Rural round-up

October 30, 2017

Brexit problems proliferate while negotiators procrastinate– Alan Barber:

An Agri Brigade piece in the latest Private Eye, that marvellous example of good old-fashioned investigative journalism, made me acutely aware of the law of unintended consequences that inevitably applies to trade agreements. With less than 18 months until Brexit, UK negotiators don’t appear to have made any tangible progress towards a workable agreement with their EU counterparts.

In fact each side is talking right past the other: the EU wants to set the amount the UK will pay to exit before discussing important things like trade and the UK doesn’t want to mention it for fear of causing political mayhem at home. And we think we’ve got problems with the coalition discussions which should have reached a conclusion by the time you read this. . .

EU plans to trade ‘much’ more with Australia and New Zealand after Brexit – Jon Stone:

An upcoming trade deal between the European Union and Australia and New Zealand will help to dramatically increase trade between the blocs, the EU’s trade commission has said.

Despite high-profile Brexiteers hoping Britain would do more trade with Commonwealth countries after Britain leaves the bloc, the EU has pulled away with a head-start in negotiating its own agreement with the two former British colonies.

Cecilia Malmström told the European Parliament on Wednesday that her negotiating team was moving to the next phase of preparations for the trade deal. . .

Overseas land ownership not just a New Zealand problem – Alan Barber:

On a recent trip to Australia I read an article about overseas land holdings on that side of the Tasman which illustrates

the dramatic growth in Chinese investment in Australian agricultural land. In contrast to the rather sketchy and out of date statistics available in New Zealand, the Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land Register provides very specific figures at 30th June this year.

Foreign investors now own 13.6% of Australian agricultural land, up from 11% three years ago, with British investment at 33% still the largest source of foreign capital, although this percentage has fallen sharply from 52% 12 months earlier. . .

Technology needs human factor – Richard Rennie:

Kellogg participant and Ballance Agri-Nutrients technical expert Oliver Knowles embarked on his six-month course with the aim of better understanding how farmers take up new technology, particularly precision agri-tech. His work comprised a review of literature on farmer adoption and uptake and a study of applying the findings of that to precision ag technology. He told Richard Rennie about it.

Understanding farmers will help them adopt new technology and develop precision agriculture attitudes, Kellog scholar Oliver Knowles says.

During his study Knowles realised there was more to be uncovered about the make-up of Kiwi farmers.

Early on in his research he quickly came to recognise the conflict farmers almost subconsciously had to deal with when adopting new ideas. . .

LIC: dairying must adapt:

LIC chairman Murray King has warned dairy farmers of the threat of disruption and told them they must keep improving and adapting to the changing world.

New Zealand dairy farmers have a global edge in terms of productivity and profitability, but the industry needs to remain ambitious about keeping that edge against the best in the world.

King was speaking at the farmer-owned co-operative’s annual meeting in Invercargill. . .

Genetically modified wheat used to make coeliac-friendly bread – Michael Le Page:

People forced to avoid gluten could soon have their bread (and cake) and eat it. Now there are strains of wheat that do not produce the forms of gluten that trigger a dangerous immune reaction in as many as 1 in 100 people.

Because the new strains still contain some kinds of gluten, though, the wheat can still be used to bake bread. “It’s regarded as being pretty good, certainly better than anything on the gluten-free shelves,” says Jan Chojecki of PBL-Ventures in the UK, who is working with investors in North America to market products made with this wheat.

Gluten is the general term for all the proteins in wheat and related cereals. During baking, these proteins link up to form elastic chains, which is what holds breads and cakes together as they rise. . .

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Question of the day

August 29, 2017


Rural round-up

May 18, 2017

UK farming looks doomed – Allan Barber:

Two contrasting publications have each given a pretty damning picture of the state of farming and food production in pre-Brexit UK; and despite the conclusions of the Ferguson Cardo report into the future of British agriculture, it is hard to see how this situation will change for the better without a huge amount of pain on the way. But equally it is almost impossible to imagine a continuation of the status quo within the EU, where in 2015 70% of UK farm income came from direct and environmental subsidies.

A much shorter piece in the well-known satirical paper Private Eye captures the problems faced by UK dairy farmers very cogently, although these have been well publicised already. The number of dairy herds has fallen like a stone since 1993 – the year the Milk Marketing Board was abolished – when there were 33,000 herds, compared with fewer than 10,000 today. The cost of milk production this year is forecast to rise to 32.5 pence per litre, while the price farmers receive is anchored at 25p or even worse predicted to fall even lower. Not surprisingly more closures are expected. . . 

No idle time for top dairy woman – Sally Rae:

Jessie Chan-Dorman’s determination was evident from an early age.

At 16, she left home and funded herself through secondary school and university.

Ms Chan-Dorman (39) was named 2017 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year at the Dairy Women’s Network annual conference in Queenstown last week.

The inspirational Canterbury businesswoman’s career spanned farming, business and governance. . . 

Interim Project Director Appointed to Dam:

Tasman District Council and Waimea Irrigators Limited, on behalf of the Waimea Water Augmentation Project (WWAP), have appointed John Hutton to the role of Interim Project Director.

The appointment is necessary now because the WWAP team overseeing the delivery of the various work streams has come to the view the project is sufficiently advanced that it needs a step up in the level of direction and a dedicated project office needs to be established.

John Hutton’s tasks are to: . . 

University of Auckland Aotearoa Māori Business Leaders Awards 2017 winners announced:

When Blanche Morrogh (nee Murray) started Kai Ora Honey in 2012, she had no idea it would bloom so quickly into a multi-million dollar global concern.
Today, the Far North-based whānau-owned business operates 2500 hives and exports 50 tonnes of Active Manuka Honey to customers in Asia, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Kuwait, with plans to export 90 tonnes-plus by 2020.

Her achievements were honoured on Friday night when Morrogh (Ngāti Kuri and Te Rarawa) received the Young Māori Business Leader Award in the 2017 University of Auckland Aotearoa Māori Business Leaders Awards at a sold-out dinner. . . 

New $5 million earthquake fund for farmers and growers:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced $5 million in new funding support for quake-struck farmers and growers.

The new Earthquake Recovery Fund will support projects that investigate long-term land use options and will also fund professional advisory services for future land use planning.

“The November earthquake has caused significant erosion and damage to land in the Hurunui, Kaikoura and Marlborough regions. Farmers, growers and foresters are now faced with the challenge of determining what to do with their land going forward and this fund is designed to help with those decisions,” says Mr Guy.

The fund is designed to provide support to farmers and growers in two different ways, depending on their needs. . . 

Entertaining evening on wellbeing coming to Kaikoura:

Take a night off on Wednesday 24 May – Farmstrong and the Rural Support Trust are inviting you to find out how healthy thinking can help you live well, and if you are in farming, to farm well too.

The free event will kick off with a free bite to eat before medical doctor and author, Dr Tom Mullholland, shares his simple and practical Healthy Thinking tools to help you manage the ups and downs that come with rural life.

“The stress that people have been under from the earthquakes alongside those in high-pressure professions such as farming, can take a toll on our wellbeing,” Farmstrong spokesperson Gerard Vaughan says. . . 

Country’s top bull breeders celebrated:

Some of the country’s top bull breeders came together in Hamilton this week  to celebrate their contribution to the next generation of elite genetics for the New Zealand dairy industry.

Breeders from all over the country (listed below) attended LIC’s Breeders’ Day after supplying a bull calf to the co-operative which went on to form part of the 2016 Premier Sires artificial breeding bull teams. The teams are responsible for approximately three out of four dairy cows being milked on New Zealand dairy farms.

LIC chairman and Nelson dairy farmer, Murray King, said the event recognises a partnership that secures a productive future for the average kiwi dairy farm, the New Zealand dairy industry and New Zealand economy. . . 

Fired-up tourism infrastructure fund appreciated:

Farmers and other ratepayers in tourist hotspots will be pleased the Government has upped the ante in co-funding new infrastructure, Federated Farmers local government spokesman Katie Milne says.

“Earlier this year Federated Farmers described a $12 million regional tourism infrastructure fund to help councils cope with tens of thousands of freedom campers as ‘a damp tea towel on a bonfire’.

“It seems the Government has heard our message, and that of others, and called out the fire brigade,” Katie says. . . 

Another Feds’ success at Dairy Woman Awards:

Federated Farmers is delighted that Mid Canterbury dairy farmer Jessie Chan Dorman was crowned 2017 Dairy Woman of the Year.

Jessie received the prestigious award at a ceremony in Queenstown last night (Thursday). She follows in the footsteps of Federated Farmers’ Board Member Katie Milne who was a previous winner in 2015. . . 


Rural round-up

July 22, 2016

Agriculture could be included in Emissions Trading Scheme – Kate Gudsell:

The Treasury has raised the possibility of agriculture being included in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) after years of being exempt from charges.

The move is suggested in a March Treasury briefing to Finance Minister Bill English and his two associates Steven Joyce and Paula Bennett.

The briefing outlines the financial risk the government faces from scrapping the one-for-two scheme – a 50 percent subsidy for polluters which meant they paid half the value of their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. . . 

Local government needs you:

With nominations for this year’s local authority elections opening on Friday, Federated Farmers is calling on farmers and other business-minded people to consider standing for election.

Federated Farmers’ Local Government spokesperson Katie Milne said it’s  vitally important that we get good candidates to put themselves forward.

“Being a councillor is a challenging role but farmers can make a real difference on councils as they can inform and educate their colleagues and staff about what happens on-farm. . .

Battle for our Birds 2016 operations begin:

The largest pest control operation in New Zealand’s history has been launched today by Conservation Minister Maggie Barry.

Battle for our Birds 2016 will protect our nation’s most vulnerable native species from the potentially catastrophic explosion of rats and stoats in New Zealand forests as a result of a beech mast event.

At an event at Bob’s Cove near Queenstown today Ms Barry announced aerial 1080 drops have been confirmed for 19 sites covering more than 720,000 hectares of high value land. . . 

Meat exporters facing foreign exchange headwinds:

Meat Industry Association Chief Executive Tim Ritchie says uncertainty in the EU as a result of Brexit is one of the causes of a higher exchange rate, which will significantly affect prices our exporters receive in the European market. This, in turn, affects the prices meat processors can pay farmers for their livestock. Volatility in exchange rates has already had a significant impact on meat exporters, which led to eroded margins in the last season.

This year, the volatility looks like it will get worse. A year ago, a NZD was worth 0.43 GBP, but is currently 0.53 GBP, with the NZD rising sharply against the GBP since the Brexit referendum.  . . 

Rabobank Global Wine Quarterly Q3: Opportunities for wine supply and trade in South-East Asia:

Markets in South-East Asia are calling out to be explored, as opportunities in the region lie beyond China and Japan. Meanwhile, the short South American harvests and the Brexit are leading developments in global wine supply and trade, according to the Rabobank Global Wine Quarterly Q3 2016.

‘Other’ Asia

Headwinds for wine consumption in South-East Asia still dominate the outlook in the near term, however opportunities are nevertheless apparent, and some positive longer term fundamental drivers are present should the necessary catalysts set them in motion.. . .

LIC full year result 2015-2016:

Farmer-owned co-operative, Livestock Improvement Corporation (NZX: LIC), has announced its result for the year ending 31 May 2016.

The financial result is summarised below with background information attached to NZX, including Chairman Murray King’s letter to LIC shareholders.

Revenue: LIC revenue from ordinary activities was $205 million and including other income from grants, totals $211 million, 9% down on the total $232 million achieved during 2014-2015. Lower milk prices have impacted on-farm buying decisions, as many farmers look to reduce costs and indeed go into survival mode through the difficult financial times facing dairy farmers. . .

How the EU Budget is spent – Common Agricultural Policy – Gianluca Sgueo, Francesco Tropea and Marie-Laure Augere-Granier:

With 52% of the European Union (EU) territory classified as predominantly rural, more than 170 million hectares of agricultural land, and 113 million people (nearly one quarter of the EU population) living in rural areas, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) represents one of the largest shares of expenditure from the EU budget. The CAP pools European Union resources spent on agriculture to protect the viable production of food, the sustainable management of natural resources, and to support rural vitality.

The CAP consists of two ‘pillars’, the first includes direct payments (i.e. annual payments to farmers to help stabilise farm revenues in the face of volatile market prices and weather conditions) and market measures (to tackle specific market situations and to support trade promotion). The second pillar concerns rural development policy and it is aimed at achieving balanced territorial development and sustaining a farming sector that is environmentally sound, as well as promoting competitiveness and innovation. . .  (Hat Tip – Utopia)

Wool Market Steady:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s CEO, Mr John Dawson reports that the North Island Wool Auction received revived support this week with an improved 81 percent of the 5700 bales selling.

The weakening NZ dollar across the board saw the weighted currency indicator fall 4.22 percent. Despite these positive factors, local prices were still below last week’s South Island auction, but only marginally under the last more comparative North Island selection. . .


NZ-made robotic milking machines

December 7, 2012

An automated milking system has been developed by Scott Technology and Milktech.

The system, which has been developed in New Zealand over the past seven years, was presented by Scott Milktech Ltd to media and industry at a Rangitata dairy farm yesterday.

While the company had made a conscious effort to maintain a low profile, it was now ”struggling to keep the lid on it” and it decided to disclose what it had been working on, chairman Murray King said.

It had kept its developments out of the public domain as far as possible until it had been confident it could provide a solution.

Mr King stressed it was not a product launch.

Rather, it was a technology update, and there was still work to be done before it was ready to take to the market.

The next stage was to run full production trials in more working dairy sheds, the aim being to start discussions with interested farmers to achieve a managed roll-out and sales of the product during 2013.

The company was working with other parties to commercialise it over the next 12 months, Mr King said. . .

Automated milking machines have been used in Britain and Europe for more than a decade.

We saw one on a farm near Aberdeen 12 years ago and in June this year stayed on a farm in Holland which had a fully automated dairy.

A cow wanders in to the bale when she’s ready to be milked.

robot 2

The computer reads the chip on her collar, if she’s been milked too recently the bale opens and she walks out. If it’s time for milking a brush washes her teats then the cups go on.

robot 1

While she’s being milked she gets her personal portion of feed. When milking’s finished he gate opens and she goes back to the herd.

robot milk

The shed was immaculately clean, the cows in the peak of health and very contented.

The one using the back scratcher was almost smiling:

back scratch

British and European farms are usually much smaller than New Zealand ones but there are a a few here already using fully automated systems.


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