Rural round-up

August 18, 2018

A New Zealand farmer looks at subsidies through a different lens – Craige Mackenzie:

A $12-billion “assistance package” to American farmers sounds like a great deal, at least for the recipients: a one-time payment that is intended to soften suffering caused by trade wars and low commodity prices, from a White House that sincerely wants to help.

I have a different perspective. As a farmer in New Zealand who once received government subsidies and then lost them, I speak from experience when I say that agriculture is much better off when governments stay out of our business and let us grow our food without interference.

The federal assistance package is in fact a devil’s bargain: It would deliver short-term benefits but also create long-term problems for American farmers. . .

Law to get tough – Neal Wallace:

Primary Industries Ministry officers now have greater search and surveillance powers than police, lawyers say.

The new law passed under urgency by Parliament strengthens the National Animal Identification and Tracking Act and allows officials to enter farms unannounced without a warrant to search for and seize items.

Penalties under the changes vary from infringement fees of $400 up to fines of $200,000 and five years in jail. 

Ashburton law firm Tavendale and Partners partner Kirsten Maclean said the powers contradict claims MPI wants to work with farmers over the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak. . .

YFC champ adds dairying venture – Hugh Stringleman:

The Kidd family has expanded its farming interests in the Auckland province with the purchase of a medium-sized dairy farm and some adjacent leased land for grazing at Shelly Beach on the south Kaipara Head. Hugh Stringleman went to hear about the new venture.

The Kidds have gone to Philadelphia, in the United States, for the wedding of son Hamish, a New York-based investment banker, to an American woman.

Conversations on the long flights and while away among parents Richard and Dianne, of Whenuanui Farm, Helensville, their three sons and their respective partners will feature the latest expansion of the family farming enterprise. . . 

Drought proofing a dry continent – Viv Forbes:

Earth is a blue watery planet.

70% of its surface is covered by oceans of salt water, some of which are extremely deep. These oceans contain about 97% of Earth’s water. Another 2% is locked up in snow, ice caps and glaciers. That leaves just 1% of Earth’s surface water in inland seas, lakes, rivers and dams. We have plenty of water, but not much to drink.

In addition to these vast surface water supplies, water vapour is the fourth most abundant gas in the atmosphere, after nitrogen (76%), oxygen (21%) and Argon (1%). Moisture in the atmosphere varies from almost zero over deserts and ice caps up to 4% over the wet tropics. (Carbon dioxide is a miniscule 0.04%). . .

Wrightson posts record earnings, lowers dividend and eyes reinvestment options – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson, which is selling its dominant seed and grain business, posted record full-year earnings but lowered its final dividend payment to shareholders, saying it was eyeing reinvestment opportunities.

Operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose to a record $70.2 million in the year ended June 30, in line with its forecast for earnings at the top end of its guidance range of $65 million to $70 million, and ahead of $64.5 million a year earlier, the Christchurch-based company said. One-time items pulled net profit after tax down to $18.9 million from $46.3 million. . .

Zespri launches industry realignment process:

World leading horticultural company, Zespri Group Limited lodged several key documents to support its strategically important industry realignment initiative today, with MinterEllisonRuddWatts advising on the targeted share issue and buy-back.

Zespri’s Product Disclosure Statement, Disclose Register Entry and the Buy-Back Disclosure Document were today submitted to the Registrar of Financial Service Providers for review by the New Zealand Financial Markets Authority, as well as lodged on the USX Share trading platform. . .

Frankie Goes to Wellywood – and Deer Milk stars in the show:

Frankie Goes to Wellywood – and Deer Milk stars in the show

Deer Milk was up in lights last night at the first of three special evenings that chef Frank Camorra from Melbourne restaurant MoVida is presenting in conjunction with Wellington restaurant Logan Brown and Visa Wellington on a Plate.

In his first trip to the capital, Camorra’s menu features the ingredient that is lighting up fine dining in New Zealand. . .


Rural round-up

June 15, 2017

More funding to support rural mental wellness:

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have committed another joint funding boost to rural mental health.

The Ministers committed $500,000 for Rural Mental Wellness at the opening of the Fieldays Rural Health Hub earlier today.

It will go towards 20 workshops for rural health professionals treating people at risk of suicide, continued support for the rural Clinical Champions and Medical Director, as well as support aimed at younger rural workers.

“The Government recognises that rural life goes in cycles, and we want to support our rural communities through the ups and downs,” says Dr Coleman.

“The Rural Mental Wellness initiative is administered by Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand and Rural Support Trusts. . . 

Helping farmers return home safely:

Last year, 18 people died as a result of work-related incidents in agriculture, accounting for 36 per cent of all work related fatalities in 2016. This is significantly higher than any other primary industry.

The introduction of the 2015 Health and Safety at Work Act and WorkSafe’s ongoing scrutiny requires businesses to understand and adapt to minimise potential for harm to employees and contractors.

To help agri-businesses keep their employees and contractors safe, Safetrac has partnered with MinterEllisonRuddWatts to develop an interactive online training course. . . 

Sustainable farming fund hits 1000th project:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Associate Minister Louise Upston have tonight celebrated the 1000th Sustainable Farming Fund project, and awarded two Emerging Leaders scholarships at an event kicking off National Fieldays.

“The Sustainable Farming Fund supports the primary sector’s own forward thinking and kiwi ingenuity – which in turn helps keeps New Zealand ahead of the game,” says Mr Guy. 

“1000 projects have now been funded since the fund was initiated in 2000. This represents around $150 million in government funding alongside a significant level of sector support.

“The fund has supported projects as diverse as reducing nutrient run off on lowland farms, reducing use of antimicrobials when managing mastitis, and increasing the market share for New Zealand olive oil,” Mr Guy says.

Ms Upston says much of the success of the fund is due to its grass-roots nature. . . 

Commonsense prevails on firearms recommendations says Feds:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see that Police Minister Paula Bennett has listened to the concerns of the rural community on the Parliamentary Select Committee report into the illegal possession of firearms.

Minister Bennett rejected 12 of the 20 recommendations made by the committee that would have significantly impacted on licensed firearms owners- but done little to stop firearms getting into the hands of criminals. . . 

Vegetable prices up 31 percent in year to May:

Higher lettuce prices helped push vegetable prices up a record 31 percent in the year to May 2017, Stats NZ said today. Overall, food prices increased 3.1 percent in the year.

“Our wet autumn has pushed vegetable prices to their highest level in almost six years in May, with the largest annual increase to vegetables on record,” consumer prices manager Matthew Haigh said. “The increase was more pronounced because warmer-than-usual weather in the 2016 growing season resulted in cheaper-than-usual vegetable prices in May last year.” . . 

NZ agriculture needs to latch onto tech faster:

New Zealand’s primary industries need to latch on to technology faster to support the economic growth of its agri sector and become a world leader in a fast growing agritech market, NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says.

NZTech members have joined hundreds of other firms at Fieldays in Hamilton this week as technology becomes increasingly important for the New Zealand agri sector.

A growing awareness of the value of technology in agriculture can be seen by the number of farmers looking into technologies such as IoT, drones, sensors and robotics, Muller says. . . 

Smaller NZ wine vintage is full of promise:

The 2017 grape harvest has come in smaller than expected according to New Zealand Winegrowers.

The 2017 Vintage Survey shows the harvest totalled 396,000 tonnes, down 9% on last year said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. “Given strong demand in overseas markets wineries had been looking forward to a larger harvest this year. With the smaller vintage however, export volume growth is likely to be more muted in the year ahead.”

Mr Gregan said the smaller vintage was due to weather conditions. “Generally summer weather was very positive but there were some challenges as the season progressed.” . . 

Bellamy’s to pay Fonterra A$28M to change supply contract as it struggles to crack China – Sophie Boot:

 (BusinessDesk) – ASX-listed Bellamy’s Australia plans to raise A$60.4 million from shareholders and will pay nearly half of that to New Zealand’s Fonterra Cooperative Group in order to change their milk supply contract in its quest to comply with Chinese import regulations.

The two companies have been in negotiations this year after announcing changes to their take-or-pay organic powder contract. Fonterra and Bellamy’s first entered into a five-year, multi-million dollar deal to manufacture a range of baby nutritional powders at the Darnum infant formula plant in south-east Victoria in November 2015. . . 

Wrightson warns wet autumn will weigh on annual earnings Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson, whose chief executive yesterday signalled his departure at the end of the year, warned a wet autumn sapped the performance of its seed and grain business and will weigh on annual earnings.

The Christchurch-based company said it expects operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to be in the bottom half of its earlier guidance for earnings of between $62 million and $68 million, while net profit will be near the low end of its previous forecast for between $46 million and $51 million. . . 

Rural sector stabilises despite challenges:

Rural businesses show signs of improvement despite facing constrained business environment

However, 1-in-5 rural businesses expecting no change from technology a “cause for concern”

As Fieldays 2017 kicks off, a new survey by accounting software provider MYOB reveals rural businesses are showing strong signs of economic improvement despite a constrained environment. . . 

Fieldays an opportunity for careers advice:

More than 500 students will be offered advice on careers in the primary industries as they pass through the Careers and Education Hub at Fieldays this week.

Associate Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Louise Upston says that with strong growth in the primary sector anticipated over the next few years, the Government was encouraging more young people to consider careers in primary industries.

A number of schools, totalling more than 500 students, have registered to visit the Careers and Education Hub at Fieldays at Mystery Creek. Careers NZ will be among those offering advice to young people considering such a career. . . 

Plenty to celebrate for Zespri at Mystery Creek :

Kiwifruit’s growing importance to the rural economy is being celebrated at Fieldays 2017 at Mystery Creek this week, together with the 20-year anniversary of the Zespri brand.

The kiwifruit marketer has a large presence at the biggest agricultural and horticultural event in the Southern Hemisphere, hosting growers and industry stakeholders at its hospitality site over the four-day event. . . 

Wrightson boss Mark Dewdney to leave at the end of the year – Paul McBeth

 (BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson chief executive Mark Dewdney will leave the rural services firm at the end of the year, by which time a new leadership team is expected to be in place.

Dewdney will end three-and-a-half years in charge of the Christchurch-based company at the end of 2017 “to pursue private interests”, and will help the board install a new leadership group by 2018, Wrightson said in a statement. Chairman Alan Lai said Dewdney had done an “excellent job” in building staff engagement and targeting growth in certain areas of the business.. . 

Vodafone calls on rural Kiwis to check their coverage at this year’s Fieldays:

Thousands of rural Kiwis are within reach of better broadband and Vodafone is on a mission to end their ‘buffering blues’ at this year’s Fieldays.

The company is challenging visitors to use its brand new interactive coverage wall to see if they can get a faster and more reliable broadband connection where they live.

In addition to super-fast wireless broadband, Vodafone has a range of coverage solutions on display to help rural New Zealanders improve their connection to the world. . . 

BEC Feed Solutions expands to meet growth:

BEC Feed Solutions has expanded its New Zealand operation with the appointment of Rhys Morgan as South Island Sales Representative. The new position was created following substantial business growth after a successful three years in business, and the desire to expand BEC’s presence in the South Island.

Reporting to BEC Country Manager, Trina Parker, Mr Morgan will be accountable for growing the business via the sale of ingredients, solution-focused feed additives and premixes within the South Island. He will also have responsibility for developing the company’s presence in the dairy sector, in addition to account managing a number of existing clients across New Zealand. . . 


Rural round-up

April 28, 2017

Lamb prices and grass markets define a better second half of season:

Stronger lamb prices and plenty of grass have bumped up the season’s forecast profit for sheep and beef farmers.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Mid-Season Update revises up its forecast for profit before tax to $75,200 for the All Classes Sheep and Beef Farm. Six months ago, the outlook had not been so good ($67,000 per farm), but with plenty of feed in most areas and better lamb prices, it’s a better outlook, Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive Sam McIvor says. . . 

First Central Plains Water sustainability report released:

Background:

The Central Plains Water Trust holds the resource consents for the Central Plains Water Scheme. Central Plains Water Limited (the Company) owns and operates the infrastructure of the Scheme and contracts the supply of water for irrigation in the Scheme area to the farmers who are shareholders. The Trust licences the use of the consents to the Company for the taking and supply of the water, but does so with agreed conditions over and above those imposed by the resource consents. The Trust’s conditions relate to the environmental performance of the Scheme, and require that the Company impose environmental requirements on the users, set out in individual Farm Plans. Another one of the conditions is for the supply of data to the Trust on an annual basis so that the Trustees can have the data analised independently for use in publishing an Annual Sustainability Report on the environmental performance of the Scheme.

The attached report was published today on the Trust’s website: www.cpw.org.nz . . .

Sale of Mainland Poultry to Navis Capital – MinterEllisonRuddWatts advises:

Shareholders of New Zealand’s biggest egg producer Mainland Poultry, have reached an agreement to sell to Private Equity firm Navis Capital.

MinterEllisonRuddWatts was lead advisor to Mainland Poultry along with ANZ Corporate Finance from Australia.

While the deal remains subject to Overseas Investment Office (OIO) approval, it is a significant transaction for the countries agricultural and FMCG industry. . . 

NZ wool auction volumes remain high as farmers seek to move stockpiles – Tina Morrison:

Volumes at New Zealand’s weekly wool auction were higher than normal for this time of year as farmers try to shift bales they held back from previous auctions due to weak prices.

Some 6,160 bales were offered at yesterday’s North Island auction yesterday, 13 percent higher than volumes for the same time last year, according to AgriHQ. Some 70 percent of the wool was sold at auction, lagging behind the 75 percent clearance rate for the season to date, and well below last year’s 90 percent rate, AgriHQ said. . . 

Eight Kiwi producers recognised in the outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards:

Farming, horticulture and aquaculture recognised alongside crafted products

Absolute NZ Meat is the Supreme Winner of the inaugural Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards 2017. Their winning product Absolute Angus Porterhouse was named alongside seven category winners representing horticulture, aquaculture, cheesemaking, butchery and creators of premium crafted products.

The winners were announced in Auckland last night  after a panel of 10 expert food judges tasted more than 150 products from 82 growers, farmers and crafted producers in early March 2017 at the Fresh Factory in Auckland. . . 

Big cotton is planting the seeds for more subsidies – Vincent H. Smith:

Agricultural special interests have decades of practice in raiding the public purse, and it is only getting worse. Here is a case in point: cotton producers are canvassing Capitol Hill to lobby for access to a highly lucrative new set of subsidy programs.

Those programs, called Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC), were first enacted in the 2014 farm bill as a replacement for the costly Direct Payments program.  As part of a trade dispute settlement with Brazil, Congress agreed that cotton would not be covered by these two programs, which are available for major crops like corn and wheat, and minor crops like oil seeds (canola, mustard seed, etc.). . . 


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