Rural round-up

October 25, 2019

Leader has passion for deer industry – Sally Rae:

Deer Industry New Zealand’s new chief executive Innes Moffat is well versed in the industry.

He has been with the organisation for 14 years and replaces Dan Coup, who is now chief executive of the QEII National Trust.

During his first week in the new role, Mr Moffat said he was conscious his knowledge of the industry and its people was a strength and he could provide continuity as he stepped up to lead the organisation. . . .

Cut nitrates make money – TIm Fulton:

Catch crops and oats don’t usually figure highly in a dairy farmer’s plans but that might change as new nutrient management regulations come into force. Tim Fulton reports.

Clinging to the northern bank of the Rakaia River the last of three Canterbury catch crop trials for this season is growing on a Te Pirita dairy winter forage block that forms part of a three-year Sustainable Farming Fund project to show the benefit of catch crops to reduce nitrate leaching. . .

Shearer aims for world record – Alexa Johnston:

Nine hours of “heart and concentration” is ahead of Alexandra-based shearer Stacey Te Huia, as he attempts to break a world record.

Te Huia aims to claim the 9-hour merino wethers record on December 7, in a shearing shed near Ranfurly.

The record is one of the longest-standing in the books, held by Rakaia shearer Grant Smith, who shore 418 sheep within the allocated time in November 1999. . . .

Nuts? Research says ‘significant’ potential for Rotorua nut crops – Samantha Olley:

Could nuts be the next big thing for Rotorua? It is an idea that has been described by researchers as “radical” – and one that could bring millions of dollars to the region. There is 5000ha of land in the district suitable for growing nut crops and three farms are investigating how it could work for them. Journalist Samantha Olley looks into how nut crops could benefit Rotorua economically, what it would take to get the idea off the ground – and how they could improve the district’s environment.

An idea to bring new edible nut crops to Rotorua is capturing wide interest and could bring at least $20 million a year into the district.

Newly published Crown research says there is “significant” potential for industrial edible tree nut crops in the Rotorua area – but it will require “radical” collaboration. . .

Scholarships address need for farming and horticulture apprentices:

Primary ITO is responding to the urgent need for skilled workers in agriculture and horticulture by launching a scholarship programme for apprentice fees.

Applications for the scholarships are open for October and November and will cover fees for the whole duration of the apprenticeship programmes, which generally take 2-3 years.

“Our industries are facing unprecedented challenges right now and we believe scholarships for apprentices will help business gain the skills they need,” says Primary ITO’s incoming chief executive Nigel Philpott. . .

 

National Farmers Federated to mobilise support for expansion of ag – Mervyn F Bendle:

Finally! The National Farmers Federation has announced that it will implement a long-term public relations campaign to mobilise public and political support for a major expansion of the agricultural industry in Australia and combat the zealotry of animal rights activists and green extremists.

Such a response is well overdue. As I discussed over six years ago in a Quadrant Online article, Australia faces an epoch-defining challenge. With the global population projected to exceed nine billion people by 2050 our country is well placed to become a major food supplier to the world, doubling — even quadrupling — agricultural production, and generating an additional $1.7 trillion in aggregate export earnings over the next four decades. Estimates vary, but global food supply will have to increase by between 60 per cent and 100 per cent by 2050 to satisfy requirements. This is not idle musing: hundreds of millions of people will starve if the global food supply is not greatly increased. . .


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

January 14, 2014

 Three vie for award’s top spot:

A Northland woman among three finalists for the 2014 Dairy Woman of the Year Award is helping train other women to take on leadership roles in agricultural organisations.

Whangarei farm accountant and 2013 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards supreme award winner Charmaine O’Shea is vying for the Dairy Woman of the Year Award with Waikato veterinarian Joyce Voogt and Hauraki Plains farmer Julie Pirie. They were individually interviewed by a judging panel consisting of Dairy Women’s Network Trust Board chairwoman Michelle Wilson, Global Women managing director Faye Langdon, Fonterra leadership and talent director Janette Rosanowski, DairyNZ strategy and investment portfolio manager Jenny Jago and 2012 Dairy Woman of the Year award winner Barbara Kuriger. This year’s winner will be announced at the Dairy Women’s Network annual conference in Hamilton on March 19. . . .

Irrigation nominations sought:

Entries close at the end of this month for IrrigationNZ’s ‘Innovation in Irrigation Award’ in association with Aqualinc. The prestigious award, which comes with a $2500 prize, celebrates, encourages and promotes innovation within New Zealand’s irrigation industry.

Previous recipients include the North Otago Irrigation Company in 2012 for its ground-breaking Environmental Farm Plans which guide shareholders in good management practice for irrigation, riparian, soil, fertiliser and effluent use.

Fielding-based Precision Irrigation won the award in 2010 for its variable rate irrigation systems which more effectively target water application through the use of GPS. . .

The impact the dairying ‘revolution’ is having on New Zealand, the consequences, and the prospects – Rodney Dickens:

There is nothing new about the current high dairy export prices in that the current levels are similar to earlier peak levels in 2007/08 and 2010/11.

The left chart below shows the ANZ dairy commodity price indices measured in NZD terms and world price terms.

The much higher world prices than NZD prices in recent years reflect the negative impact of the high NZD.

In world price terms current prices are well above the levels that existed prior to 2007, with this related to a large extent to increased Chinese demand that was revealed in a Raving that looked at the massive impact China is having on a wide range of NZ commodity exports and tourism. Based on the 7 January Fonterra auction results, dairy product prices in USD terms remained high (right chart). . . .

Why should farmers and ranchers invest time in advocacy? – Agriculture Proud:

Last week, I posted an article from Forbes that is very accusatory of modern global agriculture. It’s like a laundry list of activist claims used demonize modern agriculture practices. We could spend time angrily responding to articles like this, but defensively reacting to accusations like this aren’t getting us very far. Hence my emphasis on the importance of being PROactive in reaching out, answering questions, and sharing our story with audiences willing to listen.

Part of that proactive response includes farmers, ranchers and members of the agriculture community investing time in reaching out and engaging. Often when I propose this investment to various ranchers groups across the country, I get either a blank stare or a response similar to this: . . .

Top ram’s DNA revived 30 years on – Sally Rae:

Offspring of a Romney ram, owned by Otago stud breeder David Robertson, will go through the sale ring in Gore tomorrow.

Aurora 105-84 might be long gone, but his genetics live on three decades later, thanks to what was initially a practice exercise in artificial insemination for Mr Robertson’s veterinary surgeon son.

Mr Robertson, who farms at Palmerston and is a third-generation stud-breeder, admitted it was an unusual situation. . . .

International year of family farming kicks off in Australia:

The National Farmers’ Federation and its members have hailed the start of the new year, encouraging all Australians to join with them in celebrating the International Year of Family Farming during 2014.

NFF President Brent Finlay, a family farmer from south east Queensland, said family farms remain the heart and soul of agriculture in Australia.

“Ninety nine percent of Australian farms are family owned and operated – and this year, the United Nations-declared International Year of Family Farming, gives us the opportunity to celebrate the enormous contribution these farmers make,” Mr Finlay said. . .


Xenophobia robs opportunities

January 23, 2012

The Australian government has warned that a “xenophobic campaign” would rob farmers of opportunities presented by the increasing demand from Asian countries for secure food supplies.

Just 1 per cent of agricultural businesses by number, 11.3 per cent of farmland and 9 per cent of water entitlements have some foreign ownership, a report released yesterday says, according to The Australian Financial Review.

Assistant Treasurer Mark Arbib said foreign investment had significant benefits and that there were already rigorous controls.

However, the Coalition said the report relied on faulty data and the National Farmers’ Federation called for the threshold at which the Foreign Investment Review Board must examine foreign investment in agriculture to be slashed to about $23 million from $231 million.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences’ report acknowledges growing public concerns but cautions against bowing to them.

“Concessions to concerns about sovereignty, distrust or fear of foreigners are likely to come at an economic cost to countries that restrict the inflow of foreign capital,” it said.

Trade Minister Craig Emerson echoed this, warning Australia could pay a high price for “Hansonite” opposition to foreign investment in agriculture.

“Pessimists and political opportunists see the desire for food security of major emerging countries as a threat. In truth, it is an unsurpassed opportunity for Australian farmers,” Dr Emerson said.

The growing demand for safe, high quality food is also an opportunity for New Zealand farmers and the wider economy.

Some see that threatened by foreign ownership of land and that is partly what is behind the opposition to the proposed acquisition of the Crafar farms by the Chinese company Penqxin.

But as Fran O’Sullivan says:

I don’t believe it is in New Zealand’s long-term economic interest to allow xenophobia, whipped up by a rival (late-comer) bid, to damage a relationship cemented by years of diplomacy by officials in this country and China.

There will be more to the OIO decision than mere political cosmetics. Penqxin will have made sure that its business plan includes processing milk powder from the Crafar farms within New Zealand and to export branded high-value products back to China. Thus it ought to pass the OIO’s muster.

That is also where the value proposition for New Zealand-sourced dairy production lies. Not simply in exporting vast quantities of milk powder to Fonterra’s customers and competitors offshore (including within China) for them to refine. This will lead to more jobs in New Zealand – not fewer.

Appealing to xenophobia in their increasingly vehement opposition to the Penqxin bid does the consortium led by Sir Michael Fay no credit.

The receivers are duty-bound to get the best return for the farms and it appears the New Zealand bid is well short of the Chinese one.

If it wasn’t for the relatively new markets for our primary produce in Asia, particularly in China, New Zealand’s economic position would be in a very dire position.

It is in our mutual interest to further trade and other relationships.

Providing safe-guards are in place to ensure farms aren’t mined and produce meets the high standards on which our reputation is based we have more to gain than lose from foreign investment.


Aussie farmers get ETS advantage

July 25, 2008

Australia’s Emissions Trading Scheme will not include agriculture at its 2010 start date though it might be phased in after 2015.

The Australian Government says it does not consider it practical to include agriculture from the start, but hopes to have all major polluting industries covered by 2015.

New Zealand was the first country to feature the primary sector in an ETS, which will be introduced from 2013, with 90% free allocations to be phased out from 2018.

Australian National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) president David Crombie welcomed the news the sector would not be included from the start of the scheme and says farmers will be willing to play their part in meeting the climate change challenge.

‘No country in the world has yet found a way to equitably include its agricultural production in an ETS,’ Crombie says. ‘That is, with the exception of New Zealand, where farmers are now looking at margins reducing by up to 160% as a result.’

And can anyone explain why we’re doing that whent he cost is so high for little or no environmental benefit?

Crombie says the Government’s Green Paper takes into account the three key issues for farmers. These are the impracticalities of measuring, monitoring and verifying agricultural emissions; the need to fully grasp agriculture’s life cycle to account for carbon stored in soil, crops and pastures; and the need to challenge the international Kyoto rules to reflect Australia’s particular circumstances.

One of New Zealand agriculture’s major arguments against being the first country to include the sector has been the fear of losing a competitive advantage.

It has also called for delays until further research can deliver better measurement and mitigation techniques.

Both accurate measurement and effective mitigation are essential if the scheme is to have any validity and benefit.

The Australian Government recognises a joint effort with the industry is required before agriculture is included, and a final decision will be made in 2013.

The National Party refuses to support the New Zealand Government’s ETS on the grounds the policy has been rushed, arguing we should instead follow Australia’s moves.

An issue this important ought to have broad cross-party support. Labour’s approach doesn’t which means a sensible approach depends on them not being able to push the Emissions Trading Bill through parliament before the election.


Ausssie farmers want ag out of ETS

July 16, 2008

Australian farmers  want their Government to keep agriculture out of its Emissions Trading Scheme.

AUSTRALIA’S proposed emissions trading scheme (ETS) could affect international food and fibre prices at a time of food crisis, the nation’s farm sector has warned.

National Farmers’ Federation vice-president Charles Burke said rarely did governments pursue policies like the ETS that could have such broad-reaching ramifications.

”If we don’t get this right, this could become a new and additional factor putting pressure on global markets, affecting both supply and prices in Australia,” he said on the eve of the release of the Federal Government’s green paper on emissions trading.

Mr Burke said Australian farmers’ input costs – fuel, electricity, fertiliser and chemicals – may increase regardless of agriculture’s role in an ETS.

All of this sounds very similar to what farmers are saying on this side of the Tasman.

Westpac’s senior agribusiness economist, Justin Smirk, said global markets responded immediately to any event, be it floods in Iowa, food export tariffs in Argentina or aggressive US and European biofuels policies.

”Actions, events and seasonal conditions in Australia and their impact on our farm sector are no different, reverberating through global markets,” he said.

”Markets are closely watching the complex problem of climate change, its potential impact on global farm output, and the policies proposed to mitigate global warming emissions.”

Competitors will also be working out if they could use the ETS to impose non-tariff barriers to imports.

NFF president David Crombie warned against including agriculture in the ETS, citing the difficulty in measuring, monitoring or verifying the sector’s emissions. No country had included agriculture in an ETS, he said, with the exception of New Zealand, ”where farmers are now looking at margins reducing by up to 160% as a result”.

And how silly is that when it won’t do anything to reduce the global carbon footprint?


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