Rural round-up

October 19, 2018

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell responds to claims co-op is a failed experiment:

This week, the Herald published an article by industry observer Tony Baldwin, which argued in some depth that Fonterra has been a failed experiment. What follows is a response from Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell to that article.

I took the job of CEO of Fonterra because I believe in the Co-op’s potential and the positive difference it makes to New Zealand and consumers around the world.

It’s clear the challenge is big and we don’t always get everything right. I’ve been open about that with our farmers, unit holders, employees and the New Zealand public.

Now our focus has shifted to rolling up our sleeves and getting on with the job. We are well underway with our business review, which will deliver a balanced portfolio of high-performing investments, aligned to strategy and delivering returns across the short, medium and longer term. . .

Hands-on hard yards training – Hamish MacLean:

Colderidge Downs, in the Rakaia Gorge, looks like paradise, but the Coleridge Down Training Farm is home to hands-on hard-yards-style training for youth with a passion for agriculture and the outdoors.

Covering extensive hill country to intensive irrigated pastoral land, the group of central Canterbury farms cover about 10,000ha, run 42,000 stock units, and take on three cadets a year to ultimately gain level 3 and 4 qualifications through primary ITO in a two-year course.

Lachie Mee (18) finished at Waitaki Boys’ High School as a year 12 pupil last year and started at Coleridge Downs in January along with two other first-year cadets.
And when he started, he quickly learned he had entered the workforce. . . 

 

Pāmu Deer Milk Wins Novel Food Award at NZ Food Awards:

Pāmu is excited to announce its success at the prestigious Massey University New Zealand Food Awards, taking home the Novel Food or Beverage Award for its groundbreaking deer milk product.

The announcement was made at the NZ Food Awards Gala Dinner last night, an event which highlights the best New Zealand has to offer in the food and beverage industry.

“The Food Awards are all about rewarding innovation, which makes this acknowledgement very meaningful to us,” said Pāmu Chief Executive, Steve Carden. “We spent over three years testing and trialing deer milk and have been incredibly pleased with the reception it has received amongst the restaurant industry. We knew it had broad appeal for desserts but have been really inspired by the range of savory applications we’ve seen chefs across the country develop. Some chefs have even created deer-milk cocktails.” . . 

Marks & Spencer weave NZ’s troubled wool into new line – Eric Frykberg:

New Zealand’s troubled coarse wool industry could benefit from a new line in sustainable clothing at British retail giant Marks & Spencer.

Six lines of men’s blazers have gone on sale at stores throughout Britain, made with New Zealand product.

Coarse wool has been struggling to earn its keep for years, with greater volumes having to be put onto the market in an often unsuccessful attempt to make up for falling prices.

Only fine fibre from breeds such as merino have helped the wool sector to prosper overall. . . 

‘Have your Say’ campaign launched for Rural NZ:

National Leader Simon Bridges has today launched the ‘Have Your Say’ listening campaign for Rural New Zealand as the next step in National’s 2020 election policy development process.

“We know farmers and growers contribute $42 billion a year in exports that sees 350,000 people employed in the sector, and New Zealand’s success depends on it. This success is underpinned by sustainable business practices that continue to enhance the environment for our children.

“We want to make sure rural communities can access top-quality public services and infrastructure like broadband, rural policing, education and health services. . .

Big cheese competition – Robyn Bristow:

Amateur cheesemakers will pit their skills against one another in the third annual Amateur Cheesemakers Competition at the Oxford Farmers Market on Sunday.

Those with a passion for cheesemaking must have their cheeses entered by 9am to be in with a chance of picking up a $50 prize. A $5 Farmers’ Market voucher will be given to everyone who enters.

Anyone wanting to be part of the taster/judging panel can register for $2, giving them the chance to taste all the entries and pick the three cheeses that tempt their tastebuds the most. . . 


Rural round-up

October 12, 2016

Marks & Spencer Scotland pulls pin on NZ lamb –  Alexa Cook:

British retailer Marks & Spencer will no longer stock New Zealand lamb in its Scottish stores, after a decision to only sell locally-produced lamb.

 New Zealand exports about 29,000 lambs a year to Marks & Spencer in Scotland and the decision will hit about 10 or 12 lamb producers in this country.Beef and Lamb NZ chairman James Parsons is in Britain, France, Ireland and Belgium this week to assess what effect Brexit may have on New Zealand exports. . .

Farmer grows from on-lamb farm to million dollar empire in six years – Paul Mitchell:

In just six years, a farmer south of Whanganui has grown his business from a single block of land to a multi-million dollar company supplying restaurants and supermarkets globally.

This week Coastal Spring Lamb, at Turakina, received its first order from China, giving it a foot-hold in the biggest market in the world.

Founder Richard Redmayne said this was the eighth export market for the firm since it began selling overseas in January last year. . . 

At war with the pukeko – one gardener’s greatest foe – Charlie Mitchell:

The pukekos strike just before dawn, leaving hundreds of destroyed cabbages and a market gardener in despair.

Commercial gardener Brent Treleaven is at war with the native birds, which have caused thousands of dollars worth of damage on his farm north of Christchurch.

He had to relinquish part of his market garden to the pukeko after they took it over. . . 

Cows get inspirational talk before milking – Simon Wong:

An Australian farmer says the pep talks he gives his cows is an easy way to bring cheer to his colleagues, who are facing some trying times.

Two videos of southwestern Victoria farmer Adam Jenkins, posted on Facebook by his wife Catherine, have been shared thousands of times in the past few days.

They’re of Mr Jenkins giving his cows encouragement before heading into the milking shed and then afterward congratulating them on their efforts. . .

Industry’s competitiveness in spotlight at DairyNZ AGM:

Dairy farmers’ ability to remain internationally competitive is likely to be a hot topic when dairy industry and research body, DairyNZ, reviews the past year at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Canterbury this month.

DairyNZ is holding its AGM in Ashburton from 11am on Thursday, October 27, at Hotel Ashburton.

Industry body chairman Michael Spaans says the AGM will review the 2015/16 dairy season, including the low milk price challenges, and discuss DairyNZ’s highlights for the year and future direction. . . 

Latest industry results confirm LIC has the best bulls in the country – by far:

The genetic gain and value that LIC bulls are delivering on New Zealand dairy farms is confirmed in the latest Ranking of Active Sires (RAS) list.

A phenomenal 27 of the best 30 bulls on the All Breeds list are LIC’s, including the top 14 in a row of all breeds.

“These bulls are managed by LIC on our farmers’ behalf, with massive contributions from our top breeders and our Bull Acquisition team,” LIC General Manager Biological Systems Geoff Corbett said. . .


We don’t know how lucky we are

November 24, 2012

Fred Dagg reckoned we don’t know how lucky we are.

Federated Farmers’ president Bruce Wills  expresses has similar thoughts in a speech entitled the real ‘lucky country’:

In recent days the International Herald Tribune has penned an expose supposedly blowing the lid on New Zealand’s ‘clean green 100% Pure’ brand’.

I wish to recap what I told the journalist.

I said to him New Zealanders don’t do moderation very well. As a people, we tend to be most critical of ourselves. It means we often see ourselves as the very best at something, or the very worst.

International visitors I meet are confounded by the level of self-criticism they read or see.

We call it a ‘tall poppy’ syndrome, but when visitors look at our countryside and our waterways, they are struck by how pristine and clear they are.

I said to the journalist, can we do better? Yes of course we can. But, I strongly believe when you look at what we do and how we do it, we are way up there in terms of environmental performance. . .

Quite.

I must note the coverage of this far exceeds Dr Jeremy Hill becoming the first New Zealander to head the International Dairy Federation in 109 years or indeed the limited coverage of Tim Aitken and Lucy Robertshawe being named Marks & Spencer’s number one farm supplier on earth.

It is an unhealthy part of our psyche that we delight in the negative and ignore the genuinely positive.

Sad but true, bad news sells.

So how do we grow in this self-imposed fishbowl?

New Zealand exports are more likely to grow if successive governments target a population of 15 million by 2060. It is that simple.

That is not my idea but highlights a fundamental discussion we are not having about how big we ought to be and by when. It comes in a recent thought-provoking paper prepared for Business New Zealand by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research.

If we want to grow New Zealand into an agricultural superpower we need a larger domestic market to create and exploit the opportunities we create.

This report also recommends considering tax incentives or grants to encourage large, successful New Zealand companies to remain based here, instead of targeting all assistance to companies just starting out as exporters.

I am a little nervous about incentives because that is about picking winners.

I second that.

Yet it does feel as if we are becoming a branch economy. Lion Nathan, which can draw on a lineage back to 1840 is now a Japanese company.

Fisher & Paykel that iconic staple of New Zealand kitchens is to be owned by the Chinese.

Interestingly enough, given the CraFarm saga occupied some of our time at June’s National Conference, Fisher & Paykel’s sale has passed without too much of a whimper. There was no ‘Save our Stoves’ campaign, no petitions, no marches and few editorials.

Fisher & Paykel joins NavMan and a host of successful starts that have left these shores. The biggest arguably being Joseph Nathan’s Glaxo – founded in the Manawatu.

So the NZIER is right to ask questions about how we maintain the economic benefit from New Zealand companies, either bought by foreign investors or moved closer to foreign markets.

Icebreaker is an example of a company which has managed it. Ownership, design and marketing are based here, manufacturing takes place in China.

Can I suggest the immediate answer lies with what we do.

I can confidently say, that in terms of value and in terms of productivity, New Zealand farming is the star turn. Globally New Zealand agriculture is Hollywood and Wellywood all rolled into one.

We are the hot house, the benchmark and the Wall Street of global farming. I must ask why that being the case, some Kiwis delight telling overseas conferences or media what we get wrong, whereas I like to focus on what we get right.

I believe we get more things right than we get wrong and farmers do deserve positive accolades for this.

Bad news stories lead, good ones tend to get lost on the farming pages and rural reports.

One area we lose out is a lack of integration within our meat and wool sector. That, to me, is the hallmark of dairy industries success. If we take Fonterra, it is a global ingredients company rather than a processor of milk.

New Zealand’s core competitive advantage is food and instead of armchair experts thinking finished products, we need to be thinking ingredients. Meshing our ingredients within global supply chains so that it becomes “NZ Inside”.

It works for companies like Intel and Gore-Tex, why not Fonterra?

McDonald’s NZ being a fine example of what I mean, given the value of primary exports it sends is only one third lower than the total export returns from the film and television industry.

ANZ’s latest Insight paper states “strong international demand combined with growing supply constraints are driving an enormous opportunity for agricultural trade.”

Between 2012 and 2050, ANZ expects New Zealand to capture an additional $500 billion to $1.3 trillion in agricultural exports. This is an immense opportunity and the banks are beefing up their agricultural skills as they know this is the once and future secret of New Zealand’s success.

So what is holding us back?

Capital constraint is a major one. Something more Kiwi savings would help with as that lessens our reliance on Belgian dentists and Japanese housewives.

We can also add a poor skills match between those leaving tertiary institutions with what employers actually need. While we have growing urban unemployment we cannot fill vacancies on-farm.

So we have people with the wrong skills in the wrong locations,

We also face land use conflicts.

We have reason to fear councils rushing blindly into setting limits based on flimsy analysis. I must make mention of Horizons One Plan and urge the Council to invite Landcare Research to present its findings.

Agriculture needs land and while it is a finite commodity, we are no where near maximising the full potential of New Zealand’s millions of hectares of pasture.

The only thing we have to fear is our own nagging self-doubt. The market determines best land-use because New Zealand was built by those who believe in the word, can.

We must guard against becoming the country that can’t.

Water is a flashpoint but it is an area where there is too often ignorance with even harsher words spoken about farming.

At least the positives of the Land & Water Forum are that it points towards a better future. We are on the same page and are engaged.

Yet if we have problems with the RMA in trying to generate wealth, while environmentalists complain about the RMA too, maybe we need to have a closer look. We need to ask if the RMA remains the best policy instrument for New Zealand in the 21st century.

The NZIER is in no doubt that it represents a blockage.

We must also question the pantheon of industry good bodies and organisations through to government programmes purporting to assist exporters.

There seems to be a lot of duplication when exporters face similar market and logistical challenges. We need to ask if we, on the industry side, ought to be mirroring the way the Ministry for Primary Industries has consolidated itself. This is flowing through into what the Industry Training Organisations are currently doing as well.

Maybe fewer but better equipped and resourced voices could be a good thing, taking a leaf from Business NZ to form a Primary New Zealand body.

The one thing we know is that the world is going to demand 60 percent more agricultural output than what globally was produced in 2007.

Are we the country of can? I believe we are.

Titled “Scale Up or Die“, that recent NZIER report argues successful exporting nations are not only closer to their markets, but have large home markets as well. It is this that helps to create the scale needed for export success. So how do we shape up?

§ In 1900 New Zealand’s population was just under a million

§ In 1980 New Zealand’s population was just under 3.2 million

§ In 2012 we have just broken the 4.4 million mark.

By anyone’s book our growth has been rapid but not rapid enough. The NZIER argues for 15 million Kiwis by 2060.

The report’s authors, economists John Stephenson and John Ballingal, argue:

“If New Zealand’s biggest impediment to better economic performance is an absence of scale, there is only one way to overcome this over the long term and that is to grow the population through more migrants.”

What the NZIER suggests is the biggest human growth-phase we have ever seen. Statistics NZ projections, even at the most extreme end of migration, places New Zealand with around seven million souls by 2061.

So what the NZIER wants is double Statistics NZ most optimistic projections.

That of course poses a question of where they will live given the recent debate about affordable housing. Not to mention the land this will take.

We know from Landcare Research that we are eating our farmland up at a worrying rate. Current building techniques threaten to eat up the land that creates the basis for future economic prosperity.

If we are to increase our population it demands a move to high-rise, high density housing. It demands the use of brownfield land first and greenfield last; a hierarchy for land use.

Reading the NZIER report it is hard to disagree when the report’s authors suggest New Zealander’s have a low level of financial literacy. We bemoan foreign investment but queue for 30-months interest free terms funded by someone else’s savings.

Some farmers complain about losing on swaps while others have little issue with them.

I don’t believe swaps is the big issue facing farming that some may make it out to be. If we bail people out for poor choices, it just means those who made good choices pay more.

There are plenty of examples of that in the past when governments used to subsidise farmers and give all sorts of drought relief. The good ones made decisions early and survived on their own merits, the bad ones waited for the government to step in and got by on taxpayer largesse.

The big issue is our relationship with the environment.

If we overbalance on economic development, we destroy the environment and that costs us all.

Yet if we overbalance on the environment, we destroy the economy and that equally costs us.

Striking the right balance is important. With good management and good science we can do both, we can continue to improve how we interact with the environment, and we can grow the economy. We can grow more jobs with a lighter footprint.

The solution is not complicated.

It is to trust Kiwis to make their own spending decisions. Government just needs to spend less. It is about focussing on outcomes rather than process. It is about trusting the collective wisdom of a community rather than views of a distant judge.

We produce safe, quality food in a world that is crying out for more.

We have great water nestled among some of the best scenery on earth.

We are an educated and innovative people with an exciting future.

We are the ‘lucky’ country.

It’s more than time we realised how lucky we are and celebrated it.

Let the tall poppies bloom and appreciate the land that lets them.

We could start here with an antidote to negativity:

The prestigious British supermarket chain, Marks & Spencer, has provided the perfect antidote for those feeling downbeat about New Zealand farming. A Kiwi farming couple are in the spotlight as Marks & Spencer’s most sustainable farming supplier on earth.

“Good things take time but Marks & Spencer have recently updated their sustainability pages to reflect the fantastic achievements of Tim Aitken and Lucy Robertshawe,” says Bruce Wills, President of Federated Farmers.

“Although we announced this last month, I think we need to take stock of what Marks & Spencer have said of Tim and Lucy and by extension, the New Zealand farm system,” Mr Wills added.

Farming for the future winner 2012

WINNERS
Tim Aitken & Lucy Robertshawe
Congratulations to Tim Aitken & Lucy Robertshawe who were voted by you as the overall winners of M&S‚ Farming for the Future Awards 2012.

Tim and Lucy farm in the Central Hawkes Bay area of New Zealand and won our International Farming for the Future award this year. They have around 600 breeding hinds on their deer farm and rear the offspring for venison meat, which is sold to M&S.

Farming together since 1994 they have developed their property to provide their livestock with the ideal environment. Native trees and bush have been protected and shelterbelts have been planted. They have developed wetlands for birdlife and to improve the quality of water leaving the farm. They are at the forefront of the venison industry in New Zealand, involved in research and innovation to improve deer farming for New Zealand farmers and deer welfare. Tim and Lucy are actively involved in the farming community, from hosting field days for farmers from all over New Zealand to local schools agricultural classes.

Federated Farmers President, Bruce Wills, feels Tim and Lucy were excellent examples of Kiwi farmers leading the way in sustainable farming.

“The Marks & Spencer Farming for the Future award recognises farmers for how well they treat their livestock, their technical excellence as farmers and their overall environmental performance,” Bruce Wills continued.

“Winning the overall award ahead of the four British finalists is a huge endorsement of Tim and Lucy’s farming system and the esteem New Zealand agriculture is held in overseas.

“Federated Farmers is proud to have this couple as members. We do lead the world in innovative animal welfare and environmental management and sometimes, it takes positive overseas recognition for us to be reminded of this,” Mr Wills concluded.

Anyone want to take a wager on how many people know about the Herald Tribune’s story criticising our environmental record and how many know about Tim and Lucy?

 


Rural round-up

November 2, 2012

Alliance Group secures exclusive deal with iconic UK retailer:

Leading meat processor and exporter Alliance Group has secured an exclusive deal to supply chilled New Zealand lamb to iconic UK retailer Marks & Spencer.

The   cooperative   will   be   the   sole   supplier   of   chilled  New   Zealand   lamb   to   Marks   &   Spencer   from Christmas 2012, sourcing lambs from approved farms across the South Island for processing at the company’s Lorneville (Invercargill), Pukeuri (Oamaru) and Smithfield (Timaru) plants.  

This supply arrangement is the first time Marks & Spencer has agreed to an exclusive deal for chilled lamb from a single New Zealand supplier.  . .

AgResearch scientist gets funding for new TB vaccine:

An AgResearch scientist has won funding to investigate the development of a new type of vaccine to protect animals and humans against tuberculosis and, potentially, a wide range of other infectious diseases.

Dr Axel Heiser has been awarded a Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

It gives him a year to explore the concept of a new vaccination technique that would be more effective and longer lasting than what is available at present. . .

Wasps to fight colding moth ‘will reduce need for spray‘:

Pipfruit New Zealand says a new biological control agent for codling moth could save apple growers millions of dollars a year in spray costs.

The wasp, Matrus ridens, originates in Kazakhstan and has been successful in helping control the moth in the United States.

On Thursday Plant and Food Research released 1000 of the parasitoid wasps into a Hawke’s Bay orchard. . .

Wool growers asked to put money into another international marketing venture:

Strong wool growers are being asked for up to $10 million to step up the scope of international marketing firm Wools of New Zealand.

Wools of New Zealand has been funded by the wool market development fee since 2010 and wants to raise $10 million by issuing shares to wool growers at $1 apiece. The marketing company was spun out of PGG Wrightson into a grower’s trust last year and is the latest attempt to build a central promotional body for the wool sector.

The Christchurch-based company needs to raise at least $5 million, and plans to use some of the funds to repay a $1.87 million loan owed to its shareholder, Wools of New Zealand Trust. The remaining funds will go to developing marketing and royalty earning programmes and to build supply chains. . .

More Fonterra farms in China:

Fonterra has signed a dairy farm investment agreement with local authorities in China’s Yutian County.

The agreement – forecast earlier this year by NBR ONLINE – paves the way for two more large-scale dairy farms to be developed for $100 million in Hebei province, which will complete the dairy giant’s goal of a five-farm “hub”.

The company says in a statement the two farms, 120 kilometres east of Beijing, will house more than 3000 milking cows each and collectively produce up to 65 million litres of milk a year.


%d bloggers like this: