Rural round-up

September 27, 2018

Pasture pests costing economy billions:

Pests most commonly targeting New Zealand’s pastures are costing the economy up to $2.3 billion a year, an AgResearch study has found.

The study is the first of its kind to estimate the financial impact of invertebrate pests such as the grass grub, black beetle, nematodes and weevils in terms of lost productivity for pastoral farming.

The full science paper has been published this week in the New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research and can be found here: . .

Alliance meat company paid too much for winter export lambs cutting profit – Heather Chalmers:

Meat company Alliance Group says it paid too much for export lamb over winter, which has hit its profit. 

Alliance chief executive David Surveyor said that in lamb markets there had been a “fundamental disconnect” between the laws of supply and demand.

“For the last three months lamb prices overseas have been flat, but domestically the export lamb price to farmers has gone up by $20 a head to procure animals.

In the last few weeks Alliance has cut the price it pays for lamb “as it was not sensible to continue at this level of pricing”, Surveyor said. . .

Westland Milk Products final payout for 2017-18

Westland Milk Products has reported a final milk payout of $6.12 per kilo of milk solids (kgMS), less a five cent retention, delivering a net average result for Shareholders of $6.07 per kgMS.

Chairman Pete Morrison noted that a substantial number of Shareholders received an additional premium on the net result of 4.4cents per kgMS for providing UHT winter milk and colostrum, giving them a net average payout of $6.11. . .

Fonterra: ‘lots to do to get basics right’ – Simon Hartley:

China poses several challenges for Fonterra and a2Milk, and both organisations face the likelihood of short term volatility in sales and earnings.

Fonterra’s woes stem from its poor full year result and rising milk prices pressuring profit margins, but it also has to make a decision on its much criticised 18.8% stake in Chinese infant milk formula company Beingmate, which it bought for $755million in 2015.

And a2 Milk could face some short term volatility with recent changes to Chinese law impacting on the thousands of informal ”daigou” traders selling on numerous e-commerce and social media platforms in China. . .

Apple industry welcome release of seized plant material:

New Zealand Apples & Pears Incorporated (NZAPI), the industry’s representative association, has welcomed the Ministry for Primary Industries announcement that 20,000 apple plants have been cleared for release from all restrictions imposed following their seizure after being imported from a US testing facility.

An MPI audit of the facility in March had found that there were incomplete or inaccurate records associated with this material, which raised the prospect of a biosecurity risk. . .

Minister Sage forced to postpone her tahr hunt

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage has been forced to postpone the mass tahr cull she ordered to start this weekend because of huge pressure from recreational hunting and tourism industry, National’s Conservation spokesperson Sarah Dowie says.

“Ms Sage personally ordered the culling of tens of thousands of tahr without adequately consulting with the hunting industry and recreational hunters who would be directly affected

Prospects good for anglers – Jono Edwards:

Anglers are waiting with bated breath for a healthy southern fishing season.

Otago Fish and Game officer Cliff Halford said yesterday most fisheries in the region were in ”good condition” for the opening of the season on Monday.

”Certainly, weather conditions play a part in how opening day will pan out and it looks like we will get some clear skies.”

While snow expected this week could impact water clarity, so far there were not expected to be any ”major rain events” between now and opening day. . .

More farmers turn to DNA parentage testing to improve productivity:

Farmer owned co-operative LIC has seen an increase in demand for its DNA parentage testing service as livestock farmers place increasing emphasis on cow quality over cow quantity.

This spring, upwards of 250,000 calves from around the country will have their parentage confirmed by LIC’s DNA parentage service which operates from its laboratory in Hamilton. . .

Hancock’s tech transformation has animals, staff in mind – Shan Goodwin:

THE technology transformation and infrastructure rollout taking place across the 34 cattle properties now in the Hancock Agriculture portfolio is as much about leading the way in animal and worker well being as it is about delivering efficiencies.

From the day of acquisition of each station, Hancock’s Gina Rinehart has expected an allowance be set aside for animal welfare investments.

So far that investment is running in the millions. . .

NFU joins forces with food supply chain to tackle food waste:

The NFU is today announcing its support for the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap and is encouraging its members to play their part in tackling food waste in the supply chain.

The initiative, run by the charities Wrap and IGD, aims to have 50% of the UK’s largest 250 food businesses measuring, reporting and acting on food waste by 2019. It is working towards milestones to help halve UK food waste by 2030.

NFU President Minette Batters said: “This is an incredibly important initiative by Wrap and IGD, and the NFU is very pleased to be able to support it. Farmers are the first step in the supply chain, producing the raw ingredients that make up the safe, traceable and affordable domestic food supply that helps to feed the nation. . .


Rural round-up

September 2, 2018

Proving consultants were wrong – Neal Wallace:

Sheep farmers are enjoying a golden patch but it would be a challenge to find a more profitable breed than Merino-Romney halfbreds. That is a contrast to the last rites that were read to the mid micron sector by consultants 18 years ago. Neal Wallace meets some farmers who ignored those forecasts of impending doom and stayed loyal to halfbred sheep.

John Duncan confesses to never being a great meeting goer. 

One the Otago sheep and beef farmer recalls attending was in Ranfurly in about 2000 at which he was told there was no future for mid micron wool.

International consultants McKinsey had just released a report on how to improve wool grower profitability. Recommendations included dissolving the Wool Board and, alarmingly to owners of mid micron sheep such as Duncan, warning the fibre did not have a future. . . 

Westland weighs options – Hugh Stringleman:

Westland Milk Company’s 420 farmer-shareholders will have some options for capital structure to chew on at the co-operative’s annual meeting on December 5.

Chairman Pete Morrison said a report from a strategic review of the company being done by Macquarie Capital and DG Advisory will be available for shareholders.

The quest is to find a sustainable capital structure and competitive milk price. . . 

Virtual reality experiments in Rotorua could replace forestry field work – Samantha Olley:

The forestry industry has been experimenting with virtual reality in Rotorua this week to develop new ways of measuring tree growth.

The University of Tasmania and Interpine are carrying out the research, which is partially funded by Forest and Wood Products Australia.

The university’s Human Interface Technology Lab leader, Dr Winyu Chinthammit, said the experiments aimed to give skilled workers a safer and more efficient way to measure forests, using data from aerial LiDar scanners, rather than field work. . . 

Sheep-milking gets a hoof-hold in Waikato’s dairying’s heartland – Gerald Piddock:

The burgeoning sheep-milking industry has upped its stake in Waikato’s dairying heartland.

Two new farms will be ready to milk this season. Both are near Cambridge and are owned by Taupō-based Spring Sheep Milking Co, a joint venture between state-owned enterprise Pamu and marketing firm SLC Group.

Spring Sheep announced plans to establish the two farms in December and to grow sheep-milking from a handful of exporters to at least 60 farms by 2030. . . 

On the farm: a guide to rural New Zealand:

Do you know what’s happening on farms and orchards around New Zealand? Each week Country Life reporters talk to people in rural areas across the country to find out.

Northland has had a fantastic winter. While the skies delivered two and a half times the normal amount of rain in June, July and August were extremely mild and farmers didn’t need to put on their wet weather gear nearly as often. Calving is all but finished so farmers are thinking ahead to mating and treating cows that had trouble calving so they’ll be in good shape for the next round. With the threat of Mycoplasma Bovis being transferred from farm to farm, farmers are being advised to lease bulls from credible sources.

In South Auckland, Pukekohe had a fine weekend but heavy rain fell on Wednesday leaving the ground too wet to be worked on. While the free irrigation is normally welcome, too much of a good thing is entirely another matter. Some crops are showing signs of diseases that flourish in wet conditions. Heavy supplies of broccoli continue to be hard to sell. . .

Pāmu lifts operating profits despite challenging climatic conditions

Pāmu (Landcorp Faming Limited) has announced EBITDAR (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, Amortization, and Revaluations) of $48.5 million for the year ended 30 June 2018 (FY18), up $12.9 million (36 percent) from the previous year. Net profit after tax was $34.2 million a reduction of $17.7 million (34 percent) largely due to lower gains from biological assets (forestry and livestock) and a higher tax expense.

Directors have declared a dividend of $5 million which will be paid on 15 October 2018. . . 

 UK could run out of food a year from now with no-deal Brexit, NFU warns – Lisa O’Carroll:

Britain would run out of food on this date next year if it cannot continue to easily import from the EU and elsewhere after Brexit, the National Farmers’ Union has warned.

Minette Batters, the NFU president, urged the government to put food security at the top of the political agenda after the prospect of a no-deal Brexit was talked up this week.

“The UK farming sector has the potential to be one of the most impacted sectors from a bad Brexit – a frictionless free trade deal with the EU and access to a reliable and competent workforce for farm businesses is critical to the future of the sector,” she said. . .

 


Rural round-up

June 30, 2018

Councils’ reliance on rating slammed as ‘abhorrent’ – Sally Rae:

Federated Farmers national president Katie Milne says councils need new ways to diversify their funding and the reliance on rating is “abhorrent” and needs addressing.

In her report to the rural lobby organisation’s national conference, Ms Milne said that would be particularly helpful for councils with a small rating base.

Central government must also make sure councils were reasonable in how they rated “and not bleed the public for projects which may never get off the ground or pet ideas that only serve the ideologies of the few rather than the many”.

“There is a belief we are all rich farmers but this is just a myth,” she said. . . 

Government negligent over PSA claim:

A landmark decision released by the High Court today has found that the Ministry of Primary Industries (formally MAF) was negligent in allowing the deadly PSA disease into New Zealand in 2009, which devastated the kiwifruit industry.
Kiwifruit Claim Chairman John Cameron said that it was also hugely significant for the kiwifruit industry and other primary industries that the Court also established that MPI owed a duty of care to kiwifruit growers when carrying out its biosecurity functions.
“We completely agree with the Judge when she says that the wrong to the 212 kiwifruit growers should be remedied. . .
Psa Litigation:
MPI has received the High Court’s decision on the long-running Psa litigation and we are now carefully considering its findings and implications for current and future biosecurity activities.
The 500 page document traverses events dating back 12 years, pre-dating the establishment of MPI, and requires a thorough examination. We cannot rush this process.
Once we have completed consideration of the judgment, a decision will be made on whether to appeal. That decision must be made by the Solicitor-General, not MPI.
Until then, we will be making no further comment. . .

Early winners are still leading – Hugh Stringleman:

Hugh Stringleman looks back on the initial decade of the Young Farmer Contest and catches up with some of those who took part.

Winning the Young Farmer Contest’s national honours opened many doors to farming success and primary industry leadership for champions from the first decade.

Between 1969 and 1978 competition was very keen among thousands of Young Farmers Club members nationwide to achieve a place in the four-man grand finals, as they were then.

Every member was encouraged to participate to build public speaking skills, increase their industry knowledge and try to progress through club, district, regional, island and grand finals. . . 

Fonterra says climate change policy shouldn’t reduce methane emissions to zero – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group said it supports a target aimed at mitigating and stabilising methane emissions, but not seeking to reduce them to zero, in its submission on the productivity commision draft report on transitioning to a low-emissions economy.

“Agricultural emissions make up approximately half of New Zealand’s emissions and we support policies being set to help transition agriculture to a low emissions economy,” it said in the recently published submission. Submissions on the commission’s draft report – presented in April – were open until June 8 and the commission aims to present a final report to the government by August. . . .

AgResearch purchases full ownership of Farmax:
AgResearch has taken full ownership of agricultural software company Farmax Ltd by acquiring the shares of Brownrigg Agriculture, and Phil Tither, of AgFirst.
Farmax has been operating for 15 years and has already been used to add value to more than 5000 farm businesses in New Zealand and overseas. The software is used by farmers and their advisors to analyse, monitor and review farm operations to determine the production and economic outcomes of various managerial options. . .

Gallagher’s takes supreme ExportNZ award:

Gallagher Group has taken out the supreme award for the 2018 Air New Zealand Cargo ExportNZ Awards for Auckland and Waikato regions.

Judges were impressed with the way the Hamilton-based business has become the leading technology company in animal management, security and fuel system industries over the past 80 years.

Founded in 1937, Gallagher’s was initially a 10-person business which designed and delivered New Zealand’s first electric fence solution. Today, it employs 1100 people across a global network of 10 countries through three business units. . . 

British farmers are ‘better equipped than anyone’ to deliver high quality food, says Michael Gove

NFU President Minette Batters has welcomed comments made by Michael Gove in his keynote speech at the NFU’s Summer Reception at the House of Commons on 25 June. 

Defra’s Secretary of State for food and the environment said he had ‘heard, received and understood’ the NFU’s call on government to uphold the high-quality produce that he said was a ‘hallmark of British agriculture’ in post-Brexit trade agreements.

He said that British farmers are ‘better equipped than anyone’ to fulfil the national and global demand for high-quality food. . .

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Rural round-up

March 17, 2018

Dairy Report: Irrigation in the South Island insulated dairy farms from drought this year allowing maintained production. North Island makes a fast recovery – Guy Trafford:

Fonterra states it has collected 2% less milk than the previous season. However, given it was 6% down up to the end of December on the previous calendar year and January was 8% down, since that period there must have be a great turn around.

This is no doubt driven by the good grass season experienced by farmers in many parts of New Zealand since mid-January and dairy farmers holding onto potentially cull cows to help control it.

Looking at the Fonterra milk collection data it appears likely that by April the 2017/18 season will come close to matching that of previous years. Most of the volatility around milk production is coming from the North Island with irrigation maintaining much of the South Island production at a status quo situation. . . 

Dairy capacity is manageable – Hugh Stringleman:

The latest milk market share figures show that Fonterra is approaching 80% of national milk collection at a time when dairy industry processing overcapacity is an emerging threat.

Two new dairy plants are due to open in August and if their operators attract their targeted milk supply Fonterra’s market share next season will fall from 82% to 80%.

The plants are industry number two Open Country’s fourth location, at Horotiu, in northern Waikato, and newcomer Mataura Valley Milk, in Southland. . . 

Project offers school children farm visits – Sally Rae:

Farming is not all about chasing sheep.

That was something Deep Stream farmer Preston Hope explained to a group of 29 city school pupils visiting his property yesterday.

Rather, there were a wealth of various career paths available in the rural sector, ranging from science to sales and marketing.

“There are a huge amount of opportunities,” he said. . . 

Lorna’s love of cows rewarded – Sally Rae:

Lorna Button started showing cattle at a very young age.

Miss Button (17) reckoned she was probably 4 or 5 when she first wielded a halter and lead, and paraded around the ring.

In fact, there were photographs from when she was young, showing her holding her charge’s head “right up high” and it was right above her head, she said.

This year, a highlight for the South Otago teenager was winning the intermediate-senior handler (14-18 years) class at the New Zealand Dairy Event, held at Manfeild Park, near Palmerston North. . .

Zespri shareholders back constitutional changes according to preliminary vote count – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Zespri shareholders voted in favor of constitutional changes aimed at strengthening grower ownership and control of New Zealand’s statutory kiwifruit exporter, according to preliminary results from a special meeting held today in Mt Maunganui.

Shareholders voted on a series of resolutions that will impose a cap on the number of shares they can hold relative to trays of kiwifruit produced, and phase out dividends for non-producing shareholders over seven years. .  . 

National Farmers’ Union first female boss addresses sexism in farming – Adrian Lee:

FOR centuries farming’s image has revolved around ruddy-faced men toiling in fields while their loyal women folk run the home. It is a stereotype that has proved hard to break down.

However the election of the National Farmers’ Union’s first female president in its 110-year history will do much to prove that attitudes within the industry are changing. Minette Batters, who built up a 300-strong herd of pedigree Hereford cattle from scratch in Wiltshire, fought off male competition to secure the post this week.

She was told by her father that farming is not for girls but insists that agriculture as a man’s domain is being consigned to the past. “That really is a very out of date opinion,” says the 50-year-old single mother who took charge of the farm in 1998 and has steadily worked her way to the top. . .

 


Rural round-up

February 27, 2018

Kellogg report puts a human face on small rural business challenges – Kate Taylor:

There are challenges facing people with small rural businesses all over the world.

But in rural New Zealand, it is not always easy to solve them in isolation.

Rural people know how special rural New Zealand is, that’s why we fight so hard to stay out there running businesses alongside our farms or lifestyle blocks or within our homes.

I say we, because I own a small rural business. When I’m not writing for NZ Farmer I’m a freelance writer – communiKate – and I have been self-employed in rural Hawke’s Bay for almost 18 years. . . 

School introduces agribusiness as subject – Sally Rae:

The introduction of agribusiness as a subject at Kavanagh College signals “exciting times” in education, head of commerce Jill Armstrong says.

On Friday, pupils from the Dunedin school visited origin verification company Oritain, animal parasite diagnostics company Techion Group and Duncan and Anne-Marie Wells’ dairy farm on the Taieri.

It was a “fantastic” field trip and followed on from the introduction of agribusiness as a subject at NCEA level 2 this year, Ms Armstrong said.

At Oritain, Sam Lind gave an overview of the company and why it had become so important  for businesses to be protected from fraud. . . 

Top dairy women announced as finalists for Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award:

A dairy consultant, a district mayor, and a leadership coach are finalists in the 2018 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year awards.

Hawke’s Bay dairy consultant Rachel Baker, Tararua district mayor Tracey Collis, and Southland dairy leadership coach Loshni Manikam are in the running for the coveted dairy award, which will be announced at an awards ceremony during Dairy Women’s Network’s conference in Rotorua on Thursday 22 March. . . 

Local leaders recognised by Dairy Women’s Network:

Two women with generations of farming experience behind them are finalists in the 2018 Dairy Community Leadership Awards.

They are dairy farmers Kylie Leonard, from Reporoa in the Central Plateau, and Lorraine Stephenson, from Dannevirke in Manawatu.

The Dairy Community Leadership Awards are a Dairy Women’s Network (DWN) initiative recognising the unsung heroes of rural communities. This year’s award will be presented at an awards ceremony during the Network’s conference in Rotorua, 22-23 March.

Sponsored by ASB and Tompkins Wake, the award recognises the voluntary role dairy farming women have in leading their communities and sharing their time and skills beyond the farm gate. . . 

Fears for seed industry after red clover moth found nationwide – Eva Corlett:

A moth that attacks red clover, with “devastating” effects has now been found nationwide.

The red clover casebearer moth was first discovered in Auckland two years ago. It has now been found in pheromone traps at the bottom of the South Island, leading researchers to believe it has actually been in the country for around 10 years.

The larvae eats the red clover’s seed, spurring fears for the seed industry, the seed research manager for the Foundation of Arable Research Richard Chynoweth said. . . 

Sports award finalist acknowledges teamwork – Sally Rae:

Jude McNab isn’t one to seek the limelight.

In fact, the Owaka-based shearing sports administrator much prefers to be “behind the scenes and hidden under the table”. But she acknowledged that being named as a finalist for this year’s Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards — in the contribution to the rural sports industry category — was a “real honour”, despite deflecting attention from herself.

“I don’t do this on my own. It’s a team effort with everything. I’m probably the bossy britches,” she laughed.

The awards were about celebrating traditional sports and the people who kept events running year-in and year-out in towns and settlements across the country. . . 

Rural recycling a no-brainer – Simon Andrew:

Supporting farmers and growers to clear more waste and preserve New Zealand farms for future generations is the mission of the rural recycling programme, Agrecovery.

In tackling the plastic used by our rural communities, the leading product stewardship programme recycles over 300 tonnes per year. “That is enough plastic to cover a rugby field six feet high,” says Agrecovery General Manager, Simon Andrew. . . 

It’s time to tell the world about British farming – and heal our rural-urban divide – Minette Batters:

Farming is changing. In all the talk of technology reshaping society, some might have assumed that farming would have been left untouched by this rapid pace of change. But there has been revolution and evolution in the fields of Britain. An agricultural revolution, with the introduction of new productivity-enhancing technologies, and a food evolution, with a relentless drive for high standards. . .

 

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Rural round-up

February 22, 2018

Ban kids from riding quad bikes RCH surgeon urges – Warwick Teague:

IN MY work as a surgeon and trauma prevention advocate, I see few better places to start saving lives than a ban on children getting on quad bikes.

This is a hard line, too hard for some, but I would challenge anyone — farmer, doctor, lawyer, voter, seller, buyer, parent or child to answer the question: How many more children do you think need to be injured on quad bikes before we say “Enough is enough”?

Since 2001, 42 Aussie kids aged under 16 have died from quad bike trauma. . .

Using technology to give farmers an eye in the sky:

Is there anything technology can’t do? It seems everyday something new pops up that makes our lives easier… and now one Taranaki dairy farmer has taken this to new heights, using a drone to get his cows in.

Hayden Fowles says it’s not just about getting the herd to the shed quicker, the drone also helps him keep his cows healthy.

“It gives me another pair of eyes. I can check for lameness and anything that might appear a bit odd sooner than I would if I was on foot or bike.”

Not only is the drone helping to keep his cows healthy, it’s also helping to improve his on-farm health and safety.

“It means a lot less time on and off the bike and I don’t need to go on to the steeper land.” . . 

NFU elects new officeholder team:

Minette Batters has been elected as the new President of the National Farmers’ Union.

Ms Batters, a beef farmer from Wiltshire, has been elected for a two-year term alongside Guy Smith as Deputy President and Stuart Roberts as Vice President.

The election took place after the AGM of the NFU Council, a representative body made up of its elected members, following the annual NFU Conference.

Ms Batters said: “I am delighted to have been elected as President of the NFU and I am grateful to all the members who have given me the opportunity to lead our industry through Brexit and beyond.

“At the heart of the NFU is its members and I would like the organisation to aim even higher on their behalf. British farming is in the spotlight like never before and this is a great opportunity to reposition the sector in the eyes of the nation. . . 

A2 Milk first-half profit soars 150%, aligns itself with Fonterra in new supply deal – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk more than doubled first-half profit on strong infant formula sales and has aligned itself with Fonterra Cooperative Group which will see the two companies partner up on a range of products.

Net profit rose to $98.5 million in the six months ended Dec. 31 from $39.4 million a year earlier as sales climbed to $434.6 million from $256 million, Auckland-based, Sydney-headquartered a2 said. . . 

A2 shares soar 25%, making it NZ’s biggest listed company – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co shares jumped 25 percent, making the milk marketing firm New Zealand’s biggest listed company on a deal that will give it backing from Fonterra Cooperative Group.

The stock gained $2.31 to $11.60, valuing a2 Milk at $8.47 billion, toppling Auckland International Airport at $7.75 billion, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare at $7.37 billion and Meridian Energy at $7.29 billion. The spike underpinned the S&P/NZX 50 index, which gained 1.5 percent to 8,215.63 as at 2.35pm. . . 

No Change to Existing Synlait And A2 Milk Infant Formula Supply Arrangements:

Synlait Milk Limited and The a2 Milk Company Limited wish to clarify that the announcements made today by The a2 Milk Company and Fonterra do not change Synlait’s exclusive infant formula supply arrangements to The a2 Milk Company.

Synlait and The a2 Milk Company have an exclusive long-term supply agreement for the production of the a2 Platinum® infant formula range for China, Australia and New Zealand. . . 

Red Meat Sector welcomes release of the CPTPP text and National Interest Analysis:

The release of the text of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (CPTPP) and New Zealand’s National Interest Analysis represents important progress for trade leadership in the Asia-Pacific region, say the Meat Industry Association of New Zealand (MIA) and Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

‘CPTPP brings some of the largest and most dynamic economies in the Asia-Pacific together around a common goal’, says B+LNZ Chief Executive, Sam McIvor.

MIA Chief Executive, Tim Ritchie, said ‘This new agreement addresses concerns many New Zealanders had with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and is a deal that is good for trade and good for New Zealand.  . . 


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