Rural round-up

September 7, 2016

Techno-lucerne: getting the best out of bulls – Kate Taylor:

Driving into the sweeping park-like driveway of a Takapau farm, the last thing you think of is bulls. Kate Taylor found out why.

Nothing spells out spring more than lambs and daffodils.

You won’t find many woolly creatures on the Central Hawke’s Bay farm of Angus and Esther Mabin, apart from the ones keeping the grass down in the home paddock.

You will find daffodils though. Thousands of them planted across more than 8ha by Angus’ Mum Railene over 40 years and now sold as a fundraiser for CHB Plunket. Every September, giant-sized daffodil signs grace the side of SH2 south of Waipukurau and locals and visitors swarm to the farm known as Taniwha.

“It’s all hands on deck at this time of year. I tend to go and hide on the farm though… thistle spraying is a highly-productive occupation for me in September,” Angus laughs. . . 

Thinking Of Starting a Micro Dairy. Don’t Do It! – Milking on the Moove:

I’ve been selling milk from my micro dairy for over 1.5 years now. I started with 7 cows and I’m now milking 55 cows and selling milk all over Christchurch to some of the top cafe’s and restaurants.

I’m selling direct to the public as well and we are about to start supplying supermarkets too.

So things are going well. At least from the outside it looks successful.

Internally, it feels like a complete shit show in which I’m only just hanging on.

I now employ 2 full time staff and I literally work 14 hours a day 6 days a week. Which is exactly the opposite of what I set out to achieve. . . 

Marlborough companies ordered to remove grape byproduct – Mike Watson:

A Marlborough man with the goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable wine producer has again been ordered to remove a dump of grape byproduct after it leached into a waterway. 

Peter Yealands was handed an abatement notice by the Marlborough District Council to remove grape marc after thousands of tonnes were dumped on leased farmland on the eastern Wither Hills, south of Blenheim, during this year’s harvest.

He was previously issued an abatement notice by the council in 2014 for grape marc sites on six properties in Seddon. . . 

What happened when the apple dropped – Rob Mitchell:

Rob Mitchell talks to a scientist whose chance encounter with an apple took her into food science and engineering.

“A trail of serendipity.” That’s how Auckland academic Bryony James describes her career so far.

It’s a trail that began in Cornwall, England, and has taken her halfway round the world to an idyllic five-acre property in the Waitakere Ranges and a prominent role as deputy dean of the Faculty of Engineering in the city’s university.

Much to the benefit of the New Zealand dairy industry and the wider economy.

Between those two points the path has been diverted and redirected by a distaste for British politics, a chance meeting in a student pub,  an awkward coffee in a McDonald’s and the nudge of a Newtonian apple.

Let’s start in the pub.  . . 

Bee and agrichemical industry join to promote bee safety:

Agcarm and Apiculture New Zealand have announced the release of a campaign to increase awareness of the importance of keeping bees safe by using agrichemicals responsibly.

The campaign highlights the need for farmers and beekeepers to work together to manage the use of agrichemicals near hives. A flyer and poster have been produced on how to protect bees from unintended exposure to agrichemicals as well as tips on reducing risks to bees.

Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross says “bees are extremely good pollinators of crops, so contribute substantially to New Zealand’s multi-billion dollar agricultural economy.” . . 

What’s up with my #60 Acres? Uptown Farms:

I  love the emails I have been getting asking about #My60Acres!  The summer has gotten away from me so before we get much closer to harvesting I wanted to share with you some more from the growing season!

If I had to describe this growing season in one word it would be “blessed”.  After the initial cold spell right after planting, we have had rain and temperatures that are ideal for growing corn – at least right here.  Some of our neighbors have had way too much rain – some as much as 10+ inches in 24 hours, and some of our neighbors are too dry.  But we have gotten very timely rains in manageable amounts.

Unfortunately, the corn prices are reflecting the good growing conditions much of the corn belt is experiencing and even with good yields it’s going to be a very hard season financially. . . 

Freshwater Salmon Industry Consolidates:

Queenstown-based Mount Cook Alpine Salmon (MCAS) has announced the purchase of South Canterbury salmon company, Aoraki Smokehouse Salmon Ltd.

Both companies operate Freshwater King Salmon farms on the South Canterbury hydro canals in the MacKenzie district.

MCAS has a current production of just over 1000 tonnes of salmon and Aoraki produces just under 600 tonnes of salmon a year.

“The purchase is a logical step in the growth of the business with the majority of MCAS production going to high-end overseas customers, while Aoraki’s production, particularly its sought-after smoked salmon products, is highly regarded in the domestic market,” says MCAS Chief Executive, David Cole. . . 

EPA grounds aerial spraying application:

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has declined an application for the insecticide Exirel to be also used as an aerial spray to control stock crop pests.

DuPont Limited applied to extend the use of Exirel to allow aerial spraying over uneven terrain and during wet conditions. Exirel contains the active ingredient cyantraniliprole, and is already approved for ground-based use to control caterpillars and aphids in fodder brassica crops, such as turnips, swede, forage, rape and kale. . . 

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No farmers, no food, no future.


Rural round-up

January 14, 2016

Partnerships the key to China business models – Allan Barber:

It’s true of any marketing and distribution strategy, but China’s size and comparatively underdeveloped cold chain make this factor even more important for the successful development of agricultural business there.

With all export markets it is important for companies to analyse and select the preferred product type and form, business segment, geographic target area, and method of reaching the identified market. Market access and tariffs are other important considerations. When an export destination has been selected, a scattergun approach almost certainly won’t work, while a too narrowly defined market may be equally unsuccessful. . . 

Sprout Agribusiness Programme & Who Wants To Go Mobile Milking? – Milking on the Moove:

For the last 2 years I’ve been working full time to set up an experimental prototype dairy system. The plan has always been to “pave the way”so other people, like me can go farming even if they don’t have any land or very much money.

I believe it was Peter Brock who said “Bite off more than you can chew and then chew like crazy”.

That describes my last two years quite accurately.

Without going into all the details, I’ve learnt a lot over the last two years and now it’s time to crank things up and get this show on the road for real. . .

Novel idea helps rebuild South Island crayfish stocks  – Dave Gooselink:

A forestry company has taken on the job of rebuilding stocks of freshwater crayfish in the South.

The unusual combination came about as a way of finding other uses for the forests’ emergency fire ponds.

The freshwater crayfish known as koura are listed as a threatened species by the Department of Conservation. Now they’re getting a boost, thanks to an unusual project by forestry company Ernslaw One.

It came up with the idea of farming koura in their fire ponds, as a way of bringing in extra income between harvests. . . 

Bad to best: all because of steep slope innovations:

New Zealand forestry has gone from a bad performer to being one of the best, and John Stulen says this is because of the new innovations in steep slope harvesting.

In recent years, New Zealand forestry has faced massive hurdles in safety, especially on steep slopes. Too many accidents occurred because workers were facing too many risks in the workplace – it had to stop. However, leaders in the forest industry have stepped up to the challenge, hugely reducing the number of serious accidents.

“It’s no coincidence that forest workplaces have become safer,” says John Stulen, co-organizer of the Steep Slope Logging Conference. He says a completely new generation of hi-tech steep slope harvesters has made the forest workplace much safer for everyone working at the felling face. . . 

Rare sheep conditions unites industry:

A combination of rare conditions has tormented sheep farmers Hamish, Annabel, Alastair and Sue Craw on their Banks Peninsula farm Longridge Agriculture Ltd for the past 10 years.

Since 2004, the Craws have been dealing with a range of animal health issues that have yet to be explained. To start with, their sheep were wasting away with an extreme case of wearing teeth. In 2013 an extremely rare calcium deficiency was causing their lambs’ legs to fracture, and in 2015 milk fever issues also arose in their ewes.

Alastair Craw says in the beginning the situation was having a significant economic impact on the business, with the more productive animals faring the worst. . . 

T-shirt competition launched to celebrate 30yrs of sponsoring Young Farmers:

This year will be Ravensdown’s 30th year sponsoring the FMG Young Farmer of the Year. To celebrate the farmer owned cooperative is launching a national t-shirt competition.

Greg Campbell, Ravensdown Chief Executive says the key to any long standing sponsorship or business relationship is a mutual respect and interest.

“We’re thrilled to be celebrating such a big milestone with Young Farmers. We’ve been right behind them for such a long time because we believe in supporting the next generation of farmers who are the future of our industry.” . . 

A new generation beginning to take over the reins at Hunter’s:

One of the leading ladies of New Zealand wine, Jane Hunter says her Hunter’s winery is seeing a new generation of winemakers step up and take on key roles as Hunter’s approaches 30 years.

She says Hunter’s produces about 100,000 cases and export to 23 countries and this is her 29th year in the role of owner and managing director of Hunter’s.

“Things have certainly changed in Marlborough since I arrived here in 1983 to take up the role of Viticulturist for Montana Wines. . .


Rural round-up

May 13, 2015

So You Want To Set Up Your Own Small Scale Milk Business? This Is What You Really need To Know – Milking on the Moove:

Well, it appears that there are lots of people in New Zealand (and the world) who want to either set up their own milk business or want to go mobile milking.

My goal is to set up a streamlined system that will allow others to start their own small scale dairy business.

My inbox is full of people asking me questions about how to set up their own milk business. I would spend 45 minutes to an hour replying to these emails from complete strangers. I did it because I want to promote small scale dairy & I want others to do well. . .

 Chinese infant formula and Synlait – the story moves on – Keith Woodford:

In recent weeks, I have been writing about Synlait’s new infant formula Akarola [here and here]. The Akarola project is a joint venture between China’s New Hope agri-food conglomerate (75%) and Synlait (25%) which has set out to market New Zealand made infant formula online direct to consumers through JD.com.

The strategy is based on cutting out the multiple layers of middle men and pricing the product at just a fraction of what Chinese consumers are used to paying. But the strategy can only work if Chinese consumers can be convinced that low price does not mean low quality.

I am on record as saying that the Akarola product has potential to be transformational in relation to the Chinese infant formula market. But others are not so sure. . .

Practical solutions for sustainable agriculture:

2015 is the UN designated International Year of Soils, and soil management will be a key feature of a series of one day workshops for farmers and horticulturists interested in finding ways of increasing sustainability on their farms.

The free events, kick-off in Ashburton and Timaru next week, then move north to Palmerston North and Pukekohe in early June. They are being run by the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) and the Future Farming Centre (FFC), and are aimed at all growers of arable and horticultural crops.

FAR CEO Nick Pyke says it is clear that agriculture is entering a period of major change and that the workshops will help growers identify practical ways of introducing sustainable techniques and technologies onto conventionally farmed properties. . . .

 

Steak of Origin judge talks about competition:

A judge at last night’s Beef and Lamb Steak of Origin awards says New Zealand farmers are doing a fantastic job of producing great tasting beef – but need to be very careful about who’s processing their stock.

Forbes and Angus Cameron who farm at Ashhurst in Manawatu, won the supreme award last night at the 2015 Steak of Origin Grand Final with their angus sirloin.

Food writer and New Zealand Listener columnist Lauraine Jacobs was involved in judging the top 20 final steaks and said it was a privilege. . .

Waikato students win horticultural scholarships:

Two University of Waikato students have won horticultural scholarships that they hope will help open doors for them in the sector.

Rhiannon Bond, a bachelor of science and technology student, was awarded the $4500 Horticentre Trust Undergraduate Scholarship.
The scholarship will also allow Ms Bond to attend Horticulture New Zealand’s annual conference in Rotorua this July and she says jealously played a role in her applying for it.


Rural round-up

February 23, 2015

MPI confirms fourth fruit fly find in controlled area:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has confirmed a fourth fruit fly in Grey Lynn and believes it to be part of the same localised population as previous detections.

A single male Queensland fruit fly was found on Sunday in a trap inside the existing Controlled Area.

There are no changes to the Controlled Area as a result of the find at this stage, says MPI Chief Operations Officer Andrew Coleman.

“We have been expecting to find more flies, so the latest detection is no surprise, and confirms that the trapping systems continues to be successful.

“The find was close to the original detections, so we believe the fly is likely to be part of the same population.” . . .

Te Hui takes out merino record:

King Country shearer Stacey Te Huia has taken out the merino shearing world record in Australia.

He managed to shear 530 finewooled merino ewes in nine hours at Parkdale Stud, about 40 kilometres northwest of Dubbo in New South Wales, on Friday.

He beat the previous record of 513 ewes, set by New Zealand-born Dwayne Black, in Western Australia, 10 years ago. . .

My Interview on Radio New Zealands Country Life Programme – Milking on the Moove:

I featured on Radio New Zealand Nationals Country Life programme on the weekend. You can hear it here if you have 20 minutes spare. . .

Now is time to buy winter feed – Annette Scott:

Cole Groves has big decisions to make for his dairy farming operation at Pleasant Point in South Canterbury.

With the drought creating a severe feed shortage on his property and irrigation no longer an option, it’s “crunch time again”.

“Unfortunately I am on Opuha water,” Groves said.

Without significant rainfall, Opuha would run dry on Wednesday. . .

Sustainable salmon farming subject of $5.2 million research project:

New Zealand government, research and commercial groups are aligning with international salmon experts to make salmon farming here even more sustainable.

The $5.2 million project is spearheaded by Nelson-based New Zealand King Salmon and aims to fully understand the specific dietary requirements of King salmon.

To conduct the programme, New Zealand King Salmon has brought together a research group comprising Seafood Innovations Ltd (SIL), Nelson’s Cawthron Institute, the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) and Danish feed producer BioMar. . .

Dairy trainees not meeting expectations – Bryan Gibson:

Farmers are unhappy with the quality of training provided by agricultural training organisations, Craig Litten from Waikato told the Federated Farmers Dairy meeting last week.

“There are more and more training organisations popping up all the time and it appears to be more of a bums on seats type of scenario rather than an actual (focus on) quality of entrants and the people coming out the other end of the training institutions.”

Dairy chairman Andrew Hoggard said Federated Farmers had met Primary ITO chief executive Mark Jeffries who did realise there was an issue in terms of the quality of the people coming through.  . .

Bee numbers rising:

According to Agcarm, bee numbers in New Zealand are on the rise and the crop protection industry will work with government and industry to help keep bees healthy.

 Agcarm says the industry takes pollinator health very seriously and they are keen to work with regulators and stakeholders to encourage further bee population growth.

According to official data, there are now 546,837 managed hives in New Zealand up from 2004 figures of 292,530 hives. . .

Pinot – New Zealand’s answer to burgundy – Fiona Beckett:

These days, even the Burgundians are flocking to New Zealand’s pinot noir heartland.

As you drive out towards the Central Otago region of New Zealand’s South Island, you come across the Kawarau bridge, where the bungee-jump craze started all those years ago. It must have taken a similar leap of faith, you feel, to plant vines in this extreme mountainous region. Yet in less than a generation, “Central”, as the locals call it, has become one of the best places on the globe to find great pinot, even though the area accounts for only 2.4% of New Zealand’s wine production.

Wine has been made in these parts for 150 years, but it took off commercially in the 1980s due to a group of local burgundy obsessives who yearned to get their pinot fix a bit closer to home. They’ve been so successful that, nowadays, young Burgundian winemakers regularly come from France to Otago to see how the Kiwis do it. . .

 Dual focus in the Hunter – Nick Heydon:

SINCE purchasing “Redman Park” in 2006, Stuart and Amanda Thomas have sought to continually improve their property to the point where it stands today – a holding of high quality clearly evident across its two major enterprises: horses and lucerne.

The couple, who are selling in order to downsize, established a horse stud on Denman’s “Redman Park”, running it jointly as a Thoroughbred broodmare farm and a lucerne property.

“We used to have 30 mares plus progeny on the farm, and we have a lot of local clients for the lucerne, some local horse studs, and some clients as far afield as Taree,” Mrs Thomas said. . .


Rural round-up

January 5, 2015

Is raw milk safe? Some pasteurisation facts. Why I won’t well Raw milk & what to look for in a raw milk supplier – Milking on the Moove:

Tragically a child in Australia has died as a result of drinking contaminated raw milk.

So the raw milk vs pasteurised milk debate begins again. The comments on this article from June this year show the diverse opinions.

I grew up drinking raw milk from the vat. We looked long and hard at selling raw milk. We looked at the issues and decided that raw milk was not for us. I’ll explain why.

Is raw milk safe or not? 

The quick answer is, it can be safe, but it can turn bad very quickly. . .

Silver Fern Farms profit unsatisfactory, but promises more to come – Fiona Rotherham:

Silver Fern Farms, New Zealand’s biggest meat processor and marketer, has returned to profit after two years of losses but admits it still needs to deliver more.

Net profit after tax was $500,000 in the year ended Sept. 30, a significant turnaround from the $28.6 million after tax loss the previous year while pre-tax profit was $1.8 million compared to a loss of $36.5 million in 2013, the Dunedin-based cooperative said in a statement.

Over the same period the company paid down $99 million in debt as part of a plan to reduce the company’s debt servicing costs. Total income was $2.32 billion, up from $2 billion the previous year while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation was $68.1 million, a nearly $46 million improvement on the 2013 financial year. . .

Silver Fern Farms release audited result just before Christmas – Allan Barber:

The delayed and much anticipated final result for Silver Fern Farms’ 2014 year has made it into the public arena in time for Christmas. Although it has squeaked in just above breakeven for the year at $1.8 million pre-tax and $0.5 million after tax, this is worse than the original guidance of $5-7 million announced at the end of October.

The difference is accounted for by a $3.3 million provision following a ruling by the Employment Relations Authority in relation to a technical redundancy arising from the closure of the Silverstream plant in 2013. From recollection SFF laid off staff on the basis of a seasonal shutdown, although at the time the company announced that it was unlikely to reopen unless stock numbers increased significantly.

The ERA’s ruling suggests this automatically implies a technical redundancy situation, whereas SFF believes not. The company has sensibly chosen (requested by the auditors?) to make the provision “while we consider our next steps over the coming month” according to chairman Rob Hewett. The time taken to reach this decision indicates the auditors must have refused to sign the accounts without this provision. . .

Year of contrasts for rural New Zealand:

It has been a year of contrasts for rural New Zealand, weather-wise and in other ways.

In Northland, for instance, while some farmers were emerging from drought, others were battling floods.

And dairy farmers saw record milk payments for the past season plunge from above eight dollars a kilo to below five dollars in a few short months.

Pondering on that is Waikato University’s professor of agribusiness, Jacqueline Rowarth.

“Hooray, hooray for good prices and then far more of a crash than actually was predicted by any of the analysts, though the banking ones were saying ‘watch out, we don’t think it’s going to be as good as you’re saying’, but of course they’re still saying that and there are some fairly dire predictions by the end of the year. . .

Rabobank Beef Quarterly Q4: Supplies remain tight amid robust consumer demand:

Rabobank’s Beef Quarterly Q4 reports that tight global cattle and beef supplies continued in Q4 2014, although prices tempered from their Q3 highs. The US remains the major global driver, with import demand affecting prices and volumes for other countries. A big question heading into 2015 with such a finely balanced market is—if Australian export rates decrease and herds in Mexico and Canada continue to be run down by the US—whether a new norm has been reached for prices or whether they still have room to rise.

“The US continues to be the driver in the global beef market with constrained supply and strong demand keeping prices high. A recent strengthening in the US economy and dollar will support continued imports to the US however we are watching a drop in the oil price and depreciation of the Russian Ruble given Russia’s status as the world’s largest beef importer”, explains Rabobank analyst Angus Gidley-Baird.  . .

Wine industry shows continued increasing profitability:

2014 financial benchmarking survey supports industry-wide optimism

The turnaround in the New Zealand wine industry has continued in 2014 on the back of improved profitability across wineries of all sizes, according to the ninth annual financial benchmarking survey released today by Deloitte and New Zealand Winegrowers.

Vintage 2014 tracks the financial results of wineries accounting for over 40% of the industry’s export sales revenue for the 2014 financial year. Survey respondents have been categorised into bands according to revenue to assist comparison within the industry.

Deloitte partner Peter Felstead says that for the first time since 2007, every category showed profitability before tax, ranging from 3.3% to 17.6%. . . .

New technology helps in fight against pests – Adrien Taylor:

A New Zealand inventor hopes to add drones to the fight against pests.

He won $25,000 to help turn his dream into reality and a trial of his Trap Minder system is taking place on Great Barrier Island this summer.

Scott Sambell and his dog Millie are finding that keeping Glenfern Sanctuary pest-free can be hard work.

The 240 hectare peninsula is cordoned off by a pest-proof fence to protect native wildlife, but that doesn’t stop a handful of unwanted predators making their way in every year. . .


Rural round-up

December 23, 2014

New Zealand-Korea FTA initialled:

Trade Minister Tim Groser welcomed today’s initialling by Chief Negotiators of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between New Zealand and the Republic of Korea.

“Initialling marks the end of the text’s legal verification process. It’s another milestone as we progress towards bringing the FTA into force,” says Mr Groser.

“The next step is translation of the text into Korean, which will be completed early next year. Following translation, the FTA will be signed.

“This FTA will deliver real economic benefits to both our countries. It will secure our position in the Korean market and will create more opportunities for traders as tariffs are gradually removed.” . . .

 

Stay safe on the farm this summer:

On average, 850 people each year are injured riding quad bikes on farms. Five die.

It is because of these unacceptable statistics that Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment inspectors will visit farms this summer to ensure key quad bike safety steps are recognised and understood.

Rural Women New Zealand joins the Ministry in urging farmers and their families to take extra care on the farm over summer, particularly when it comes to quad bike safety.

As it gets closer to the holiday season the pace of work picks up and more tasks are fitted into the longer days.

“Long hours can lead to fatigue and an increase in accidents,” says the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s General Manager – Central, Ona de Rooy.

There is also a real need for vigilance once the school holidays begin and children are spending more time around the farm. . .

Signs of new interest in soil science:

Soil scientists worried about a decline in the numbers working in that field have taken heart at signs that interest may be growing among a new generation of scientists.

Science Strategy Manager at Ballance Agri-Nutrients, Warwick Catto said a national soil science conference in Hamilton earlier this month was notable for the number of younger scientists attending.

And he was hoping that showed interest was on the rise, because as he pointed out, the soil and what it produces was the basis for much of the country’s economy .

“There were a lot of young people in the audience, which is either a reflection that I’m getting older, or that there are lot of people looking at careers in soil science and I think the latter is that there are issues going on with soil, be it nitrogen leaching, soil erosion into water water ways. . .

Scientists breed cattle to thrive in tropics:

Livestock improvement co-operative LIC sees South America, Asia and possibly Africa as potential markets for a new breed of heat tolerant dairy cattle it is developing.

LIC has started a breeding programme crossing the Senepol breed from the Caribbean with New Zealand Holstein-Friesian dairy cattle.

The programme came about, ironically, from scientists’ investigations into a genetic mutation in one of its breeding bulls that produced very hairy off-spring, prone to over-heating. . .

New Zealand’s Food Safety Regulations Are Not About Food Safety, But Rather International Trade & Politics – Milking on the Moove:

New Zealand’s food safety regulations are not simply about food safety. It’s also about international trade & politics.

Once I understood that, the regulations & procedures around dairy products begins to make sense to me.

I’m going to be quite charitable to the regulators in this post.

Biddys Story

Last night Seven Sharp did a follow up story on Biddy and her micro cheese making business. You can view the 7 minute video here. http://bit.ly/1xRsYT8

Biddys story is, she milks 3 cows and makes the milk into cheese. She has won international awards etc etc. 5 years ago she was featured on Country Calendar. This alerted the authorities to her small operation and she was required to meet the dairy regulations.    . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Director Elections:

Nominations have now closed for two farmer-elected positions on the Beef + Lamb New Zealand board.

A director election in the Northern North Island electorate will not be required. James Parsons (incumbent) is elected unopposed.

Two nominations have been received for the Northern South Island electorate. The candidates are Nigel Harwood of Takaka and Phil Smith of Culverden. . . .


Rural round-up

November 18, 2014

Aussies eye fairer fight with NZ dairying  – Matthew Cranston & Tim Binsted:

As an exporter of 40,000 litres of milk to China a year, Lemontree Dairy has had to wait 11 years for the same treatment in China as New Zealand dairies.

“We have been fighting with one hand behind our back for years now with New Zealand but with this free trade agreement being equal to New Zealand will make the fight fairer,” said director James McNamee.

“It’s about time they got it over the line.”

Australia’s free trade agreement with China is set to provide A$630 million in savings from 2016 to 2025 as the tariffs are wound back, according to Australian Dairy Industry Council. . .

Black market for messy mutton  – Tracey Chatterton:

Sheep carcasses are being dumped on Hastings streets as thieves continue to target livestock.

Meat continues to be sold on the black market despite suspects having already been arrested in recent months, Flaxmere community constable Greg Andrew said.

Ratepayers were footing the bill for the mess sheep rustlers were making.

Hastings District Council contractors collected and cleaned up the dumped carcasses and offal at a cost of between $100 and $300 per carcass. . .

Milk price variability – what it means for dairy farm businesses  – Grant Rowan:

It may not appear to be, but the milk price is trending upwards.

It is also becoming more and more volatile, with the past 18 months a good case in point. In May 2013 global Whole Milk Powder (WMP) prices peaked at US$5600/tonne. The average WMP price at Fonterra’s most recent Global Dairy Trade auction was US$2522/tonne.

The question for anyone interested in the health of NZ’s biggest export industry is how are dairy farmers faring?

This edition of Farm Investment Insight explores milk price variability and the tools farmers can use to generate operating profits in times of negative price shocks. . . .

Is Our Food Safety System as Strong as We Think. Private Sector vs Public Sector – Milking on the Moove:

Is our food safety system as robust as we think it is? And are we better served by the public or private sector?

Last week I blogged about my issues getting the mobile cowshed evaluated by inspectors.

The way the food safety system works, is the government agency via The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) set the food standards. When a company sets up a food business, the verification services are provided by the private sector.

In New Zealand we have AsureQuality, which is a state owned enterprise, but it operates as a for profit business. There seems to be only two other providers, Eurofins & SGS in NZ who can offer dairy evaluation services. . .

Cut fees for Ag degrees:

GETTING YOUNG people into agribusiness is critical for New Zealand’s future, says ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie.

 He told the recent Zespri conference that he is concerned to see the right people enter the agri sector in the numbers required. For example, the kiwifruit industry will soon be producing 30 million more trays of product and will need more people to cope with that trend.

Bagrie is convinced that most young people do not understand the long term future they could enjoy in some primary industries. . .

$18mln payday for Rural Women NZ in sale to Green Cross Health – Jonathan Underhill:

Green Cross Health has agreed to pay around $18 million for Access Homehealth, a not-for-profit home healthcare services company owned by a grass-roots charitable organisation, Rural Women New Zealand, which will gain representation on the Green Cross board as part of the deal.

The purchase will add to earnings immediately, said Green Cross, formerly known as PharmacyBrands and the owner of the Life Pharmacy and Unichem pharmacy chains. Access has annual sales of about $85 million and employs about 4,000 people, the Auckland-based company said.

The purchase price, which includes assumed debt, will be funded from existing cash and bank funding, Green Cross said. . .

 Grow your own with a hand from Ballance science:

With cashflows tight on dairy farms, pasture comes out on top as the cheapest feed source and getting the best grass for the least cost can be achieved with a hand from science.

Ballance Science Manager, Aaron Stafford says the “grow your own” approach of using nitrogen fertiliser to boost pasture growth provides the most cost-effective supplementary feed, but with cash-strapped farmers working within very tight budgets, they want to be confident of a good pasture response to money spent on nitrogen.

“There is nothing more frustrating than seeing a poor or variable pasture response nitrogen fertiliser to boost feed availability. We can help farmers get the best results by enabling them to tailor application rates to areas which are likely to produce the highest pasture response.” . . .


Rural round-up

November 11, 2014

Cheese-making success recognised – Dene Mackenzie:

Whitestone Cheese, of North Otago, was founded in 1987 as a diversification during the 1980s rural downturn and a series of crippling droughts.

Last night, the company won the Westpac-Otago Chamber of Commerce Supreme Business Awards at the 2014 OBiz awards ceremony held in Dunedin.

About 330 people attended the function which is held every two years.

Notes provided to the Otago Daily Times said Whitestone founder Bob Berry’s experience in livestock trading was quickly applied to cheese trading. . .

Alliance pool payment first in 3 years – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group farmer shareholders will receive a pool payment for the first time in three years after a better financial result.

The company has announced an operating profit, before a $7 million pool payment distribution, of $17.6 million for the year to September, up from $8.4 million last year.

Turnover increased from $1.38 billion to $1.46 billion, while after-tax profit increased from $5.6 million to $6.2 million. . .

Merino genetics focus breeds success – Sally Rae:

When Gordon Lucas’ parents bought Nine Mile Station, the local land agent commented that it ”wouldn’t be a bad stepping stone for the lad”.

”Here I am at the end of my career and I’m still on the stepping stone,” Mr Lucas quipped.

He was outlining the story of Nine Mile Pastoral Ltd to those attending the New Zealand Grassland Association conference, which was based in Alexandra last week.

As part of several field trips, including Ida Valley Station and Hills Creek Station, those attending visited Willowbank, near Tarras, an intensive irrigated finishing property run in conjunction with Nine Mile. . .

Mobile Milking System, Bureaucrats & Regulations – Milking on the Moove:

When I decided to actually build the mobile cowshed & process my own milk, I knew that the regulatory requirements would be the hardest part.

New Zealand trades on our food safety reputation. We need to protect that reputation. I’m aware that even small scale producers have the potential to put our whole reputation at risk too.

With this in mind, I delved into all the regulations that a mobile cowshed would have to meet. 

The regulations for the farm dairy side of things are in a document named NZCP1.

People wanting to process milk will also need to know all the requirements of DCP1, DCP2, DCP3 & DCP4.  . .

MP welcomes trail initiative;

Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay congratulates the Gibbston community, landowners, and the Queenstown Trails Trust for delivering the $370,000 Gibbston River Trail which will join the Queenstown Trail as a part of the NZ Cycle Trail Great Rides network.

The Gibbston River Trail Upgrade was reopened today (8 November). Mr Barclay was presenting certificates to the landowners who provided easements to make the trail possible. . .

Feed Grain market tightens up:

Grain growers will be heading into the next harvest with silos completely empty, and an emerging potential for shortages. This is according to a recent study published by the Arable Industry Marketing Initiative (AIMI).

David Clark, Federated Farmers Grain and Seed vice-chairperson, says this time two years ago there was a glut of wheat and barley available to end-users.
“That has now been obliterated” he says.

“Twenty-four months ago the market had a big surplus of carry-over stock heading into the end of the year.

“Last year we made a big dent in that surplus, but these latest figures show that it has now disappeared. . .

Building the next generation of Federated Farmers – Casey Huffstutler:

When it comes down to it, people are the key to our primary industry success and even survival. They are our most precious resource.

Our value recognised in the multiple organisations set up to promote and support the industry and its people.  From education, to industry good, to insurance, to lobby organisations; New Zealanders are building a strong agri-community.  NZ Young Farmers and Federated Farmers sit at the core of this; made up of the very farmers this community exists for.

The Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions, of which I have been a NZ Young Farmers Field Officer for nearing on four years, have a great working relationship with Federated Farmers Waikato.  It is important to have cohesion between our young farmers and our farming leaders, to ensure we are supporting the next generation into the spotlight. . .

 Open Day aims to give public a peak at primary sector:

 Connecting city folk with ‘what goes on behind the gate’ is just one of the objectives for the upcoming Farm Open Day to be held at the Lincoln University Dairy Farm (LUDF).

Following on from the success of last year’s inaugural event, the farm will once again open its gates to the public to showcase the operations of a commercial dairy farm and provide perspective on the broader scientific, commercial and logistical aspects of sustainable food production.

The event is organised by the South Island Dairying Development Centre (SIDDC) and Fonterra, and will include nine outdoor educational demonstrations and displays which take people on the journey of ‘turning sunshine into food’. A central marquee will offer information to the public, along with samples of a range of milk-based products, such as cheeses, yoghurt, milk drinks and ice creams. . .

Building NZ’s reputation as a leader in food safety in China:

 New Zealand Government owned AsureQuality and PwC’s New Zealand and China firms are cooperating with COFCO, China’s largest agricultural and food products supplier, to continually improve China’s food safety and quality. All four parties signed a cooperation agreement to that effect on the side-lines of the 2014 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Beijing, China today.

Drawing on leading New Zealand and international food and agricultural models, the agreement formalises areas where AsureQuality and PwC will support COFCO in embedding best practice in food safety and quality across the food and agriculture industries. . .

Results Announced for the 2014 Fonterra Elections:

Returning Officer Warwick Lampp, of electionz.com Ltd, has declared the final results of the 2014 elections for the Fonterra Board of Directors, Directors’ Remuneration Committee and Shareholders’ Council.

Shareholders voted to re-elect incumbent Directors John Monaghan and David MacLeod. They will be joined by new Director Leonie Guiney.

Leonie Guiney lives and farms near Fairlie where she is Director of four dairy farming companies. Leonie has previous experience as a Consulting Officer, Dairy Production Lecturer and has studied overseas co-operatives in the Netherlands and Ireland. Leonie was the 2014 winner of the low-input Dairy Business of the Year. . .

 


Rural round-up

October 30, 2014

The rising star of beef – Keith Woodford:

With so much focus on the current dairy downturn, it is easy to miss the rising star of beef. This year beef prices have been hitting record highs, both in US and NZ dollars. Young steers and bulls are fetching anywhere between $1100 and $1600 at slaughter, depending on weight and category.

The key driver has been demand for hamburger beef from the United States. Demand from China has also been increasing.

The New Zealand Meat Industry Association has reported beef exports of 380,000 tonnes earning $2.2 billion dollars for the year ending June 2014. Since 2001, these exports have fluctuated between about 325,000 tonnes and just over 400,000 tonnes with no clear trend. Cull cows from the dairy industry have been contributing an increasing proportion of total production. . .

Launch of renewable energy initiative in Southland:

Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges has today welcomed the launch of New Zealand’s first region-wide wood energy heat hub that will help fuel the Southland economy.

Wood Energy South is a joint initiative between the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) and Venture Southland that will partner with local businesses, schools and healthcare facilities to help them convert to cleaner, renewable wood burning technology.

“Southland’s strong forestry and wood processing industry creates a rich source of wood fuel for the region. This project will help local businesses realise the renewable energy potential in their own back yard. . . .

Lee Valley Dam must be affordable:

Federated Farmers is urging the Government to support the Tasman District Council’s (TDC) Waimea Dam Project to prevent the critical shortage of water for urban and farming development.

“It’s not a matter of whether the dam goes ahead, it is how it goes ahead,” says Martin O’Connor, Federated Farmers Nelson provincial president.

“We are living in a catch 22, because the build is likely to cost irrigators $520 per hectare and increase rates by 11 cents per cubic metre a year, but our rural and urban communities cannot survive without it. . .

 Testing the mobile cow shed – Milking on the Moove:

It’s been a busy month testing out the mobile cowshed. I took this video about a month ago & I have only now found the time to put it up. I’ve been getting a few requests for a video.

It’s just a quick look at how the system works. I’m still in the testing phase & we are ironing out all the little issues. 

At the moment I’m only milking 8 cows & the neighbours are taking the milk to feed to their calves.
I can’t start selling our milk until I have been approved by the ministry of primary industries. That journey is turning out to be a bit of a drama, but I’ll write about that another day. . . .

Sanford takes on KiwiNet Business Challenge to uncover new processing technologies for mussels:

Sanford Limited is taking on a KiwiNet Business Challenge to uncover novel proposals for high-speed automated technologies that will help it process its current daily rate of 1.5 million mussels. Today, researchers at New Zealand’s public research organisations will be pitching ideas to improve mussel processing in Nelson at the Aquaculture NZ Research Workshop in a bid to win $5,000 of prototype development funding and the opportunity to work with Sanford to develop their solution for commercial application.

Sanford’s Aquaculture Manager Ted Culley says, “Processing as many molluscs as we do presents all sorts of challenges. This a great opportunity for us and others in the aquaculture industry to uncover some novel ideas with commercial potential. While we’re looking for a winning idea, we’re keen to investigate all good ideas, so we may end up with more research projects.” . . .

New fund to assist the growth of New Zealand dairy farming:

Dairy farmers looking to grow their family business will soon have access to a new source of funding, with the launch of an innovative new investment vehicle, the NZ Dairy Farming Trusts.

The Trusts – a joint venture between New Zealand farm investment company MyFarm Limited and German alternative-fund manager Aquila Capital – is seeking to raise up to $100 million from international and domestic wholesale investors. **

The initiative is aimed at providing the New Zealand dairy industry with much needed new capital in order to realise its economic potential. The fund plans to lend money at interest rates tied to milk and land prices, providing dairy farmers with alternative to taking on equity partners. . . .

Ballance moves to science specialisation:

With New Zealand farming systems as diverse as farmers themselves, Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ Science Extension team is making the shift to specialist roles to better support the changing requirements of farmers working with different climates, topography, soil types and farm types.

Science Extension Manager Ian Tarbotton says knowledge about soils, fertiliser, forages and nutrient budgets is fundamental to support farmers in reaching their goals, and the demand for more specialised knowledge is growing rapidly.

“We have two driving factors. First, higher environmental demands mean farmers are now working within tighter controls around nutrient management and protecting water quality. There is no one simple solution for each farm and it is not just a case of managing fertiliser. Feeding regimes, stocking rates, stock movements and soil types all have an influence and they will vary from farm to farm. . .

 

Ballance Ward B Election draws record field:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ call last month for director nominations for its Ward B has yielded 9 candidates hoping to replace Dean Nikora who resigned as a director ahead of taking up an international posting.

Ballance Chairman, David Peacocke, says he is delighted that Ward B shareholders have such a strong field of candidates to choose from and he believes that 9 is a record.

“The strong field indicates that we have shareholders who recognise this is an excellent opportunity to contribute to the governance of our co-operative, which is close to being a $1 billion business in terms of revenue. Having high quality candidates for director vacancies is vital to the success of our co-operative, and the response to our call for nominations has certainly achieved that. We have a very good mix with six men and three women seeking election. . .


Rural round-up

September 14, 2014

No need for capital gains tax – experts – Andrea Fox:

Labour’s proposal to introduce a capital gains tax will reduce farmland values and add a new layer of bureaucracy but will give farm business succession planning a positive boost, tax experts say.

However, mostly it would simply duplicate taxes already enshrined in income tax law, they said.

Labour’s election policy promotes a capital gains tax from 2016 on property sales, including farmland, though not the farm family home. 

The party is targeting property speculators in the housing market, but farmers would be affected. . . .

We’re mobile milking – Milking on the Moove:

I’ve been milking for 3 weeks now and it’s been a hectic 3 weeks. I’ve finally got a moment for a quick update.

I’m really happy with how the cowshed is operating. The second hand milking plant runs really well, the cows are walking on to the cowshed happily & I’ve learned how to manoeuvre the cowshed through gateways and up and down hills, while keeping both gateways & the cowshed in one piece.

It’s funny how over the last year I have thought about how to design various parts of the cowshed & pondered every little detail. Yet it only took 10 minutes of the first milking for me realise I had made mistakes with the layout of equipment etc.”>I’ll be honest, the first milking did not go to plan. I have bought 7 Heifer cows. They had just calved and they have never being milked before let alone on a mobile trailer with no yards to contain them. . .

Environment research focus for red meat sector – Sue O’Dowd:

An organisation funded by the country’s sheep and beef farmers is doing its best to help them deal with the juggernaut that is the environment, says a director.

Beef+Lamb NZ (B+L NZ) director Kirsten Bryant was addressing this week’s annual meeting of the Western North Island Farmer Council (WNIFC) in Stratford.

Increasingly, B+L NZ was turning its attention to helping farmers manage the challenges of the environment.

“It’s like digging a hole and throwing money into it,” she said.

“But it’s not a conversation we can avoid. We want outcomes that are great for sheep and beef farmers and to show leadership around environmental responsibilities.” . . .

 WEL change opens door to PWC shareholding – Jackie Harrigan:

Wool Growers are no longer the only group allowed to own shares in wool investment holding company Wool Equities Ltd (WEL).

A special WEL meeting on Friday changed the constitution to allow share ownership by any entity engaged in wool activities, including woolgrowers, grower groups, trading entities, and wool processors.

The change was sought to allow WEL to issue 5% of its equity to grower group Primary Wool Co-operative (PWC) for $50,000. . .

Scholarship win scores US beef industry conference – Gerald Piddock:

King Country rural professional James Bryan will travel to the United States next month after being selected as an ambassador at this year’s Five Nations Beef Alliance conference and young leaders programme.

Bryan beat 13 other applicants to win the Beef + Lamb New Zealand scholarship, which covered the full cost of travelling to and attending the conference, to be held in Corpus Christi and Austin, Texas in October.

The scholarship is offered annually to New Zealanders aged 22-32, who are working in, and have a passion for, the beef industry. . .


Rural round-up

July 27, 2014

Changes likely in lakes camping – David Bruce:

Thousands of campers who pour in to Waitaki lakes camp sites during summer face some major changes in management by the Waitaki District Council.

Most of the camps could be handed over to private operators under leases or contracts, but before any final decisions are made, people will be asked what they want.

That is likely to be contentious. Similar proposals in the past have caused consternation among some campers.

But they could also look at the Mackenzie District Council’s Haldon Arm Camp, which is administered by the Haldon Arm Reserve Trust Board, made up of campers. . .

Water deal celebrated – Sally Brooker:

Compromise and co-operation are being hailed as the main ingredients in a South Canterbury agreement on nitrogen limits.

Farmers in the Lower Waitaki-South Coastal Canterbury catchment had asked their Environment Canterbury zone committee for more time to work on allocating nitrogen emissions, within the maximum already set to meet the goals of a healthy environment and vibrant economy.

Since February, the farmers have held more than 10 meetings, with ECan supplying technical advisers. After fearing they would not agree, they eventually did.” . . .

Asian markets driving growth for NZ food & beverage exports:

Consumer demand in East and South East Asia for high value foods and beverages is driving export growth and diversification, a new Government report shows.

‘What does Asia Want for Dinner? Emerging Market Opportunities for New Zealand food & beverages in East & South East Asia’ was released today by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

The report finds that New Zealand’s overall food and beverage export performance to Asia is excellent; performing strongly in dairy, as well as in meat, seafood, produce and processed foods.

“Asia is the fastest growing food market in the world and is increasingly important for New Zealand exports”, Mr Joyce says. . .

Māori agribusiness showcased to international delegation:

New Zealand’s Māori agribusiness programmes are on show this week, as delegates from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies visit New Zealand to address common barriers to rural economic development. Through case studies and on-farm visits, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) will share experiences learned while helping to build the capability of New Zealand’s rural economic development.

The visiting delegates from Peru, Indonesia, Japan, China, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines will attend a two-day APEC PPFS Rural Development workshop from 22-24 July 2014, hosted by MPI and the Northland Māori agribusiness partners.

“Food security is a common APEC challenge with increasing demands and a need to focus on sustainable productivity,” says MPI’s Deputy Director-General Ben Dalton. . .

Don’t write of dairying MyFarm says:

People should not be in any hurry to write off dairy farming just because prices have taken a dive, MyFarm executive director Andrew Watters says.

The average whole milk powder price in the Fonterra GlobalDairyTrade auctions has fallen by 38 percent since February.

Dairy farmers and economists say with the recent sharp drop in prices, it is inevitable Fonterra’s $7 per kilogram of milksolids price forecast will come down – one predicted as low as $6.

But Mr Watters said predictions of the end of the good times in the dairy industry were premature.

He pointed out that Fonterra only sold only about a third of its product at the auction, and that volumes at recent auctions had been low.

The positive, longer-term outlook for dairy farming had not changed, he said. . .

Grow Movie – A Great Documentary Which Outlines Young Urbanites Turning To Farming – Milking on the Moove:

I watched the Grow Movie the other night. 

It’s a documentary that tells the story of how young urban people are being attracted to farming.

The movie follows a few young farmers in the US state of Georgia. We learn how they found themselves farming & why they love it.

Most of the people were highly educated with degrees in finance, engineering & soil science etc, but they have chosen the small scale rural lifestyle. . .

MPI introduces new biosecurity sniffers

Two young biosecurity sniffers were introduced to the world today, along with a new type of detector dog and a new home for the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) Auckland-based canine team.

Beagle puppies Darcie (girl) and Darwin (boy), collectively known as D-litter, were born by caesarean in May to working detector dog Zuma under the MPI detector dog breeding programme.

Steve Gilbert, MPI Director Border Clearance Services says the MPI breeding programme “provides a cost-effective way of producing fit-for-purpose biosecurity detector dogs”.

The programme has produced 27 litters since 1996 and nearly 80 percent of the individual puppies have become successful biosecurity detector dogs. . .

Brits buy record amount of NZ wine:

New Zealand premium wine sales soar in the UK market

New Zealand wine has become the number 2 country of origin in the UK market for wine sold over £7 according to the latest Nielsen data (MAT 21-6-14). New Zealand now sells 18% of all wines sold in this premium price segment, having overtaken Australia and now sits behind France.

The latest statistics also show New Zealand’s average price per bottle has increased to £7.34 from £6.79 – an 8.1% increase (Nielsen MAT 21-6-14). . . . .

 New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Welcome Boost to Horticulture Industry:

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) has welcomed the Government’s plans to get more Kiwis into seasonal work, and its decision to increase the annual Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) cap to a total of 9000 workers.

NZKGI President, Neil Trebilco, says this boost to seasonal workers is essential in delivering the industry’s forecasted future growth.

“The kiwifruit industry is recovering quickly from Psa and is poised for big future growth. Over the next few years we are going to see a significant increase in Gold3 volume. . . .


Orange and red flags ignored

October 10, 2013

Months after the precautionary recall of products containing whey protein which was later proved to be clear of botulism there is still a lot of confusion about what happened.

Keith Woodford explains it was all about orange and red flags:

. . . It all started back in May 2012 when some plastic came loose in a whey concentrate dryer at the Hautapu plant near Hamilton. The risk was that this plastic had got smashed up and possibly melted within the dryer, and then mixed with the whey.

The only way to find out for sure was to hydrate the whey powder (which is soluble) and then filter out any solids.  For reasons not clear, Fonterra chose to do this using equipment that had not been used recently.  Unfortunately the equipment had not been properly cleaned.

Once hydrated and then re-dried, the product passed the mandatory bacterial tests, but did have a level somewhat higher than typical.

By this stage there should have been two orange flags but the Fonterra system recognised neither.  The first was that once the product had been reprocessed, then it should have been drafted away from human use and used for stock feed. The second orange flag was when the re-processed whey powder gave elevated but technically acceptable bacterial counts. Once again, this should have been enough to restrict its use to stock feed. . .

He explains what happened next and about the testing in the clearest summary I have come across. It is very interesting reading.

He then gets on to the ongoing fallout:

. . . As events have turned out, it is now apparent that it was a false alarm. Further testing overseas has confirmed that in fact it was not botulinum.  However, great damage to Fonterra’s and New Zealand’s reputation occurred, with the recall being splashed globally in the news media, and particularly so in China  where many of Fonterra’s products are sold. In fact I am writing this from China, and I can confirm that it has very much come to the attention of Chinese consumers.

It will be interesting to see how this now plays out. Here in China there is no doubt that Danone in particular has suffered great damage, with their leading infant formula brand Dumex being particularly badly hit. (Dumex is the equivalent of ‘Karicare’ in New Zealand, with Karicare being marketed by  Danone’s  Nutricia subsidiary.)  .

Earlier this week, in a Shanghai supermarket, there was a message over the in-store radio every five minutes advising that the Fonterra food safety scare was actually a false alarm. But unofficial sources tell me that sales of the Dumex brand are still hugely affected, with up to 90% loss of sales. Consumers have moved to other brands and now have to be painstakingly won back. A Google search using Chinese characters for ‘poisonous’ and ‘milk powder’ and ‘Dumex’ produces over one million references. . .

There is an irony that Fonterra’s milk powder is still flowing into China unimpeded, and prices for these bulk products have not suffered.  It is the consumer brands that are not owned by Fonterra that have suffered. . .

It isn’t just milk products which are affected:

Glen Herud at Milking on the Moove was speaking to a food safety consultant recently:

He has a client who manufactures and sells blackberry powder to the Asian market.

His product has been stopped from entering into some Asian countries. 

He was notified by his customer via an email in broken English explaining that they won’t purchase anymore product because botulism was in New Zealand products. . . 

Inquiries into exactly what went wrong at Fonterra and the subsequent handling of the issue are continuing and so are the consequences.

Whatever comes out of the inquiries, all food processors need to be sure they have systems which recognise and respond appropriately to orange flags long before any red ones are raised.


Rural round-up

October 8, 2013

On Farm Productivity Is Good, But The Big Money Is Made From Off Farm Productivity – Milking on the Moove:

There’s a lot of talk about productivity in New Zealand these days.

But are we focusing on the right areas?

The government has set a target of doubling the primary sectors export earnings from $32 Billion to $64 Billion by 2025.

Nobody doubts that this is a difficult ask.

New Zealand’s primary sector has a strong record of productivity gains.

The sheep industry alone has increase productivity (expressed as meat sold /ewe) by 80% over the last 25 years.

That’s 2.5% productivity gain every year. Any business analyst will agree that that is impressive.

But are sheep farmers any better off?

Despite 20 years of productivity gains sheep farmers recently experienced their lowest level of profitability, according to Beef & Lamb NZ data. . .

Setting a pathway to a sustainable future – James Houghton:

The judges ruling on the One Plan has got everyone claiming a win, which is an unexpected result coming from two sides who have always been quite opposing in their views. What a fantastic result Honorary Justice Stephen Kòs has managed to keep both sides happy! For us it has allowed us, in conjunction with the regional council, to come up with a workable solution to the One Plan.

I was sitting next to a Fish & Game representative last Tuesday and I said that the primary industries are committed to putting money into getting good science around achieving the goals of healthy rivers and work forward for sensible solutions. I don’t know where he has been hiding for the past few years because he was quite surprised.

The plan as it now sits means everything is about making the pathway to improvements on farm achievable, and that’s all we ever wanted. It is all part of managing risk and making the most of the resources we have. But at the same time other stakeholders like Fish & Game and Forest & Bird need to have realistic expectations of what can be achieved through good management practice on farm. This all comes down to setting the values through open and honest consultation and this is why we are setting up the Stakeholders Group, who will represent the community in Waikato and identify where the issues are, as well as the Technical Alliance Group (TAG) who will come up with the solutions. . .

Raetihi farmers frustrated but coping:

Farmers reliant upon Raetihi’s water supply are as frustrated as the urban residents are but remain hopeful alternative water supplies maybe secured by the end of this week.

“With livestock understandingly refusing to drink from contaminated troughs, it has been a difficult week for the affected farms and especially those who draw water from Raetihi’s water supply,” says Lyn Neeson, Federated Farmers Ruapehu provincial president.

“What we need now is some heavy rain and it looks like some is on the cards for mid-week.

“Farmers are coping quite well by moving stock to alternative sources either on or off-farm. This includes on-farm water supplies like dams through to sending stock off-farm. . .

Colombian Farmers Get First-Hand Look at NZ Agri Expertise:

The New Zealand Agribusiness Centre, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), the Ministry for Primary Industries, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade this week welcome the largest Colombian delegation to ever visit New Zealand.

Some 170 Colombian farmers are spending a week in New Zealand to get first-hand insights into New Zealand’s pastoral farming systems and agritechnology. The visit includes an exhibition and seminar with major players in New Zealand’s agriculture sector at Mystery Creek Event Centre (home of Fieldays); fieldtrips to dairy, beef and sheep farms; and a visit to Landcorp’s pastoral farm development blocks near Taupo.

Led by Fedegan, the Colombian Federation of Ranchers, the delegation to New Zealand follows Prime Minister John Key’s official visit to Mexico, Colombia, Chile, and Brazil earlier this year as part of the Government’s increased focus on strengthening bilateral relations and capitalising on trade opportunities with Latin America nations. . .

NZ study tour on offer for international farmers:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has today announced a new programme for overseas farmers to spend time in New Zealand on an agri-tech study tour.

“Four places a year will be available for farmers to spend up to three weeks here, looking at improved agricultural productivity and reducing on-farm methane emissions,” says Mr Guy.

“This programme will be fully funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries and will help promote New Zealand’s agribusiness expertise overseas.

“My recent trip to South America has reinforced to me just how well respected New Zealand is overseas for the success of our agricultural sector. . .

Federated Farmers aids New Zealand’s agricultural diplomacy:

Federated Farmers has successfully tabled a paper at the World Farmers Organisation that could greatly contribute to New Zealand’s global agricultural diplomacy.

“I am pleased to say New Zealand’s proposal to invite farming organisations has been warmly received by the World Farmers Organisation and will further our country’s global outreach and engagement,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“The World Farmers Organisation is currently writing to our Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to agree a programme for farmers from developed or developing countries to travel to New Zealand for an agri-tech study tour.

“We envisage each visit will be coordinated by MPI but will involve industry good bodies, research institutions and ourselves. It will enable visiting farmers to spend two to three weeks working alongside our farming community and agricultural science sectors. . .

NZCTA urges positive action in light of botulism scare:

The New Zealand China Trade Association (NZCTA) is urging industry and Government to work together to learn serious lessons from the Fonterra botulism scare. Official reviews have yet to be published, but the NZCTA is encouraging its members to continue to monitor the situation with respect to the China market.

“There is no doubt that the incident has damaged New Zealand’s image as a source of safe, high quality food products and the implications of this have been felt in terms of earnings for a number of our members, and this is unlikely to be fully resolved until New Zealand can prove that it has adequate systems in place to safeguard the industry and export markets” says Association Chairman Tim White. . .

City-fringe farm with a history of dairy and cattle grazing goes on the market for sale:

A dairy support farm described as being ‘as close to the city as you can get without being a lifestyle block’ has been placed on the market for sale.

The 185 hectare unit near the township of Waiuku in the Counties region of Auckland is a sheep farm which has been converted into a cattle and finishing block capable of running up to 650 head of cattle.

The farm is divided into some 40 paddocks and raced for efficient stock movement and separation. This year the farm has stocked 100 dairy heifer yearlings, 150 dairy heifer calves, 200 beef yearlings and 200 beef calves. . .


Rural round-up

August 8, 2013

Fonterra launches probe into food scare:

Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, has launched an investigation into a food contamination scare after accounting for the potentially tainted product.

Chief executive Theo Spierings told a briefing in Auckland all affected whey protein and its derivatives had been contained internationally, and he was satisfied the contamination scare had stabilised. The dairy company has launched an investigation into the “human error” that caused the failure, and introduced extra testing until the probe is completed, Spierings said.

“An internal investigation has already started and it’s also likely that we will go for an external investigation,” Spierings said. “Fonterra will keep everybody in the loop and informed of our findings.” . . .

Conclusion of NDRC investigation

Fonterra Co-operative Group today confirmed it has been issued with an administrative fine of approximately NZD 900,000 (RMB 4.47 million) following the conclusion of the China National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) review of pricing practices in the mainland of China for consumer dairy products.

“Fonterra has been co-operating fully and openly with the NDRC throughout this process. We accept the NDRC’s findings and we believe the investigation leaves us with a much clearer understanding of expectations around implementing pricing policies which is useful as we progress our future business plans,” said Kelvin Wickham, President of Fonterra Greater China and India.

“We understand that a number of companies in the dairy industry were fined, with Fonterra’s fine being in the lowest range.” . . .

To change perceptions farmers need to connect – Milking on the Moove:

It’s a perception Issue

I often hear people in the agricultural sector say things like “We need to remove the emotion from the issue” or “It’s a perception problem”.

We will never remove emotion from decisions, because everybody forms judgments based on their emotions, past experience and prejudices.

People make snap judgements

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called “Blink”. In his book he outlines research that shows people make judgements on a person, product, brand based on very small amounts of information.

He says that once a judgement has been made, a person is unlikely to change their mind. . .

Stress on Rural Business Prompts New Initiative From Business Mentors:

Business Mentors New Zealand has announced a new initiative to increase business mentoring support to rural businesses throughout New Zealand, which are facing increasing levels of stress worsened by the aftermath of the recent drought, tighter regulations on health and safety, and environmental controls.

The new initiative supported by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment sees the $150 Business Mentors’ registration fee waived for businesses in areas where a medium-scale drought was declared. The country’s 17 Business Mentoring agencies are being encouraged to place greater emphasis on supporting rural enterprises. . .

‘I’d never buy Fonterra milk,’ says man purchasing three bottles of Anchor – The Civilian:

A man at a local supermarket has told a 17-year-old cashier that he would “never buy Fonterra milk,” particularly after this week’s contamination scandal, and said that this is why he’s made the conscious decision as a consumer to purchase Anchor milk instead.

The man, 29-year-old Brandon Gray, said he was “pretty savvy” when it came to selecting his products, and he wouldn’t let Fonterra’s domination of the dairy industry prevent him from expressing his disapproval of their operations. . . .


Rural round-up

August 2, 2013

Debt puts pressure on large companies to achieve solution – Allan Barber:

If there was ever a compelling reason for the meat companies to sort out the problems of procurement competition and excess capacity, the debt levels on the balance sheets of the big three at the end of last season provide one.

Between them they stacked up combined current and non-current borrowings of $710 million, 45% of these on Silver Fern Farms’ books, 28% on Alliance’s and 27% on ANZCO’s. No wonder they can’t afford another loss-making year like 2011/12 which makes this year so important for getting back into as healthy a condition as possible.

The forecast livestock volumes, especially sheep and lambs, for the next four years place a great deal of pressure on the companies to find a solution urgently before procurement competition breaks out yet again. MPI’s Situation and Outlook Report which came out in June predicts a gradual recovery in values, but livestock numbers and export tonnages are virtually static or declining, because of the effects of the drought, herd and flock rebuilding and the impact of dairy on land use. . .

Ballance pays record rebate after record performance:

 Ballance Agri-Nutrients shareholders are in line for a record rebate and dividend of $65/tonne, along with a recommended 60 cent increase in the value of their co-operative’s shares to $8.10.

The rebate averaging $60.83 per tonne and a fully imputed dividend of 10 cents per share will be paid out nearly six weeks earlier during mid-August, with Ballance Chairman David Graham saying the payment has been brought forward to reward shareholders and assist them with cash flows at the start of the season.

“The drought may be over but the financial impacts are not, so we are fast-tracking the payment for shareholders in recognition of that so they can gain the full benefits of a good year for their co-operative as quickly as possible.” . . .

AgResearch creating the ‘Silicon Valley of Food’

 With food being to New Zealand what ‘Silicon Valley’ is to the United States’ technology sector, Federated Farmers is backing AgResearch’s strategic move to create two major research campuses supplemented by two smaller ones.

“Federated Farmers is backing AgResearch in what is an important strategic move for it and New Zealand,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President.

“Its masterplan is about supporting primary exports to reach $64 billion by 2025.

“We cannot deny there is a human element to this change and while 40 positions are slated to go, the actual number will be low given this is a four- year transition. That said, it will require a number of staff and their families to consider where their long-term futures lie.

“Federated Farmers is encouraged to see that no staff will be required to relocate until 2016. . .

Reduce nitrate leaching with mobile milking system – Milking on the Moove:

Unconventional ways to reduce nitrate leaching

Part 1 
A few weeks ago I explained how agroforestry is a farming system that is able to reduce nitrate leaching.

Part 2
Today I will talk about how a dairy farming system based around a mobile cowshed is able to reduce the level of nitrate leaching.

A traditional cowshed is in a fixed location. The cows have to be within walking distance of the cowshed because they need to get milked twice a day.

The main cause of nitrate leaching on dairy farms in the cows urine patch.

For this reason, the cows are always grazed on the same block of land surrounding the cowshed. . .

Honouring the unsung young heroes of the Hawke’s Bay wine industry:

Moore Stephens Markhams Young Viticulturist of the Year Competition Friday 2 August 2013.

Hawke’s Bay is internationally renowned for its wine. The local wineries and winemakers are household names, with exceptional reputations in New Zealand and further afield.

Less well known, but just as crucial to the crafting of world-beating wine, are the viticulturists. They are intimately involved in all aspects of vineyard management; their extraordinary knowledge ensuring winemakers have the best possible grapes to work with after each harvest.

The region’s best up-and-coming viticulturists are being honoured on Friday 2 August at the Moore Stephens Markhams Young Viticulturist of the Year Competition. This is being held at Mission Estate – their viticulturist Caine Thompson took out the Hawke’s Bay competition in 2009. He went on to win the national awards, before being named New Zealand Young Horticulturist of the Year. . .

Technology could be future boon for kiwifruit growers:

A new online system is being developed that might one day help kiwifruit growers make decisions on when to spray orchards for pests and diseases. The system is in the early stages of development in a joint project between the University of Waikato and Plant & Food Research (PFR).

The web-based tool is should help reduce time and costs associated with pest monitoring in kiwifruit orchards and spray application.

The current process of physically monitoring pest levels is time consuming, says University of Waikato summer research scholarship student Michael Fowke.

“Spraying is a necessary exercise for growers and a lot of time is spent trying to identify when or whether spraying is needed,” he says. “It will need a lot more testing in the field but potentially this system could cut that time down considerably.” . .

Iwi Suggests To Pull Plug on Dam:

At a Hui an Iwi held at Matahiwi marae last night, Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated was asked by several Heretaunga hapū to oppose the Ruataniwha Dam project on their behalf.

The main reasons given were inadequate consultation, selective information release, and the failure by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to recognize and acknowledge the Tino Rangatiratanga that hapū had exercised over rivers and water bodies from time immemorial. . .

Keen-To-Learn Farmer Turns to Ballance Farm Environment Awards for Information and Inspiration:

Returning to the family farm five years ago was an in-the-deep-end experience for Waikato farmer James Bailey and his wife Ella.

‘Momona’, a 440ha (effective) Tirau sheep and beef farm, had been in the Bailey family for five generations, so James was eager to start off on the right foot. While he was mindful of the work performed by past generations, he was also keen to improve the environmental sustainability of the business.

James, a keen surfer, is co-founder of Sustainable Coastlines – an award-winning registered charity that organises coastal clean-ups, educational programmes and riparian plantings. . .


Rural round-up

July 17, 2013

Australian farmers facing tough times:

Australian farmers are doing it tough with food imports becoming cheaper because of the Australian dollar’s plunge against the greenback three years ago, just as the worst drought in living memory finally broke.

Although there’s a general election in September, Australian farmers say their plight continues to be ignored by both Government and opposition.

Hundreds of jobs have gone from the regions as food processing factories close – or they’ve slashed production, leaving growers with tonnes of rotting fruit. . .

How a 750 cow dairy farm could make $125,000 more by employing 2 extra staff – Milking on the Moove:

I’ve been using a 750 cow farm (Canterbury average) as an example. I have been saying that this farm should have 5 employees + the boss, instead of the usual 3 employees + the boss.

 2 extra staff @ $35,000 each = $70,000/year extra wages
But if this farmer could:

 
  • Increase fertility by 7% = extra $32,000
  • Decrease SCC in just 5% of cows = $30,000
  • Increase pasture quality by 10% for just 31 days = $63,000
Thats adds up to an extra $125,000
 
Subtract the $70,000 in additional wages = $55,000 better off. . .

Ponding effluent proves costly for Hinds company:

A farm company has been fined $25,000 after pleading guilty to breaching the Resource Management Act following problems with a travelling irrigator which resulted in severe effluent ponding on its Hinds dairy farm.

In convicting and fining Drumblade Farm Ltd and awarding costs of $2990.80, Judge PR Kellar described the offence as “comparatively serious offending.”

He noted that when an Environment Canterbury Compliance Officer made a routine monitoring visit to the property on April 17, 2012 he was informed that there had been an issue that morning with the travelling irrigator where a nozzle had come off. Inspection revealed severe liquid and solid effluent ponding on the land surface. . .

Greenlea turns 20 – Allan Barber:

Waikato based Greenlea Premier Meats turns twenty this month and considering that they have just spent twenty years in the meat industry they seem to be in remarkably good shape.

They are currently the Westpac Waikato business of the Year taking out both the large business and supreme winner categories and their two plants are basically full on both shifts all year round. This year they will process more than 200,000 cattle and in the past five years they have invested more than $45 million in their plants.

Owned by the Egan family, Greenlea is not one of the big four meat companies, but belongs instead to a group of smaller players who do not seem to share the view that the meat industry is ‘broken and dysfunctional’. Neither do they regard collaboration with farmers as an issue; in fact they get plenty of support and Greenlea’s Managing Director Tony Egan reckons this is due to mutual respect. “They see us doing our job well and give us their support. It’s as simple as that”. . .

Japanese ad gives boysenberry growers a boost:

There’s good news at last for Nelson’s boysenberry growers, with a Japanese health supplements company filming an ad campaign championing the fruit’s health properties.

John Gibb, head of Nelson-based processor and exporter Sujon, says researchers in Japan have identified boysenberries as being beneficial for eye-sight, as they contain good levels of a powerful antioxidant.

However, Mr Gibb says researchers aren’t divulging the exact science behind their health claims. . .

Free range farms – herding start-ups for collective growth – Peter Kett at sticK:

Scale, as anyone starting a business realises, is a key, if not the key to growth and success.

Even in IT-related commerce, achieving scale from a New Zealand base is pretty darn difficult.

Enter, drum-roll please, Free Range Farma startup helping startups start up and stay up.

It’s the brainchild of Linc Gasking and Josh Feast, and its goal is to help entrepreneurs grow 1,000 Kiwi startups. . .


Rural round-up

June 28, 2013

EPA announces new controls for insecticides:

A group of highly toxic insecticides has been extensively reassessed by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and some will no longer be allowed to be used for plant pest control in New Zealand, the EPA announced today.

The EPA’s General Manager Applications and Assessment, Sarah Gardner, says that while the controlled use of some insecticides would continue to benefit New Zealand’s primary production industries, others were too damaging to people and the environment.

“The EPA’s role is to ensure that New Zealand’s environment, society and economy are protected from the risks posed by such substances.” . .

Mike Barton-Beef Farming Under a N Cap. This Video Will Scare The Crap Out Of Dairy Farmers – Milking on the Moove:

Mike Barton gave this talk to the Beef & Lamb NZ Farmer Roadshow in June 2013. 

It is a real eye opener & Mike explains in detail what farmers in the lake Taupo catchment have had to change in order to meet the Nitrogen cap put in place by their regional authorities.

Thanks to Beef & Lamb New Zealand for making it publicly available.

 

INC welcomes NZ infant formula audit:

The Infant Nutrition Council welcomes the audit of New Zealand’s regulatory regime concerning infant formula exports, which was announced today by Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye, CEO Jan Carey said.

“The council welcomes any steps by the Government that help give consumers confidence in the safety and quality of infant formula manufactured in New Zealand.

“The Minister’s insistence that the audit includes work on verification, compliance, and testing regimes is excellent news. . .

Four new awards for South Island Farming Competition:

The challenges, skills and resources required for high performance farming have been recognised by the inclusion of four new awards in the 2013 prize package offered by the Lincoln University Foundation’s South Island Farmer of the Year competition.

Each award carries a cash prize of $5000 while the overall prize has been upped to $20,000. This is awarded in the form of a grant to facilitate travel to visit and study overseas farming enterprises and learn about new opportunities, processes and technology.

Foundation Chair Ben Todhunter says the South Island Farmer of the Year competition is about recognising innovation, leadership and excellence in farming and, more importantly, creating a process where others in the industry can learn from the experiences of the finalists and eventual winner. . .

Greenshell New Zealand wins NZ Food and Beverage Exporter of the Year:

Coromandel MP Scott Simpson has congratulated Greenshell New Zealand on being named New Zealand Food and Beverage Exporter of the Year at the Export NZ Awards.

The prestigious award recognised Greenshell New Zealand’s excellence in building extraordinary and sustainable export growth in the Food and Beverage sector.

Judges said the company had shown the ability to think differently with a variety of well thought out strategies shaping their growth and future potential. . .

Fresh investment adding value to Sealord products:

Increasing Sealord’s fresh fish offer from negligible to up to 10% of catch by 2018 is the next step in the company’s growth strategy and the business is putting its resources and investment where its mouth is.

An investment of around $1.5 million in an entirely new line, focusing on fresh chilled fish and thermoform packaging of both fresh and frozen products, has just come online at the Vickerman Street premises.

According to General Manager of Sealord Fish, Doug Paulin, the company’s expertise in quality frozen fish and position as New Zealand’s best known seafood brand are good stepping stones to add value to products by selling more fresh fish. . .


Rural round-up

May 21, 2013

We’re here to stay – Anzco chair:

REMOVAL OF excess capacity is a key to breaking the impasse in the meat industry, says Anzco Foods chairman Sir Graeme Harrison.  This will ultimately be achieved, either in a relatively orderly way or through company collapses, he says. “Either way, Anzco Foods as a predominantly beef company intends to remain a part of the New Zealand meat industry,” Harrison told Rural News.His comments come as farmers make another push for merging co-ops Silver Fern Farms and Alliance in a bid to lift returns. However, combining the co-ops is unlikely to be enough to change the industry’s performance, strategy and structure.

SFF and Alliance collectively hold a market share of only 53%. Adding the private Affco and Anzco companies would bring total processing capacity to nearly 80%. . .

Nitrate leaching overview – Milking on the Moove:

Today I give an overview of nitrate leaching.

What is Nitrate Leaching?

What type of farming leach the most Nitrate?

How nitrate leaching from dairy farms is different from cropping & horticulture. . . .

How absentee farm owners can protect themselves from a “dirty dairying” taint:

The obvious answer is to stay on top of effluent discharge in the first place says Geoff Young, environmental monitoring consultant and Managing Director of BPO Ltd, the Waikato company which specialises in providing technical environmental monitoring information and systems both in New Zealand and overseas.

In Young’s opinion the recent Waikato Regional Council vs a Mangakino farm case was a no win situation. According to the reports, warnings had been issued and it wasn’t until charges had been laid that improvements were made. The investment made by the owners was significant but it was made too late to head off the Environment Court charges.

The Regional Council has been trying to get the message across for years that when it lays charges it’s already too late. According to Young, dairy farming cops more than its fair share of flack and this is yet another example protagonists will use to point out how bad dairy farming is, when that’s not the case at all. . .

High quality, safe NZ seafood focus of new role:

Cawthron Institute has boosted its science and aquaculture capability with the appointment of senior scientist Dr Jacquie Reed as its new head of aquaculture.

“We are excited to further strengthen our science leadership team with this new appointment,” Cawthron Institute Chief Executive Professor Charles Eason says.

“Dr Reed is an accomplished scientist with extensive, proven scientific expertise and specialist knowledge of the commercial aquaculture sector. She will complement and enhance our existing research, while bringing a fresh approach, new energy and drive to this important role.”

Dr Reed will lead the Aquaculture Group, manage the further development of the Cawthron Aquaculture Park and spearhead research and development to support new and existing partners, including SPATnz, Kono and Aotearoa Fisheries Limited. . .

MT. Beautiful Winery Founder David Teece to Be Honored for Receiving a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit:

United States-based internationally acclaimed professor of economics and founder of Mt. Beautiful Wines/Teece Family Vineyards, David Teece, is “absolutely delighted” that efforts to promote U.S. – New Zealand relations have been officially recognized.

Professor Teece, who is also a successful entrepreneur and consultant, has received a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services regarding New Zealand-United States relations. This Royal Honor will be presented at investiture dinner on Thursday May 23rd at 7pm by the Governor General on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II.

“In my case I have worked hard on a lot of issues between the U.S. and New Zealand, but this is a complete surprise on my part. I’m delighted to have the recognition and I feel stimulated to work even harder towards achieving common goals between the countries,” Teece said. . .

Green Meadows Beef Shows Commitment to New Zealand Food Traceability with Launch of Own Butchery:

Green Meadows Beef, a New Zealand owned, family business that produces 100% grass-fed, free-range beef has opened the doors to its own butchery in New Plymouth. This is the natural next step for the brand that hopes their approach to beef farming, processing and delivery will lead to more Kiwis purchasing healthier, tastier and more ethically produced meat.

Taranaki based Pat Hogan, who has more than 25 years experience as a butcher under his belt in supermarkets, retail butchers and his own store, has been brought on to manage the butchery. He is a welcome addition to the Green Meadows Beef team, which is led by Michael and Margy Carey, and their sons, Nick Carey, Brent Carey and Karl Carey. Pat’s expertise complements Michael Carey’s extensive knowledge of animal management and Nick Carey’s business and marketing skills. . .

Unique line-up of International Judges for New Zealand’s Spiegelau International Wine Competition:

From a total of 12 judges, three are flying in from Australia and one from Singapore to add their extensive experience to the eight-strong New Zealand team at this year’s Spiegelau International Wine Competition.

Joining regulars Ralph Kyte-Powell from Melbourne and Adelaide-based consultant Phil Reedman MW are Annette Scarfe, a newly minted MW based in Singapore and Nick Ryan, wine writer and commentator from Sydney. . .


Rural round-up

May 12, 2013

Export prices for lambs improving – Alan Williams:

Export market prices for lamb are improving but an early return to a $100 lamb is a question of all the planets aligning, Alliance Group general manager of marketing Murray Brown says.

“You’d be wanting a bit of exchange rate improving as well, but it’s not out of line,’’ Brown said.

If it happened, a big reduction in lamb numbers next season would be one reason, he said.

The signs were positive for the winter market and heading into next Christmas but some caution was still needed in forecasting prices. . .

Farmers may be able to invest in water storage project:

Central Hawke’s Bay farmers who tap into the proposed Ruataniwha water storage scheme may get the opportunity to invest in it too.

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is asking the Government to recognise the scheme as a project of national significance.

The council and its investment company have made applications to the Environmental Protection Authority seeking resource consents and a regional plan change required for the project, which would supply water to about 25,000 hectares of land from a dam on a tributary of the Tukituki River. . .

Dairy Farms staff and the shocking state of employee turnover – Milking on the Moove:

Well, gidday. Glen Herud here again and I am going to carry on talking about dairy farm staff. Last time I said that only a small percentage of New Zealand population are prepared to work on a dairy farm simply because of the long hours involved.

Today I want to talk about a report that was released by Dairy NZ in 2009 I think, called “Farming Smarter Not Harder.” They had some interesting figures.

  • They said that 50% of staff had been in their current job less than one year.  
  • The average length of service, so that’s the average time people stay with an employer was less than one year. 
  • 1/3 of dairy staff leave the industry every year. . .

Early start for lambing – Jill Galloway:

There are about 50 early lambs gambolling around a Kiwitea farm in Manawatu.

They are cute now, but they’ll be gracing dinner plates in Britain for Christmas, owners Jill Martin and Nigel Lintott say.

They had planned to have early lambs at two of their three properties.

“This breed are Dorset ewes, so they can have early lambs,” Lintott said.

$11m for Wagyu project – Marie Taylor:

The government has stumped up with $11 million for a project to produce high-value, marbled beef for premium markets in New Zealand and offshore.

What will the country get for its money and what does the project mean?

Hastings-based Firstlight Foods managing director Gerard Hickey is a key part of the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) project.

The seven-year PGP is worth $23.7 million and Hickey describes it as an investment to create a new category of NZ beef. . .

Fight to be the top dog – Ian Allen:

New South Island sheep dog champion Steve Kerr plans to celebrate this week’s success by getting his dog a bitch on the way home.

Mr Kerr, of Fairlie, said he was stopping near Christchurch to breed his winning huntaway, Dodge.

Mr Kerr and Dodge took out the straight huntaway title at the South Island Championships in Blenheim yesterday.

After four days of competition, only .25 points separated Mr Kerr and runner up Kerry Kilmister, of Tinui, and his dog Pulse.

Mr Kerr said it had been a hard week and it was time to celebrate.

The top of the hill got a little bit tricky but Dodge did a great job, he said. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

May 3, 2013

Challenge goal to boost NZ export earnings – Hugh Stringleman:

Four of the government’s selected 10 National Science Challenges are connected with the primary sector and have potential to boost export earnings, Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce says.

However, the need to expand export earnings to the government’s target of 40% of GDP by 2025 was not a specific criterion for selection of the challenges.

Prime Minister John Key’s chief science adviser, Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, drew attention to challenge four, called high-value nutrition – developing high-value foods with validated health benefits – as an obvious area where commodities would be enhanced to earn much more. . .

Why only a small number of people will consider working on a dairy farm – Milking on the Moove:

There are 60 new dairy conversions going into Canterbury this year. In This video I discuss how this equates to an extra 250 dairy staff been required, and why most “townies” won’t even consider a job on a dairy farm.

I’m surprised by the extra staff required, but the numbers seem to be logical. . .

60 new dairy conversions in Canterbury for 2013 season

Hey, well I want to talk about dairy farm employment issues. So staffing, of all the issues that the dairy industry face, finding people to milk the cows is the biggest issue. So I was talking to a cow shed manufacturer. He said there’s 60 dairy conversions going into Canterbury this year; and those are new dairy conversions.

60 conversions x 750 cows (cant avg) = 45,000 extra cows into Canterbury 2013

Now the average herd size in Canterbury is 750 cows, so 60 times 750 equals 45,000 extra cows coming into Canterbury this year alone. That’s not including Southland or the rest of the South Island; 45, 000 new cows into Canterbury. . .</>

No PKE from dodgy mills says MPI:

Malaysian officials have confirmed no palm kernel expeller (PKE) has been exported to New Zealand from the processing mill that Federated Farmers has reported concerns about.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is taking the concerns about post-production handling of PKE very seriously, says director plants, food and environment Peter Thomson.

“There are stringent safeguards in place that ensure PKE is safe for use, and MPI is requiring full assurance that these safeguards have not been breached,” Thomson says. . .

O’Connor leaves DINZ in good heart – Annette Scott:

If Mark O’Connor has done something right in his 13 years as chief executive of Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ), it has been employing good people.

He will officially leave his position after the industry’s annual conference later this month and he makes no secret he will miss the people.

“It is a wonderful industry in terms of people – they are a unique bunch. I will certainly miss them. It has been nothing but a joy,” O’Connor said. . .

Irrigator ruts causing accidents:

Centre-pivot irrigator ruts are contributing to the high accident rate amongst groundspreaders.</>

The New Zealand Groundspread Fertilisers’ Association, (NZGFA) would like to see a reduction in recent accident rates amongst groundspreaders.

NZGFA president Stuart Barwood says “we are aiming to make farmers aware of the dangers to groundspread fertiliser drivers and trucks. Centrepivot ruts are a major accident waiting to happen. . .

National Science Challenges are the new black:

Federated Farmers is delighted that New Zealand’s primary industries are well represented in New Zealand’s fiscally upsized National Science Challenges, announced yesterday by Prime Minister John Key and the Minister for Science and Innovation, the Hon Steven Joyce.

“This is significant because we hear talk of creating a technological future and the National Science Challenges are about inspiring this to happen,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President.

“Significantly, the Government has increased its funding by $73.5 million taking the investment to $133.5 million. In an age of constrained spending this deserves praise for its foresight.

“When taken in conjunction with AgResearch’s major investment announcement earlier this week, the National Science Challenges are another tool to break down institutional barriers and foster scientific collaboration and endeavour. . .

Photo: Dam fecking right!


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