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.”  . .


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