Rural round-up

22/08/2019

600 farmers in big water project

Large-scale initiative in Southland expected to have big effect on water quality:

You could say it’s “ace” that more than 600 farmers and multiple agencies are working together to improve water quality in the Aparima catchment area in the deep south.

ACE – otherwise known as the Aparima Community Environment (ACE) project – is a farmer-led initiative in Southland aimed at over 600 farms spread over 207,000 hectares – with 81 per cent of that area developed. It has multi-agency participation with DairyNZ, Beef & Lamb and Environment Southland involved.

The ace thing about ACE, says DairyNZ’s strategy and investment leader for responsible dairying, Dr David Burger, is its enormous scale and the intent to support all land managers in good farming practice. It will also track what happens on every single farm in the six Aparima catchment groups – Pourakino, Lower Aparima, Orepuki, Mid Aparima, Upper Aparima and Waimatuku – and relate this to water quality downstream. . . 

Federated Farmers hails court ruling as a win for Rotorua community:

The voices of farmers in Rotorua, led by Federated Farmers, have been instrumental in the Environment Court’s rejection of Land Use Capability (LUC) as a tool for nitrogen allocation.

Federated Farmers, along with the Lake Rotorua Primary Producers Collective, has been fighting a proposal by Rotorua Lakes Council, forestry and others seeking to allocate nitrogen discharges using LUC methodology.  With evidence from member farmers in the catchment, as well as by engaging experts and consultants, Federated Farmers demonstrated the LUC proposal would fail farm businesses and their communities to the point of potential ruin, Feds environment spokesperson Chris Allen said.

“It would also have had a more uncertain environmental outcome than the original proposal  by Bay of Plenty Regional Council in Plan Change 10,” he said.

“We’re pleased the Court comprehensively rejected the LUC proposal that would have required nitrogen discharge reductions of 80% by dairy farmers and 40% by drystock farmers.  In contrast, the allocation for forestry would have increased six fold. This would have meant that most farmers would have had to lease back nitrogen (that had been transferred to forestry) in order to continue farming.” . . 

Forget about another share trading review – Sudesh Kissun:

Former Fonterra director Nicola Shadbolt says the recent collapse of a few dairy cooperatives should be blamed on their strategy, not their co-op structure.

She says the collapse of Australia’s biggest dairy co-op Murray Goulburn and the demise of Westland Milk co-op on the West Coast is not about their structure.

“It is governance, it is strategy. I mean for every two co-ops that fail there are about a thousand corporates… nobody says of the corporates that it’s their business model. But with co-ops it’s always their business model that is blamed.”

Shadbolt, a fierce proponent of the cooperative model, is aware of moves by some farmers and a few directors to return capital structure to the table. . .

Is there a future for OZ Fonterra as Fonterra’s finances unravel – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s announcement that it expects a loss of around $600 million or more for the year ended 31 July 2019 has big ramifications for Oz Fonterra.  With overseas-milk pools now lying outside the central focus of Fonterra’s new strategy, and with Fonterra seriously short of capital, the Australian-milk pool and associated processing assets look increasingly burdensome.

If Fonterra were to divest its Australian operations, then it would demonstrate that Fonterra really is retreating to be a New Zealand producer of New Zealand dairy ingredients. It would also reinforce the notion that consumer-branded products are now largely beyond its reach.

This strategic position is close to where Fonterra was in around 2006, when it decided that it was 50 years too late to take on the likes of Nestlé.  It did have both Australian and Chilean operations at that time but they were smaller than now. It also took on an initial shareholding in Chinese San Lu at that time, but essentially Fonterra saw itself as a New Zealand-based co-operative. . .

Agriculture fears it will be milked by EU free trade deal – Mike Foley:

Australia risks trading away hundreds of millions of dollars in agricultural earnings if it doesn’t negotiate significant concessions from the European Union.

That’s according to industry groups Australian Dairy Farmers and the National Farmers’ Federation, which warned Trade Minister Simon Birmingham the EU will have to reduce its onerous tariffs and import barriers to make a free trade agreement (FTA).

“There would be no point in doing the deal for Australian farmers if we can’t see a realistic and positive outcome from this FTA,” NFF president Tony Mahar said. . . 

Want to protect the planet? Eat more beef, not less – Patrick Holden:

If students and staff at Goldsmiths University really want to help the environment, they should end their ban on selling beef on campus. Far from being the bogeymen portrayed by environmental campaigners, sustainably farmed beef and dairy cattle are integral to maintaining our green and pleasant land, keeping our waterways free of chemicals and feeding our population in the most efficient manner possible.

Two thirds of UK farmland is under grass and in most cases cannot be used for other crops. The only responsible way to convert this into food is to feed it to cattle, which are capable of deriving 100 per cent of their nutrition from grass and therefore are more efficient on such land than chickens or pigs. Even on grassland where crops could be grown, ploughing it up to create arable farms would release huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and require the use of pesticides, herbicides and fertiliser, all of which can devastate biodiversity.

Cattle farming does not just help to maintain grassland – it also works to improve the sustainability of existing cropland.  . . 


Rural round-up

25/06/2018

Mycoplasm bovis can transfer to sheep, goats, deer, pigs and poultry – Keith Woodford:

Currently, there is a fervent ‘behind-the-scenes’ debate as to whether eradication of Mycoplasma bovis from New Zealand is feasible.

It is well over a month, possibly close to two months, since the international Technical Advisory Group (TAG) voted six to four in favour of eradication being feasible. This would have been based on information supplied to them by MPI and assessed over a telephone hook-up. New evidence since then provides further complexity and concerns.

First, there is extensive evidence from overseas that Mycoplasma bovis can transfer between species and that it can infect sheep, goats, pigs, deer and even poultry. Strictly speaking, this is not new evidence as it was sitting there all along in the scientific literature and easily found. However, the implications of this within the New Zealand environment have not been considered to date. . .

A killer worse than M bovis – Nigel Malthus:

A cattle disease prevalent on 100% of New Zealand farms is much more serious than Mycoplasma bovis, a veterinarian says.

Lincoln University Dairy Farm veterinarian Chris Norton told farmers at a recent focus day there that though M. bovis dominates the news, another disease — Johne’s — affects more farms and kills more cattle.

Johne’s was discovered first in Taranaki 100 years ago in one cow, Norton said. . . 

DoC explains game export process – Tim Fulton:

Deer and other game animal products are getting a new export process and the Department of Conservation (DOC) is trying to ensure exports aren’t stopped at foreign ports because of it.

Japanese border authorities last month stopped a New Zealand velvet exporter’s shipment at an airport because they did not recognise DOC’s approach to certifying legally hunted and farmed game animals.

DOC has been issuing certificates of export for deer, tahr and chamois products.

A new form letter from DOC director general Lou Sanson will list seven species of introduced deer plus Himalayan tahr, chamois and possums. 

They are introduced species that can be legally hunted and exported as trophies, velvet, fur and meat. . . 

Nats out building rural bridges – Annette Scott:

Life is not going to get easier anytime soon for rural New Zealanders, National Party leader Simon Bridges told a meeting of 300 people in Ashburton.

Bridges, as part of his Connecting with Communities regional roadshow, said increased intervention in people’s everyday lives and policies that will make it harder for regional businesses to operate are becoming reality under the Labour-led Government.

And changes to industrial relations law will directly affect regional economies.

The big increase in the minimum wage and amendments to the 90-day employment trial were prompting employers to think twice about taking on new staff. . . 

Nominations Documents Ready for 2018 Fonterra Board of Directors’ Election:

Nominations for the Fonterra Board of Directors’ Election open Friday, 6 July with an election to be held for three farmer-elected Directors.

This year John Wilson, Ashley Waugh and Nicola Shadbolt retire by rotation. They may all stand for re-election if they wish – none have announced their intentions at this stage. . .

Record entries for Hawke’s Bay Young Fruitgrower competition:

Eight of Hawke’s Bay’s top young horticulturists will face off in the Hawke’s Bay Young Fruitgrower of the Year competition in Napier on Thursday 28 and Friday 29 June.

This year’s entrants are:
Lisa Arnold, orchard operations assistant at Bostock NZ
Tom Dalziel, foreman at Mr Apple NZ
Ryan Gittings, York Group assistant manager at Sunfruit Orchards Ltd
Wade Miller, leading hand at Bostock NZ
Luke Scragg, senior leading hand at T&G
Philip Siagia, general orchard hand at Mr Apple NZ
Anthony Taueki, foreman at Mr Apple NZ
Lincoln Thomson, assistant manager at Sunfruit Orchards Ltd

Critical elements to maintain member loyalty in co-operatives :

To fully engage the members of co-operative and mutual enterprises, managers and directors of CME’s must understand their members wear four hats when engaging with their co-operative, according to a study conducted by researchers from The University of Western Australia.

The study analysed three Australian producer co-operatives including Co-operative Bulk Handling Ltd (CBH), Murray Goulburn Co-operative (MGC), and Geraldton Fisherman’s Co-operative Ltd (GFC), and examined the nature of member commitment and loyalty in co-operative and mutual enterprises (CMEs).

Professor Tim Mazzarol from UWA’s Business School and Institute of Agriculture says directors and managers of CME’s should recognise that members do wear multiple hats with which they engage with the enterprise. These hats are Investor, Patron, Owner and Community Member. . . 


Rural round-up

02/09/2017

10 reasons to questions Labour’s water tax – Mike Chapman:

1 – There is no detail, it is uncertain and its keeps on changing. The only certainty is there will be a water tax if Labour are elected.

2 – No one in New Zealand pays for water. What we pay for is the infrastructure to deliver water and for water treatment. Legally, you can’t be charged for water. For example, one rural bore to draw water from could cost around $200,000 to put in, and that’s before it’s operational – it then costs to run it.

3 – Only rural businesses will pay the water tax; urban businesses will not. This means it is incorrect to portray this tax as being on large commercial water users. If your farm or processing plant is on urban water supply, you’ll only pay for infrastructure but, if your farm or processing plant is taking rural water, you’ll pay for infrastructure plus a water tax. Global drinks manufacturer Coca-Cola is on Auckland’s town supply, and so will get an advantage over rural water bottlers for example. . .

How to save wool? Look to the future – Andy Ramsden:

The way to lift wool prices out of their doldrums is to develop products the future will want, writes Andy Ramsden.

How do we double the value of wool returns to the grower?

Lifting wool returns significantly requires a shift in the way we think about wool. We need a new model that puts the consumer’s needs first and works back to breed to create a product tailored for that specific market.

We need to think, how do we double the value of wool? As opposed to a slight shift, we should ask – how do we go from $3 to $7/kg for coarse wool? We need to get back to a premium value, where the pride in producing a good wool product comes back. . .

Otago century orchard a good keeper – Rob Tipa:

Rob Tipa meets a fourth-generation orchardist still picking the fruit from trees planted by his great-grandfather 100 years ago.

If there is one single factor that links Kiwi families who have passed farmland down from one generation to the next for 100 years or more, it is sustainability.

For Central Otago fruit-grower Simon Webb, his measure of sustainability is that he is still harvesting and selling fruit from a few old varieties of apples and pears planted by his great-grandfather more than a century ago. . .

Award winning moova keeps calves high and dry – Rexene Hawes:

Newborn calves are being kept high and dry thanks to a bit of clever innovation.

The Moova calf transporter, is meeting animal welfare needs and also health and safety for the farmer.

The idea came from Taupo farmer Kim Caldwell, who wanted an easier way to transport calves, and load and unload them into a trailer rather than bending over. . .

Farmer gains advice, expertise when judges visit:

Having a group of people of differing expertise visit her farm and offer advice was extremely valuable for 2017 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards finalist Nic Leary.

She’s in charge of Tarata Farm – a leased 500ha, 4400-stock-unit sheep and beef property west of Raetihi – run in conjunction with another family property.

“The judging panel that visited Tarata included two farmers – two different farmers in terms of the type of property they farm, where they farm and what they focused on – as well as a rural banker and a regional council land management person. . .

Fresh grass or fresh ideas, which will secure New Zealand’s future – James Wilkes:

New Zealand’s lush green countryside and its free-range farming system has generated and created the nation’s wealth and whilst that system is now stretched to capacity, it has positioned the farming sector well for the disruptive rigors of the 21st Century…and it’s mostly a great story.

New Zealand farmers have done some heavy lifting over the country’s history and are held in high regard by global peers. Townies and those in professional services please take note. Someone has to do something for you to make a living. Thank goodness for farmers. What would the cash flow and P & L performance look like in many professional services firms without them?

Actually what would New Zealand look like without them? Prosperity and productivity would be further challenged and whilst Sir Paul Callaghan famously suggested getting off the grass, he also noted the country would be much poorer without Fonterra and the dairy sector. Like most things in life, finding the balance is key. . .

Keeping ‘natural capital’ intact – Bala Tikkisetty:

One teaspoon of soil contains more living organisms than there are people in the world. Without this biological diversity there would be no life on earth.

In addition to providing habitat for billions of organisms, soil acts as a water filter and growing medium. It contributes to biodiversity, solid waste treatment, acts as a filter for wastewater and supports agriculture.

Unlocking the secrets of this complex chemical, physical and biological powerhouse – a powerful source of ‘natural capital’ — has had a huge impact on human life. . .

Who owns Australia’s biggest dairy operations?

As a battle for the assets of Murray Goulburn heats up, we list who is behind Australia’s largest dairy operations. . .


Rural round-up

01/05/2017

$6 a kilo for greasy wool is realistic – Alan Williams:

A wool price of $6 a kilogram greasy is being targeted by a Federated Farmers strategy being developed as necessary for the industry to achieve sustainable returns.

An industry levy was not part of the work being done, federation national meat and fibre group chairman Rick Powdrell said.

Getting detailed information on what happened to New Zealand wool overseas and where it went were key parts of the project. . . 

Fight for Feds top job likely – Annette Scott:

Competition is ramping up as nominations open for the Federated Farmers national board’s changing of the guard.

Speculation pointed to a challenge for the national leadership as president William Rolleston ended his three-year term.

The annual meeting was scheduled for June 22 in Wellington. Both the president and vice-president roles would come up for grabs.

Current vice-president Anders Crofoot, also at the end of his three-year term, confirmed he would stand for president. . . 

Meat co-ops search for winning formula – Tony Benny:

New Zealand’s two big meat co-ops, Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group have both had new CEOs at the helm for the past two years, each charged with improving returns to their farmer-shareholders. Dean Hamilton and David Surveyor talked to Tony Benny.

When Dean Hamilton and David Surveyor each came from Melbourne to take top jobs in the New Zealand meat industry, little did they know they’d almost been next door neighbours before coming here.

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Hamilton recalls his first meeting with Surveyor when the subject of where they’d lived in Melbourne came up.

“I said I was in East Melbourne. He said, ‘So was I, what street?’. I said, ‘Central Park Road’. He looked at me and he said, ‘I was in Central Park Road too’, and it ended up we were only ten houses away but I’d never met him.” . . 

ACCC court action against Murray Goulburn applauded – Shan Goodwin:

FEDERAL Court action instigated by the competition watchdog against big dairy co-operative Murray Goulburn has been heralded a significant first step to bringing long overdue fairer trading practices to the milk supply chain.

Milk producers say the move shows the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is serious about addressing breaches of competition law in the dairy industry and lays a good foundation for the results of it’s current inquiry into the competitiveness of milk prices. . . 

Hemp seeds to be legalised as food:

An agreement reached between New Zealand and Australian food safety authorities will see hemp seed legalised as food in New Zealand, Food Safety Minister David Bennett says.

Ministers at the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation in Adelaide today approved a standard to allow safe levels of low-THC hemp seed as a food.

“I stated my support at the Forum today and was pleased a change to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code was approved,” Mr Bennett says.

Mr Bennett says hemp has no psychoactive effect and has historically been used as a source of fibre and oil because it contains proteins, vitamins, minerals and fatty-acids. . . 

Rural Kiwis swipe right for country love on new farmer dating app – Jill Galloway:

Lonely Kiwi farmers are hooking into a United States based dating app to find love.

About 500 single New Zealanders are already members of the FarmersMatch dating service which has only been going since March.

Founder Derek Ma said the app could bring together single people with a love of the country. . . 

New Zealand olive oil scoops medals at international competitions:

Winners in two prestigious international Olive Oil competitions have just been announced and New Zealand features in both.
In the New York International Olive Oil Competition (NYIOOC), which is arguably the largest of international Olive Oil Competitions, Robinsons Bay and Old French Road both won GOLD with their Extra Virgin Olive Oil entries.

Both olive groves are from Akaroa and were Best in Show and Reserve Best in Show respectively at the 2016 New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards.
The 2017 NYIOOC attracted more than 800 entries from 26 countries and was judged by an international panel of experts. For more information see https://nyoliveoil.com/ . . .


Rural round-up

26/10/2016

Dairy farmers ‘treat those calves like their babies’ – Alexa Cook:

Farmers have hit back at claims of widespread mistreatment of bobby calves, after a video emerged of calves being thrown onto the back of trucks.

The hidden-camera footage, obtained by activist group Farmwatch, also showed calves being dragged along the ground.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has condemned the treatment, and started a full investigation.

But many farmers and farm workers say what was shown on the video did not reflect the reality of the industry. . .

Cruel practices condemned by DairyNZ chief:

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says cruel and illegal practices are not in any way condoned or accepted by the industry as part of dairy farming.

“The vast majority of farmers care about their animals and we are committed to farming to very high standards.

“DairyNZ works closely with the wider industry in the management of bobby calves, including the transport sector, meat processors and dairy companies, as well as Federated Farmers and MPI.” . . 

Merino to make stars of growers – Sally Rae:

“You are going to be the rock stars for the future consumers,” New Zealand Merino chief executive John Brakenridge told about 100 merino growers in Omarama yesterday.

Speaking before the company’s annual meeting in the township, Mr Brakenridge said new brands were emerging where consumers could get to know the producer.

He had just returned from the United States, where he met former All White Tim Brown, the co-founder of shoe company Allbirds which has produced a shoe made from New Zealand merino. . . 

Loie and Tony Penwarden are ending their Trewithen Farms sharemilking contract – Sue O’Dowd:

An award-winning Taranaki dairy farm will enter a new era next season as family beckons for its long-serving sharemilkers.

The couple, who have been herd-owning sharemilkers on Faull Farms’ Trewithen Farm at Tikorangi since 2004, are retiring at the end of the 2016-17 season. 

The partnership between Faull Farms and the Penwardens won the inaugural Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards (TBFEA) in 2014. . . 

Tokanui shepherd perfect woman – Tim Miller:

After two days of fierce competition, which included cooking a steak and flying a helicopter, the perfect woman for 2016 has been found.

The Perfect Woman competition returned to Wanaka at the weekend, after a year off in 2015, and 16 contestants took part.

Shepherd Rachel Rule (22), from Tokanui, took the title and  $1000 in prize money.

Miss Rule did not expect to win. She said the best part of the weekend was meeting the other competitors.

“It was a fantastic weekend with just a great bunch of girls and the things we got to do, like flying a helicopter, were really amazing.” . . 

Lives given purpose by the ‘legends’ who helped – Marc Gascoigne:

It’s been a stressful spring for farmers in the Waikato with constant rain causing all sorts of problems, but those stresses were put into perspective in a big way for me last week when I attended two funerals.

When people say life is short they’re usually talking about living until you’re in your eighties, so when you are at a two-year-old child’s memorial service, it’s just not right on any level.

Mason was just two when he came to stay at our farm a few weeks ago with his mum and dad and five-year-old brother Weslley. . . 

Rubbish boosts tasty delicacy – Alan Williams:

Saffron growers and wine-makers are among the businesses swearing by the benefits of organic compost made from Christchurch city’s green waste.  

Te Anau saffron growers Steve and Jo Daley were even prepared to pay up to $2500 a load to get compost trucked the 650km from the Living Earth processing plant at Bromley.  

The Living Earth market was 95% rural based, included pastoral and cropping farmers and the rural sales were 85% repeat business, the company’s rural and urban sales manager Graeme Wright said.  

The Daleys were determined to be organic growers and the cost was worth it for them, with the consistency of the compost and its ability to hold its properties through a hot, dry summer. . . 

Plant-based alternative milk consumption growing in Australia as dairy industry holds firm – Marty McCarthy:

Dairy milk has been flying off the supermarket shelves as consumers continue to sympathise with Australia’s dairy farmers, following the Murray Goulburn crisis.

But so-called “alternative milks” are rising in popularity, and new research shows consumers are increasingly lapping them up.

Supermarkets now stock a range of plant-based milks, including soy, almond, coconut, hazelnut, rice, oat and more recently, macadamia milk.

“While the incidences of lactose intolerance have been increasing there have also been food trends that recommend avoiding cow’s milk,” IBISWorld analyst Lauren Magner said. . . 

Rabobank Global Wine Quarterly Q4 2016: Red Dawn? Behind the Rise in Australian Wine Grape Prices:

Australia takes the pulse of wine grape markets, while the Northern Hemisphere harvest appears set to fall on the short side, and China headlines developments in global wine trade, according to Rabobank’s Global Wine Quarterly for Q4 2016.

The Australian wine grape industry has experienced a ‘red dawn’, with prices rising from their 2011 lows, particularly for red wine grape varieties sourced from more premium growing regions. Rabobank senior analyst Marc Soccio says: “Life has returned to Australian wine grape prices, with China driving much of the recovery in market conditions.”

Highlighting the key role of the China/Hong Kong market in Australia’s wine grape price recovery, the performance of the Chinese market remains a key barometer of future red wine grape market condition. The premiumisation trend in other major markets is also a factor, namely in Australia’s domestic market, as well as in the US and Canada. . . 

Nominations Have Closed for the 2016 Fonterra Elections:

Nominations for the Fonterra Board of Directors’ Independent Nomination Process candidates and the Shareholders’ Council, Directors’ Remuneration Committee, and Fonterra Farmer Custodian Trustee elections closed at 12 noon today.

The candidates successfully nominated following the Independent Nomination Process will be announced on Friday 4 November, 2016. The full list of candidates, including Self-Nominated candidates for the Fonterra Board of Directors’ Election will be announced by Wednesday, 16 November 2016. . . 

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Do not cross this pasture unless you can do it in 9 seconds, because the bull can do it in 10.

 


Rural round-up

14/09/2016

Success outside of big cities:

We asked some of New Zealand’s leading business people about their bravest moment in business. In the sixth story of our series for Spark, Whitestone Cheese CEO Simon Berry.

“Bravest moment? I reckon moving from Vancouver to Oamaru!”

Simon Berry, CEO of Oamaru’s Whitestone Cheese, comes from a long line of Otago farmers.

When the 1980s arrived so did the rural downturn. Noticing the tide was about to turn, Simon’s father Bob made the bold decision to forego beef and sheep for cheese.

“Dad was always good at reading markets,” says Simon. “‘In those days, the only cheese you could find in Kiwi supermarkets was the 1kg block. So my parents would visit their neighbours in Karitane who ran a small business called Evansdale Cheese.”

“Everyone raved about their green, mouldy farmhouse cheese!” . . 

Lessons from Australian dairy – Keith Woodford:

Our Australian dairy cousins are currently going through difficult times, particularly for those who supply Murray Goulburn, and to a lesser extent Fonterra.  There are lessons to be learned, although there may be alternative perspectives as to the specifics thereof.

Right now, production in Australia has plummeted. It will take a month or two to see how it all settles out, but early season production is down 10 percent.  Fonterra’s production is down 22 percent, and Murray Goulburn is in all likelihood down even more. Indeed, there have to be doubts as to whether Murray Goulburn can survive long-term in its current form.

Once the spring-calving cows come on-stream, the figures may look less dramatic, but both Murray Goulburn and Fonterra have clearly lost substantial market share. . . 

Vehicle review ‘great’ – Sally Rae:

It’s out with the old and in with the new with vehicles on Landcorp-owned farms.

Keeping people safe was the driver behind a review of vehicle safety by New Zealand’s largest corporate farming operation.

The review established a set few vehicles to be used on the basis of what worked for particular farms and terrain.

It was decided to remove all quad bikes on Landcorp’s dairy farms and reduce the number of quad bikes on livestock farms. . . 

Beef producers cautioned to look beyond the price peak:

New Zealand cattle producers are being cautioned to look beyond the current high-priced environment, with near-record prices unlikely to be sustained in the medium to long term according to a new industry report.

In its latest beef research report, Australian and New Zealand beef industry – looking beyond the price peak, agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank says while New Zealand farmgate prices are expected to remain around current levels in the short-term, they will then come under pressure as global beef production, and indeed total animal protein production, increases.

This will likely see prices ease, albeit to trade in a higher-than average range out to 2020, the report says. . . 

Officials Urged to Challenge Canada’s Latest Dairy Trade Protectionism:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) has joined with US, Australian, European, and Mexican dairy organisations in requesting a WTO dispute settlement proceeding be initiated against Canada if it continues with a planned extension to its dairy trade protections.

A joint letter, sent to Trade Ministers, sets out concerns that a recently concluded agreement between Canadian dairy producers and processors would provide an incentive to substitute Canadian dairy ingredients for imported dairy ingredients and would unfairly subsidise exports of Canadian dairy products. The agreement would provide a guaranteed price for milk used to manufacture ingredient dairy products, including skim milk powder and milk protein concentrate, which is below Canada’s cost of milk production, and which matches the lowest globally traded reference price for these products. . Image may contain: text

Life is better on the farm.

New Zealand’s Escorial Wool launches exclusive collection:

This season the luxurious and rare Escorial wool will showcase the first complete collection in both worsted and woollen fabrics, woven in Yorkshire, England by exclusive partners Joshua Ellis and Luxury Fabrics.

Escorial wool, originating from the Spanish Royal flocks of El Escorial, has made a name around the world for producing luxury performance garments for a discerning customer, grown from an exceptional small sheep, grazing in limited numbers in Australia and New Zealand. The Escorial distinction is in the heart of the fibre, performing as a naturally coiled spring. It is this coiled attribute that delivers fluidity in the Escorial fabric making a lightweight garment of crease resistance and comfort.

Founded by New Zealander Peter Radford in 1998, Escorial wool in February this year partnered with renowned Yorkshire textile companies Joshua Ellis and Luxury Fabrics, both who have the heritage and experience to translate the characteristics of Escorial into a luxurious fabric. . . 


Rural round-up

29/08/2016

Farmers enable us to reach our potential. Let’s celebrate that – Federated Farmers:

Farmers get their hands dirty so we can pursue goals and livelihoods beyond growing and harvesting the food we need to survive.

With food plentiful, and lifestyle expectations high, we seem to have forgotten the role of farmers in the modern world.

Why is it farmers in developing countries only farm around a hectare of land each?  It is because that is how much land one person can cultivate in one season by hand.  The food production in many developing countries is not limited by land, but by labour and productivity.  That is why big families are necessary – more hands to till more land.

Have you ever stopped to think how many potentially great doctors, engineers or scientists spend their lives on the end of a hand-hoe in these countries?  Never to see their potential fulfilled.  In many developing countries subsistence farmers make up more than 80 per cent of the population.

Delegating farmers to provide our food gives the rest of us freedom and choice to do what we are good at. . . 

Drought warning – Annette Scott:

Low or no flow in many of Canterbury’s streams and rivers could lead to early water restrictions this season, Environment Canterbury warns.

Canterbury has entered its third successive drought season with 86% of water bores affected and some wells at their lowest in 30 years.  Only significant snow and rain could make a difference now, ECan chief Executive Bill Bayfield said.  

Weather forecasters reported one of the wimpiest winters in recent years and had already announced spring’s early arrival. Significant rain or a decent snow-dump were not on the radar. .  .

Feral cats reaching plague proportions – Robin Martin:

Feral cats are reaching plague proportions in New Zealand’s back country and no-one seems to want to take responsibility for the problem, says a Taranaki beekeeper.

Sarah Hart and her partner Steven Henwood say they often drive through – what they describe as – “herds” of wild cats while out retrieving hives.

The couple live in the remote Okoki valley, about 20 kilometres inland from Urenui in North Taranaki.

Ms Hart said at dusk the rugged beef and sheep country was alive with feline forms – some of the estimated 2.5 million feral cats in New Zealand. . . 

We aren’t that couple – Uptown Farms:

Dear America, 

It struck me this morning, as my husband and I were walking out the door – there is something I need to tell you.  Something I need you to know.  

We aren’t that couple.  In fact, I’m not even sure if we own a pitchfork.  

A lot has changed since the 1930’s.  Our corn yields have increased six times over.  We use computers, GPS, seed technology. We grow more, on less water and land. Our farms are bigger, our equipment is bigger, even our animals are bigger.  We do all of this with fewer people than ever before in history. 

We have college degrees, my husband actually has two. One of us works off the farm full time which is the new norm for farm families – just like non-farm families.  We are professionals.  . . 

Cavalier Corporation returns to profit:

New Zealand carpet maker Cavalier Corporation has returned to a profitable position posting a net profit after tax of $3.1 million for the financial year ended 30 June 2016.

This represents a significant turnaround from the company’s write downs and recorded loss of $25.7 million in 2015.

Both net profit and normalised profit of $6.3 million after tax were slightly up on the earnings guidance Cavalier issued in June.

Cavalier Corporation CEO Paul Alston says the company’s performance is encouraging and representative of the transformation it is undertaking with debt reduction and a dual focus on revenue and cost. . . 

Milk production plummets 10.3%:

Australian milk production plummeted 10.3 per cent in July compared with last year, with massive drops in Tasmania, South Australia and northern Victoria, according to the latest figures from Dairy Australia.

Farmers have slashed production in response to the big cut in milk prices, initially by Murray Goulburn and Fonterra in May and then by most processors in July.

Tasmanian production is hardest hit, down 19.6 per compared with July 2015. . . 

Seeka hikes interim dividend as first-half profit almost doubles Paul McBeth

(BusinessDesk) – Seeka Kiwifruit Industries hiked its interim dividend to shareholders as the first harvest from its recent Australian acquisition and record crops contributed to a first-half profit that almost doubled.

Net profit rose to $7.1 million, or 43 cents per share, in the six months ended June 30 from $3.7 million, or 24 cents, a year earlier, the Te Puke-based company said in a statement. Revenue climbed 39 percent to $134.2 million, and the board declared an interim dividend of 10 cents per share, payable on Sept. 29 to shareholders on the register on Sept. 22. That’s up from 9 cents a share a year earlier. . . 

Delegat to pay bigger dividend after posting record annual operating profit – Paul McBeth

(BusinessDesk) – Delegat Group will pay a bigger dividend to shareholders after reporting a record operating profit for the 2016 financial year, with North American sales driving revenue growth.

The Auckland-based company’s board declared a dividend of 12 cents per share payable on Oct. 14 to shareholders on the register on Sept. 30, up from 11 cents it’s paid in the past two years. The winemaker reported a record operating profit of $37 million, on a 9 percent increase in global case sales to a record 2.41 million, including 1 million cases sold in North America.

“The directors consider that the underlying operational performance and strong cash flows justify an increase in dividends this year,” executive chairman Jim Delegat said. . . 

Central Otago winery nails Decanter tasting in UK – “Outstanding”:

Central Otago winegrowers Roger and Jean Gibson are elated that a wine from their Lowburn Ferry vineyard has ranked Number One in high profile Decanter magazine in the UK. The in-depth tasting of more than 170 pinot noirs from across New Zealand in Decanter’s September 2016 issue was carried out by a panel of three prominent UK industry wine judges. Lowburn Ferry Home Block Pinot Noir 2014 scored 96 points out of a possible 100, giving it “Outstanding” status in the tasting.

In the covering feature article reviewing the tasting, New Zealand is described as being “the best Pinot-producing country outside of France.” . . 

Dunedin owners of Central Otago winery win their first wine trophy:

Central Otago’s Black Quail Estate vineyard and truffière is victorious after being awarded the Mike Wolter Memorial Trophy and Champion Pinot Noir at the Bragato Wine Awards in Marlborough last night.

Black Quail Estate 2013 Pinot Noir is a true boutique, single vineyard wine. All the Pinot Noir is from this single vineyard on Felton Road, Bannockburn and only 400 cases are made every year.

Sitting on 25 hectares of prime grape growing land on Felton Road, Bannockburn Dunedin’s Keillor family purchased the land in 1999. Owners Rod and Mirani Keillor immediately planted ten hectares with Pinot Noir and now have planted the rest with olives, fruit and hazelnut trees. . . 


Rural round-up

29/06/2016

Out of town and out of touch:

Hawke’s Bay farmer Hugh Ritchie said today if Greenpeace acutally understood the big environmental issues facing New Zealand, such as climate change, it wouldn’t need to interfere in a local water storage project like Ruataniwha.

“Hawke’s Bay people can decide what’s best for their community without the influence of this misguided and uninformed green lobby. These out-of-town protesters need to realize robust public process has been followed and the scheme has been intensely scrutinized.

“Ruataniwha has been through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) process. Individuals and groups have had ample opportunity to voice concerns and these have been accessed for merit. This same EPA process saw an end to Wellington Basin Reserve’s proposed flyover. The EPA delivers robust, objective decisions on environmental matters, and ensures compliance with rules. Its decision must be respected. . . 

Debbie Hewitt can vote on Ruataniwha dam despite ‘pecuniary interest’ – Simon Hendery:

The auditor-general has ruled a Hawke’s Bay regional councillor can continue voting on the Ruataniwha dam, despite finding she is likely to have a pecuniary interest in decisions the council makes about the project.

Debbie Hewitt represents Central Hawke’s Bay, the area where the council is planning to build the Ruataniwha irrigation scheme.

Through a family trust, she has an ownership interest in 19 hectares of land in an area that would be irrigated by the scheme. The Office of the Auditor-General said it was “uncertain” how much she would gain financially if the scheme went ahead, but it believed her interest in it was greater than that of the general public. . . .

If you buy health and safety advice, make sure it’s the right advice:

Good health and safety practice is not something you can just buy off the shelf, and farmers need to build health and safety into everyday activity on farm.

WorkSafe’s Agriculture Programme Manager, Al McCone, says while many farmers will want to get consultants in to give them expert advice, there is no single product or document that is a silver bullet for farm safety.

Farmers should only employ competent and qualified professional health and safety advisors. “When selecting a new contractor or buying stock, farmers do their homework,” says Mr McCone. “They shop around, look online, ask other farmers and make a decision based on sound information. The same should apply to buying health and safety advice and resources. . . 

Big bounce in farmer confidence – Rabobank: Rural Confidence Survey

Results at a Glance

 Overall farmer confidence has improved considerably from the previous quarter

 Farmers’ expectations for their own business performance also rose, with big lifts recorded among dairy farmers and sheep and beef farmers

 Horticulturalists’ expectations for their own businesses remain at elevated levels with more than half surveyed expecting their farm business performance to improve in the next 12 months

 Investment intentions were at their highest level in more than a year, with one quarter of survey participants expecting to increase their farm business investment in the coming year . . 

Spring Sheep Milk Company Finalist in World Dairy Innovation Awards:

 New Zealand company, within its first year of operation, has been named as a finalist in two categories in theWorld Dairy Innovation Awards; Best Ice Cream or Frozen Yoghurt and Best Dairy Packaging Design.

Spring Sheep Milk Co is the only fully New Zealand owned large scale sheep dairy operation and the attraction for forming the company was to create a model to bring the goodness of New Zealand sheep milk products to the world says Chief Executive Officer Scottie Chapman

“Consumers are looking for quality alternatives to traditional dairy and sheep milk offers a premium alternative thanks to its sensational taste. It is richer and creamier than traditional cows milk. Sheep milk has been used in Europe for centuries as a gastronomic indulgence, renowned for quality cheeses and is now a rapidly growing category worldwide.” . . 

Companies Office confirms no evidence that Silver Fern Farms’ board acted in anything other than good faith and in best interests of the company:

• Companies Office completes consideration of complaint from Rt Hon Peters

• Has “not identified any evidence of a breach of s 138A of the Companies Act 1993”

• Follows announcement from the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) confirming FMA does “not have any reason to believe the [Notice of Meeting and Shareholder] Information Pack was misleading or deceptive.” . . 

Murray Goulburn announces 2017 farmgate milk price, sees only ‘modest’ recovery – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – Murray Goulburn Cooperative, Australia’s dominant milk processor, announced its forecast farmgate milk price for the coming year, saying it expects only a modest recovery in prices in the second half of the year.

The company forecast a farmgate milk price of A$4.80 per kilogram of milk solids for the season ending June 30, 2017, compared with an expected payment of between A$4.75 to A$5.00 in the current year. It announced a 2017 net opening farmgate milk price of A$4.31/kgMS after repayment of a 14 Australian cents/kgMS milk supply support package. . . 

Traditional crop knowledge preserved in Tongan  book :

The author of a new book documenting traditional methods of growing yam says the book has preserved indigenous crop planting knowledge that’s valuable for Pacific farmers.

The book ‘Tokanga ko e Mo’ui’anga’ has been published in the Tongan language and was launched in Auckland by author Sione Tu’itahi.

Mr Tu’itahi based the book on the experience of the late Kiteau Tatafu, an award-winning farmer in Tonga. . . 

 


Rural round-up

28/06/2016

Sir William Gallagher Named Exporters Champion & Gallagher Named Exporter of the Year:

Gallagher is continuing to gain recognition for its commitment to international markets, picking up two prestigious awards at the 2016 Air New Zealand Cargo ExportNZ Awards tonight.

In recognition of his vision, determination and success, Gallagher Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Sir William Gallagher, was named Exporters Champion for exemplary services to export, and the Gallagher business was named Exporter of the Year (total sales over $25 million).

Recognised as one of New Zealand’s most astute businessmen, Sir William has grown Gallagher into one of the largest and most successful private companies in New Zealand, employing almost 800 people domestically, another 400 globally and with annual revenues of more than $200 million. . . 

Rabobank Global Beef Quarterly Q2 2016: Volatility Challenges Beef Markets:

The Rabobank global beef index ticked up in Q1 2016 after declining for much of 2015. However it shows signs of dropping again as softening prices in the US and Canada battle strengthening prices in Australia and Brazil, according to the Rabobank Global Beef Quarterly Q2 2016.

“Volatility is a key theme across most markets at the moment“, says Angus Gidley-Baird, Senior Animal Protein Analyst at Rabobank. “A range of factors are creating a degree of uncertainty, including the economy and exchange rates influencing Brazil, seasonal conditions impacting Australia, the economy impacting China, and market volatility impacting the US”. . . 

New cuts help keep venison on menus:

Venison exporters and Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) are promoting new cuts to chefs to increase returns from the whole deer carcass and to help keep venison on restaurant menus.

Venison production to April this year was down 20% on the same period last year, driven by herd rebuilding, with the hind kill down 25%. On 13 June the average stag venison schedule stood at $7.55 a kilogram, versus $6.67 a year before, an increase of 13%, despite a steady firming of the Kiwi against the US dollar and Euro in recent months. . . 

Bega first Aussie dairy producer to downgrade new season milk price forecast – Fiona Rotherham

(BusinessDesk) – Australian-listed dairy company Bega Cheese has released an opening farmgate milk price for the 2016/2017 season of A$5 per kilogram of milk solids, claiming analysts are not expecting an improvement in dairy commodity returns until the first half of next year.

Fonterra Cooperative Group and Australia’s biggest dairy processor Murray Goulburn are yet to announce their opening forecast for the new season in Australia though last month Fonterra set an early price of $4.25 for New Zealand suppliers. That was up 35 cents on the forecast milk price for the 2015/2016 season. Murray Goulburn said it would release its opening forecast after a board meeting at the end of this month. . . 

War on Weeds Dirty Dozen revealed:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has announced this year’s Dirty Dozen plants as part of the ongoing War on Weeds.

“This year we are going to have a baker’s dozen of weeds – with enemy number one the wilding conifer,” Ms Barry says.

“Wildings now cover approximately 1.8 million hectares of land and are advancing at around 5 per cent a year. They transform entire landscapes, ruin native ecosystems and take over productive land indiscriminately.

“Budget 2016 committed an extra $16 million over the next four years to control their spread and by working with regional councils, landowners and community groups we believe we can stem their advance.” . . 

Stricter rules for quarantine facilities:

Stricter new rules for approved quarantine facilities will reduce the chance of unwanted pests or diseases arriving in New Zealand from imported goods, says the Ministry for Primary Industries.

MPI released new rules earlier this month for New Zealand-based “transitional facilities”, which are used by importers to hold goods before they are checked for contaminants such as hitchhiking bugs or reptiles.

“The changes will see a major biosecurity shake-up for these facilities, particularly in the areas of training and auditing requirements,” says Paul Hallett, MPI Manager, Biosecurity and Environment. . . 

Tegal crows over year of plump sales:

Chicken processor Tegel’s strong local sales and record export earnings have led it to turn in a better full-year profit than forecast in its first year as a listed company.

The company, which listed on the New Zealand and Australian exchanges last month, reported a net profit of $11.3 million for the 12 months to late April.

That compares with a profit of $8.7m the year before and a forecast of $10m when it listed last month. . . 


Theo Spierings to resign?

30/05/2016

The Australian reports that Fonterra CEO  Theo Spierings is about to resign:

Speculation is mounting on both sides of the Tasman that the Dutch chief executive of Fonterra, Theo Spierings, is about to depart the dairy powerhouse, with Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon earmarked as his most likely replacement.

Mr Spierings has headed New Zealand’s largest company for about five years; and last year he faced criticism as Fonterra’s Australian arm fell into loss making territory, triggering a sale of its Australian yoghurt and dairy dessert business to Parmalat Australia in a quest to return it to profitability.

But the talk of his departure comes after Murray Goulburn chief executive Gary Helou recently left the Australian dairy co-op following a shock profit downgrade.

The dairy industries in both Australia and New Zealand are wresting with the challenges surrounding a lower milk price, and in New Zealand, the difficulties are compounded by the higher New Zealand dollar. Speculation has emerged in the past month on both
sides of the Tasman that Mr Luxon has been earmarked as the next Fonterra boss, with a departure by Mr Spierings, who has 30 years experience in the industry, said to be close.

Sources close to Fonterra have dismissed the suggestions. . . 

International commodity prices aren’t under the control of a CEO.

A company culture and its communications are and both need improvement at Fonterra.

UPDATE:

An email to shareholders from Fonterra chair John Wilson says:

  • I have received a number of emails from farmers this morning concerned at the media speculation that  Fonterra’s CEO Theo Spierings plans to resign.
  • This rumour is completely untrue.
  • Farmers and shareholders would be the first to know if the CEO of their Co-operative had resigned.

 

 


Rural round-up

29/04/2016

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

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

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

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

Food ‘knowledge gap’ creates dangers for farmers:

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

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

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

Tribal councils appeal farmers’ discharge consents – John Gibb:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sweet opportunities in honey industry for locals:

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

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

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

Horticulture Welcomes Dam Progress:

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

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

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

Expect more gains in nutrient management says Ballance:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Debbie Kelliher's photo.


Rural round-up

28/04/2016

Farming salaries holding firm despite tough conditions:

Dry stock farmers’ salaries have seen strong growth in the last year, according to Federated Farmers and Rabobank’s 2015/2016 employee remuneration report.

Despite tough times and low inflation, most sheep, beef and grain farmers have been able to provide higher average salaries on a year ago – illustrating real income increases for many farm workers at all levels of experience and responsibility.

Salaries in the dairy industry have remained stable, but for the first time there has been a very small decrease in the value of extras farmers provide their staff, such as firewood and internet access, pushing the total value of their package (TPV) down. . .

Farm Environment Competition Produces Great Crop Of Supreme Winners

Left to Right: Roger Landers and Matt Kelbrick (Taranaki), Graham and Marian Hirst (East Coast), Shane Gibbons and Bridget Speight (Southland), Joe and Suz Wyborn (Canterbury), Richard and Dianne Kidd (Auckland), Daniel and Reidun Nicholson (Greater Wellington), John Hayward and Susan O’Regan, (Waikato), Brendon and Paula Cross (Otago), David and Adrienne Hopkins & Ben and Belinda Price (Horizons), Dennis and Rachelle O’Callaghan (Northland), Leighton Oats and Matt Nelson (Bay of Plenty).The 2016 Ballance Farm Environment Awards have delivered an outstanding line-up of Supreme winners from the eleven regions participating in the prestigious competition.

Auckland is the latest region to join the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, with Helensville sheep, beef and forestry farmers Richard and Dianne Kidd claiming the region’s first Supreme title. Fellow sheep and beef farmers Dennis and Rachelle O’Callaghan, Taipa, were Supreme winners in Northland, with large scale kiwifruit operation BAYGOLD Ltd, Paengaroa, winning in the Bay of Plenty. . .

Federated Farmers thrilled Ruataniwha scheme now in position to proceed:

Federated Farmers is thrilled the Ruataniwha Water Storage scheme in Hawkes Bay has made another significant step towards hitting the go button, after it was confirmed sufficient water sign-up will make the scheme cash positive.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) announced yesterday it has 196 Signed Water User Agreements, the numbers needed for the project to proceed.

Federated Farmers Hawkes Bay Provincial President Will Foley says the dam will preserve the inter-generational nature of family farming in the Hawkes Bay. . . 

Dog stays with dead farmer:

The body of an 87-year-old farmer who went missing in rugged Far North bush was found after searchers spotted a dog which had stayed near his side all night.

The man was last seen about 1pm on Monday when he left home on his quad bike to check farm equipment on his Topps Access Rd property, just south of Kaeo.

Family, friends and neighbours began a search when neither he nor the dog returned. They called police when there was still no sign of the pair by 8pm.

The cattle dog, which was described as small and normally timid, was understood to belong to the man’s daughter but followed him everywhere he went. . . 

Love of farming is in the DNA – Kate Taylor:

University student Olivia Ellis works every time she goes home for a visit. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

Home is a 320-hectare farm, Papawai, on State Highway 50 between Onga Onga and Tikokino in Central Hawke’s Bay… home also to parents Richard and Helen Ellis.

They’ve been there since 1995 when Olivia was a toddler, along with big brothers William, who after qualifying as a builder is now shepherding near Timaru, and the late George, who worked for WaterForce in Ashburton before a truck crash in 2014. . . 

GlobalDairyTrade moves to 24/7 online trading:

The global dairy trading platform owned by Fonterra is to expand further into online trading.

GlobalDairyTrade (GDT), though owned by Fonterra, acts independently as one of the world’s leading dairy trading platforms.

As well as its fortnightly auction, the company offer a new way for customers to trade in the 66-billion litre international dairy market. . . 

Dairy co-op Murray Goulburn cuts milk prices, MD Gary Helou departs – Nikolai Beilharz:

Australia’s largest dairy processor Murray Goulburn has announced it will cut its milk price for suppliers, with managing director Gary Helou also announcing his departure.

The dairy co-op says it is no longer feasible to pay $5.60 per kilogram of milk solids, and now expects to pay between $4.75-5 per kilogram, a drop of around 10 per cent.

MG says it will introduce milk support payment programs to give suppliers an equivalent milk price of $5.47 per kilogram. . .

What farmers in other countries get paid for milk – Charlie Taverner:

The dairy crisis is hurting farmers across the world, as production far outstrips any rising demand.

Farmers Weekly looks at the farmgate prices and milk production levels around the world and considers how milk producers are coping in different countries.

See a snapshot of farmgate prices in the graphic and read the detail for each country below.

See also: How UK dairy producers can compete globally

UK

The UK’s strength is a big liquid market — but that means dairy farmers are divided.

The average milk price of 23.13p/litre in January hides a great split. . . .

Soils big win buried in the science – Mike Foley:

AUSTRALIA’S approach to soil must dig deeper if our agriculture sector is to keep pace with its competitors.

Government policy has for too long taken a narrow focus on soil, prioritising funding for research aimed at enhancing environmental outcomes, as opposed to research that delivers productivity gains.

That’s according to soil researcher Andrea Koch, formerly of the United States Study Centre’s soil carbon initiative. . . 

 


Rural round-up

19/04/2016

Genetics addicts – Anne Hardie:

Jesse Huffam and Renee Mason have managed a 110-cow herd through to 1600 cows, operated high-input systems as well as grass-based and their ultimate goal is to find a marginal sheep farm in a remote corner of the country that can be developed into a profitable business.

The Springs Junction couple scooped the West Coast-Top of South Share Farmer of the Year title, two years after being placed runners-up in the Waikato Farm Manager of the Year award.

And it would never have happened if Renee hadn’t got hooked on the Australian McLeod’s Daughters television series as a teenager, or Jesse hadn’t turned his back on dairying and followed a career path toward shepherding. . .

Escape to paradise – Anne Hardie:

The Haupiri Valley on the West Coast gets an impressive 4m of rain a year, yet Matt Birchfield prides himself on the pasture management for the 785 cows he manages in an environment surrounded by bush and mountains.  

The 36-year-old took out the 2016 West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Manager of the Year in his first attempt at the coveted title, which he entered for experience.  As production manager for farm owners Murray and Gaye Coats he is in charge of the herd, dairy and staff of what was a high-input farm before the payout drop lowered its inputs to palm kernel.  

Measuring pasture is a key aspect of the farm’s management which is collected by a pasture meter on the front of the Gator utility vehicle. . .

National farm sales drop in tough year – REINZ – Tim Fulton & Gerard Hutching:

Farm sales so far this year are down about 10 per cent on 2015, Real Estate Institute of New Zealand figures show.

Nationwide 383 farms were sold in the three months to March – down 42 on the same period last year.

Dairy farm sales were “dramatically down” but horticulture sales continue to rise, The Real Estate Institute (REINZ) said.

Only 48 dairy farms were sold compared to the 86 sold in the first quarter last year. . . 

Marlborough wine grower co-operative quietly confident for grape harvest – Mike Watson:

Bringing in the grapes is a nervous time for a co-operative’s growers, but there is nothing but smiles on their faces during a “dream” harvest.

Marlborough’s annual wine harvest is drawing to an end but there will be no let up until the last grape has been picked.

Working 24 hours around the clock have been harvesters, truck drivers, supervisors and growers for the past two to three weeks throughout the region. . . 

Profitable farms underpin rural communities – James Parsons:

When farmers do well, rural communities do well. I know this may be stating the obvious to many; however it is a topic worth exploring a little more deeply.

On 23rd March we held the Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) AGM at Waitangi. A good number of farmers turned out, with one couple travelling from as far afield as Gore. The Northern Farmer Council put together a great showcase of leading Northland farmers who had worked with B+LNZ as project farms over the last 10 years. By having a strong team around them, each had improved their business performance significantly. . . 

NZ beef, lamb and mutton prices fall in first half of exporting season – Jonathan Underhill:

 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand export beef, lamb and mutton prices fell in the first half of the current season, which tapered off after a strong start.

Prices for beef and veal fell 2.5 percent to $7,350 a tonne in the six months ended March 31, while the volume of exports fell 3.7 percent to 204,200 tonnes, said Beef + Lamb NZ. The price of lamb fell 4.2 percent to $8,500 a tonne as volume climbed 5.9 percent to 162,700 tonnes. Mutton prices fell 10 percent to $4,800 as volume rose 0.5 percent to 51,200 tonnes.

Beef + Lamb said the price decline would have been worse if not for a weaker kiwi dollar. . . 

Excellent environmental stewardship earns couple supreme title in 2016 Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Redcliff farmers Shane Gibbons and Bridget Speight are Supreme winners of the 2016 Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

At a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on April 14 (2016), the couple also collected the Farm Stewardship Award in partnership with the QEII National Trust and New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, the Environment Southland Water Quality and Biodiversity Award and the WaterForce Integrated Management Award. . . .

 Farmers urged to remain on lookout for late-emerging velvetleaf:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is urging farmers to remain vigilant in their management of the velvetleaf pest plant.

MPI’s Velvetleaf 2016 Response Manager, Carolyn Bleach, says the window of opportunity to control plants that haven’t yet seeded is narrowing and it’s very important farmers remain on the look- out.

“Farmers and landowners need to maintain a watchful eye until crops have been grazed, particularly as some late emerging plants have been found in crops that have already been inspected. . . 

Upgrade for farm menus:

Farmers are being offered extra environmental protection advice through an upgraded version of the hugely popular “farm menus” produced by Waikato Regional Council in co-operation with eight agriculture sector partners.

Since their launch in 2013, the first farm menus have been picked up by more than 4000 farmers and rural professionals in Waikato and elsewhere. They offer methods for reducing the impact of farming operations on water quality.

The initial menus – covering nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment or micro-organisms getting into waterways – had a focus on reducing nitrogen leaching. Now the outcome of further research means the upgraded menus have more options added for reducing phosphorus and sediment loss. . . 

Fonterra to Divest Share in Dairy Technical Services:

Fonterra Australia has today announced it has signed an agreement to divest its shareholding (36.02 per cent) in Dairy Technical Services (DTS) to a consortium comprising Bureau Veritas Singapore and AsureQuality Limited.

DTS was originally set up as a cooperative testing service company for dairy companies in Victoria, and its other shareholders are The Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Group, Murray Goulburn and AsureQuality. . . 


Fonterra ups Aus payout

03/06/2015

Fonterra suppliers in Australia have got some good news:

Fonterra Australia has stepped up prices for its Australian suppliers to an average weighted price of $6 a kilogram milk solids.

Suppliers were notified on Friday of the step up of 12 cents/kg fat and 30 cents/kg protein to reach $6kg/MS, which will be paid June 15 and backdated to July.

The price brings Fonterra’s price to the same as other major processors Murray Goulburn and Warrnambool Cheese and Butter.

The announcement came just one day after Fonterra cut the forecast price for its New Zealand suppliers to NZ$4.40/kg MS.

It also comes a week after Fonterra Australia announced that its Fixed Base Milk Price scheme for 2015/16 would be $5.80/kg MS, 42 cents lower than the 2014/15 price. . .

No doubt there is a reason for Fonterra Australia’s suppliers getting so much more than Fonterra’s New Zealand suppliers. If you can explain it, please do.


Rural round-up

12/08/2014

A2 milk easier to digest than A1 – study – Dan Satherley:

Milk that contains only A2 protein is easier to digest than the more common A1-type milk, according to a new study that directly contradicts previous research.

Scientists at Curtin University in Perth found that people reported less abdominal pain and bloating after drinking A2 milk than A1.

“We knew there were differences in animals consuming A2 milk without any A1 beta-casein, but this is now supported by our new human study,” says Associate Professor Sebely Pal.

A2 milk is produced naturally, taken from cows without the genetic mutation that most cows in Europe, Australia, the United States and New Zealand have. Normal cows’ milk has a mixture of A1 and A2 proteins. . .

 

Dairy plant conversion seen as catalyst for burgeoning food technology hub:

Plans to establish a state-of-the-art food technology and production hub in the small North Waikato township of Kerepehi have moved another step closer – with several large blocks of bare land with development potential being placed on the market for sale.

The 16 sites are immediately opposite the former Kerepehi dairy factory which was bought earlier this year by the Chinese-owned Allied Faxi Food Company for conversion into an ice cream export manufacturing plant.

Conversion construction of the dairy plant is scheduled to start in spring, with the plant targeted to be fully operational by the end of 2015 – forecasting to produce 10 tonnes of ice cream and 10 tonnes of frozen cream daily. All output is for the Chinese markets. . . .

Deadline approaches for entries in the Enterprising Rural Women Awards 2014:

Women looking for new ways to promote their small rural business are encouraged to enter the Enterprising Rural Women Awards 2014.

“With the deadline of Friday 5 September now around the corner, we’re reminding women to send in their entries,” says Rural Women New Zealand national president, Wendy McGowan.

In their sixth year, the awards attract good publicity for both entrants and winners, says Mrs McGowan.

“Rural Women New Zealand’s aim is to grow dynamic rural communities and giving a boost to women in rural business is a very positive way of achieving this.” . . .

Fine wool gets a sporting chance – Andrew Marshall:

THE wool industry’s search for a big break in the outdoor recreation clothing market may be about to bear fruit thanks, in part, to technology originally developed to make finewool finer.

Fashion industry responses to trials of the new wind and water resistant fabric indicate plenty of promise in clothing market segments such as recreational sailing, fishing, bushwalking or hiking and golf.

Wool marketers also anticipate genuine interest and spill-over orders from the booming smart-casual clothing scene. . .

Delivering Better Tools And Services for Maori Sheep And Beef Farmers:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) is joining forces with the Federation of Maori Authorities (FoMA) to ramp up support for Maori sheep and beef farmers.

FoMA and B+LNZ are creating two new joint roles. Anaru Smiler and William McMillan have been appointed Kaiarahi Ahuwhenua Sheep & Beef, operating jointly for FoMA and B+LNZ. The positions will be responsible for delivering tools and services to support Maori sheep and beef farmers.

B+LNZ Chief Executive Dr Scott Champion says the organisation has worked closely with FoMA to develop the new positions and they will be a key part of supporting the development of more productive and profitable Maori-owned sheep and beef farms. . .

Warrnambool Cheese & Butter not ACCC at its finest, says Joyce – Andrew White:

AGRICULTURE Minister Barnaby Joyce has hit out at the competition watchdog and the law it enforces, claiming its treatment of Murray Goulburn’s bid for Warrnambool Cheese and Butter was a poor application of competition law.

Mr Joyce called for an overhaul of competition law to support the creation of national champions in industries across Australia after the giant Murray Goulburn co-operative was effectively blocked from buying Warrnambool by delays in the competition review process.

“If we want to create — and I believe we should — Australian national champions then that substantial lessening of competition test … its finest hour was not the Warrnambool Cheese and Butter issue,’’ Mr Joyce told a high-powered gathering of food industry and political leaders in Sydney as part of the The Australian and The Wall Street Journal’s Global Food Forum series. . .

Rabobank backs a Challenge – Reg Burton:

THE 2014 Rabobank Beef Challenge is once again focused solely on the graziers in the Richmond Shire with the Flinders and McKinlay Shire opting not to stage the Challenge this year because of the drought.

Conversely, the Richmond Shire graziers elected to continue with the Challenge to obtain information as to which breeds do better on a particular dietary supplement under drought conditions.

Ten mobs of six early weaners were put into the same paddock on Alistair McClymont’s Wilburra Station where they will stay and be weighed and tested monthly. . . .

Fonterra Grass Roots Fund:

Need help with a community project? Grants from $500 to $5,000 will be made. Hurry – applications close 31 August!

Need help with a community project? Grants from $500 to $5,000 will be made. Hurry – applications close 31 August!


Rural round-up

08/06/2014

Feds top job too good to pass up – Andrea Fox:

New Federated Farmers chief executive Graham Smith is the first to admit his previous employer is upset over his quick exit from a new job, but says the federation role is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity he could not resist.

Smith will leave not-for-profit new technology company incubator Soda, where he has been chief executive for less than two months, to head the federation late next month. . .

Minister launches primary industries capability report:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today launched The Future capability needs for the primary industries in New Zealand – a report that forecasts the future workforce needs of the primary sector.

“The report highlights that employment in the primary industries is expected to increase by 50,000 by 2025 to reach the Government’s goal of an export double. Over half of these workers will need a Tertiary or Level 4 Qualification,” says Mr Guy.

“New Zealand has a proud tradition in the primary industries – it’s an innovative sector that requires our best and brightest across a range of skills. As international markets become more sophisticated and competitive, it is crucial New Zealand’s primary industries keep pace. . .

We’re working with primary industries to make sure they keep innovating and keep growing. http://ntnl.org.nz/1hilnZ8

High country conference discusses neighbourliness:

What it means to be a ”good neighbour” was discussed at Federated Farmers’ high country conference in Queenstown yesterday.

The conference was examining how neighbours could look after each other in regard to water and nutrient management and pest control, Federated Farmers high country chairman Chas Todhunter said.

”We need to communicate with each other to understand each other’s differences and work towards mutually acceptable outcomes,” he said. . .

Innovation pitch finalists chosen:

After two days of intensive workshops nine innovators have been chosen to pitch their ideas at the National Fieldays Innovation Den on Thursday.

The chosen innovations include LiquidStrip, a filtration system designed to efficiently separate liquid and solid from waste effluent to allow for superior disposal options; Ice Cycle, a snap milk chiller capable of chilling milk from the cow at 34C to 4C in under three seconds, and Patrick Roskram with his Gudgeon Pro 5-in-1 fencing tool that is used to quickly and accurately hang gates. . . .

 ‘Black List’ proposed for ecological invaders:

A new scheme to rank invading species according to their environmental impact has been developed by a global team of leading experts in ecology and conservation.

The scheme, described in the journal PLOS Biology and co-authored by Lincoln University Professor of Plant Biosecurity, Philip Hulme, proposes a standardised approach for ranking alien species relative to their negative environmental impact. In so doing, globally recognised ‘Black Lists’ of unwanted species can be produced. . . .

Lifting farmgate returns the solution:

AUSTRALIA’S share of the global dairy market has been slipping gradually and turning the industry around is going to be a huge challenge, Murray Goulburn chairman Phillip Tracy says.

At the same time the company is cutting jobs across Victoria.

The co-operative’s commitment to lift farmgate returns by $1 a kilogram of milksolids by 2017 was the type of price rise needed to turn the industry around, Tracy said. . .

Foreign investment’s tough wrap – Jenna Cairney:

THERE’S no “foreign takeover” of our agricultural land and while a debate on foreign investment is worthwhile, any blows have to be above the belt.

At a packed NSW Farm Writers lunch last week John Corbett, the director of the often camera-shy Qatari government’s agricultural arm Hassad, dispelled some of the foreign direct investment (FDI) misnomers, in particular via sovereign wealth and institutional funds.

Hassad was created in response to the 1997 grain shortages and now owns more than 250,000 hectares of farmland in NSW, South Australia, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia, with the aim of producing 165,000 tonnes of grain and 100,000 lambs annually. . .

 A ‘turnip’ for the canola books – Gregor Heard:

MOST broadacre croppers would say they are happy to leave turnip and cabbage crops to their horticultural cousins.

However, researchers at the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) are using the two vegetable crops to make valuable discoveries about canola.

The relatively recently developed canola plant has a mixed heritage of both turnip and cabbage genetics. . . .


Rural round-up

16/01/2014

If it’s hotter or cooler we need to store water – Bruce Wills:

Since it’s healthy to push yourself each New Year I like to start with a brand new experience.  For me, that was filing a farming music video for Young Country magazine.  A video set to music may be a unique way to tell my story to younger farmers but it was fun doing it at a busy time on-farm.  Admittedly, I do not think NZ on Air funding will be in the mail.

This year means I am in my final seven months as the President of Federated Farmers and I genuinely hope this column will continue with my successor.  That person will be elected in early July, after Federated Farmers provinces and industry groups assemble in Palmerston North for our National Conference. 

Looking back, 2011 seems a world away when I undertook my first political interview on TV One’s Q+A.  It was with Massey University’s Dr Mike Joy and was hosted by the late Sir Paul Holmes. The subject was water quality and our dairy industry and in the minds of some people that has not changed.  The perception of what we do is yet to catch up to the realities of modern farming. 

When you’ve got older farmers, the sort that the Topp Twins satirise so well, actively swapping notes on riparian plantings then you know there’s been a shift in culture. . .

Water storage becomes vital in changing climate – James Houghton:

Now most of you will be back from a well-rested break, having indulged yourselves silly and feeling a little guilty perhaps? Well just thought you might like to know, like most farmers, I have been kept busy as farming is a 365-day-a-year job. Thankfully, summer has been kind to us so far and the ever-increasing threat of drought has been kept at bay.

Looking to the year ahead, I am hoping we will see an improvement in people and organisations being accountable for their actions and learning from their mistakes. Last year, we saw some disappointing performances in the biosecurity area and animal welfare. We also seem to be struggling with the ever-increasing reality that we need a reliable source of water to maintain a sustainable primary industry and our economic independence. When corporates make a mistake, they need to do what is right and not solely focus on the dollar.

My hope is that we learn from past experiences and make changes for the better. If we don’t, how are we meant to protect ourselves from risk or make progress and develop ourselves? The climate and water debates paint this picture well, time and time again. . .

‘Milk price outlook, the unforeseen risk of the US’ – Lisa Deeney:

“The huge increase in supplies of natural gas and oil in the US and Canada will probably pose a strong risk to future Irish milk price by enabling US milk producers to be competitive at lower prices than before.”

This is according to Cork-based dairy farmer and businessman Mike Murphy, who has interests in America, New Zealand and Chile, and an organiser of Positive Farmers’ dairy conference taking place in Clonmel, Tipperary today.

“Be aware to this risk. Farmers who borrow heavily based on current milk price may be in for a very rough time. Be a little conservative on milk price forecasts,” he cautioned to the packed attendance of more than 475 people. . .

Fonterra cream E.coli recall proves safety system ‘works’: Federated Farmers – Mark Astley

Fonterra’s decision to recall 8,700 bottles of potentially E.coli-contaminated fresh cream proves only that the cooperative’s “quality assurance system works,” New Zealand dairy farmer representative, Federated Farmers, has claimed. . .

Brown fat measurement could offer key to improving lamb survival:

Not all fats are created equal, and work by AgResearch is looking into how this knowledge can help reduce lamb deaths.

In good conditions mortality of twins and triplets is below 10% and 20% respectively, but in poor weather conditions it can be much more. Many of these deaths occur in the first three days of life, often because the lamb is unable to generate enough body heat to keep warm during periods of extreme weather.

Immediately after birth and until they get a feed, lambs have only one main way to regulate and maintain their body temperature: burn ‘brown fat’ to generate heat. . .

Irrigation scheme gets chief -Marta Steeman:

The company developing the $400 million Hurunui irrigation scheme has appointed a permanent chief executive to steer the company through the nitty gritty of design and development.

Hurunui Water Project Limited announced this week Alex Adams would take the helm on March 10.

The appointment follows the company being awarded its most critical consent – permission to take water from the Waitohi River – in August last year.

Hurunui Water Project proposes to develop four water storage dams on the Waitohi River to irrigate just under 60,000 hectares. . .

WCB slams MG’s ‘super co-op’ plan – Jared Lynch:

WARRNAMBOOL Cheese and Butter (WCB) has attacked Murray Goulburn’s takeover bid, saying any further consolidation of Australia’s dairy industry will hurt exports.

Murray Goulburn, Australia’s biggest dairy company, has argued that if it acquired WCB it would create a ”super co-operative”, giving Australia the scale necessary to compete globally.

But in a submission to the Australian Competition Tribunal (ACT), WCB dismissed that claim.

”There is a risk that further ­consolidation of Australian dairy exporting companies could have a negative effect on Australian dairy exports,” WCB said. . . .

LePage signs bill to label genetically modified food – Steve Mistler:

Gov. Paul LePage has signed a bill that would require food producers to label foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. The law makes Maine the second state in the country to pass such a measure. However, other states must adopt similar legislation before Maine’s labeling provision goes into effect.

The governor promised last year to sign the bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Lance Harvell, R-Farmington. His signature is symbolic because legislative rules don’t allow the law to go into effect until the Legislature adjourns later this year. However, supporters of the bill hailed the law’s eventual passage as a victory for advocates of laws mandating the labeling of genetically modified foods. Such proposals have been introduced in nearly 30 states as part of a national effort to compel Congress to enact a comprehensive labeling law. . .


Rural round-up

10/01/2014

ANZCO opens new food laboratory – Alan Williams:

ANZCO Foods has set up a new innovation centre at Lincoln University to focus on new food developments.

Its research team was already working on new developments, with more in the pipeline, the company’s Food and Solutions business chief executive Rennie Davidson said.

The centre was opened last month by ANZCO chairman Sir Graeme Harrison, who said it was part of an $87 million project to generate more value from beef carcases.

The FoodPlus project is a joint venture between ANZCO and the Government’s Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme. . .

Kiwis set to shine in New York – Alan Williams:

Promotion and sales are the focus for two top New Zealand knitting yarn marketers later this week at the Vogue Knit Live fair in New York.

Marnie Kelly and Bev Forrester will be showing their yarns in front of thousands of knitters from all over the United States and many others from round the world, in the heart of Times Square.

They sell to American and Canadian tourists in NZ and to customers online, and now they want to use the fair to attract retailers who can provide them with a bigger market. . .

Sizzling summer brings boats into play

SIZZLING, dry conditions in Queensland mean the prospect of feed grain being brought around from South Australia to Brisbane to boat becomes ever more likely.

Once considered fanciful, analysts now suggest the economics of bringing feed grain in from southern areas is now a strong possibility.

Lloyd George, AgScientia, said with the planting window for sorghum in southern Queensland rapidly closing and largely inelastic demand, end-users were casting their net ever further afield to source stocks. . .

ACCC has concerns over Murray Goulburn’s takeover of WCB –  Tim Binsted and Jared Lynch:

The competition regulator has cast doubts over Murray Goulburn’s claim that its acquisition of Warrnambool Cheese & Butter will yield benefits to the public and re-establish Australian dairy’s global competitiveness.

Murray Goulburn is locked in a fierce $500 million-plus takeover battle for control of WCB with Canadian dairy company Saputo.

Murray Goulburn must convince the Australian Competition Tribunal that the public benefits of its acquisition of WCB outweigh anti-competitive concerns or its bid is finished.

In an issues paper made public on Tuesday, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission – which is helping the tribunal – rejected Murray Goulburn’s claim that its takeover of WCB would cause no significant lessening of competition. . . .

Food campaigners target Oxford Farming Conference – Johann Tasker:

Campaigners have called on the Oxford Farming Conference to recognise the contribution of small-scale farmers and food producers.

Members of the Land Workers’ Alliance protested outside the conference venue as delegates arrived at the Oxford Examination Rooms on Tuesday (7 January).

The alliance – members of the international peasant movement La Via Campesina – is a group which campaigs for the rights of small producers and a better food system. . .

 Musterer injured after horse collapses – Murray Robertson:

A CASUAL musterer on a farm at Rere was flown to hospital yesterday morning when the horse he was riding died underneath him as they descended a steep hillside.

Emergency services were alerted at about 11am.

The 69-year-old horseman suffered neck, head and facial injuries in the mishap. He was flown to Waikato Hospital yesterday afternoon after being assessed at Gisborne Hospital’s emergency department. . .

Manning the panic station – Tim Fulton:

It was just on five minutes to six in the half light of the morning when a cry rang out.

My wife’s urgent tone was comparable to the fright of a burglar in the living room: “Tim, Tim…the sheep are in the garden.”

Our sheep – a modest tally of four ewes and five lambs – make a mockery of our attempt at fencing.

The artificial barriers between yard and garden grow ever higher but still the mini flock tests weak links in the wire. . .


Rural round-up

19/12/2013

SFF implements salary freeze – Nigel Stirling:

Silver Fern Farms (SFF) is implementing a salary freeze as part of a range of measures to get the meat processor back to profitability.

The move, revealed at the company’s AGM in Dunedin today, holds all salaried employees’ remuneration at current levels for a period of 12 months.

The company last year paid wages, salaries and benefits of $315.1m, up from $290.2m the previous year.

Chief executive Keith Cooper outlined further steps to turnaround the company’s performance including land disposals and exiting some stock financing arrangements. . .

Farming – change the perception – Will Wilson:

Agriculture must tread carefully in its bid to attract new entrants to ensure it does not undervalue and trivialise the incredible amount of hard work and education required to be success in the industry.

Agriculture is such a catch all term for a huge range of very specialist professions, yet from the outside the perception is the drip fed image of the village idiot on a tractor or the floppy haired Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in his cable knit.

As an industry agriculture continue to pander to this image because it’s media friendly and easier than finding out and explaining the real demands of modern agriculture. . .

Financial report shows agriculture is well on track:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see the Government’s half year Economic and Fiscal Update report showing a faster growing economy, with the agriculture industry being well on its way to doubling its exports by 2025.

“We have long advocated for economic restraint, and it is great to see the $86 million surplus forecast for 2014/15 is up ever so slightly on the surplus forecast in May,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“Agriculture has had a great start, with the tradable sector growing 11.1 percent since 2009 compared with non-tradeables up 6.6 percent, however resource pressures are growing and next year we will likely see a tightening of monetary policy to dampen inflation. Farmers and exporters will need the Government to keep spending and debt under control in order to take the pressure off interest rates and the exchange rate. . .

Commission releases final report on Fonterra’s milk price manual:

Issued 16 December 2013, Release No. 56

The Commerce Commission has today released its final report on its statutory review of Fonterra’s milk price manual. The manual determines how Fonterra calculates the farm gate milk price, which is the price paid by Fonterra to dairy farmers for their raw milk.

This is the first of two statutory reviews that the Commission is required to undertake each milk season under the 2012 amendments to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 (DIRA).

The Commission has concluded the 2013/14 Milk Price Manual is largely consistent with the purpose of the DIRA milk monitoring regime. . .

MG lifts milk price to $6.25/kg :

MURRAY Goulburn (MG) has announced a third step-up in the farmgate price (excluding the NSW-Sydney region) for the 2013-14 season of $0.18 per kilogram butterfat and $0.38/kg protein.

This step-up takes MG’s weighted-average, available price to $6.25/kg milk solids.

MG has also increased its end of season forecast to a range of $6.30-$6.50/kg milk solids.

“Global demand for dairy foods remains strong and as a result prices for key dairy ingredients, such as whole milk powder, have remained at near record levels for an unprecedented period,” MG managing director Gary Helou, said. . .

Canterbury style zone committee comes to the Wairarapa:

Federated Farmers’ Wairarapa welcomes the formation of the Ruamahanga Whaitua Committee and its commitment to balance environmental and economic values for the Ruamahanga Catchment.

“The Whaitua committee makeup is well balanced to deliver sustainable and workable rules for the Catchment and the Wairarapa,” says Federated Farmers’ Wairarapa provincial president Jamie Falloon.

“We thank the people involved for putting their names forward for what will be a pretty busy two year period.

“It will be a challenging process and will require all parties to be fully involved in discussions to find outcomes that are what the community wants. . .

Workshops help dairy farmers drive better production and profit:

Farm nutrient company SealesWinslow is running a series of seminars and workshops to help dairy farmers achieve higher production, margins and profits.

SealesWinslow’s “Routes to Profitable Milk Production” roadshow, which kicked off in the Waikato in late October, has been rated highly for content and relevance by farmers attending.

Animal nutrition expert for SealesWinslow, James Hague, has been demonstrating how farmers can master the art of balancing the diet to fully feed the herd and benefit from better production from grass, higher production per cow and per hectare, higher margins and more profit. . . .


Rural round-up

14/11/2013

End in sight for TPP talks – Nigel Stirling:

Trade Minister Tim Groser says negotiators are on track for an end-of-year deadline to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade talks but whether it is met will depend on the leaders of the countries involved.

At last month’s Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in Bali TPP leaders, including New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key, exhorted negotiators from the dozen Pacific Rim countries involved to step up efforts for the deal to scrap trade and investment barriers.

Groser said NZ’s chief negotiator David Walker had been involved in an intense round of meetings since the Bali talks. . .

Record price in N Canty:

An irrigated 129ha North Canterbury farm has sold at auction for $6.7 million, or $52,300 a hectare, a record price for a North Canterbury dairy farm.

PGG Wrightson Christchurch agent Peter Crean said Gairloch, sold by his colleague Athol Earl, was converted to dairy in 1995 and has milked about 450 cows, with production peaking at 188,000kg milksolids last season.

“We have a strong board of motivated buyers at present with few local dairy properties of this calibre available, so it was no surprise that the sale achieved such a positive result,” Crean said.

Five bidders took part in the auction and the room was full of others including bankers, farm valuers and neighbours, he said. . .

Minister pays tribute to drought heroes:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has paid tribute to Rural Support Trust members at a function in Parliament tonight, thanking them for their work during the drought earlier this year.

“This was the worst drought in 70 years and a very tough time for many rural communities.

“Rural Support Trusts worked tirelessly to lift farmer and community morale. I want to salute them for the work they did in sitting around the kitchen table with so many farmers, supporting them to find a way through.

“They opened doors to vital support service and helped people to make better decisions for themselves, their families and their livelihoods.

“Many farmers are staunch and reluctant to ask for help. Their farms can be geographically isolated, and the stress can affect the whole family. . .

Speech to the Global Food Safety Forum – Nathan Guy:

. . .I’m very pleased that the Global Food Safety Forum has chosen New Zealand as the location for its first such event outside China.  New Zealand is a fitting choice, given the strength of the relationship between our countries, the importance of China as a growing market for New Zealand’s high-quality food exports, and our well-deserved reputation for having a world-class food safety system.   

Today I want to emphasise the critical importance of food safety – for the environment that supports us all, the health of consumers, and the strength of our economy. In particular, I want to emphasise how critical it is that we all play our part in that system.

New Zealand is in the business of food. We produce, process, retail, import and export food. Agriculture, fisheries and forestry, are central to our economic wellbeing, contributing 12.7% of GDPand representingover 11.8% of employment.

Food exports account for 54 per cent of New Zealand’s total export value and our food and beverage exports go to around 200 markets. . . .

New Zealand’s fisheries performing well:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has now released its 2013 summaries of the Status of New Zealand’s Fisheries which confirms most New Zealand fisheries are performing well.

Highlights from the 2013 review show that:

Both stocks of hoki have now increased for seven consecutive years and both are now well within or above their management targets. As a result it has been possible to increase the quota from 90,000 tonnes to 150,000 metric tonnes

The recent discovery of a new aggregation of Chatham Rise orange roughy has led to a favourable revision of the status of this stock. . .

What it takes to compete in the global dairy industry- Dr Jon Hauser:

The dairy industry is a hot topic in Australia at the moment. Warrnambool Cheese and Butter, a prized dairy asset in southwest Victoria, is up for grabs. There is currently a 3 way bidding war between local publicly listed dairy company Bega, farmer co-operative Murray Goulburn, and the Canadian dairy giant Saputo.

This week United Dairyfarmers Victoria organised a meeting of farmers in Warrnambool. The UDV is a farmer representative group charged with lobbying government and industry on behalf of Victorian dairy farmers. They invited me to talk about the global dairy market – what it takes to compete, and what industry capital and marketing structures are best suited to serving farmer interests. This article reproduces the main content of the presentation. . . .

New CEO for Dairy Women:

The Dairy Women’s Network Trust Board has appointed Zelda de Villiers as its new chief executive.

De Villiers, managing director of DeLaval New Zealand, has more than 20 years’ experience in the international agricultural industry.

She has also worked for DeLaval International in Sweden and NZ, where she has been based since 2009.

Before joining DeLaval, she spent the first 10 years of her career in the agricultural finance and rural banking sector in South Africa. . .

Farm Open Day showcases transformation of sunshine into food:

One of Canterbury’s most productive and most visited farms will open its gates to the public of Christchurch on Saturday 23 November 2013, with its inaugural Farm Open Day.

The Farm Open Day to be held at the Lincoln University Dairy Farm (LUDF) from 1.30pm to 4.30pm will enable visitors to find out how grass becomes milk, milk gets to the supermarket and all the bits in between.

“Farming is the amazing transformation of sunshine, nutrients and water into food (and fibre)” says Dr Andrew West , Vice-Chancellor of Lincoln University and Chairman of SIDDC (South Island Dairy Development Centre). “The Farm Open Day will showcase that transformation from sunshine, nutrients and water through plants, into animals and into our kitchens, dining rooms and cafés.” . . .

Getting school students to cherish our water:

With the summer break just around the corner, us Kiwis will be heading to the beaches, rivers and streams to relax, swim and have some fun. But all that depends on the quality of the water. Lincoln University’s extension programme, Waterwatch, is an interactive programme that involves school students monitoring the ‘health’ of their local rivers or streams.

According to the 6th biennial survey Peoples’ Perceptions of the State of the New Zealand Environment released in 2011, the most important environmental issue facing New Zealand is ‘water pollution and/or water’. So freshwater is an area of particular concern to New Zealanders.

Thanks to the support of The Canterbury Community Trust, Waterwatch is able to provide a fun, flexible and accessible programme of hands-on activities that encourage the sustainable management of, and responsibility for, our waterways. . .


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