Rural round-up

13/02/2016

Proliant’s Feilding plant expected to bolster Manawatu economy – Paul Mitchell:

Proliant’s new cattle blood plasma manufacturing plant in Feilding is expected to be a huge boost to Manawatu’s economy.

The $30 million plant takes blood from cattle and makes it into products such as diagnostic test kits and vaccines for research and in drug production.

It was officially opened on Friday by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce.

Vision Manawatu regional manager Mark Hargreaves said the benefits to the region’s economy started two years ago with the plant’s construction bringing a lot of jobs to Manawatu contractors and freight companies.  . . 

Proliant Biologicals Opens New Zealand Facility:

Proliant Biologicals is proud to announce the opening of its New Zealand Bovine Serum Albumin (BSA) manufacturing facility. The facility is located on the North Island of New Zealand, in Feilding.

The facility was designed and constructed to replicate the “Closed Loop” system, developed and instituted in Proliant’s U.S. facility located in Boone, Iowa. The equipment design and installation was done to functionally duplicate the systems in the U.S. facility, with critical processing systems coming from the same vendors used for U.S. installations. . . 

All about fariness – Neal Wallace:

Alliance Group is addressing inequality not accumulating fresh capital by deducting money from suppliers’ animal payments, chairman Murray Taggart says.  

From today the co-op will deduct 50c a head from lamb, sheep and calves, $2 a head from deer and $6 a head from cattle for shareholders who need to increase their shareholding to match their supply calculated on a three-year rolling average.  

Taggart said the move was about creating equitable shareholding and not a capital-raising move. . . 

MIE won’t get B+LNZ backing:

Two remits being presented by the Meat Industry Excellence to Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s annual meeting next month won’t get the industry-good board’s backing.  

The board considered both the remits and agreed not to support either, chairman James Parson said.  

In its push for reform, despite an agreement for Chinese company Shanghai Maling to buy into Silver Fern Farms, MIE last week notified two remits it would present to the B+LNZ meeting on March 23.  

The remits would be mailed with the B+LNZ voting papers this week with MIE chairman Dave McGaveston urging farmers to get thinking early. . . 

Dairy farmers visit Vatican for help – Chris McCullough:

European dairy farmers have reached out to Pope Francis for some spiritual blessing, in the hope it can help boost the ailing milk sector.

Around 140 dairy farmers, who are members of the European Milk Board, travelled to the Vatican in Rome to ask the Pope for some assistance.

They travelled from France, Lithuania and many other countries, all asking for the same thing, a future for their industry. . . 

Red wine and a dinner party – Grassroots Media:

I promise this isn’t a blog about the effects of red wine after a dinner party. Ok maybe it is, but not in the way you’re thinking.

In May 2015 I saw myself at a cross roads – ‘What did my future hold?’ I had a secure job, I was working with great people but felt I was missing a little something.

It turns out that little something, was a big challenge.

While having drinks with the Kellogg’s Rural Leadership cohort in Wellington, I came across participants of the Agri-Women’s Development Trust Escalator course, who were also enjoying a wine or two. There, I met two women who would eventually change the road I was travelling on. . . 

 

Food Tank: The Food Think Tank's photo.


Rural round-up

17/09/2015

Dairy price rise ‘green shoots’ – Dave Williams:

A third successive strong rise in dairy prices at auction has offered farmers the green shoots of a price recovery and set economists keying in more positive numbers into their calculators.

Fonterra’s GlobalDairyTrade auction price index jumped 16.5 percent to US$2568, with the company’s main commodity, whole milk powder, jumping 20.6 percent to US$2495.

It followed index rises of 14.8 percent and 10.9 percent but the BNZ warns it is off a very low base. . . 

Financial knowledge to help farmers have courageous conversations:

While the challenging times being faced by the dairy industry are largely outside farmers’ control, Dairy Women’s Network wants to remind farmers there are things they can do to empower themselves to minimise the negative impact on their businesses.

This includes having courageous conversations about the reality of their financial situations.

The Network is running free ‘Tracking the cash’ Dairy Modules throughout the country during October, November and December. . . 

Banks lift forecast dairy payouts as auction price rises:

Banks are upping their forecast dairy payouts on the back of a possible revival of fortunes for New Zealand’s struggling dairy industry.

The average overall price in the the overnight Global Dairy Trade auction rose 16.5 percent to $US2,568 per tonne.

Whole milk powder jumped 20.6 percent to $US2,495.

ASB has increased its forecast payout for the season to $5 a kilo. . . 

Last ditch effort to stop foreign Silver Fern buy in:

An industry group is appealing to the heads of Silver Fern Farms and the Alliance Group in a last-ditch attempt to stop foreign investment.

The farmer-led Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group has been trying to reform the red meat industry by blending the country’s two largest meat processors.

But, yesterday, Silver Fern Farms announced that China’s largest meat processor, Shanghai Maling, would inject $261 million into a new joint partnership.

MIE chairman and Southland sheep farmer Peter McDonald said farmers needed to shape their own future. . . 

Changes to commercial fishing catch limits:

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

Catch limits for some gurnard, stargazer and rig stocks in the South Island have been increased where robust scientific information shows there has been an increase in abundance. The allowances for both recreational and commercial fishers will be increased as part of these decisions.

Total Allowable Catch limits have been decreased for the New Zealand hoki stock and the oreo stock on the Chatham Rise.

“A cautious approach has been taken for hoki given the low recent hoki biomass estimate in the Sub-Antarctic. The Total Allowable Catch for HOK1 will reduce from 161,640 tonnes to 151,540 tonnes for the 2015/16 fishing year,” says Mr Guy. . . 

Local tourism businesses asked to join fight to protect kauri:

The Coromandel Kauri Dieback Forum is seeking the help of Peninsula tourism operators and accommodation providers in protecting local kauri from the deadly kauri dieback disease, so the natural environment for which the Peninsula is famous for can be enjoyed by future generations.

The Forum is holding workshops specifically designed for the sector in Coromandel town at 2pm on Tuesday 22 September at Anchor Lodge and at 11am on Thursday 24 September at Ocean’s Resort in Whitianga. Everyone involved in a visitor-oriented business, from tourist attractions and activities through to accommodation providers of all types, is invited to attend the informal 1 ½ hour workshops, which will be run by Coromandel Adventures director Sarni Hart and Forum chairperson Vivienne Mclean. . .

Fish & Game vows ‘strong opposition’ to trout farming proposals:

Fish & Game has confirmed its strong opposition to commercial trout farming following revelations of a Bay of Plenty Regional Growth Study promoting, among other initiatives, the development of a commercial trout industry.

The study, which was undertaken to identify economic opportunities within the region, was commissioned by the Ministries of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and Primary Industries (MPI) in partnership with the Bay of Connections.

Trout farming has been identified as a ‘key priority for regional development’ after the launch of the study, and the formulation of an action plan endorsed at a workshop involving more than 120 regional leaders and stakeholders. . .

And a video on the Story of Milk from Friesland Campina.


Rural round-up

02/04/2015

MIE plan stimulates debate but won’t fix the problem – Allan Barber:

The Pathways to Long-Term Sustainability document launched earlier this month makes some very valid points about the red meat industry’s shortcomings, but its recommendations are almost certainly impossible to implement.

Even if the processors are willing to consider capacity rationalisation, it won’t be on the scale envisaged by the GHD consultants and judging by Sir Graeme Harrison’s remarks ANZCO won’t be part of it; nor will AFFCO unless the Talleys undergo a St Paul like conversion on the road to Motueka. This leaves the cooperatives, with Rob Hewett prepared to consider merging with Alliance, although he isn’t holding his breath, while Murray Taggart remains very lukewarm.

The common theme evident from all the company chairmen is the fundamental need for any solution to be commercially justifiable from the companies’ perspective. The problem with this particular stance is the conflict with the farmer bias of MIE’s proposals. . .

Wine and Spirit geographical registration coming:

Trade Minister Tim Groser and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Paul Goldsmith today announced that Government will implement the Geographical Indications (Wine and Spirits) Registration Act.

“The Act will set up a registration regime for wine and spirit geographical indications, similar to the trademark registration regime,” Mr Groser says.

A geographical indication shows that a product comes from a specific geographical region and has special qualities or a reputation due to that origin.  Well known products that are identified by geographical indications include Champagne, Scotch Whisky and Prosciutto de Parma.

The use of geographical indications by New Zealand producers is largely confined to the wine industry. . .

Implementation of Act is a big step forward for the New Zealand wine industry:

New Zealand Winegrowers warmly welcomes the announcement that Government will implement the Geographical Indications Registration Act.

Geographical indications identify wines as originating in a region or locality says Philip Gregan, CEO, New Zealand Winegrowers. The Act will set up a registration system for wine geographical indications, similar to the trademark registration system. . .

 

$7.8m for new sustainable farming projects:

29 new projects have been approved for $7.8 million in new funding over four years through the Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF), Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“These are grass-roots projects that support farmers, growers and foresters to tackle shared problems and develop new opportunities. They will deliver real economic, environmental and social benefits.

“For example, one project will develop industry tools for farmers to improve their farm practices to improve water quality and infrastructure, while reducing nutrient loss. . .

Forestry projects identify practical solutions:

New Zealand’s forestry sector will benefit from five new projects in the latest round of the Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF), Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew announced today.

“Around $1.2 million has been committed over four financial years towards five new SFF projects involving the forestry sector,” Ms Goodhew says.  “SFF continues to be a great example of government supporting foresters to ensure the sustainability of our primary industries.”

The forestry projects are part of the 29 new SFF projects announced today—following the 2015/16 SFF funding round held last year. . .

New OSPRI Chief Executive appointed:

OSPRI Chairman Jeff Grant has today announced the appointment of Michelle Edge as Chief Executive of OSPRI.

Ms Edge brings a wealth of agricultural industry experience to the position having had an extensive career spanning scientific research, government regulation, policy and industry organisations within the Australian agricultural sector.

She was most recently Chief Executive of Australian Meat Processor Corporation – a levy-funded research, development and extension organisation operating in the red meat sector. . .

IrrigationNZ welcomes OVERSEER 6.2 despite forecast Nitrate loss spike:

IrrigationNZ says any short-term pain for irrigating farmers who end up with worse nitrate leaching results in OVERSEER 6.2 will be out-weighed by the benefits of more realistic irrigation modelling.

To prevent issues arising from OVERSEER 6.2’s introduction, IrrigationNZ and OVERSEER’s General Manager Dr Caroline Read have been working to inform affected regional councils to reduce compliance concerns. The industry body says irrigating farmers also need to be proactive and familiarise themselves with the new software.

The latest version of OVERSEER® Nutrient budgets (OVERSEER 6.2) launches later this month and IrrigationNZ says some irrigators will see increased nitrate loss estimates for their properties due to more accurate modelling. This may impact on their compliance under regional council regulations. . .

Nitrogen dollars dissolving in thin air:

Millions of dollars’ worth of nitrogen is vanishing into thin air, causing losses to farmers and to New Zealand in wasted import dollars.

That’s the conclusion reached in field trials completed as part of the Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ Clearview Innovations Primary Growth Partnership programme to measure ammonia losses from standard urea and urea treated with a nitrogen stabiliser. These losses occur when the nitrogen in the urea volatilises into ammonia.

While farmers try to avoid the loss by applying urea when wet weather is forecast, research by Landcare Research and Ballance has shown a good 5 to 10 mm of rain is needed within eight hours of application to reduce ammonia loss – a finding consistent with research in New Zealand in the 1980s. . .


Rural round-up

25/03/2015

Freeloaders relying on co-ops – Alan Williams:

Using a mathematical formula to work out the level of overcapacity in meat processing won’t work, Silver Fern Farms chairman Rob Hewett says.

And nor would the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) proposal for a permanent reduction in capacity offset by a reserve processing plant, funded by the industry and used only at times of  very high demand for killing space. That idea, based on the electricity industry model, was too simplistic.

“You’d have hundreds of people just sitting round most of the time, not doing anything. The issue is more complex than that.”

Hewett agreed with farmers who wanted enough killing space available all the time to cope with seasons like the current one, with drought conditions in many areas. . . .

 Rabobank New Zealand 2014 results:

Rabobank New Zealand Limited (RNZL) has further strengthened its position in the New Zealand rural banking market, recording above market rural lending growth, and reporting its highest net profit after tax (NPAT) of $105.49 million in 2014.

RNZL recorded net lending growth of $342 million in 2014, with the bank’s rural lending portfolio growing by 4.5 per cent, slightly ahead of overall rural debt market growth of 4.3 RNZL chief executive officer Ben Russell said the results were pleasing, as they demonstrated Rabobank’s ongoing commitment to New Zealand’s critical food and agribusiness sector, and were consistent with the bank’s goal of supporting clients to both help feed the world and achieve their goals and aspirations. . .

South American beetle introduced to control weeds:

A tiny Chilean beetle has been introduced to New Zealand in a bid to control a weed that if left unchecked could potentially become as big a problem as gorse.

Landcare Research, a Crown research institute which focuses on environmental science, recently provided Environment Southland with about 70 barberry seed weevils to release just north of Invercargill as a biocontrol agent for Darwin’s barberry. The fast-spreading orange-flowered thorny shrub has become a huge problem across the country, threatening to overrun native plants and farmland – particularly in Southland.

It is the first time this species of weevil, a type of beetle, has been used as a biocontrol agent anywhere in the world. . .

Natural pesticides tested:

New Zealand scientists have begun trials to test the effectiveness of some natural pesticides on one of the world’s worst vegetable pests, the diamond back moth.

The moth caterpillar causes serious damage to brassica crops such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and bok choy.

More than a billion dollars a year is spent on trying to control the pest. The moth quickly becomes resistant to whatever chemical pesticide is used on it.

Scientists working under the Bio-Protection Research Centre based at Lincoln University, with the backing of genetic specialists at New Zealands Genomics, have been trying a non-chemical biological approach. . .

Going FAR for farmers – Annette Scott:

It is 20 years this week since formal practical research was initiated for the New Zealand arable industry.

On Wednesday the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR), established in 1995, will mark a number of arable industry milestones as the organisation reaches its 20th birthday.

FAR was set up primarily to do practical research for arable farmers.

Over the past two decades the levy-funded organisation has developed to actively do research and extension on a broad range of grain and seed crops in NZ and Australia. . .

NZ Kiwifruit Growers United In Support For Industry Change:

Following a record voter turn-out, interim results show more than 90 percent of New Zealand kiwifruit growers have supported the outcomes of the Kiwifruit Industry Strategy Project (KISP) to lock-in long-term grower ownership and control of their industry.

KISP’s Independent Chairman, Neil Richardson, said the voter turn-out and interim results were outstanding. They are a clear sign New Zealand kiwifruit growers are united in their vision for the future of their industry, he said.

“Two-thirds of growers, representing 80 percent of production voted in the KISP referendum. This compares to an average voter turn-out in primary industry of around 40 percent. . .

 

Zespri welcomes high turnout and support for positive change in grower referendum:

Kiwifruit growers have made a strong statement about the direction they want for their industry in the Kiwifruit Industry Strategy Project (KSIP) referendum. There is a clear mandate for change with interim results from the referendum showing two-thirds of growers, representing 80 percent of production, voting so far, says Zespri chairman Peter McBride.

“Over 90 percent of growers have clearly stated their desire for change in three areas which affect Zespri – ownership of Zespri shares by growers who have left the industry, the mechanism by which the Zespri margin is calculated and changes to Zespri’s board to formalise the three independent members. . .

 

Memories of the working horse – Mark Griggs:

RON Job, now retired at Parkes, says a lot of memories return as he inspects some of the horse harness and gear stored in the tack room at “The Grange”, Peak Hill.

The tack room was attached to the original stables, which have been converted into a machinery shed and workshop now the work-horse days are long gone.

“The Grange” is owned by the Frecklington family who settled there in the late 1800s.

The property is now operated by Ian and Lyn Frecklington, who have kept the old gear stored in the tack room where it was left as motor vehicles took over from real horsepower, and have been close family friends with the Job family for many years. . .


Rural round-up

17/03/2015

‘Safety culture’ on farms preferred by farmers – Sally Rae:

Creating a compliance culture is not the answer to reducing the number of farm accidents, Beef and Lamb New Zealand chairman James Parsons says.

In his address to Beef and Lamb New Zealand’s annual meeting, held at LincolnFirst-Telford near Balclutha last week, Mr Parsons said the best people to assess risks and mitigate them were the farmers who managed them every day.

Including family in daily farming activities was a core farming value in action. . .

How to boost red meat earnings:

A new study of New Zealand’s red meat sector shows that savings of hundreds of millions, potentially billions of dollars can be made through industry rationalisation and consolidation.

The report, to be released in Wellington on the 17th March, ‘Red Meat Industry –Pathways to Long-Term Sustainability’ provides independent analysis of the industry, commissioned by Meat Industry Excellence (MIE), to help farmers and industry players make progress to reform the structure of the sector.

The report extrapolates various savings estimates from industry rationalisation and consolidation. It shows that more than $400 million in gains is available over five years just from the two big meat co-ops Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group getting together.(Refer Table 19 from Report). . .

 

MIE Red Meat Sector report to be released – Allan Barber:

   Tuesday sees the public release of the Meat Industry Excellence industry study ‘Red Meat Sector – Pathways to Long-Term Sustainability’ at a launch function in Wellington. The study, funded with the assistance of a grant from Beef + Lamb New Zealand, was commissioned in the middle of last year; it was initially due for release by the end of October, but concerns about the robustness of the findings delayed the process.

According to MIE’s website the two main areas of work were: . . .

Facing up to pest invasions: A new reality

With Queensland fruit fly breaching the borders yet again, despite investment in quarantine processes, questions need to be asked whether some pest incursions are inevitable and if more should be invested in preparedness rather than prevention.

That’s according to Professor Philip Hulme, an expert in plant biosecurity at the Bio-Protection Research Centre at Lincoln University.

“Biosecurity has traditionally had a strong border focus, yet we have seen many examples recently of major pests slipping through; such as PSA, potato/tomato psyllid, and the great white cabbage butterfly. We also know that there are many pests on the horizon that will be difficult to prevent from establishing here, including myrtle rust and the brown marmorated stink bug.

NZ King Salmon may have to close farm:

New Zealand King Salmon says it may have to close one of its Marlborough farms for future summers after stock died from significantly warmer waters.

Average water temperatures at the company’s Waihinau Bay farm in the past few months have been some of the hottest on record for the area, averaging above the salmon’s ideal growing conditions. . .

Families central to club’s history – Sally Rae:

Ask Rick Aubrey why he keeps dog trialling and the answer is succinct: ”Too old to play footy, aren’t I?”

On a more serious note, it was the camaraderie involved and the ”buzz” he got from a good run that kept him involved in the sport. . .

NZ apple growers help transform India’s apple industry – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Pipfruit New Zealand, the pipfruit growers’ organisation, is working on a plan to help revitalise a key part of India’s declining apple industry with the long-term aim of having a tariff-free window for Kiwi apple exports

India’s apple industry is the fourth largest in the world by volume and the second largest by land area but grower returns are starting to decline as production drops because of ageing trees and pest and disease issues.

Pipfruit New Zealand is taking the lead on the World Bank project and along with the crown research institute Plant & Food Research, is now applying its expertise to a plan to rejuvenate apple growing in the state of Himachal Pradesh, one of India’s three main growing areas. . .


Rural round-up

20/02/2015

Wishing all Chinese people a happy Year of the Sheep, flourishing business, well-being, good luck and prosperity

Sheep milk conference hopes to boost interest:

Sheep’s milk yoghurt and ice-cream will be on the menu at a conference today, which aims to expand and develop interest in the sheep dairying industry.

The Ewe Milk Products and Sheep Dairying conference will be held over the next two days in Palmerston North.

Massey University business school associate professor, Craig Prichard, said the industry had struggled to establish itself as a viable alternative to traditional but there was growing potential as interest in sheep dairy products increased. . .

Come on John, give them a break!:

The last time I dared to question MIE’s desired reform of the meat industry, John McCarthy accused me of bias and warned me to watch out, if we are unlucky enough to run into each other. So this column will almost certainly result in another attack on my character and more threats to my personal safety!

But after reading his Pulpit diatribe (Farmers Weekly 26 January), I can’t resist the chance to express surprise at some of the logic expressed there. He clearly believes the two cooperatives, SFF and Alliance, are guilty of driving the market for sheepmeat down to the bottom solely because of their incompetence. The only way he says this will change is to vote more MIE endorsed candidates onto the boards.

McCarthy accuses media commentators and company executives of myopia in their industry predictions last year which have now turned out to be too optimistic. Climatic and political circumstances have changed considerably since those forecasts were made which largely explains the downward trend. Possibly we should all have forecast the closing of the Russian market to other Western exporters, the slowdown in China, deflation in the EU, port clearance delays in the USA and the drought in much of this country. But when those forecasts were made, none of these factors were as clear as they are in hindsight. . .

Otago field days focus on farm effluent management:

DairyNZ ENVIROREADY field days starting next week will bring farmers up to speed with good practice effluent management, and provide tools and information to help them meet Otago Regional Council environmental regulations.

DairyNZ water quality specialist Shirley Hayward says the events are about helping farmers feel confident in their knowledge of how they can meet council regulations.

“With the more stringent effluent and discharge rules now in place, this will help everyone understand what they need to do to ensure they comply. There is something for everyone, staff, managers and owners alike as there is a practical hands-on component as well as discussion around infrastructure decisions and investment,” says Shirley. . .

 

SFF ownership ‘important’ – Sally Rae:

An appeal has been made to Silver Fern Farms to ”not sell the goose that has the potential to lay the golden eggs”.

Speaking at the co-operative’s annual meeting in Dunedin yesterday, Meat Industry Excellence member Mark Patterson said farmer ownership of the value chain would be ”incredibly important” and the company’s proposed capital raising had the potential to dilute that. . .

Why are we so afraid of the fruit fly? :

* What is Bactrocera tryoni or the Queensland fruit fly?

A native of Australia, it is one of the most destructive of the 4500 fruit flies in the world. It is fond of fleshy fruits such as avocado, citrus, tomato, guava, feijoa, grape, peppers, persimmon, pipfruit, berryfruit and stonefruit. 

It does not breed continuously but passes the winter in the adult stage. The total life cycle requires two to three weeks in summer and up to two months in autumn. Adult females live many months and four or five overlapping generations may develop annually. 

* Why is the fruit fly so dangerous?

Hard and expensive to control, fruit flies are commonly known as the “foot and mouth” of the horticultural industry. Once established, they are hard to eradicate. . .


Rural round-up

29/11/2014

Changes afoot in red meat sector – Allan Barber:

The much maligned red meat sector may at last be about to undergo a structural change if a majority of processors and farmers can reach agreement on a proposed capacity moratorium. Past history suggests that is a big IF, but a document being circulated among processors, Meat Industry Association (MIA), Beef + Lamb NZ, Federated Farmers and the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group contains a realistic basis for agreement on a solution to the capacity problem which has dogged the industry for years.

The concept proposes to issue plant and chain licences which would effectively freeze (excuse the pun) the number of sheep and beef processing plants and chains at the current level from the start of next season. The document suggests a 12 year moratorium on any new licences being issued as a means of protecting existing owners’ investment in the industry. . .

Lack of dairy workers a real concern – Susie Nordqvist:

Dairy New Zealand is warning the agricultural sector is in dire need of workers, and if we don’t do something to plug the gap there’s no way we’ll meet our target of doubling our primary exports by 2025.

Agriculture is an industry where jobs go begging, and the next generation of workers are in short supply.

“I think farmers need to pull up their socks a wee bit,” says dairy farmer David Fullerton.

By 2025 it is estimated there could be a shortfall of 8000 workers – so why isn’t agriculture attracting young workers?

“Each individual farmer has to build up a reputation of being fair and that’s time off, remuneration, housing, the whole works,” says Mr Fullerton. . .

Essential steps to protect irrigators:

Point, park and anchor – the three essential steps farmers have been advised to take to protect expensive irrigation equipment from being knocked down and damaged during high winds.

Rural insurer FMG has posted a new guide on this on its website.

The company and Lincoln University launched a joint study following the violent wind storms that hit Canterbury in September 2013, causing massive damage to plantations as well as hundreds of pivot or travelling irrigators on dairy and cropping farms.

It resulted in farmers and growers lodging more than 260 claims with the FMG at a cost of $7.6 million.

FMG’s advice and insurance general manager, Conrad Wilkshire, says more than 100 Canterbury farmers also contributed to the guide with practical advice on preventative measures taken to protect their machines. . .

Merino out of this world  – Tim Cronshaw:

Merino clothing has gone where no sheep has gone before – the final frontier.

Space is the latest extreme environment where high-performance merino T-shirts made from New Zealand wool are being worn. Nasa astronauts wear them on board the International Space Station and during training on Earth.

Armadillo Merino, a British company owned by the South Island family of Andy Caughey, began manufacturing a merino base layer range last year and has secured contracts with national military and police services and now the United States space programme.

Caughey said Nasa had up to 100 astronauts training at any one time, and their clothes needed to be suitable for both orbit and Earth. . .

Farmers and sheep protest at Eiffel Tower

French farmers have brought their sheep to the Eiffel Tower to express their frustration over increasing attacks by wolves that some say have been over protected by the government.

Some 300 sheep grazed at the foot of the French capital’s most famous monument on Thursday (local time) as the farmers gathered under foggy skies to demand an effective plan to stop the wolf attacks.

“Today farmers, tomorrow unemployed,” read one banner, while one of the protesters dressed as a wolf carried around a lamb.

But a rival demonstration by animal rights activists, calling for the wolves to be protected, also made an appearance under the Eiffel Tower. . .

All I want for Christmas is more AB:

LIC is making plans to get more cows in-calf at Christmas in response to high demand for its short gestation genetics offering and as farmers find new ways to maximise the benefits this season.

The leading genetics supplier for the national dairy herd has already set a new semen record this season with 142,006 straws for artificial insemination dispatched from its Newstead laboratory in one day. More than five million straws will be processed by Christmas Eve when the peak time usually ends – but this season farmers want more.

“It’s been a cracker of a season here at LIC, and the massive response to short gestation has been a huge part of that,” says Malcolm Ellis, SGL breeding programme manager. . .

 


Rural round-up

07/08/2014

The other face of foreign ownership:

The generosity of foreign investors has created New Zealand’s largest ever private land protection agreement at 53,000 hectares; equivalent to 240 Cornwall Park/One Tree Hill Domains.

“It is exciting that a Queen Elizabeth II covenant now covers the iconic high country over most of Motatapu, Mount Soho, Glencoe and Coronet Peak stations,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers President.

“This is the other face of foreign ownership, perhaps best explained by dual Federated Farmers/Forest & Bird life member, Gordon Stephenson, who commented: “this is the first time a whole landscape is being put into a covenant”.  . .

Sheep Industry Excellence Celebrated:

The important role ram breeders play in New Zealand’s sheep industry was celebrated at the third annual Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Sheep Industry Awards.

About 230 people attended a dinner in Napier, where 10 genetics-based awards and five sector excellence awards were presented. Results of the genetics-based awards were calculated based on ram breeders’ performance in SIL-ACE (Advanced Central Evaluation) – the large-scale, across flock and breed genetic evaluation of more than 300 ram breeding flocks. . . .

GlobalDairyTrade not ‘milk and disaster’:

The latest decline in the benchmark GlobalDairyTrade (GDT) online auction continues a trend expected by Federated Farmers. 

“We’d love to see a plus sign for a change but at least it seems to be tracking in the direction Rabobank has projected,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Vice-Chairperson.

“I don’t expect this latest result will affect the payout forecast in the near term.  What will be critical is the expected market recovery in the New Year.  . .

–  Allan Barber:

It’s wonderful what a bit of buoyancy in the market for beef and sheepmeat will do for morale, especially when it coincides with a solid drop in the predicted dairy payout. It isn’t just about absolute price returns, but also a reduction in the gap which has opened up this year between red meat and dairy prices.

MIE’s chairman John McCarthy has already characterised the improved mood among processors and exporters as signalling a desire to preserve the status quo which is why he and MIE are thrilled to have obtained the funding required to produce a business plan. This is intended to ‘deliver a definitive roadmap for farmer profitability’ through committed supply, coordinated marketing and best practice. . .

Global animal protein trends become more complex – Allan Barber:

At the Red Meat Sector Conference Luke Chandler, General Manager of Rabobank’s Food and Agribusiness Research Advisory group in Australasia, presented an interesting perspective on global protein trends and the increasing complexity required to feed the world’s growing population.

He observed three main trends: demand from emerging markets and market access, competitiveness between proteins and the complexity of the supply chains.

Briefly stated there is a surplus in the west and a shortage in the east with 70% of growth occurring in Asia, predominantly in China, India and Indonesia. Australia and New Zealand provide 6% and 3% respectively of imports of agricultural products into Asia and are therefore high value, niche exporters rather than providers of high volume production. . .

Ravensdown to pay farmer rebate as profits surge – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Ravensdown Fertiliser Cooperative will resume paying farmers a rebate this year after its earnings jumped some 161 percent after it quit an unprofitable Australian business.

Profit before tax and rebate from continuing operations rose $73 million in the year ended May 31, from $28 million the previous year, the Christchurch-based cooperative said in a statement. Trading profit rose to $46 million from $6 million a year earlier, which was impacted by the cost from quitting Australia. Ravensdown will pay shareholders $37.78 per tonne, made up of $15 in rebate and fully imputed bonus shares worth $22.38. . . .

Third International Accolade in Three Months for Yealands:

Yealands Family Wines (YFW) has been awarded a trophy in the 2014 Green Apple Awards for Environmental Best Practice. This award is the third international award that the Marlborough Company has won for its high quality sustainable wine growing practices in the past three months.

Yealands were awarded “Green Company of the Year” by the UK’s leading drinks publisher, Drinks Business on April 30 and crowned the Gold Medal Winner in the Most Socially or Environmentally Responsible Company of the Year category at the 2014 International Best in Biz Awards last month.

The company competed against more than 500 global nominations in the Green Apple Awards, and they will be presented with their trophy and certificate at a glittering presentation ceremony in The Houses of Parliament, in London on November 10. . .


Rural round-up

29/07/2014

Cuff calling time as CEO – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group chief executive Grant Cuff is stepping down in December after nine years in the position.

Yesterday, Mr Cuff (56) told the Otago Daily Times his decision was not sudden and he had been thinking about it for a while, looking for the right time to stand down.

During his 24-year tenure with Alliance Group, Mr Cuff held various executive positions including general manager commercial, chief financial officer, chief operating officer and chief executive. . .

Beet + Lamb New Zealand give support to MIE business plan:

The Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Board has approved funding for the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group’s Business Plan to support red meat sector initiatives.

The decision to approve the funding application comes following farmers voting in support of an MIE remit at the B+LNZ Annual Meeting in March of this year, seeking funding support for MIE initiatives.

The $219,000 project includes MIE contracting independent consulting firms to research improved procurement models, flow on effects on industry profitability and communicating these findings to the sector. . .

DOC: 1080 drop last chance to save mohua – Neil Rately:

The Department of Conservation has confirmed it will dump 1080 on almost 7000 hectares of Waikaia Forest in Northern Southland because of high rat counts.

An aerial drop of 1080 is the only way to ensure the survival of the endangered mohua (yellowhead) and other threatened species during a heavy beech mast, DOC says.

Catlins services ranger Cheryl Pullar said pest control might be the last chance for Waikaia mohua, which was thought to be lost during the beech mast in 2000.

Environment Southland had granted DOC consent for the drop and it would go ahead in August or September, she said. . .

Workers with experience in high demand – Rob Tipa:

Where have all the skilled farm workers gone?

That is the question that has plagued the dairy industry for years but it now extends to a shortage of experienced farm managers and shepherds with well-trained teams of dogs on sheep and beef farms.

Despite relatively high unemployment levels nationally, the chronic shortage of trained staff in the dairy industry has been well documented.

But a new survey of farmers suggests the shortage of workers affects all sectors of agriculture. . .

Overseer expands for new demands

As the nutrient-budgeting computer-modelling program Overseer becomes ever more central to fresh water management in New Zealand, its developers are working flat-out to expand its capabilities to match new demands.

First developed in the 1990s, Overseer has steadily evolved as a farming tool, becoming ever- more complex, able to calculate loss of nitrates to water, phosphate run-off and greenhouse gas emissions from nine separate farming systems, including dairying and arable.

Regional councils are now using Overseer in the development of water plans, with Canterbury farmers now expected to use it to calculate their average nitrogen losses over the past four years to establish their “nitrogen baseline”, the upper limit for future farming enterprises. . .

Semen collecting is tricky and dangerous – Sonita Chandar:

Working with penises, semen and testicles is no laughing matter but a sense of humour is essential, says a bull whisperer.

Interposing yourself between an amorous bull and the object of its lust is a dangerous occupation, but for semen collector Robyn How, of the Tararua Breeding Centre in Woodville, it is a fascinating way of life.

Born and raised in Australia, How became passionate about cattle after helping a friend with show animals. While doing an artificial insemination course, she found she had a natural ability to read bulls.

She bought a 6ha lifestyle block in Woodville in 1997 and started the breeding centre the next year with Auckland-based business partner and embryo transfer veterinarian Eddie Dixon. . .


Rural round-up

19/06/2014

Researcher reveals dairy soil benefits – John Gibb:

Spreading cowshed effluent on fields and and undertaking irrigation are improving soil quality on dairy farms, a University of Otago PhD student, Bonface Manono, says.

Mr Manono recently completed his PhD research, which involved studying soil quality at 41 farms in the Waitaki district, most of them shareholders in the Morven, Glenavy, Ikawai Irrigation Co (MGI).

MGI funded the study, along with the Agriculture Research Group on Sustainability (Argos), and Otago University. . .

Upper Hutt’s vital role in protecting New Zealand:

Upper Hutt will remain central of New Zealand’s biosecurity thanks to a new $65m high-security bio-containment laboratory, to be built on the existing site at Wallaceville.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries’ animal health laboratories play a pivotal role in responding to animal disease outbreaks, protecting public health and assuring our trading partners about our country’s animal disease status,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Biosecurity spokesperson.

“This vital investment is not only necessary but will be welcomed by all parts of the primary industries, particularly those of us in the pastoral sectors. . .

Device improves safety :

An Invercargill-based forestry management company has taken a device marketed for outdoor recreationalists and adapted it as a safety tool for staff and contractors.

Over the past six months, IFS Growth has successfully trialled 10 spot trackers – electronic devices that allow their wearers to send pre-loaded text or email messages to selected cellphones or computers. It plans to buy another 20 over the next year. . . .

Red meat farmers ‘on their own’ to sort out sector crisis – Sally Rae:

Plans for a red meat industry summit appear aborted with Meat Industry Excellence chairman John McCarthy saying farmers are ”on their own” if they want to sort out the industry.

In March, MIE called for an urgent summit to address what it described as a crisis confronting the sector and the country.

But, having canvassed some stakeholders seeking support for a summit, it became quickly apparent it was ”going nowhere”, Mr McCarthy said this week.

”Whilst we have not spoken to all stakeholders, from our initial approaches it was obvious that we were unlikely to get sufficient buy-in to attract government support, let alone get a positive and enduring outcome.” . . .

Scheme for farmers needing a break:

A group of homestay venues is putting up prizes of accommodation for farmers in need of a break away.

Julia Charity, of the New Zealand Homestay Network, said farmers under pressure anywhere in the country, for whatever reason, could be nominated.

The campaign was launched at at the national agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek last week, and Ms Charity said some of the nominations received so far were heartbreaking.

“It’s the people suffering from major trauma, often around a partner dying, and I have been surprised by the number of woman trying to cope farming on their own and often with children,” she said. . .

Synlait Milk realigns senior team:

Synlait Milk has appointed Mike Lee to the newly created role of General Manager Sales reporting to the Managing Director Dr John Penno.

Dr Penno says the appointment follows a decision to combine the previously separate Ingredient and Nutritional sales teams in order to better serve its customers.

“Over the past year we have made significant business development progress particularly with our tier one multinational customers. We are increasingly selling a range of products to them and we need to provide a single point of contact to better manage these relationships. The change to the senior team structure will also increase accountability and reduce operating complexity for us going forward,” said Dr Penno. . . .

Top animal health executive joins Simcro Board:

Former Merial VP adds international experience to aid market expansion

 Simcro has appointed a top animal health executive, Dr. Jorge E. Solé, to its Board.

Dr Solé has worked for more than 30 years in the animal health and crop protection chemical markets, where he has gained extensive experience in global business operations and mergers and acquisitions.

His most recent position in the animal health industry was vice-president of International Business Operations for leading animal health company, Merial, where he was responsible for the Asia, Latin America, Canada and Oceania markets. . . .


Three MIE candidates on two boards

16/12/2013

Three Meat Industry excellence group candidates have won election on to the Alliance Group and Silver Fern Farms’ boards.

MEAT INDUSTRY EXCELLENCE (MIE) endorsed candidates Dan Jex-Blake of Gisborne and Richard Young of Gore have been elected to the board of SFF.

The results of the election which closed on Friday (December 13) were: Richard Young, 36,155,094;

Dan Jex-Blake, 25,511,166, David Shaw, 19,435,482.

This follows Alliance shareholders also voting for a change last week with Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group-backed candidate Don Morrison, Gore, elected by a narrow margin.

The Silver Fern voter turnout was 26.76% of eligible voters, up from 16.70% in the previous election in 2010. . .

Voter turnout was also higher in the Alliance election.

Approximately forty-nine percent (48.83%) of eligible votes were exercised in the directors’ election.

Alliance Group Chairman Murray Taggart said that the forty-nine per cent turnout for the directors’  election was significantly improved over recent years and reflected the interest in the issue. . . .

In 2012 the turnout for the directors election was 25% compared with 42% in 2011 and 30% in 2010. . .

There is discontent in the industry and a mood for change but there are no easy answers.

Jason Miller, who lost his seat on the Alliance board to Morrison, was elected by the Meat Industry Action Group with a mandate for change in 2007.

Little has changed since then.

 


Morrison replaces Miller on Alliance board

13/12/2013

Alliance Group chair Murray Taggart has held his seat on the board but Jason Miller has lost his to Don Morrison who was on the Meat Industry excellence (MIA) Group.

. . . Approximately forty nine percent (48.83%) of eligible votes were exercised in the directors’ election.
Alliance Group Chairman Murray Taggart said that the forty-nine per cent turnout for the directors’ election was significantly improved over recent years and reflected the interest in the issue.
In 2012 the turnout for the directors election was 25% compared with 42% in 2011 and 30% in 2010. . .
Miller, who was active in the Meat Industry Action Group, was voted onto the board in 2007 when long-serving chair John Turner lost his seat.
That he’s been replaced by someone who was active in the MIA is not without irony.

Rural round-up

01/12/2013

Best little river in New Zealand – Rebecca Fox:

Gradual improvements in water quality in East Otago’s Shag River over nearly a decade have earned it the grand prize in the inaugural 2013 New Zealand River Awards.

”The Shag is the best little river in New Zealand,” Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead, said when he accepted the award at a ceremony in Wellington last night.

He said the award was for the river’s community and recognition of the work landowners had done to improve practices on land through which the river flowed. . .

Good things take time:

Federated Farmers is thrilled by the recognition Otago farmers received at the first New Zealand River Awards last night, with two rivers as finalists and the Shag River taking the prize for most improved river in New Zealand. 

“The Shag River has come a long way from 10 years ago, and it is a credit to those farmers who care for and value their river,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers water spokesperson.

“Change is hard for everyone, but once you take the time to get everyone on board you can really make a difference. Changing the result of 30 years of degradation is not a quick fix, there is no instant gratification, so that is why 10 years on from the water management plan’s implementation you are seeing some positive results. . .

Beetle’s prickly appetite could have wider impact– Tony Benny:

Scientists hope a thistle-munching beetle already reducing prickly weed infestations in the south will also lay waste to hard-to-control Californian thistles on North Canterbury hill country farms.

Landcare released European-sourced green thistle beetles – also known as cassida or tortoise beetles – on about 50 farms, mostly in lowland Southland, five years ago.

AgResearch scientists want to find out more about the beetle and see if it can go to work in the hill country of North Canterbury and the North Island.

“We’re starting to see the effects of the beetle, and Southland farmers are thinking that it’s having quite a good effect on the thistle populations there,” said AgResearch scientist Michael Cripps. “Basically, they’re seeing observational evidence of a decline in the thistle population.” . . .

Pastoral farmers asked to think pig, poultry-style – Tim Fulton:

CANTERBURY farmers affected by Chilean Needle Grass (CNG) have been encouraged by local support for their position but the regional council warns the grass can still take root any time and place.

ECan’s latest biosecurity newsletter suggests pastoral farmers take similar precautions to pig and poultry farmers, by controlling movement of people, vehicles and machinery on and off their property

Sheep farmer Owen Gould from Parnassus in the Hurunui district has clarified the extent of CNG on his place, hoping to make other farmers aware of the plant and steps to contain it. . .

Govt help unlikely – Alan Williams:

Three of New Zealand’s biggest meat companies took a restructuring proposal to the Government but were told they would need more substantial industry and farmer support before it could help with legislation.

The reaction has negative implications for any plan involving a merger between only two players, the Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group co-operatives.

In its campaigning to get candidates elected to the boards of the two co-ops, the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group has suggested the Government would legislate to provide protection for their 52-54% market share in the early stages of a merged entity. . .

David makes old Goliath steam:

When David Walker first saw the 1901 traction engine at a Marlborough winery it was a hulk.

He described its condition as “rust value only” when he took delivery on April 16 this year.

However, the committed restorer had the rare 10 horsepower steam driven engine up and running, albeit minus its pin-striping, in time for the weekend’s Nelson A&P Show.

“It hadn’t been steamed up in 62 years,” said Mr Walker of his latest prize. To get it operational he had to replace, rebuild or repair nearly every moving part. . .

NZB National Yearling Sales Series Catalogues Online Today:

The catalogues for New Zealand Bloodstock’s 88th National Yearling Sales Series are now available online.

A total of 1371 yearlings have been catalogued across the three sales sessions of Karaka’s week-long auction extravaganza, starting on Monday 27 January 2014.
Premier Cover

The PREMIER SALE catalogue features a world-class line-up of 469 Lots – 28 more than in January 2013 – set to be offered over two days on Monday 27 & Tuesday 28 January, commencing at 11am each day. . .


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