Rural round-up

February 7, 2017

Sellers withdraw from wool auction as prices plummet – Sally Rae:

Unprecedented levels of wool withdrawn or passed from the market resulted in the smallest offering South Island wool brokers have presented.

Of the original 13,900 bales put up for auction last week, 2100 were withdrawn on the day as sellers chose to hold, as prices were now well below long-term sustainable levels for wool growers, New Zealand Wool Services International chief executive John Dawson said.

The balance of the offering of 11,819 bales had 64% sold, and the remainder was passed in, Mr Dawson said.

Even the grower resistance could not halt further price slippage for crossbred wool, with lamb’s wool and poorer style fleece again being the most affected, PGG Wrightson Wool’s South Island sales team. . . 

Farmers say plan to regulate privately owned bush is heavy handed – David Burroughs:

Farmers have accused the New Plymouth District Council of “confiscating their land rights” with a plan to regulate areas of privately owned native bush.

Nearly 200 farmers from North Taranaki and further afield filled the Urenui Community Hall on Thursday night to listen to the council’s proposal on Significant Natural Areas (SNAs), with many of them speaking out against the proposal.

Under the plan, around 361 areas would become legally protected, with farmers needing a resource consent to make changes to them, such as building a track or making a hut. 

But many of the farmers said they already took care of the land without the need for regulation and bringing in the new rules was heavy handed of the council. . . 

Marlborough shearer ‘sorted’ for international competition – Mike Watson:

Crutching 1000 lambs could prove the ideal warm up for Marlborough shearer Sarah Higgins as she heads to the All Nations shearing championships in Invercargill.

Higgins is the sole Marlborough shearer competing at the All Nations event which has drawn 400 entries.

“It’s part of my practise run towards the championships,” she said. . . 

Water restrictions affect irrigators too:

They’re as much a part of the traditional kiwi summer as burnt sausages and backyard cricket and despite their late arrival, water restrictions are now in place in most regions. While most of us can accept that our carefully-tended lawn will soon become a pocket square of brown dirt, we tend to get a little bit upset when just down the road we see irrigators operating.

“It’s natural for people to question it” said IrrigationNZ CEO, Andrew Curtis. “But what they often don’t understand is that irrigators operate under the same regulatory regime that town water supplies do, and that town water supplies actually have a priority – irrigators always get restricted from taking water from a river or aquifer long before towns do.”

However, in urban areas, household restrictions are driven by the infrastructure’s capacity to supply; no town water supply system is built to cope with peak demand,  which is everyone watering their garden at the same time in the height of summer. . . 

Pupils take on farm study:

St Hilda’s Collegiate Schoolpupils have been getting their heads around lamb weights.

The Dunedin school was among 26 nationwide to trial a red meat profit partnership programme last year, aimed at engaging primary and secondary school pupils in farming.

The resources, including assessments within the programme, have received the New Zealand Qualification Authority quality-assured assessment materials trademark, and the programme could be used to gain NCEA credits. It will be rolled out to further schools this year.

St Hilda’s head of maths, John Bradfield, said the school had coincidentally been looking for dairy farming data at the time the RMPP programme “popped across the radar”. . . 

It’s a dog’s life as trial season begins – Sally Rae:

Dog trial season is under way, with a big week ahead in May for the Otago centre.

The South Island championships will be held at Warepa, in South Otago, starting on May 1.

The centre’s first trial for the season was held recently at Lowburn and entries were well up on last year.

It was a particularly good couple of days for members of the Omakau-Earnscleugh Collie Club, who featured among the prizewinners.

Duncan Campbell, from Earnscleugh Station, won the long head with Zip, while his father, Alistair, was third in the straight hunt with Ra. . .

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$10.3m loss for NPDC Tasmanian farms

October 4, 2013

New Plymouth District Council’s investment in dairying farming in Tasmania has been a costly one with Tasman Farms reporting a $10.3 million loss.

That loss has clipped a further $5m off New Plymouth District Council’s perpetual investment fund (Pif) in the last financial year and contributed to a $3.9m deficit for the council.  . .

The fund, managed by Taranaki Investment Management Limited (Timl), was created from the sale of the NPDC’s Powerco shares in 2004 for $259m. It peaked in value at $324m in 2008 but is now only worth $212.4m, partly because of money the council has taken out in annual release payments.

Timl has conceded the fund is overweighted in Tasman Farms and has commenced the process to reduce its exposure. . .

We visited the farms at Woolnorth in North West Tasmania last month. They’re owned by the Van Diemen’s Land Company in which Tasman Farms is a major shareholder.

Woolnorth covers 16,800 hectares with 12 rotary and one herringbone dairy shed. Fiver are operated by sharemilkers and eight by managers. A 2,500 hectare heifer raising operation on the property manages 10,000 heifers.

It was an impressive operation but several of us wondered about the wisdom of it as an investment for a district council.

There was a very strong rumour while we were there that Fonterra was interested in buying the farms but the company says it’s not.

 New Plymouth-owned Tasman Farms, Van Diemen’s Land Co’s parent, wants to raise up to $A180 million, with at least $A100 million in fresh equity, and has attracted a potential suitor from China but won’t see Fonterra at the negotiating table.

The New Zealand dairy exporter, which reports its annual results today, will not invest in the Tasmanian farm upgrade, which has reportedly attracted interest from China Investment Corp, the $US200 billion sovereign wealth fund.

“Fonterra has a very strong relationship with VDL as their processing partner but our investment interests in Tasmania are focused on our factories at Spreyton and Wynyard, rather than farms,” a Fonterra spokeswoman says. “We are supportive of any suppliers who are looking to grow and develop their operations.” . . .

Tasmania is often compared to New Zealand. We saw a lot of similarities, and a lot of Kiwi staff and technology on the farms.

Farming is usually a good long-term investment but it takes a lot of capital with small or no returns in the short to medium term, especially if a large-scale development is planned which is what VDL is doing.

NPDC has learned this and if I was a ratepayer I’d be backing the sale.


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