Rural round-up

April 24, 2018

Precious arable land – Eric Crampton:

I just don’t get the fixation with making sure that nobody builds a house on agricultural land.

The government plans to make it harder for councils to approve new homes and lifestyle blocks on productive land near urban areas.

A report out today, called Our Land 2018, shows New Zealand’s urban sprawl is eating up some of the country’s most versatile land.

It highlights that between 1990 and 2008, 29 percent of new urban areas were built on some of the country’s most versatile land. . . 

We are growing houses instead of food – Feds:

We are losing our most productive land to houses – that’s the most significant point Federated Farmers takes from the ‘Our Land 2018’ report released today.

The Ministry for the Environment report shows the pressure New Zealand agriculture is under from the loss of highly productive and versatile land due to urbanisation.

There was a 10% increase in urban areas from 2002 to 2012 and the loss would be even more now with the pressure on housing in the last few years. . . 

Auckland Council rates policy fails to value private land conservation:

Auckland Council is proposing to remove rates remission for privately owned land protected by QEII covenants.

QEII National Trust CEO Mike Jebson says “we are submitting against Auckland Council’s proposed policy. This policy discourages landowners from protecting natural heritage areas on their properties and fails to support protection of biodiversity on private land in the region.”

“QEII covenants often protect the habitat of threatened indigenous species, and provide corridors linking larger areas of private and public land set aside for conservation. The work landowners do in protecting their land, like excluding stock from the protected area, is critical in encouraging regeneration of native vegetation.” . .

 A2 shifts from a brand to a category, with Nestle and Mengniu now on board – Keith Woodford:

It is only six weeks since mega-sized Fonterra in New Zealand and medium-sized Freedom Foods in Australia announced their intention to produce A2 dairy products, these being products free of A1 beta-casein.  Since then, both Nestle and Mengniu have stepped up to announce that they too are developing brands for A2 infant nutrition products.

To place this in perspective, and as reported by Rabobank, Nestle is easily the largest global dairy company by turnover, followed by Lactalis, Danone, Dairy Farmers of America and then Fonterra. Further down comes Mengniu at number 11 globally, but number 2 in China.

It is now evident that dairy products free of A1 beta-casein are shifting from being a niche brand belonging to The a2 Milk Company (A2M) to becoming a broader dairy category. This was always going to happen, but the speed at which it is now occurring is taking most people by surprise. . . 

Livestock Improvement buys back $5.3M of shares to simplify structure – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – Farmer-owned cooperative Livestock Improvement Corp will buy back $5.3 million of its shares as part of its move to simplify its share structure.

In March the company’s shareholders voted to reclassify all cooperative control shares and investment shares into a single class of ordinary shares. Livestock Improvement said today that a small number of shareholders had elected to exercise their minority buy-out rights under the proposal. . . 

#SustainabilitySunday: A tale of two farms – Uptown Farms:

What you see above is crazy exciting for our family!

These two pictures are from two fields, only separated by an old fence row. The photos were taken about 4 foot apart. 

The farm in the bottom photo has been traditionally managed for north Missouri row crop farms. You see larger and more compacted soil clods, fairly typical of dirt in the area. 

On the farm in the top photo we have been using no-till and cover crop practices for three growing seasons. What you see, and would feel if you were here, is a light and loose soil. It’s full of organic matter without any compaction. (Think of potting soil compared to dirt from your backyard.) 

We have actually added soil to this farm by allowing crop residue and cover crops to decompose and turn to dirt. In only three years, we have changed the soil makeup of our farm.  . . 

Scales hunts for NZ agribusiness acquisitions to fit with apple export business – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – Scales Corp is eyeing potential agribusiness acquisitions that would fit well with its export apple business as the country’s largest apple grower aims to become the foremost investor in and grower of New Zealand agribusiness.

“We think New Zealand agribusinesses are in a good space, they make good products, and sell them to Asia,” chief executive Andy Borland told BusinessDesk. “We have over the years developed our skills around exporting and dealing with Asia, particularly China, and we are looking at businesses within New Zealand that would work with those sort of dynamics and be complementary to our apple business. We are really looking for those sort of New Zealand opportunities.” . . 

Good Idea! Feds Likes NZX Primary Sector Index Concept:

Federated Farmers congratulates the New Zealand Stock Exchange for coming up with the idea of creating a ‘primary sector index’ for investors.

The NZX intends to launch the new primary sector index later this year, where it will sit alongside the existing indices for other sectors such as energy, healthcare and real estate.

The index will include 15 companies, including Fonterra and A2 Milk. . . 

China begins to challenge multinationals in domestic infant formula market, says GlobalData :

CITIC Agri Fund Management, backed by Chinese state-owned CITIC Group, has recently agreed to buy a 25.18% stake in Hong Kong-based Ausnutria Dairy, one of the leading local suppliers of infant formula in the Chinese market. This clearly marks a change in direction for the government, which has hitherto been focusing its efforts on regulation in this sector, says leading data and analytics company GlobalData.

Local suppliers in China are yet to recover from the melamine contamination scandal in 2008, with parents continuing to put their faith in foreign-made milks even after a decade. . . 


Rural round-up

April 15, 2018

Water schemes left high and dry – Annette Scott:

The canning of Crown funding for water schemes is a “kick in the guts” for rural communities, especially when six regions have been declared in drought this year, National Party agriculture spokesman Nathan Guy says.

“This Government has now raided $100 million and effectively pulled the plug on any lifeline for rural communities,” Guy said.

“These projects, such as Hunter Downs and Hurunui, are about rural communities providing for much wider regional development and what needs to be remembered is that this Crown funding is not a grant. It’s a loan and it’s all paid back. . . 

Jeff Grant becomes Kiwi meat’s Brexit rep:

OSPRI and AgResearch chairman Jeff Grant has been appointed at the meat industry’s Brexit representative to be based in London.

On behalf of Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association the former National MP will provide the red meat sector’s response to Brexit.

Grant will work closely with B+LNZ’s Europe representative, the Government and commercial interests to help strengthen the red meat sector’s ties with the United Kingdom and safeguard NZ’s exports to the key market. . . 

Ploughing with horses luck of the draw – Nicole Sharp:

Straight and steady is the aim of the game, but it is no easy task with Anna and Nugget, who have minds of their own.

The two Clydesdales are part of Sean Leslie and Casey Rae’s horse ploughing team, from Middlemarch, which will be competing at the New Zealand Ploughing Championships in Thornbury this weekend.

They are one of six horse teams competing in the event and they will attempt to plough the straightest, neatest and tidiest plot, but a lot of it was luck of the draw, Mr Leslie said.

“It does depend on soil conditions and being able to tackle it and master it.” . . 

Auckland Council rates policy fails to value private land conservation:

Auckland Council is proposing to remove rates remission for privately owned land protected by QEII covenants.

QEII National Trust CEO Mike Jebson says “we are submitting against Auckland Council’s proposed policy. This policy discourages landowners from protecting natural heritage areas on their properties and fails to support protection of biodiversity on private land in the region.”

“QEII covenants often protect the habitat of threatened indigenous species, and provide corridors linking larger areas of private and public land set aside for conservation. The work landowners do in protecting their land, like excluding stock from the protected area, is critical in encouraging regeneration of native vegetation.” . . 

NZX targets ‘natural advantage’ in primary industries with new index, dairy derivatives expansion – Paul McBeth;

(BusinessDesk) – NZX wants to capture New Zealand’s “natural advantage” in the primary sector with a new index tracking listed industry players and build on the early success of its dairy derivatives market, says chief executive Mark Peterson.

The Wellington-based company is in the process of refocusing on its core market business to revive investor interest in the capital markets. Among those initiatives is a drive to capture New Zealand’s comparative advantage in agriculture and horticulture, and Peterson told shareholders at today’s annual meeting in Christchurch a new index will be launched in the second quarter including stocks such as a2 Milk Co, Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund, Comvita, New Zealand King Salmon, Scales Corp, Sanford, and Seeka. . . 

Working Lands: A Missouri farmer saves prairie and grassland birds – Joel Vance:

Tom Smith’s anthem could be “Don’t Fence Me In,” except that he has a fencing company. His customers can be bizarre; one wanted a 10-foot fence to protect his garden from starving mobs fleeing Kansas City and St. Louis, which, he was convinced, would burn to the ground within two years.

But most are more ordinary landowners to whom Smith, a 63-year-old cattleman, preaches the value of native grass. Smith raises about 90 grass-fed feeder calves on 627 leased acres of Hi Lonesome Prairie, a state-owned property near his Cole Camp, Missouri, home. “When I found a neighbor was planning to plow a patch of big bluestem,” Smith says, “I told him, ‘Oh, man, don’t plow that. What you’ve got there is native prairie.’ . . 

Z


Rural round-up

February 14, 2018

Disease leaves pair with nothing – Annette Scott:

In early June last year all was looking rosy for South Canterbury contract milkers Mary and Sarel Potgieter.

By the end of July their lives had been turned upside down and their dairy business was on a rapid downward spiral because of their honesty over Mycoplasma bovis.

Now the self-described Mb founders are in two minds over the call they made to the Ministry for Primary Industries to report untreatable mastitis in their dairy herd.

“We first noticed a problem in early June. By the end of June we had 162 cows showing signs and the vet was flabbergasted,” Mary said.

“By mid-July we had tried everything. We had done tests and milk samples, nothing could be cultured – it was not normal mastitis. . . 

QEII National Trust defending protected land:

QEII National Trust are in the Supreme Court today defending the intentions of the original landowner to protect 400 ha of Coromandel forest land forever against someone who wishes to overturn covenant protection to develop a property for commercial purposes.

QEII National Trust CEO Mike Jebson says “covenants are protected for the benefit of current and future generations because of the vision of the original owner who loved the land and wanted to protect it. Individually and collectively covenants represent a huge legacy to the country.” 

Grumblings on the grapevine – are seasonal workers treated well in NZ? – Johnny Blades:

You see them in small groups, often two or three, walking along Blenheim’s roadsides to the big supermarkets.

Young men from the Pacific Island archipelago of Vanuatu, they stand out in a New Zealand region not known for its multi-culturalism.

But here in grape country, Marlborough, ni-Vanuatu are the driving force behind New Zealand’s growing wine industry.

There are over 4000 ni-Vanuatu, or ni-Vans as they’re known, doing seasonal work this year under New Zealand’s Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme  . . .

Women’s group seeks new head – Annette Scott:

Dairy Women’s Network chief executive Zelda de Villiers has called time on the organisation she has helped to grow over the past four years.

De Villiers had solidified the organisation’s systems, structures and reputation in the industry, chairwoman Cathy Brown said.

Her commercial and financial expertise had led the not-for-profit organisation into a strong position.

“We have also grown our membership significantly during her tenure. . . 

Farmers Fast Five: Andy Fox – Claire Inkson:

The Farmers Fast Five:  Where we ask a Farmer five quick questions about Farming, and what Agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Proud Farmer Andy Fox.
How long have you been farming?

Having been brought up on a farm, I was keen from an early age to go farming. Besides working as a builder, a mechanic, a period on my OE and Uni I have farmed all my life.  Since about 2000, I have farmed only a proportion of the time which allows me time to sit on agricultural boards, contribute to other industry good activities and to undertake volunteer work.

   What sort of farming are you involved in?

I am the 4th generation on “Foxdown” in the Scargill Valley, North Canterbury. We are a sheep and beef protein producer on a dry-land hard hill property. We aim to produce the best base ingredient for a quality eating experience, while maintaining the farm in a way that makes this production sustainable and improves the state of the land for the future. We also have approximately 400 visitors a year to the farm museum and a walking track that is a 4 hour return walk to the top of the farm, Mt Alexander. . . 

Chattan Farm:

Chattan Farm is situated in an idyllic locale approximately 40 minutes south west of Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty region of New Zealand’s North Island.

Owners Tim and Jo Mackintosh, along with their children Alice and George, run a livestock operation along with a number of diverse businesses from their 680 hectare farm. Sheep and beef production is the cornerstone of the Chattan Farm operations, where they produce up to 5000 stock units a year of Romney, East Friesian and Texel sheep along with Angus cattle. Along with these stock numbers Tim says they also graze dairy heifers.

“We generally grow out around 400 head of heifer stock from the age of four months through to 18 months,” Tim said. . . 

New fund to help sustainable farming school at Waipaoa:

The trustees have established the Waipaoa Station Farm Cadet Training Trust (WSFCTT) Endowment Fund at the Sunrise Foundation to help build long term financial stability into the organisation.

Ken Shaw, WSFCTT Chair, says although they have been operating for ten years and are pleased with the progress they have made, a reliable ongoing source of revenue is their biggest challenge.

“We are lucky to have had the generous support of many individuals and organisations in the agricultural industry, which has helped us build Waipaoa into the success it now is. Even so we have to secure our sponsorship every year, and we know we can’t rely on the same people and organisations to keep giving year on year.” . . 


Rural round-up

January 17, 2017

Developing wealth from water – Keith Woodford:

Current controversies about exporting water, be that in bottles or in bulk tankers, draw attention to New Zealand’s key resource.  Yes, that resource is indeed water. In a world that is chronically short of water, we in New Zealand are greatly blessed.

It is because we are so blessed that until recently we have taken the presence of water for granted. Essentially it has been a free resource.  As a consequence, water law in New Zealand is real messy. And that leads to major impediments to water being used efficiently, and in ways which the different groups in society can agree on as being ‘fair’. 

Water that falls as rain on private land has de facto use rights. But once that water runs off into a stream, or permeates below the level where plants can extract it, then it belongs to the Crown – in effect the people of New Zealand. . . 

Silver Fern Farms Annual Result:

Silver Fern Farms has reported a net operating loss before tax and impairment of $7.5m million for the 12 months ended September 2016 on income of $2.2 billion. This compares to a net operating profit of $30.8m and income of $2.5 billion the prior year.

Operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were $32.1m, down from $90.5m the prior year. . . 

Loss ‘disappointing’ for Silver Fern Farms – Sally Rae:

Silver Fern Farms chairman Rob Hewett has described the company’s financial results as “particularly disappointing” after it posted a $30.6million after-tax loss.

The loss, for the year ended September, compared with a $24.9million net profit in the previous financial year.

Operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) were $32.1million, down from $90.5million.

A $7.5million net operating loss, before tax and impairment and on income of $2.2billion, compared to a net operating profit of $30.8million and income of $2.5billion the previous year. . . 

$34.5M Dividend for Co-Op Shareholders:

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Limited shareholders will receive a $34.5 million special dividend on 14 February.

The dividend of 30 cents per share on all Ordinary Shares and Rebate Shares follows the completion of Shanghai Maling Aquarius’ $267m investment in Silver Fern Farms Limited and the distribution to the Co-operative of $57million from that process which occurred in December 2016.

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Chair Rob Hewett says the special dividend will be welcome news to shareholders. “This is the first dividend shareholders have received since 2008. Their support and patience as we have developed our Plate to Pasture value added strategy over the past 7 years has been critical to Silver Fern Farms.” . . 

Patron announced for QEII National Trust:

The Queen Elizabeth II National Trust is pleased to announce that Her Excellency The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy has accepted its invitation to become Patron.

National Trust CEO Mike Jebson said the National Trust is honoured to have the Governor-General’s patronage.

‘Her Excellency considers conservation and sustainable practices to be of great importance to New Zealand.

‘Her sponsorship is a wonderful endorsement of the efforts the National Trust and its members do in this field of work for the benefit of all New Zealanders,’ Mr Jebson said. . . 

Last bastion of pioneering family’s links to the past goes on the market for sale:

A character-filled homestead linking a pioneering family with colonial roots dating back some 150 years in New Zealand’s past, has been placed on the market for sale.

The museum-like home linked to the Alison family in the Northland township of Waipu is adjacent to farm land first settled by direct descendants of the founding family in 1866.

With the last two grand-children of pioneering settler Duncan Alison passing away without any children of their own, the four-bedroom home and lifestyle block-sized landholding have been placed on the market for sale. . . 

Karaka 2017 to Showcase the Cream of the Australasian Sire Crop:

All of the biggest names in New Zealand and Australia’s sire ranks will be represented in force at the upcoming 2017 National Yearling Sales Series at Karaka.

Waikato Stud stallion Savabeel had a boomer of a Sale in 2016, amassing an aggregate of $11.545 million in the Premier session alone. Last season’s champion sire in terms of domestic, Australasian and worldwide earnings, and the leading sire again so far in 2016-17, Savabeel will again be represented by an impressive crop of 64 yearlings in the Premier catalogue. . . 


Covenants protect land in perpetuity

July 18, 2016

The Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of the QEII National Trust, upholding the protection of its covenants:

. . .Spanning 4 years, the case has been taken as far as the High Court and on to the Court of Appeal by the property developer, who has been trying to overturn the 404ha forest covenant he owns on the Coromandel Peninsula. His intention was to have the covenant removed so the land could then be subdivided for lifestyle blocks, to the detriment of the protected area’s ecological values and the intentions of the original covenantor. The covenant agreement allows for the construction of one dwelling only.

The land in question was covenanted in 1997 to protect a block of lowland tawa-towai forest. The block sits within a network of other protected lands that together form a wildlife corridor, connecting the Coromandel Forest Park in the middle of the Coromandel Peninsula to the Peninsula’s eastern coast.

National Trust Legal Manager, Paul Kirby, said the latest ruling has further strengthened open space covenants as an excellent mechanism for protecting land.

‘This win exemplifies the purpose of the National Trust as the perpetual Trustee of covenants,’ Mr Kirby said.

 ‘With the ruling in favour of the National Trust, the intentions and wishes of the original covenantor, who is now deceased, have been honoured and upheld when he was not here to do that himself,’ he said.

Described as a ‘complex’ case by the Court, the decision has established new case law and corroborates existing case law from a previous High Court hearing on the same matter, confirming that open space covenants have the protection of ‘indefeasibility’ under the Land Transfer Act. It has been confirmed in law that, once registered on a land title, open space covenants bind current and future owners and are not susceptible to attack arising from defects or error.

The Court confirmed that the National Trust acted in the best interests of the original covenantor, Mr Russell, and fulfilled its statutory mandate for the benefit of the people of New Zealand. It also awarded the highest possible costs to the National Trust.

The National Trust’s Chief Executive, Mike Jebson is delighted with the outcome.

‘It has been a time consuming and costly exercise but we now have excellent case law that should categorically put an end to any similar challenges on the status of open space covenants,’ he said.

‘We are a charity organisation with limited funds but this case was something that we could not afford to drop. It has diverted precious funds that would normally have been used for protecting land and supporting covenantors. We are hugely relieved, therefore, that some of our costs will be recovered with this decision,’ he said. . . 

Federated Farmers supports the ruling:

Federated Farmers environment spokesman Chris Allen says the decision ensures a new landowner cannot get open space covenants lifted so they build on the land, in this case a developer wanting to build lifestyle blocks.

“As landowners, farmers are some of the biggest contributors to environmental protection in New Zealand.

“Farmers care deeply about the environment and leave a protected legacy for future generations. Our members are extremely proud of their work and achievements on their farms to protect and enhance biodiversity,” Mr Allan said.

“This latest ruling in the Coromandel shows open space covenants as an excellent mechanism for protecting land; even better than District Plans and arguably more than National Parks.”

The QEII National Trust was set up in the 1970s, when a visionary group of farmers came together to investigate ways they could protect special natural and cultural sites on their land after they were gone.

These landowners were the driving force behind the establishment of the QEII National Trust, which was set up in 1977 by an Act of Parliament to deliver on their aspirations.

Federated Farmers strongly support and acknowledges the existing investment in its partnership with QEII working with landowners to enhance and protect our special places and things. . . 

Covenants are legal agreements and any restrictions they place on future owners ought to be reflected in the price they pay for the land.

Landowners place covenants on their land to protect it in perpetuity and this court ruling upholds that protection.

 


Farmers acting for good of nature

June 17, 2014

The number of landowners who have put in place covenants on parts of their land for the good of nature is set to pass 4000 for the first time.

It is a great untold story of New Zealand landowners, mostly farmers, taking a selfless stand for good, said Mike Jebson, chief executive of the Queen Elizabeth II Trust. It works with private landowners, who make a contribution to conservation, including those making covenants to perpetually protect parts of their land.

Jebson spoke to the Sunday Star-Times after Labour sought to make political capital out conservation money being spent to eradicate pests from Great Mercury Island, owned by Sir Michael Fay and David Richwhite.

The Government, which says endangered species don’t care who owns the land they live on, funds the QEII Trust. At the end of June last year, the trust had 3803 registered covenants and the number was rising fast.

“We are just shy of 4000 registered covenants. That milestone will be coming up in the next 12 months. It’s a huge achievement,” said Jebson, who is due to announce new large covenants in coming weeks.

The area covered by the covenants is the size of three national parks, the Aoraki/Mt Cook, Egmont/Taranaki and Abel Tasman national parks, he said.

“It should be part of the New Zealand story because a lot of our covenants are on working farms,” Jebson said.

A lot was heard about farmers and dirty dairying but almost nothing of their conservation efforts, he said.

“This is an untold story of New Zealand farmers and other landowners, which is helping to give real substance to New Zealand’s clean, green international image,” Jebson said in the trust’s last annual report. . .

Farmers who covenant their land do get help with fencing and pest control but it doesn’t cover all their costs and it doesn’t compensate for the loss of earnings from retired land.

However, they do it as good stewards of the land, understanding the importance of protecting native species and leaving an enduring legacy for future generations.

You can read more about the trust on its website.


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