Rural round-up

December 1, 2016

Government farmer Landcorp puts 11,650 hectares of NZ land on the market  – Tim Cronshaw:

Government farmer Landcorp is offloading 10 farms totalling about 11,650 hectares.

Two of the properties are being offered for sale this month with another eight farms from across the country to go before iwi for the first right of refusal.

The farms were mainly sheep and beef units and should attract an enthusiastic response, said PGG Wrightson Real Estate general manager, Peter Newbold. . . 

Applications now open for Primary Industries Earthquake Relief Fund:

Applications for funding from the Primary Industries Earthquake Relief Fund are now open, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“Recently we announced a $4 million fund for uninsurable on-farm infrastructure repairs in the Hurunui, Kaikoura and Marlborough districts. Applications are now open and will close at the end of February, and I’m hopeful the panel will make an initial assessment of some applications before Christmas,” says Mr Guy.

“Criteria for applications has been released which includes re-establishment of uninsurable assets like water infrastructure and opening up tracks, culverts and farm bridges. . . 

MPI intercepts on-farm black market butchery operation:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has intercepted another illegal black market meat operation.

MPI District Compliance Manager Waikato/Bay of Plenty, Brendon Mikkelsen, says compliance officers recently executed a search warrant following an inspection at an Atiamuri Farm.

“Officers seized 22 freshly processed sheep that were destined for sale and several thousand dollars associated with the alleged offending.

“This operation involved the processing and sale of sheep, cattle and goats over a number of years. The operator is likely to face prosecution. MPI has a low tolerance for any black-market butchery operations.” . . 

Westland shareholders elect two new directors:

Well known West Coast dairy advocate Katie Milne and Canterbury Dairy Farmer Sven Koops have been elected to Westland Milk Products’ Board of Directors by shareholders, it was announced at the co-operative’s annual general meeting today (Wednesday 30 November).

Milne is a fourth generation West Coaster and farms at Rotomanu with her partner Ian Whitmore. In 2015 she won both the Dairy Woman of the Year title and Westpac’s Woman of Influence Rural award. She is a member of the national board of Federated Farmers and is currently the West Coast President. . . .

Strategy correct, mistakes in the delivery Westland Shareholders told:

Westland Milk Products’ shareholders turned out in force at their annual general meeting today to hear retiring chairman Matt O’Regan tell them that while the company’s business strategy was sound, it’s delivery had been poor.

In a frank address to an audience of some 150 shareholders demanding answers, O’Regan acknowledged that Westland’s low payout of $3.62 per kilo of milk solids, topped up from equity to a final payout of $3.88 was “beyond disappointing”, below break-even point for farmers and represented a failure of Westland’s goal to be industry competitive.

“However,” O’Regan said, “our strategy for growing Westland’s capacity to produce value-added products was, and remains, a sound one. Indeed, the survival of this company will depend upon its success. . . 

Horticulture shows ‘spectacular’ growth:

Horticulture has experienced a spectacular 40 percent growth in export earnings since 2014, according to a new report, with tariffs on exported produce down by 22 percent since 2012.

The New Zealand Horticulture Export Authority (HEA) and Horticulture New Zealand commission the report New Zealand Horticulture – Barriers to Our Export Trade every two years, with funding support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and NZ Fruitgrowers Charitable Trust.

The report, launched at an event in Wellington today, says horticultural produce exporters paid an estimated $190 million in tariffs, a reduction of 22 percent on 2012’s figure of $241 million. . . 

Horticulture celebrates major successes:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming a new report showing a 40 per cent growth in horticulture export earnings since 2014.

The strong results are highlighted in Horticulture New Zealand and the New Zealand Horticulture Export Authority (HEA)’s report New Zealand Horticulture – Barriers to Our Export Trade which is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and NZ Fruitgrowers Charitable Trust.

“Horticulture is a star performer of the New Zealand economy with export revenue just under $5 billion, making it one of our most important industries,” says Mr Guy. . . 

Oligopoly strangling fresh food supply chain – Alistair Lamond:

Last week the Horticultural Code was put under the spotlight.

Large wholesalers were mistreating growers with fear mongering tactics and long payment terms. It’s an all too familiar case for the hundreds of thousands of Australian small and medium sized businesses who are subjected to the corporate bullying culture that arises from one systemic problem – market power imbalance.  

In Australia, most industries are dominated by oligopolies – a state of limited competition, in which a market is controlled by small number of companies. . . 

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Rural round-up

August 31, 2016

Why the green, green grass of home is simply the best – John Roche, Kevin Macdonald:

New Zealand’s grazing system was once considered “the eighth wonder of the world”.

In the 1970s and 80s, a team at Ruakura led by Dr Arnold Bryant undertook grazing experiments that were to revolutionise the way pasture was managed through winter and spring.

The system matched herd demand through assigning the correct calving date and stocking rate with a store of pasture (ie cover at calving) and crop and an assumed winter growth rate. . . 

Westland ups season forecast payout:

New Zealand’s second biggest dairy co-operative Westland Milk Products today announced a 20 cent increase in its forecast 2016-17 season payout.

The company’s forecast average operating surplus has increased to $4.75 – $5.15 per kgMS while the average cash payout range has increased to $4.55 – $4.95 per kgMS.

Chairman Matt O’Regan says this is a result of a recent uplift in international dairy prices for the range of products Westland produces, along with positive August GDT auction results. . . 

Population of honey bees is growing fast:

New Zealand’s honey bee population is growing rapidly, despite recent reports of its decline, according to Apiculture New Zealand.

The industry body was responding to comments from Lincoln University that give the impression that honey bees are under threat in New Zealand.

The university said New Zealand agriculture stands to lose between $295 and $728 million each year if the local honeybee population continues its ‘current decline’.

“I’m pleased to say that hive numbers are growing rapidly,” said ApiNZ chief executive, Daniel Paul. . . 

Wild bees set to save our honey industry from varroa mite – but they need your help  – Jamie Small:

Plant & Food Research is asking for public help to locate colonies of feral bees, as groundbreaking evidence suggests they may save our honey industry from the devastating varroa mite.

Bee numbers in New Zealand are growing – bucking the international trend – thanks to human intervention controlling varroa, says Dr Mark Goodwin, who leads the organisation’s apiculture and pollination team.

The high price and demand for manuka honey is encouraging apiaries to expand in the face of the colony-killing mite and other threats. . . 

Buyers caught napping by potential milk production decine – Gerard Hutching:

A milk futures broker says whole milk powder buyers have been “caught napping” by a potential shortfall in the product, explaining why the price has risen 28.8 per cent at the last two global dairy auctions.

Director of OM Financial Nigel Brunel said the price hike had been “staggering” and taken everyone by surprise.

“Buyers haven’t been able to source WMP at the right price and have been concerned that New Zealand supply could be well down this season. They have been caught napping in a sleepy sideways WMP market for almost a year,” Brunel said.

As a result the buyers had climbed over each other to source WMP and lifted the price. . . 

New appointment to FSANZ Board:

Jane Lancaster has been appointed to the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Board, Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew announced today. Ms Lancaster’s term began on 1 July 2016.

“Ms Lancaster will make a valuable contribution to the FSANZ Board with her background in food science, biotechnology, and strong governance experience. In particular, she has professional experience in food safety, food regulation, and the food industry,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“Ms Lancaster replaces Neil Walker, whose second term on the FSANZ Board expires on 30 June 2016. Mr Walker’s extensive knowledge has been highly valued by both myself and the FSANZ Board over this time.” . . 

Environmental impacts come first in EPA insecticide decision:

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has declined an application to import an insecticide to control pests on onion and potato crops.

The insecticide Grizly Max contains the active ingredients imidacloprid, novaluron and bifenthrin. These active ingredients are already approved for use in New Zealand, but not in a single formulation. The proposed application rate for the neonicotinoid imidacloprid was much higher than other insecticides already available in New Zealand.

At a 19 July hearing, the applicant, Agronica New Zealand Ltd, noted that Grizly Max had proved to be effective against target pests. . . 

New Appointment to Synlait’s Senior Leadership Team:

Quentin Lowcay, General Counsel and Commercial Manager, has joined Synlait’s Senior Leadership Team.

Since joining Synlait in 2013, Quentin’s role has grown to advise the SLT and Board on legal affairs, risk, corporate governance, insurance and commercial matters (particularly customer and supplier relationships). . .

New Zealand King Salmon confirms intention to undertake an IPO:

There may soon be an opportunity for Kiwi investors to own a stake in New Zealand’s estimated $180 million salmon industry.

The world’s largest aquaculture producer of King salmon, New Zealand King Salmon Investments Limited, has today (29 August) confirmed its intention to undertake an initial public offering of shares in New Zealand and a listing on the NZX Main Board and ASX. The proceeds of the offer will be used to repay debt, fund future investment and working capital, and to enable investor Direct Capital and some other shareholders to realise some or all of their investment. . . 

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Rockburn releases limited edition Stolen Kiss Pinot Noir & Rosé:

Rockburn’s Stolen Kiss Rosé enjoys a cult following around country for a couple of years now and the boutique producer from Cromwell now added another way to enjoy the “fruity and saucy side” of Central Otago Pinot Noir with the launch of their limited edition Stolen Kiss Pinot Noir.

Stolen Kiss wines are made from grapes ‘stolen’ from Rockburn’s best Central Otago Pinot Noir. The name alone evokes images of summertime rolling-in-the-clover frivolity and romance. . . 

Substantial Hawke’s Bay winery operation goes on the market for sale:

One of Hawke’s Bay’s best known vertically-integrated wine operations – featuring multiple vineyards, the winery plant and cellar door retail sales outlet – has been placed on the market for sale.

The assets are run under the Crossroads brand – owned by Yealands Estate Wines. The Crossroad’s vineyard and operations being sold encompass three separate vineyards in the bay, along with a plant capable of pressing more than 700 tonnes of grapes and storing the resulting juice in 59 tanks, and a cellar door retail premises which attracts more than 5000 visitors annually.

The Crossroads brand, business and existing stock in bottles, barrels, and tanks, are not part of the sale. . . 


Rural round-up

July 30, 2016

‘Massive’ Chinese stake in the south – Dene Mackenzie:

News of a $200 million milk plant to be built 5km north of Gore has been enthusiastically welcomed by Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks, who yesterday described the announcement as “massive”.

Mataura Valley Milk will have nearly 72% Chinese ownership. Construction of the new plant is planned to start on the site of the former McNab auction yards in October, with a planned commissioning date of August 2018.

Southland dairy farmers will hold 20% of the shares and be the suppliers to the new factory.

Much of the production will be infant milk powder bound for the Chinese market, although other markets will be developed. . . 

Westland Milk Products appoints new Chief Executive:

Westland Milk Products, New Zealand’s second biggest dairy co-operative, has announced the appointment of Toni Brendish as its new Chief Executive Officer.

Westland Chairman Matt O’Regan said today (28 July 2016) that Brendish has extensive leadership experience in the international food and dairy industries, most recently as Vice President of DKSH (Thailand), a large consumer goods distribution business based in Bangkok, where she currently resides.

“Toni’s familiarity with the manufacture, supply chain and sales and marketing of value-added dairy products, including paediatric and nutritional powders and UHT dairy products, will be of immense value to the company as we progress the development and execution of our growth strategy for these businesses,” O’Regan said. . . 

Processing on the horizon – Shannon Gillies:

Waitaki Orchards in Kurow is building a fruit processing plant to avoid a repeat of the loss of up to 50 tonnes of its apricot crop earlier this year because of rain.

The orchard lost most of the crop on nearly half of its 35,000 trees in January after two weeks of near-continuous rain.

The orchard’s smaller crop of nectarines was also badly hit, but other stone fruit, cherries and plums survived the rain. . . 

Upbeat conference attracts 200+ delegates – Allan Barber:

The delegates at the 2016 Red Meat Sector Conference were challenged and entertained by a stimulating range of guest speakers and New Zealand icons the Topp Twins.

Minister for Everything Stephen Joyce gave the welcome speech at the Sunday evening cocktail function and took the opportunity to compliment the industry on its great performance in offsetting the dairy downturn, while encouraging it to work hard on progressing PGP funded projects with 40% of the total already allocated to the red meat sector.

At the formal conference opening the next morning Minister for Food Safety Jo Goodhew made a strong plea for industry government collaboration to protect New Zealand’s food safety and biosecurity reputation. She reinforced her message with the reminder that the consumer is not just interested in product quality and food safety, but also in its provenance, sustainability and the animal welfare standards applied to its production. . . 

Sheep, beef farms must focus on costs – Hugh Stringleman:

Sheep and beef farmers need to focus on onfarm costs in the same way as dairy farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman James Parsons says.

The key focus for his organisation was to help farmers get the average onfarm cost structure down below $3 a kilogram of product, both meat and wool.

When opening the Red Meat Sector conference in Auckland, Parsons said everyone in the sector needed to tell their story better to get product value growth from export markets.

The Red Meat Sector Strategy aimed to increase export earnings from all products – meat, wool and co-products – from $8 billion to $12b. . .

Risk, reward in produce sector – Stepehn Bell:

Huge changes in the booming horticulture sector present export opportunities but also mean considerable risk is developing, Westpac industry economist David Norman says.

Risks included consolidating in fewer markets, growing debt, the potential for more non-tariff barriers and the risk of labour shortages, Norman said in Westpac’s Industry Insights into Horticulture.

The sector was small in terms of jobs with about 39,000 full-time equivalents but accounted for more than 7% of merchandise exports with earnings of $3.4 billion in the year to May. Its exports, accounting for 60% of production, had grown 140% this century compared to 94% for all exports. . .

When a farm kid goes to an animal rights conference… – Laura Bardot:

I grew up on a cattle farm in rural Missouri. I am a classic, stereotypical farm kid that was involved in the local 4-H and FFA. I raised cows, pigs, chickens, rabbits and ducks. I know how to drive a tractor and drove a truck in a field before I drove a car on the highway.

Bullying farmers and ranchers 

I became aware of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) from their pessimistic TV commercials trying to gain more donations by appealing to viewers’ emotions. I knew these animal rights organizations always said they were trying to help dogs and cats, but when they said they needed to “rescue” farm animals, that’s when I started to do research.

In August of 2014, Missouri residents voted on a “Right to Farm Bill”- ensuring Missouri farmers and ranchers are guaranteed the right to farm for forever in the state. I advocated heavily in favor of this bill, yet I met several people who were skeptical, and the majority of those people were misinformed on the bill by anti-agriculture groups. Therefore, I attained a dislike for these groups that felt the need to bully and pressure their way into getting what they think is best for animals – which often does not align with science. . . 

FMG's photo.


Rural round-up

April 1, 2016

Nutritional Sales Underpin Half Year Underlying Profit of $12.3 Million:

Synlait has reported an underlying net profit after tax (NPAT) of $12.3 million for the first half of the 2016 financial year (HY16).

In contrast to $0.4 million in HY15, this improved performance is primarily the result of increased nutritional sales in canned infant formula.

“We’re glad to deliver a solid result for the first half of FY16. Our significant investment in customer and product development, people, plant and operating systems in recent years is beginning to transform our earnings,” said Chairman Graeme Milne. . . 

European market conditions depress Westland’s payout prediction:

Global market conditions for dairy products point to at least two more seasons of low milk payouts in New Zealand, Westland Milk Products told shareholders today as the co-operative revised its predicted payout for the 2015-16 season to $3.90 – $4.00 per kilogramme of milk solids, down from last month’s prediction of $4.00 – $4.10.

Westland CEO Rod Quin said the major driver of the revised payout remains the global oversupply of milk, compounded by the ongoing high availability and aggressive approach by the European dairy market.

Quin and Westland Chair Matt O’Regan have recently returned from Europe where they met with customers, farmers, processors, traders and industry advocates. . . 

Fonterra makes best of a bad job – Allan Barber:

The PR spin has been pretty active signalling a much improved half yearly result which was duly delivered this morning. The company confirmed a 40 cent dividend for the full year with the interim dividend being paid next month as usual and the final dividend being paid in two tranches in May and August instead of October.

This improvement in cash flow will do something, but not a lot, to comfort farmers labouring under a debt burden. Unfortunately it will do absolutely nothing to support sharemilkers who will have to rely on their share of the milk payout. Predictions for the rest of 2016 are notable for their conservatism, probably in recognition of a disappointing track record when forecasting the extent of the current downturn. . . 

Fonterra’s six-month results – good news but some underlying issues – Keith Woodford:

As expected, Fonterra has announced a greatly enhanced six-month profit for the period ending 31 January 2016. The profit of $409 million (NPAT; i.e. net profit after finance costs and tax) is up 123% from the same period in the previous year.

The expected full year profit of 45-55c per share implies an annual profit of about $800 million compared to $506 million for the full year 2014/15.

These figures are all very much in line with expectations . The reason for this is that when milk prices to farmers are low, then Fonterra has low input costs. Accordingly, there is more scope for corporate profit. . . 

Keep sharing the load by talking about it:

No matter which branch of farming you are in, you will face tough times, says Nelson farmer and Horticulture NZ President Julian Raine. When that happens, don’t be too proud to ask for help.

Speaking to the Farming Show’s Jamie Mackay as part of the Getting Through Adversity radio series, Julian said that even with the best planning, erratic weather events can cause mayhem. Jamie suggested that growing fruit crops is arguably one of the riskiest pursuits in farming: “One adverse event at the wrong time and suddenly your whole crop is wiped out. If you are a sheep farmer, for example, you at least have lambing spread over three weeks, or if you are dairy your risk is spread over nine months of milking.” . . 

Meat exporters ready to reap benefits of TPP:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement eliminates all tariffs on beef into our biggest market, the United States, within five years of coming into force.

Trade Minister Todd McClay, speaking at the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce this morning, says New Zealand exported meat products worth over $2.8 billion to TPP countries in 2015 and the gains once TPP comes into force will be significant.

“Our beef into Japan currently attracts a 38.5 per cent tariff. That has made it extraordinarily hard for our exporters to compete with other countries with lower tariffs. . . 

Ongoing market challenges weigh on New Zealand farmers, with confidence close to 10-year low:

The significant and persisting challenges in market conditions continue to weigh heavily on the nation’s farmers, with New Zealand’s rural confidence at the second lowest level recorded in the past 10 years, the latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey has shown.

Completed earlier this month, the survey found more than half of farmers surveyed (53 per cent) had a pessimistic outlook on the agricultural economy over the coming 12 months. This was significantly up from 30 per cent with that view in the previous survey, in late 2015. . . 

Dairy downturn: councils prepare to tighten belts:

Councils in rural areas might be forced to cut spending if the dairy downturn lasts for a long time, Local Government New Zealand head Lawrence Yule says.

A Westpac-McDermott Miller regional economic survey has shown big falls in confidence in major dairy areas including Waikato, Taranaki, and Southland.

Mr Yule said the businesses in many rural towns were already hunkering down as farmers tightened their spending, and that could spread. . .

NZX to teach farmers about new milk contract:

NZX expects to receive regulatory approval for the new fresh milk futures and options product within two weeks.

Chief executive Tim Bennett said there was a demand for the fresh milk contracts product after Fonterra scrapped its guaranteed milk price product for the upcoming season. . . 

NZ helping to restore Fiji’s dairy sector after Winston:

The New Zealand government says it will help restore Fiji’s dairy industry which is losing thousands of litres of milk and was devastated as a result of last month’s cyclone.

New Zealand announced additional aid to help Fiji’s recovery on Wednesday.

A lot of that money is going into the continuing infrastructure rebuild led by the New Zealand Defence Force. . . 

Helensville Farmers First To Claim Supreme Title In Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

“Environmental champions” Richard and Dianne Kidd are Supreme winners of the inaugural Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

At a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on March 30 (2016), the Helensville couple was also presented with the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award and the Farm Stewardship Award in partnership with QEII National Trust and New Zealand Farm Environment Trust.

BFEA judges described Whenuanui Farm, the Kidd family’s 376ha sheep, beef and forestry unit, as “a show piece farm on the edge of Auckland city”. . . .

From paddock to packet: The family behind NZ’s most successful independent chips – Ryan Bridge:

You’re about to meet a family of potato farmers who beat the odds to grow one of the country’s most successful independent chip businesses.

The Bowans are from Timaru and not only do they grow spuds, they transport them to their own factory and make the chips too.

Together they are Heartland Potato Chips.

It all started when Raymond Bowan decided to grow his own potatoes as a teenager. His son James Bowan has taken over running the family potato farm and unlike his old man, he doesn’t do it by hand anymore, there’s a flash piece of kit to help. . . 

Food development facility opportunity for creative entrepreneurs:

Those looking to be innovative with their food are wanted at the FoodSouth food development pilot plant on the Lincoln campus, but there are no Heston Blumenthal creations on the menu.

The final part of a national food innovation network, the facility provides three purpose-built independent food safe development spaces along with a variety of processing equipment — an extruder, ovens, dryers, enrober, mixers, and a mobile product development kitchen among them.

It enables businesses to develop product prototypes for market validation, trial new equipment, carry out scale-up trial work and sample manufacture in 20L to 200L batch sizes, conduct process development and improvement, and validate quality systems. . . 

It’s in the family for new A&P Association President:

Sheep and beef farmer Warrick James has been elected as President of the Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association for 2016 at the Annual General Meeting at Riccarton Park Racecourse on 30 March.

Based in Central Canterbury near Glentunnel, Mr James was confirmed as President of the 154th Canterbury A&P Show in front of outgoing President Nicky Hutchinson and Association Members.

“It means a lot to be President of the Canterbury A&P Association. We host the largest and most prestigious Show in the country – it really is the pinnacle of the A&P movement. Having been involved from a young age with my family and seeing my own children take part over the years just makes this even more special.” . . .

Trio spread cheer on woolshed tour – Suzette Howe:

At a time when life’s a bit tough for rural communities, a trio of Kiwi performers are setting off on a woolshed tour to boost morale. 

They’re coming armed with their own stage curtain, a bar and plenty of laughs.

Over the next five weeks the talented ladies will transform more than 20 working wool sheds into live stages the length of the South Island.

They’re travelling by horse truck, carting hundreds of chairs, a bar, and full production set.

Farmer Georgie Harper says it’s hard to say no when the performance is brought to you. . . 

Itinerary and booking information at The Woolshed Tour.


Rural round-up

January 27, 2016

NIA shows duty cuts to major export destinations – Neal Wallace:

Annual duty savings of $272 million will be removed on exports to five signatories to the Trans Pacific Partnership with which New Zealand does not have trade agreements, the Government revealed today.  

Trade Minister Todd McClay released the national interest analysis (NIA) on the 12-country agreement which largely confirmed trade benefits it had announced earlier.  

The NIA revealed exporters paid duty of $334 million a year on exports to five countries with which NZ does not have free trade agreements, the United States, Japan, Canada, Mexico and Peru. . . 

Westland Lowers Pay-Out Predictions as Global Dairy Prices Predicted to Remain Low:

Westland Milk Products, New Zealand’s second biggest dairy co-operative, today announced a drop in its pay-out predictions for 2015-16, saying a forecast 15 to 25 percent reduction across all commodity products for the remainder of the season is the driving force behind the decision.

Chairman Matt O’Regan says the new predicted payout of $4.15 – $4.45 per kilogramme of milk solids (kgMS) (previously $4.90 to $5.30 per kgMS) will be grim news for Westland’s shareholders but, given the widely publicised state of the global dairy market, not unexpected. He says lower prices are expected to remain for this season and probably into the second half of 2016 – the beginning of the 2016-7 season. . . 

New Zealand’s future agri-leaders in running for trans-Tasman award:

• 2016 Zanda McDonald Award finalists announced

Two young New Zealand agri-business professionals have made it through to the finals for the 2016 Zanda McDonald Award.

Dean Rabbidge, a dairy, beef and sheep farmer from Wyndham, Southland, and Erica van Reenen, an agricultural and environmental consultant with AgFirst, based in Manawatu, have been selected as finalists alongside soil scientist, Wesley Lefroy, from Western Australia.

The three, who attended interviews in Brisbane late last year, will join the PPP ‘Capital Connections’ Conference in Wellington in March – where the award winner will be announced. . . 

Drought in South Island enters second year:

Widespread drought conditions in the South Island mean the medium-scale event classification will be extended until the end of June, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“Extra funding of up to $150,000 will go to local Rural Support Trusts with $40,000 of this going to the North Canterbury Trust,” says Mr Guy. 

Speaking with farmers at a sheep and beef farm in Weka Pass, Hurunui, Mr Guy acknowledged this is the third time the classification has been extended.

“Marlborough, Canterbury and parts of Otago were originally classified as a medium-scale event on 12 February 2015 and have had very little rainfall for more than a year now. . . 

Drought resistant pasture being investigated:

Scientists have identified a type of plant that recovers quicker than others after drought and are taking the next steps to get it on to farmers’ paddocks.

But they say it could be eight to 10 years before it is available.

The Primary Growth Partnership – Transforming the Dairy Value Chain is funding the research into pasture resistance.

It comes at a crucial time with 2015 being the hottest on record and Marlborough, Canterbury and parts of Otago enduring their second season of drought. . . 

Industry Challenged by new forest technology:

Foresters face paradigm shift for logging steep slopes

The tables are being turned on foresters and logging contractors in British Columbia. Disruptive technology from New Zealand is set to create a whole new way of logging in B.C.’s forests. When meeting challenges to safely harvest NZ’s steep sloped forests, practicing foresters found convincing safety advantages with the new harvesting technology.

In recent years, loggers in New Zealand’s forest industry faced safety challenges in tree falling, especially on steep slopes. There was no choice but to reduce accidents. Up and down the steep, forested country, people turned to the safety of mechanised harvesters. Simultaneously, safety and productivity improved. . . 

Intensifying workplace laws means there are no longer any ‘family farms’ and they can’t be an extension of a backyard playground – John Brosnan:

It’s a new year on farm.

You have negotiated the Christmas and the New Year breaks with the team, so now is a good time to take a breath and consider – what next?

Well first out the gate will be the new WorkSafe legislation which comes into force 1st April this year. Are you prepared for this? Have you prepared an operational plan and put in place a robust health and safety policy? Do you and all your employees have a means to adhere to it? . . 

Canterbury dairy farm penalised for employment law breaches:

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has ordered Viewbank Dairy Ltd near Rakaia to rectify employment law breaches discovered by Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Labour Inspectorate and pay $7,500 in penalties.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Labour Inspectorate visited the farm as part of an audit to check for compliance with minimum employment standards on dairy farms. A number of breaches were identified and an Improvement Notice was issued. The Inspector brought the case before the ERA when the employer failed to comply with parts of the Notice.

Labour Inspectorate Southern Regional Manager Stuart Lumsden says the investigation found that several workers had been treated as casual employees when in fact they were permanent. . . 

Take advantage of steady nutrient costs:

The Fertiliser Quality Council (FQC) says current stability around fertiliser prices will give farm budgets an early boost for 2016 – but only if farmers are quick to seize the opportunity.

The two main fertiliser manufacturers, Ballance and Ravensdown, have kept costs for major nutrients under control since September 2015 – despite economic volatility caused by last year’s slide in the value of the New Zealand dollar.

The FQC says there’s no knowing for how long the good deals will continue and urges farmers to take advantage of the co-ops’ goodwill while it lasts. . . 

Karaka Select Sale Commences Today:

The first day of the Karaka Select Sale commences today at 11am with Lot 448 to Lot 670 going under the hammer.

The Sale will be streamed live online. To view the live stream, click here.

There have been 27 Group 1 wins from graduates of the Select Sale over the past three seasons. The new season has seen Mongolian Khan (Holy Roman Emperor) and Tarzino (NZ) (Tavistock) both land Group 1 races during the Melbourne Spring Carnival. . . 


Rural round-up

March 22, 2015

Pesticides not behind bee decline – study – Dan Satherley:

Bee numbers have been plummeting since the 1990s, with pesticides usually taking the brunt of the blame.

But a three-year study in the United States has now shown that at real-world dosage levels, bee colonies are remarkably tolerant of insecticides; therefore, there must be something else driving what’s become known as colony collapse disorder.

Scientists at the University of Maryland subjected colonies to imidacloprid, the world’s most commonly used insecticide, and found it had no real effect on colony numbers when used at recommended levels. . .

2015 Dairy Woman of the Year named:

Federated Farmers national board member and provincial president Katie Milne of Rotomanu, Lake Brunner, West Coast, has been named the 2015 Dairy Woman of the Year at the Dairy Women’s Network conference gala dinner in Invercargill tonight.

Milne farms with her partner at Rotomanu, Lake Brunner catchment on the West Coast of the South Island. They have a small high BW Jersey herd of 200 cows.

On a separate run-off the couple rear replacement heifer calves and run a localised contracting operation making silage pits, hay, baleage, effluent spreading from ponds, herd homes and stand-off pads.

The 2015 Dairy Woman of the Year judging panel comprised Mark Heer from DWN gold partner ASB Bank, Sandy Burghan from Global Women New Zealand, DWN trustee Alison Gibb, DWN chair and 2014 Dairy Woman of the Year winner Justine Kidd, and Fonterra representative Janet Rosanowski. . .

 Katie Milne is Dairy Woman of the year:

Federated Farmers President, Dr William Rolleston, says he’s thrilled by Katie Milne winning the 2015 Dairy Woman of the Year Award.

“I’m not surprised Katie won, as she has been a passionate advocate for farmers for a long time and has made some real progress for all of us at both a provincial and national level.”

“Katie has been involved with Federated Farmers since 1991, when as a 23 year old she went along to a provincial meeting with some concerns about the RMA’s impact on her ability to farm. Since then she has moved up the executive ranks, now in her third year as a Federated Farmers Board Member and in her sixth year as the Federation’s West Coast provincial president.” . .

Westland congratulates 2015 Dairy Woman of the Year Katie Milne:

Westland Milk Products is delighted that West Coast dairy farming stalwart Katie Milne has won the 2015 Dairy Woman of the Year Award.

Westland’s Board Chairman Matt O’Regan says the award is fitting recognition for Milne’s passionate dedication to dairying on the West Coast and, through her work with Federated Farmers, as a national advocate for the industry.

“Katie has been a shareholder supplier of Westland Milk Products for more than 20 years,” O’Regan says. “In that time her advocacy for the dairy industry has hugely benefited the Coast, especially in terms of the incredible amount of work she has put into TB prevention and infection control. TB is still a serious issue on the West Coast, with some 35 of the South Island’s 58 infected herds located here. But compare that to a decade ago when there were 253 infected herds in the region.” . .

Markets dismiss 1080 threat – Andrew Hoggard:

The dairy industry is at large pleasantly surprised at the non knee jerk reaction that has happened in the international dairy markets as the result of the 1080 scare.

The reporting to date has been fairly well measured and thus the public has not been spooked.  The market responses seem measured and rational and that is promising, and I want to pat the New Zealand public on the back for acting in a similar fashion.

The only sour notes have been Winston Peters and some of the minor exporters.

Peters put out a supportive statement, stating he believed it was all a hoax.  The next day he got out of bed on the wrong side and bitterly claimed the news came out timed as part of a John Key be-election plot.

Commercial limits for southern blue whiting, Otago rock lobster changing:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced changes to commercial fishing limits in two areas as part of the annual fisheries sustainability review.

“From 1 April 2015 the total allowable catch for the southern blue whiting stock at the Bounty Platform will be decreased to ensure its ongoing sustainability, while the commercial limit for Otago rock lobster will increase,” says Mr Guy.

“Limits for rock lobster (crayfish) will be unchanged in Northland, Gisborne, the Canterbury and Marlborough region, and the Westland and Taranaki region.”

The decisions follow consultation with all stakeholders and careful consideration of scientific advice. . .

Innovative Dairy Farming Couple Wins Supreme in 2015 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Pakotai dairy farmers Rachel and Greig Alexander are the Supreme winners of the 2015 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).

At a special BFEA ceremony on March 18, the Alexanders were also presented with the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award, LIC Dairy Farm Award, Massey University Innovation Award, and the WaterForce Integrated Management Award.

Their business, Waikopani Holdings Ltd, farms a total of 486ha on two farms (one dairy and the other beef) in the Mangakahia River Valley, about 50km northwest of Whangarei.

Greig and Rachel have farmed the family dairy farm since the mid-1990s and have continued to improve the property and build a very sustainable business. . .

 Yoghurt And Butter ‘as Good as It Gets’:

Yoghurt made from buffalo milk and butter from a boutique producer have been named Champions in the 2015 New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards.

Forty-five yoghurts and butters were entered in this year’s awards, the first time these categories have been judged alongside cheese.

Made on the shores of the Hauraki Gulf, Clevedon Valley Buffalo Company’s Buffalo Boysenberry Yoghurt has won the very first Green Valley Dairies Champion Yoghurt Award. . .

Resurgent New Zealand Dollar Lowers Wool Prices:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s Marketing Executive, Mr Paul Steel advises that the rapid rise in the New Zealand dollar just prior to the auction saw generally corresponding lowering of local wool prices in many areas apart from fine crossbred fleece and some targeted coarser types.

Of the 18,200 bales on offer 88.4 percent sold.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was up 1.78 percent compared to the last sale on 12th March.

Mr Steel advises that Fine Crossbred Fleece and Shears ranged from firm to 5 percent dearer. . .


Rural round-up

November 27, 2014

New agriculture centre of excellence meets key barrier to growth in sector – BNZ CEO:

BNZ chief executive, Anthony Healy says the Centre of Excellence for Agricultural Science and Business programme, launched today at St Paul’s Collegiate School in Hamilton addresses a significant and ongoing issue with the talent pipeline in one of New Zealand’s most important growth industries.

The programme, which is a joint venture between St Paul’s Collegiate and the private sector, including BNZ, will develop and roll out a national secondary school level agribusiness programme as well as serving as a venue for profiling agribusiness as an exciting career choice.

Healy says that while 60 per cent of all the money New Zealand earns through exports comes from agriculture there is currently no structured programme at secondary school level to encourage students to take up careers in agricultural science and business, resulting in a lack of students undertaking training in one of New Zealand’s most significant industries. . .

 

Methane consuming microbes combat climate change:

A Lincoln University scientist is thinking small to help solve a big problem—climate change.

Dr Sally Price, a senior researcher at the Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is looking to raise funds so she can develop a set of guidelines for farmers to encourage the growth of naturally occurring methane-consuming soil microbes, called methanotrophs.

Methane is expelled by cows and other ruminant livestock through flatulence, and is a potent greenhouse gas which contributes to climate change.

She has been undertaking periodic research over the last 15 years into the role the microbes play, and has found the root systems of trees and shrubs help to break up the soil and allow the methane to travel down to the microbes. . .

Lincoln finds new partner in China:

 Exploring innovative technologies for improving processing, manufacturing and quality assurance in dairy across the whole value chain is the overarching goal of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed this week between Lincoln University and Yili Industrial Group.

The MoU is the first step in a business relationship considered to be of notable value to both parties, its significance reflected in the document having been witnessed by China’s President Xi Jinping at the Agri-Tech Industry Showcase in Auckland today.

Yili is one of China’s largest processers and manufacturers of dairy products. The company has previously entered into a similar relationship with Wageninigen University in the Netherlands, which has since advanced to include the establishment of a research and development centre on the Dutch University’s campus. . .

NZ Racing Board Appoints John Allen as New CEO:

The NZ Racing Board has appointed experienced Chief Executive Officer John Allen as its new CEO.

Allen is currently CEO at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and prior to that held the top job at New Zealand Post. He is also an experienced company director.

NZ Racing Board Chair Glenda Hughes says this is an outstanding appointment for the organisation and indeed the wider racing and sports industries. . .

 

Westland Milk Products Annual Meeting – Director elections and appointments

Westland Milk Products shareholders re-elected two long standing directors (including chair Matt O’Regan), voted in a new director for a casual vacancy and ratified the appointments of two independent directors at their company’s annual meeting today.

Existing directors O’Regan and Frank Dooley were re-elected for a four year term. Hugh Little was elected for one year to fill the casual vacancy left by the resignation of director Mike Havill. . .

Ballance farmers elect von Dadelszen for Ward B:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients farmer shareholders have elected Sarah von Dadelszen as their new Ward B director.

Mrs von Dadelszen brings a wealth of agricultural knowledge to the role with a mix of practical farming experience and specialist education and training.

David Peacocke, Ballance Chairman said he was pleased to have von Dadelszen join the board of directors.

“We had a record number of candidates for the Ward B election and the solid voter turnout shows that the co-op is in good heart, with farmers taking an active role in who represents them on the board.” . .

 


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