percent, but its depreciation and financing costs offset that as the company expanded for future growth. . .


Rural round-up

March 15, 2020

Drought, Covid-19 expected to slow primary sector export revenue – Maja Burry:

The Ministry for Primary Industries expects drought and Covid-19 coronavirus will slow the growth of primary sector export revenue.

MPI’s latest situation and outlook report forecasts primary sector revenue will rise 0.5 per cent in the year to June 2020 to $46.5 billion.

This forecast is $1.3 billion lower than the previous forecast published by MPI in December, with downward revisions to most sectors, particularly dairy, meat and wool, and forestry. . . 

Big Healthy Rivers changes mooted :

Widespread changes to the Healthy Rivers plan that will remove some of its more contentious elements have been recommended.

The hearings panel formed to consider submissions and recommend changes to the Waikato Regional Council has released its findings.

They want to scrap the requirement for all farmers to establish a nitrogen reference points (NRP). . . 

Horticulture’s growth is thanks to growers:

New Zealand horticulture’s steady growth of nearly three percent to more than $6 billion a year in export earnings1 is thanks to passionate growers, quality produce, and decades of investment, says Horticulture New Zealand. 

‘New Zealand’s growers are committed to the long-term future of the industry.  Their fruit and vegetables are the envy of the world, particularly with current concerns around health and wellbeing,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman. 

‘The industry’s steady growth reflects decades of investment in research and development in new varieties and efficient growing techniques.  Our growers know their stuff and are committed to doing the best for the environment as well as for the people they employ.  . .

 

A2 Milk expands North American footprint with licensing deal :

Speciality dairy company A2 Milk is expanding into Canada through a venture with the local co-operative Agrifoods.

A2 will give Agrifoods access to its intellectual property and marketing systems, as well as work with it to get the necessary milk from Canadian dairy farmers.

Chief growth and brand officer Susan Massasso said it was part of the company’s plans to expand its North American market. . .

20 sheep and beef finalists announced for the 2020 Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

This year’s Ballance Farm Environment Awards finalists have been announced and out of 50 finalists across 11 regions, 20 are sheep and beef farmers.

Run by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFET), the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) celebrate good farm practices and promote sustainable land management.

Category award winners and the supreme winners will be announced at an Awards dinner in each region, starting with the East Coast on 4 March. Find more details and a full list of the finalists on NZFET’s website. . . 

David and Prue Bondfield step back from daily Palgrove operations :

LIVESTOCK industry champions David and Prue Bondfield are stepping back from daily operations at Palgrove, with both to remain as directors of the large scale genetics company.

The decision follows the development of Palgrove as one of the largest seedstock and commercial producers in Australia, with significant land assets across Queensland and NSW.

Mr Bondfield said well-planned business succession was critical to the success of an innovative enterprise like Palgrove. . .


Rural round-up

March 8, 2020

No need to destroy the perfect way of farming – Lone Sorensen:

Why are we accusing farming and in particularly dairy farming for being the cause, at least here in NZ, for global warming?

Would it by any chance be because it is a lot easier finding a scapegoat to blame everything on than actually cleaning up one’s own back yard first.

The atmosphere now contains 409 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide (CO₂), when it is claimed that it can only cope with 350 ppm without a change in climate. The reason for this is that for the last 200 years, or since the industrial revolution, we have overused the earth’s resources of fossil fuels and by industrialising our farming methods also the humus in the soil: basically an overuse of stored carbon in the ground which we have turned in to CO₂, and methane. All this has made our life as humans more comfortable, but it has come at a cost.  . .

Biosecurity cost blowout for councils – Gerald Piddock:

Federated Farmers is warning rural district councils could face cost blowouts in meeting the requirements of the Government’s National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity.

Councils will have to map all land classified as a significant natural area in five years.

They already have to protect and map those areas in district plans and many have already done so. 

However, the new policy changes the criteria of for those areas, meaning some councils might have to redo their mapping, Federated Farmers regional policy analyst Paul Le Miere told about 20 farmers at a meeting in Te Awamutu. . .

Award for irrigation innovation :

Farmers leading the way in responsible irrigation could win a trip to America.

Encouraging farmers to share their ideas for sustainable water management has motivated the launch of an award by agricultural irrigation systems company Zimmatic.

The Zimmatic Trailblazer Sustainable Irrigation Awards aim to celebrate excellence in sustainable irrigation. recognising farmers leading the way in responsible irrigation, innovative water management and environmental stewardship. . . 

Being a good boss:

If you’re a dairy farmer reading this, then ask yourself, are you a good boss?

Do you value your workers and is their wellbeing your priority? 

Most farmers are good employers and to celebrate this, industry stakeholders have launched the Good Boss campaign.

A sector-wide initiative by Federated Farmers, DairyNZ, Dairy Women’s Network and NZ Young Farmers it was launched last month . . 

M Bovis research to look at milk yield impact– Maja Burry:

The Ministry for Primary Industries is commissioning new research into the impacts of Mycoplasma bovis on cattle in New Zealand.

Scientists at Massey University would undertake the one- to two-year study, where they would look at the symptoms of the cattle disease, the effects on milk yield and composition and the duration of these effects.

MPI chief science advisor John Roche said the work would help accelerate eradication of the disease from New Zealand farms and minimise the negative impacts. . .

 

Red meat exports reach more than $870 million in January as sector demonstrates resilience:

New Zealand exported red meat and co-products worth $873.2 million in January 2020, an increase of 26 per cent compared to January 2019, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Despite global market instability as a result of the Coronavirus, the market prices achieved in January were still stronger than the same month last year. The value of beef exports was up by 50 per cent sheepmeat was up by 18 per cent and co-products were up two per cent.

While the average value of sheepmeat exports to China declined from $8.87/kg in December 2019 to $7.63/kg in January, it was still significantly higher than in January 2019 ($6.57/kg). . . 

Whenua Ora Tangata Ora partnership leads the way forward in regenerative agriculture:

An initiative targeted at establishing and supporting a critical mass of New Zealand landowners to use regenerative farming practices was launched today.

Whenua Ora Tangata Ora is a joint partnership between FOMA Innovation, the science and technology arm of the Federation of Māori Authorities (FOMA); Soil Connection, biological farming and soil health experts; and Toha, an environmental impact platform that recently launched Calm The Farm to support farmers to reduce their environmental and climate impacts while improving financial resilience.

“Transforming ‘industrial farming’ practices in Aotearoa through regenerative agriculture to reflect true kaitiakitanga (guardianship) is the way of the future,” says FOMA Innovation lead representative, Te Horipo Karaitiana. . .


Rural round-up

February 8, 2020

Cost of meeting freshwater standards could cripple farm business – Esther Taunton:

Fourth-generation sheep and beef farmer Daniel Mickleson says the cost of meeting proposed freshwater standards could mean the end of his family farm.

The Government is expected to make its final decisions on the details of a plan to clean up the country’s waterways early this year with the new rules coming into effect in June.

The plan includes several measures to improve farming practices, and ensure all farmers and growers have a plan to manage risks to freshwater. . . 

Southland property likely to be ‘unfarmable’ for sometime after floods – Louisa Steyl,:

A sea of water sits above the Scobie’s farm. 

It’s one of the worst affected areas on the Wyndham Rd between Wyndham and Mataura, but the family who own it haven’t had a chance to assess the damage properly yet. 

Instead, they’ve been busy helping people in Wyndham where Pam Yorke, nee Scobie, used to be the community board chair. . . 

New study finds pine forest link to fine sediment in Waimea, Moutere estuaries – Cherie Sivignon:

Almost 90 per cent of the environmentally-damaging fine sediment at the mouth of the Moutere River came from pine forest, a new study has found.

Tasman District Council and NIWA have been investigating the effects of sediment on the district’s river systems. The resulting report, which is not yet available in full, also found that recently harvested pine forests along with bank erosion were responsible for a high proportion of sediment in the Waimea Inlet.

Council resource scientist Trevor James said the study represented a “snapshot in time” but he hoped to organise a meeting with the forestry companies as well as sediment experts from NIWA and Landcare Research to discuss its findings. . . 

Hope coronavirus impact on dairy will be short-lived – Sally Rae:

A 4.7% overall fall in this week’s Global Dairy Trade auction ‘‘could have been worse’’, ASB senior rural economist Nathan Penny says.

There were signs the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on dairy markets would prove short-lived; Chinese buyers remained active at similar levels to recent auctions, while three product prices rose.

Those signs were consistent with the bank’s view the impact on dairy markets and prices would be modest and short-lived, Mr Penny said in a note.

However, the bank remained vigilant as the outbreak situation was fluid and dairy price implications were subject to change. . . 

Central Otago cherry growers hit by second tough season in a row – Maja Burry:

Central Otago cherry growers are reporting a tough 2019-20 season, with yields about half the normal size due to poor weather conditions.

The majority of cherries are harvested in the region between mid-December to early February.

Summerfruit NZ chair and general manager of the cherry exporter 45 South, Tim Jones, said yields were about half, or maybe even a little bit less, of what a full crop would be in the district. It was the second tough season in a row for growers, he said.

“So two years in a row of low yields, I think growers will be looking forward to next year and [getting] back to some good volumes.” . . 

New partnership to develop bigger, tastier blueberries:

Consumers across the world may soon be experiencing tastier, fuller-sized blueberries year-round, thanks to a new breeding partnership in blueberries that will bring premium quality berries to customers across the world. 

Plant & Food Research and global fresh produce company T& G Global have announced they are entering into a new agreement to breed and commercialise exciting new varieties of blueberries to be sold globally. 

The breeding programme will produce new varieties of blueberry that will provide improved yield and resistance to disease while also delivering consumers larger, tastier berries over a longer period, with an extended harvest season. 

The first new commercial varieties could be launched globally in the next 12 months under T&G Global’s Orchard Rd brand.  . . 

Zespri reveals bold new brand identity:

Zespri, the world’s leading marketer of kiwifruit, has unveiled its first new look in its 22-year history, with a refreshed brand providing a strong platform for the company to continue its recent growth.

With operating revenue of $3.14 billion in 2018/19, Zespri continues to make excellent progress towards its goal of reaching $4.5 billion in sales by 2025, driven by the commitment of its 2,800 New Zealand and 1,500 offshore growers to produce premium-quality kiwifruit.

Revealed at the world’s leading fresh produce exhibition, Berlin Fruit Logistica, the new brand better reflects the company’s purpose which is to help people, communities and the environment thrive through the goodness of kiwifruit. . . 

Trust Board opportunity as Brown steps down from Dairy Women’s Network:

An exciting opportunity at board level has opened up as Waikato dairy farmer Tracy Brown steps down from her role as a Trustee of the Dairy Women’s Network.

Brown, who farms with her husband Wynn at Tiroroa Farms near Matamata, says the time was right to move on after over four years on the Trust Board.

“I joined in November 2015 with a vision to provide support to women in the dairy industry to better reach their potential and to help Dairy Women’s Network become an organisation which could help drive transformational change for our industry,” Brown said.  “I feel I have had a big input into both of these areas.” . . 


Rural round-up

January 23, 2020

Farmers, wildlife and residents alike face water shortages as regions dry up fast – Tracy Neal:

Water cuts are looming in pockets of the country drying up fast. 

Councils in affected areas are assembling dry-weather crews, farmers are now giving extra feed to stock, and Northland kiwi birds are now struggling to feed on hard-baked soil, where the dry weather has lingered longer than usual.

Dairy farmer and kiwi conservationist Jane Hutchings said in her 30 years in the area, summer is either saturated by cyclones, or parched dry.

Right now it is the latter, and the kiwi population is struggling. . . 

Farmers’ green tinge growing – Tim Fulton:

Farmers are on a green binge recycling more waste and unwanted products through the Agrecovery scheme than ever before.

Now the Government and agri manufacturers are working on a plan to make industry hitchhikers pay their way.

Agrecovery’s waste collection rates rose 40% in the past couple of years, the animal health and agrichem lobby group Agcarm says.

Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross said the voluntary returns amount to about 437 tonnes of products, including 11 tonnes of chemicals. The total collected was about half the product in the New Zealand market at any time. . . 

Chinese palate has diverse tastes – Richard Rennie:

Shrink wrapped quail eggs, lifestyle choices and social media are all playing their parts in what and how Chinese will eat heading into the new decade.

Chinese media platform company Radii has analysed latest market trends in the country’s enormous food market as the middle class continues to grow and become a more sophisticated, discerning customer for food imports from the likes of New Zealand.

In its report food journalist Mayura Jain identifies takeout food delivery showing no signs of growth experienced in the past five years slowing down.  . . 

Project aims to give vineyard managers more information in a hail storm – Maja Burry:

Researchers are working to fill the information gap for winegrowers hit by extreme weather events.

The Blenhiem-based Bragato Research Institute has started a two-year project to work out how vineyard managers can best deal with hail storm damage to their vines.

The research follows severe hail in Hawke’s Bay in October last year, which damaged about 600 hectares of vines.

Hail in Central Otago and North Canterbury damaged vines during November. . . 

New market for sunflowers leads to big burst of colour near Timaru– Esther Ashby-Coventry:

It’s hard to miss the stunning burst of yellow in paddocks full of millions of sunflowers just south of Timaru.

They sunflowers may become a five yearly feature on owner Warren Darling’s 70 hectares of land as he takes advantage of a new market.

Usually he grows rape seed, which also produces a radiant yellow display when in flower, as well as wheat and barley, but is now considering sunflowers as part of his crop rotations. . .

Tickets on Sale for Women in Forestry conference:

Tickets are on sale for the Women in Forestry Conference, being held from 30 April – 2 May 2020 in Whangamata.

The Women in Forestry conference will bring together women in the NZ Forestry industry, to connect, learn and share experiences.

The third event of its kind, the conference is organised by the Women in Forestry Network, a grass-roots movement founded to support women in the industry.

Women in Forestry co-founder and General Manager Sarah Davidson says there is a need for more female support in the industry. . .


Rural round-up

November 11, 2019

Farmers back Fonterra mostly – Neal Wallace:

The prevailing mood might have been optimism among Fonterra shareholders at the annual meeting but a residual bitterness lingered, evidenced by two calls for chairman John Monaghan’s resignation.

About 200 shareholders attended the meeting in Invercargill on Thursday at which shareholders Jan-Maarten Kingma and Peter Moynihan both called for Monaghan’s head, saying there needs to be accountability for the decisions leading to Fonterra’s poor financial performance.

After the meeting Monaghan said he was not surprised by the resignation calls or the contrasting mood of the meeting, which reflected the broad church that is the co-operative. . . 

Learning from experience – Colin Williscroft:

Working the land is a challenging business at the best of times and for Central Hawke’s Bay farmers Ben and Libby Tosswill it’s important to focus on what they can change and try not to loose too much sleep over what they can’t, as Colin Williscroft found.

Ben and Libby Tosswill have been farming at Birch Hill Station for about 10 years, having returned to New Zealand from London where they worked in corporate finance and banking.

Trading the bright lights of the big city for the open landscape of Hawke’s Bay hill country has been a big change but the couple relish the lifestyle it’s provided them and their three boys – Fletcher, 8, Alex, 6, and Jack, 2. . .

Fit bits for cows? Tracking collars aim to reveal bovine personalities – Maja Burry and Simon Rogers:

It’s hoped new research looking at the different grazing personalities of Hereford cows will help high country farmers better use their land.

Lincoln University PHD candidate Cristian Moreno is using GPS tracking collars to monitor the differences in how some cows in the same herd graze and to establish which genetic and environmental factors influence their behaviour.

Mr Moreno said while he was still in the early stages of analysing the five million GPS data points that he had collected, he’d already found some cows would tend to walk about 2km in a day, while others would more than double that. . . 

New chairwoman in charge at trust – Toni Williams:

Jane Riach has taken over the helm on the board of Kanuka Mid Canterbury Regeneration Trust, helping to balance biodiversity, predator control and planting for purpose in the district.

Mrs Riach, who was approached to take on the chairwoman’s role, is equipped with organisational skills to help keep trust members on track and moving in the right direction.

She says the trust team was full of people already passionate about the work they were doing and had an abundance of energy and enthusiasm.

She, and husband Hamish, who is chief executive officer at Ashburton District Council, have been in town for just over a year, and Mrs Riach is already an active member in the Ashburton community. . . 

Meet Steve the seaweed man

As a horse-riding musterer on the wild Wairarapa coast, Steve Matthews used to watch deer gathering on the beach to feast on seaweed thrown up by the rough seas.

On retirement, he was inspired to start his own small business foraging and selling the stuff. Demand is huge but he plans to stay small-scale unless new regulations put him out of business.

Steve was brought up in Titahi Bay and has lived on rugged Wairarapa coast most of his life, shepherding and later managing a couple of farms.

“I was always on the beach as a kid… I love the sea.” . . 

Farmers helped to come up with carbon reduction plans – Conan Young:

Moving dairy cows indoors could be part of the answer to bringing down emissions on farms.

Farmers faced having five years to come up with their own tool to price and pay for the carbon and methane coming off their properties or being forced by the government to join the Emissions Trading Scheme.

For the first time since the ETS was introduced over a decade ago, there was a very real prospect of farmers being charged for their climate change inducing emissions. . 


Rural round-up

October 31, 2019

NZ aware of ASF threat – Sally Rae:

New Zealand’s pork industry would be “decimated” if African swine fever (ASF) was to hit the country, New Zealand Pork chairman Eric Roy says.

Since China reported the first case of ASF just over a year ago, it has culled more than 131million pigs, or around 40% of the previous pig herd.

Some private sector estimates suggested the culling might have even been larger than official estimates, BNZ’s latest Rural Wrap said. 

NZ Pork was concerned the disease was spreading “quite rapidly” and was now in Timor-Leste, or East Timor, as it continued to move south from China. It has been confirmed in the Philippines and South Korea. . .

Kiwi vegan loonies are treasonous – Ryan Bridge:

How do you know there’s a vegan in the room? They’ll tell you.

It’s an old joke but a good one.

Vegans are like evangelical Bible Belt Christians from the United States. They want to ram their ideology down your throat at any chance they can get.

On Tuesday, you will hear in the news stories about a new survey of consumers. They will claim a third of Kiwis are on their way to becoming vegetarians or vegans. We’re all going green. 

But make no mistake, the percentage of Kiwis who are vegetarian or vegan remains at 3 percent. Yes, 97 percent of us are still into our meat and so we should be, especially in New Zealand. . .

Women elected to DairyNZ board – Pam Tipa:

Two Waikato dairy farmers were elected to DairyNZ’s board last week. Tracy Brown is a new member and Elaine Cook was re-elected at the annual general meeting in Hamilton on October 22.

They are two of five farmer-elected directors and three board-appointed directors who contribute to strategy and priorities on behalf of dairy farmers. DairyNZ now has a board of five women and three men.

Chair Jim van der Poel welcomed the directors and acknowledged their role in “playing a key part in setting the future direction of DairyNZ”. . .

A voice for telling rural stories – Alice Scott:

A strong desire to capture the essence of people and tell their stories  won a former West Otago woman the Rural Champion category at the NZI Rural Women NZ Business Awards recently. Alice Scott reports.

Kate Taylor, who now lives in Hawke’s Bay, grew up in the small southern farming district of Dunrobin. 

She says entering the Rural Women business awards was a way for her to ”walk the talk” and share her story, as she has for so many years been preaching to the people she interviews.

Mrs Taylor is the youngest of four Rivett girls and grew up on her family’s sheep and beef farm known as The Glen. She attended Blue Mountain College, in Tapanui, and got her first job in Gore, at radio station 4ZG, then did a journalism course at Christchurch Polytechnic . .

NZ lamb exporters welcome Brexit deadline extension–  Maja Burry:

An extension to the Brexit deadline is being welcomed by New Zealand lamb exporters, who had been worried about possible disruptions to Christmas trade.

European Union leaders have agreed to extend Brexit until 31 January next year – meaning the UK will not leave as planned on Thursday. The bloc would also allow for a so-called “flextension” – meaning the UK could leave before the deadline if a deal was approved by Parliament.

The UK market is very important for chilled New Zealand lamb exports ahead of Christmas and there had been concerns from industry that the UK’s departure from the European Union during this period could present border delays and increased administrative costs. . . .

Deer farm for sale with tourism and hunting options :

An iconic Hawke’s Bay station founded on pioneering spirit and nurtured over 100 years by the same family is now on the market for the first time.

Historic Te Rangi Station, located 50 minutes north of Napier Airport is generating strong interest among farming circles as far afield as the South Island from potential buyers recognising the opportunities a deer fenced station of this scale and summer safe location offers. . .


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