Mike Petersen Ag Comunicator of Year

June 14, 2018

The New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists announces:

The current New Zealand Special Agricultural Trade Envoy, Mike Petersen, is the 2018 Ravensdown Agricultural Communicator of the Year. This was announced at a dinner in Hamilton last night, when he was presented with a trophy and a cash prize.

This is the thirty-second year the Agricultural Communicator of the Year title has been awarded, and is the second year of involvement by sponsor Ravensdown.  This year there were six people nominated and the decision was reached by a panel of 10 judges from around the country.

Mike has been described as a superb communicator and always able to deliver his messages in tune with his audience in any location anywhere in the world.

Mike has been involved in leadership positions within the agri-food sector for nearly 20 years. During that time, he has been elected to positions on industry organisations representing farmers such as chair of Beef + Lamb, and the ability to communicate effectively has been a core component of these positions.

He has travelled the length of the country speaking to hundreds of meetings over the years, providing the opportunity for farmers to engage with their organisation and discuss opportunities for the sector.

Over the past five years he has spent a considerable amount of his time in the role of New Zealand Special Agricultural Trade Envoy. This is a ministerial appointment to advocate for the dairy, sheep, beef, horticulture and wine industries in their efforts to improve market access and trading environment.

In this role, he travels offshore about six times per year to all markets of the world where New Zealand is looking to improve market access and market reputation. He speaks to numerous conferences and meets with the complete range of stakeholders from farmers, industry groups, corporates, officials, ministers and Prime Ministers dispelling myths and promoting the New Zealand agri-food sector.

As New Zealand Special Agricultural Trade Envoy, he also presents to numerous conferences and events in New Zealand, reports back to industry following his travels and responds to many media requests for interviews and commentary on all issues relating to trade.

The Ravensdown Agricultural Communicator of the Year award is administered by the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators, and recognises excellence in communicating agricultural issues, events or information.    Guild president Elaine Fisher said the Guild is delighted to partner with Ravensdown in offering this long-standing award, which recognises excellence in communicating agricultural issues events or information.

“This year’s winner, Mike Petersen, epitomises all that it is to be a highly effective communicator for our primary industries. He has advocated on behalf of sheep and beef farmers, promoted Māori agribusiness, and effectively represents New Zealand’s primary industries on the international stage, all underpinned by his background as an award-winning Hawke’s Bay farmer.

Taking communications even further, Mike also shares his knowledge and skills with the next generation of leaders through working with Young Farmers, university students, Nuffield and Kellogg scholars. The Guild is pleased to join with Ravensdown in honouring Mike as the 2018 Ravensdown Agricultural Communicator of the Year,” Elaine said.

Regarded as the premier award for agricultural communicators, the Ravensdown Agricultural Communicator of the Year is also the most valuable prize the Guild offers. Ravensdown provides a prize of $2,500 for the winner, part of a sponsorship package of nearly $6,000 for the Guild. The additional funding assists with administration costs for the award, including the awards dinner in Hamilton.

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Rural round-up

June 12, 2018

Work at Ravensdown’s helm ‘incredibly fulfilling’ – Sally Rae:

It is not very often, as Greg Campbell acknowledges, that a chief executive wants more regulation.

But the boss of Ravensdown is very pleased the Government is investing more money on biosecurity.

He has been concerned the fertiliser sector was far too open to anyone to bring any product into New Zealand and call it fertiliser. . .

Envoy recommends eradication – Sally Rae:

New Zealand special agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen says it appears Mycoplasma bovis is more serious than reports have  so far indicated.

Mr Petersen, a former Beef and Lamb New Zealand chairman, has just returned after a busy time in the UK and Europe with discussions around the future of farming and trade.

Farmers he had spoken to who had the bacterial disease on their properties believed New Zealand should try to eradicate it. . .

Sheep and beef farmers working with nature to create profit:

Farming systems that work with nature are in high demand from consumers of the food that is being produced.

A true farm profit working with a healthy environment is the goal in this new world of ever-increasing environmental scrutiny.

Brendon Walsh from GrowFarm has been working with sheep and beef farmers as a business coach for a number of years. . . 

Love at first sight – after a haircut: Farmer finds his future wife at Fieldays

Taranaki’s trio of Fieldays Rural Catch finalists can take heart – the competition has resulted in at least one marriage and two babies.

Trainee helicopter pilot Lilly Newton, 21, of Urenui, South Taranaki dairy manager Sam Hughson, also 21, and New Plymouth dairy farmer Berny Hall, 29, are among eight young farmers facing off in the fight for the coveted Golden Gumboot this week.

The competition has been a popular fixture on the Fieldays calendar for 13 years, giving competitors the opportunity to test their skills both on and off the farm and a shot at an impressive prize pool. . .

First Northlander to go through to the Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year National Final:

 Congratulations to Jake Dromgool from The Landing in Kerikeri who became the Bayer Auckland/Northern Young Viticulturist of the Year 2018. He will go through to represent the region at the National Final at the end of August and will be the first Northlander to ever compete in this prestigious Final. . .

I quit my job to farm: Laura Hodgkins, 30, West Sussex – Emily Ashworth:

Laura Hodgkins, 30, quit her her job in marketing to take on a tenanted farm with her husband, Andy, 31. Here she tells us her reasons and how she has found her place in the farming world.

1) Where and what do you farm?

Our tenanted farm, Cocking Hill Farm, is part of the Cowdray Estate. Situated on the South Downs in West Sussex, it consists of around 700 acres. It is mainly chalk grassland, rising up to 800ft above sea level.

We run a 2,000 head flock of New Zealand Romneys on an extensive outdoor system, predominantly for breeding stock. . . 


Rural round-up

February 7, 2018

Still dry on Otago farms despite rain :

Recent rain is unlikely to be enough to break Otago’s drought. Farmers are still feeling the pressure of the extreme January heat as low water stocks start to take their toll.

Federated Farmers Otago president Phill Hunt, of Wanaka, said farmers were still facing what some were describing as the worst dry spell in decades. The stock water supplies farmers relied on in a typical year were not available or sufficient this year, he said.

“Farmers are understandably concerned about the wellbeing of their stock and are de-stocking where needed.” . .

Pioneer to build new hydro scheme on Fraser River – Pam Jones:

A new Pioneer Energy hydro scheme on the Fraser River, on Earnscleugh Station, will generate enough electricity to power 4000 households.

Due to the altitude and topography of the area, construction would not be possible during the winter, but track construction and upgrades would begin this month, Pioneer Energy development general manager Peter Mulvihill said. The main construction of the intake, powerhouse and pipeline was scheduled to start in September.

The scheme would generate about 30GWh of power annually and should be supplying the local region by March next year, Mr Mulvihill said. . . 

Deal a good one for NZ farmers – Peter Burke:

The deal NZ has in the now-negotiated Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership is the best we could have expected, says NZ’s special agricultural trade envoy.

Mike Petersen told Rural News the deal is potentially better for NZ with the US pulling out of the discussions. It is effectively a series of 11 bilateral agreements between each group member, and while the US has pulled out the market access schedules have remained intact.

That means in theory that NZ has a greater opportunity to export products to the other 10 countries in the agreement, Petersen says. . .

Farmers want Healthy Rivers amendments that are practical and not a free pass – Andrew McGivern:

I would like to think that in 2018 this is, at last, when we all start finalising the Healthy Rivers Plan Change One provisions, with hearings scheduled to begin at the end of this year.

For farmers and rural communities within the Waikato-Waipa river catchments, it will be great to finally get some clarity around the rules and direction of this plan change.

This is because from a business point of view, these regulations have been operational and enforceable since it was notified back in September 2016 and are already affecting farm values and investment.

From Federated Farmers’ point of view, while we agree with the aspirations of the vision and strategy, we believe parts of the plan and some of the rules and implementation, is skewed and in need of change. . .

Sorting the wood from the trees – Steve Wyn-Harris:

One billion trees. That’s a whole lot of trees.

I got an intriguing email last week.

It was from Crown Forestry, a business unit of MPI.

They were asking me if I had any suitable land to plant for the new government’s One Billion Trees programme, which is the ten-year target. To achieve, it will require new forests on up to 500,000 hectares.

This programme with Crown Forestry is but one of several initiatives to help achieve the target.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t help them as I fell outside the criteria of a minimum 200 hectares, which is just over half of our farm area, but most of the other criteria like access within the block and to local roads, terrain, fertility and such applied as we are about to harvest 8 hectares of our own trees that I planted 30 years ago. . .

Rod Slater on how much beef and lamb we eat

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Rod Slater has gone in to bat for New Zealand farmers after a newspaper article suggested environmental sustainability concerns were putting the heat on meat, with rapidly declining domestic consumption of beef and, particularly, lamb.

Speaking to Jamie Mackay on The Country today, Slater said the figures in the article, including that New Zealanders are eating less than 1kg of meat each a year, were inaccurate, and Kiwis were still eating a lot of beef and lamb, though not as much as we used to. . . 

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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

October 31, 2016

Graduates take red meat path – Sally Rae:

Young Telford graduates William Benson and Lisa Bonenkamp will today embark on careers in the red meat sector.

The pair have completed their studies at Telford, where they were involved in the Red Meat Network, a tertiary network designed to increase the number of high achieving graduates entering the sheep and beef industry. Established last year, the network allowed 20 leading students from six tertiary institutions to hear high calibre speakers from the red meat sector, including New Zealand Special Agricultural Trade Envoy Mike Petersen. It was funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership, a Primary Growth Partnership programme.

Encouraging young people into the red meat sector was a key part of increasing productivity, RMPP general manager Michael Smith said. . . 

Chinese investment in NZ likely to shift to companies – Alexa Cook:

Public suspicion and red tape is discouraging Chinese investment in New Zealand, a Shanghai Pengxin boss says.

Shanghai Pengxin president of overseas investment Terry Lee told a Chinese agriculture conference in Wellington they wanted to control the value chain from farm gate to the table, but New Zealand kept putting up hurdles.

Mr Lee told the audience New Zealand’s government tailor-made regulations so Shanghai Pengxin could not buy Lochinvar station last year.

He said there should have been an apology, and while suspicion was a natural reaction to foreign investment it was not helpful for New Zealand. . . 

The future of milk – Lynley Hargreaves:

Value-added milk products are likely to continue their rise, says new Royal Society of New Zealand Fellow Dr Skelte Anema. That means we’ll keep moving away from commodities like dried milk powder and export more expensive products such as fresh and long-life liquid milk and cream. A Principal Research Scientist at the Fonterra Research and Development Centre, Dr Anema has worked in the New Zealand dairy industry since 1990. He tells us how the science and economics have changed, and how processing milk in different ways can effect milk proteins, making for more consistent products, a longer shelf life, or even pourable cheese.

When you first started working in this area, New Zealand had cream-topped glass bottles of home-delivered milk. How has the research environment changed in the last 26 years?

Fresh milk that is sold in New Zealand is only a very small part of our milk supply. But one thing that’s very different now is that we used to do a lot of research on milk powder. . . 

Jane Hunter Honoured by Marlborough Wine Industry:

Jane Hunter, owner of Hunter’s Wines in Marlborough, has been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the board of Wine Marlborough.

The annual award is given in recognition of services to the wine industry over a period of time.

Jane, who arrived in Marlborough in 1983, has played an integral role in making Marlborough a household name in international wine circles.

Arriving in the province in 1983 as a viticulturist for Montana Wines, she went on to marry Ernie Hunter, the founder of one of Marlborough’s first wineries. When Ernie died in 1987, Jane took over the reins of the company. . . 

Future of Food:

The Netherlands and New Zealand have much in common, in both culture and economics, particularly in the areas of agri-food, horticulture and trade. Next month, the Embassy of the Netherlands is hosting a one-day forum, in cooperation with Massey University and FoodHQ, which will take advantage of the many parallels between the two nations with the aim of creating momentum for exploring new opportunities where we can collaborate on the issues of sustainable food commerce in key global markets.

Next month’s Future of Food Forum will be opened by Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Netherlands Minister for Economic Affairs Henk Kamp. The Forum includes presentations and discussions between leaders from the private and public sector, including Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings, Zespri chief executive Lain Jager and Massey Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey. . . 

Insects are the sustainable food of the future –  Dick Wybrow:

The buzz is getting louder as we make more room on our dinner tables for bugs.

With a growing global population and shrinking resources, some experts think insects could eventually replace meat and fish.

It’s been estimated that it takes 1750 litres of water and more than 6kg of feed to make an average hamburger.

So maybe it’s time to bite the bugs back.

We already know a handful of freeze-dried ants or a salad sprinkled with crickets can provide heaps of protein. . . 

Meth use spikes amongst rural Australians:

There are calls for drug monitoring in rural areas after a study found meth use among rural Australians is twice as high as those living in cities.

One in 43 people in rural areas are using the drug, according to researchers from the University of Western Australia – that’s 150 percent more than in 2007.

In cities, use has only gone up 16 percent.

The highest rates of usage were found in rural men aged 18 to 25, particularly tradies. . . 

Nine Hours in the Combine : Reflecting on #My60Acres – Uptown Farms:

The corn is harvested!  It took Matt and I, each running a 9500 John Deere combine with a 6 row corn head, about nine hours to harvest the entire 60 acres.  So now that it’s all done, here are my thoughts.

Farming is hard work!

There might be a reason only 2% of Americans do this – it’s hard!  I try to battle that fairy-tale version of farming on my  blog but I don’t think I’ve given enough credit to the physical aspect of farming. 

I see him come home every night  covered head to toe in dust and looking physically exhausted.  But it never really registered with me.  Especially this time of year.  I know working cattle is hard, shearing sheep is hard. But driving a tractor or a combine?  . . 


Rural round-up

May 18, 2016

NZ primary sector needs story to sell globally, trade envoy Petersen says – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand needs to develop a new primary sector story to help sell its products to the world, says Mike Petersen, New Zealand’s special agricultural trade envoy.

Speaking at today’s Dairy NZ Farmer Forum at Mystery Creek, Petersen said he has been “banging on” about this idea for some years without getting much traction.

“We need a coherent New Zealand story and we need it desperately to take out into the world,” he said. “We are behind the game at pulling this together to make the most of our opportunities.” . . .

Monsanto’s pesticide ‘unlikely to cause cancer’ :

The weed-killing pesticide glyphosate, made by Monsanto and widely used in agriculture and by gardeners, probably does not cause cancer, according to a new safety review by United Nations health, agriculture and food experts.

In a statement likely to intensify a row over its potential health impact, experts from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) said glyphosate is “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans” exposed to it through food.

It is mostly used on crops.

Having reviewed the scientific evidence, the joint WHO/FAO committee also said glyphosate is unlikely to be genotoxic in humans. . . .

Why Many Midwestern Farmers Are Pro-TPP – Kristofor Husted:

Turn on the TV and you can barely escape the acronym TPP.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a free trade deal between the U.S. and 11 other countries that’s currently being negotiated. Presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle are deriding the TPP, saying it’s a bum deal that will hurt the U.S. economy and especially low-wage workers.

But if you venture into the Midwest and ask a farmer about the TPP, you’re likely to get a different answer.

“This pending TPP trade negotiation, to me, is hugely important for agricultural commodities, but specifically for beef,” says Mike John, a cattle rancher in Huntsville, Mo. He’s one of many Midwest farmers and ranchers who are bucking the political trend to dog the TPP. . .  (Hat tip: Kiwiblog)

Māori land report shows potential in Northland:

Māori land owners in Northland have promising options for developing their land, according to a report commissioned by the Ministry for Primary Industries, Te Rūnanga-Ā-Iwi-O-Ngāpuhi and the Far North District Council.

“The report shows that in a 50km radius around Kaikohe there are nearly 4000 small parcels of unproductive land that have the potential to be developed for uses like horticulture and agriculture,” says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

The report highlights two case studies focusing on horticulture and pastoral land use scenarios that show the potential for many parts of Northland. . . 

Summit to Consider Farming Within Environmental Limits:

The 2016 New Zealand Primary Industry Summit will once again provide farm and business leaders with the opportunity to consider sustainability and environmental issues.

This years programme includes sessions that will tackle the hottest topics in the industry including the TPPA, sustainability, smart branding and marketing, and foreign investment. A highlight for those interested in sustainability will be a session delivered on day two by Fish & Game New Zealand’s Environmental Manager Corina Jordan entitled ‘Farming within environmental limits.’ . . 

Fonterra NZ, Australia milk collection drops in season to date – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group says milk collection is down in New Zealand and Australia, its two largest markets, in the first 11 months of the season during a period of weak dairy prices.

Milk collection across New Zealand fell 3.3 percent to 1.499 billion kilograms of milk solids in the season from June 1, 2015, through April 30, 2016, with all of the decline coming in the North Island while good weather conditions kept South Island production unchanged, Auckland-based Fonterra said in its Global Dairy Update. The 2015/16 season forecast has been revised to 1.558 billion kgMS, down 3 percent on the previous season, its said. . . 

Fonterra Confirms Early Final Dividend Payment:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today confirmed it will pay part of its forecast final dividend earlier, to support farmers during a time of extremely tight on-farm cash flows.

Chairman John Wilson said a solid performance during the nine months to 30 April in the current financial year enables the Co-operative to declare the 10 cents per share dividend today. Payment will be made on 7 June, bringing dividend payments so far this year to 30 cents per share.

“While the milk supply and demand imbalance continues to impact global milk prices and our forecast Farmgate Milk Price, the business is delivering on strategy and has maintained the good performance levels seen in the first six months of the financial year. . . 

Drop in number of farms on the market:

Farm sale prices held steady in April, but the number of farms on the market is falling, says the Real Estate Institute.

New data showed there were 16 percent fewer sales for the three months ended April this year, than for the same three months last year.

But the median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to April was $30,000, up nearly 5 percent on the same period last year. . . 

 

image

Hat tip: Utopia

 


Rural round-up

April 29, 2016

Trade negotiations like water dripping on a stone – Allan Barber:

Before he left for China last week, New Zealand’s Special Agricultural Trade Envoy, Mike Petersen, gave me his thoughts on the process of trade negotiation and a brief list of successes he has been involved with since 2003. At that time he was Chairman of Meat & Wool NZ as it was called in those days.

During that 13 year period New Zealand has signed free trade deals with Taiwan, China, ASEAN which comprises 12 countries and at long last South Korea, not to forget the TPPA. No wonder he called trade negotiations ‘like water dripping on a stone.’ Signing FTAs is never quick and demands a huge amount of manpower, preparation, patience and recognition no country ever gets everything it wants.

The reaction to the TPPA, not only here, but also in other signatory countries, notably the USA, indicates a growing feeling of disaffection with free trade deals because of the perceived loss of sovereignty they entail, including domestic employment opportunities, and conversely the benefits to big business. . .

Food ‘knowledge gap’ creates dangers for farmers:

Does a cow need to have a calf to give milk?

The answer should be obvious, but more than 70% of consumers get the question wrong explains University of Guelph associate professor Mike Von Massow. A majority of Canadians also believe that a chicken is processed for meat when it reaches four years of age.

Von Massow shared these findings from his research on consumer perceptions of food at the Farm & Food Care Ontario annual meeting earlier this month. While many of the findings are troubling for agriculture there is also reason to be optimistic. “Consumers feel pretty good about the food they eat in Canada. Generally they believe they have safe, healthy food and they trust farmers,” says Massow. . .

Tribal councils appeal farmers’ discharge consents – John Gibb:

A decision by independent commissioners to grant a consent for a North Otago farmer from 2020 to discharge nitrogen from three farms on to land ‘‘in a manner that may enter groundwater” has been appealed to the Environment Court.

The consent application from Borst Holdings Ltd was the first to be made under Otago’s new 6A water plan change, which concerns itself with the amount of nitrogen being released into the area’s rivers.

The consent for the Borst farms, near the Kakanui River, was granted for 15 years starting from April 1, 2020. . . 

Dairy farmers will pay for next five years say John Mulvany:

MURRAY Goulburn has sheltered farmers from the real global milk price and they’re going to pay for five years, according to a leading consultant.

Gippsland-based consultant John Mulvany said the effect of the overpayment for milk in 2015-16 will result in the deduction of the equivalent of 24 cents a kilogram of milk solids from milk supply during the next three years, or $36,000 a year for a 150,000kg/MS farm, to pay back for this season’s mistake.

“The late notification is absolutely inexcusable,” he said.

“It is not fair to the MG field staff who, until mid-December, were issuing income estimates with three step-ups leading to a milk price over $6 a kilogram of milk solids. . . 

Sweet opportunities in honey industry for locals:

Today marks the first day of work for 11 Work and Income clients, who will be developing Northland College’s mānuka plantation site.

30 hectares of mānuka will be initially planted on Northland College land – an initiative that provides current and future employment opportunities for Kaikohe people.

The Northland College Mānuka Initiative stems from the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan which identifies 58 actions for stimulating the Northland economy. . . 

Horticulture Welcomes Dam Progress:

Horticulture New Zealand has welcomed the announcement of the progress made in funding for the Ruataniwha Dam project in Hawke’s Bay.

The horticulture industry is reliant on sensible management of freshwater in New Zealand and the provision of water for future generations of primary sector business is essential.

“This will see the number of growers increase, and this in turn will improve the sustainability of the proposal,” HortNZ natural resources and environment manager Chris Keenan says. . . 

Expect more gains in nutrient management says Ballance:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients is confident that Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord targets around nutrient data collection and efficiency reporting will continue to lift as more farmers understand the direct benefits to their farms and their OVERSEER® nutrient budgets.

Commenting on the release of Accord results yesterday, Ballance CEO Mark Wynne said that while results had fallen short of targets for nutrient management data and the reporting back of nutrient efficiency information, good progress is being made.

The target is for all dairy farms to provide quality nutrient management data. Progress is currently sitting at 75 percent, up from 56 percent last year. . . 

New online financial problem-solving platform for farmers: ASK Crowe Horwath:

Earlier this month accounting and business advisory firm Crowe Horwath announced the launch of the online platform, ASK Crowe Horwath.

ASK Crowe Horwath, an obligation-free, online financial problem-solving service allows questions to be posed by New Zealand agribusinesses and individuals that are then answered by Crowe Horwath advisors – ‘get a real answer from a real advisor’ is indeed the tagline of the platform.

There are no boundaries to the questions that can be asked, with rural professionals covering the full spectrum of financial services. . .

Debbie Kelliher's photo.


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