Rural round-up

July 10, 2020

No place for gender bias in farming – Milne – Sudesh Kissun:

Former Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says having women in the farmer lobby leadership team is a reminder that NZ ag is about couples working together.

Milne, the first woman president of Feds, stepped down last month after serving her three-year term.

In her final speech at the Feds’ annual meeting, Milne said men and women bring their own perspectives and strengths to farming, neither being more important than the other.

“It’s useful to remind the rest of the country by having men and women – all working farmers – speaking for the organisation that those old newsreels of men out on the land on machinery and women confined to baking scones for the shearers is pre-war history, and even then it was a stereotype rather than the truth,” she said. . .

Election forestry Policy unnecessary:

Right now, we are in a Covid-19 recovery phase and an election year. Farmers feel good about keeping the economy going, but are challenged by climate change, freshwater regulations and afforestation. Some press releases strongly defend pastoral farming against encroaching forests, as if we are fighting over land use. We’re not. What both the farming and forestry sectors are doing is searching for the best way forward, post-covid, in terms of investing and adapting. What neither sector needs are knee-jerk regulations that distract from finding real solutions of mutual benefit. A diverse range of viewpoints is good for innovation, so let’s encourage it. The NZ Farm Forestry Association suggests we should avoid the myths, maintain perspective and share some new ideas.

The long-term perspective is that land use change has and should occur in response to developing markets and scientific guidance. . . 

Dairy prices lift the gloom for farmers but their future meanwhile is being plotted by Beehive planners with a vision:

Fonterra’s  boss  might have been  ultra-cautious   but  out on  the country’s dairy farms there  was a  subdued  cheer  at the  news  that the wholemilk powder price had leapt  14%  at  the  latest  GDT  auction..

The  GDT  index  rose  8.3%,  the biggest  rise   since  November  2016,  and the fourth   successive gain.   Fonterra’s  CEO   Miles  Hurrell  says  it’s  “really  surprising—no-one  saw a number of  this  magnitude”.

It dispels  some of the   gloom generated  by the  Covid-19 pandemic.  And it generates  the  hope  that  Fonterra pitched  its  forecast  for  the season too  low,  in  the  broad range  from $5.40kg/MS  to $US6.90.

Hurrell  suggested   suppliers    should not  get “too excited” by the WMP  result. Fonterra had put out excess product for immediate shipment, which resulted in “a bit of a flurry in that first event” .. . .

Farmers, foresters and fishing folk rejoice – the govt is fixing your wellbeing to a 10-year plan (and film-makers have not been forsaken) – Point of Order:

Latest from the Beehive

The government’s economic engineers were hard at work yesterday.  One minister was set on establishing a base for film production in Christchurch while – much more critically for the wellbeing of the nation – a cluster of others led by the PM were unveiling their grand design for reshaping the primary sector.  If they get it wrong (and we should never be sure politicians will get this sort of thing right), our economy will be dealt a greater mischief than ever was done by a pandemic.

Environment Minister David Parker was busy in the planning business, too, announcing appointments to the newly established Freshwater Planning Process and the Expert Consenting Panels for fast-track consenting.

Wearning his Attorney-General hat he also announced a new Judge of the High Court.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway, meanwhile, was announcing immediate short-term changes to visa settings to support temporary migrants already onshore in New Zealand and their employers, while ensuring New Zealanders needing work are prioritised. . . 

Accelerating our economic potential: – Primary Land Users’ Group:

The Government plans to increase primary sector export earnings by $44 billion over the next decade with a goal of getting 10,000 more New Zealanders working in the sector over the next four years.

Prime Minister Ardern said the sector, which has proven essential for New Zealand during the Covid-19 pandemic, will be vital to New Zealand’s economic recovery.

HOW?

The plan sets a target of lifting primary sector export earnings to $10b a year by 2030 which would bring in a cumulative $44b more in earnings in a decade. If successful, the plan would almost double the current value of the primary sector. . .

Sustainability stars pick up awards :

Ten kiwi dairy farmers who have shown exceptional care for the environment have been recognised with a DairyNZ sustainability and stewardship award.

The award was part of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards. 

“The dairy sector has made a commitment under the Dairy Tomorrow strategy to protect and nurture the environment for future generations,” says Dr David Burger, DairyNZ strategy and investment leader – responsible dairy.  . . 

How will we recover from social isolation? – Stephen Burns:

Our species has been put on notice: the natural world will no longer tolerate the abuse it has taken for centuries and only exaggerated by recent avarice.

A minute organism, unable to be seen except through a microscope has brought the world as we have enjoyed to a grinding halt.

Invisible to a naked eye yet more powerful than any despotic politician, more devastating than the Global Financial Crisis and more destructive than a nuclear war head, COVID-19 has the power to threaten our continued existence. . .


Rural round-up

June 25, 2020

Imports still vital – ag contractors – David Anderson:

Despite eagerness from out-of-work Kiwis, the ag contracting industry will still need to continue importing experienced, overseas workers for some time yet.

“These locals need to be trained and won’t have the skills to drive the big, complex machinery for a while, so we’ll need to carry on importing our Irish and UK guys,” says Rural Contractors NZ (RCNZ) president David Kean.

His comments follow two expos, held this month, to promote the sector, which saw rural contractors ‘blown away’ by the turnout with a number starting to recruit locally to fill vacancies. He says the Queenstown and Te Anau expos saw more than 160 people through the doors.

However, Kean says ag contractors will still need to bring in some skilled machinery operators from overseas for the spring/summer season – as few new recruits will have developed sufficient skills to drive the more complex agricultural machines. . .

Hawke’s Bay not in the clear after drought despite brilliant rain :

Rainfall in drought-hit Hawke’s Bay was good news for farmers across the region but the impact of the long dry spell will be with them for the season.

Despite “brilliant rain” over the past week many farmers were still running short of stock feed, Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay president Jim Galloway said.

“Most farmers are well down on the stock they would normally carry. They are very short of feed and every day they’re looking at what they have to do or what they can do to get through.” . . 

Making good use of a crisis – Sudesh Kissun:

One of New Zealand’s largest dairy farmers says the Covid-19 pandemic presents the country an opportunity to rethink its approach to on-farm sustainability.

Southern Pastures Ltd believes more legislation isn’t the answer to sustainability challenges facing the sector and farmers should be part of the solution to climate change rather than being labelled as villains.

Future generations will have to carry the huge economic burden of Covid-19 recovery.

Southern Pastures executive chairman Prem Maan says the last thing we want is to load them with additional climate and environmental costs as well. . . 

Fonterra to pay farmers more for sustainable, high value milk:

Fonterra farmers producing sustainable, high quality milk will be eligible for a new payment, as Fonterra announces important changes to the way it pays farmers for their milk.

From 1 June 2021, Fonterra is introducing a Co-operative Difference Payment of up to 10 cents per kilogram of milk solids (kgMS) if the farm meets the Co-op’s on-farm sustainability and value targets. It’s part of the Co-op’s strategy to add value to New Zealand milk and responds to increasing demand from customers here and around the world for sustainably-produced dairy. The payment will be funded out of the Farmgate Milk Price.

“The total Farmgate Milk Price will remain the same across the Co-operative, but the amount that each individual farm is paid will vary depending on their contribution under The Co-operative Difference, in addition to the other variables, like fat and protein, which affect the amount that’s paid,” says Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell. . . 

Colin Hurst elected as Fed Farmers arable chairperson:

The new Chairperson of the Federated Farmers Arable Industry Group, Colin Hurst, brings wide experience and an acknowledged reputation for hard work, tenacity and leadership to the role.

Colin, the 2019 ‘Arable Farmer of the Year’, was elected at the group’s AGM on Monday [June 22] for a three-year term.  He replaces Karen Williams, who is Vice-President elect of Federated Farmers of New Zealand.

As well as following his interest in science and innovation driving improved production and a lighter environmental footprint, Colin is also keen to lift the profile of the arable sector among consumers and fellow farmers.   Sales of arable production and spending generated by the industry contributed $863 million to GDP in 2018.

“Most people know we produce cereal grains used in bread and a host of other staples, and all the malting barley needed by our brewers, but we also grow the pasture seeds essential to our livestock farmers, not to mention brassicas and other feed crops, and seed production for domestic and international markets,” Colin says. . . 

Climate change: planting trees ‘can do more harm than good’ – Matt McGrath:

Rather than benefiting the environment, large-scale tree planting may do the opposite, two new studies have found.

One paper says that financial incentives to plant trees can backfire and reduce biodiversity with little impact on carbon emissions.

A separate project found that the amount of carbon that new forests can absorb may be overestimated.

The key message from both papers is that planting trees is not a simple climate solution. . . 


YF president & Ngāi Tahu manager Dairy Woman of Year

May 7, 2020

Ngāi Tahu farm manager and Young Farmers’ president Ash-Leigh Campbell is the 2020 Dairy Woman of the Year:

The other finalists were Auckland based microbiologist and bio chemist Natasha Maguire and West Coast dairy farmer Heather McKay.

Dairy Women’s Network Trustee who heads up the judging panel Alison Gibb said all three woman contributed to the dairy industry in very different ways which highlighted the depth and diversity of how women are contributing to the dairy industry in New Zealand.

“Ash-Leigh exudes energy and passion for the dairy industry and has actively sought opportunities to both contribute and grow in an industry she loves,” Gibb said.

As the Farming Technical Farm Manager for Ngai Tahu Campbell has been working for the South Island Maori iwi farming operation for over three years. In her current role she is responsible for assisting with the management and performance of eight dairy and dairy support farms that includes 8000 cows.

After leaving high school the 28 year old studied at Lincoln University doing diplomas in Agriculture and Farm Management and a degree in Commerce majoring in agriculture. It was during this time she had her first taste of the Dairy Women’s Network, becoming a Dairy Women’s Network Regional Leader and the driving force behind the DWN Lincoln group which has now merged into Selwyn.

She also assists with operational and environmental performance (audit and compliance), analytical projects and the implementation and improvement of sustainable farming practices. She is also Chair of the New Zealand Young Farmers organization.

Winning the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award was “amazing recognition” of just how far she had come in the industry, Campbell said.

“The opportunities Fonterra and Dairy Women’s Network have provided have given me the confidence to step out and grow in the industry in 10 short years,” she said.

“I’ve been bold, I’ve been brave and I hope this journey I’ve been on can showcase to other young wahine that anything is achievable.”

Fonterra Chief Executive Miles Hurrell says the Co-op is proud to recognise and help develop women in dairying who set high standards for themselves and for our industry.

“I want to congratulate Ash-Leigh for winning this award and also the two other finalists. They are all outstanding ambassadors for our industry and are contributing to the pathways that will enable the next generation of farmers to succeed.

“Ash-Leigh’s commitment to sustainable farming and environmental protection is clear to see, and makes a real and positive difference in her local community and our industry.”

As Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year, Campbell receives a scholarship prize of up to $20,000 to undertake a professional business development programme, sponsored by Fonterra.


Rural round-up

April 3, 2020

COVID-19: Farming keeps the economy ticking – Nigel Malthus:

An analysis by two Christchurch economists has underlined the value of the farming sector to the country during the Level 4 COVID-19 lockdown.

David Dyason and Peter Fieger have produced an analysis of who is likely still to be working and who may not be, based on the Government’s definition of essential business (although the definition is changing as exemptions develop).

They say based on 2019 figures, approximately 123,800 people in Canterbury are employed in essential services, which represents 40.6% of all employment within the region.

This is almost identical to the national economy at 40.4%. . .

COVID-19: Misery on UK farms – Peter Burke:

Wake up, New Zealand: that’s the message from a New Zealander trying to manage a large dairy farm in the UK amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

A friend of the man who wishes to remain anonymous called Dairy News in a bid to make farmers in NZ aware of the situation in the UK which he describes as horrific.

The person whom we will call ‘Brian’ manages a large intensive dairy farm and has a staff of twelve says he’s not sure that farmers in NZ realise the problems they are about to face. . . 

Moving day guide is coming – Gerald Piddock:

Guidelines for sharemilkers and farm owners for the dairy sector’s Moving Day are being written.

Federated Farmers sharemilkers chairman Richard McIntyre is fielding numerous calls from sharemilkers asking him how Moving Day will work.

While much of the Government’s focus is on immediate issues, Moving Day is on its radar.

“We are going to be discussing it more and more over the coming weeks as it becomes clearer and clearer of what it might look like.” . .

Stock feed sells out in drought-hit Wairarapa – Marcus Anselm:

Demand for stock baleage has been high in Masterton as the Covid-19 virus compounds a tough summer for Wairarapa’s farmers.

Masterton District Council (MDC) workers are ploughing on through during the lockdown response to the worldwide pandemic.

Staff at the Homebush sewage treatment plant have been working on through the crisis, with enhanced health and safety measures, to meet demand.

Treated wastewater is used to water nearby land, with plants cropped and sold on as stock baleage. . .

 

Fonterra seeing demand spike for some products – Guyon Espiner:

A bright spot is emerging in the economic gloom with New Zealand’s largest company Fonterra saying it is in good financial heart and expects to remain so during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chief executive Miles Hurrell told RNZ that the global dairy giant, owned by its 10,000 farmers, was expecting the milk price to hold in the current range of $7-7.60 per kilogram of milk solids.

Fonterra was not expecting job losses or significant drops in revenue and was even seeing demand spike for a number of its products.

“Effectively what you’re seeing here in New Zealand play out with stockpiling of products in supermarkets – we’ve seen that play out across a number of our markets around the globe.” . .

Award-winning cheesemaker shares recipe for success:

The reputation of Whangārei’s Grinning Gecko Cheese Company continues to soar after picking up a massive 11 medals at this year’s New Zealand Cheese Competition. This adds to its highly impressive track record of international and national awards won every year during its seven years in business.

So, what is the secret of its success? “Mahi whānau and aroha sums it up pretty well,” revealed owner Catherine McNamara. A winning recipe, but one that will no doubt be tested by the effects of the nationwide lockdown.

In an industry that has traditionally been led by European countries, with heavily guarded hand-made processes and recipes passed down through generations, this small New Zealand business continues to prove it is formidable competition. The latest national awards come swiftly after Grinning Gecko’s now eight-medal-winning Camembert won a gold award at the International Cheese Awards last year. . .

 


Rural round-up

February 29, 2020

Attacking the noblest profession – Hamish Marr:

In this, the second in a series written by the latest crop of Nuffield Scholars farmer Hamish Marr says farmers are down because they are constantly being attacked while at the same time being denied access to the tools that can help them feed the world while addressing critics’ concerns.

After almost half of this year travelling the world there are a lot of thoughts in my head regarding agriculture and farming.

The biggest take-home for me is the universal problem of people wanting what they haven’t got simply through believing the grass is always greener over the fence and genuinely not understanding agriculture and what is involved in food production. . .

Country Calendar: busy life for Young Farmer Of The Year contestant – Melenie Parkes:

Lisa Kendall is a farmer with a full plate. As well as running her own business, she also works at a rural supply store and volunteers with Riding For The Disabled. 

She also won the Northern Regional final of Young Farmer Of The Year competition and is in the running for the Grand Final in July. As if that’s not enough, she is also pregnant with her first baby.

“The baby will be a farming baby,” says Kendall emphatically. “It will have to be,” she laughs. . . 

Energy the next ag evolution? – Cameron Henderson:

This is the first in a series of articles written by the latest crop of Nuffield Scholars. This week Canterbury farmer Cam Henderson looks at the possibility of farmers generating energy while combatting climate change and being easier on the environment.

Prices are good and interest rates are low but farmers’ moods are down because the regulatory pressure gives them little hope for the future. 

Researchers are furiously searching for more sustainable ways of farming food and fibre but what if there was a whole new sector that could provide a light at the end of the tunnel? . . 

Fonterra reaffirms forecast farmgate milk price and earnings guidance, and revises milk collections:

Fonterra Co-operative has reaffirmed its forecast Farmgate Milk Price range at $7.00-7.60 per kgMS and its forecast full-year underlying earnings guidance of 15-25 cents per share. It has also revised its forecast milk collections for the 2020 season down from 1,530 million kgMS to 1,515 million kgMS.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says the Co-operative remains confident in its forecast Farmgate Milk Price range and it is also maintaining its underlying earnings guidance of 15-25 cents per share despite current market conditions as a result of coronavirus. . . 

A2 Milk profit rises as infant formula sales increase:

A2 Milk has delivered a strong financial result, with increased sales in its infant nutrition business and with better than expected profit margins.

The specialty milk company’s net profit rose 21 percent in the six months to December to $184.9m, with an underlying sales margin of 32.6 percent.

Sales rose 32 percent to $806.7m, with a 33 percent gain in the infant nutrition business. . . 

West Coast DHB recruiting ‘rural generalists’ to solve doctor shortage – Lois WIlliams:

The West Coast District Health Board is planning to tackle a shortage of hospital doctors with a new breed of medics: rural generalists.

The Association for Salaried Medical Staff (ASMS) released a staffing survey this month, revealing what it called “a whopping 43 percent shortfall of senior doctors” at the DHB.

Five out of eight heads of department at the West Coast DHB said they did not have enough specialists for their services and estimated they were eight doctors short. . .

NFU tells government to honour UK farm standards pledge :

The government has been urged by the NFU to honour its manifesto commitment in the Agriculture Bill to safeguard UK food and farming standards.

The government has published its future farming policy updates, as the Agriculture Bill goes through the Committee Stage in the House of Commons.

And at the same time, new details on the future post-Brexit Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELM) has been unveiled.

This will see farmers paid for work that enhances the environment, such as tree or hedge planting, river management to mitigate flooding, or creating or restoring habitats for wildlife . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

November 30, 2019

Good sheep meat prices will last – Annette Scott:

Despite global trade wars, Brexit and the impact of African swine fever the trade fundamentals for New Zealand’s sheep meat sector remain among the strongest in living memory.

Spring lambs at $9 a kilogram and record high mutton prices are not a flash in the pan, Beef + Lamb chief economist Andrew Burtt and senior insight analyst Ben Hancock say. 

And the fundamentals leading to record highs in the sheep industry look set to continue for at least the next three years.  . . 

Fonterra claims sustainability progress

It is not easy being green when you are not profitable, Fonterra leaders say in the co-op’s third annual Sustainability Report.

The past financial year was tough and one of significant challenges and fundamental change in the culture and strategy of the co-operative.

“Given the tough year we had it would’ve been easy to push sustainability to one side, whereas we have in fact continued to make progress,” chief executive Miles Hurrell said.

“We have underlined our commitment to the importance of sustainability and firmed up plans to do more on climate change, coal, waste and sustainable packaging.” . . 

New wool partnership ‘one of the biggest’ in New Zealand history – Angie Skerrett:

A new partnership between a Canterbury-based wool company and one of the world’s largest apparel and footwear companies is estimated to be worth more than a quarter of a billion dollars.

The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) and VF Corporation have formalised a framework that will grow the market for ZQ certified merino wool.

ZQ natural fibre is the world’s leading ethical wool with growers having to adhere to the requirements set out in the ZQ Grower Standard. . .

US redwood sequoia company wins approval to buy more NZ land – Eric Frykberg:

A US company wanting to grow giant redwood trees here to sell the lumber back home has won the right to buy another 4000ha in New Zealand.

Tough restrictions on cutting down Redwood, or Sequoia, in the US means people cannot get enough of it to use as a building material.

The wood is especially popular for things like decking and outdoor furniture, as it is admired as both attractive and robust.

To meet the need, the Soper Wheeler Company of California set up the New Zealand Redwood Company in Taupō in 2001.

New Zealand’s moist climate allows higher growth rates for Sequoia than in California. . . 

New tool for farmers to measure their GHG :

Options for farmers have now broadened when it comes to managing their greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint on-farm.

The recent inclusion of urease-coated urea fertilisers as an option in the nutrient budgeting tool OverseerFM means farmers will now be able to demonstrate the benefits of its use in reducing farm emissions.

Urease-inhibited urea fertiliser, such as Ravensdown’s N-Protect, has dual benefits. It decreases volatilisation losses, therefore increasing agronomic efficiency by retaining more nitrogen (N) in the root zone. . . 

Dairy Environment Leaders trade gumboots for suits:

The DairyNZ Dairy Environment Leaders are hosting their 7th Annual farmer-led forum in Wellington from 2 – 4 December with a firm focus on supporting communities and embracing change, says DEL Chairwoman Tracy Brown.

“There is a lot of change currently facing our sector with issues like reducing emissions and improving water quality front of mind for both farmers and the general public” Mrs Brown said.

“Our Dairy Environment Leaders are rising to the challenge and leading from the front as they engage with supporters, critics and other farmers. . . 


Rural round-up

September 29, 2019

Meetings show farm frustration – Colin Williscroft:

High farmer turnouts at meetings trying to explain the Government’s freshwater proposals show the degree of frustration the sector is feeling, Central Hawke’s Bay farmer Sam Robinson says.

Robinson, who attended a meeting a meeting in Napier that attracted 300 to 400 farmers and growers said he and just about everyone else there do not disagree with the proposals’ objectives. It is the approach causing frustration among farmers.

Frustration was also the overwhelming feeling at a meeting in Carterton, targeted specifically at farmers and growers, Farmers Weekly columnist Alan Emerson said. . .

Fonterra faces painful reality – Stephen Bell:

Fonterra has confirmed a farmgate milk price of $6.35/kg MS for last season while recording a net loss after tax of $605 million, an improvement on the forecast loss of up to $675m.

It had sales revenue of $20.1 billion, down 2% with operating expenses of $2.3b, down 7% and capital spending of $600m, down 30%.

Th co-op is reshuffling its management team with its global operations chief operating officer Robert Spurway the only casualty. Fonterra said he chose to leave to return to directly running a company.

Chief executive Miles Hurrell said 2019 was incredibly tough for the co-op but also the year Fonterra made decisions to set it up for future success. . .

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell: ,I knew 100% what I was getting in to’ :

Financial results media scrum over, two interviews with journalists down and a swag more scheduled, Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell’s baby face is starting to take on some harder edges.

It’s been a marathon couple of months leading to Thursday’s formal presentation of the dairy cooperative’s grim annual results, tempered only slightly by the simultaneous unveiling of a bright and shiny new business strategy.

There are only so many times a man can smile while saying “mea culpa New Zealand”. . .

From city to country: Award-winning shepherd kicks career goals.

It’s a brisk winter’s night as Kristy Roa and her teammates jog onto a floodlit sports field in Gisborne.

The 20-year-old shepherd heads for the nearest goal, pulling on a clean set of goalkeeper’s gloves as she goes.

A whistle sounds and it’s not long before a muddy soccer ball is hurtling towards the left corner of the goal. . .

Farmers look after rare mudfish – Toni Williams:

Arable farmer Ian Mackenzie and his wife Diana, opened their Eiffelton property in Mid Canterbury to Foundation for Arable Research’s Women In Arable group, to have a close up look at how farming and environmental protection can work hand in hand.

Mr Mackenzie, a third generation farmer on the Akaunui Farm site, spoke about the efforts to help protect the endangered mudfish which live in the farm’s Purakaunui Creek.

The Mackenzies, even after more than 25 years dealing with mudfish on farm, were still learning about the rare breed, as there were few people who knew a lot about them. . .

Dubbo to host life facilitator Viv Adcock who can talk to animals including livestock – Lucy Kinbacher:

A life facilitator who says she can talk to animals will visit Dubbo in October to offer livestock producers an opportunity to better understand their animals needs.

Sunshine Coast based woman Viv Adcock will visit the property of Merino sheep breeders, the Coddington family, from October 11 to 13 to talk to their animals about a range of topics including nutrition, handling and welfare. Her work is based on building a connection with animals, along with using body language, to perceive an animal’s behaviour.

Ms Adcock said often failure to fall pregnant, lack of production or low yields for either meat or fleece were signals of bigger problems. . .

 


Rural round-up

September 27, 2019

Southland farmer pens powerful open letter to Jacinda Ardern – Esther Taunton:

A Southland farmer has written a powerful “open letter” to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, urging her to hear farmers’ concerns over proposed freshwater standards.

Ashley Lester’s letter said the eight-week consultation period on the Government’s policy reforms fell during the farm’s busiest time of year.

“To clarify, my team are working 12-hour days to take care of my stock, seven days a week,” she wrote. . .

Water, Protest and Engaging with the Process — September 2019 – Elbow Deep:

The Ministry for the Environment is holding a series of meetings around the country as part of their consultation process for the discussion document Action for Healthy Waterways.

Once the consultation has finished and all the submissions have been summarised, the Ministry will pass their advice on to Cabinet who will then issue a National Policy Statement for Freshwater.

That’s it. There’s no select committee hearing and no need for a law change, the NPS will provide direction to regional and district councils as to how they should carry out their responsibilities under the Resource Management Act.

Realising I needed to learn a lot more about the proposals I attended the Ashburton meeting along with some three hundred other concerned locals, and I’m very glad I did because I learned a lot. Not from the officials giving the presentation, as you might expect, but from the well informed members of the audience. . . 

 

Can Fonterra find a fresh future from a curdled past? – Gyles Beckford:

In 2001 the country’s dairy industry elite unveiled plans for a colossus to bestride the globe.

The world’s biggest dairy exporter needed a name – and the ad-men dreamed up Fonterra – a word derived from the Latin phrase ‘fons de terra’ meaning “spring from the land”.

Inaugural chairman John Roadley said the new name would initially mean little to shareholders, staff and the public.

“Our challenge is to ensure Fonterra means something special to our shareholders, our staff and all New Zealanders within our first year,” he said. . .

Fonterra creates jobs in South Taranaki after job cuts, $605 million loss announced – Jane Matthews:

As it struggles to deal with record $605 million losses, dairy giant Fonterra has set out a plan create more than 30 jobs at its South Taranaki site.

But Eltham’s 34-job gain has come at the cost of 65 in Paraparaumu, north of Wellington, where the company is closing a speciality cheese factory.

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell announced the move on Thursday as the company revealed its massive losses during the last financial year. . .

Family turns boutique cheese maker – Toni Williams:

A boutique sheep-milking operation on the edge of Ashburton town is making cheese in the district while the sun still shines.

But decisions on its future will need to be made soon.

Hipi Cheese, owned and operated by Jacy and Allan Ramsay, of Ashburton, started more than four years ago as they worked through their sheep milking processes. Their first milking was in November 2017.

The couple, who both work other jobs, have a micro-farm block of just under 2ha which stocks 24 mostly East Friesian milking ewes but in the past few seasons has included Dairymead genetics with ”a dash of Awassi” . . .

Crops thirsty for more rain – Matt Wallis:

With no substantial rain and the forecast leaving us forever guessing, crops have “hit the wall” as soil moisture reserves have all but depleted coinciding with above average daytime temperatures, wind and multiple frost events.

The current state of the NSW crop is far from perfect and at a crucial stage now of pod filling and flowering while northern Victoria is now beginning to experience symptoms of the NSW crop as the conditions push further south.

While time may be on the side of those further south of the Murrumbidgee, much like Geelong’s chance of adding another premiership to the cabinet, the hour glass is quickly running out. . . 

 


Rural round-up

August 31, 2019

Farmers’ efforts to be rewarded – Neal Wallace:

The sheep and beef sector will soon learn if it is carbon neutral while the Government moves to let farmers offset their emissions.

Beef + Lamb chief insight officer Jeremy Baker believes some sheep and beef farmers are probably carbon neutral given their areas of native bush and tree plantations but they are not formally recognised.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw is asking his officials how existing carbon sequestration on farms can be recognised.

“The Government wants to see a system where positive choices farmers make that are good for the climate are recognised. . . 

Targets missed – Hugh Stringleman:

So will axe swing on Fonterra staff?

Dairy farmers and Fonterra unit investors must be prepared for more bad news from the co-operative on September 12 when the 2019 annual results are disclosed.

The directors and the senior management team have not yet achieved the major targets set by then-interim chief executive Miles Hurrell a year ago.

They were to reduce debt by $800 million, to reduce operating expenses to the level of 2017 and to achieve a return on capital of at least 7%.

His nominated target date was July 31 this year for the debt reduction and July 31 next year for the opex cuts and ROC. . . 

Research: old age in rural New Zealand:

A new study reveals what our oldest of old people need to be able to live independently in small rural communities.  In a first, research carried out by AUT shows what people aged over 85 (our fastest growing older adult group) most need to be able to confidently get to and from opportunities to socialise.  Lynn Freeman speaks with research lead Professor of Well-being and Ageing at AUT Stephen Neville.  The research is published in the International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Wellbeing. . . 

Half a million litres of Pahiatua groundwater to be saved every day :

Half a million litres of Pahiatua groundwater (about the same as 18 milk tanker loads) will be saved every day thanks to the development and installation of a ground-breaking reclaimed water system at the local Fonterra site.

The site team came up with an innovative way to reuse water from condensation that’s produced during the milk powder manufacturing process. Robert Spurway, Fonterra’s COO Global Operations, says the water-saving initiative is a testament to the Pahiatua team’s innovative and can-do approach to sustainability.

“Pahiatua is already Fonterra New Zealand’s most water efficient site, and some clever thinking has taken it to the next level.” 

Simon Gourley is The Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year:

Congratulations to Simon Gourley for taking out the prestigious title of Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year 2019. Simon was representing Central Otago and is Viticulturist at Domaine Thomson.

This is the second year running the trophy has been taken down to Central Otago and the third time in total since the competition started in 2006. Annabel Bulk won the competition in 2018 and Nick Paulin in 2011.

Congratulations also goes to Ben Richards from Indevin in Marlborough who came a very close second. . . 

 

How does a vegetarian defend beef? – Zinta Aistars:

Here’s how Nicolette Hahn Niman shoots down the arguments against eating beef.

One doesn’t usually think of eating as a political act, let alone a revolutionary one, but for many, what lands on the dinner plate not only provides nourishment, but also has become a means for saving the planet. What should and should not land on that plate and how it gets there is where the controversy, and the politics, begin.

Kalamazoo native Nicolette Hahn Niman is an environmental lawyer, rancher, food activist, and vegetarian. She stirs up something of a revolution in her controversial new book, Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production, The Manifesto of an Environmental Lawyer and Vegetarian Turned Cattle Rancher, published by Chelsea Green in October 2014.

Hahn Niman’s first book, Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms (William Morrow, 2009), paves the path to her current work. Porkchop is an exposé of what ails BigAg, or big agriculture, the factory farms that Hahn Niman points out as major polluters across the planet, contributing to climate change, to the detriment of everyone’s health. It is also her love story, as vegetarian meets cattle rancher, Bill Niman, joining forces in marriage and business. . .


Fonterra getting worse to get better?

August 13, 2019

Just a few days ago Andrea Fox asked: Fonterra what is going on?

Yesterday we found out. Fonterra’s email to shareholders and media release made grim reading:

Chief Executive Officer Miles Hurrell said that as a result of the full review of the business which has taken place across the year, as well as the work done so far to prepare its financial statements for FY19, it has become clear that Fonterra needs to reduce the carrying value of several of its assets and take account of other one-off accounting adjustments, which total approximately $820-860 million.

“Since September 2018 we’ve been re-evaluating all investments, major assets and partnerships to ensure they still meet the Co-operative’s needs. We are leaving no stone unturned in the work to turn our performance around. We have taken a hard look at our end-to-end business, including selling and reviewing the future of a number of assets that are no longer core to our strategy. The review process has also identified a small number of assets that we believe are overvalued, based on the outlook for their expected future returns.

“While the Co-op’s FY19 underlying earnings range is within the current guidance of 10-15 cents per share, when you take into consideration these likely write-downs, we expect to make a reported loss of $590-675 million this year, which is a 37 to 42 cent loss per share. . . 

The company is making several one-off financial adjustments:

  • Our accounting valuation for DPA Brazil will be impaired by approximately $200 million. This change is mainly due to the economic conditions in Brazil. While they are improving, consumer confidence and employment rates are not at the level required to support the sales volumes and price points our forecast cashflows were based on. 
  • “As a result of the previously announced sale of our Venezuelan consumer business, and the closing of our small Venezuelan Ingredients business, due to the country’s economic and political instability, we have made an accounting adjustment of approximately $135 million relating primarily to the release of the adverse accumulated foreign currency translation reserve.  
  • “Our carrying value for China Farms will be impaired by approximately $200 million due to the slower than expected operating performance. While the extent in which we participate is under strategic review, the fresh milk category in China continues to look promising and is growing. 
  • “In our New Zealand consumer business, the compounding effect of operational challenges, along with a slower than planned recovery in our market share has resulted in us reassessing its future earnings. We are now rebuilding this business and, as part of this, have sold Tip Top which allows the team to focus on its core business. The combined impact is a write-down of approximately $200 million. 
  • “Our Australian Ingredients business is adapting to the new norm of continued drought, reduced domestic milk supply and aggressive competition in the Australian dairy industry. This includes closing our Dennington factory, which combined with writing off the goodwill in Australia Ingredients, results in a one-off impact of approximately $70 million (this includes the $50 million previously announced as part of the Dennington announcement).

“These are tough but necessary decisions we need to make to reflect today’s realities. . . 

Chairman John Monaghan said that in-light of the significant write-downs that reflect important accounting adjustments Fonterra needed to make, the Board had brought forward its decision on the full year dividend for FY19.

“We have made the call not to pay a dividend for FY19. Our owners’ livelihoods were front of mind when making this decision and we are well aware of the challenging environment farmers are operating in at the moment.

“Ultimately, we are charged with acting in the best long-term interests of the Co-op. The underlying performance of the business is in-line with the latest earnings guidance, but we cannot ignore the reported loss of $590 – $675 million once you look at the overall picture.

Board’s must act in the best interests of the company which is not always in the best short-term interest of shareholders.

“Not paying a dividend for the FY19 financial year is part of our stated intention to reduce the Co-op’s debt, which is in everybody’s long-term interests. . . 

The action that is being taken is a result of bad investments in the past.

Quitting them is both necessary and sensible, but where to from here, what have the board and management learned and what changes must still be made?

Sometimes when a company is in a mess it has to get worse before it gets better.

Suppliers and shareholders will accept the getting worse for a short time  but will run out of patience if the company can’t show it is on the way to getting better soon.


Rural round-up

July 21, 2019

Meeting the gas challenge – Tim Fulton:

New legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will hit farmers in the pocket. Tim Fulton reports.

Waikato farmer George Moss, who operates two dairy farms, believes running a small business can be just as difficult when meeting environmental targets as large scale farming.

Moss and wife Sharon operate two small dairy farms at Tokoroa in south Waikato. One is 72ha milking 180 Friesians and the other is 67ha milking 175 crossbreds. They also own an adjoining 40ha drystock block. . .

Fonterra co-op leader Miles Hurrell – we can turn this around – Jamie Gray:

Nearly a year into his job as chief executive of Fonterra, Miles Hurrell is a man on a very public mission.

Since late last year, the co-op has been pulling out all the stops to streamline itself, improve earnings and trim debt.

There has been no shortage of criticism and there’s a lot at stake. The livelihoods of about 10,000 farmer-shareholders depend on it, and Fonterra is New Zealand’s biggest exporter by far.

Stung by the co-op’s first-ever loss last year, Hurrell’s job is to turn around the supertanker that is Fonterra. . .

Berry farm gets government help to expand hydroponic operation – Esther Taunton:

A $2.37 million loan from the Provincial Growth Fund will allow a Northland company to expand its hydroponic berry-growing operation, creating dozens of new jobs in the process. 

However, not everyone is happy about the arrangement, with the Taxpayers’ Union saying Maungatapere Berries should have got a bank loan.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced the partnership on Friday, saying it would allow the Whangarei-based business to add four hectares of berries to its existing operation. . .

Fingerprinting food :

AgResearch is finding new uses for a machine that uncovers the unique fingerprint of food.

The Crown agency’s lab at Lincoln is using a mass spectrometer to quickly analyse the interaction of genes and the environment.

In a sign of technology advances in the field, work that previously took over an hour can now be done in seconds on samples of meat, milk, plants and wine.

It will open up new opportunities for food science and industry, AgResearch senior research scientist Dr Alastair Ross, who leads the metabolomics platform, says. . .

Handpicked is judges’ top pick

Meat co-op Alliance Group’s Pure South Handpicked 55 Day Aged Beef has won international honours in the World Steak Challenge for the second year running.

Handpicked 55 Day Aged Beef, which combines selection for exceptional quality and marbling with extensive wet ageing, took out a gold medal for ribeye and a bronze medal for fillet at the event in Dublin, Ireland, on July 10.

The latest honours repeat the premium product’s success at last year’s contest, which helps benchmark the quality of beef production against global competitors. There were more than 300 entries from 25 countries in the competition. . . 

A 20% drop in methane emissions would cause global cooling, says expert – Lauren Dean:

A leading environmental professor has said farming can become completely ‘climate neutral’ if agricultural methane emissions are reduced by just 20 per cent over the next 30 years. . . 

Myles Allen, a professor from the University of Oxford, who has served on the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, claimed this kind of gentle reduction in methane emissions would be enough to fully compensate for the warming impact of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide from agriculture.

Farmers have already been cutting methane emissions by 10 per cent every 30 years, through measures such as better slurry storage and application. . .

Ongoing stable methane emissions from cattle doesn’t change the climate – Alan Lauder:

Could it be that a lot of cattle producers world-wide are being unfairly blamed for progressing climate change because of the methane released by their cattle? Going one step further, in this contributed article Alan Lauder, long-time grazier and author of the book Carbon Grazing – The Missing Link,  suggests that the methane emissions of the Australian sheep and cattle industry are not changing the climate, because they have been stable since the 1970’s.

WE have to ask the question, is the current way of comparing methane and carbon dioxide, using the Global Warming Potential (GWP) approach, the best way to assess the outcome of the methane produced by ruminant animals like sheep and cattle?

I raise the point, keeping in mind that the debate is about “climate change”. We keep hearing the comment that we have to limit “change” to two degrees.

I am not suggesting that the science the IPCC and the world is relying on is wrong, but maybe it is worth having another look at how we are interpreting it in the area of ruminant animals. . .

 


Fonterra opening forecast $6.25 – $7.25 per kgMS

May 23, 2019

Fonterra has announced an opening forecast price of $6.25 – $7.25 per kgMS:

Key third-quarter financial performance numbers:

    • Sales volumes: 16.6 billion LME, up 4%
    • Revenue: $15 billion, up 1%
    • Gross margin: $2.2 billion, down 3%
    • Normalised operating expenses: $1.8 billion, down $73 million
    • Normalised EBIT: $522 million, down 9%
    • Capital expenditure: $419 million, down 28%
  • Revised forecast earnings per share range: 10-15 cents from 15-25 cents per share
  • 2018/19 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range: $6.30 – $6.40 per kgMS
  • Opening 2019/20 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range: $6.25 – $7.25 per kgMS
  • 2019/20 Advance Rate Schedule has been set off $6.75 per kgMS

A dollar range in the forecast is a wide one but its an uncertain world and it’s better to be clear about that.

Fonterra Chief Executive Miles Hurrell said that good progress is being made on the strategy review and reiterated that the benefits from those changes will take time to flow through into the Co-op’s financial performance. . .

Farmers and unit holders can expect to see some fluctuation in our earnings over the next couple of years and there will be one-off transactions and adjustments (some positive, some negative) as we reset the business and deliver on our new strategy.

“We are committed to keeping people updated as we make progress. Today’s update is:

    • We are commencing a strategic review of our two wholly-owned farm-hubs in China
    • We have agreed with our partner Nestle to review options for the future ownership of our Dairy Partners Americas (DPA) Brazil joint venture, including a potential sale of respective stakes
    • We are closing our Dennington site in Australia.

“These decisions relate to our new strategic direction – in particular, prioritising our New Zealand milk supply and simplifying our global portfolio, which, as we have said previously, requires us to review every part of business to ensure it meets the needs of the Co-op today.”

Changes had to be made and the new board and management are making them.


Rural round-up

May 15, 2019

Tip Top sale half of debt target – Hugh Stringleman:

The sale of Tip Top to a joint-venture northern hemisphere company, Froneri, for $380 million has achieved almost half of Fonterra’s debt reduction target.

When its Beingmate shareholding is divested and a half share of DFE Pharma is sold, Fonterra should reach its $800m reduction target by July 31.

The Beingmate stake has a market value of about $280m and the DFE share about $200m, based on annual sales figures.

Chief executive Miles Hurrell has therefore made a good start on promised financial reforms of substantial debt reduction, cuts in capital and operational expenditure and 7%-plus return on capital invested by farmer-shareholders and unit holders. . . 

Gisborne woman takes out SI Sheep Dog trials event:

Gisborne’s Jo Waugh has won the zig zag hunt at the South Island sheep dog trial championships, the first time a woman has won the event in more than 100 years.

And not only did the 30-year-old and her huntaway dog, Guy, get on the podium, but two other women also joined her in the top seven, clocking up another achievement in the usually male-dominated event.

The South Island Sheep Dog trials were held in Hanmer Springs this week but farmers and shepherds have been competing since the sport first landed in New Zealand in the 1800s. . . 

MIE man changed priorities fast – Neal Wallace:

Richard Young was elected to the Silver Fern Farms board on a platform of industry restructuring and agitating for a merger with Alliance. Six years later the Otago farmer is the co-operative’s boss. He talks to Neal Wallace.

Richard Young vividly remembers the induction for new directors the evening before his first meeting as an elected member of the Silver Fern Farms board.

It was 2013 and the newly elected directors were taken through the co-operative’s accounts ahead of the annual meeting the next day.

It was not pretty. . . 

Tiny farm run on ethical principles– Sally Brooker:

An Alma family is proud to have set up the district’s smallest dairy farm.

Bethan and Bryan Moore have a herd of just 13 Ayrshire cows with calves on 6ha alongside State Highway 1. They will soon be selling milk in glass bottles.

The Moores bought the land about 18 months ago, after four years of sharemilking in Tasmania. Mrs Moore grew up near Cardiff, Wales and met Mr Moore, a farmer from the North Island, on her travels to New Zealand. . . 

Seeka cuts earnings forecast on smaller crop – Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – Kiwifruit grower and marketer Seeka has cut its full-year earnings guidance by $4 million due to reduced harvests in both New Zealand and Australia.

Group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation are likely to range from $32.5 million to $33.5 million in the 2019 calendar year, down from the $36.5-$37.5 million range the Te Puke-based company signalled a month ago.

Seeka, the biggest kiwifruit producer in New Zealand and Australia, said unseasonably hot, dry weather in both countries has reduced fruit size and crop volumes. . .

Meeting of Otago Drought Group – Sally Rae:

The work of the Otago Drought Group is a great example of farmers and their organisations collaborating to manage climate challenges locally, Agriculture and Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor says.

The group met again this week to update its discussions on the dry conditions in the Clutha district, how farmers were faring and what actions might be needed.

The group, which included Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead, representatives from Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, the Otago Rural Support Trust and the Ministry for Primary Industries, convened early in any adverse weather event. . . 

Flying Pig cafe going to market:

One of the Waitaki district’s most recognisable restaurants is on the market.

The Flying Pig Cafe, with its distinctive porcine pink exterior, has long been a landmark in Duntroon.

It has been closed since illness befell its owners in early 2017, and is now for sale.

An Auckland couple bought the cafe in 2007 after discovering it during a holiday driving around the South Island. Business began to soar after the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail opened in 2014. . . 

Hi-tech boosts growers’ bottom lines:

“Incredibly clever” technology that elevates cool rooms into a state-of-the-art controlled atmosphere chambers is helping Hawke’s Bay’s growers make the very best of their crops.

It is not just about chilling fruit, it is about controlling the air conditions inside the cooler to hold it in the best possible state until market conditions are optimal; which could be any time over the 12 months after the crop has been picked.

Next week, growers have the opportunity to learn more about that technology from the Europeans who make it. . . 


Rural round-up

March 8, 2019

Test will come when new cattle rustling laws applied

Livestock rustlers could spend up to seven years in prison when new penalties are imposed but a Northland farming official says police need more resources to investigate and take rural crimes more seriously.

The Crimes Amendment Bill, which was passed unanimously by Parliament on Tuesday, makes theft of livestock or any other animal, including beehives and farm dogs, an offence liable for up to seven years in prison.

Also passed was the offence of unlawful entry on agricultural land with the intent to steal livestock or to act unlawfully against specified things such as buildings or machinery on that land — a crime which could see the offender put behind bars for up to a decade.

It makes it the same penalty as for burglary. . . 

Water levels drop and fire dangers rise as drought continues in Nelson – Tim Newman:

Water restrictions in Nelson continue to tighten as the region continues its long dry period into the beginning of Autumn. 

Nelson’s Maitai Dam, which supplies the city with drinking water, has seen its water levels drop significantly during that time. 

Nelson City Council infrastructure group manager Alec Louverdis said the dam was currently 71 per cent full.  . . 

The future of food production from a female perspective:

Nine influential Kiwi women from across the primary industries sector are gathering in Manawatu next week to discuss where-to-next for our food producing nation. They’re coming together as part of the ASB Perspective 2025 round-table discussion, which is a headline event at this year’s New Zealand AgriFood Week in Palmerston North.

It’s the fourth year ASB has been the main sponsor of New Zealand AgriFood Week, which is delivered by the Central Economic Development Agency, and its unique perspective panel is considered a must attend event at the Globe Theatre in Palmerston North. . . 

Majority of beekeepers vote against commodity levy on honey:

Commercial beekeepers have voted not to support the introduction of a honey levy with only 23.56% voting for the introduction of a commodity levy.

Commenting on the result Bruce Wills, Chair of Apiculture NZ, the industry organisation which led the commodity levy proposal says: “It’s no secret that this is not the outcome I, or the Board, wanted to see. I believe it will set back the development of the honey industry, but I understand that at present commercial beekeepers are hurting with the erosion in honey prices as a result of over-supply, for all floral types other than mānuka honey.” . . 

Bids for Fonterra’s Tip Top due in by Monday – Jenny Ruth:

(BusinessDesk) – Indicative bids to buy Tip Top ice-cream from Fonterra Cooperative Group are due in by Monday, according to the Australian Financial Review which says it has seen a copy of the confidential information memorandum.

Its Street Talk column says the business is being pitched by First NZ Capital as a “unique opportunity to invest in an iconic New Zealand company with 80 years of heritage.”

While the memorandum talks about Tip Top’s “unrivalled market position,” it also notes that Unilever, which has the rights to Magnum ice-cream and a host of dairy free products, dominates the premium end of the market where the fat margins are. . . 

Fonterra appoints Judith Swales COO Global Foodservice:

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell has confirmed Judith Swales to the role of Chief Operating Officer, Global Consumer and Foodservice. This follows her appointment to the role in an acting capacity earlier this year.

Miles Hurrell says “Judith has been providing strong leadership into our Consumer and Foodservice business unit, and the momentum she has gathered deserves to be continued.” . . 

Scales Corporation enters into petfood joint Venture with Alliance Group:

Diversified agribusiness Scales Corporation Limited today announced an agreement to enter into a petfood Joint Venture (JV) with Alliance Group Limited (Alliance). Under the terms of the JV, Alliance will pay $15 million to acquire a 50% interest in Meateor’s New Zealand business and operations.

Managing Director Andy Borland says: “We are pleased to enter into a partnership with one of New Zealand’s leading farmer co-operatives. This venture is about developing New Zealand as the premier supplier of petfood proteins. We think the venture provides a number of benefits to the entire New Zealand petfood-supply industry including as an avenue for the industry to improve scale; improved relationships with customers including the ability to commit to longer-term relationships; an ability to move into higher value and added value ingredients; and ability to leverage extended customer and supplier networks.” . . 


Rural round-up

March 7, 2019

Miles Hurell says Fonterra top job was never a done-deal :

The Country’s Jamie Mackay always thought Miles Hurrell would be a shoo-in for Fonterra’s chief executive position but the man himself says it was never a done deal.

“Far from it. They gave me an opportunity to see what we could do in that six months [as interim CEO] and clearly it’s worked. The board have liked what they’ve seen,” said Hurrell.

Fonterra’s new chief executive told Mackay he is well aware that he has a big job ahead of him. . . 

Years of work ahead to eradicate M. bovis, programme director says  – Brianna McIlraith:

More than 80,000 cows have been culled around the country as part of the effort to stop the spread of the Mycoplasma bovis disease, but eradication is still a long way off, the man in charge of the programme says.

Geoff Gwyn said another two years of ‘heavy lifting’ lay ahead before the Ministry for Primary Industries was confidently on top of the bacterial disease, and experts had advised that eradication could take between five and 10 years. . .

Potentialseen in double-muscled Beltx sheep breed – Sally Rae:

A Southland farming family has invested significantly in the Beltex sheep breed, believing it will be of ”major benefit” to the New Zealand sheep industry.

Brent and Ann-Maree Robinson, and son Michael, who farm at Glenham, near Wyndham, last year paid $12,000 for a ram lamb at the inaugural Beltex sale in Canterbury.

Last week, they bought the second top-priced ram lamb for $21,000 at this year’s sale at Mt Somers, a 2-tooth ram for $11,500 and some Beltex ewes to help build their breeding programme. . . 

Woman claims inaugural female shearing crown – Ellen O’Dwyer:

Emily Welch still remembers the time a fellow male competitor refused to shake her hand for out-shearing him.

That was in 2007, when Welch came second in the senior finals at the Golden Shears.

Now the Waikato shearer is the first to have her name etched on the women-only trophy after taking first place in the inaugural event at this year’s Golden Shears competition in Masterton. . . 

Community rallies to support Cambridge wetlands project :

A Cambridge school’s planting project not only assisted local farmers’ environmental efforts, but also attracted plants and sustenance from local businesses.

As part of an environmental initiative between DairyNZ’s education programme and the Student Volunteer Army, 26 rural schools were matched recently with 26 farmers to carry out riparian planting projects around the country.

Two farmers taking part were sharemilkers Stu and Leah Gillanders, who teamed up with a class from Cambridge Middle School to plant a wetland on Merv and Marion Hunt’s Karapiro farm. . .

Dannevirke TeenAg award winner’s passion for Hereford  cattle :

Dannevirke teenager Niamh Barnett knows first-hand how nerve-racking bidding at a livestock auction can be.

The 17-year-old bought some Hereford cows at the Woodlynd Polled Herefords dispersal sale in Gisborne in February 2018.

“I went with a price I was prepared to pay for each animal. I just hoped I didn’t get outbid,” she laughed. . . 


Rural round-up

March 6, 2019

Miles Hurrell permanently appointed Fonterra chief executive officer:

Fonterra Co-operative Group (FCG) has announced the permanent appointment of Miles Hurrell as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), with immediate effect.

Mr Hurrell had been the Co-operative’s interim CEO since August last year.

Fonterra Chairman, John Monaghan says the Co-operative’s Board has been impressed by Mr Hurrell’s leadership and commercial skills as it continued to breathe fresh air into the Co-operative. . . 

Fonterra caught in death valley :

The sale of Tip Top is crucial to Fonterra’s aim of reducing its debt by $800 million before the end of this financial year, dairy industry commentator Peter Fraser believes.

Fast-moving consumer goods companies can command some very high multiples of earnings when being traded.

Fraser is an economist who advised the Ministry of Agriculture during Fonterra’s restructuring attempt a decade ago and has commented on the dairy industry since.  . . 

M. Bovisfoundonthreefarms – Sally Rae:

Bulk milk testing from all dairy farms has confirmed Mycoplasma bovis infection on three farms, the Ministry for Primary Industries’ latest stakeholder update says. All three properties had previously known links to the bacterial cattle disease.

Another 51 farms would be further investigated as part of routine surveillance while testing was yet to be completed from about 50 farms that calved later in the season.

Testing would begin shortly after calving because the bacteria was more likely to be shed during times of stress, such as after calving and the start of lactation, the update said. . . 

Alex woolhandler to represent NZ at champs – Sally Rae:

It’s bonjour France for Alexandra-based woolhandler Pagan Karauria. Karauria (30) will represent New Zealand at the world championships in Le Dorat in July, after gaining selection at the Golden Shears in Masterton on Saturday night.

Her success was even more remarkable given she suffered life-threatening injuries in a vehicle crash in Central Otago 10 and a-half years ago and has battled with the lasting effects since. . . 

Indoor lambing unit is in enviro contest – Joanna Grigg:

Richard Dawkins of The Pyramid has entered his family sheep and cattle business in the 2019 Cawthron Marlborough Environmental Awards and is up against forestry, marine, wine industry, landscape/habitat, community innovation and business innovation entries for the supreme title.

The winners will be named on March 22.

The Pyramid is in contention for the Federated Farmers Award for sheep and beef entries.  . . 

Farm loan delinquencies highest in 9 years as prices slump – Roxana Hegeman:

The nation’s farmers are struggling to pay back loans after years of low crop prices and a backlash from foreign buyers over President Donald Trump’s tariffs, with a key government program showing the highest default rate in at least nine years.

Many agricultural loans come due around Jan. 1, in part to give producers enough time to sell crops and livestock and to give them more flexibility in timing interest payments for tax filing purposes.

“It is beginning to become a serious situation nationwide at least in the grain crops — those that produce corn, soybeans, wheat,” said Allen Featherstone, head of the Department of Agricultural Economics at Kansas State University. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 19, 2018

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell responds to claims co-op is a failed experiment:

This week, the Herald published an article by industry observer Tony Baldwin, which argued in some depth that Fonterra has been a failed experiment. What follows is a response from Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell to that article.

I took the job of CEO of Fonterra because I believe in the Co-op’s potential and the positive difference it makes to New Zealand and consumers around the world.

It’s clear the challenge is big and we don’t always get everything right. I’ve been open about that with our farmers, unit holders, employees and the New Zealand public.

Now our focus has shifted to rolling up our sleeves and getting on with the job. We are well underway with our business review, which will deliver a balanced portfolio of high-performing investments, aligned to strategy and delivering returns across the short, medium and longer term. . .

Hands-on hard yards training – Hamish MacLean:

Colderidge Downs, in the Rakaia Gorge, looks like paradise, but the Coleridge Down Training Farm is home to hands-on hard-yards-style training for youth with a passion for agriculture and the outdoors.

Covering extensive hill country to intensive irrigated pastoral land, the group of central Canterbury farms cover about 10,000ha, run 42,000 stock units, and take on three cadets a year to ultimately gain level 3 and 4 qualifications through primary ITO in a two-year course.

Lachie Mee (18) finished at Waitaki Boys’ High School as a year 12 pupil last year and started at Coleridge Downs in January along with two other first-year cadets.
And when he started, he quickly learned he had entered the workforce. . . 

 

Pāmu Deer Milk Wins Novel Food Award at NZ Food Awards:

Pāmu is excited to announce its success at the prestigious Massey University New Zealand Food Awards, taking home the Novel Food or Beverage Award for its groundbreaking deer milk product.

The announcement was made at the NZ Food Awards Gala Dinner last night, an event which highlights the best New Zealand has to offer in the food and beverage industry.

“The Food Awards are all about rewarding innovation, which makes this acknowledgement very meaningful to us,” said Pāmu Chief Executive, Steve Carden. “We spent over three years testing and trialing deer milk and have been incredibly pleased with the reception it has received amongst the restaurant industry. We knew it had broad appeal for desserts but have been really inspired by the range of savory applications we’ve seen chefs across the country develop. Some chefs have even created deer-milk cocktails.” . . 

Marks & Spencer weave NZ’s troubled wool into new line – Eric Frykberg:

New Zealand’s troubled coarse wool industry could benefit from a new line in sustainable clothing at British retail giant Marks & Spencer.

Six lines of men’s blazers have gone on sale at stores throughout Britain, made with New Zealand product.

Coarse wool has been struggling to earn its keep for years, with greater volumes having to be put onto the market in an often unsuccessful attempt to make up for falling prices.

Only fine fibre from breeds such as merino have helped the wool sector to prosper overall. . . 

‘Have your Say’ campaign launched for Rural NZ:

National Leader Simon Bridges has today launched the ‘Have Your Say’ listening campaign for Rural New Zealand as the next step in National’s 2020 election policy development process.

“We know farmers and growers contribute $42 billion a year in exports that sees 350,000 people employed in the sector, and New Zealand’s success depends on it. This success is underpinned by sustainable business practices that continue to enhance the environment for our children.

“We want to make sure rural communities can access top-quality public services and infrastructure like broadband, rural policing, education and health services. . .

Big cheese competition – Robyn Bristow:

Amateur cheesemakers will pit their skills against one another in the third annual Amateur Cheesemakers Competition at the Oxford Farmers Market on Sunday.

Those with a passion for cheesemaking must have their cheeses entered by 9am to be in with a chance of picking up a $50 prize. A $5 Farmers’ Market voucher will be given to everyone who enters.

Anyone wanting to be part of the taster/judging panel can register for $2, giving them the chance to taste all the entries and pick the three cheeses that tempt their tastebuds the most. . . 


Fonterra drops forecast payout

October 10, 2018

Fonterra has dropped its forecast farmgate milk payout for the current season:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today revised its 2018/19 forecast Farmgate Milk Price from $6.75 per kgMS to a range of $6.25-$6.50 per kgMS and increased its forecast New Zealand milk collection volumes by 1.3 per cent to 1,550 million kgMS.

While no-one will be celebrating this, it’s not unexpected and it’s still not a bad price.

Although it’s very early in the season and it could well change again.

Fonterra Chief Executive, Miles Hurrell, says the change in the forecast Farmgate Milk Price was due to a stronger global milk supply relative to demand at this time.

“I know how hard it is for farmers when the forecast Farmgate Milk Price drops, but it’s important they have the most up to date picture so they can make the best decisions for their farming businesses.

“We are still seeing strong production coming from Europe, US and Argentina. While the hot weather in Europe has slowed down the region’s production growth, it is still tracking ahead of last year. US milk production is up slightly and Argentina’s is up 6.8%.

“Here in New Zealand, the season has got off to a positive start, mainly thanks to good weather and early calving in the South Island. As a result, we have increased our forecast milk collections for the year to 1,550 million kgMS – up from 1,525 million kgMS.”

Mr Hurrell says that global demand is simply not matching current increases in supply.

“At recent Global Dairy Trade (GDT) events, prices for all products that make up the milk price have fallen. Demand for WMP, in particular, continues to grow in China, and it remains strong across South East Asia, but it simply isn’t matching current levels of supply.”

Talking about the new move to provide a range for the forecast Farmgate Milk Price, Mr Hurrell says it was part of the Co-op’s intention to provide the best possible signals.

“We operate in a hugely volatile global market place, so it is very difficult to pinpoint an exact forecast Farmgate Milk Price this early in the season. For example, weather conditions can change suddenly and this can have a significant impact on the global milk supply.

“As a result, we have chosen to give a range of $6.25-$6.50 per kgMS and be clear that the Advance Rate is based on $6.25 per kgMS and the final price could be outside this range as we are still early in the season and up against considerable volatility. We therefore recommend farmers budget with ongoing caution.”

The timing of today’s update is driven by available market information and is not a DIRA requirement. Fonterra is required to give a forecast for DIRA purposes by 15 December 2018.

Supply and demand – the former is higher than the latter which depresses the price.

It’s as simple as that.

 


Rural round-up

October 2, 2018

Fonterra’s China farms are a target for asset sales – Keith Woodford:

This is the first of a two-part series putting Fonterra’s China Farms under scrutiny. In this first part, the focus is on the origins of how Fonterra managed to entrap itself in its loss-making China Farms project.

Fonterra’s new leadership team of Chair John Monaghan, CEO Miles Hurrell and CFO Marc Rivers has made it clear in recent farmer meetings that debt reduction is a priority.  All options are supposedly on the table. However, the only way to achieve rapid debt reduction is by selling non-strategic assets. In that context, Fonterra’s China Farms must surely be lined up in the cross wires.

Fonterra’s China Farms have been loss-making for at least four years. Accumulated losses over that period, using market prices rather than internal transfer prices, total NZD $179 million EBIT.  These losses are before any contribution to Fonterra’s unallocated overheads of nearly $500 million per annum or paying interest on the borrowed capital. More detail on that in Part 2 of this series. . .

Planting a billion trees – Primary Land Users Group:

How does that relate to the Waikato Region under PC1?

The Government has set a goal to plant one billion trees over 10 years (between 2018 and 2027).

Why plant 1 billion trees? The short answer is because trees absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and turn it into wood, which holds carbon for as much as hundreds of years. Trees absorb CO2, protect the soil, improve water quality and create wildlife habitat. The long answer is because New Zealand has committed to reduce greenhouse gas levels which contribute to climate change. It has three reduction targets – for 2020, 2030 and 2050.

Urbanitess keen for a career in dairy :

One in five of all people wanting to take up a dairy apprenticeship is coming from New Zealand’s biggest city, and Primary ITO chief executive Linda Sissons says many more will be needed where they came from. Primary ITO (industry training organisation) and Federated Farmers are celebrating the first year of the joint Federated Farmers Apprenticeship Dairy. . .

Have your say on the dairy herd management scheme:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) wants to hear from the dairy industry and people with an interest in how the dairy herd improvement regulatory regime can help to ensure that New Zealand’s dairy industry remains world leading.

The dairy herd improvement regulatory regime has not been comprehensively reviewed since it was established in 2001, says Emma Taylor, MPI’s Director of Agriculture, Marine & Plant Policy. “It’s important the dairy herd improvement regulatory regime reflects the changing needs of the dairy industry. It’s timely to look at how the regulatory settings can better support industry both now and into the future. . .

Consuming milk at breakfast lowers blood glucose throughout the day :

A change in breakfast routine may provide benefits for the management of type 2 diabetes, according to a new study published in the Journal of Dairy Science. H. Douglas Goff, PhD, and the team of scientists from the Human Nutraceutical Research Unit at the University of Guelph, in collaboration with the University of Toronto, examined the effects of consuming high-protein milk at breakfast on blood glucose levels and satiety after breakfast and after a second meal. Milk consumed with breakfast cereal reduced postprandial blood glucose concentration compared with water, and high dairy protein concentration reduced postprandial blood glucose concentration compared with normal dairy protein concentration. The high-protein treatment also reduced appetite after the second meal compared with the low-protein equivalent.

“Metabolic diseases are on the rise globally, with type 2 diabetes and obesity as leading concerns in human health,” Dr. Goff and team said. “Thus, there is impetus to develop dietary strategies for the risk reduction and management of obesity and diabetes to empower consumers to improve their personal health.” . .

Capacity crowd expected at inaugural ‘Beyond Bovis’ seminar:

 Hundreds of farmers and rural professionals are expected to attend the inaugural ‘Beyond Bovis’ seminar in Hamilton next month Held in conjunction with the Waikato A&P Show the event is, according to the Director of Showing Waikato, Doug Lineham, the first of its kind in New Zealand, its goal being to rebuild and strengthen the New Zealand cattle industry in the wake of Mycoplasma Bovis (Mb).

The impact of (Mb) has extended beyond the breeding and animal containment strategies of individual farms to a widespread impact on the movement of all cattle,” Doug Lineham said. . .

 

Good and bad news in Fonterra’s annual report

September 13, 2018

Fonterra’s annual report has both good and bad news:

The good – last season’s payout dropped a cent but is still the third highest the company has achieved.

The bad – a net loss after tax of $196 million.

Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson Chris Lewis says the company must do better.

“That’s the first full-year loss in their 18-year history. From a $745 million profit last financial year to a $200 million loss – that’s a big drop and they simply must do better. But I’m confident they’ll turn things around.”

Chris says farmers and shareholders will be looking for the new chief executive and chairperson to hit the ground running.

“I hope those two have a new broom for the shop floor. Good communication will be key.” . . .

Highlights:

  • Total Cash Payout for 2017/18 season: $6.79
    • Farmgate Milk Price $6.69 per kgMS
    • Dividend of 10 cents per share
  • New Zealand milk collections: 1,505 million kgMS, down 1%
  • Sales volumes: 22.2 billion Liquid Milk Equivalents (LME), down 3%
  • Normalised sales revenue: $20.4 billion, up 6%
  • Net loss after tax: $196 million
  • Normalised EBIT: $902 million, down 22% 
  • Normalised gross margin: 15.4%, down from 16.9%
  • Return on capital: 6.3%, down from 8.3%
  • Normalised earnings per share: 24 cents
  • Gearing ratio: 48.4%, up from 44.3%
  • FY19 forecast Farmgate Milk Price: $6.75 per kgMS
  • FY19 forecast earnings per share range: 25-35 cents 

It might be easier for a new chair and new, albeit acting, CEO to make the necessary changes to improve performance than it would had the board and management stayed the same.

Director elections are underway and could bring in some fresh talent that will help the process.

The media release continues:

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says the Co-operative’s business performance must improve.

“There’s no two ways about it, these results don’t meet the standards we need to live up to. In FY18, we did not meet the promises we made to farmers and unitholders,” says Mr Hurrell.

“At our interim results, we expected our performance to be weighted to the second half of the year. We needed to deliver an outstanding third and fourth quarter, after an extremely strong second quarter for sales and earnings – but that didn’t happen.”

Mr Hurrell says that in addition to the previously reported $232 million payment to Danone relating to the arbitration, and $439 million write down on Fonterra’s Beingmate investment, there were four main reasons for the Co-operative’s poor earnings performance.

“First, forecasting is never easy but ours proved to be too optimistic. Second, butter prices didn’t come down as we anticipated, which impacted our sales volumes and margins. Third, the increase in the forecast Farmgate Milk Price late in the season, while good for farmers, put pressure on our margins. And fourth, operating expenses were up in some parts of the business and, while this was planned, it was also based on delivering higher earnings than we achieved.

“Even allowing for the payment to Danone and the write down on Beingmate, which collectively account for 3.2% of the increase in the gearing ratio, our performance is still down on last year.”

Mr Hurrell says when looking at the underlying performance of the business, which you can see in the normalised EBIT of $902 million, progress has been made in moving more milk into higher value products.

“While sales volumes were down 3% in FY18, a larger proportion of milk was sold through Consumer and Foodservice and Advanced Ingredients. In fact, 45% of our sales volumes were through these businesses and this is up from 42% in FY17, despite the higher input-price environment.

“Our Consumer and Foodservice business grew in all regions, except Oceania, with our strongest growth in Greater China. Of particular note, our Consumer business in China broke even this year, two years ahead of schedule. A big contributor to this success is the popularity of Anchor, which is now the number one brand of imported UHT milk in both online and offline sales in China.

“Despite this progress, performance across the Co-operative was below our expectations. Based on this, the Board has decided to limit our dividend to just the 10 cents paid in April and has confirmed the final Farmgate Milk Price for the 2017/18 season at $6.69 per kgMS,” added Mr Hurrell.

Plan for the future:

Mr Hurrell says these results are not just numbers – they’re the livelihoods of the Co-operative’s farmers and their families and the investment of unitholders.

“There are people depending on us – farmers, unitholders and employees who want to be part of a successful Co-operative. We are putting in place a clear plan for how we are going to lift Fonterra’s performance. It relies on us doing a number of things differently.

Fonterra’s Board and Management has outlined a plan based on three immediate actions:

  1. Taking stock of the business Fonterra will re-evaluate all investments, major assets and partnerships to ensure they still meet the Co-operative’s needs today. This will involve a thorough analysis of whether they directly support the strategy, are hitting their target return on capital and whether it can scale them up and grow more value over the next two-three years. This will start with a strategic review of the Co-operative’s investment in Beingmate.
  2. Getting the basics right – Fonterra has already begun taking action and fixing the businesses that are not performing. The level of financial discipline will be lifted throughout the Co-operative so debt can be reduced and return on capital improved.
  3. Ensuring more accurate forecasting – the business will be run on more realistic forecasts with a clear line of sight on potential opportunities as well as the risks. It will also be clear on its assumptions, so farmers and unitholders know exactly where they stand and can make the decisions that are right for them and their businesses.

And the outlook for the coming season:

The forecast Farmgate Milk Price for the 2018/19 season is held at the $6.75 per kgMS Fonterra announced at the end of August and the Co-operative’s forecast earnings per share range for FY19 is 25-35 cents.

At $6.75 per kgMS the forecast Farmgate Milk Price for the 2018/19 season is the third consecutive year of strong milk prices. That’s good for farmers and for rural economies where farmers spend 46 cents of every dollar they earn.

Chairman John Monaghan says the Co-operative is being clear with farmers and unitholders on what it will take for the Co-operative to achieve the forecast earnings guidance.

“For the first time we are sharing some business unit specific forecasts. Among others, these see the Ingredients and Consumer and Foodservice businesses achieving an EBIT of between $850 million and $950 million, and between $540 million and $590 million, respectively.”

“FY19 is about lifting the performance of our Co-operative.

“We are taking a close look at the Co-operative’s current portfolio and direction to see where change is needed to do things faster, reduce costs and deliver higher returns on our capital investments.

“This includes an assessment of all of the Co-operative’s investments, major assets and partnerships against our strategy and target return on capital. You can expect to see strict discipline around cost control and respect for farmers’ and unitholders’ invested capital. That’s our priority.”

The results are here.

 


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