Rural round-up

February 5, 2016

Demand pushes ewes up to $200 – Annette Scott:

A shortage of sheep and recent pasture growth has seen ewe prices skyrocket against all odds at the South Island ewe fairs this past week.

With the dismal state of lamb prices and the dry start to summer, ewe fairs were not expected to fire this season.  

“I don’t know where the confidence is coming from. The processing companies are certainly not giving much confidence,” PGG Wrightson south Canterbury livestock manager Joe Higgins said. . . 

Pressure on NZ’s farmland discussed – John Gibb:

The challenge of achieving sustainability and growing pressure on New Zealand’s rural landscape were highlighted during a national geography conference at the University of Otago yesterday.

New Zealand Geographical Society president Emeritus Prof Harvey Perkins, of Auckland University, and Prof Eric Pawson, of Canterbury University, gave a joint keynote presentation on New Zealand ‘‘going global”.

They also focused on ‘‘the tensions of rapidly shifting external relationships and the remaking of domestic rural landscapes”. . . 

Fonterra Introduces Market-Linked Price for Organic Milk:

The success of Fonterra’s organic business has prompted the Co-operative to introduce an independent organic milk price linked to market returns for organic products.

From June 2016, organic milk payments will reflect the performance of the organics business. Organic farmers currently receive a fixed premium together with the conventional Farmgate Milk Price for their organic milk supply. Organic farmers can choose to move to the new payment approach or stay under the existing payment system. . . 

TPP will help remove regulatory barriers:

The main benefit for the deer industry from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement will be the ability to challenge any potentially unfair regulations imposed by importing countries.

“Regulatory barriers can sometimes do more to impede trade than tariffs and quotas. Under the TPP, there will be an independent disputes mechanism that will allow our exporters to appeal regulations in importing countries they believe are unjustified or unfair,” says Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chief executive Dan Coup. . . 

Red meat sector welcomes signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement:

The signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement today in Auckland is a significant step towards reducing the amount of tariff and non-tariff barriers on New Zealand red meat exports, according to the Chairmen of Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Trade Minister Todd McClay signed the TPP Agreement today with the 11 member countries, including from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. . . 

He’s farming again after drought – Alan Williams:

David Hyde is a happy farmer who credits his positive attitude for coming through the north Canterbury drought still loving being on the land. He told Alan Williams how he coped by adapting his usual farming practices to meet the challenges.  

David Hyde says he can start farming again after January rain ended the severe and long-running drought on his Scargill Valley farm in north Canterbury.  

The lucerne that had browned off by late last year has raced away in the last few weeks and will soon be cut for balage – something not normally expected in early February in north Canterbury. . . 

Horticulture Welcomes TPP Signing:

New Zealand’s peak body for commercial fruit and vegetable growers, Horticulture New Zealand, has welcomed the official New Zealand signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement today.

Horticulture is New Zealand’s fourth largest export earner, sending fresh and processed products to more than 120 countries, valued at more than $2.5 billion every year.

The estimated saving for nine key product lines (kiwifruit, apples, avocado, buttercup squash, capsicum, cherries, onions, potatoes and vegetable juices) is just over $25 million a year for the growers now exporting these products to Japan, the USA and Vietnam. . . 

Kiwifruit winner in TPP Agreement:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement will generate significant value for the New Zealand kiwifruit industry and Zespri welcomes the signing of the Agreement today in Auckland.

Zespri Chief Executive Lain Jager explains the TPP will eliminate tariffs on kiwifruit exports into all 12 Asia-Pacific nations when it comes into force, with the biggest impact to be seen in Japan.

In 2014, the industry paid over $15 million in tariffs into Japan which is Zespri’s largest country market . . 

World’s largest fruit trade show shines spotlight on Kiwi ingenuity.

The world’s fresh produce industry is gathering in Berlin this February to showcase its wares as well as discussing global trends in fruit and vegetable production and consumption.

Among them will be New Zealand’s leading horticultural producers and the creators of some world-leading Kiwi technology.

Fruit Logistica 2016 is a trade fair with a global scope. It provides an excellent opportunity for growers and equipment manufacturers to get in front of the European market, which takes over half a billion dollars of our horticultural exports every year. This year’s exhibitors include Zespri, Plant & Food Research, Wyma, BBC Technologies and Compac. . . 

Exciting Mānuka honey scheme launched:

A new initiative to boost the mānuka honey industry in Northland and provide educational and employment opportunities has been launched today at Northland College by Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell, Education Minister Hekia Parata and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

The Mānuka Planting Initiative at Northland College is part of the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan which was launched this morning.

Mr Flavell, who is also the Associate Economic Development Minister, says the initiative will help prepare and upskill unemployed adults living in Kaikohe. . . 

Aotearoa Fisheries appoints new directors to Sealord:

Aotearoa Fisheries Limited is making changes to its appointed directors to Sealord Group Limited in order to have a complete alignment of its appointees with its own board. Aotearoa Fisheries owns 50% of Sealord on behalf of all Māori, and as such appoints half of the Sealord board of directors.

As part of the recent Maori Fisheries Act review Iwi expressed a strong desire for the Aotearoa Fisheries Limited appointed Sealord directors to come directly from the Aotearoa Fisheries Limited Board. Aotearoa Fisheries Limited Chairman Whaimutu Dewes said these changes will give effect to this desire. . . 

Dairy Awards Entrants in the Spotlight:

Entrants in the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are being put through their paces, as judges deliberate who the first regional winners will be.

Judging is currently underway in the 11 regional competitions of the 2016 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year, New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of Year competitions.

More than 450 people entered the awards, with the first of the regional winners to be announced in Taranaki on March 4. . . 

Brancott Estate and BlueChilli seek the next big idea in wine tech:

Brancott Estate revolutionised the wine industry when they pioneered Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc in 1975. Now they are looking for the next pioneer in the wine industry with the announcement of winexplorer, an innovation challenge designed to revolutionise the way wine is enjoyed.

“When we decided to plant Sauvignon Blanc vines in Marlborough in 1975, we created one of the world’s most popular wine styles and turned New Zealand into one of the world’s premier wine growing regions. Now we are looking to change the wine world again by identifying ideas that will fundamentally change the way people enjoy wine.” says Patrick Materman, Brancott Estate Chief Winemaker and a winexplorer judge.

“Whether it’s an idea about how people choose what wine to drink, or how they share that wine with their friends, if it’s big, bold and revolutionary, then we want to hear it.” . . 

Wine Flight to take off:

More than 60 of the world’s most influential wine media, trade and sommeliers will enjoy a unique “Wine Flight” today thanks to Air New Zealand and New Zealand Winegrowers.

Two Air New Zealand Q300 aircraft are scheduled to take off from Blenheim this afternoon and cruise at 11,000ft, taking in spectacular views of some of New Zealand’s best known wine regions, including Marlborough, Nelson, Martinborough/Wairarapa, Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne.

On board the VIP passengers will enjoy wines from some of the regions they’re flying over, including a Nelson Albariño, a Martinborough Pinot Noir and a Hawke’s Bay Syrah. . . 


Rural round-up

January 27, 2016

NIA shows duty cuts to major export destinations – Neal Wallace:

Annual duty savings of $272 million will be removed on exports to five signatories to the Trans Pacific Partnership with which New Zealand does not have trade agreements, the Government revealed today.  

Trade Minister Todd McClay released the national interest analysis (NIA) on the 12-country agreement which largely confirmed trade benefits it had announced earlier.  

The NIA revealed exporters paid duty of $334 million a year on exports to five countries with which NZ does not have free trade agreements, the United States, Japan, Canada, Mexico and Peru. . . 

Westland Lowers Pay-Out Predictions as Global Dairy Prices Predicted to Remain Low:

Westland Milk Products, New Zealand’s second biggest dairy co-operative, today announced a drop in its pay-out predictions for 2015-16, saying a forecast 15 to 25 percent reduction across all commodity products for the remainder of the season is the driving force behind the decision.

Chairman Matt O’Regan says the new predicted payout of $4.15 – $4.45 per kilogramme of milk solids (kgMS) (previously $4.90 to $5.30 per kgMS) will be grim news for Westland’s shareholders but, given the widely publicised state of the global dairy market, not unexpected. He says lower prices are expected to remain for this season and probably into the second half of 2016 – the beginning of the 2016-7 season. . . 

New Zealand’s future agri-leaders in running for trans-Tasman award:

• 2016 Zanda McDonald Award finalists announced

Two young New Zealand agri-business professionals have made it through to the finals for the 2016 Zanda McDonald Award.

Dean Rabbidge, a dairy, beef and sheep farmer from Wyndham, Southland, and Erica van Reenen, an agricultural and environmental consultant with AgFirst, based in Manawatu, have been selected as finalists alongside soil scientist, Wesley Lefroy, from Western Australia.

The three, who attended interviews in Brisbane late last year, will join the PPP ‘Capital Connections’ Conference in Wellington in March – where the award winner will be announced. . . 

Drought in South Island enters second year:

Widespread drought conditions in the South Island mean the medium-scale event classification will be extended until the end of June, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“Extra funding of up to $150,000 will go to local Rural Support Trusts with $40,000 of this going to the North Canterbury Trust,” says Mr Guy. 

Speaking with farmers at a sheep and beef farm in Weka Pass, Hurunui, Mr Guy acknowledged this is the third time the classification has been extended.

“Marlborough, Canterbury and parts of Otago were originally classified as a medium-scale event on 12 February 2015 and have had very little rainfall for more than a year now. . . 

Drought resistant pasture being investigated:

Scientists have identified a type of plant that recovers quicker than others after drought and are taking the next steps to get it on to farmers’ paddocks.

But they say it could be eight to 10 years before it is available.

The Primary Growth Partnership – Transforming the Dairy Value Chain is funding the research into pasture resistance.

It comes at a crucial time with 2015 being the hottest on record and Marlborough, Canterbury and parts of Otago enduring their second season of drought. . . 

Industry Challenged by new forest technology:

Foresters face paradigm shift for logging steep slopes

The tables are being turned on foresters and logging contractors in British Columbia. Disruptive technology from New Zealand is set to create a whole new way of logging in B.C.’s forests. When meeting challenges to safely harvest NZ’s steep sloped forests, practicing foresters found convincing safety advantages with the new harvesting technology.

In recent years, loggers in New Zealand’s forest industry faced safety challenges in tree falling, especially on steep slopes. There was no choice but to reduce accidents. Up and down the steep, forested country, people turned to the safety of mechanised harvesters. Simultaneously, safety and productivity improved. . . 

Intensifying workplace laws means there are no longer any ‘family farms’ and they can’t be an extension of a backyard playground – John Brosnan:

It’s a new year on farm.

You have negotiated the Christmas and the New Year breaks with the team, so now is a good time to take a breath and consider – what next?

Well first out the gate will be the new WorkSafe legislation which comes into force 1st April this year. Are you prepared for this? Have you prepared an operational plan and put in place a robust health and safety policy? Do you and all your employees have a means to adhere to it? . . 

Canterbury dairy farm penalised for employment law breaches:

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has ordered Viewbank Dairy Ltd near Rakaia to rectify employment law breaches discovered by Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Labour Inspectorate and pay $7,500 in penalties.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Labour Inspectorate visited the farm as part of an audit to check for compliance with minimum employment standards on dairy farms. A number of breaches were identified and an Improvement Notice was issued. The Inspector brought the case before the ERA when the employer failed to comply with parts of the Notice.

Labour Inspectorate Southern Regional Manager Stuart Lumsden says the investigation found that several workers had been treated as casual employees when in fact they were permanent. . . 

Take advantage of steady nutrient costs:

The Fertiliser Quality Council (FQC) says current stability around fertiliser prices will give farm budgets an early boost for 2016 – but only if farmers are quick to seize the opportunity.

The two main fertiliser manufacturers, Ballance and Ravensdown, have kept costs for major nutrients under control since September 2015 – despite economic volatility caused by last year’s slide in the value of the New Zealand dollar.

The FQC says there’s no knowing for how long the good deals will continue and urges farmers to take advantage of the co-ops’ goodwill while it lasts. . . 

Karaka Select Sale Commences Today:

The first day of the Karaka Select Sale commences today at 11am with Lot 448 to Lot 670 going under the hammer.

The Sale will be streamed live online. To view the live stream, click here.

There have been 27 Group 1 wins from graduates of the Select Sale over the past three seasons. The new season has seen Mongolian Khan (Holy Roman Emperor) and Tarzino (NZ) (Tavistock) both land Group 1 races during the Melbourne Spring Carnival. . . 


Rural round-up

January 20, 2016

Farmers cop blame – Richard Rennie:

Farming and tourism, the country’s two biggest industries, are set to lock horns over future water quality standards.  

A water campaign with the horsepower of the $12 billion tourism sector behind it will have farming further under the spotlight and under pressure to play a bigger role in lifting national water standards.  

It is gathering signatures for a petition to raise water standards and wants a parliamentary select committee hearing on the issue.

A group of campaigners this month launched a road trip under the Choose Clean Water campaign banner. It is seeking stories from New Zealanders about the quality of waterways in their districts.. . 

Irrigating farmers experience “mixed bag” with El Nino:

While drought conditions persist in many parts of the country, some irrigating farmers are coping well with the dry conditions aided by water supply from alpine-fed irrigation schemes, says IrrigationNZ.

Farmers taking water from rivers and lakes topped up by West Coast rain have benefited from El Nino’s erratic weather pattern this summer, says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

“While we support the Minister’s move to extend the official drought in the South Island, it is interesting to note that farmers connected to the big alpine-fed rivers and lakes haven’t struggled this season, despite low rainfall on the East Coast and an early start to the irrigation season with high temperatures in spring,” says Mr Curtis. . . 

Drought in South Island enters second year:

Widespread drought conditions in the South Island mean the medium-scale event classification will be extended until the end of June, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“Extra funding of up to $150,000 will go to local Rural Support Trusts with $40,000 of this going to the North Canterbury Trust,” says Mr Guy.

Speaking with farmers at a sheep and beef farm in Weka Pass, Hurunui, Mr Guy acknowledged this is the third time the classification has been extended.

“Marlborough, Canterbury and parts of Otago were originally classified as a medium-scale event on 12 February 2015 and have had very little rainfall for more than a year now. . . 

Nominations open for Ron Cocks Memorial Award:

Nominations have opened for IrrigationNZ’s Ron Cocks Memorial Award which recognises outstanding leadership within the irrigation industry. The deadline for nominations is 9th February.

The Ron Cocks Memorial Award is presented every two years at the organisation’s biennial conference to acknowledge a person who has made a significant contribution to irrigation in New Zealand.

Two years ago, IrrigationNZ presented the award for the first time ever to two individuals. . . 

Farmers: South Island rain not a drought-breaker -Emma Cropper:

As the wet summer continues to frustrate holiday-goers, torrential rain has kept fire crews busy as it caused minor flooding to low-lying parts of Timaru.

But the heavy downpour has been welcomed by drought-stricken farmers in Hawarden, though they say the challenge isn’t over yet as they find out tomorrow if much-needed support is heading their way.

For the first time in 18 months, it’s pouring on Iain Wright’s farm. Running water and puddles have appeared after three days of gentle, on-and-off rain.

“Things have really turned around now,” he says. “We’ve got moisture in the ground. The paddocks have greened up. There’s hope.” . . .

Ruataniwha Dam’s future still uncertain – Peter Fowler:

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s Investment Company has still not secured an institutional investor for the controversial Ruataniwha Dam despite saying earlier it was confident it would be able to do so by the end of 2015.

HBRIC has been looking for institutional investors to put money into the dam since Trustpower and Ngai Tahu pulled out in early 2014, saying the risks surrounding the dam were too high and the returns too low.

In the middle of last December, HBRIC said it was confident it would be able to confirm a preferred investor mix for the project before the end of the year.

It said intensive work was being done with three potential investors but it would not make its decision public until very early in 2016. . . 

Theft of calves in Waimate pormpts warning:

The theft of 25 calves in the Waimate district has prompted fresh warnings for farmers to increase security and keep an eye on their stock numbers.

A farmer on Sodwall Road in Otaio has reported the theft of five heifer and 20 bull calves, thought to have be stolen between November and 5 January.

Waimate Sergeant s said the farmer was unaware the stock were missing until he counted heads in his yards.

“The calves weren’t reported as stolen until the farmer had accounted for all his cattle – got them in and did a head count. . . 

ANZ extends dry weather assistance package for South Island farmers:

ANZ is extending its assistance package to South Island farmers affected by extreme dry conditions.

The bank will commit an additional $20 million to the assistance package, but will extend that if demand for help from farmers is high. ANZ launched the assistance package last January.

The announcement follows the Government today extending its South Island drought declaration, which covers much of the South Island’s east coast, until 30 June 2016.

“While farmers in some areas have welcomed rainfall recently, others are still grappling with extreme dry conditions that will impact the productivity of their farms for some time to come,” said Troy Sutherland, ANZ’s General Manager Southern Commercial & Agri. . . 

Waikato Woman Wins Poultry Trainee of the Year Award:

Waikato woman Dahook Azzam regards her job at an Inghams Enterprises meat chicken breeder farm as an ideal opportunity to combine theoretical knowledge with practical experience. And her enthusiasm for her new career in a new country has played a key role in her recent win of the Poultry Trainee of the Year Award for 2015.

The award is given each year to the top-performing trainee in all of the training courses run by the poultry industry in cooperation with the Primary Industry Training Organisation (PrimaryITO).

Dahook is currently an Assistant Farm Manager whose role includes daily feeding, watering and environmental checks of the birds as well as farm and staff management and data entry. . . 

 


Rural round-up

December 7, 2015

West Coast community congratulated for achieving Lake Brunner water quality target:

Lake Brunner’s water quality target has been achieved five years ahead of schedule, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith announced on the West Coast today.

“The early achievement of the target is a fantastic result and goes to show what can be accomplished when government, local authorities, businesses and local communities collaborate to reach a shared objective,” Dr Smith says.

“The Government has an ambitious plan for stepping up New Zealand’s freshwater management and Lake Brunner is an example of how we can reverse deteriorating water quality. The next steps will be a renewed fund to support community initiatives for improving water quality and a discussion paper in the New Year on how New Zealand can better manage freshwater within limits. . . 

NZ dairy farmers say animal activists are pushing vegan lifestyle – Laura Walters:

Farmers appalled by footage showing the abuse of bobby calves have shared their farming experiences on social media.

In an investigation by Farmwatch and welfare organisation Safe (Save Animals From Exploitation), investigators used hidden cameras to record abuse of calves in the dairy industry.

The graphic footage shows bobby calves being thrown on to trucks and kicked and bludgeoned before they are clubbed to death at an abattoir.

Since the footage aired on Sunday the story has gone global, being picked up by media in Australia, China, the United Kingdom and Europe

Those who claim to be responsible and caring dairy farmers are hitting back at the negative portrayal of the dairy industry. . . 

Fruit fly operation ends, but risk remains:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has congratulated MPI staff and the Auckland community for the successful eradication of Queensland fruit fly, but is warning the public to stay on high alert this summer.

“It’s great news this small population has been eradicated and all restrictions are now lifted. It means that New Zealand is officially free of this potentially destructive pest,” says Mr Guy.

“I want to thank local residents in the affected area who have been very patient and followed the instructions around the movement of fresh fruit and vegetables. . . 

AsureQuality mum on reported talks to buy out DTS partners – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – AsureQuality, the state-owned food safety and biosecurity services firm, is staying mum on reports it’s in talks to buy out its partners in Australia’s Dairy Technical Services.

The Australian Financial Review’s ‘StreetTalk’ column, citing unnamed sources, reported Melbourne-based DTS is in talks with 25 percent shareholder AsureQuality over a potential buyout, valuing the food and beverage testing business at between A$80 million and A$100 million. DTS’s other shareholders include Fonterra Cooperative Group, Murray Goulburn Cooperative, and Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory.

A spokeswoman for AsureQuality said the state-owned enterprise was “bound by confidentiality” and has no comment to make. . . 

Fonterra Officially Opens New Milk Powder Plant at Pahiatua

Around 300 people came together today to celebrate the official opening of Fonterra Pahiatua’s new high-efficiency plant, now producing milk powder destined for more than 20 markets worldwide.

The plant came online in August this year and has already produced more than 30,000 metric tonnes of high-quality whole milk powder destined for key markets including Sri Lanka and Algeria.

Minister for Primary Industries Hon Nathan Guy joined local farmers and community members to officially open the new plant. . . 


Rural round-up

November 27, 2015

Rural NZ areas sit on ‘powder keg’ as temperatures rise – Mike Watson:

Rural fire authorities are warning farmers and contractors to check for potential ‘hot spots’ inside machinery and farm equipment as temperatures rise in Marlborough.

Marlborough Kaikoura Rural Fire Authority chief fire officer Richard McNamara said the rural region was on a “powder keg’ as temperatures rise and hot northwest winds continued to dry vegetation causing significant risk of fire outbreaks.

“It is a real issue, and anyone working with farm machinery and equipment, such as welding or grinding, needs to be aware of the risk of sparks igniting any vegetation nearby,” he said. . . 

Many positives but RMA reforms don’t go far enough:

Federated Farmers cautiously welcomes the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill introduced at Parliament today, but is concerned that proposed reforms do not go far enough.

“What we have is a Bill that looks to make the RMA less costly and cumbersome, and these are positive changes,” says Federated Farmers’ Environment and RMA spokesperson Chris Allen.

“Federated Farmers believes the Bill provides for better plan making and we support the introduction of a collaborative planning approach as long as the right checks and balances are in place, so that this is a robust and productive process.” . . .

Alliance launches new products for Chinese market:

Meat cooperative Alliance Group is launching a new range of market-ready lamb, beef and venison products for the food retail market in China.

Alliance Group has reached an agreement with its in-market partner Grand Farm – China’s single largest importer of sheepmeat – to market the co-branded Pure South-Grand Farm products in the country from next year.

Marketing general manager Murray Brown said with meat volumes going into China becoming more difficult, the company was looking to add value to exports. . . .

Competitive future for “unbroken” NZ dairy – visiting global expert:

New Zealand dairy is well placed to compete in the global market as prices begin to recover in the coming 12 months, a visiting global dairy specialist has told localproducers.

Tim Hunt, New York-based global dairy strategist with international agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank, says while current market conditions are “extremely tough” for many local producers, the New Zealand dairy sector is “unbroken” and has the fundamentals in place to enjoy a strong, competitive future in the global dairy trade. . . .

Ongoing disruption and volatility in dairy, with winners and losers – Keith Woodford:

In the last two weeks we have seen increasing signs of further disruption and volatility in dairy. First, there was good news with Fonterra announcing that they had turned the corner In relation to enhanced corporate profitability. But then, only two days later, there was another decline on the (GDT Global Dairy Trade) auction – this time of 7.9 percent overall and 11 percent for whole-milk powder.

In the meantime, The a2 Milk Company announced that they were almost doubling their previous estimate of profitability for the coming year, triggering another increase in the share price. Since the start of November through to 24 November the price rose 60 percent on large volumes. . . 

Ruataniwha promoter seeks mix of equity, debt funding – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Co, the developer and sponsor of the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme, says the $275 million project will be funded with a mix of equity and debt, and is likely to result in a secondary market for water contracts.

HBRIC, the investment arm of Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, is in talks with three potential investors and banks about funding. The council is putting up $80 million for an equity stake in a yet-to-be formed irrigation company. The $195 million balance will come from outside investors, bank debt and an expected contribution from the government’s Crown Irrigation Investments, which acts as a bridging investor for regional water infrastructure developments. . . 

Cellphone helps save house from Australian bushfire:

An Australian man who saw his farm “explode in a fireball” on CCTV cameras at the property says his house survived because he used his phone to activate a sprinkler system from the other side of the country.

Charles Darwin University vice chancellor Professor Simon Maddocks said the reason his house at the 45-hectare wheat farm on the outskirts of Hamley Bridge escaped the fire was because of his neighbours – and the fact he activated an irrigation system at the property by remote control from Darwin.

Two people have been confirmed dead and more than a dozen injured in the fires which continue to burn north of Adelaide. . . 

Consultation on freshwater management ideas planned:

A report today published by the Land and Water Forum on the next steps needed to improved management of freshwater will be carefully considered by Government and help contribute to a public discussion paper to be published next year, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said today. 

“The Government has an ambitious programme of work on improving New Zealand’s freshwater management.  These ideas on requiring good management practice, of how we can maximise the economic benefit of water within environmental limits, integrated catchment management, stock exclusion and enabling more efficient use of water are a further contribution on how we can achieve that,” Dr Smith says.

“I acknowledge the Forum’s significant efforts in tackling difficult policy challenges and we welcome their recommendations,” says Mr Guy. . . 

Irrigation New Zealand Welcomes 4th LAWF Report:

Irrigation New Zealand welcomes the fourth Land and Water Forum (LAWF) Report.

“The diverse group of forum members have spent a lot of time collaborating to reach the additional recommendations,” said Andrew Curtis, CEO of Irrigation New Zealand. “This has resulted in constructive advice to Ministers for the development of freshwater policy. It’s now time for the government to act.”

“Freshwater is a natural and recurring resource we need to protect, and is a national asset which needs to be properly and carefully managed to bolster our agricultural-led economy. . . .

Barbara Stuart returns to the NZWAC board:

Nelson farmer and outdoor-access supporter Barbara Stuart has been appointed to the Board of the New Zealand Walking Access Commission.

The appointment heralds Mrs Stuart’s second tenure on the board, where she previously served from 2008 to 2011.

New Zealand Walking Access Commission chairman John Forbes said Mrs Stuart had long been a champion of walking access and her return was very welcome. . . .

Farm Environment Trust’s Annual Report Highlights Growth:

The New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust and its flagship event, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, have celebrated another successful year.

Now available on the Trust’s website, the 2015 annual report outlines the organisation’s continued growth through 2015, with another region signing up to the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).

“We are delighted to have the Auckland region in the Awards for the 2016 programme,” said NZFE Trust chairman Simon Saunders.

“Having Auckland on board is a huge step towards being able to offer a complete national programme. We are almost there.” . . . 


Rural round-up

November 16, 2015

Fonterra increases forecast earnings per share range:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited is increasing its forecast earnings per share range for the current financial year to 45-55 cents. With a forecast Farmgate Milk Price of $4.60 this lifts the total available for payout to $5.05-5.15 per kgMS and would currently equate to a total forecast cash payout of $4.95-5.00 per kgMS after retentions.

Fonterra is also increasing the rate at which farmers are paid the Co-operative Support of 50 cents per kgMS, with the total amount paid up to December going from 18 cents to 25 cents.

Chairman John Wilson said performance in the period 1 August – 31 October 2015 built on the strong second half of the 2015 financial year. . . 

95pct of rats killed by 1080 drops – Dave Williams:

New Zealand’s biggest pest poisoning programme killed 95 percent of the rats it went after and more evidence shows forests are better off after 1080 drops, scientists say.

The New Zealand Ecological Society 2015 Conference is being held at the University of Canterbury this week and one focus is on the use and effects of 1080, or sodium fluoroacetate.

The toxin has been widely used for pest control in New Zealand since the 1950s – possums are a target because they spread tuberculosis – but critics say it kills more than just pests. . . 

Kiwi inventions set to revolutionise horticulture industry 5:

Two giant hot-air blowers are being trialled in South Island vineyards and cherry orchards to fight off severe spring frosts. 

The Kiwi invention could protect crops and transform the horticulture industry.

The blowers stand five metres tall and blows out warm air like a giant blow drier.

Known as the Heat Ranger, it’s one of two machines being put to the test in Otago and North Canterbury. . . 

Speech to DRC Food Security and Food Safety Strategy Summit – Nathan Guy:

Distinguished guests,

It is my pleasure to speak here today. I want to thank the Development Research Centre (DRC) for inviting me here to participate at this Summit.

Today I will discuss the role that New Zealand, as a regional partner in the Asia Pacific, can play with China in meeting the challenges of food security and food safety.

As China liberalises its economy and raises living standards, its demand for raw materials and food for its 1.3 billion population will have a significant impact on global agricultural markets.

All agricultural producing nations have an interest in a strong China. As China looks to move away from a solely manufacturing-driven economy to one propelled jointly by agriculture, manufacturing and services, New Zealand can be a practical partner to support this change.

Background on NZ

We have a lot to offer because we are an agricultural and food producing nation.

The wider primary sector – including agriculture, horticulture, forestry and fisheries make up around three quarters of our merchandise exports. . .

AsureQuality first in World to Issue an Accredited FSSC22000-Q Certificate:

Food safety assurance provider AsureQuality is the first Conformity Assessment Body (CAB) in the world to be both accredited to the new FSSC22000-Q scheme, and to issue accredited FSSC22000-Q certification to a customer.

First published in February this year by the Foundation for Food Safety Certification, FSSC22000-Q gives organisations the option to have their Food Safety and Quality Management Systems certified under one certification, by way of one integrated audit rather than individual FSSC22000 and ISO9001 audits.

The first dairy site in the world to gain FSSC22000-Q certification is Fonterra’s Te Awamutu site, with other Fonterra sites awaiting certification. . . 

World first for Fonterra:

Fonterra Te Awamutu has become the first site in the world to be awarded the newly created Food Safety System Certification 22000 – Quality, an internationally recognised food safety accreditation.

Where previously food safety and food quality have been audited and assessed separately, the new certification gives companies the option of combining their food safety and quality management systems into one certification. This provides customers with the assurances of international best-practice in both food safety and quality.

Fonterra Director New Zealand Manufacturing Mark Leslie said this highlights the Co-operative’s commitment to producing the highest quality dairy nutrition and world-leading service. . . 


Rural round-up

November 12, 2015

Fonterra’s silent majority hold key to shareholder vote on number of directors:

Fonterra shareholders who want to send a message to their company have been encouraged to support the proposal to reduce the number of directors on the company’s board.

Colin Armer and Greg Gent, the two former directors behind the proposal, say that shareholders are the only people who own the company’s constitution and the only people who have the right to change it.

Mr Gent said he wanted to encourage those who do not normally vote to do so this time. . . 

Improving resource base key to sustainable growth:

Improving the quality of our natural resources is the key to sustaining economic growth in our primary sectors right across regional New Zealand, says Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

Ministers Joyce and Guy today launched the updated Building Natural Resources chapter of the Business Growth Agenda with an emphasis on lifting primary sector productivity while improving our environmental outcomes at the same time.

“Our natural resources are central to achieving growth and more jobs in New Zealand’s economy, especially our regional economies. We are committed to using new scientific techniques and innovations, alongside infrastructure developments in information technology and water storage, to achieve both productivity gains and environmental gains,” says Mr Joyce. . . 

NZ’s primary sector leaders of tomorrow still bank on brand Kiwi, want deeper debate on GMOs – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s emerging agri-business leaders say affluent consumers in 2035 will pay a premium for products sold with a strong provenance story and that are more tailored to their needs, according to KPMG’s Agribusiness Agenda 2015.

The accounting firm asked a range of primary sector organisations to nominate emerging leaders and more than 50 of them – scientists, company executives, farmers, government officials and marketers – met for a summit in Auckland in September and were asked to share their vision for the sector in 2035. They were also surveyed on their priorities and the results compared to a separate poll of current leaders. . . 

RBNZ asks banks to stress test dairy loans, confident they can weather downturn – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s major lenders are able to cope with a protracted downturn in the dairy sector, which the Reserve Bank estimates could cause credit losses of as much as 18 percent over a four-year period.

The central bank has requested the five biggest lenders to the dairy sector – ASB Bank, ANZ Bank New Zealand, Bank of New Zealand, Westpac New Zealand and Rabobank New Zealand – to stress test their portfolios, which the Reserve Bank sees as a growing risk to the health of the nation’s financial stability. The regulator was encouraged by “realistic provisions” set aside for the portfolios, and its modelling suggests a sustained downturn would be manageable for the wider system. . . 

Dairy farming not fanning Indonesian forest fires:

Federated Farmers echoes the concerns of Greenpeace and others regarding the devastation and environmental impact of forest fires that have burned for more than three weeks across Indonesia, but says the use of Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE) as a supplementary feed source for dairy cows is not to blame.

“It’s important to remember that PKE is not the reason for these fires or tropical deforestation. It is a by-product of the extraction of palm oil and palm kernel oil which would otherwise be treated as waste,’ says Federated Farmers Dairy Industry Chair Andrew Hoggard.

“Dairy farmers are taking this waste product and making use of it as a supplementary food source, used mainly as an alternative to pasture during adverse weather such as droughts, to maintain the welfare of herds and the productivity of New Zealand’s vitally important dairy industry.” . . 

Panning for Pink Gold: Fonterra Expands Capacity in High-Value Lactoferrin:

It takes 10,000 litres of milk and incredibly sophisticated technology to make just one kilogram of lactoferrin – a high-value ingredient that Fonterra has recently doubled its capacity to produce.

The new $11 million upgrade of the lactoferrin plant at the Co-operative’s Hautapu site is now running at full volume, helping to meet growing worldwide demand for the product affectionately known as ‘pink gold’.

Lactoferrin is a naturally occurring iron-binding protein found in milk and is in high demand, particularly in Asia, for a wide range of nutritional applications from infant formula through to health foods and yoghurts. . . 

Enter Dairy Industry Awards and go on holiday:

Those that enter the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards can win a holiday of their choosing – so long as they enter soon.

Entries in the 2016 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year, Dairy Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions are now being accepted online at www.dairyindustryawards.co.nzand close on November 30.

Those that enter by midnight on November 20* will go into the Early Bird Entry Prize Draw and be in with a chance to win a share of $12,000 in travel vouchers and spending money. . . 


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