Seeking a saxy song

January 22, 2019

Could a saxy song save the Kākāpō?

Since 2016, Meridian Energy have been the National Partner of the Department of Conservation’s Kākāpō Recovery Programme (KRP) in their efforts to revive this critically endangered native parrot, but what most people don’t know is that there are only 147 left.

As a 100% renewable energy generator, Meridian is incredibly focused on taking care of New Zealand’s natural environment and the precious species that inhabit it, including supporting the recovery effort through science, technology and state-of-the-art Smart Eggs that help the incubation process.

Michael Healy, Meridian’s Chief Marketing Officer, says, “The trouble is, these are only good once breeding kicks off. Meridian decided some creativity might be needed to give these treasured native parrots with troublesome breeding a helping hand. And by hand, we mean saxophone”.

So, Meridian has put a call out to New Zealand (and beyond – Kenny G, we’re looking at you) to find a talented saxophonist to help save a species with what is widely recognised as the smoothest, most romantic instrument out there.

We’re aware the science behind saxophones and kakapo breeding is as yet untested. But with only 147 of these amazing birds left, at Meridian we’ll try anything,” says Healy.

The winning saxophonist, whether they’re a gifted local or the legend Kenny G himself, will professionally record a song for the kākāpō that will be available for download on the Meridian Energy website and handed over to the Kākāpō Rangers.

The response to the campaign to date has been great, and we’ve received some great entries from keen sax players all over the country. We’re still hoping that to attract the main man himself, Kenny G, but we’ve also got some great local talent who can help these precious birds out.”

“Most importantly though, we’re really aiming to make sure everyone is aware of the fact there are so few of these birds left – so it’s a privilege to be helping raise more awareness of the plight of the kākāpō”, says Healy.

You can read more here.


Rural round-up

December 7, 2018

Maize crops sick, seeds failing:

 A major seed supplier is urgently investigating reports from farmers that some of their maize crops aren’t growing properly.

Genetic Technologies Limited is the New Zealand producer and distributor of the Pioneer seeds brand and sells more than 20 hybrid maize varieties.

The crop is grown in New Zealand for the production of animal feed, either in the form of grain maize or as maize silage.

This season some farmers say up to 30 percent of their maize seeds from Pioneer have failed and other seeds that have struck are looking sick.

A tale of two milk companies – one of them is being suckled by taxpayers – Point of Order:

The contrasting fortunes of Synlait Milk and Westland Milk Products were thrown into sharp relief last week. On the one hand Synlait won applause at its annual meeting from shareholders, impressed by its performance in virtually doubling profit ($74.6m against $39.4m) in its tenth year of operations. On the other hand Westland had the begging bowl out for a Provincial Growth Fund loan of $9.9m which will help the co-op in funding a $22m manufacturing plant aimed at converting milk to higher-value products.

The Westland dairy exporter, discussing a capital restructure in its 2018 annual report, said it had relatively high debt and limited financial flexibility. . . 

Sheep needed on hill country – Alan Williams:

Waikato farmer Alastair Reeves has taken umbrage at the Productivity Commission’s suggestion sheep should be cast aside to make way for trees. He reckons sheep have a great future if they are not threatened by people making decisions in isolation and ignoring the ramifications of being wrong. He’s even got a plan for wool involving the Duchess of Sussex, aka Meghan Markle.

Sheep should be at the forefront of sustainable farming on hill country rather than being tossed aside for massive tree-planting programmes, Waikato hill farmer Alastair Reeves says.

It is a disgrace for the Productivity Commission to suggest up to 2.8 million hectares of new forestry be planted as a means of achieving a low carbon-emissions economy.  . . 

Water storage essential for future resilience – as experts cite drought as a major risk to NZ:

IrrigationNZ says a recent expert discussion document on drought and climate change highlights that future national planning to improve water storage and look at a range of options to mitigate the effects of the more severe droughts forecast is urgently needed.

“More frequent droughts and more variable rainfall will affect both urban and rural communities and will mean that we will need to rethink how we manage water in the future.
For example with less rainfall forecast over summer in western areas of New Zealand, there will be more demand for water storage from both councils and farmers to provide a reliable water supply,” says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Andrew Curtis. . . 

Elitism of another kind – Clive Bibby:

I grew up on a farm just outside the small Central Hawkes Bay town of Waipawa.

My forebears had owned sizeable tracts of farming land that had been hacked out of the bush and scrub under the Ruahine Ranges.

I am very proud to be a descendant of such pioneering folk who understood what it means to build a business from nothing and see it grow into something that makes a reasonable contribution to the local economy. They also built the first trading general store in CHB. The building still stands.

It is perhaps ironic that much of the farm land in question was in the near vicinity of the catchment area for the now defunct Ruataniwha Fresh Water Dam proposal. . . 

New tool helps farmers gauge carbon footprint:

Meridian Energy and Westpac NZ are proud to support a new carbon calculator that gives farmers a guide to the size of their carbon footprint

The tool has been developed by Lincoln University’s Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit (AERU) and Agrilink NZ, with financial assistance from Meridian Energy and Westpac NZ.

It is available at http://www.lincoln.ac.nz/carboncalculator. . . 

Horticulture growth retains momentum:

Horticulture growth retained momentum with a seven percent growth in export earnings since 2016, according to an updated report, with tariffs on exported produce down by 12 percent since 2012.

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

International Boma NZ summit to help Aotearoa’s food:

A future-thinking agriculture summit will bring together global and local experts on future farming trends, exponential change, and new business models and product pathways. The summit, called Grow 2019, is designed to help Aotearoa’s food and fibre sector be more innovative, collaborative, sustainable and profitable now and into the future.

Organiser Kaila Colbin says the two-day summit is an opportunity to learn about the future trends that are impacting the agriculture sector, and what to do about them, in a practical way, from people on the ground. Grow 2019 will also connect groups of like-minded individuals and organisations so that together we can understand, adapt and grow in a future that looks nothing like today. . . 


Dairy Award winners living the dream

May 13, 2018

The winners of the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards were announced last night:

The 2018 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards winners are smart people who are technologically savvy, care about people, the environment and cows and who are doing very well at dairy farming.

In front of nearly 550 people at Invercargill’s ILT Stadium last night, Dan and Gina Duncan from Northland were named the 2018 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year, Gerard Boerjan from Hawkes Bay-Wairarapa became the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Simone Smail from Southland-Otago was announced the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. They shared prizes worth over $202,000 .

“This year there have been a few trends amongst the 33 finalists competing for honours in the awards programme,” General Manager Chris Keeping says. “The finalists are acutely aware of the importance of biosecurity and health and safety with regards to both environmental issues, animal management and sustainability.  It’s extremely positive to see such dedication to these issues within the industry.”

Share Farmer head judge Kevin McKinley, from DairyNZ, says the judges were impressed to discover how educated the entrants were, either tertiary educated or looking to upskill themselves. “We’ve been from one end of the country to the other and we have met a stunning group of people excelling within the industry.”

“We met people who genuinely value other people and how they can help them progress through the industry.  They realise you have to look after staff and value them if you want to keep them. The winners will be excellent ambassadors for the dairy industry,” says Kevin.

Fellow Share Farmer judges Matt Richards, from Southland and Jacqui Groves from Westpac say it’s fantastic to see people putting themselves out there to be judged.  “The industry is in good hands,” says Matt.  “They might be doing it differently to how we used to, but the next generation is growing the industry and evolving and the rest of us have to be ready and prepared.”

Jacqui Groves agrees. “It’s fantastic to see them still seeking advice from more experienced farmers. “They’re seeking out established farmers and asking for support and mentoring,” she says.

The judges say Dan and Gina Duncan can be summed up in three words – passionate, professional and committed.  “They are a friendly, out-going couple who are working on an exceptionally challenging farm.”

“They epitomise living the dream.  They left secure jobs as registered valuers and made the career change to dairy farming, and they’re excelling at it. They’re the complete package.”

“Nothing has come easy for them, they’ve had to work hard” says Kevin.  “When they first began their career, they sought out employers that they thought would be good mentors and role models for them.  They’ve looked for opportunities where people are considered important.”

The Duncans are 50:50 Sharemilkers for the Pouto Topu A Trust milking 1020 cows on the 460ha Pouto property.  Both Dan and Gina, aged 32, hold Bachelor of Applied Sciences majoring in Rural Valuation and Management, with Dan holding a double major including Agriculture.

The former registered valuers have clear, realistic but challenging goals and gave an outstanding presentation which flowed and kept the judges fully engaged. “They managed to get that information across to us in a way we could understand and follow it,” says Kevin.

“Dan and Gina had written a long-term plan on future strategies to improve the property, which they presented to the farm owners.  They called it the Farm Prosperity Report and it encompassed sustainability strategies and solutions to drive the property forward. They had also successfully applied for grants to secure funds for planting on the property.”

In winning the national title and $49,700 in cash and prizes, the couple demonstrated strengths in pasture management and financial management.  They also won three merit awards; the PrimaryITO Interview Award, the Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award and the Westpac Business Performance Award.

“A good example of their pasture management is a comparison report on what quantities a cow would need to eat in Kikuya grass versus Rye grass to receive enough energy to make milk.  It just made it real,” says Matt. “They had calculated all their KPIs of their pasture and they were benchmarking with the rest of Northland, and picked appropriate benchmarks to compare themselves with.”

“They have a good work life balance, they still work hard but they find the time to pursue interests off-farm such as sport, and time with family and friends,” says Kevin

The runners-up in the Share Farmer of the Year competition, Papakura 50:50 sharemilkers Chris and Sally Guy are described by the judges as traditional and solid who are cow and grass focused.

“They were very well organised, it’s a small organisation with not much labour employed,” says Chris.  “They have to be very efficient with their time, and Chris demonstrated this with little bits of technology that he uses, such as an ear-piece he wears in the shed that enables him to record notes.

The couple are in their second season 50/50 sharemilking on Allan Guy’s 80ha Papakura property, milking 200 cows. They also won the Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene merit award and $23,300 in cash and prizes.

Putaruru contract milkers Steve Gillies and Amy Johnson, both aged 31 years, placed third in the competition, winning $13,000 in prizes. The couple also the Federated Farmers Leadership merit award.  The judges noted their financial and analytical strengths and that they had outstanding community involvement.

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, DairyNZ, DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra Farm Source, Honda Motorcycles, LIC, Meridian Energy and Ravensdown, along with industry partner PrimaryITO.

Dairy Manager head judge Mary Craw, from Marton, says the 2018 Dairy Manager winner targets excellence in everything he is involved with.

“He has great experience as a manger of people, and a great passion for working with people in a large team environment,” she says.

‘Excellent attention-to-detail and an all-rounder’ is how judges described the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year, Gerard Boerjan. “He takes a systems approach to the way he manages the farm, he has good systems in place to ensure nothing gets through the gaps,” says judge Mark Shadwick from DairyNZ. “Everything is well documented, he covers health and safety to an exceptional level and his financial understanding is of the highest calibre.”

Gerard, aged 50 years, has successfully farmed in Portugal and Brazil and is currently Farm Manager for Trevor Hamilton on his 553ha Takapau property.  He won $22,600 in cash and prizes.  Gerard also won the DairyNZ Employee Engagement and the Westpac Financial Management and Planning merit awards.

“Gerard is a stand-alone manager and he doesn’t just assume things are getting done, he closely monitors things.  He regularly reviews the information he gets against on-farm targets,” says judge Dave Hutchison from Westpac.  “He’s always monitoring multiple systems to report back to the farm owners, and has good procedures in place to do so.

“Gerard possesses the ability to manage a large, complex business with an absentee owner.  Every detail of the farm is closely monitored, but there’s a real human touch to it.

“He really cares about his staff, he cares about the people, the environment, his cows, what he grows and how he grows it, but he also understands very clearly that it’s a business he is running and he showed us that.”

“Gerard and his partner Marlene are a strong team and she supports him completely,” says Mary.  “He has consciously chosen to pursue a career long-term in management, rather than farm ownership or contract milking.”

“Gerard is very logical and intelligent person, who considers his answers and has a systematic yet adaptable approach to everything he does. He has a fantastic relationship with the farm owners, and keeps the farm and houses in immaculate condition.”

The judges say Gerard is an excellent example of understated confidence. “He’s experienced, yet humble.  He has a great team approach, even texting his staff to ensure they get home safely every night.”

The Dairy Managerjudges were impressed by the calibre of the finalists and by what they were achieving at a young age.  “The standard was phenomenal,” they agreed.

The Dairy Manager runner-up, Will Green from Canterbury, aged 32 years, also won the Ravensdown Feed Management Award.  Will is the farm manager for Kieran and Leonie Guiney on their 240ha, 830-cow farm at Fairlie and won $11,300 in prizes. The judges noted that he is an extremely focused manager with a real emphasis on his team, and has a philosophy of efficient milk production within the system he works, which he adheres to.

Southlander Jaime McCrostie, aged 32, was placed third and won $5500 in prizes and the PrimaryITO Power Play merit award.  Jaime is the Farm Manager for her employer Steve Smith and farm owners AB Lime on the 370ha, 930-cow farm at Winton. The judges describe Jaime as a ‘machine’, who is extremely capable, energetic, focused and operates great systems on-farm.  Her excellent use of technology was commended.

The 2018 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year, Simone Smail, presented herself very well, was at ease in the environment and gave considered, accurate answers. She has a quiet confidence and is sincere, says Dairy Trainee head judge Chris Withy from Southland.

“She is an excellent example of someone who hasn’t grown up in a farming environment, but has developed an obvious love of the land and of the stock that she works with.”

“Simone is an example that anyone can go dairying and succeed if they work hard.”

Judge Tony Finch, from DairyNZ, says Simone is considerate and genuine who is thoughtful of other people’s opinions. “She has mana, coupled with a bubbly personality and a mature approach. As judges, it’s fantastic to see young people like her.”

“One thing that is very clear is that this competition challenges the entrants with their own goals and abilities, and after reflection they realise they can achieve even more.  It has given them great confidence and self-belief. There wasn’t much between the top four, it was very close.”

Simone, aged 24 years, won $10,600 in prizes and the DeLaval Communication and Engagement Award and is herd Manager on an Invercargill City Council farm, working for Steve and Tracy Henderson on the 780-cow, 310ha property at Invercargill. 

It was while she was studying for her Certificate in Veterinary Nursing that she discovered her passion for working with cows.  Simone entered the awards to meet like-minded people who are passionate and want to progress in the industry.

The Dairy Trainee runner-up, Donna McKinley, also won the Best Video Award presented by Streamliner.  Donna is 2IC for Davison Trust Partnership milking 330 cows on a Central Plateau 116ha farm. The judges noted she was a confident person who sets goals, puts a plan together, then achieves those goals.  She’s a very determined person.  Donna won $6000 in prizes.

Third placegetter Quinn Youngman, 21 years, works on David Dean’s 245ha, 600-cow farm in Mercer, He was was inspired by his Grandma to look at the dairy industry as his career.  The judges described him as the quintessential young farmer who was a quiet achiever.  He won $3000 in cash and prizes.

Visit www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz for more information on the awards and winners.

Full Results:

2018 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year:

• Winner – Daniel and Gina Duncan, Northland
• Runner-up – Chris and Sally Guy, Auckland-Hauraki
• Third – Steve Gillies and Amy Johnson, Waikato
• DairyNZ Human Resources Award – Simon and Hilary Vallely
• Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Chris and Sally Guy
• Federated Farmers Leadership Award – Steve Gillies and Amy Johnson
• Honda Farm Safety and Health Award – Tim and Melissa Parsons
• LIC Recording and Productivity Award – Richard and Wendy Ridd
• Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award – Thomas and Jennifer Read
• PrimaryITO Interview Award – Daniel and Gina Duncan
• Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Daniel and Gina Duncan
• Westpac Business Performance Award – Daniel and Gina Duncan

2018 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year:

• Winner – Gerard Boerjan, Hawkes Bay-Wairarapa
• Runner-up – Will Green, Canterbury-North Otago
• Third – Jaime McCrostie, Southland
• DairyNZ Employee Engagement Award – Gerard Boerjan
• DeLaval Livestock Management Award – Colin Tremain
• Fonterra Farm Source Dairy Management Award – Anthony Lamborn
• LIC Interview Award – Anthony Lamborn
• Meridan Energy Leadership Award – Sam Moscrip
• PrimaryITO Power Play Award – Jaime McCrostie
• Ravensdown Feed Management Award – Will Green
• Westpac Financial Management & Planning Award – Gerard Boerjan

2018 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year:

• Winner – Simone Smail, Southland-Otago
• Runner-up – Donna McKinley, Central Plateau 
• Third – Quinn Youngman, Auckland-Hauraki
• DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Andrew Trolove
• DeLaval Communication and Engagement Award – Simone Smail
• Best Video Award presented by Streamliner – Donna McKinley


Rural round-up

February 11, 2018

Pest eradication has more birds singing – Kerrie Waterworth:

A four-year plan to trap stoats, rats, possums and weasels in the Matukituki Valley, near Wanaka, is music to the ears, writes Kerrie Waterworth.

This summer, for the first time in years, tourist jet-boat operators report hearing birds in the forests of the Matukituki Valley between Lake Wanaka and Mt Aspiring.

Wanaka-based River Journeys guide James Blunt has been taking tourists up the Matukituki River for six years and said he had really started noticing the birdsong since October.

“We’ve gone from long periods of nothing to now getting four to six species of birds most trips.” . . 

Environmental concerns prompt changes – Pam Tipa:

Concerns about the sensitive environment of the Kaipara Harbour prompted the top-performing drystock unit Te Opu to transition from sheep and beef breeding to a successful unit finishing bulls and lambs.

This gave the farm the flexibility needed to respond to the sensitive environmental challenges of its location on the Kaipara Harbour shores.

The farm is now a three year Beef + Lamb NZ environmental focus farm sponsored from several sources. . .

Fish farms get pollution blame – Tim Fulton:

Fish farming in Mackenzie Basin hydro canals is feeding worms usually found in sewage, aquatic expert Rowan Wells says.

Wells, a NIWA freshwater botanist, monitored the health of the glacier-fed water and said the ecosystem in the waterways around the area’s salmon farms was clearly degraded.

NIWA was reporting to Meridian Energy on algae and periphyton and fungal bacterial matter coating rocks and plants. . . 

First up best dressed – Mark Daniel:

The rising fortunes of global farming are raising the demand for European-made tackle, which might signal supply problems for Kiwi farmers and contractors looking to hit the new season with new toys.

Several importers and distributors — including Origin Agroup that imports Pottinger, Joskin and Alpego, and Power Farming Wholesale that imports and distribute McHale, Kverneland and Maschio – are advising early ordering to guarantee delivery by late August.

“European manufacturers were predicting a 3% rise in volumes for the 2018 season after a couple of stagnant years,” David Donnelly, managing director of Origin Agroup told Rural News. . .

Dual meat-Wool sheep sell well – Alan Williams:

Good prices were secured across the board at the annual Rollesby Valley onfarm lamb sales on Thursday with halfbreds especially in strong demand for their dual wool and meat income.

About 20,000 lambs from 12 vendors were sold across nine properties in the wider Burkes Pass area of inland South Canterbury.

Most were store lambs but a good number of primes sold well for processing,with a top price of $160 and the better types trading up from about $130. The second cut of primes sold at $120 to $129, PGG Wrightson’s South Canterbury livestock manager Joe Higgins said. . .


Rural round-up

July 26, 2017

Battle wounds and wisdom shared through Dairy Connect:

Seeking guidance from other farmers has helped Chloe and Matt Walker make the switch from city living to dairy farming – a move that came sooner than expected.

Back in 2012, Chloe and Matt were running start-up companies in Wellington and considering a move to Matt’s parents’ dairy farm near Taupo. However, after getting married in February 2013 and a change in the dynamics of their respective start-ups, they decided to take the plunge earlier than planned.

The Walkers left their city jobs and started afresh on the 133ha farm four seasons ago, with Matt taking up a role as farm manager. They had little on-farm experience but were quick to apply what they had learned in city jobs to their new careers. . . 

Deluge misses southern hydro lakes – Pattrick Smellie:

(BusinessDesk) – Last weekend may have been Oamaru’s wettest since daily rainfall records began in 1950, but the deluge that hit eastern coastal parts of the South Island over the weekend all but missed the southern hydro lakes, which remain at critically low levels for the time of year.

The managers of the southern catchments, Meridian Energy, Contact Energy and Genesis Energy, all reported either little or no additional rainfall, although national grid operator Transpower said lake levels now sit at 62 percent of the national average level for this time of year, compared with 58 percent before the weekend.

A Meridian Energy spokeswoman said the weekend weather “did not bring inflows  . . 

Otago $9m irrigation scheme given green light:

A new irrigation scheme in Otago will help transform dry, wasted land into productive land full of cherry trees and vineyards, the company behind it says.

But it comes at a time when questions have been raised about the sustainability of irrigation schemes in the region, in the face of expiring permits.

The $9 million Dairy Creek Irrigation Scheme, which will cover 1500 hectares of land in the Clutha catchment, has been given the green light. . . 

Blockchain the transformer – Eye2theLongRun:

Do yourself a favour and read this to “get it” about blockchain and why it matters… or try to make time stand still.

This from Kevin Cooney – ASB’s National Manager Rural:

It’s vital that New Zealand’s agri industry pays close attention to blockchain development and ensures we are well positioned to capture our share of new value this technology could unlock.

Mention blockchain and agriculture in the same breath, and the image of a heavy duty chain towing one farm vehicle behind another pops into my mind.

Turns out, that’s a handy analogy. Like a physical chain, blockchain connects parties directly with one another to enable fast, secure, and borderless transactions. . . 

‘Get on and do it’ culture contributing to farm accidents – Andrew McRae:

The high injury rate among farm workers has prompted a call for them to be more involved in health and safety decisions on the farm.

WorkSafe New Zealand’s farm sector analysis of injuries between April 2012 and March 2015 shows that for every 1000 employees, 20 suffered an injury requiring more than a week off.

For every 1000 employees in dairying 28 were injured, compared with 18 in sheep and beef, and 30 per 1000 in the shearing industry.

The sector leader for WorkSafe, Al McCone, said the figures were a result of the culture that has crept into the agricultural sector. . . 

New Zealand vanilla producer ensures steady supply in volatile market:

Soaring prices worldwide for vanilla beans have prompted New Zealand vanilla grower and manufacturer, Heilala Vanilla, to launch a new product to shield its customers from market volatility.

For the second year in a row, international prices have skyrocketed as demand outstrips supply. Spice traders predict the current market turmoil will continue into 2018. . . 


Rural round-up

September 23, 2015

Drought breaks in Cheviot North Canterbury – Jeff Hampton:

 Much-needed rain fell in parched parts of north Canterbury today, raising farmers’ hopes that the serious drought they’re battling may be about to end.

It’s vital for farmers in an area of north Canterbury near Cheviot to get decent rainfall if their spring grass is to grow.

Farmer Louisa McClintock is never happier when there’s a bit of rain, after her district has been in drought all year. . . 

[I think that headline is more than a little optimistic. The rain will have been very welcome but it takes more than an inch or so of rain to break a drought].

Farmers suffer in drought-stricken corner of North Canterbury – Michael Wright:

Dan Hodgen must think the weather gods are against him.

The Hawarden farmer received “about one millimetre” of rain on his drought-stricken north Canterbury property at the weekend, despite solid falls being predicted.

“I’ve given up on trusting the forecast,” he said. . . 

Hard working couple take on velvet challenge – Kate Taylor:

In just seven years, Josh and Penny Buckman have graduated university and built up enough capital to buy 82 hectares near Hastings and a deer velvet business, not to mention starting a family.

They are busy people who wouldn’t have it any other way and are proud of their achievements so far.

“Josh is always up at midnight… thinking, planning. He’s an ideas man. He’s always working through ideas and scenarios and things we can do,” Penny says.

She is in charge of the daily running of Gevir Premium Deer Velvet, which they bought from another Hawke’s Bay couple earlier this year. She is also in charge of three-year-old George, 3, and 11-month-old Anna-Louise. Josh works on contract for Marsh corporate and business insurance and oversees the farm and a nearby lease block. The couple also have shares in other businesses. . . 

Saying goodbye to dirty dairy farming –  Lachlan Forsyth:

How do you achieve the balance between keeping a farm economical, and keeping the environment healthy? Is it actually doable?

Dairy has had many decades of being very good on the economics and not so good on the environment, and now there is a huge amount of pressure to ensure that changes.

Story visited one award-winning Waikato farm to see what’s being done to clean up dairy’s act. . . 

Key defends AgResearch cuts:

Prime Minister John Key is defending the government’s attitude to research and development amid reports that AgResearch intends laying off science staff.

Waikato University agribusiness professor Jacqueline Rowarth says she’s been told the cuts could involve 20 percent of the 500 or so research staff.

Prof Rowarth says she was originally told 82 staff were being laid off but the number had shifted to between 80 and 100.

Former AgResearch scientist Doug Edmeades says he’s been told by a staff member redundancies will be announced on Thursday, and the cuts are due to a drop in funding. . . .

New plant-based milk product under development:

The milk company, Miraka, is working with science and research organisations to create a new UHT milk product using plant-based protein.

Taupo-based Miraka is a predominately Māori-owned company that manufactures milk powder and UHT milk products for export to 23 countries in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, the Pacific, and Latin America.

It’s been awarded government funding to work with AgResearch and Plant and Food to develop dairy-based UHT milk products which contain plant or vegetable materials.

Chief executive Richard Wyeth said the scope is broad at this stage, but he wouldn’t be drawn on the ideas that are being thrown around. . . 

Farmers told to limit palm kernel feed:

Fonterra is encouraging farmers to limit the amount of palm kernel extract (PKE) they use as a supplementary feed for dairy cows.

The co-operative is recommending its suppliers feed a maximum of 3 kgs per cow per day.

Farm advisers spoken to by Radio New Zealand said some farmers were currently feeding out 6 to 9 kgs per cow per day, particularly during dry periods. . .

Delaval Backs NZ Dairy Awards:

Global dairy equipment market leader DeLaval has joined the family of national sponsors backing the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

Preparations for the 2016 awards programme are being finalised this week, as organisers and sponsors meet in Rotorua to confirm final details.

DeLaval representatives will take their place at the table, alongside representatives from Westpac, DairyNZ, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra Farm Source, Honda Motorcycles, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown, and Primary ITO.

Chair Gavin Roden says the awards continue to attract strong support from the country’s leading dairy industry players. . . .

Reporoa feed company taking on the world:

After exporting its equine feed products into Asia for many years, Reporoa-based company Fiber Fresh has also now launched its calf feed products into the international marketplace.

Fiber Fresh is New Zealand’s largest animal nutrition export company, specialising in high nutritional equine and calf feed products. It celebrated 30 years in business earlier this year.

The company’s launch into the calf feed market in Japan also includes a research partnership with the school of veterinary medicine at Rakuno Gakuen University in Hokkaido.

Fiber Fresh founding director Michael Bell says launching into the Japanese calf market is a milestone for the company. . . 

Paula Nickel's photo.


Three more years

August 3, 2015

Tiwai Point smelter will stay open for at least another three years:

The Tiwai Point aluminium smelter will stay open until at least 2018, with a new agreement reached between owner New Zealand Aluminium Smelters (NZAS) and electricity suppliers Meridian and Contact.

The revised contract will see 572MW of energy supplied to the smelter until 2030, with NZAS able to reduce the load or terminate the deal altogether from 2018, depending on market conditions.

“We have crossed a hurdle today and now have more certainty about our immediate future,” says NZAS chief executive Gretta Stephens.

“The agreement provides short-term security for the smelter and allows time for market fundamentals to improve.” . . .

Aluminium is a commodity and like many others, including dairy produce, it is in the midst of a downturn.

The announcement the smelter will stay open will be a relief to the hundreds of people working there, the businesses which service and supply it and the wider Southland economy.

It is probably good news for Meridian and Contact shareholders too. Even though the smelter gets power at a discounted price, losing such a big customer would have hurt the companies, though it might have meant lower power prices for the rest of us.


Market backs voters

September 22, 2014

The share market reacted positively to the election result:

New Zealand shares jumped, led by MightyRiverPower, after the National Party’s convincing election victory on the weekend wiped out any regulatory fears for the power companies. Meridian Energy, Genesis Energy and Contact Energy paced gains.

The NZX 50 Index advanced 54.947 points, or 1.1 percent, to 5236.292. Within the index, 27 stocks rose, 13 fell and 10 were unchanged. Turnover was $144.2 million. . . .

“The market is buoyant and led by the power companies, which is not a surprise, given the regulatory risk declined with the National party coming into power again,” said Shane Solly, director at Harbour Asset Management. The return of the National government means a” a consistent framework and more of the same” giving the market certainty.  . .

The market likes certainty.

Business does too and it’s good not just for businesses but the jobs which depend on them.


Rural round-up

August 20, 2014

Waitaki River group objects to planned changes:

The Canterbury Regional Council is promoting changes to give growers and Meridian Energy, which runs the Waitaki hydro-power scheme, certainty of water supply.

But a Waitaki River users group says a deal to drop the river’s minimum flow would badly harm an already sick river.

The Canterbury Regional Council is promoting changes to give growers and Meridian Energy, which runs the Waitaki hydro-power scheme, certainty of water supply.

The plan includes a cut to the minimum flow by a third during a dry spell. . . .

Shark finning to be banned from 1 October:

A ban on the finning of all shark species within New Zealand waters will take effect from 1 October this year, Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy announced today.

“Implementing this ban has happened much faster than originally proposed. It reinforces New Zealand’s strong international reputation for sustainability and protecting our natural environment,” Dr Smith says.

The Ministers released a revised National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (NPOA-Sharks) earlier this year, which included a commitment to phase in the ban on shark finning in New Zealand by October 2016 at the latest. A first tranche of shark species was to be covered by the ban from 1 October 2014, a second tranche from 1 October 2015, and only the highly migratory blue sharks was to be left until 1 October 2016. . . .

Botulism scare prompts diary working group:

Last year’s botulism scare has prompted the creation of a new working group in the dairy processing sector.

It was one of the recommendations of the independent Government inquiry into the whey protein concentrate contamination, which sent shock waves through New Zealand’s dairy industry.

The inquiry highlighted a shortage of experienced people with processing expertise and so the group has been set up to fix that.

The working group will be chaired by Northland dairy farmer and former Fonterra board director, Greg Gent, who said it was an exciting project. . .

NZ software could scupper mouse outbreaks:

A New Zealand-designed software system designed to predict and tackle mouse outbreaks is being trialled in Australia.

MouseAlert is an interactive website which uses mapping technology to enable arable crop growers to record and view mouse activity in their local area in real time.

Landcare Research has been providing the expertise on building this information into computer models which can then forecast plagues of mice. . .

Farmers welcome GlobalDairyTrade stabilisation:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see stabilisation in the latest benchmark GlobalDairyTrade (GDT) online auction result but warns price volatility will likely continue until well into the last quarter.

“It is great to see GDT average still in the US$3,000 a metric ton range but that slight 0.6 percent fall means we are on exactly US$3,000,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Vice-Chairperson.

“It seems to underscore how similar this season is to 2012/13. At a similar point two seasons ago, the average winning price was just US$54 more except it had come up from the high 2,000’s.

“But before anyone traipses back to the beginning of the year to make a more dramatic story, any price before 1 June is completely irrelevant when you are talking about this 2014/15 season. . .

 

China dangerous market reliance or exciting market growth? – Andrew Watters:

The economic growth of China over the past four years has resulted in huge demand for New Zealand dairy and meat products; lifted our terms of trade to historical highs and provided a major fillip to agriculture and the wider NZ economy.

However the somewhat dramatic slide in global dairy prices since their peak in midFebruary has the appearance of China exiting the market causing demand to stall.

It has prompted several commentators to ponder whether exciting market growth has become market over-reliance.

At MyFarm we see ‘China growth’ as a major boost to farming industry returns – one that will have a profound affect for the next two decades. . .

 

Informercials used to sell NZ meat in China – Dave Gooselink:

TV shopping shows and infomercials have become a popular way of selling everything from exercise equipment to kitchen and beauty accessories. But one New Zealand company has struck gold in China with a very surprising product – packaged meat.

It’s home shopping as most Kiwis will be familiar with, but the Chinese shopping show is selling something a little unusual – prime cuts of New Zealand beef and lamb.

Most of us Kiwis, we’d never think about buying our lamb or beef on a TV shopping channel,” says Silver Fern Farms head of sales Grant Howie. “But in a 30-minute slot earlier this year, we sold 12.5 tonnes of our beef.” . .  .

Minister approves Marlborough coastal plan changes:

Plan changes to enable three new salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds were signed off today by Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith at a function at the Marlborough District Council with Mayor Alistair Sowman and representatives from NZ King Salmon.

“These three new salmon farms at Waitata and Richmond in Pelorus Sound and Ngamahau in Tory Chanel are hugely important to Nelson and Marlborough’s aquaculture industry and wider economy. They will enable NZ King Salmon to grow its products from the current 6000 tonnes per year to 9000 tonnes per year in 2015 and 13,000 tonnes per year by 2033. These new farms will grow our GDP by $120 million per year, our exports by $50 million and employment by 150 new jobs,” Dr Smith says.

“I am well satisfied that our region can maintain the conservation and recreation benefits of Marlborough Sounds while enabling the growth of the aquaculture industry. These three farms will take up only about five hectares of surface water space out of a total area of over 100,000 hectares in the Sounds, or less than 0.01 per cent.” . .

The forest safety battle is not yet won

Point scoring in the media will not make our forests safer places to work, says the Forest Owners Association.

“The unions are claiming credit for a sudden reduction in the fatality and serious accident rate and Worksafe NZ is slamming us for a lack of safety leadership. These comments are unbalanced and unhelpful,” says association president Paul Nicholls.

“Political posturing and blaming others won’t save workers lives. To transform the industry’s safety culture, participants will need to acknowledge their past shortcomings and to share experiences and knowledge. They are less likely to be open to this if they are being publicly pilloried.” . .

Implementing Reform:

The sweeping reforms to the ways water is managed, as recommended by the Land and Water Forum two years ago, are now beginning to be implemented. The final shape and rate of reform will be very dependent on what government is elected in a few weeks. Therefore this is a particularly apt event looking at policy reforms that could reshape the way we manage and think about water.

“Implementing Reform” is the theme of the Water NZ annual conference being held at Hamilton’s Claudelands convention centre in the final week of the election campaign – 17 – 19 September.

Water reforms already implemented in Australia will be discussed in the first two sessions of the conference starting at 9.40 am on Wednesday 17. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

July 4, 2014

Red Meat Profit Partnership tries to answer crucial question – Allan Barber:

Analysis of the objectives and methodology of the RMPP suggests the programme has highlighted the most important issue facing the red meat sector. Briefly stated, it is to work out why there is still such a significant gap between the top farmers and those in the middle of the pack and to lift the average closer to the top performers.

When the Red Meat Sector Strategy identified behind the farm gate specifically as a major area of potential improvement, there was much mumbling about why the industry structure wasn’t being more usefully exposed as the area most in need of improvement. But figures released by the B+LNZ Economic Service show this isn’t the case. . .

 Out of cow muck comes magic – Emma Rawson:

Although it has grizzly beginnings in the blood and gore of the meatworks, there is a fairytale element to the story of biomaterials company Southern Lights.

A little like the Brothers Grimm’s goblin Rumpelstiltskin, who spun straw into gold, the Napier company transforms cow byproducts which would otherwise be destined for pet food and fertiliser into extremely lucrative Type 1 polymeric collagen.

At about $50,000 a kilogram it is no exaggeration to say the polymeric collagen is worth its weight in gold – only a few thousand shy of the price of bullion. . .

Award for science professor:

Lincoln University plant science professor Derrick Moot has won an award recognising the successful application of research or experience to an aspect of animal production.

Prof Moot was presented with the New Zealand Society of Animal Production’s Sir Arthur Ward Award at the society’s 74th annual conference on Tuesday night.

Prof Moot has been identifying plant pasture species which will survive and thrive on the dry East Coast, and developing ways to incorporate them into mostly sheep and beef farming systems – but also some dairying ones.

Lucerne ticked most of the boxes as it was a legume which fixed nitrogen from the atmosphere, was high in protein and energy and also had a deeper rooting system than other pastures, he said. . .

Filthy pigs? Not on our patch … – Sue O’Dowd:

The proud co-owner of a Taranaki piggery is so confident about its cleanliness that he sometimes walks around in it in his socks.

Ron Stanley, of Oaonui, is frustrated at this week’s television portrayal of a Canterbury piggery. Filmed earlier this year, the footage showed squalid conditions, severe overcrowding, and suffering animals.

The Stanley Piggery co-owner found the footage disturbing.

“That’s not the way we keep our animals,” he said. “I always say if I can’t come over to the piggery in my socks on a dry day, then there’s a problem. . .

Farm buildings to be exempt from assessment:

Farm buildings are to be exempt from the requirements for assessments under the Government’s earthquake-prone buildings policy, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy announced today.

“The Government is not satisfied that the risks posed by farm buildings justify the cost of every building being assessed. These buildings have a low occupancy rate and there is no record of a fatality caused by a farm building collapsing in an earthquake,” Dr Smith says.

The Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill requires all buildings to be assessed in the next five years and for those under 34 per cent of the building standard to be upgraded within a period of 15 years, with a further 10-year extension available for heritage buildings. The Bill currently excludes residential buildings except those that are multi-storey and contain more than two homes. . .

Farmers welcome windfall from wind farms – Gerard Hutching:

Wind turbines west of Wellington are not only changing the landscape, they are also transforming landowners’ bank balances.

“They’re music to my ears, actually,” says Ohariu Valley sheep and beef farmer Gavin Bruce, who has a 440-hectare property with eight turbines.

All told there are 88 turbines on two Meridian Energy wind farms: 62 on the West Wind farm, situated on both Meridian’s own property as well as on Terawhiti Station, south of Makara; and 26 on the Mill Creek wind farm on four properties in the Ohariu Valley. . .

Driving safety home to farmers:

Rural retailers are backing government’s safety message to farmers.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), in partnership with Agcarm and WorkSafe New Zealand, is launching a campaign to increase awareness about the importance of wearing the right safety gear when using farm chemicals.

The campaign directly addresses the “she’ll be right” attitude toward using safety gear.

Agcarm distributor members across New Zealand will display posters and distribute flyers with practical tips about safety gear. . .

US Company churns out cloned cows

In the meadow, four white-haired Shorthorn heifers peel off from the others, raising their heads at the same time in the same direction. Unsettling, when you know they are clones.

From their ears dangle yellow tags marked with the same number: 434P. Only the numbers that follow are different: 2, 3, 4 and 6.

The tag also bears the name of the company that bred them and is holding them temporarily in a field at its headquarters in Sioux Centre, Iowa: Trans Ova Genetics, the only large US company selling cloned cows.

A few miles away, four Trans Ova scientists in white lab jackets bend over high-tech microscopes in the company’s laboratories. They are meticulously working with the minute elements of life to create, in Petri dishes, genetically identical copies of existing animals. . . .

You Won’t Believe What This Guy Did With Old Farm Scrap Metal. Seriously, WOW:

Farmers of South Dakota, if you see John Lopez going through your garbage, please let him continue to do so. In his hands, what was unfixable or unwanted to you becomes art. Not just any art, though. Big, striking sculptures that celebrate the American Old West. The kind of stuff you’d probably like! At the very least, you’ll be impressed by his work. Who wouldn’t be? . . .


Rural round-up

June 6, 2014

Milk production hits record levels – Gerard Hutching:

Chasing higher prices, dairy farmers have produced a record 1.8 billion kilograms of milksolids in 2013-14, a 160 million kg hike over the year before, the latest economic update from the ASB reports.

“Of the 10 per cent increase, 7.5 per cent comes from Fonterra’s farmers, with other companies lifting it to the 10 per cent,” economist Nathan Penny said.

He said that the increase was not just a response to higher prices, but farmers had also bounced back from the drought of 2012-13.

“But you don’t get a rebound from the drought two years in a row, it’s harder to get a big jump again,” Penny said. . .

Industry champion rendered speechless – Annette Scott:

Being named the winner of this year’s Deer Industry Award came as a bit of a shock for Paddy Boyd, who admits he was lost for words. He talked to Annette Scott.

When Mackenzie farmer and Haldon Station manager Paddy Boyd was named winner of this year’s Deer Industry Award he was lost for words.

The announcement at the industry conference in Methven came as a surprise for Boyd, who said he was usually able to string a few words together as a voice for deer producers. . .

Flock House farm to be jointly run:

A Rangitikei based iwi, a Maori incorporation and local Pakeha farmers will be working together to run the historic Flock House farm near Bulls.

AgResearch has completed the sale of its Flock House farm to Nga Waiariki-Ngati Apa for an undisclosed sum.

The farm was brought by Te Runanga o Ngati Apa, in partnership with Atihau-Whanganui Incorporation and Waitatapia Station Limited, and farming will be carried out by Te Hou Farms Limited Partnership. . .

$7m to assess irrigation viability in South Canterbury:

A new funding agreement will investigate the viability of the Hunter Downs irrigation scheme for up to 40,000 ha in South Canterbury, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

‘The Government’s Irrigation Acceleration Fund will provide $7.044 million over two years to co-fund technical investigations and design work to determine if an irrigation scheme is viable, both from a technical and economic perspective,’ says Mr Guy.

‘This will be matched by funds from shareholder equity and the scheme’s partner, Meridian Energy. . .

Green Ribbon Award finalists announced:

To mark World Environment Day, Environment Minister Amy Adams has today announced the finalists for the 2014 Green Ribbon Awards, which honour outstanding contributions to protecting New Zealand’s environment.

“Over the 24 years of the Green Ribbon Awards, more than 150 environmental champions have been recognised for their initiative, commitment and dedication to tackling environmental issues,” Ms Adams says.

“For this year’s awards, 113 nominations were received across 12 categories. The finalists come from a range of backgrounds and the work they do is challenging, time-consuming and sometimes unrewarded. . . .

Federated Farmers @ Fieldays 2014:

Federated Farmers has not only uprated its 2014 Fieldays presence with a site in the feature pavilion but will hold the final meeting of its current Board in Hamilton ahead of Fieldays.

“Federated Farmers will make Hamilton, or should I say, Megatron, as its base for Fieldays week,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President, who retires from the role in July.

“As this is my final Fieldays as National President, I am pleased to say we are making our largest ever investment into our Fieldays site.  . . .

Drinking water from poo nearly ready for market:

A technology for extracting drinkable water from manure is on its way to commercial application this year, a US university said today. The technology is particularly useful for animal operations in dry regions where water is at a premium, according to Michigan State University.

The McLanahan Nutrient Separation System is an add-on to an anaerobic digester, which extracts energy and chemicals from manure. The system adds ultrafiltration, air stripping and a reverse osmosis system to produce water that’s clean enough for cattle to drink. . .

 


No change good, change bad

March 19, 2014

Share market investors put their money on yesterday’s poll results:

The NZX 50 Index rose to a new record, following a global rally, paced by power companies after recent political polls put the government ahead, helping dispel fears the opposition parties will be able to overhaul the electricity sector. MightyRiverPower, Meridian Energy and Contact Energy rose.

The benchmark index rose 47.638 points, or 0.9 percent, to 5135.664. Within the index, 27 stocks rose, 12 fell and 11 were unchanged. Turnover was $167 million.

Better than expected US industrial production figures kicked off a global rally in equity markets which carried on into Asia. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.5 percent in afternoon trading, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index advanced 1.4 percent and Australia’s S&P/ASX was up 0.5 percent.

Power companies paced today’s gains after a New Zealand Herald’s DigiPoll survey put the governing National Party at 50.8 percent support ahead of the September election. Labour, the main opposition party, garnered 29.5 percent. A key election policy of the opposition parties is to regulate the electricity market, creating a single state-owned wholesale electricity buyer. . .

“The electricity sector is up, and I’m going to put it down to the Herald DigiPoll results which were published, because they’re up across the board,” said Greg Easton, investment adviser at Craigs Investment Partners. “If there is no change in government, then that sector could really outperform after the election.” . . .

If no change in government good the obvious implication is that a change of government would be bad – and not just for energy companies and the stock market.


LabGreen power play threatens renewable energy

February 14, 2014

There’s another flaw in the LabourGreen power play  – it would threaten investment in renewable energy:

Labour and the Greens have jointly proposed scrapping the wholesale energy market in favour of a single state-operated buyer of electricity, called NZ Power, claiming the move would save hundreds of millions of dollars on consumer power bills.

Today Mark Binns, chief executive of Meridian Energy, told the commerce select committee that while a lack of detail meant it was hard to properly analyse the plan, Meridian believed it would favour thermal generation over renewable plants such as wind farms.

“Our view is it would potentially impact on renewables because it would make thermals, particularly gas plants – which are easier to consent and easier to put in place quickly – more viable in that environment,” Binns told MPs..

“If you have a central buyer, the Crown has the responsibility for deciding the next wind farm or other power that is required, and wind farms take between five and 10 years to consent.

“Why would we keep investing in developing renewable options, given the uncertainty around central buyer?

“The reality is it’s much easier for someone like Todd Energy to basically get a piece of land with gas to the front door, and strap on a jet engine to a lump of concrete and generate electricity.” . . .

Questions over the economic credibility of Labour and Green policies aren’t new but there’s more than a little irony in this very serious question over the environmental impact their power play would have.


Labour will meddle in power market

January 17, 2014

Labour is planning to follow through on its policy to meddle in the power market if it is in government:

. . . Labour and the Greens unveiled plans to overhaul New Zealand’s electricity market on the eve of the government’s MightyRiverPower selldown last year. The operator of nine hydro stations on the Waikato River has traded below its $2.50 IPO price since just after the sale last May.  Meridian Energy, sold in October, is hovering around its listing price.

The opposition parties want to create a single, state-owned power buyer and a restructured pricing model, to eliminate excessive power company profits and pass savings onto consumers through cheaper electricity prices.

“A wise investor will be aware if the pricing model changes, in this case to stop the profiteering of public rivers, that will change the companies’ profits,” Parker, who would be finance minister in a Labour government, told BusinessDesk.

“Investors are already discounting those stocks because of what might happen if we win,” he said. “It’s actually a good example of how the market works.” . . .

If they can reduce the value of companies and the wealth of investors this much when they’re in opposition, they will do much worse in government.

Investors have already assessed the threat. The New Zealand stock exchange energy group index, which includes all listed power companies along with Z Energy and NZ Refining, has dropped 9.6 percent in the past 12 months, while the NZX 50 Index has rallied about 17 percent.

“Some people just won’t touch them because they are scared of a Labour-Greens government,” said Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners. “Others say because they’re dirt cheap people are pessimistic. If National got re-elected they’d go up again.”

A potential change of government may pose risks to other sectors as well, he said.

“Regulatory risk is weighing on those sectors which could be in for attention from a Labour government,” Lister said. “The market is aware of the sectors susceptible to regulation – SkyCity, the electricity sector and Chorus have a cloud hanging over them, which will continue to the election.” . . .

If there’s a Labour/Green/New Zealand Firs/Mana and whichever else party after the election that cloud will darken.


If question is wrong how can any answer be valid?

November 27, 2013

The question on the politicians’ initiated referendum asks: do you support the Government selling up to 49% of Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power, Genesis Power, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand.

Several people have pointed out that those who want more than 49% sold could vote no.

That would be taken as opposition to any sale when that’s the opposite of their view which favours total sales.

Then there’s the name of one of the companies – if Google is to be believed Genesis Energy is an SOE but I couldn’t find a Genesis Power.

There is another even more fundamental flaw in the question – the Government hasn’t sold and isn’t planning to sell up to 49% of Air New Zealand.

It didn’t own 100% of the shares in the first place and sold only 20% of the total, retaining 53%.

If the question is wrong, how can any answer be valid?


More warning on danger of LabourGreen power play

November 1, 2013

Meridian Energy’s partial float was given an initial thumbs up by analysts but they warn the share price is likely to be volatile heading into next year’s general election.

One fund manager said the difference in share price between Labour and National could be as much as 90 cents. . . 

Analysts agreed that day one of the float was successful and the closing share price was in line with expectations.

Devon Funds Management equity analyst Phillip Anderson said new investors would be pleased. “It’s enough for the new investors to be happy – they are feeling good about it – but not so much that it looks like the seller left a lot on the table.”

The general feeling among analysts was that institutions which had their share quotas scaled back had created strong demand for Meridian shares.

But the analysts warned that the general election could affect the share prices of both Meridian and Mighty River Power, which was partly privatised this year.

“My valuation for . . . [Meridian] as a whole is . . . around $1.10 if the Labour Party wins, but business as usual under National at around two bucks,” Anderson said. . .

That loss in value isn’t just for the wealthy for whom the left show no concern.

It is loss in value for ACC, Kiwi Saver accounts, the New Zealand Superfund, other pension and savings funds, and of course in the 51% of the company the state still owns.

The best way to keep the value up is to get National back into government.

The #gigatownoamaru campaign doesn’t hold political views.


Rural round-up

October 29, 2013

Futuristic drones to watch your sheep – Howard Keene:

Kiwi agriculture scholarship winner sees drones having a big potential in the industry.

Natasha King went overseas on a Nuffield Scholarship recently to primarily look for energy-generating solutions to New Zealand’s effluent disposal problems, but also became fascinated by some of the new technologies she came across.

“It wasn’t my area, but I became interested in it as a basic farmer from New Zealand,” Ms King, who is Meridian Energy’s national agribusiness manager based in Christchurch, said. . .

Steaks high in trans-Tasman Trans-Tasman beef battle – Jenna Lynch &  Elton Smallman:

The Kiwi and Aussie battle is heating up again, but there’s no sport in sight. This time it’s a battle of the beef.

Australian red meat is making its way across ditch and filling a gap in our supermarkets, as Kiwi beef farmers recover from last summer’s drought.

But how does the Aussie beef compare to a good homegrown Kiwi steak?

Well there’s only one way to find out: A blind taste test. . .

Lots of changes in industry, but basic principles remain the same – Yvonne OHara:

Winning the first and second Southland regional Sharemilker of the Year competitions and coming second by half a point in the national competition was memorable and disappointing for Karen Bellew and Stephen Malone.

The former Edendale 50/50 sharemilkers, who have since separated, won the inaugural regional competition in 1990 but it was held too late for them to compete in the national final.

However, they were allowed to enter the Southland event the following year and won again. . .

Lincoln University to apply expertise to restoration project:

International mining company Rio Tinto has confirmed that it will continue funding a major ecological restoration project currently underway at Punakaiki on the South Island’s West Coast.

The Punakaiki Coastal Restoration Project (PCRP) has been underway for five years and is part of a four-way partnership between Lincoln University, Rio Tinto, the Department for Conservation (DoC) and Conservation Volunteers New Zealand (CVNZ). Professor of Ecology, Nicholas Dickinson , and his colleagues in the Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences have been spear-heading the project for Lincoln University.

Rio Tinto has committed to another three years of funding the PCRP, which involves the restoration of a 70-hectare site that has been negatively impacted over the years through both mining and agriculture. The company originally bought the site to mine ilmenite (an oxide of titanium), but later gifted it to DoC. . . .

Tarras Water weighs options:

Tarras Water Ltd is still afloat, even if the company’s hopes for a dry shareholder have been sunk, director Peter Jolly says.

When contacted by Southern Rural Life last week, Mr Jolly said the company’s shareholders were looking at their options, including some which would not involve Tarras Water Ltd.

The company’s board was still meeting regularly and had a ”telephone link-up” about three weeks ago and an ”informal” meeting last week, he said.

However, the board had abandoned hope of a dry shareholder taking equity in the company, he said. . .

Council downsizes, reports increased event attendance  – Timothy Brown:

Beef and Lamb New Zealand’s Central South Island Council decided on a smaller council at its annual meeting in Cromwell last week, reducing the number of councillors from four to three.

South Canterbury farmer Andrew Fraser stepped down, and the three other councillors, Blair Smith, Ivan Geary and Robert Peacock were re-elected unopposed. . .

Council downsizes, reports increased event attendance


LabourGreen power policy already costly

October 24, 2013

Meridian shares will list at $1.50 which is at the bottom of the government’s indicative range and some of the blame for that can be laid on the threat of the LabourGreen power policy:

. . . Numerous factors combined to force down the price of Meridian shares. Chief among these were market fears that a Labour-Greens government, if elected next year, will gut electricity company profits to deliver large price cuts; and ongoing uncertainty about the long term future of the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter. . .

The Labour and Green parties have cost the country in opposition.

They’ll cost us all lots more if ever they get into government.


Postal referendum on partial floats

September 30, 2013

The government has taken the least expensive option for the referendum on the partial float of a few state owned assets.

The citizens initiated referendum on the Mixed Ownership Model will be held as a postal vote in November and December this year after a petition regarding the Mixed Ownership Model was signed by 10 per cent of eligible voters. 

The referendum will ask whether New Zealanders support the Government’s sale of up to 49 per cent of Meridian, Mighty River Power, Genesis Power, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand.

Justice Minister Judith Collins says the Government is required to hold the referendum by September 2014, which will be overseen by the Electoral Commission.

“We want to hold this referendum as soon as practicably possible and completing it before the traditional holiday period begins will help us get maximum voter participation,” Ms Collins says.

The voting period will open on Friday, 22 November and will close three weeks later on Friday, 13 December.

The referendum roll will close on Friday, 25 October, but voters will be able to enrol on the supplementary roll up until Thursday, 21 November.

The Electoral Commission has estimated the cost of the postal referendum at $9 million – including $2.85 million for public information and advertising.

The Commission is expected to deliver a preliminary result after voting closes and a final result will be delivered as soon as possible thereafter.

The result of the referendum is not binding on the Government.

This politicians’ initiated referendum is a very expensive publicity exercise for the opposition.

Grey Power, which initially fronted the petition, lost any credibility on the issue when it signed up to discounts for its members with a private company.

Meanwhile, the share offer for up to 49% of Meridian energy began this morning with strong demand.

The Prime Minister says there has already been “strong” early demand for Meridian Energy shares by retail investors, ahead of the offer opening today.

Close to half of the Meridian Energy share offer has been pre-committed to New Zealand retail investors after Kiwi sharebrokers were invited last week to submit bids for shares on behalf of interested clients. . .

The partial float will be done and dusted with the money banked before  the referendum begins.


Referendum even more redundant

September 17, 2013

Finance Minister Bill English and State Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall have announced the timetable for the partial float of Meridian Energy and Genesis Energy and further selling down of Air New Zealand shares.

The Government has confirmed New Zealanders will have the opportunity to invest in a minority shareholding in Meridian Energy from later this month, before an expected sharemarket listing on 29 October.

Full details will be set out when the offer document is lodged this Friday 20 September, Finance Minister Bill English and State-owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall say.

Pre-offer marketing will start this evening, ensuring New Zealanders are aware of the Meridian offer through television, newspaper and online advertising. This will explain how people can get more information, including ordering an offer document.

As with the Mighty River Power share offer earlier this year, New Zealanders will again be at the front of the queue for shares in Meridian, Mr English says.

“The Government was very clear about the opportunity for New Zealanders when we put our share offers programme to New Zealanders during the 2011 election campaign. The compelling reasons for proceeding with the share offers are as valid today.

“The Government share offer will enable New Zealanders to invest in big Kiwi companies at a time when they are telling us they want to diversify their growing savings away from property, bank deposits and finance companies.

“And we can invest the proceeds in other public assets like modern schools and hospitals, without having to borrow that money in volatile overseas markets, and increase debt.”

As Ministers have previously indicated, investors will buy Meridian shares in two instalments over 18 months. This means investors will need to pay only around 60 per cent of the price up front – but they will receive in full any dividends.

In addition, there will be a price cap for New Zealand retail applicants to provide more certainty about how much the shares will cost.

Mr English says further decisions have now been confirmed, including:

  • The Meridian offer document will be lodged this Friday 20 September, setting out all the information investors need to make an informed decision about whether to invest. This will include the price range, the price of the first instalment, the capped price of the second instalment and the expected yield.
  • After the offer document is lodged, the Financial Markets Authority has around five business days to review the document. This ‘consideration period’ is expected to conclude on 27 September.
  • New Zealanders will then have three weeks from 30 September to consider the offer document and apply for shares before the general offer closes on 18 October. This will be followed by a book-build process where institutions bid for shares.
  • It is expected that Meridian will list on the New Zealand and Australian sharemarkets on 29 October.

Mr Ryall says the offer process puts New Zealanders at the front of the queue for shares and will ensure they have easy access to information.

“To help achieve this, a retail syndicate will be marketing the offer to New Zealanders, and they will offer information and advice to their clients.

“In addition, we have included what is called a ‘broker firm’ aspect to the Meridian offer. Under this arrangement, brokers assess demand from their clients and submit bids, and the Government then chooses how much to allocate them.

“Just like the retail offer, this process is open only to New Zealanders and is consistent with our commitment to ensuring 85-90 per cent New Zealand ownership of the shares,” Mr Ryall says.

Ministers have also confirmed they are considering options for Genesis Energy and Air New Zealand – two of the other companies in the Government’s share offer programme.

“As the Prime Minister said last month, we anticipate that the Genesis Energy share offer will occur in the first half of 2014, subject to market conditions,” Mr Ryall says. “Preliminary work is underway and will continue over the next few months.”

The Air New Zealand share offer will be different to the others, as it is already a sharemarket-listed company.

“What that means is that New Zealanders can buy shares in the company now, if they wish,” Mr Ryall says.

“We are currently working through the best way the sell down can occur and we remain keen to ensure that New Zealanders have the opportunity to participate in it.  At this stage, no final decisions have been made, including on timing. However, when it occurs we expect it will be a shorter process than that used for Meridian and Mighty River Power.”

This makes the politicians’ referendum on the partial sale of a few state owned assets now even more redundant.

It was always only political posturing.

It was never going to have any impact on government policy which was clearly signalled before the 2011 election, made the issue by the opposition and had already begun with the partial float of Mighty River Power before enough signatures had been gathered.

That Grey Power which fronted the referendum petition has now negotiated a deal for its members with a private power company makes it not just redundant but hypocritical.

Referendums are very blunt instruments and none of the four Citizens Initiated Referendums we’ve had since they were introduced in 1993 have achieved anything.

There are better, and cheaper, ways to make a point and influence policy.

All the latest one does is reinforce the growing body of opinion that Citizens Initiated Referendums have had their day.


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