Rural round-up

March 21, 2015

TPP Opportunity for Dairy Must Not Be Missed:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) has joined with national dairy organisations from Australia and the United States in appealing for their governments to progress a swift but successful conclusion to the TPP negotiations.

“We have a historic opportunity to remove distortions from the dairy market in the Asia-Pacific region. Our governments must grab hold of this.” Said DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey.

“TPP outcomes must be ambitious, comprehensive and commercially meaningful for dairy along with other products. We understand that progress is being made in the negotiations but that it still falls short of the level of ambition needed. . .

Record beef returns offset impact of a dry season:

Drought and the ratio of sheep to cattle farmed are the two factors with the biggest impact on sheep and beef farmers’ incomes this season.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) today released its mid-season update. Six months ago, the organisation’s new season outlook predicted the average farm profit before tax would be around $110,800 for 2014-15. However, B+LNZ Economic Service Chief Economist Andrew Burtt says those predictions were based on the assumption that climatic conditions would be normal – and this season has proved to be far from normal in many areas.

“While the average farm profit before tax has been adjusted slightly downwards, to $109,400, North Island profits are expected to increase 19 per cent, to $117,100, while South Island profits are predicted to decrease 20 per cent, to $100,200. The difference can be accounted for by the ratio of sheep to cattle farmed in each island, with cattle making up greater numbers in the north. .

– Allan Barber:

Tuesday saw the launch of Meat Industry Excellence’s report Red Meat Sector – Pathways to Long Term Sustainability to a relatively small group of invited attendees in Wellington. The audience consisted of MIE farmer members, directors of Silver Fern Farms and AFFCO, MIA chairman Bill Falconer, ANZCO CEO Mark Clarkson, Rick Powdrell Federated Farmers’ Meat and Fibre chair, various industry analysts and commentators, and politicians including the Minister for Primary Industries, Shadow Spokesman and the Speaker.

Rod Oram was the MC with addresses from Alasdair Macleod, leader of the Red Meat Sector Strategy development four years ago, Ross Hyland, principal advisor to MIE, James Parsons, chairman of B+LNZ and MIE chairman John McCarthy.

Ross Hyland gave the most interesting talk, both stimulating and entertaining supported by several overheads to illustrate his key points. Fortunately he did not attempt to summarise the report, but focused on some key points which painted the picture of an industry suffering from declining profitability and livestock numbers. . .

Meat Industry cautious on new report:

Meat company reaction to a newly released report on restructuring the industry has been muted so far.

The study comes from the farmer-led Meat Industry Excellence group, which is pushing for a major revamp of the industry to improve its profitability and lift falling returns to farmers.

It advocates a fresh attempt being made to merge the two big co-operatives, Silver Fern Farms and the Alliance Group, and getting the two other big privately-owned companies, ANZCO and AFFCO, to agree to rationalisation measures as well.

Plant a tree for International Forest Day:

Associate Minister for Primary Industries Jo Goodhew marked United Nations International Day of Forests at the Methven A&P show today, by planting a maple tree with industry representatives.

“New Zealand is a proud producer of sustainable timber products,” Mrs Goodhew says. “Today is a reminder of the contribution New Zealand forests make to both the environment and the economy.”

Our forests cover one third of New Zealand, and remain our third largest export earner.

“Leading into the 2020s, there is the potential for a 40 per cent increase in log production. A challenge to industry is to move wood products out of the commodity basket and up the value chain,” Mrs Goodhew says. . .

21 March International Day of Forests:

Forests and trees sustain and protect us in invaluable ways. They provide the clean air that we breathe and the water that we drink. They host and safeguard the planet’s biodiversity and act as our natural defence against climate change. Life on earth is made possible and sustainable thanks to forests and trees. . .

 

Kiwifruit Industry Strategy Project on track for record turnout:

On the final day of voting, grower turnout for the Kiwifruit Industry Strategy Project (KISP) referendum has surpassed all expectations and is on track to be the largest voter turnout in the horticulture sector for almost two decades.

KISP Independent Chairman Neil Richardson notes, “Our initial expectations were based around the average turnout for similar referendums across different sectors being 40%, and the NZKGI Levy vote in 2011 reaching 43% of grower turnout.”

“With voter turnout by both production volume and grower numbers already exceeding 50% we are confident that this referendum turnout will be the most significant the entire horticulture industry has seen since the late 1990s,” says Mr Richardson. . .

Team-Focused Dairy Business Takes Top Title in Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Eltham dairy farmers Mark and Jacqui Muller and their manager Conrad Maeke are the Supreme Winners of the 2015 Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).

They received the award at a BFEA ceremony on March 19. Mark, Jacqui and Conrad also collected the LIC Dairy Farm Award, Hill Laboratories Harvest Award, Massey University Innovation Award and the PGG Wrightson Land and Life Award.

The Muller’s business, Gardiner Partnership, is based on 212ha of family land west of Eltham in the Mangatoki district. The operation milks up to 618 cows on a 167ha milking platform, achieving production well ahead of the district average. . .

 Cheese And Beer a Winning Combo for Home Crafted Cheese Maker:

Former corporate high-flyer John Morawski has found that cheese and beer make a winning combination.

The brewer turned cheese maker decided to make use of a discarded cheese-making kit he bought his fiancé. Less than three years later he has won the Curds & Whey Champion Home Crafted Cheese Award at the 2015 NZ Champions of Cheese Awards.

The Home Crafted category gives “hobbyist” cheese makers a chance to showcase their creations. To be eligible, cheese must not be made for retail distribution and the annual volume cannot exceed 100kgs. . .

 

Taranaki/Manawatu Young Farmers to be put to the test in ANZ Young Farmer Contest Regional Final:

The fifth ANZ Young Farmer Contest Grand Finalist will be determined next weekend, Saturday 28 March at the Taranaki/Manawatu Regional Final held in Palmerston North.

“This contest season is shaping up to be very exciting, every year the calibre of contestants continues to improve and impress,” says Terry Copeland, Chief Executive of New Zealand Young Farmers – organisers of the event.

The eight finalists are contending for a spot at the Grand Final in Taupo 2 – 4 July and their share of an impressive prize pack worth over $271,000 in products, services and scholarships from ANZ, FMG, Lincoln University, Silver Fern Farms, AGMARDT, Ravensdown, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone. . .


Rural round-up

December 20, 2013

Red meat is worth 35 annual Avatars and could be much more:

Federated Farmers has started consultation among its membership covering reform of New Zealand’s $6 billion Red Meat industry.  The red-meat industry is currently worth around 35 annual Avatar movies to the New Zealand economy.

“Given Avatar Director James Cameron is also a Wairarapa farmer, reform of New Zealand’s red meat industry represents our economic blockbuster if we can pull it off,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre spokesperson.

“From the number of calls I have already received, I know both the media and our meat processors are very keen to see a copy of our paper. . .

Feds’ members only meat report:

FEDERATED FARMERS has put “three broad options” to its members on meat industry reform in a paper to be publicly released in the New Year.

Meat & Fibre section national chair Jeanette Maxwell says the solutions within the options are “more like a pick a mix” and suggests the processor focussed option will generate much discussion.
“There is a push by some in the industry to merge the cooperatives, something that’s much easier said than done. If the thinking is ‘just copy Fonterra’ then it will not succeed. To work, any merger needs a reassessment of the entire industry but especially its capital structures.” . . .

Alliance group’s Blue Sky Meat takeover talks fail – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) Meat co-operative Alliance Group’s talks about a potential takeover of rival South Island processor Blue Sky Meats have ended when Blue Sky withdrew after a failure to agree on key terms.

Blue Sky withdrew from the “respectful and amicable” talks early this month after being approached by Alliance a couple of months ago, Blue Sky chairman Graham Cooney said.

Both processing companies were based in Invercargill.

The farmer-led Meat Industry Excellence group had this year been pushing for closer integration of meat companies in an attempt to improve efficiency and boost profits.  . .

Farmers’ dairying halt boosts river

Dairy farmers are adapting to the massive pressures of farming under the close scrutiny of the public eye, but one farmer on the outskirts of Palmerston township in East Otago has more at stake than most.

For a start, Alan and Iain Ford’s 100ha Glenlurgan dairy farm on fertile river terraces is neatly split in two by the Shag River.

To complicate matters further, the townships of Palmerston, Dunback and Goodwood all draw their water from a pumping station intake at the lower end of the farm. . .

A timely reminder:

Fonterra dropped a bombshell last week when it announced its latest consideration on its farmgate milk price.

For farmer shareholders in New Zealand’s largest company, it had been shaping up to be a particularly merry Christmas, with economists suggesting the milk price could be lifted as much as 40c.

Elevated prices, which have defied predictions and remained at very high levels – the GlobalDairyTrade price index was just 7% below its April high and about 50% higher than a year ago – raised expectations for the forecast to rise. . .

Christmas comes early for Westland dairy farmers:

Federated Farmers is thrilled about the latest announcement from Westland Milk Products regarding their milk pay-out forecast of $8.30 per kilogram of milk solids.

“Dairy farmers have had Christmas early this year with this pay-out announcement,” says Richard Reynolds, Federated Farmers West Coast Dairy chair.

“This is a huge difference from last years pay-out and I know a lot of dairy farmers on the West Coast will be ecstatic at this announcement. . .

Taranaki provincial president hands over the reins:

Federated Farmers is saddened to lose its Taranaki provincial president, Harvey Leach, following his resignation this week.

“Harvey has been a huge influence and a game changer in the Taranaki region, and we will all be sad to see him go,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“The role of provincial president is voluntary and takes a lot of time and dedication.Our provincial presidents do a lot of great work that does not get a lot of coverage, but Harvey has always been one of life’s true gentlemen. He will be missed but he leaves his province in great shape. . .

Bloodstock – setting up to succeed:

The New Zealand’s bloodstock sector is more than just an agribusiness niche and is attracting renewed interest from investors, says Geoff Roan, Senior Manager, Bloodstock, for Crowe Horwath.

While sometimes seen as a high risk investment, if structured correctly and professionally managed as a business, the bloodstock sector can be both profitable and fun, says Mr Roan.

The bloodstock sector was valued at $1.6 bn in NZ by New Zealand Racing Board in 2010, which compares favourably with viticulture ($1.5 bn) and aquaculture ($1.7 bn).

Contribution to GDP $1.64 billion $1.5 billion $1.7 billion Direct employment impact FTE $8,877 $5,940 $10,520 Total employment impact FTE $17,000 $16,500 $26,600 . . .

2013 Waipara Hills Sauvignon Blanc textural and bursting with flavour:

Waipara Hills release their 2013 Waipara Hills Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, just in time for what is predicted to be a hot summer. The new release Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect partner on a balmy summer evening, with its fresh flavours of guava, melon, nettles and flint that flow from the nose into the mouth.

Waipara Hills Winemaker, Simon McGeorge, is really looking forward to showing off the 2013 Waipara Hills Sauvignon Blanc in the coming year. “I love the rich burst of fruit on the first sip, but it’s the texture and structure that I think are exciting. A grapefruit pith character, along with a nice rich mid-palate, gives this wine vibrancy and complexity which I believe will really have broad appeal.” Simon said. . .


Rural round-up

November 22, 2013

Farmers welcome the PCE’s water contribution:

Federated Farmers has welcomed the report of Dr Jan Wright, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, entitled, Water quality in New Zealand: Land use and nutrient pollution and is offering to help ground truth some of the modelled assumptions.

“Federated Farmers has consistently said we need good science to underpin policy decision making,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers environment spokesperson.

“As Dr Wright conceded at the launch water is complex and the modelling arguably represents the worst case.  It does however highlight the cumulative effects of land use intensity upon water.  It represents our future if we do absolutely nothing but that is not a future we’d like to be a part of.

“Farmers understand there are some challenges but we mustn’t forget that New Zealand has some of the best quality water on earth.  There is also enormous resource and work being put into finding practical workable solutions and we have made some good progress. . .

Time and tide waits for no man or woman – Jeanette Maxwell:

Recently I had the opportunity to travel to Zambia for the inaugural World Farming Organisation Women’s committee meeting, the international day of Rural Women and the Zambian National Farmers Union conference.

This has much resonance for the issues we will be discussing over the next two days.

Travelling to a country like Zambia gave me an opportunity to see how farmers do business in a developing nation.  A working farm there can be anything from 10 hectares to many thousands of hectares.

In Zambia I found that 62 percent of all farmers are women.  Women also make up a large share of the labour force and much of the weeding and crop maintenance is done by women.

For many farmers the land is transferred by succession and while there are opportunities to buy land you do need to know the right people.   In Zambia, succession is seen as being critical for the continuation of farming and for feeding the nation.   Sounds familiar. . . .

New DOC boss signals cultural shift:

Farming leaders are applauding a cultural shift signalled by new Department of Conservation (DOC) boss Lou Sanson.

Mr Sanson, who took over as DOC chief executive about two months ago, told the Federated Farmers’ national council in Wellington on Tuesday that DOC would be focusing more on partnership arrangements with farmers and other community and commercial interests, including fishing and mining.

He said Canterbury’s Hakataramea Basin was an example of what he meant by a cultural change for DOC, with a lot of land taken back into its control through tenure review.

“We’ve also taken a lot of musterers’ huts. Generally a farmer 100 years ago put a poplar or a willow beside the hut to give him firewood for the hut,” Mr Sanson said. . .

Contest gives credit to sharemilking role – Sue O’Dowd:

New Zealand’s premier dairy farming contest can be traced to a Taranaki man who thought a sharemilkers’ competition would provide a window to show off their skills.

Murray Cross was a sharemilker at Ngaere when he suggested the Taranaki Sharemilkers Association should run a Sharemilker of the Year competition. At the time he and wife Ruth were on the farm his father, Sydney Hamilton Cross, had bought after he returned from World War II.

Murray Cross drew his inspiration for the competition from going through the process for a Nuffield scholarship. Although he was unsuccessful, he thought he could apply what he had learned to a competition in Taranaki for sharemilkers.   . .

Meat co-ops see obstacles to merger:

Silver Fern Farms and the Alliance Group, agree that further consolidation is needed in the meat industry.

But both big farmer-owned co-operatives see different obstacles in the way of the farmer campaign to merge the two co-ops as the starting point for forcing wider changes in the industry.

The Meat Industry Excellence group is frustrated at the failure of the major processors and exporters to agree on any reform measures after months of discussions. It is pushing a merger idea in co-op board elections currently underway.

However, Alliance Group chair Murray Taggart of Canterbury says it does not support the view that the co-operatives should be the main vehicle for consolidation and bear the costs. . .

Sustained crop returns for wheat and maize:

Digging a little deeper into the budget for grain fertiliser has valuable paybacks in terms of crop yields for maize and wheat, according to recent studies funded by Ballance Agri-Nutrients.

Trials were undertaken in Canterbury, Southland and Waikato in spring 2012 to evaluate the performance of standard urea against Ballance Agri-Nutrient’s SustaiN, which is urea coated with the urease inhibitor AGROTAIN®. Agrotain is a nitrogen stabiliser that has been proven to suppress ammonia volatilisation, delivering more nitrogen directly to the soil where it can contribute to plant growth.

The trials showed that the additional cost of $11/ha for SustaiN (applied at 100 kg N/ha) was readily recouped. . .

 


Rural round-up

November 18, 2013

Silver Fern Farms makes second loss – Alan Williams:

Silver Fern Farms made a pre-tax loss of $36.5 million in the year ended September 30, on top of its $42m loss the previous year.

The company has negotiated a new debt package with its banks for a two-year period, with a first-year facility of up to $609m, chief executive Keith Cooper said.

The preliminary result did not disclose total assets at balance date, but at the same time in 2012 Silver Fern had $316.6m of borrowings funding total assets of $796m.

The latest loss was disappointing and unacceptable, outgoing chairman Eoin Garden said. . .

Silver Fern Farms FY loss narrows to $28.6 mln, mulling options for sector overhaul :

(BusinessDesk) – Silver Fern Farms, New Zealand’s biggest meat processor and marketer, narrowed its annual loss as it deals with the “collapse” of the sheep meat market last year, and is mulling options for a sector-wide overhaul to inject some life in the industry.

The net loss narrowed to $28.6 million in the 12 months ended Sept. 30 from a loss of $31.1 million a year earlier, the Dunedin-based company said in a statement. Sales slipped 1.5 percent to $2 billion. The company blamed last year’s sheep meat market spike and subsequent collapse for the two years of losses, and said it has completed a programme to work through the downturn.

“Market consumption and pricing continued to decrease in the first half of the 2012/13 year, resulting from further writedowns of balance date stocks,” chairman Eoin Garden said. “In reality, the market collapse dramatically impacted upon two financial years due to large stock positions over the September 2012 balance date.” . . .

Meat co-ops see obstacles to merger:

Silver Fern Farms and the Alliance Group, agree that further consolidation is needed in the meat industry.

But both big farmer-owned co-operatives see different obstacles in the way of the farmer campaign to merge the two co-ops as the starting point for forcing wider changes in the industry.

The Meat Industry Excellence group is frustrated at the failure of the major processors and exporters to agree on any reform measures after months of discussions. It is pushing a merger idea in co-op board elections currently underway.

However, Alliance Group chair Murray Taggart of Canterbury says it does not support the view that the co-operatives should be the main vehicle for consolidation and bear the costs. . .

Hopes scare a ‘turning point’ – Sally Rae:

Federated Farmers chief executive Conor English hopes Fonterra’s recent whey contamination scare is a ”turning point” for New Zealand.

Addressing the recent Global Food Safety Forum in Dunedin, Mr English likened the fiasco, which turned out to be a false alarm, to the earthquakes in Christchurch.

Christchurch now had a better city and he believed the incident should be like an earthquake for Fonterra and the dairy industry. . .

[I think it’s a bit premature to say Chirstchurch now has a better city, but it is getting better]

Fonterra Welcomes NZ Sri Lanka Dairy Cooperation Arrangement:

Fonterra today welcomed a new Dairy Cooperation Arrangement between the New Zealand Government and Sri Lankan Government signed by Sri Lankan Minister for External Affairs Gamini Lakshman Peiris and New Zealand Minister for Foreign Affairs Murray McCully on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Colombo yesterday.
 
Fonterra Director and farmer-shareholder John Monaghan, who was in Colombo representing Fonterra at the Commonwealth Business Forum earlier this week, said the agreement will help formalise and support further public and private sector dairy sector cooperation between the two countries.
 
“The New Zealand dairy industry and Fonterra have a long history working with the Sri Lankan dairy industry. . .

Fonterra gives $100,000 to typhoon relief

Fonterra has donated $100,000 to ChildFund New Zealand to support its relief and recovery efforts in the Philippines following the devastating Typhoon Haiyan.

The money will provide desperately needed food, water and essential hygiene items and help to establish safe spaces for children.

Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings said the co-operative is encouraging its farmers and employees to donate. . .

Interest keen for Hawke’s Bay wines at Hong Kong fair:

Two Hawke’s Bay wineries represented the region at a huge wine fair in Hong Kong and report that there is keen interest in wines beyond those from Marlborough, with importers and distributors wanting to know more about local wines.

Elephant Hill Estate and Winery and Moana Park manned the Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers Inc. stand that was part of the Hong Kong International Wine and Spirit Fair held over three days earlier this month that attracted over 20,000 buyers. . . .


Rural round-up

October 31, 2013

Irrigation benefits all clear – Andrew Ashton:

The benefits North Otago communities continue to receive from local irrigation schemes have been highlighted to two Government Ministers.

The Waitaki Irrigators Collective (WIC) yesterday invited Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew to tour irrigation schemes across North Otago, and Mr Guy said the tour, which took in farms and irrigation schemes between Weston and Glenavy, had reinforced the ”huge benefits” of irrigation to North Otago. . . .

Another benefit to the area would be if New Zealand’s sharpest town, #gigatownoamaru becomes the Southern Hemisphere’s first #gigatown.

– Allan Barber:

When Eoin Garden retires as Silver Fern Farms’ chairman at the AGM in December, both cooperatives will have had a change at the top within three months of each other. So the big question is whether this will make any difference to the way they operate: will there be a significant change of culture and leadership from the top or will it be much the same as before?

The Meat Industry Excellence Group is obviously hopeful of getting its preferred directors elected to the SFF board with Richard Young, MIE’s chairman until recently, and Poverty Bay farmer Dan Jex-Blake resigning from MIE to stand for election in their respective wards.

There is also one MIE aligned candidate standing for the Alliance board, long time supplier Don Morrison, although Fonterra director John Monaghan was keen to stand, but was rejected by the Alliance board under the terms of the company’s constitution. MIE chairman John McCarthy says “this is a real slap in the face for Alliance shareholders” who want to see change and in his opinion “is typical of what’s wrong with the meat industry.” . . .

Irrigation progress welcomed in Otago and Rangitikei:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming new investment of $750,000 into irrigation projects in Central Otago, and $100,000 in the Rangitikei, coming from the Government’s Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF).

“There is major unrealised potential across the country for further irrigation development, and these two projects will help unlock that.

“This is about creating jobs and exports, particularly in provincial New Zealand. It will play a major part in realising the Government’s goal of doubling primary sector exports by 2025.”

The Central Otago funding will go towards backing the next stage of the Manuherikia Catchment Strategic Water Study. . .

Scientists redesigning orchards to increase fruit production:

Research that will literally shed more light on fruit trees could revolutionise the way crops such as apples are grown.

Plant and Food Research scientists are investigating new orchard planting systems, putting to the test the theory that trees and vines that receive more light could produce a lot more fruit.

Research leader Stuart Tustin says it could mean completely changing the way orchards are designed to allow more light to reach the trees’ canopies. . .

Dr Nigel Perry wins NZIC prize:

Plant & Food Research’s Dr. Nigel Perry has been awarded the 2013 New Zealand Institute of Chemistry Prize for Industrial and Applied Chemistry. Dr Perry was recognised for his focus on the discovery and development of biologically active natural products.

With his colleagues in Plant & Food Research and the Chemistry Dept of the University of Otago, he has combined fundamental chemistry knowledge with a drive to establish practical applications. Nigel works with medical and agricultural researchers, Māori groups, and New Zealand and international companies.

He is an inventor on six patents, including one on an insect attractant now in commercial use around the world. Much of this work is documented in confidential technical reports to clients, but he has also published many papers on applied chemistry, on three main themes: . . .

New funding for plant science:

Plant & Food Research has received funding for two projects in the latest Marsden fund which will study how plants grow and adapt, fundamental science that will ultimately inform future crop breeding and growing practices.

One of the projects will investigate how ancient plant ancestors may have adapted to an environment with high UV radiation, providing better understanding of how plants may respond to future climate change.

“The emergence of plants onto land was one of Earth’s major evolutionary events, but at that time the environment had a number of challenges, including high levels of damaging UV radiation,” says Dr Kevin Davies. “Our research will look at liverworts, the closest living relative of the first land plants, and study how these plants adapt the production of pigment molecules to counteract the effects of UV. This will, in turn, provide some understanding of how plants may adapt and respond to shifts in environmental conditions as a result of predicted global climate change.” . . .

Wakatipu partnership to target wilding pines:

A partnership between DOC, the Queenstown Lakes District Council, LINZ and the local community aims to clear thousands of hectares of wilding pines in the Wakatipu Basin over the next five years, Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“Wilding pines are a significant risk to the natural ecology of the Wakatipu Basin. This partnership is about stepping up the efforts to control these tree weeds and protect the landscapes that make Queenstown such an iconic visitor destination,” Dr Smith told a meeting of the Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group (WCG) in Queenstown this evening.

“This project illustrates the benefits of DOC’s new focus on partnering with others to deliver conservation gains. These tree weeds are as much of a problem on private and council land as they are on public conservation land. It makes sense that we have a co-ordinated effort to control their spread, maximise the use of new technology, and work together to roll back the infestation,” he says. . .


Rural round-up

October 21, 2013

Merger on agenda – Alan Williams:

Meat co-operative merger is back on the agenda for the election of directors at Silver Fern Farms (SFF) in mid-December.

Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group chairman Richard Young and executive member Dan Jex-Blake have stood down from their roles to contest the two seats up for grabs at the SFF annual meeting.

They will be campaigning for a merger of SFF with Alliance Group as a first step in meat-industry consolidation.

The MIE group is also expected to stand two candidates in the Alliance director election. . .

Changes to dairy welfare code

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) says it is addressing concerns about the long-term housing of dairy cattle.

NAWAC is seeking public consultation on proposed changes to the Animal Welfare (Dairy Cattle) Code of Welfare 2010.

NAWAC chair Dr John Hellström says that off-pasture management systems for dairy cattle, including purpose-built housing, are becoming increasingly common in New Zealand. . .

Visits part of celebrations – Ruth Grundy:

Angus cattle enthusiasts from around the globe began their month-long celebration of the breed in the South Island last week.

It is expected up to 500 will attend the four-day PGG Wrightson World Angus Forum and the celebration of 150 years of Angus cattle in New Zealand which began in Rotorua, on Sunday. It will be followed by a tour of prominent North Island studs and was preceded, last week, with visits to well-known South Island breeders. . . .

Study commissioned on renewable fuel for farms – Johann Tasker:

Scientists are looking at ways to increase the use of renewable fuels made from crops and agricultural waste in farm vehicles.

The Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) has commissioned a new report to study the potential for innovative low carbon transport technologies and fuels in rural areas and on-farms.

The study is called Re-fuelling the Countryside: Sustainable Farm and Rural Transport.

It will investigate the potential and practicalities of farm-sourced renewable fuels and innovative transport technologies using a mixture of industrial applications, research and case-studies. . .

Company’s strategy set out for shareholders:

”Exciting opportunities” have been outlined to Wools of New Zealand shareholders at a roadshow criss-crossing the country.

Chairman Mark Shadbolt updated the company’s progress since it was capitalised in March, with more than 700 applications for shares worth just over $6 million.

”The important thing is you now own Wools of New Zealand and we’ve got a vehicle to go forward with,” Mr Shadbolt told the 14 people at the Oamaru roadshow meeting on October 1. . .

Wool becoming more interesting – Sally Brooker:

Wool has a vital role to play in the European textiles market, an English expert says.

Camira Fabrics development director Cheryl Kindness spoke at the Wools of New Zealand roadshow in Oamaru on October 1. Her company makes fabrics for upholstery used in public places, including buses and trains.

With a testing and manufacturing site in Huddersfield, a plant in Lithuania and a Nottingham facility that makes ”knit to fit” covers for chairs, it has more than 600 employees and a turnover last year of 455 million ($NZ875 million). . .

New milk provides closer-to-farm-gate taste experience:

Lewis Road Creamery is expanding its premium offering down the dairy aisle with the launch of a range of organic Jersey milks that are a first for New Zealand and provide a ‘from-the-farmgate’ taste experience.

Lewis Road Creamery Organic Jersey Milk is the first 100 percent Jersey milk to be available on supermarket shelves. Jersey milk is renowned for being richer and creamier in taste and texture, and combined with being organic, whole milk that is free from both permeate and palm kernel expeller, delivers a top quality product that surpasses standard milk.

“It’s milk the way it should be,” says Lewis Road Creamery founder Peter Cullinane. . .


Rural round-up

September 30, 2013

Dung beetle holds dairy farm hopes – Alison Rudd:

Could dung beetles be the environmental warriors New Zealand dairy farmers have been waiting for?

They happily chew through the poo, turning waste into soil fertiliser. And with the average dairy cow producing 11 cow pats every day, the beetles have plenty of work ahead of them.

The national Dung Beetle Release Strategy Group (DBRSG) this week released its first 500 dung beetles into the ”wild” on an organic dairy farm at Tuturau, near Wyndham. Beetles will also be released soon on three other farms elsewhere in the country.

DBRSG chairman John Pearce, who flew from Auckland to supervise the release, said the beetles were expected to naturally spread to all properties, although that would take many years. . .

Prison farm work fodder for future –  Timothy Brown:

The entranceway to the 21st century edifice which occupies a 60ha site outside Milton is the last landmark before tarseal gives way to gravel on Narrowdale Rd.

Just around the corner, two large gum trees stand guard at the entrance to a dairy farm and down the driveway workers can be seen performing their daily tasks.

They look like workers on any dairy farm, but at the end of the working day these workers will return to that edifice in the distance because this is the Otago Corrections Facility’s dairy farm.

At the end of the driveway, I am greeted by the dairy farm’s principal instructor, Tony Russell. . .

Farmer ownership imperative – Sally Rae:

Finding the solutions to implement change in the red meat industry is still the major barrier in reaching the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group’s goals, chairman Richard Young says.

In his inaugural chairman’s report, Mr Young said meat company talks had offered no solution to date. However, those talks were still continuing.

What it did offer, if successful, was a managed approach to dealing with overcapacity.

Managed rationalisations would have less impact on all stakeholders and offer better outcomes than unmanaged rationalisations. . .

Pastures to boost hill country production:

AT LEAST 40% of New Zealand is too steep to cultivate yet still less than 1000m above sea-level.

The challenges of improving pasture on such land are considerable, but as the early results of a long-term project show, establishment of more productive species is possible.

What’s more, with the work on four contrasting sites around the country (see panel) on-going as part of the Pastoral 21* initiative, the findings promise to fine-tune best practice for improving and maintaining such country in the future. . .

Best practice could cut emissions by 30%: FAO:

GREENHOUSE GAS emissions by the livestock sector could be cut by as much as 30% through the wider use of existing best practices and technologies, according to a new study released today by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The report, Tackling climate change through livestock: A global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities, represents the most comprehensive estimate made to-date of livestock’s contribution to global warming – as well as the sector’s potential to help tackle the problem.

All told, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with livestock supply chains total 14.5% of all human-caused GHG releases. . .

All eyes on cute badger cull in the UK – Steve Wyn-Harris:

Recently I had eight English sheep farmers come for a farm visit. (There are nine Mexicans coming tomorrow, so perhaps it will be 10 Lithuanians next week).

One of them was Charles Sercombe, who is the National Farmers Union (NFU) livestock chairman. He farms in Leicestershire.

He told me the main issues in front of the union are the Common Agricultural Policy reform and their attempts to get on top of tuberculosis (Tb), which involves starting a badger cull.

This piqued my interest, so I asked him in detail about the issue. Tb has become a major problem and one of the vectors is the badger. . .

 

A Banks Peninsula company has won New Zealand’s top olive oil award for the second year running.

Robinsons Bay Olives from Akaroa took the best in show award as well as best in class in the commercial medium blend class at the New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Awards, where international judges commented on the high quality of the oils produced here. . .

Let’s move from fossil farming to future-proof farming:

“The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provides a stark choice for New Zealand agriculture,” says Brendan Hoare, Chair of OANZ (Organics Aotearoa New Zealand). “We either grasp this opportunity to move away from fossil farming to future-proof farming – or we keep making the problem of climate change even worse by the way we farm. The status quo of more dams, more fertilisers and more animals per hectare is at least 20 years out of date. It is time to change the guard and our thinking.”  . .


Rural round-up

July 18, 2013

Big increase in water for irrigation for SC possible – Matthew Littlewood:

The equivalent of nearly 250 Hagley Parks worth of extra land could be freed up for irrigation in the Orari and Opihi catchments, if the right measures are in place.

Environment Canterbury water management scientist Brett Painter told this week’s Orari-Opihi-Pareora water management committee meeting that adjustments to the Rakaia Water Conservation Order could be a “game changer” for sourcing extra water for the South Canterbury Catchment.

Painter said “at the extreme end”, enough water for an extra 42,000ha of irrigation could be made available. . .

Not sure it’s realistic for farmers to own the meat industry – Allan Barber:

There is a lot of noise about the dysfunctional or broken meat industry accompanied by the suggestion it would be solved if farmers owned a bigger slice of it.

The Meat Industry Excellence group has been touring the country since earlier this year, holding farmer meetings and trying to drum up support for fixing the industry’s problems. In total some 3,000 farmers attended meetings from Gore to Gisborne which, even if every attendee was firmly in support, only represents a maximum of 20% of sheep and beef farmers. . .

Farmlets tipped for Glencoe Station – Grant Bryant:

Two huge players in Queenstown’s high finance, development and winery scene are set to carve up a large chunk of Glencoe Station for clusters of two-acre farmlets.

In recent years the area on the Crown Range above Arrowtown has become the home and playground of the mega-rich, with fabulously wealthy and enormously reclusive music producer Robert “Mutt” Lange snapping up 8500ha of the high-country station for an undisclosed amount in 2009.

New Zealand international sailor and prominent America’s Cup captain Russell Coutts is a next-door neighbour to the station, with his holiday home boasting an underground pool and golf course. . .

Forest Levy takes important step:

An application for the introduction of a levy on harvested logs has been lodged with Associate Minister for Primary Industries Hon Jo Goodhew. 

“This is an important step in the process of getting a Levy Order under the Commodity Levies Act and follows a successful forest grower referendum in March,” says Forest Growers Levy Trust chair Geoff Thompson.

“Officials will now take several months to assess the application and all the accompanying detail about levy collection, budgeting and ongoing structure. We are fundamentally on target to introduce the levy from 1 January 2014.” . . 

Bovine bliss in a winter cow house  – Finian Scott:

Numerous South Island farmers have been putting in the hard yards, trekking out into waist deep snow in parts of the Mackenzie Country, firing up bulldozers and snow ploughs in an attempt to set tracks for stock and feed out.

Weather-hardened livestock do their best to hunt out natural shelter belts, prepping for the inevitable mad rush towards the trail of food snaking a path behind the steaming tractor and feed bin.

Meanwhile, as the doors roll up on a Cow House at Studholme, the cows inside look up, lazily, mid-chew, to see who this new “disturber of the peace” may be. . .

Fonterra cuts Anmum-branded product prices in China amid price-fixing probe – Paul McBeth:

Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, cut the price of its Anmum-branded products in China as the local regulator looks at potential price manipulation by major foreign firms selling into the world’s most-populous nation.

The Auckland-based cooperative will trim 9 percent from its Anmum maternal health products in mainland China from next month “to better meet consumer needs in light of recent industry-wide price revisions,” Fonterra president for Greater China and India, Kelvin Wickham, said in an emailed statement. . .

NZ Honey Comes under Scrutiny in Hong Kong. New Zealand’s Oldest Brand Says Tighter Export Controls Are Needed:

Airborne Honey, New Zealand’s oldest honey brand, believes the quality control of New Zealand honey export needs to be tighter, following recent feedback from the Hong Kong Consumer Council. On 16 July, New Zealand honey came under scrutiny in Hong Kong after the Hong Kong Consumer Council, a statutory body that protects and promotes consumer rights in Hong Kong, tested a number of well-known brands available in the region. The Consumer Council reports that a quarter of the 55 samples tested (from a number of countries, including New Zealand) have been adulterated with sugar, including Manuka. . .


Rural round-up

June 21, 2013

Ski patrol rescues sheep buried in snow – Thomas Mead:

Three mountain climbers needed an alpine rescue last night after bearing the brunt of a snow storm – but the stranded patients weren’t your regular mountaineers.

A ski patrol was part-way through a regular avalanche monitoring routine on Wanaka’s Treble Cone ski field when they spotted a little head sticking out of a snow drift.

A closer inspection revealed three sheep stranded in a snow drift, still breathing and warm, but buried in the snow.

Ski patrol member Luke Lennox says the surprising discovery left the team with the perfect opportunity to practice an alpine rescue. . . . (click on the link for a video).

Kiwi firm tackles burger giant at home:

US ICONIC company McDonald’s may have dumped lambburgers – but a thriving New Zealand fast-food company plans to take on the land of beef and burgers on its home ground.

After a successful drive into the Middle East, Burger Fuel, whose premium burgers are based on New Zealand beef, is strategising to enter the US, says New Zealand Trade and Enterprise chief executive Peter Chrisp. . .

New company becomes TB agency:

The Animal Health Board is relinquishing its role as the management agency for the National Bovine Tuberculosis (TB) Pest Management plan.

The role will pass to a new limited-liability company TBfree New Zealand Ltd. The Animal Health Board (AHB) will resign its role as the management agency on June 30.

From July 1, 2013 TBfree New Zealand Ltd and National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) Ltd will become wholly-owned subsidiaries of Operational Solutions for Primary Industries (OSPRI) New Zealand Ltd. . .

Zespri running to keep ahead of the game:

THE GLOBAL business environment is evolving so quickly it’s “about running to keep up so we are not made obsolete,” Zespri chief Lain Jager says. 

“Two high-level strategic thoughts occupy our minds: where will our growth come from and how can we develop our advantage so we can make a margin and be profitable?” he told the Go Global export conference in Auckland. . .

Changes to Layer Hens Code of Welfare Proposed:

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) is seeking public consultation on proposed changes to the Layer Hens Code of Welfare 2012.

The most significant effect of the Code is that it requires battery cages to be phased out by 31 December 2022. This was to be managed in three transition stages. While the final phase-out date has not changed, the potential for severe price increases has highlighted the need to move each of the transition steps back by two years.

The amended transition steps within the ten year period are as follows: . . .

Meat Industry Excellence Makes First Key Appointment:

Ross Hyland, an influential figure in both agribusiness and the commercial sector, has become Meat Industry Excellence’s (MIE) first key appointment.

“Ross’s commitment and success in New Zealand agriculture is well documented,” says Richard Young, Chairman of Meat Industry Excellence.

“Ross Hyland’s on-going commitment to continually improve the profitability of our primary sector will be vital as we push for a stronger and more vibrant red meat sector. . .

Fluufy cows – old beauty practice gains attention:

ADEL, Iowa — Grooming cows so they look like unusually large poodles is a well-known beautification practice in the show cattle industry.

But although it may be decades old, it’s just now getting attention on the Internet.

It started with a photo of a male cow named Texas Tornado who had a particularly fluffy coat. “Fluffy cow” photos are now making the rounds.

The practice is meant to help sell livestock for breeding or harvesting. . .


Rural round-up

June 12, 2013

2013 New Zealand Wine Vintage Set to Be One of the Best:

The 2013 New Zealand grape harvest has been completed with high quality grapes picked in all regions. Winemakers across the country are heralding it as one of the best vintages in history.

“An outstanding New Zealand summer provided near perfect conditions for growing grapes across the country” said Philip Gregan, chief executive officer of New Zealand Winegrowers. “The result is that we expect the 2013 wines to be vibrant, fruit driven and complex expressions of our diverse grape growing regions. 2013 looks set to be a vintage to remember.”

According to the 2013 Vintage Survey, 345,000 tonnes of grapes were harvested. The 2013 crop is up 28% on the small harvest last year but up only 5% on 2011. . .

Fieldays: new forecasting service for farmers

A new weather and environmental forecasting service has been launched at the National Fieldays by NIWA today.

The service provides farmers with tailored information about weather conditions on their farm.

The web-based weather forecasting information service called NIWA forecast aims to help farmers and growers identify the right time to carry out weather-dependent operations like irrigation, spraying and harvesting.

NIWA chief scientist, atmosphere, Dr Murray Poulter said the new service takes forecasting to another level because different forecasts can now be created for properties as little as 12km apart.

“NIWA forecast can deliver valuable climate analysis and forecasts from the present to 15 days ahead direct to farmers’ and growers’ computers via the internet direct to their farm.” . . .

Meat Industry Excellence gets into the first gear of reform:

With the 2013 National Agricultural Fieldays now underway, so is reform of New Zealand’s red meat sector being championed by Meat Industry Excellence (MIE). MIE is shifting the gears of reform following intensive meetings held in Christchurch and Wellington last week.

“Having met with Beef+Lamb NZ Chairman, Mike Petersen and Federated Farmers’ Meat and Fibre executive, there is recognition and support among farmers for a truly sustainable red meat sector,” says Richard Young, MIE Chairman.

“MIE sees its role as shifting the gear for reform out of neutral. For an industry bedevilled by past infighting it is great to know that Federated Farmers and Beef+Lamb NZ want to work with us. . .

Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre works on reform:

Federated Farmers Meat and Fibre will follow up on a positive meeting with the Meat Industry Excellence Group (MIE) with a discussion on reform and farmer behaviour at its 2013 conference in Ashburton next month.
“MIE gave us an update on where they are at and some of the changes they are working on,” Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson Jeanette Maxwell said.

“We had a highly constructive conversation around meat industry issues and many areas of alignment emerged.

“Both organisations realise they have much in common and want to achieve the same goals. In the next couple of weeks there will be a lot more information to emerge from MIE. . .

Farmers to have equal say in Fairtrade:

Farmers from Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America are to have an equal say in running the global Fairtrade movement for the first time this week.

In a ground-breaking move, producers of tea, coffee, bananas and other goods will have half the votes at Fairtrade International’s annual General Assembly in Germany on Wednesday, 12 June 2013. . .

Fairtrade is the first major development organisation to pioneer such power-sharing between groups in the northern and southern hemisphere. . .


Rural round-up

May 19, 2013

Gisborne throws support behind MIE – Anne Calcinai:

The Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group departed Gisborne this week with overwhelming support for change.

More than 150 farmers attended the meeting on Wednesday and became the fourth group to support the MIE group.

Farmers in Gisborne voted unanimously to support a mandate for change, based on the six principles outlined by MIE.

MIE executive chairman Richard Young said it was clear from the meeting farmers understood they needed to change their behaviour and that commitment to meat companies on a longer-term basis was essential. . .

Kahungunu takes giant step into farming:

 Chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana says, “Ngāti Kahungunu have taken the first step to diversify its interests from Fisheries to Farming.”

 The Kahungunu Asset Holding Company on behalf of its shareholder Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated has completed a Sale and Purchase Agreement for the Tautane Station, owned by the Herrick family for over 120 years. The iwi is pleased to have been the successful bidder of this historic farm located south of Porangahau.

It is the first major real estate investment that the iwi has made and is a template for further land acquisitions. This is part of the iwi’s ‘gate to plate’ strategy to build on relationshps in the high end growing Asian market that’s demanding high quality food product direct from the producer to the supplier. Over two years the iwi has investigated orchards, dairy farms and other commercial properties, but Tautane meets all the iwi’s economic indicators covering environmental, social, educational, historical and cultural objectives. . .

Steak of Origin champions do it again:

Chris and Karren Biddles from Northland have been named Grand Champions in the 2013 Beef + Lamb New Zealand Steak of Origin competition.

After winning in 2007 and taking the Producer of the Decade title in 2012, the Te Kopuru couple have now taken out the 2013 grand prize with their Angus/Jersey beef sirloin entry.

The competition to find the country’s most tender and tasty steak, sponsored by Zoetis, culminated in the Grand Final at the Beef Expo in Feilding last night.

The 20 finalists were tasted by a panel of judges, comprising three leading chefs. Head judge and chef Graham Hawkes says the quality of the steak on show was exceptional. . .

New hope for new farmers:

FARMERS WHO have joined the Scottish industry in the 10 years since subsidy entitlements were set in historical stone can now claim a share of £2 million worth of extra funding from the Scottish Goverment.

Rural Affairs CabSec Richard Lochhead said this week: “It is crucial that we do all we can to help introduce new entrants to farming – they are fresh blood to the rural economy.”

But new entrants themselves, at risk of seeming ungrateful, pointed out that £2m, shared between the 1000-plus Scottish farmers currently excluded from the historical subsidy system, paled into insignificance next to the average SFP payment their neighbours received annually. . .

Dairy Boards don’t have standing to challenge pizza kits

Canada’s watchdog on cross-border trade says it can’t rule on a company importing pizza topping kits made with cheaper U.S. mozzarella, if the request for a ruling doesn’t come from another importer.

Canada’s 10 provincial dairy marketing boards, under the not-for-profit name BalanceCo, had sought a ruling from the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) during a appeal hearing last month in Ottawa, against imports of pre-packaged pizza toppings combining shredded mozzarella and sliced pepperoni from the U.S.

The packs were recently developed for import into Canada from the U.S. by J. Cheese Inc., an Ontario distributor, for a “particular customer” — namely the Toronto-based Pizza Pizza chain, which operates almost 700 Pizza Pizza and Pizza 73 outlets across Canada.

The packs are now classified for tariff purposes as a “food preparation” and thus aren’t subject to the tariff rate quotas (TRQs) imposed on dairy imports under Canada’s supply-managed dairy marketing system. . .

Canada prepares to target U.S. goods in COOL spat:

Canada will put forward a list of U.S. products it wants to target in retaliation for U.S. country-of-origin meat labels if last-minute changes to U.S. label regulations don’t prove satisfactory, Canadian officials said on Friday.

The dispute stems from a 2009 U.S. requirement that retail outlets put the country of origin on labels on meat and other products, a move the government said was in an effort to give U.S. consumers more information about their food.

Canada and Mexico complained that the mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) rule caused a decline in U.S. imports of their cattle and pigs, and the World Trade Organization has ordered the United States to make changes by May 23. . .

Farmhouse succession – Paul Spackman:

It is a significant and symbolic step in the handing over of responsibility of any family farm business when a son or daughter takes over occupancy of the main farmhouse from their parents.

All too often, however, it is a process that hasn’t been planned well enough and is perhaps done hastily out of necessity, rather than as part of a considered succession plan.

This can strain family relationships and in some cases jeopardise the future viability of the business, especially if non-farming relatives have to be paid off and parts of the farm broken up or sold, says farm consultant Siân Bushell. . .

 

 

 


Rural round-up

May 8, 2013

Reserve Bank watching farming sector after drought adds more stress –  Paul McBeth:

The Reserve Bank is “carefully monitoring” an already highly indebted agriculture sector after the recent drought in the North Island is likely to more strain on already stretched balance sheets.

The central bank has previously flagged concerns about the high level of indebtedness among farmers and its dairy concentration, and warns the recent drought could “expose financial vulnerabilities” across the sector, according to its six-monthly financial stability report.

“Parts of the agriculture sector in particular remain quite leveraged, and progress in reducing debt loads in recent years has been fairly limited,” the bank said. “For these reasons, the Reserve Bank will be carefully monitoring developments in these markets for signs that systemic risks are increasing.” . . .

$15 Million Investment In Lactoferrin Production For Infant Formula:

Synlait Milk is investing $15 million to upgrade its Special Milks Drier at Dunsandel as it looks to further tap into the $15 billion a year demand for infant formula in China.

The investment will enable Synlait Milk to become one of only two manufacturers in the world to produce lactoferrin as a spray dried powder, and will also allow the Company to manufacture dairy ingredients to a pharmaceutical standard.

Lactoferrin is a bioactive protein extracted from milk that provides significant antibacterial protection and other health benefits for people of all ages. It is in demand globally for health foods including infant formula and adult nutritional powders. With the new capability, Synlait Milk expects production to reach 18 metric tonnes within four years of commissioning in late 2013 to early 2014. . .

Benje Patterson finds that pasture-raised Kiwi cows are highly productive specimens living in a sweet spot:

When we talk about the dairy industry in New Zealand, we tend to focus on how farmers are going, however, we rarely stop to think about the plight of the cows they milk.

Over the past decade, these dairy cows have become increasingly indebted and the number of other cows they are forced to share paddocks with has also increased.

This article examines how dairy cows have responded to these conditions, and if their underlying financial positions compensate them for all of their hard work. . .

Telford open day:

About 70 southern dairy farmers will hear the first year results of an industry research project at the Telford Farm Training Institute open day on Wednesday.

Dairy NZ senior scientist Dr Dawn Dalley said three different approaches to farming cows over winter are being trialled to help farmers maximise their performance and minimise their environmental impacts.

She said one approach uses a largely traditional method while the second introduces several innovative measures, including calving the herd two weeks later so the cows return to more pasture cover, reducing the need for supplementary feed. . .

Meat Industry Excellence Gisborne & Te Kuiti meetings:

Following the enormous success of its Feilding meeting, Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) is holding additional meetings in Te Kuiti and Gisborne next week.

“As both Gisborne and Te Kuiti are major sheep producing areas, it is important that they be given the opportunity to be part of the meat industry’s change process,” says John McCarthy, MIE Executive Member.

“The MIE initiative is based around the premise that the industry model is broken.

“The ‘Boom and Bust’ model is not serving any of its participants well and needs serious attention if sheep and sheep farmers are to have a future. . .

Meat farm environmental impact steady – research:

New research suggests the environmental impact of sheep and beef farming in New Zealand has remained steady over the past 20 years despite a big increase in productivity.

AgResearch scientist Dr Alec MacKay has compared sheep and beef farm inputs – livestock and fertiliser – with the outputs of meat, greenhouse gases and nutrients.

Dr MacKay said he found huge eco-efficiency gains. . .

Vintage 2013 Keeps Marlborough Winemakers on Toes:

• Cooler Nights Ensure Aromatic Expression
• Pinot Noir Described as “Sensational”

Marlborough winemakers were kept on their toes, during what has been described as one of the most “intense” vintages ever experienced in the region. However no one is complaining about the quality of the fruit harvested in 2013.

After last year’s lower than average yields, Marlborough benefited from more ideal flowering conditions in December. While there has been some variability throughout the region, crop levels are described as being nearer to average this year – which will help to overcome the shortage of wine experienced in 2012.

The drought that impacted on most of the country, did not affect Marlborough. Instead timely rain events allowed the vines to stay healthy, without the fruit suffering disease pressure. . .


Rural round-up

May 4, 2013

How to drought-proof NZ as drought gets worse – Waiology:

For the most part, droughts are natural events. Rainfall and river flows wax and wane, and there will be times when there just isn’t enough water to fully meet our needs, whether to grow crops or to quench a city’s thirst.

And when it comes down to it, that’s really the best definition of a drought: when water supply is insufficient to meet demand. If no rain falls on the land, and there is no-one there to go thirsty, is it a problem? But there is a growing part of drought that isn’t natural. Increases in water use, beyond the capacity of the environment to supply the water, have led to what are called “demand-driven droughts”. . .

Sheep and Beef Sector Increases Eco-efficiency:

New research shows the New Zealand sheep and beef sector has a much lighter environmental footprint than in the past.
 
Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive Dr Scott Champion says a recent paper by Dr Alec McKay, published in the Proceedings of the New Zealand Grasslands Association, used the Overseer model to look at the changes in the relationship between inputs (eg, livestock numbers, nutrients) and outputs (eg, meat and fibre, greenhouse gas emissions, nitrate).
 
The research was conducted using the Ministry for Primary Industries sheep and beef farm monitoring models that cover hard hill country (Gisborne and Central North Island) and easy hill finishing (Manawatu) over the last 20 years. . .

Feilding Meat Industry Meeting Generates More Meetings:

So successful was the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) meeting in Feilding last Friday, 26 April, where 700 farmers met  to establish a mandate for meat industry change, that further meetings are to be held in Gisborne and Te Kuiti..
 
Local organising Chairman and newly elected MIE executive member, John McCarthy, said that there was great support at the Fielding meeting from all over the lower North Island; “we got twice as many farmers to the meeting than we had originally planned for,” he added.
 
As a consequence, further meetings are being planned for Gisborne on 15 May and Te Kuiti on 17 May.  Details of these will be released next week. . .

Career Progression Support For Keen Dairy Farmers:

Registrations of interest have opened for DairyNZ’s popular Progression Groups taking place nationwide in 2013.

Since their launch, specialist discussion groups Biz Start and Biz Grow, have attracted more than 500 dairy farm managers, sharemilkers and owners, who are keen to build their skills and progress their career in the dairy industry.

Attendees at one of the first Biz Grow groups, Russell and Charlotte Heald (lower order sharemilkers from Central Hawke’s Bay) said the group was particularly good for meeting others who also want to get ahead and achieve more. . .

Skellerup cuts annual earnings forecast as drought hits agri business:

Skellerup, the industrial rubber goods maker, has cut its annual earnings guidance for a second time after the drought across the North Island sapped demand at its agri business as farmers put off buying until next season.

The Auckland-based company expects net profit of $17 million in the year ended June 30, down from trimmed down guidance of $20 million it gave in February, from a previous forecast range of between $22 million and $24 million. The manufacturer blamed the drought for weaker local demand, and also signalled its North American and European sales were tracking below forecasts. . .

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Rural round-up

April 30, 2013

New Lincoln Hub plans unveiled:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have today unveiled concept plans for a world-class agricultural research and education facility to be sited at Lincoln, near Christchurch.

The Lincoln Hub concept plans and business proposal have been developed by a partnership of Lincoln University, DairyNZ and Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) AgResearch, Plant & Food Research, and Landcare Research.

“The Lincoln Hub has the potential to transform New Zealand’s farming productivity by providing a one-stop shop allowing information and ideas to be shared more easily,” Mr Joyce says. “Internationally, science and innovation parks that collect together public and private organisations in one place drive a lot of education, science and innovation. The Lincoln Hub can achieve this for New Zealand farming.” . .

AgResearch capitalises its strengths to boost science:

A mammoth $100 million investment in AgResearch’s core science resource will help boost its potential to support exports from the primary industries in reaching $60 billion by 2025, on current policy settings.

“It is no secret that some of AgResearch’s physical scientific infrastructure is getting a bit creaky,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President.

“It was a genuine pleasure to be at the unveiling of an impressive roadmap that will also see the “hubbing” of primary research capabilities at and with Lincoln University. . .

Meat Industry excellence Group campaign warms up – Allan Barber:

The MIE organised farmer meeting in Feilding on Friday was attended by about 700 farmers which one speaker from the floor compared unfavourably with 2000 at the Drought Shout. However there is obviously an increasing level of support for substantial change to the meat industry’s operating method which results in volatile market returns.

Alliance and Silver Fern Farms were both represented and the respective chairmen, Owen Poole and EoinGarden, spoke in support of the group’s aims. Poole told the meeting the industry was working constructively to develop an improved model which was simpler than MIE’s plan and it was important to ensure the two plans were complementary. . .

MPI’s loss is LIC’s gain but Primary still comes out on top:

The resignation of Wayne McNee, Ministry for Primary Industries Director-General, to take up the position of Chief Executive at Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), will still see this talented person working in and for New Zealand’s primary industries.

“This role shows the versatility of Wayne who has performed to a very high standard with the public service and now departs for a high profile leadership role in a company important to New Zealand agriculture,” says Bruce Wills, President of Federated Farmers.

“Wayne has put the Ministry on the right path for farmers following the merger of the old MAF with the Ministry of Fisheries. I feel disappointed in one regard because he leaves it, just when we are starting to see the fruits of his work appear in this new and dynamic Ministry. . .

Budget 2012; support for frontline conservation work:

An additional $20 million over four years has been allocated to the Department of Conservation in Budget 2013 to provide for additional frontline roles and the upgrade of recreational facilities, Conservation Minister Nick Smith announced today.

“The four year funding package complements the Government’s recently announced tourism investment. It recognises that DOC is the Government’s primary agency responsible for providing infrastructure, visitor services and nature-based experiences that support the tourism industry,” Dr Smith says. . .

Innovative Dairy Companies Form Partnership to Boost Exports:

Two of New Zealand’s most innovative dairy companies are forming a partnership to boost exports to one of the world’s fastest growing consumer markets.

Synlait Milk will next month despatch the first consignment of a2® Platinum™ infant formula destined for mothers and infants in China. a2 milk™ contains only the A2 version of the beta casein protein which is more comparable to protein that mothers naturally produce than other versions of the beta casein protein found in standard milk.

Synlait Milk will be processing a2 milk™ from 10 suppliers from August this year and will further expand production to meet the requirements of A2 Corporation when a2® Platinum™ infant formula becomes available to mothers in New Zealand and Australia later this year. . .

Brancott Estate Celebrates the End of a “Sensational” Vintage:

Vineyard beats the weather to harvest pristine, flavoursome fruit

Early predictions of an outstanding vintage have proven true for Brancott Estate, the pioneers of the original Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, who have successfully completed harvest ahead of autumn rain, and with fruit that bears all the characteristics of the region.

“The season has been so dry until now and this has delivered a sensational vintage for Marlborough” says Patrick Materman, Chief Winemaker for Brancott Estate. “While we’ve enjoyed the sunshine, it hasn’t been a particularly warm season, tracking around the long-term average in terms of Growing Degree Days. This, combined with the lack of rain, is a real positive for vineyards. The dry conditions mean pristine fruit development and allow us to make harvest decisions based on optimal flavour development, while the relatively cool temperatures ensure the aromatic expression and balance of natural acidity that has made Marlborough famous.” . .


Rural round-up

April 29, 2013

Hydatids rule changes proposed:

The Ministry for Primary Industries is proposing changes to controls covering a disease that has not been seen in New Zealand since the 1990s.

Hydatids can infect humans, sheep and other animals, and is contracted from dogs which carry the hydatid tapeworm.

The disease killed more than 140 people in a decade between 1946 – 1956. Many more people had to have surgery to remove hydatids cysts.

After about 50 years of control efforts, including regular dog dosing, the Ministry of Agriculture declared New Zealand to be provisionally free of hydatids in 2002.

But regulations have remained in place aimed at preventing any future outbreaks. . .

Farmers back tradeable killing rights, says Beef + Lamb:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s chairman says he’s had strong farmer feed-back supporting tradable slaughter rights as one way of helping to rationalise the processing end of the meat industry.

Mike Petersen says the concept was first suggested in a consultants’ report 28 years ago, but never picked up.

He thinks it could be a circuit breaker to unlock the challenges of getting farmers and privately owned meat companies to work together.

Mr Petersen says a share of the kill would have to be allocated to each company, and from a set point in time companies would have the right to slaughter that percentage on an annual basis.

He says regular updates on the size of the kill would be needed. . .

Meat firms working on simple plan

Meat companies are working together on a plan to rationalise the processing industry and the two big co-ops are willing to work with the Meat Industry Excellence group, farmers at a packed meeting in Feilding on Friday were told.

The co-ops and up to 700 farmers endorsed the MIE group’s aims and put forward John McCarthy, Steve Wyn-Harris and Tom O’Sullivan to represent North Island farmers on the group executive.

Alliance chairman Owen Poole said the industry was putting effort into an improved model and a decision on whether it would go ahead could be expected within two months. . . .

North Island farmers back calls for meat industry reform:

North Island farmers are planning further meetings to keep the pressure on for meat industry restructuring.

An estimated 600 to 700 farmers met in Feilding on Friday, to support the Meat Industry Excellence Group campaign launched in the South Island last month.

It has a five step plan to overhaul the red meat sector to improve profitability for companies and farmers through more co-ordinated processing and marketing.

Spokesman John McCarthy says there’s a strong commitment from farmers to see meat industry reforms through this time, but it is important to take things one step at a time. . .

Federated Farmers feed operation may be approaching an end:

The Federated Farmers Grain & Seed led feed operation, which will have shipped some 220,000 small bale equivalents from the South Island, may soon be approaching an end. With demand beginning to slow, Federated Farmers is concerned some farmers may be over-estimating pasture recovery following rain.

“Federated Farmers Grain & Seed can rightly be proud of the contribution our members have made in helping our North Island colleagues out,” says David Clark, Federated Farmers Grain & Seed Vice-Chairperson.

“With winter upon us demand for feed is slowing right up and we don’t understand why. . .

A Beekeeper’s Story:

When he was just a young lad, Bill Bennett built his first bee hive from scrap wood.

Thus a lifelong passion for producing the best quality Manuka honey had its beginnings.

From its humble beginnings, SummerGlow Apiaries has blossomed to over 1600 hives, setting the standards for Manuka Honey production.

Bill and Margaret Bennett have been beekeeping for over 36 years in the greater Waikato area.

Summerglow Apiaries specialises in the production of high activity UMF Manuka Honey.

Back in the early days of SummerGlow, Bill and Margaret used to make their own bee hives. . .

Queenstown Biking Community ‘thrilled’ with New Rabbit Ridge Bike Resort:

Queenstown’s Rabbit Ridge Bike Resort got the thumbs up at the soft launch yesterday when members of the local biking community got to check out the newly-constructed trails.
 
Some last minute rain ensured the trails were ‘bedded in’ and locals of all ages and experiences took to the trails with vigour.
 
From experienced downhill bikers to families with children, everyone enjoyed the opportunity to test trails including the beginner ‘Bunny’ trail and intermediate Donnas Dually track.
 
The invitation-only event saw bikers, bike shop owners and front line staff experience the resort for the first time. Rabbit Ridge is a joint venture by local bike business Around the Basin and Gibbston Valley Winery and will be the area’s only year-round dedicated and serviced bike resort. . . .

Canada farm persecuted by gov., thankful for help: Tiffany’s non-blog:

For some background:

Apparently I am farmed and dangerous…

But I am not a criminal. I’m a shepherd, farmer and writer who has been preserving rare Shropshire sheep for the last 12 years, and farming various other heritage breeds and vegetables for the last 30.

Then the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) killed my beautiful ewes and their unborn lambs to find out if they were healthy. They were.

They were also rare and pregnant. Now they are dead. . .

There are always at least two sides to a story and a Google search led me to several others including these two:

Sheep flock is both rare and slated for slaughter – Suzanne Atkinson:

A Hastings’ woman’s desperate attempt to save her rare Shropshire sheep from the CFIA’s axe is ballooning into a fundraising and full scale social media campaign.

Montana Jones, whose flock of 44 Shropshires represents approximately 25 percent of the country’s inventory of the breed, is facing the decimation of her flock after Scrapies was found in a sheep which originated in her herd more than five years ago. While her entire herd has tested negative – a test considered 85 per cent accurate, the 44 animals have also been genotyped QQ and are considered less resistant to the disease.
While Scrapies is not a human health risk, it can affect the productivity of sheep and CFIA is mandated to eradicate it within Canada to enhance trade opportunities. . .
Rare sheep on death row – Alyshah Hasham:

Montana Jones loves her Shropshire sheep.

She raises the rare heritage breed at no profit in a bid to protect the bloodlines tracing back to some of the first sheep on Canadian shores.

But the fluffy romance of 12 years has become a nightmare, with more than half of her flock of 75 slated for the chopping block for no reason, says the farmer.

Her Wholearth Farm in Hastings, near Peterborough, was put under quarantine and listed as a possible source of infection after a ewe she sold to an Alberta farmer five years ago was diagnosed with scrapie. . .

How endangered are Shropshire sheep? – Agrodiversity  Weblog:

You may have seen stories in the past week or so of a flock of Shropshire sheep that authorities in Canada have threatened with destruction. The sheep belong to Montana Jones, who raises them at her Wholearth Farm, near Hastings in Peterborough. Five years ago she sold a ewe to a farmer in Alberta, and that sheep has been diagnosed with scrapie. As a result, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency wants to destroy other animals from the same flock who are infected or suspected of being infected.

One problem for Montana Jones is that the test “is only about 85% accurate”. So the sheep that tested positive may not have scrapie, although I have no idea what that 85% figure actually means. False positives? False negatives? What?

It is a long time since I last had to get my ahead around scrapie, the risks to humans (it is not “mad sheep disease”), the different breed susceptibilities, and the different approaches to eradication. All of those are important issues, I am sure. What concerns me about Montana Jones’ case is whether the appeal to the rarity of Shropshire sheep justifies not taking the precaution of slaughtering some of the flock. . .


Unifiers not unified

April 18, 2013

The Meat industry Excellence Group’s first public meeting in Gore attracted around 1000 people.

A couple of days ago organisers were hoping for a good turnout at a meeting in Christchurch:

Chairman Richard Young . . .  is seeking support to form a united farmer group with open communication lines to meat companies and other industry people.

The Christchurch turnout would give farmers a clearer picture of support for an opportunity that could not slip by, he said.

“We are hoping for a good turnout and the indications from our Christchurch people are for a strong attendance so here’s hoping. The models we have got are not working and I think there are plenty of reasons why so it’s certainly time for a change.” . . .

But yesterday’s meeting didn’t get a big crowd.

Before a disappointing attendance of between 250-300 farmers the Meat Excellence Group held its second national meeting in Christchurch.

Their aim was to get a mandate to negotiate significant meat industry change toward sustainability for all the red meat sector.

While all the main meat companies were invited, it was disappointing that AFFCO refused, and ANZCO was also a no-show but with an apology. However representatives from the co-operatives Silver Fern Farms and Alliance were in attendance and contributed constructively. . . .

Since the first meeting Gerry Eckhoff, who chaired it, has resigned from the group because he didn’t agree with the way it was going but he will be chairing a meeting in Fielding.

Ohakune farmer John McCarthy who’s organising the meeting says he’s not a member of the MIEG.

“I am not a member of their group,” McCarthy said. “Our aims are broadly the same. But I’d be more hard-line than them.

“I think we shouldn’t be chatting amicably to the meat companies…this system has let us down.”

When the would-be unifiers aren’t unified and meeting turnout is disappointing, the chances of getting enough farmers and meat companies united on future direction aren’t looking good.

 

 


Disunity among unity seekers

April 5, 2013

The Meat Industry Excellence Group is seeking unity among farmers and within the industry but can’t get it in its own ranks.

Gerry Eckhoff has resigned from the newly formed Meat Industry Excellence Group, citing concerns about the direction the group was taking. . .

Mr Eckhoff said he had watched, over the years, various groups and individuals attempt a measure of reform of the industry.

Most sought to engage with the processors at an early stage to build some sort of working relationship, but he believed it was ”so important” to ascertain the farmer support base first before any engagement.

He also believed the the dynamics of the power and control within the wider industry needed to change in favour of the producer/supplier before any meaningful dialogue and change could occur.

Mr Eckhoff emphasised he was not trying to ”get at” any individual, nor was it a personal attack but rather a question of style and approach. He hoped the group would be successful. . .

This is a symptom of the difficulties the group faces.

The meat industry is made up of many different individual players with different views and agendas.

That the group seeking unity isn’t united illustrates the difficulty of attempting to unify the industry.


Sheep industry in farmers’ hands

March 19, 2013

Alliance Group chair Owen Poole suggested a mega-merger of 80% of meat companies several years ago.

That idea was scuttled by Silver Fern Farms.

The 80% model has resurfaced as one of six principles put forward by the Meat Industry Excellence Group which attracted hundreds of farmers to a meeting in Gore yesterday .

• Up to 80% of red meat processed and marketed by one ”coalition of the willing” structure.
• Identify and extract best personnel and strategies. Contracting of stock to specification; need to commit to a company.
• Legislation required to support new structure be sought.
• All participants to fund restructuring.
• Suppliers to be treated fairly, equally and with full transparency.

This time both major companies appear to be supportive.

However, they are also aware of the costs and challenges:

. . . Alliance Group chairman Owen Poole said there was not a meat processor or exporter in the country that did not think a better model should be employed.

Alliance Group and Silver Fern Farms had been talking for some time about that prospect and were still in discussions. One of the group’s principles was for up to 80% of the red meat processed and marketed by one ”coalition of the willing” structure.

Silver Fern Farms chairman Eoin Garden said that was a ”huge challenge”.

”Look how the dairy industry is fragmented because all of a sudden when you get a major player … Federated Farmers or farming leaders get up and say we need another player in the industry to keep the big fellow honest,” Mr Garden said. . .

Merging the two big co-operatives could be a first step but it would be a very expensive one:

Mr Poole warned a merger of the co-operatives would mean they would bear the burden of the amalgamation costs. There were significant costs in that, which should be shared across the industry, whether you were a co-operative supplier or non co-operative supplier. He estimated it at between $250 million and $300 million and asked co-operative suppliers if they wanted to ”pick that up on your own”.

He urged those present to be careful with the process and to ”get it right”.

The biggest challenge is to get all farmers on one page.

Farmers always want a better price than their neighbours and what they say they want for the industry and what they do in their own operations are often very different.

There is too much capacity but how much is enough?

What would be happening now if farmers having to cull their flocks because of drought couldn’t get killing space and what would that do to the already low prices they’re receiving?

Who’s willing to pay the very high costs of plant closures?

The answers are in farmers’ hands – all could now choose to sign up each season to supply one or other of the co-operatives and if most did the smaller companies would be squeezed out of the market.


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