Rural round-up

August 22, 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

July 25, 2019

Federated Farmers has questions over firearms register:

Misgivings about the practicality and cost of a firearms register is likely to dominate feedback from rural areas on the second round of proposed Arms Act amendments, Federated Farmers says.

The proposals feature a range of tighter controls on firearms ownership and licensing and Federated Farmers rural security spokesperson Miles Anderson anticipates support for many aspects of the changes.

“When firearms are used irresponsibly or illegally in New Zealand, it is often farmers who suffer the consequences through the theft of livestock, poaching of wild animals or the risks of dangerous behaviour. Hopefully some of these proposed changes will help to prevent that,” Anderson said. . . 

The environment comes first – Andrew Stewart:

Running a big station with 3500 owners is a big challenge. But Parengarega Station’s new farm manager Kathryne Easton is adding to the task, with her vision of starting with the environment then working back to the farm with her best-use-of-land philosophy at the same time as coping with pest, pasture and weather issues. She told Andrew Stewart her 
environmental and biosecurity plans include not just the farm but the entire Far North.

It’s fair to say many Kiwis forget how far the country stretches north past Auckland. 

The reality is they can travel another six hours before reaching the tip of New Zealand at Cape Reinga and the further north they go the more diverse and challenging the land becomes. 

Just half an hour south of the Cape lies Parengarenga Station, a diverse, nearly 6000-hectare operation that stretches between both coasts of the country.  . . 

Banks’ caution stymies farm sales – Alan Williams:

Farm sales are at their lowest in the last four to six years, Real Estate Institute figures show.

Turnover for the three months to the end of June was down 24.6% on the corresponding period a year earlier and down 15.3% on the three-month period to the end of May.

The latest June tally was 322, compared with 380 in the May period and 427 for June last year.

The non-dairy farming sector is holding value more strongly than the dairy sector, the institute’s rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said.

Its All Farm Price Index showed a 2.4% rise from May to June and for the year the gain was 7.3%.  . . 

LIC annual result reflects performance, profitability turnaround :

Livestock Improvement Corporation (NZX: LIC) (LIC) announces its financial results for the year ending 31 May 2019.

Reporting a significant increase in profitability, as well as new records in strength of balance sheet, operating cash flow, and total revenue, the co-op will return $15.6 million in dividend to shareholders. This fully imputed dividend equates to 10.98 cents per share and represents a yield of 12.2% based on the current share price of 90 cents. This dividend is up from 1.71 cents last year and is the largest dividend the co-op has paid since 2013.

Board chair Murray King said the result was in line with expectations and reflects a turnaround in the co-operative’s performance and profitability. . . 

Feeding 10 Billion People Will Require Genetically Modified Food – Deena Shanker:

Like it or not, genetic modification is going to be an important tool to feed the planet’s growing population.

If we want to feed 10 billion people by 2050, in a world beset by rising temperatures and scarcer water supplies, we will need to dramatically change the way we produce food. Increased public investment in technologies like genetic engineering is a vital piece of that, according to a report published Wednesday by the World Resources Institute.

Not only must crops be more productive, but the agricultural challenges of climate change—including disease, pests and periods of both drought and flooding—mean they must be more resilient as well. . . 

Future drought fund passes final hurdle in senate – Mike Foley:

After delaying the vote and criticising the policy, federal Labor has provided the necessary support to pass the federal government’s Future Drought Fund through parliament.

The Bill to enact the the Coalition’s rural showpiece policy made its way through the Lower House last night, and today Labor has agreed to approve the legislation in the Senate.

With seed funding of $3.9 billion, the drought fund would grow to $5b by 2030. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 24, 2018

She Shears star Jills Angus Burney surprises audience at hometown screening – Sam Kilmister:

Shearing ace Jills Angus Burney​ wouldn’t be where she was today if she hadn’t picked up a handpiece nearly 40 years ago. 

That’s what the Feilding-born barrister and shearer told audiences as she surprised them during a hometown screening of her movie She Shears at Focal Point Cinema last weekend. 

The film, which premiered earlier this month at the New Zealand Film Festival, follows the fortunes of five female shearers as they prepare for New Zealand’s annual Golden Shears competition.  . . 

Big investor goes others dig deep – Richard Rennie:

The off-again, on-again Waimea Dam has dodged the loss of its mystery $11 million backer with some of the existing irrigation investors reaching into their pockets to make up the difference.

“At the end of the day the terms were not acceptable and it made more sense for the existing investors to take up the unallocated shares,” Waimea Irrigators spokesman Murray King said.

A key concern of the group is the apportioning of risk, with the investor carrying less while Waimea Irrigators carried substantially more.

A group of 14 businesses will collectively buy 2000 convertible notes in Waimea Irrigation at $5500 a share, the same share price paid by the scheme subscribers. . . 

The environmental benefits of glysophate – Mark Ross:

Glyphosate, the world’s most widely-used weed management tool has extensive economic and environmental benefits for farmers, especially for those involved with New Zealand’s grains industry.

The benefits of reducing farming’s environmental footprint are immense. Not only do glyphosate-based products successfully control a broad spectrum of weeds, they also help farmers grow crops more sustainably. This is because they allow farmers to adopt ‘conservation tillage’ – benefiting soil health, reducing carbon emissions and conserving water.

There are countless benefits to the land, the farmer and the environment from adopting a no-till system. First and foremost, by leaving the soil mostly undisturbed and leaving high levels of crop residues behind, soil erosion is almost eliminated. . .

LIC spends big on research – Alan Williams:

Dairy genetics group LIC has confirmed innovation at the heart of its work and the spend on research and development this year is more than 5% of revenue.

That is a spend of $13.1 million for the year to next May 31, chairman Murray King told shareholders at the annual meeting in Hamilton.

The New Zealand primary sector’s research and development spend averages about 1%, he said.

The ambitious spend will drive sustainable growth and profitability and deliver more value to farmer shareholders. . . 

Capital gains tax punishes hard work – Lyn Webster:

 I watched Jesse Mulligan on The Project recently saying something like the only people who did not support a capital gains tax were rich selfish people, and I could not help but disagree.

I do not own an investment property, profitable businesses, shares or farms, so a capital gains tax will not necessarily affect me, but I do have an opinion on it.

The premise behind a capital gains tax is that people who work pay tax but people that get income from investing in capital – ie: shares, farms, rental properties etc do not and that this is somehow unfair. . . 

The Farmer’s Fast Five – Pete Greenwood – Claire Inkson:

The Farmers Fast Five : Where we ask a Farmer Five quick Questions about Farming and what Agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Proud Farmer and Amberley A&P show President, Pete Greenwood.

1. How long have you been farming?

 I have been farming since I was 16 years old.

2.What sort of farming were you involved in?

Cropping, horticulture briefly. Now sheep & beef.

3.What makes you Proud to be a Farmer?

 I am proud of what we produce & how we produce it. I am also proud of our position on the world stage. . . 

 


Rural round-up

August 16, 2018

 A flow of “fresh air” – here’s hoping Fonterra’ s financial performance gets a good whiff – Point of Order:

Fonterra’s  latest move, appointing Miles Hurrell as interim CEO  “with immediate  effect”, has   sent  fresh rumbles  through the  dairy industry.

The  co-op’s  chairman John Monaghan, announcing the move,  spoke of the need  to  “breathe  some fresh  air  into the business”.

He is  not alone with this observation:  several  politicians  have been calling for just that – but  many of the  co-op’s 10,500 farmer-suppliers may be wondering  what exactly  a  blast of   “fresh air”  may do. . .

Animal tracking legislation to be debated under urgency – Gia Garrick:

Legislation to properly enforce the animal tracking guidelines, which were found to be hugely inadequate during the Mycoplasma bovis response, is to be debated under urgency tonight and through tomorrow.

It will mean farmers’ compliance with the National Animal Identification and Tracing scheme (NAIT) – the country’s cattle and deer tracking system – will be properly monitored.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said there would be penalties for those who did not comply.

“We will certainly have enforcement of these new guidelines, I can promise you that,” he said. . . 

Farmers encouraged to open homes to drought-hit Australians –  Esther Taunton:

Kiwi farmers are being urged to extend the hand of mateship to their drought-stricken Australian counterparts.

Federated Farmers national president Katie Milne said the organisation was working on ways to help farmers hit by severe drought across the Tasman.

Much of southeastern Australia is struggling with drought but conditions in New South Wales are the driest and most widespread since 1965.  . . 

Poorest performing iwi invested in large farms, ANZ report says – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – The poorest performing iwi investment in recent years has come from farming, which is often favoured for cultural rather than economic considerations, according to the latest annual ‘Iwi Investment Insights’ report by ANZ Bank New Zealand.

In its 2018 annual ‘Te Tirohanga Whānui’ research report, ANZ evaluated the asset base of 34 iwi and hapū, finding the commercial assets of the combined group had increased by just over $1 billion, or 12 percent, to $5.4 billion since 2015. The report found the most common asset in the top quartile for underlying returns was the significant holdings in managed funds which have performed well in recent years. On the flip-side, most iwi/hapū in the lower quartile were actively managing large farms. . .

Raising triplets indoors works – Joanna Grigg:

It’s raining outside, again, but it’s not worrying these new lambs.

All 250 of Richard Dawkins’ triplet-bearing ewes get seven days or so indoors to adjust to supplementary feed, birth their lambs, bond and feed.

Then it’s out to the real world, albeit a nearby paddock with ad-lib clover and a watchful eye for that fading third lamb. . .

Sheep meats are in a sweet spot – Keith Woodford:

This year has been an exceptional year for many sheep farmers.  Lamb and mutton prices have been at record levels.

The key drivers have been increasing demand from China combined with lower exchange rates. Sales to Britain have slowed down, linked to a ‘buy British’ campaign over there. But that has not been enough to counter the overall good news story.

Sheep farmers are telling me that, for the first time in many years, sheep farming is fun again. The cash is coming through to upgrade tracks and other infrastructure. Venison prices have also been exceptional for those sheep farmers who also farm deer. Most sheep farmers also run beef cattle and they too have been paying well. . .

LIC’s Murray King named Co-operative Leader of the Year:

Farmer owned co-operative LIC is pleased to announce its board chairman Murray King has been named Co-operative Leader of the Year at the Co-operative Business NZ Awards 2018.

The annual award recognises those who have shown strong leadership and commitment to the co-operative sector.

A Nelson-based dairy farmer, Murray has a long-standing connection to LIC and the dairy farming community of the upper South Island. . .


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. . .


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. . . 


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