Rural round-up

November 20, 2018

Has the time come for genetic modification?– Charlie Dreaver:

Trees with red trunks and apples that are red right the way through and flower all year round. Should we back or block the genetically changed plants New Zealand scientists are growing? Charlie Dreaver reports for Insight. 

Gene edited plants are just as safe as normal plants, according to one scientist. At a Plant and Food Research greenhouse in Auckland, one of the sections is filled with $300 apple trees, and Andy Allan, a professor of plant biology, is pointing out one of his favourite experiment, a tree with bright, fuchsia-coloured flowers.

“The particular red gene we’re testing is under a strong expression, so the roots are red, the trunk is red, the leaves are copper and the fruit goes on to look more like a plum, it’s so dark.” . . 

Hope for kiwi comeback from 1080 project targeting stoats – Jono Edwards:

The first western Fiordland 1080 project will start mid-next year in the hope of bringing the stoat-ridden area’s kiwi back from the brink.

As part of the Department of Conservation’s “Save Our Iconic Kiwi” initiative, the operation will target 50,000ha of rugged, inaccessible terrain at Shy Lake, between Wet Jacket Arm and Breaksea Sound.

Non-toxic baits to accustom rats to the bait are planned for late winter next year, followed by toxic baits in September and October. The stoats will then eat the poisoned rats. . .

Native vegetation on sheep and beef farms summary report:

A report from the University of Canterbury has revealed that 24 per cent of New Zealand’s native vegetation (approximately 2.8 million hectares) is estimated to be on sheep and beef farms. This is the largest amount of native vegetation present outside of public conservation land. 

The report has also uncovered that 17 per cent of all New Zealand’s native forest is estimated to be on sheep and beef farms and is likely playing a vital, but often unheralded role in supporting biodiversity.

B+LNZ CEO Sam McIvor reflects that “This is a great acknowledgement for our farmers and the work they’re doing as stewards of the land. I hear sheep and beef farmers talking every day about what they’re doing on farm to support biodiversity and it’s great we have been able to develop evidence to back their passionate voices”. . .

Less effective killers cost more – Jacqueline Rowarth:

 Glyphosphate, commonly sold as Roundup, has been in the news again, this time because of a link to antibiotic resistance.

Canterbury University’s Professor Jack Heinemann has done some interesting work in the laboratory. He has also acknowledged agar plates in controlled conditions are a very long way from field use.

More research is required. Of course.

And scientists love having a reason to do more research.

It’s different in Russia – Keith Woodford:

This last week I have been working in Russia on issues of A1 and A2 beta-casein.  I am still there, but today is Sunday and together with my wife Annette, I am on a fast train from Moscow to St Petersburg.

It’s late autumn over here, but to a Kiwi lad it seems like the middle of winter. Until today, the weather has been fine and clear but with temperatures below freezing. Today the snow has arrived, and it will now be on the ground for at least the next four months.  There is not much sign of global warming over here!

Travelling by fast train at 250 km per hour, I am fascinated by the lungs of Russia. By that I mean the hundreds of kilometres of trees, largely pines, with just the occasional village.  Somewhere there must be some farm lands, but they sure aren’t in sight from the train. . . 

Signs mount that Fonterra will have to cut its payout forecast –  Jenny Ruth:

(BusinessDesk) – The risks are mounting against Fonterra holding its current forecast milk payout and this week’s GlobalDairyTrade auction could be yet another nail in its coffin.

The auction results will be released early Wednesday, New Zealand time.

Fonterra’s current forecast is a rate of $6.25-to-$6.50 a kilogram of milk solids but Mark Lister, the head of wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners, says the trends in both dairy pricing and the renewed strength in the kiwi dollar could see the actual payout settle closer to $6.00 or $6.25. . . 

Fonterra too helpful to councils – Hugh Stringleman:

The ever-increasing compliance load on dairy farmers was forcibly questioned at the Fonterra annual meeting by Cambridge dairy farmer Judy Bryan.

She alleged Fonterra accepts and facilitates regional councils’ demands for environmental actions that load costs on farmers.

“We may be getting $6 something in milk price but look where a lot of that is going, on compliance. . .

Careful! You might miss New Zealand’s latest luxury lodge:

New Zealand’s newest luxury lodge epitomises discretion, from blending seamlessly into its secluded rural location to the luxe surroundings and discerning service of a high-calibre luxury destination.

Set to become New Zealand’s newest luxury destination, The Lindis which opened this month in a dramatic South Island high country valley, blends so perfectly with the surroundings that you’d be forgiven for missing it.

Try spotting The Lindis from the air and you’re liable to miss it thanks to outstanding architecture designed to blend with the stunning landscape surrounding the building’s resting place in the Ahuriri Valley. The valley lies in a stretch of South Island high country between Mount Cook and Wanaka and the lodge name associates with The Lindis Pass, a picturesque alpine roadway linking the Mackenzie Basin with Central Otago. . .


Rural round-up

March 17, 2016

It’s cyclic – ‘We will survive’  – Dirk Sieling:

Dairy economist Peter Fraser cannot go unchallenged. The anti-Fonterra and dairying bias he showed during his time at the Ministry for Primary Industries continues unabated.

His simple tactic of building a case on an unsubstantiated or false premise is typical of the misguided notions that often end up in the public domain.

In his March 7 article, he quotes data from the Reserve Bank showing that dairy farmers are borrowing about $3.5 billion per year “just to stay afloat”. This is just a nonsense.

Dairy farmers may well be borrowing that amount on average over time, but it is more often than not to buy another farm, build a new cowshed or convert drystock land to dairying.

But on the premise that it is “just to stay afloat”, he builds a scenario of lots of farmers going broke and collapsing land prices, all in a downward spiral. . . 

From a farming MP to her province – Barbara Kuriger:

The dairy industry is once again headlining news this week. I acknowledge this is a tough time for farmers. You and I as farmers know that the dairy pay-out is volatile; it rises and it dips and as a result of this, it has evolved as one of the most financially enduring industries in the agricultural sector. Falling dairy prices means it may be a tight year for many, and budgets are being adapted to counter this.

There has been much emotive talk by opposition about how our Government is ‘failing the dairy industry’, because they can’t actively step into this situation and raise the dairy pay out back to $8 kilogram MS. But the Government does have in progress three incredibly gutsy pieces of legislation that will assist the dairy industry, for which the benefits to dairy are widely unreported.  . . 

Dairy farmers forget past lessons – Mark Lister:

Milk is a cyclical commodity, and prices have been low before.

he long-term outlook for the dairy sector is strong, but the immediate future is highly concerning. Global prices are down 12 per cent this year and about a third lower than a year ago.

Against that backdrop, it was unsurprising to see Fonterra reduce its milk payout forecast to $3.90 per kg of milksolids this week. Adding in the dividend from Fonterra, the total payout will be about $4.25.

This is the lowest payout since 2006/07, and with a break-even price of about $5.30, the majority of farmers will suffer a second year of operating losses. . . 

Controlling dairy farm cost of production – Keith Woodford:

The key dairy priority at the moment, which stands above all else, is to minimise the number of New Zealand dairy farmers who will succumb to the current downturn. In particular, we all need to try and limit the damage to the latest generation of younger farmers who are often the most indebted.

It is all about getting the cost of production under control.

I have previously written about survival strategies and the need for each farm and farmer to chart his or her own path. I have also tried to caution against panicking and making big system changes when in a crisis. More particularly, I have tried to emphasise that hungry cows always kick their owners in the back pocket. Also, I regularly try and remind people that cost of production has both a numerator (which is cost) and a denominator (which is production). . . 

Irrigation funding boost for Wairarapa, Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed three new investments totalling $1.6 million into irrigation projects coming from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF).

The three irrigation projects receiving funding are in the Wairarapa ($804,000), Hawke’s Bay ($575,000), and Gisborne ($250,000).

“This funding helps support the development of irrigation proposals to the stage where they are investment ready,” says Mr Guy.  . . 

Funding for irrigation unlocks potential:

Irrigation New Zealand applauds the latest announcement by Government sighting three more grants by the Irrigation Acceleration Fund – $804,000 for the Wairarapa Water Use Project, $575,000 for Ruataniwha (Hawke’s Bay) and $250,000 for Gisborne’s Managed Aquifer Recharge Trial.

“It’s great to see the Irrigation Acceleration Fund delivering on what it was set up to do – supporting the potential for irrigated agriculture to contribute to New Zealand’s sustainable economic growth,” says Irrigation New Zealand chairwoman Nicky Hyslop. . . .

Research to set NZ sheep milk apart:

New Zealand’s sheep milk industry is set to benefit from ground-breaking research by AgResearch.

Two hundred people are attending the second Sheep Milk NZ industry conference, being held in Palmerston North this week (14th-15th March). The first conference last year attracted 160 people, with the rise reflecting the increased interest in the industry.

AgResearch scientists presented the initial results from two years of research from the $6 million MBIE-funded programme “Boosting exports of the emerging dairy sheep industry”, ranging from composition of New Zealand sheep milk through to best practice effluent management. . . 

Industry looks beyond radiata:

Future generations of New Zealanders may live in a patchwork landscape where several different forest species compete on the hills for growing space with the familiar Pinus radiata.

“Radiata is a great multi-purpose tree that grows well in many places. But it is not perfect for all growing situations or market needs. And there are obvious risks in having all our eggs in one species basket,” says Forest Owners Association research and development manager Russell Dale.

“We are therefore thrilled as an industry that the government is joining us in the Specialty Woods Products Research Partnership. This is a major programme that will investigate new products and markets for alternative species and build the confidence of forest growers in planting those species that show promise.” . . 

Fonterra’s Anmum Formula Hits Nz Shelves:

Fonterra’s internationally established infant nutrition brand Anmum is now available to New Zealand families.

Fonterra Brands New Zealand Managing Director Leon Clement says Anmum is a $200 million brand in Fonterra’s Asian markets with an established track record of quality and trust with parents.

“Anmum draws on Fonterra and its legacy companies’ 50 plus years of experience in dairy research and in producing paediatric formulas for third parties. Bringing Anmum to New Zealand families means we are now providing nutrition for key life stages,” he says. . . 

Growth Attracts 28 New Canterbury Milk Suppliers:

Synlait now has 201 milk suppliers for 2016 / 2017 to meet forecast growth in their value-added nutritional product business.

John Penno, Managing Director and CEO, said a combination of increased customer demand for nutritional products – such as a2 Platimum® Infant Formula – and increased production capacity with a new large scale spray dryer has created an opportunity for Canterbury dairy farmers to supply Synlait.

“We’ve had a very positive response to this opportunity, to the extent we have not been able to accept supply from everyone interested and we now have a waiting list,” said Mr Penno. . . 


Labour will meddle in power market

January 17, 2014

Labour is planning to follow through on its policy to meddle in the power market if it is in government:

. . . Labour and the Greens unveiled plans to overhaul New Zealand’s electricity market on the eve of the government’s MightyRiverPower selldown last year. The operator of nine hydro stations on the Waikato River has traded below its $2.50 IPO price since just after the sale last May.  Meridian Energy, sold in October, is hovering around its listing price.

The opposition parties want to create a single, state-owned power buyer and a restructured pricing model, to eliminate excessive power company profits and pass savings onto consumers through cheaper electricity prices.

“A wise investor will be aware if the pricing model changes, in this case to stop the profiteering of public rivers, that will change the companies’ profits,” Parker, who would be finance minister in a Labour government, told BusinessDesk.

“Investors are already discounting those stocks because of what might happen if we win,” he said. “It’s actually a good example of how the market works.” . . .

If they can reduce the value of companies and the wealth of investors this much when they’re in opposition, they will do much worse in government.

Investors have already assessed the threat. The New Zealand stock exchange energy group index, which includes all listed power companies along with Z Energy and NZ Refining, has dropped 9.6 percent in the past 12 months, while the NZX 50 Index has rallied about 17 percent.

“Some people just won’t touch them because they are scared of a Labour-Greens government,” said Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners. “Others say because they’re dirt cheap people are pessimistic. If National got re-elected they’d go up again.”

A potential change of government may pose risks to other sectors as well, he said.

“Regulatory risk is weighing on those sectors which could be in for attention from a Labour government,” Lister said. “The market is aware of the sectors susceptible to regulation – SkyCity, the electricity sector and Chorus have a cloud hanging over them, which will continue to the election.” . . .

If there’s a Labour/Green/New Zealand Firs/Mana and whichever else party after the election that cloud will darken.


%d bloggers like this: