Rural round-up

November 27, 2017

More business courses for rural women planned:

Business development programmes for women involved in sheep and beef farming are expanding to new locations next year.
The Agri-Women’s Development Trust runs the programmes with funding from the Red Meat Profit Partnership with the aim of lifting the sector’s performance and profitability.

Oamaru and Fairlie will be the first of 32 rural centres to host the programmes in early February.

They comprise ”Understanding Your Farm Business”, which has had 780 graduates since it began in 2014, and ”Wahine Maia Wahine Whenua” for women who are trustees, managers or partners in Maori sheep and beef farming businesses. . .

Cool winter boosts currants – Alexia Johnston:

A cold, wet winter is paying off for at least one South Canterbury berry grower.

ViBERi owner manager Tony Howey said the chill of last winter had provided a welcome boost to his crops of blackcurrants and redcurrants.

Moisture in the cooler months had also helped, he said.

”It was really good for the berries … and for some cereal crops as well.”

Cool temperatures in October, with some mornings near-freezing, were almost too cold, but the crops survived well. . . 

Demand for mini apples drives orchard investment:

Feilding rural investment company, MyFarm is chasing $13 million for the lease and development of four apple orchards in Hawke’s Bay.

The investment group will grow the niche export apple brand Rockit, which is a mini-apple under licence by Rockit Global.

One of the Rockit Global’s challenges has been growing enough apples to meet global demand despite production lifting 40 per cent on last year. . .

Lower Fonterra milk price seems likely – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra might reduce its farmgate milk price forecast by 25c to 50c/kg as early as this week after the fourth consecutive fall in world dairy prices on the fortnightly Global Dairy Trade auction platform.

Global prices fell 10% over the past two months since Fonterra reaffirmed its $6.75/kg forecast at the time of its annual results presentation.

After the latest 3.4% GDT index fall market analysts have found some unanimity with forecasts of $6.25-$6.50, along with predictions Fonterra would have to downgrade sooner rather than later. . .

Van der Poel elected new DairyNZ chair:

Waikato dairy farmer Jim van der Poel has been elected the new chairman of industry good body, DairyNZ. He replaces Michael Spaans, who passed away earlier this week.

Jim says Michael was a skilled, dedicated and passionate chair for DairyNZ and he plans to continue the vision established for DairyNZ and dairy farmers.

“While I step into this position under sad circumstances, as a board we will continue Michael’s good work – his influence will continue as we develop plans for the future of our industry.” . . 


Rural round-up

November 22, 2017

A Kauri in the Forest – Michael Spaans:

Federated Farmers is extremely saddened to learn of the passing of DairyNZ chairman Michael Spaans.

Federated Farmers extends its condolences to the Spaan family at this difficult time.
Mr Spaans was renowned for his commitment and dedication to the dairy sector and held several key positions as a director at Fonterra and board member at DairyNZ between 2008 – 2015. . .

Taranaki young farmers take on NZ Dairy Industry Awards challenge:

Several NZ Young Farmers members look set to go head-to-head in Taranaki’s longest-running dairy awards programme.

James Holgate, 25, and Buddy Sharpe, 20, have entered the prestigious New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

They’ll both be vying to take out the title of 2018 Taranaki Dairy Manager of the Year.

James Holgate is in his second season as a herd manager on Tony and Lorraine Lash’s 350-cow dairy farm at Midhirst. . . 

Affected farmer criticises handling of cattle disease – Sally Brooker:

A dairy farmer whose herd is infected with Mycoplasma bovis feels let down by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Leo Bensegues revealed his situation at a packed public meeting in the Morven Community Hall last night.

About 200 people crammed into the venue for the sixth meeting hosted by the ministry since the bacterial cattle disease was  discovered  on farms near Waimate in July.

Mr Bensegues asked ministry officials if they would change their biosecurity protocols if he could show they were not working.

Technical liaison officer Victoria Barrell assured him they would. . . 

 

New Zealander nominated for top global wine role:

New Zealand Winegrowers welcomes the New Zealand government’s nomination of Dr John Barker as a candidate for the role of Director General of the International Organisation of Vine & Wine (OIV).

The OIV is the inter-governmental scientific and technical reference body for wine. Based in Paris, with 46 members accounting for more than 85% of global wine production and nearly 80% of world consumption, it is sometimes called the ‘UN of wine’.

“Dr Barker is an ideal candidate. He has deep understanding and expertise in the global vine and wine sector built on 20 years of experience,” said CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers, Philip Gregan. . . 

A2 Milk revenue, profit pushes higher in first four months of FY18 – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk, which markets milk with a protein variant said to have health benefits, says both revenue and net profit jumped in the first four months of the current financial year as it continues to benefit from strong demand for its infant formula.

Revenue climbed 69 percent to $262.2 million in the four months ended Oct. 30 from the same four months a year earlier, while net profit more than doubled to $52.3 million, the company told shareholders at today’s annual meeting in Auckland. Group earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization were $78.4 million, up 120.8 percent on the same four months a year earlier. . . 

Synlait Auckland officially opened, doubles infant formula packaging capacity:

Synlait Milk has opened its new Auckland site, which is home to its second state-of-the-art blending and consumer packaging facility.

Located in Mangere, the site was officially opened today by Auckland Mayor Phil Goff at a ceremony alongside all staff.

“We’re expecting customer demand for consumer packaged products to increase significantly in the near term,” said John Penno, Synlait’s Managing Director and CEO. . . 

New Zealand ag-tech increases farm revenue and consumer appeal:

One of the greatest costs to farmers tending an estimated one billion sheep globally is in lost productivity from parasites and ineffective drench programs. The result of a three year R&D project, funded by Sainsbury’s – the UK’s second largest supermarket chain – has demonstrated use of technology developed in New Zealand can save farmers in their supply chain alone around $19 million annually.

Dunedin based ag-tech company Techion Group’s combination of an internet connected device, data management system and connectivity to veterinary expertise delivers an effective means to manage parasites and drenching programs which affect the health and growth of animals. . . 

‘First Wolrd’ disputes can cause ‘third world’ dliemnas – Jennie Schmidt:

The majority of Americans know very little about genetically modified food. They’ll even tell you so: In a poll by the Annenberg Public Policy Center last year, 63 percent rated their understanding of GMOs as “poor” or “fair.” Only 4 percent called it “excellent.”

That’s why Congress is investing $3 million in the Food and Drug Administration specifically to be used for an education campaign. Before the FDA spends the money, however, it’s asking the public for input: This month, it has held forums in Charlotte, N.C., and San Francisco. Online comments are open until November 17.

The skinflint in me worries about this expense: Does a government with a national debt of $20 trillion really need to use its limited resources this way?

The realist in me observes that the spending decision already has been made, so we might as well quit wondering about “whether” and start thinking about “how.” . . 

 


Tributes to Michael Spaans

November 21, 2017

Michael Spaans, a former director of Fonterra and chair of DairyNZ has died.

Fonterra chair John Wilson paid tribute to him:

Sadly, today our Co-operative has lost one of our strongest people with former Director Michael Spaans passing away last night. He is survived by his wife Kristina and children Olivia, Logan and Harvey.

Earlier this year, Michael decided to step down from the Fonterra Board and focus on trying to recover from cancer. He and I go back many years and I saw him approach his illness in the same way he approached everything in life. He was resolute and determined and did his utmost to continue on as normal. It was a brave fight and I am sure that will not surprise those of you who knew him.

Michael was a proud dairy farmer with a passion for our Co-op and our industry. I have often talked about the importance of having leaders developing within our ranks and Michael is a very fine example. Michael served on the New Zealand Dairy Group Shareholder Council, before joining the Fonterra Shareholders’ Council at the time our Co-op was formed. He was also part of the first intake for the Fonterra Governance Development Programme, and later built his governance experience outside the industry including directorships with ASB Bank, Shoof International, DairyNZ, Manuka SA, Waikato Innovation Park, Innovation Waikato and Ospri New Zealand.

He then brought this experience, along with a huge level of energy and commitment to our Board, and won the respect of his fellow Directors and farmers for his willingness to listen and engage. Michael was a man who knew the importance of detail. He made sure that he knew this business extremely well, understood our strategy and was completely across the detail of the numbers. He always looked for constructive solutions and thought deeply about our Co-op’s governance and his role in the evolution of our business.

His insights and experience — along with his genuine interest and inquisitive mind — were also invaluable on Fonterra’s Milk Price Panel, the Co-operative Relations Committee, and the Audit and Finance Committee.

As late as last month, Michael was working for the betterment of New Zealand farmers in his capacity as Chairman of DairyNZ. He has also remained an ambassador for Fonterra on the international stage and in Wellington, recently speaking at the United Nations in New York on behalf of the Global Dairy Platform and all farmers.

We have lost a close friend, leader and an advocate of our industry much too soon. Our thoughts and deep gratitude for all that he contributed go to his family.

DairyNZ also paid tribute to him:

It is with great sadness that DairyNZ acknowledges the passing of (Reindert) Michael Spaans (54), husband, father, farmer, director, and recent chair of DairyNZ.

Michael Spaans

Michael has been a valuable member of the DairyNZ board since 2008 and was elected chair in November 2015. He was also a director of Fonterra from 2013 until January 2017 when illness forced an early retirement.  However, he continued on as a director of ASB and Shoof International, and with his farming interests in Canterbury, Chile, and the United States, as well as his home farm.

DairyNZ acting chair, Barry Harris, says: “Michael will be greatly missed by the board, our staff, our farmers and the wider Waikato community. His passion and knowledge of the sector, and dedication to improving outcomes for dairy farming profitability and sustainability are well known. We are going to miss his thoughtful debating and farmer-first approach to investment, his involvement with the dairy leaders group, his focus as chair of the Waikato Dairy Leaders Group and the group’s desire to improve the state of the Waikato River, and support for the Healthy Rivers plan in particular.”

Growing up on a family farm at Tauhei, near Morrinsville, Michael attended Mangateparu School, Morrinsville Intermediate and Morrinsville College. He later took over his parents’ farm at Manawaru, residing there with his wife Kristina and their three children, now aged 16, 20 and 22, until his passing.

A keen basketballer as a young man, Michael started farming life in Te Aroha as a young sharemilker, getting into governance around the time of the creation of Fonterra. He started with the old New Zealand Dairy Group shareholders’ council and continued to serve as Te Aroha Ward rep when the council and company became part of Fonterra. From there he has held many governance positions, dedicating his life to improving farming in New Zealand.

“Michael always had presence and not just because he was 6ft 9in tall, but because he was thoughtful, considered, and passionate about farming,” says DairyNZ’s chief Executive Dr Tim Mackle.

“Besides his love and dedication to his family, he was also dedicated to DairyNZ, even ill, he made such an effort to add value to our organisation.  He felt and was often quoted as saying how vital an organisation like DairyNZ was to act in the best interests of farmers, and the DairyNZ family are going to miss him.

“Our deepest sympathies lie with his family, especially his wife Kristina, who has also dedicated her past nine years to us too.”

A replacement chair of DairyNZ will be announced shortly, along with a replacement solution for a new farmer director.

Fifty four is far too young for a good man whose death will leave a large hole in his family and circle of friends.

Farming will also miss his contributions as a farmer, director and community stalwart.


Rural round-up

August 23, 2017

Hard work earned admiration of all:

WHEN it came to work ethic, it would be hard to look past legendary North Otago market gardener Reggie Joe.

For more than 45 years, Joe’s Vegie Stall on State Highway 1 at Alma has been a landmark. From humble beginnings as a small roadside stall with an honesty tin, the business expanded to a busy operation, attracting a loyal following of customers.

His wife Suzie acknowledged it was his garden and customers that Mr Joe put first, followed by his family for whom he did it all.

His ambition in life was simple; to create a better future for his four children. Having known hardship firsthand, he was determined they would receive a good education.

Mr Joe died peacefully, surrounded by his family, in Dunedin Hospital on June 8, aged 82. . . 

Primary industries feel under siege as prospect of Labour-led govt firms:

INSIGHTS ABOUT THE NEWS – The divide between regional and urban politics is being thrown into ever sharpening contrast as the election campaign unfolds. Agricultural industries and rural communities feel under siege in the looming election.

As reported in Trans Tasman’s sister publication The Main Report Farming Alert, weeks ago the chances of a Labour-led government seemed unlikely, but now the chance of this happening seems possible with policies which could prove ruinous for NZ’s main export industries.

Labour will tax users of water, including farmers (but not those companies using municipal supplies). Both the Greens and Labour are committed to bringing agriculture into the emissions trading scheme and say the carbon price should be higher. They have not stated how high they want animal emissions to be taxed. . . 

Farming leaders pledge to make all rivers swimmable – Gerard Hutching:

Farming leaders representing 80 per cent of the industry have pledged to make all New Zealand rivers swimmable, although they don’t say how or by when.

Confessing that not all rivers were in the condition they wanted them to be, and that farming had not always got it right, the group said the vow was “simply the right thing to do”.

Launching the pledge by the banks of the Ngaruroro River in Hawke’s Bay, spokeswoman for the group and Federated Farmers president Katie Milne said the intent behind the commitment was clear. . . 

Swimmable means swimmable:

Agricultural leaders have, for the first time ever in New Zealand, come together to send a strong message to the public.

We are committed to New Zealand’s rivers being swimmable for our children and grandchildren.

DairyNZ chair, Michael Spaans, says “this is a clear message from New Zealand’s farming leaders that we want our rivers to be in a better state than they are now, and agriculture needs to help get them there.

“I have joined my fellow leaders to stand up and say that I want my grandchildren, and one day my great grandchildren, to be able to swim in the same rivers that I did growing up. . . 

Farmers’ river pledge welcomed:

A new pledge by farming leaders to improve the swimmability of New Zealand’s rivers has been welcomed by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith.

“This pledge from farming leaders shows the real commitment farmers have to tackling these long term issues,” says Mr Guy.

“Farmers are closer to the land to the land than nearly anyone else, and they care deeply about leaving a good legacy for their children. . . 

Hundreds expected for launch – Sally Rae:

When a book on the history of the Wilden settlement is launched this month, it will also serve as a reunion.

Wilden — The Story of a West Otago Farming Community — has been written by Dunedin man Dr David Keen.

The driving forces behind the project were retired Wilden farmer Bill Gibson, now living in Mosgiel, and Neil Robinson, from Wanaka.

In the late 1860s, the discovery of gold at Switzers, now Waikaia, further sparked West Otago’s development. . . 

Keen advocate of the tri-use sheep – Sally Rae:

Growing up on a sheep and beef farm in Invercargill, Lucy Griffiths and her siblings were not allowed to leave home without  a woollen garment.

The many benefits of wool were drummed into them from an early age, not only as a fibre to wear but also as one to walk on and use in innovative ways.

But somewhere since then, strong wool had “lost its gloss”, and Mrs Griffiths wants to play her part in re-educating consumers about those benefits.

She is one of three new appointments to the board of Wools of New Zealand, a position she felt was a “big mantle of responsibility”. . .

Dispath from NZ no. 3 conflict, collaboration and consensus – Jonathan Baker:

New Zealanders are generally though of as pretty relaxed; but having spent ten days here it’s clear that the current debate around farming is anything but. From the Beehive (NZ’s parliament) to the kitchen tables of farmers, there is a very strong sense of tension. Most I talked to present farmers on one side and ‘townie’ environmental groups on another.

The main cause of the tension is the state of New Zealand’s water quality. This issue has jumped up the public agenda over the last 10 years and is now a pretty substantial issue in the upcoming election. Environmental groups, notably Greenpeace have done much to start this debate and the impact of their ‘dirty dairy’ campaign can even be felt in the UK. . .

My great-grandfather fed 19 people, my grandfather fed 26 people, my father feeds 155 people I will feed 155 and counting . . . embracing technology a family tradition.


Farmers’ pledge will work where water tax won’t

August 23, 2017

Farming leaders have pledged to make rivers swimmable:

In a first for the country, farming leaders have pledged to work together to help make New Zealand’s rivers swimmable for future generations.

The Farming Leaders’ Pledge has been signed today by a group of New Zealand pastoral farming leaders, that represent over 80% per cent of that country’s farmed land, committing them to an ambitious goal of working to make New Zealand’s rivers swimmable for their children and grandchildren.

Group spokesperson, Federated Farmers President and West Coast dairy farmer Katie Milne says the intent behind the pledge is clear.

“Many of our rivers are not in the condition we all want them to be. We are doing this because we want our kids and their kids to be able to swim in the same rivers that we did as children.  And by swim we mean swim. It’s as simple as that.

“We’re standing up and saying we haven’t always got this right. More work is required and we will play our part. While there has been progress on farm in the past 10 years, we know there is more to be done, and that it must be done fast, and together.

Clean rivers aren’t an abstract concept for farmers.

This is the water we drink and wash with every day, not something we might visit a very few times a year.

“Today isn’t about laying out the detail on the huge amount of work going on already on farms up and down the country and how these efforts will need to increase.

“It’s about us as farming leaders signalling our commitment to making New Zealand’s rivers swimmable and doing everything we can to achieve that.”

Ms Milne, says the group understands much of the work needed will be challenging for the farming sector.

Challenging yes, but a  lot will build on work already being undertaken.

“We haven’t put a timeline on our commitment.  Each community will need to decide that for themselves.  This goal will be difficult to meet and we don’t have all the answers today on how it’s going to be achieved”, she says.

“We know that we have work to do. We know it will be challenging for farmers. We know the answers are complex and we don’t have them all now.   This commitment is simply the right thing to do in playing our part to give back to future generations what we enjoyed as kids.”

The Farming Leaders Group is an informal grouping of New Zealand pastoral farming leaders that was established in May 2017 to work on issues of importance to the sector. 

The current membership is Mike Petersen (Sheep & Beef Farmer), Michael Spaans (Dairy Farmer and Dairy NZ Chair), James Parsons (Sheep & Beef Farmer and Beef + Lamb NZ Chair), John Loughlin (Meat Industry Association Chair), Katie Milne (Dairy Farmer and Federated Farmers President), Bruce Wills (Sheep & Beef Farmer and Ravensdown Director), and John Wilson (Dairy Farmer and Fonterra Chair).

The improvements already made have been done by farmers who understand the importance of clean water, without the crude instrument of a water tax which Megan  Hands describes as a kick in the guts for farmers:

There is no doubt that water management is top of mind for many of us this election, but none more so than our farmers and growers, particularly those with irrigation. It’s struck me that using the word farmer seems to irk many, as if it has some kind of negative connotation.

The reality is that New Zealand’s farmers collectively are a group of thousands of small, often family run businesses and their employees. Many are self-employed and punch well above their weight to compete on a global scale, often up against farmers from nations who receive significant subsidies from their governments to assist with their costs of production, top up their incomes or assist them to undertake environmental works.

Irrigation dates to back the Ancient Egyptians and, simply put, we have it because we need water to grow crops or feed for our animals. In the areas of the country that have the most irrigation, rainfall can be scarce, ranging from just 300mm in parts of Central Otago, through to 500-700mm in Canterbury and Marlborough, as compared with the 1,200mm that falls in Auckland annually. Irrigation is used by some farmers and growers to supplement that shortfall in rain and to remain resilient in drought years.

Irrigation schemes don’t just allow farmers to weather dry weather. They also augment natural flows in rivers and streams to improve water quality and enhance water life.

What then is the likely impact of Labour’s water tax policy on these families and their communities?

On the face of it phrases like “polluter pays” or “user pays: may sound appealing, but the balancing of the environmental, social, cultural and economic needs of our communities is more complex than that.

An important point to note from the outset is that nobody in New Zealand pays for water. Even in Auckland, Watercare charges for the treatment and reticulation of water to your home or business, not for the water itself. In the same way as you pay the council through your rates or water bill, Irrigators pay for the infrastructure through consenting, drilling of wells, installation and running of pumping stations or through payments to irrigation schemes with costs of up to $800 a hectare.

That’s what we pay for water from North Otago Irrigation COmpany’s scheme – $800 a hectare a year. On top of that we have to have an environmental farm plan which is independently audited each year.

When Labour’s policy was first announced, there was little detail of pricing. It appears now we are looking at a price of 2 cents per cubic metre, or 1000 Litres.

For some context, to apply 1mm of water over 1 hectare of land it takes 10,000 litres of water or 10 cubic metres. So, to supplement that shortfall of rainfall and sustain crop or pasture growth it quickly equates to large volumes of water.

To keep the maths simple, a 200ha cropping farm growing grain or grass seeds in mid Canterbury applying 500mm of irrigation water a year would have a new additional tax bill of $20,000 a year.

A 100hectare vineyard in Blenheim might use 199,500 cubic metres of water through a drip micro system and have an additional tax bill of $3,990.

Another dairy farmer well known on Twitter has calculated his annual water tax bill on his farm to be $53,000.

Suddenly a couple of cents doesn’t sound so small.

It’s not just the amount but that it will be taken from irrigators regardless of whether their practices are contributing to water quality problems, some will go to Iwi and some will go to regional councils.

What’s left after the costs of collection and distribution is supposed to be used to clean up waterways, but how? It it’s individual farms causing problems they should be responsible for fixing them and not at the cost of those who are already doing everything right.

The key drivers for irrigation requirements are the soil type and its ability to hold water, the crops water demand and the evapotranspiration of the area. In the examples above, grapes have a lower water demand than pasture or grain crops. There is a great deal of science and high level of management that goes into managing irrigation efficiently.

One arable farmer at a meeting in Ashburton on Friday said that he had calculated that at 2 cents/m3 his annual water tax bill could equate to half his annual income. Another wondered aloud what happens if he has a crop failure and he receives zero income for that year but still must pay the tax for the irrigation water he used?

What will happen in wet seasons, like the last one, when there was hardly any irrigation? Our power bill was about 10% of what it had been the previous season which indicates we used about a 10th of the irrigation.

And what will they do with the seagulls which are causing the only water quality problem in the Kakanui River?

In districts where there are significant areas of irrigation this tax would mean millions of dollars being removed from these local economies in additional tax. In these regional areas, the small towns and cities rely on primary industry to keep them going. For Ashburton and Timaru some estimates have come in around $40 million. Tim Cadogan, mayor of Central Otago, is quoted as saying the tax will cost his district $6 million dollars. That’s millions of dollars not transferred to local tradesman, the local café or the rural supplies store.

This proposed tax has been portrayed as the solution to NZ’s water quality problems, although the more we learn about this policy the more difficult it is to link the purported benefits with the method proposed. If Labour do as they say and return the tax to the areas from which it is collected (minus the percentage that goes to iwi), the areas with the poorest water quality will only receive a small slice of the tax. This is because there is almost no correlation between swimability of rivers and irrigation.

This policy is based not on facts but on the unsubstantiated belief that irrigation causes water degradation.

In our area it’s the opposite case. The Waiareka Creek that used to be a series of semi-stagnant ponds now flows clear  all year and water life has re-established because irrigation water is doing what nature couldn’t – maintain water flows.

One of the greatest concerns regarding this policy is the possibility it could make meeting required reductions in nutrient losses more difficult. Making changes on a farm to improve water quality is not cheap and any additional money squeezed out of what are often tight budgets may make it more difficult to do so. As an example, $20,000-30,000 can pay for three or four soil moisture meters to aid in more targeted use of irrigation or perhaps part of a new effluent system.

A water tax is a broad-brush approach to what are varied and complex issues. In my view identifying the contaminants causing the water quality problems for a catchment and targeting the management of those at catchment scale is a far superior approach than paying money to a government organisation in the hope that it will be returned to be spent the catchment it came from.

Last Friday David Parker, Labour’s spokesperson for freshwater fronted a public meeting in Ashburton. While I’d already been publicly critical of the approach of a water tax, I wanted to hear what he had to say in more depth than a media soundbite or the 300-word summary on the Labour party website. I’ve also long believed that there is a legitimate conversation to be had about how we should fund environmental infrastructure such as the Managed Aquifer Recharge site in Ashburton, new storm water systems or floating wetlands such as those installed at Te Arawa in Rotorua.

I was bitterly disappointed.

Mr Parker provided photos of poor farming practices to set the tone. Of the farming practices that we were seeing in the photos, not even one of them was related to irrigation and none were from Canterbury. Almost every single one of them would be illegal in Canterbury under the existing Land and Water Regional Plan putting your consent to farm or your access to irrigation water at risk of being cut off.

When questioned on the price, Mr Parker warned the room that he wasn’t there to negotiate and threatened the farmers in the room that if they pushed him it would be 2 cents instead of 1 cent. He continually referred to the farmers in the room as “you people”, taking aim at them and telling them they alone were responsible for the rural urban divide.

It is the responsibility of us all to manage our water well and that includes irrigators, towns and cities, and other commercial users. If we are going to tackle these challenges we must do it together, instead of pointing the finger at one another.

The management of our freshwater is important for our ecosystems, our businesses and our recreation. Water is precious to all of us and deserves far more sophisticated and collaborative policy development then soundbites and feel good election policies if we are to deliver the kaitiakitanga it deserves.

The pledge by the farmers’ group will work where the water tax won’t.

It will be led by and accomplished by farmers working with farmers, not politicians extracting a tax only some of which will be applied to improving water quality.


Rural round-up

December 7, 2016

Thousands of salmon killed in farm break-in:

Thousands of salmon have been killed during a burglary at a salmon farm on the West Coast.

Police are investigating the burglary at the South Westland Salmon Farm and Cafe in Paringa on Saturday.

Offenders entered the farm grounds that night and tampered with machinery on site.

The police said the intruders shut off the water supply to the salmon-rearing tanks, causing at least 13,000 fish to suffocate from a lack of oxygen. . . 

Gap between town and country growing – James Stewart:

As the world’s population grows, so too does urbanisation.  Towns turn into cities, houses into apartment blocks and the gap between urban and rural broadens.  However the divide left is not just physical.  It also creates a void of knowledge about what goes on in our rural communities.

Today’s urbanised generations are arguably more informed than ever. Thanks to technology, information is at our finger tips, and there are plenty of other opportunities to learn. Advertising is a multimillion dollar business for a reason. A few seconds air time is all it needs to cast a net on an audience, influencing their thoughts with the end goal of enticing them to buy a product, or view the world through a different lens. . . 

Results Announced for the 2016 Fonterra Elections:

Returning Officer Warwick Lampp, of electionz.com Ltd, has declared the final results of the 2016 elections for the Fonterra Board of Directors, Directors’ Remuneration Committee, Fonterra Farmer Custodian Trustee and Shareholders’ Council.

Shareholders voted to elect incumbent Director Michael Spaans and new Director Donna Smit. Stuart Nattrass was unsuccessful.

Donna Smit lives and farms at Edgecumbe, and has built and owned seven dairy farms in Eastern Bay of Plenty and Oamaru. Donna is a Director of Ballance Agri Nutrients and Primary ITO, and a Trustee of Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre and Eastern Bay Energy Trust. Donna is a Chartered Accountant and was Company Administrator at Kiwifruit Co-operative EastPack for 24 years. . . 

Quake creates massive lake on family farm – Emma Cropper,

A giant lake and three-metre-high wall have been created on a family farm near Waiau, revealing the massive power of November’s earthquake.

Geotech scientists from around the world are scrambling to see the newly formed ‘Lake Rebekah’ and the ‘Waiau wall’ on the Kelly family’s farm.

The family is dwarfed by the sheer size of the rupture that’s torn straight through their property, forming a giant wall hidden in the hills of the farm. . . 

Northland irrigation study welcomed :

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed an investment of $165,000 from Crown Irrigation Investments to scope irrigation scheme options in Northland.

“This is great news for a region that has suffered numerous droughts over the years,” says Mr Guy.

“Storing water means we can use it in dry spells, giving farmers and growers certainty and a real boost to the local economy.” 

Northland Regional Council are also investing in the study which will focus on potential irrigation options in the mid North and Kaipara areas. . . 

Rural quake damage tipped at $40m – Alexa Cook:

Rural insurance company FMG estimates that at least $40m of claims will be made from the 7.8 earthquake and aftershocks.

FMG’s Chief Operations Officer Conrad Wilkshire said the firm insured about half of the farms and rural businesses in the Kaikōura, North Canterbury and Marlborough districts.

Mr Wilkshire said so far they had received about 700 insurance claims from 500 businesses. . . 

Kotahi partners with Cape Sanctuary:

Kotahi, the country’s largest export supply chain collaboration, has signed a long-term partnership with Cape Sanctuary, a significant wildlife restoration programme at Cape Kidnappers, in a bid to protect native New Zealand birds.

Cape Sanctuary Co-founder Andy Lowe said Kotahi’s partnership will allow two additional New Zealand native species, the near extinct Shore Plover and endangered Blue Duck, to be included in the Cape Sanctuary programme.

“Our philosophy is to develop long-standing partnerships with businesses, iwi and Department of Conservation to restore native bird life to our region. Cape Sanctuary began as a project by people passionate about bringing back and sustaining native species that once would have existed on the Cape Kidnappers peninsula and nearby coastal communities. . . 

Snapper 1 plan accepted:

A long-term plan for the future management of New Zealand’s most valuable snapper fishery has been accepted by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today.

“The Snapper 1 Management Plan is the result of more than two years hard work by the SNA1 Strategy Group, which is made up of members from the customary, recreational and commercial fishing sectors,” says Mr Guy.

“This fishery includes Bay of Plenty, the Hauraki Gulf and the eastern coast of Northland and is one of our most iconic inshore fisheries. It’s pleasing to have a range of perspectives sitting around the table and coming up with a long term plan for maximising the benefits for everyone.” . . 

Top winery proposes vineyard village in Central Otago:

Leading Central Otago winery Wooing Tree Vineyard has today released plans that will enable the development of a boutique residential and commercial space designed to complement its wine business in Cromwell.

A zone change will need to be granted by the Central Otago District Council (CODC) to facilitate the development of the proposed Wooing Tree Estate, which is pegged for the vineyard’s 26-hectare site between SH6, SH8B and Shortcut Road. While Wooing Tree Vineyard will remain at the site, the new development could include various community amenities, tourist attractions, retail, accommodation and prime housing lots. . . 

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Rural round-up

November 17, 2016

Quake carnage raises 10m new hill at Clarence River – Tim Cronshaw:

A 10 metre high hill pushed up by the 7.5 earthquake on a previously flat river paddock has left valley farmers along the Clarence River completely flabbergasted.

The hill has appeared from nowhere on farmland along river flats about eight kilometres up the valley.

“It was completely flat and now there is a 30 foot hill in the middle of Priam’s Flat and the whole river has come up,” said Matariki farmer James Murray. “it’s unbelievable and if you hadn’t know what it looked like before you would never notice it.” . . .

Fairlie couple 2016 South Island Farmer of the Year:

A husband-and-wife “super team” has secured the title of the Lincoln University Foundation’s South Island Farmer of the Year at the 2016 finals held tonight (Wednesday 16 November).

Chief Judge Nicky Hyslop says that Neil and Lyn Campbell won the judges’ praise with the “efficient, incredibly flexible and adaptive” approach to the way they have developed their dryland property. Their focus has been on systems that allow them to pursue activities that generate the most profit at the most effective point of time, with land stewardship always the foundation of their decisions.

The Campbells’ farm consists of 769ha of rolling hills and flats in Middle Valley near Fairlie in South Canterbury, producing sheep, deer breeding and finishing, and a variety of crops. . . 

Nattrass eyes another stint on Fonterra board:

Former Fonterra director Stuart Nattrass is making a bid to rejoin the co-op’s board. The South Canterbury farmer has been confirmed as a self-nominated director candidate.

He will face off with the two board-nominated directors Michael Spaans and Donna Smit.  

The self nomination process allowed any Fonterra shareholder (with the support of 35 different shareholders) to put themselves forward as a director candidate and be considered for election by their fellow shareholders alongside the previously announced Independent nomination process candidates. . . 

Fonterra running normally, helping quake-hit farmers – Mark Daniel:

With the South Island earthquake dominating our screens, Rural News Group had the opportunity to catch up with Fonterra’s Director of Farmer services, Matt Bolger at Wednesday’s Farm Focus Day at Owl Farm, Cambridge.

Bolger confirmed that since the seismic event they had been in close contact with their teams on the ground in the area, and could confirm that there were no injuries to Fonterra staff or suppliers.

He also told the largely farmer based audience that all factories in the organisation were running normally, although some had shut down automatically due to aftershocks, but were now all back on line. . . 

Crayfish confused by quake ushered back into the water – Kate Newton:

Disorientated crayfish, thrust out of the ocean onto the Kaikoura coastline, have been slowly ushered back into the water by locals.

Along the Kaikoura coastline, earthquake conversation keeps turning to the native crayfish for which the coast is named.

A horde of escaped crayfish (koura) was a side effect of Monday’s massive 7.8 magnitude shake, according to Ward resident Kerry Snell.

“When we got to the [Burkhart Fish] factory, the crayfish that were ready for the load-out, all the bins had tipped over and there were crayfish crawling everywhere. A couple of hundred. I think it was two tonnes of crayfish, just all crawling around. Disoriented too, as we all were.” . . .

Appeal Court turns down Fonterra’s bid to keep inferior terms for ex-NZDL suppliers – Paul McBeth:

Fonterra Cooperative Group has lost its bid to overturn a High Court ruling against inferior terms offered to the suppliers of the failed New Zealand Dairies Ltd business in South Canterbury. 

The Court of Appeal bench, comprising Justices Tony Randerson, Helen Winkelmann and Brendan Brown, today rejected Fonterra’s application to throw out a ruling that it breached the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act by imposing less favourable terms on farmers who had previously supplied NZDL.  . . .

Sanford’s Move From Volume to Value Helps Boost Profit 152%:

Sanford Limited (NZX:SAN) has today posted a 152% increase in net profit after tax to $34.7m for the year ended 30 September.

The Group posted an 85.5% increase in reported EBIT to $57.7m, with revenue up $13.2m to $463.5m.

Sanford CEO, Volker Kuntzsch said it’s a pleasing result after a year of focus across the business on executing the company’s volume to value strategy. . . 

Sanford annual profit more than doubles on weaker kiwi, cheaper fuel – Paul McBeth:

BusinessDesk) – Sanford, New Zealand’s largest listed fishing group, more than doubled annual profit as a weaker kiwi dollar and cheaper fuel bolstered earnings in the face of a smaller catch, and as year-earlier impairment charges weren’t repeated.

Net profit rose to $34.7 million, or 37.1 cents per share, in the 12 months ended Sept. 30 from $13.8 million, or 14.8 cents, a year earlier, the Auckland-based company said in a statement. Revenue rose 2.9 percent to $463.5 million, even as the volume of its catch shrank 11 percent as the company extracted more from a higher-value catch and a weaker kiwi generated bigger export receipts. . . 

Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd v McIntyre and Williamson:

PARTNERSHIP AND ORS (CA736/2015)
[2016] NZCA 538
PRESS SUMMARY

This summary is provided to assist in the understanding of the Court’s judgment. It does not comprise part of the reasons for that judgment. The full judgment with reasons is the only authoritative document. The full text of the judgment and reasons can be found at http://www.courtsofnz.govt.nz.

1. The Court of Appeal has today dismissed an appeal brought by Fonterra against a High Court ruling that Fonterra had discriminated against a group of dairy farmers by offering them less favourable terms on which it would purchase their milk.

2. The respondents are South Island dairy farmers who were contracted to supply milk to New Zealand Dairies Ltd (NZDL) when it went into receivership in May 2012.

Fonterra successfully tendered to purchase NZDL’s plant in Studholme. As part of the deal, NZDL’s suppliers agreed to switch to selling their milk to Fonterra. . . 

Good news for wine and spirit industries:

Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Paul Goldsmith has welcomed the passing of a bill which will enable New Zealand wine and spirit makers to register the geographical origins of their products.

“The value of our wine exports has now reached $1.6 billion. We must jealously guard the reputation of New Zealand wines if we are to continue growing our wine exports,” says Mr Goldsmith.

The Bill amends the Geographical Indications (Wines and Spirits) Registration Act (the Act) to ensure the process for registering geographical indicators runs smoothly. . . 

Largest robotic farm taking shape:

A 6500-head dairy farm in Chile will become the world’s largest robotic dairy after signing an agreement to install 64 DeLaval VMS milking robots.

The farm, owned by AgrÌcola Ancali and part of the Bethia Group, already has 16 DeLaval VMS installed and averages 45.2 litres for the 920 cows going through the robotic milking system.  

Ancali AgrÌcola chief executive, Pedro Heller, says the expansion follows good results from first stage of the robotic dairy. . . 


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