Rural round-up

December 15, 2017

Fonterra releases first Sustainability Report on environmental and social performance:

Fonterra is proud to publish its first Sustainability Report, detailing its environmental, social and economic performance.

The Sustainability Report follows Fonterra’s recent announcements on emissions and clean water in New Zealand, and highlights the Co-operative’s commitment to an open discussion on how it is taking its responsibilities seriously and where it is making real progress. The report was compiled using the internationally recognised Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework and independently assured. This follows global best practice and underlines the integrity of the report.

The dairy industry is a cornerstone of the New Zealand economy but its environmental footprint is of national significance. The report gives an objective view of Fonterra’s environmental footprint and our contribution to the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand launches drought resources for farmers:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has launched an online resource for farmers affected by the dry conditions.

The resources include a fact sheet outlining strategies to manage and mitigate the effects of drought, coping with stress on the farm and advice on feed requirements and animal welfare during the dry period.

Sam McIvor, chief executive of Beef + Lamb NZ, says with the correct planning and use of tools such as early weaning, body condition scoring and feed budgets, farmers can make the most efficient and effective use of limited feed resources. . . 

Beef + Lamb NZ backs call for beef trade liberalisation:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) strongly supports the International Beef Alliance’s call for Ministers at the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference to agree on a path to trade liberalisation while protecting beef producersâ ™ livelihoods.

The Eleventh Ministerial Conference (MC11) of the World Trade Organization is being held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 10-13 December.

Sam McIvor, chief executive of B+LNZ, says: “We back the IBA’s call for Ministers at the WTO Ministerial Conference to reduce or eliminate the use of trade-distorting agricultural subsidies, amongst other production and market distorting measures. . . 

Dairy cattle numbers dip:

The number of dairy cattle dipped 2 percent from 6.6 million in June 2016 to 6.5 million in June 2017, Stats NZ said today.  

The provisional figures are from the 2017 agricultural production census. Final figures will be available in May 2018.

“From 2012, dairy cattle numbers have been relatively unchanged, after increasing over 20 percent or 1.2 million between 2007 and 2012,” agricultural production statistics manager Stuart Pitts said. . . 

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Census mirrors ‘better efficiency, better for environment’ approach:

Relatively small movements in livestock numbers in the year to June 2017 may indicate New Zealand agriculture is reaching herd equilibrium, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson Chris Lewis says.

Figures from Stats NZ’s 2017 agricultural production census show dairy cattle numbers dropped 2 per cent from 6.6m to 6.5m in the 12-month period.

The dairy cattle count has been largely stable since 2012.

“Farmers have a strong and increasing focus on sustainability and further improving their environmental footprint, and that is translating into maintaining or reducing dairy cattle numbers and instead looking for gains by boosting production per head,” Chris said. . . 

Pumpkin & kumara prices at record level:

Pumpkin prices increased 176 percent in the year to November 2017, to reach $5.78 a kilo, the highest price since the food price series began in December 1993, Stats NZ said today. Pumpkin and kumara are typically more expensive in November, but both hit record levels after larger-than-usual increases this year.

“Poor growing conditions due to the wet weather early this year had a huge impact on the supply of pumpkin and kumara,” consumer prices manager Matthew Haigh said. “Pumpkin prices have reflected lower supply, with dramatic price increases in the last three months, while kumara prices increased more steadily through the year.” . . 

Low N cow project:

DairyNZ will lead a seven-year $21 million research partnership to contribute to cleaning up rural waterways.

The central idea is to breed cattle with less nitrogen in their urine.

Participating scientists will come from DairyNZ, Abacus Bio, A. L. Rae Centre for Genetics and Animal Breeding, AgResearch and Lincoln University.

The Government has granted $8.4m to the project, $11.5m will come from farmers’ levy payments to DairyNZ, and the balance will come from CRV Ambreed and Fonterra.

A2 CEO Geoff Babidge to leave in 2018, replaced by Jetstar’s Jayne Hrdlicka – Sophie Boot:

 (BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co managing director Geoff Babidge will retire next year, and will be replaced by Jetstar chief Jayne Hrdlicka.

Babidge has been in the role since 2010, and in the past two years has seen the share price jump from around $1 at the end of 2015 to a recent record of $8.75. The shares have soared on the back of successive strong sales, with the company’s infant formula attracting strong demand in China, and have gained recently on scientific evidence about the nutritional value of its milk, which comes from cows selected to produce only A2 beta-casein, unlike most dairy products, which contain both A1 and A2 proteins. . . 

Experienced senior manager joins AVOCO to strengthen market development:

 Steve Trickett has joined AVOCO’s senior management team to expand on market development in Asia and oversee grower communications at home.

A familiar face to many New Zealand avocado growers, Steve has joined the company as Marketing and Communications Manager and is responsible for market planning and performance with focus on new and developing markets where fruit carries the AVANZA brand. He will support the existing sales and marketing team, oversee contestable fund applications and develop AVOCO’s communications and profile among the grower community. . . 

NZ Ag: Why rural marketers need emotional intelligence (EQ) – St John Craner:

I’ve always been fascinated by why people buy since I was a kid. It started when my Dad took me to Twickenham every cold December to watch the Varsity (Oxford Cambridge match) which he’d do every year with his truck drivers as a thank you to them for all their hard work that year. As I sat in the stands I always wondered why did the Tetley, Whitbread or Coca Cola billboards on the pitch influence people to buy.

Over more recent years I’ve noticed rural marketers not sharing the same fascination by recognising and harnessing the power of emotion in their customer’s decision making and buying behaviour. Some continue to treat their customers as if they were predictable and rational which is the same mistake Economists make. If they could understand the emotional state and drivers of their customers more they would be rewarded with closer and more profitable relationships and higher level of referrals, let alone promotions.

Emotional drivers are a powerful force and comes in many forms such as: . . 

Bakers, farmers struggle to make any dough on poor wheat crop – Rod Nickel & Julie Ingwersen:

 Chicago’s iconic sandwiches – Italian beef heroes dripping with gravy, and hot dogs loaded with pickles and hot peppers – wouldn’t be such culinary institutions without the bread.

But this fall, bakers faced a crisis getting the right kind of bread to delis and sandwich shops locally and across the United States.

Gonnella Baking Co – which supplies the buns to Major League Baseball’s Wrigley Field – faced an unusual problem in October when flour from this year’s U.S. wheat harvest arrived at their factories containing low levels of protein. . . 


Rural round-up

November 21, 2017

Wool gains ‘dream come true’ – Sally Rae:

Watching the volume of wool growing for Lanaco’s healthcare products and seeing lambs being born from specifically bred genetics is a ‘‘dream come true’’ for Nick Davenport.

Mr Davenport is chief executive and founder of the Auckland-based company, previously known as Texus  Fibre, which specialises in fibre innovation and developing functional materials derived from wool.

Wool from sheep developed by Wanaka man Andy Ramsden, from the Dohne, Cheviot and Finn breeds, and trademarked as the Astino breed, is used in healthcare products. . . 

Family’s top two places a show first – Sally Rae:

‘‘Not a bad show’’ is how Will Gibson dryly describes his family’s record-setting feats at last week’s Canterbury A&P Show in Christchurch.The Gibson family, from Middlemarch, won the prestigious Senior Meat and Wool Cup with their yearling supreme champion Hereford bull and were runners-up with their 2-year-old Santa Gertrudis cow with calf at foot.

It was the first time in the show’s history the same exhibitor has won the top two placings and it was well-deserved recognition for a family who work hard, are passionate about their livestock and also about exhibiting at A&P shows.

The yearling bull Foulden Hill Mustang was unbeaten in his classes over the two days, both in the Hereford and all-breeds classes, and he also won the Junior Meat and Wool Cup. . . 

Alternative proteins – on the verge of  mainstream:

Alternative proteins are on the verge of becoming mainstream and ‘stealing’ growth from traditional meat products as they play a growing role in meeting consumer needs and preferences, according to a recently-released global research paper.

The report, Watch out…or they will steal your growth by agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank, examines why alternative proteins – including plant-based meat substitutes, emerging insect or algae-based products and lab-grown meat products – are starting to successfully compete for the “centre of the plate”.

Report author, Rabobank global sector strategist for Animal Protein Justin Sherrard, says it is the ‘growth’ – rather than the current market size – of alternative proteins that is of greatest significance. . . 

Predator Free farm award:

Farmers will be recognised for their part in the nationwide movement of Predator Free New Zealand when a new Predator Free Farm Award will be presented next year as part of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Sponsored by Predator Free NZ Trust and the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, the new award will acknowledge the efforts of farmers who have put in place systems to effectively manage and monitor predators including possums, rats, feral cats, ferrets, weasels and stoats.

The award will be given to farmers who have been successful in controlling predators and are likely to have wider native biodiversity and habitat enhancement programmes in place.

Chair of Predator Free NZ Trust, Sir Rob Fenwick, said “farmers manage a significant proportion of the New Zealand landscape so they are vital in the drive to make New Zealand predator free.” . . 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand extends its support of B+LNZ Genetics:

After four years of operation and a series of successful milestones, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has extended its support of wholly-owned subsidiary B+LNZ Genetics beyond its initial five-year funding programme.

B+LNZ Genetics was established in 2013 to consolidate farmer investment in New Zealand’s sheep and beef genetics research and innovation into a single entity. Its programme was forecast to generate $742m of benefits over 10 years, but that figure has since been reviewed upwards, to $947m, or $7,890 per annum per sheep and beef farm. With rising costs this helps keep farmers competitive. . . 

Butter at record $5.67 a block :

Rising dairy prices have pushed food prices up 2.7 percent in the year to October 2017, Stats NZ said today. This followed a 3.0 percent increase in the year to September 2017.

Butter prices led the way again – up 62 percent from the same time last year. Milk and cheese prices also increased (up 7.5 and 12 percent respectively) and had large contributions to the increase in food prices seen in the year to October 2017.

“Dairy products are very widely used inputs in a number of food items,” consumers price index manager Matthew Haigh said. “The effects of price rises flow on to products such as takeaway biscuits, buns, cakes and coffee, and eating out for lunch and dinner, all of which saw increases in the year to October 2017.” . . 

Global Dairy Platform announces new chairman:

Global Dairy Platform (GDP) has appointed Fonterra Chief Executive Officer, Theo Spierings, as GDP chairman, effective November 16, 2017.

Mr. Spierings says he is pleased to be taking on the role and playing a part in maximizing the contribution dairy can make to the world.

“More than ever, people are turning to dairy for nutritional security and sustainable food and every day we see the good that dairy can do. . . 

 


Rural round-up

August 14, 2017

“Parallel Parker” Needs to Do A Better Job of Lining Up Labour’s Water Policy:

Federated Farmers wants Labour to honour the commitment it made to only look at charging overseas-owned water bottlers and to permanently park its discriminatory tax on water that will divide communities and undermine regional economies.

On 21 June this year, then Labour leader Andrew Little told the Federated Farmers national conference, in front of the media, that they were not going to tax water across the board – just look at water bottling. When news reports on this started to come out, Labour changed its tune.

At the beginning of this week Mr Parker was telling us it would apply to “large commercial users”, but now, and the end of the week, we hear it won’t apply to the very large companies putting water in bottled products right now in central Auckland. . . 

Labour could have knocked the water debate out of the park; But the economics of its royalties policy just don’t work; Let’s hope they get some nationalistic headlines out of it before questions are asked – Alex Tarrant:

Labour this election had the opportunity to knock the water pricing debate out of the park. Jacinda Ardern’s announcement Wednesday was instead a nod to politics over policy.

On the face it, the headline announcement that all commercial water users would be charged based on usage was a welcome addition to the water allocation and pricing debate in New Zealand this year.

But going beneath the surface throws up more questions than answers. These mainly stem from the policy’s central theme of different royalty rates applying to different water users, and depending on the quality of water used.

I made my views clear on this issue back in March. Let’s have a proper water pricing debate that encompasses all water use. We also need clarification on who owns water before we go about charging for it. . . 

Govt sets out path to better freshwater:

The Government’s new National Policy Statement (NPS) on Freshwater Management will deliver cleaner lakes and rivers with ambitious new targets for improving their recreational and ecological health, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“The new policy confirms the Government’s national target of 90 per cent of rivers and lakes being swimmable by 2040. The policy has been strengthened following consultation by requiring regional councils to set regional targets and regularly reporting on achieving these. This ambitious plan will require 1000km of waterways be improved to a higher grading each year. It is being supported by new national environmental regulations governing activities like fencing stock out of waterways and forestry. . . 

Farmers welcome support to improve environment:

The Government’s announcement of $44 million to support freshwater improvement projects is welcomed by Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

B+LNZ Chief Executive Sam McIvor says that over the past two years, in particular, the organisation has responded to farmer demand for support in the environment space. “Through this work, we’ve identified that – while farmers want to take action – knowing where to start and what to prioritise can be a barrier.

“This government funding is timely and will help us better support farmers to deliver on their water quality ambitions.” . . 

California crops rot as immigration crackdown creates farm worker shortage – Chris Morris:

Vegetable prices may be going up soon, as a shortage of migrant workers is resulting in lost crops in California.

Farmers say they’re having trouble hiring enough people to work during harvest season, causing some crops to rot before they can be picked. Already, the situation has triggered losses of more than $13 million in two California counties alone, according to NBC News.

The ongoing battle about U.S. immigration policies is blamed for the shortage. The vast majority of California’s farm workers are foreign born, with many coming from Mexico. However, the PEW Research Center reports more Mexicans are leaving the U.S. than coming here. . .

Collaboration essential for sustainable dairy farming:

If a future in sustainable farming is to be achieved in the coming years, companies in both the private and public sector need to be working both faster and more collaboratively, says dairy farm investment company Fortuna Group.

Southland-based Fortuna Group, along with Dairy Green, are the innovators at the forefront of New Zealand’s methane recovery system.

While there are other methane recovery plants in New Zealand, the partnership’s plant at Glenarlea Farms in Otautau is the only one that is consistently and reliably generating electricity from methane.  . . 

Lower fruit prices bittersweet due to high vegetable prices:

Fruit prices fell 5.2 percent in July 2017, contributing to a 0.2 percent fall in food prices, Stats NZ said today.

Cheaper avocados and strawberries led the fall in fruit prices in July. Avocado prices fell 29 percent in July, coming off a near-record high in June, and strawberry prices fell 23 percent. The average price for a 250g punnet of strawberries was $5.92 in July 2017, compared with $7.71 in June.

“Strawberries are unseasonably cheap for this time of year,” consumer prices manager Matthew Haigh said. “They typically reach their lowest price in December, but are currently dropping in price due to more imports from Australia.” . . 

NZ wool sale volumes rise at double auction across North, South islands  – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – A higher volume of wool was sold at auction in New Zealand this week after organisers skipped a week and held a double auction across both islands.

Some 80 percent of the 15,054 wool bales offered at auctions in Napier in the North Island and Christchurch in the South Island were sold yesterday, AgriHQ said. That’s ahead of the 72 percent clearance rate for the 2016/17 season which ended June 30, and the average 77 percent rate for the first six weeks of the current season. . . .

Sanity prevails over proposed animal manure imports says Feds:

Sanity based on sound science has prevailed says Federated Farmers after the Government confirmed it would no longer be permitting imports of products containing animal manure.

The decision follows a Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) investigation which discovered imported compost from the Netherlands, intended for mushroom growing, contained animal manure.

“This is the right decision and we are glad the Government has taken this step. Federated Farmers made a strong submission earlier in the year against these imports,” says Guy Wigley, Federated Farmers’ Biosecurity Spokesperson. . . 

Synlait Invests in Category Management to Target Growth:

Synlait Milk is investing in category management capability to support increased business development in existing and new categories.

“Building discipline in category management is a crucial step in our pursuit of profitable, and sustainable, growth opportunities,” says John Penno, Synlait’s Managing Director and CEO.

“We’re here to make the most from milk. Category management will allow us to continue planning our growth into the most profitable categories, products and customers, and to monitor our progress against those plans.” . . 

Fonterra hailed as top NZ co-op:

Fonterra has been judged New Zealand’s top co-operative business of the year, and praised for a “stunning financial turnaround, generous social responsibility programmes and a high profile campaign proudly proclaiming its Kiwi farmer-owned, co-operative status”. 

The sector’s peak body Cooperative Business New Zealand (CBNZ) made the award at a function in Auckland last night.

Shareholders’ Council Chair Duncan Coull, who collected the award, says our farmers should take real pride in this special recognition for their co-op.

“Our farmer shareholders set themselves high standards, and it’s their daily hard work and commitment that drives the success of the co-op. I also want to recognise the energy and contribution of our staff in helping build a co-op that returns such value to shareholders, local communities and the New Zealand economy.”  . . 


Rural round-up

July 14, 2017

EU-Japan trade deal ups the ante – Allan Barber:

The FTA announced just before the G20 meeting in Hamburg is touted to bring substantial benefits to EU agricultural producers. It will put EU exporters on a level playing field with countries like Australia which already have an agreement, but notably it will put New Zealand at an even greater disadvantage until our trade negotiators can achieve a similar outcome.

There is great enthusiasm for what is being called the ‘most important bi-lateral agreement ever done,’ embracing some 20% of the world’s population. When the details are completed, targeted for the end of this year, there will potentially be no tariffs applying to all food exports, including beef, sheepmeat and pork products. It remains to be seen how long the phase-in period will be.

However, reading the EU comments that greeted the news, there appears to be absolutely no concern about the impact of Japanese produced goods entering the EU. That will no doubt be for non-food producers, including French, German and Italian car makers to worry about. . . 

Russia warns dairy restrictions possible after butter tests –  Alexa Cook:

Russia is warning of a potential restriction on New Zealand dairy products after finding butter from this country tested positive twice for the antibiotic tetracycline.

News agency Dairy Reporter said Russia has warned of a potential restriction on New Zealand dairy products after some butter tested positive twice for the veterinary medicine tetracycline.

Russia’s government said if it continued to find the antibiotic, it would limit the supply of milk products from New Zealand. . .

Predator Free 2050 arsenal to expand:

Predator Free 2050’s arsenal is set to expand with funding for three projects to control stoats and rats.

“The funding gives that extra push to promising projects already in the pipeline to help make them safer, more cost effective or to enlarge their scale,” Ms Barry says.

“We know new tools and technology are needed to win the war against invasive predators, so we’ve funded the newly-formed company Predator Free 2050 Ltd to support breakthrough scientific research.”

“We also know our current tools and technology need to be improved and enhanced to make a difference in the short to medium-term as we head toward a predator-free New Zealand.” . .

Birds and bats on the rise after widespread predator control:

Native species are on the rise thanks to intensive trapping and aerial 1080 operations across Fiordland National Park, latest monitoring results show.

Following widespread beech seeding across Fiordland in early 2016, and a recorded increase in rat numbers, the Department of Conservation (DOC) treated six sites with aerially applied 1080 as part of the national Battle for our Birds programme, including the Eglinton and Arthur Valleys, the Waitutu Forest and areas of the Kepler. . .

Monitoring of commercial fishing to revolutionise fisheries management:

New regulations gazetted today will help revolutionise the way New Zealand’s commercial fisheries are managed and monitored, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

The regulations require the use of geospatial position reporting (GPR), e-logbooks, and cameras across the commercial fishing industry and are being rolled out from 1 October this year. . .

Five reasons why agriculture is among the hottest growing industries – Paul Cranch:

Everyone talks about IT, energy and health care as the growing industries of the future, but agriculture should be on that list, too! This is an exciting time to be in agriculture. Here are 5 reasons why I think big opportunities await you in this often overlooked industry.

Agriculture is in the center of one of the greatest challenges of our time – achieving food security.

Long-Term Global Need.
Why is there so much opportunity in Agriculture? Let’s have a look at what is happening in the world
. . .

Avocado prices near record levels and kumara hits new high:

Food prices rose 0.2 percent in June 2017, Stats NZ said today. The rise was led by higher prices for avocados and soft drinks. The average price for a 200g avocado was $4.52 in June 2017, compared with $3.38 in May 2017.

“Avocado prices tend to peak in the winter before falling in spring as new fruit become available,” consumer prices manager Matthew Haigh said. “Prices are back near the record level in June last year.”

“Fruit and vegetables prices eased off somewhat in June, from their highs in May,” Mr Haigh said. “Lettuce and broccoli prices were down, but tomato and kumara prices continued to rise. Kumara prices were at their highest-ever level – $8.18 a kilogram.” . .

StockX wins Beef + Lamb NZ Sheep Industry Innovation Award:

StockX has been announced as winner of the prestigious Beef + Lamb NZ Sheep Industry Awards – 2017 Tru-Test Innovation Award held in Invercargill last week.

Head Judge, Hamish Bielski said, “The panel’s decision was unanimous given the ability of StockX to provide transparency in the sales and purchase process, and the way it connects buyers and sellers in a cost-effective manner. The concept – which uses technology not available 20 years ago – represents a step-change in the industry and has challenged the status-quo when it comes to trading livestock.” . .

Competition Set to Find NZ’s Young Winemaker of The Year:

The battle is on again to find the 2017 Tonnellerie de Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker of the Year, with a new structure to the competition which is set to bring the North vs South rivalry back into play, the young wine making talent of New Zealand will compete for the ultimate title during the next few months.

Now in its third year, the competition is about finding the best winemaking talent in New Zealand, as well as providing education and support for those in the industry under 30. Not only that, the winner walks away with a travel allowance, training grant, full registration to the Romeo Bragato conference, a profile in Cuisine Magazine, wine allowance, plus a trip to the Tonnellerie de Mercurey France (airfares from NZ included), and of course the title of being the 2017 New Zealand Tonnellerie de Mercurey Young Winemaker of the Year. . .


Rural round-up

June 15, 2017

More funding to support rural mental wellness:

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have committed another joint funding boost to rural mental health.

The Ministers committed $500,000 for Rural Mental Wellness at the opening of the Fieldays Rural Health Hub earlier today.

It will go towards 20 workshops for rural health professionals treating people at risk of suicide, continued support for the rural Clinical Champions and Medical Director, as well as support aimed at younger rural workers.

“The Government recognises that rural life goes in cycles, and we want to support our rural communities through the ups and downs,” says Dr Coleman.

“The Rural Mental Wellness initiative is administered by Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand and Rural Support Trusts. . . 

Helping farmers return home safely:

Last year, 18 people died as a result of work-related incidents in agriculture, accounting for 36 per cent of all work related fatalities in 2016. This is significantly higher than any other primary industry.

The introduction of the 2015 Health and Safety at Work Act and WorkSafe’s ongoing scrutiny requires businesses to understand and adapt to minimise potential for harm to employees and contractors.

To help agri-businesses keep their employees and contractors safe, Safetrac has partnered with MinterEllisonRuddWatts to develop an interactive online training course. . . 

Sustainable farming fund hits 1000th project:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Associate Minister Louise Upston have tonight celebrated the 1000th Sustainable Farming Fund project, and awarded two Emerging Leaders scholarships at an event kicking off National Fieldays.

“The Sustainable Farming Fund supports the primary sector’s own forward thinking and kiwi ingenuity – which in turn helps keeps New Zealand ahead of the game,” says Mr Guy. 

“1000 projects have now been funded since the fund was initiated in 2000. This represents around $150 million in government funding alongside a significant level of sector support.

“The fund has supported projects as diverse as reducing nutrient run off on lowland farms, reducing use of antimicrobials when managing mastitis, and increasing the market share for New Zealand olive oil,” Mr Guy says.

Ms Upston says much of the success of the fund is due to its grass-roots nature. . . 

Commonsense prevails on firearms recommendations says Feds:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see that Police Minister Paula Bennett has listened to the concerns of the rural community on the Parliamentary Select Committee report into the illegal possession of firearms.

Minister Bennett rejected 12 of the 20 recommendations made by the committee that would have significantly impacted on licensed firearms owners- but done little to stop firearms getting into the hands of criminals. . . 

Vegetable prices up 31 percent in year to May:

Higher lettuce prices helped push vegetable prices up a record 31 percent in the year to May 2017, Stats NZ said today. Overall, food prices increased 3.1 percent in the year.

“Our wet autumn has pushed vegetable prices to their highest level in almost six years in May, with the largest annual increase to vegetables on record,” consumer prices manager Matthew Haigh said. “The increase was more pronounced because warmer-than-usual weather in the 2016 growing season resulted in cheaper-than-usual vegetable prices in May last year.” . . 

NZ agriculture needs to latch onto tech faster:

New Zealand’s primary industries need to latch on to technology faster to support the economic growth of its agri sector and become a world leader in a fast growing agritech market, NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says.

NZTech members have joined hundreds of other firms at Fieldays in Hamilton this week as technology becomes increasingly important for the New Zealand agri sector.

A growing awareness of the value of technology in agriculture can be seen by the number of farmers looking into technologies such as IoT, drones, sensors and robotics, Muller says. . . 

Smaller NZ wine vintage is full of promise:

The 2017 grape harvest has come in smaller than expected according to New Zealand Winegrowers.

The 2017 Vintage Survey shows the harvest totalled 396,000 tonnes, down 9% on last year said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. “Given strong demand in overseas markets wineries had been looking forward to a larger harvest this year. With the smaller vintage however, export volume growth is likely to be more muted in the year ahead.”

Mr Gregan said the smaller vintage was due to weather conditions. “Generally summer weather was very positive but there were some challenges as the season progressed.” . . 

Bellamy’s to pay Fonterra A$28M to change supply contract as it struggles to crack China – Sophie Boot:

 (BusinessDesk) – ASX-listed Bellamy’s Australia plans to raise A$60.4 million from shareholders and will pay nearly half of that to New Zealand’s Fonterra Cooperative Group in order to change their milk supply contract in its quest to comply with Chinese import regulations.

The two companies have been in negotiations this year after announcing changes to their take-or-pay organic powder contract. Fonterra and Bellamy’s first entered into a five-year, multi-million dollar deal to manufacture a range of baby nutritional powders at the Darnum infant formula plant in south-east Victoria in November 2015. . . 

Wrightson warns wet autumn will weigh on annual earnings Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson, whose chief executive yesterday signalled his departure at the end of the year, warned a wet autumn sapped the performance of its seed and grain business and will weigh on annual earnings.

The Christchurch-based company said it expects operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to be in the bottom half of its earlier guidance for earnings of between $62 million and $68 million, while net profit will be near the low end of its previous forecast for between $46 million and $51 million. . . 

Rural sector stabilises despite challenges:

Rural businesses show signs of improvement despite facing constrained business environment

However, 1-in-5 rural businesses expecting no change from technology a “cause for concern”

As Fieldays 2017 kicks off, a new survey by accounting software provider MYOB reveals rural businesses are showing strong signs of economic improvement despite a constrained environment. . . 

Fieldays an opportunity for careers advice:

More than 500 students will be offered advice on careers in the primary industries as they pass through the Careers and Education Hub at Fieldays this week.

Associate Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Louise Upston says that with strong growth in the primary sector anticipated over the next few years, the Government was encouraging more young people to consider careers in primary industries.

A number of schools, totalling more than 500 students, have registered to visit the Careers and Education Hub at Fieldays at Mystery Creek. Careers NZ will be among those offering advice to young people considering such a career. . . 

Plenty to celebrate for Zespri at Mystery Creek :

Kiwifruit’s growing importance to the rural economy is being celebrated at Fieldays 2017 at Mystery Creek this week, together with the 20-year anniversary of the Zespri brand.

The kiwifruit marketer has a large presence at the biggest agricultural and horticultural event in the Southern Hemisphere, hosting growers and industry stakeholders at its hospitality site over the four-day event. . . 

Wrightson boss Mark Dewdney to leave at the end of the year – Paul McBeth

 (BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson chief executive Mark Dewdney will leave the rural services firm at the end of the year, by which time a new leadership team is expected to be in place.

Dewdney will end three-and-a-half years in charge of the Christchurch-based company at the end of 2017 “to pursue private interests”, and will help the board install a new leadership group by 2018, Wrightson said in a statement. Chairman Alan Lai said Dewdney had done an “excellent job” in building staff engagement and targeting growth in certain areas of the business.. . 

Vodafone calls on rural Kiwis to check their coverage at this year’s Fieldays:

Thousands of rural Kiwis are within reach of better broadband and Vodafone is on a mission to end their ‘buffering blues’ at this year’s Fieldays.

The company is challenging visitors to use its brand new interactive coverage wall to see if they can get a faster and more reliable broadband connection where they live.

In addition to super-fast wireless broadband, Vodafone has a range of coverage solutions on display to help rural New Zealanders improve their connection to the world. . . 

BEC Feed Solutions expands to meet growth:

BEC Feed Solutions has expanded its New Zealand operation with the appointment of Rhys Morgan as South Island Sales Representative. The new position was created following substantial business growth after a successful three years in business, and the desire to expand BEC’s presence in the South Island.

Reporting to BEC Country Manager, Trina Parker, Mr Morgan will be accountable for growing the business via the sale of ingredients, solution-focused feed additives and premixes within the South Island. He will also have responsibility for developing the company’s presence in the dairy sector, in addition to account managing a number of existing clients across New Zealand. . . 


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