Rural round-up

January 13, 2016

Alliance moves to deepen cooperative culture as Silver Fern sells stake – Tina Morrison:

Alliance Group, New Zealand’s second-largest meat processor, plans to entrench its cooperative status, encouraging farmers to ‘share up’ at a time larger rival Silver Fern Farms is watering down its cooperative by tapping a Chinese investor for capital to repay debt, upgrade plants and invest for growth.

Farmer groups failed last year to force a mega-merger on the country’s two large South Island-based meat cooperatives. Both changed chief executives last financial year and Dunedin-based Silver Fern is now awaiting regulatory approval for the $261 million sale of half its business to Shanghai Maling Aquarius, while Invercargill-based Alliance is moving its business model further towards a cooperative system. . . 

Milking sheep has potential to earn billions of dollars for NZ –  Jill Galloway:

Isobel Lees did a veterinary degree at Massey University and is now in Grenoble, France, doing a post graduate study in sheep milking.

She says her research investigating if New Zealand can establish an internationally competitive sheep dairy industry might shed light about how farmers might set up the industry.

“This research focused on the lessons learnt from France, a world leader in sheep dairy.”

Her studies indicate there is vast potential for New Zealand to establish a sheep dairy industry and for it to be a billion dollar contributor to the economy.

“New Zealand has a competitive advantage and superior performance. It has pasture-based agricultural production systems, leading innovations from the dedicated agricultural research community and market leading standards for sustainability, animal welfare and food safety.” . . .

Turangi Maori land trust brings in Chinese partners for sheep milk expansion – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Waituhi Kuratau Trust, the Turangi-based Maori land trust, has teamed up with Chinese interests to develop its sheep-milking interests as part of a plan to sell into the world’s most-populous nation.

The trust sold a leasehold interest in 490 hectares of land in Kuratau to Maui Milk for $1.2 million, which has been slated for development into a sheep dairy farm, according to the Overseas Investment Office summary approving the transaction. The trust owns 40 percent of Maui Milk, with the remainder held by four Chinese nationals. . . 

Govt happy with farm conditions monitoring:

The Government is ruling out an an inquiry into the pay and conditions of farm workers in New Zealand, saying standards are already in place.

Former Council of Trade Unions head Helen Kelly made the call, saying many farm workers were working up to 70 hours a week for low pay, and that was leading to high staff turnover. 

She said fatigue was a major cause of workplace accidents, and an official inquiry was needed to introduce regulations.

But Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse said the Labour Inspectorate already monitored non-compliance with minimum employment standards in the dairy sector. . . 

Right attitude key to $70k jobs – Tamsyn Parker:

A farm worker with the right attitude could take fewer than five years to get to a $70k-plus salary, says an industry leader.

Andrew Hoggard, a farmer who is on the board of farming body Federated Farmers, said Seek data showing a 14 per cent rise in the average salary for the sector was probably a little high as it was based only on jobs advertised through that business. . . 

Federated Farmers mourns the loss of life member Gordon Stephenson:

Federated Farmers expresses their deepest sympathies to the family of farmer and environmentalist Gordon Stephenson who died on Boxing Day.

A stalwart of Federated Farmers, Mr. Stephenson served as national chairman of the dairy section from 1973 to 1977 and instigated the Farm Environment Awards in 1991.

“Gordon was instrumental in the formation of QEII National Trust and the legacy he’s left behind can be seen all around the country in the land and native forests now voluntarily protected by farmers through the Trust,” says Federated Farmers National President Dr. William Rolleston. . . 

Farm Environment Awards Founder Leaves Lasting Legacy:

The passing of Farm Environment Awards founder Gordon Stephenson is a huge loss for New Zealand agriculture, Simon Saunders, chairman of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFET), says.

“Gordon was a farsighted and inspirational leader. As a passionate advocate for conservation he was steadfast in his belief that good farming and good environmental management go hand in hand. This message is still very much at the heart of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) today.”

Mr Saunders says the establishment of NZFET and the success of the BFEA programme are legacies of Gordon Stephenson’s drive and vision. . . 

Federated Farmers grieves loss of former Chief Executive:

Federated Farmers is saddened by the death of former Chief Executive Tony St Clair.

Mr. St Clair served as Chief Executive between 1997 and 2005 following several years as Executive Director of the Victorian Farmers Federation.

“Tony was an inspirational and passionate advocate for agriculture and farming and he had an intimate and detailed knowledge and understanding of Federated Farmers,” says Federated Farmers National President Dr. William Rolleston. . . .

 

Fonterra Announces Record Export Volumes in December:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced it has exported record volumes for the month of December 2015.

Export data for the Co-operative in December confirms the new record for a single month’s volume, with more than 300,000 MT shipped to its global markets.

December’s volume was approximately 10 per cent higher than Fonterra’s previous record month in December 2014. . . 

NZ honey exports double in November on manuka demand – Tina Morrison::

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand honey exports doubled in November as the country benefited from demand for high-value manuka honey.

The value of honey exports jumped to $27.4 million in November from $13.6 million the same month a year earlier, according to the latest Statistics New Zealand data. That helped boost the annual value of honey exports in the 12 months through November by 45 percent to $281 million, the figures showed.

New Zealand is the world’s third-largest exporter of honey by value, behind China and Argentina. However it is only the 16th biggest global supplier on a volume basis, reflecting the premium price garnered for manuka honey, which accounts for as much as 80 percent of New Zealand exports and is prized for its health benefits. . .

Final report into killer swedes released:

The group investigating the fatal poisoning of hundreds of animals by swedes in Southland has issued one last warning to farmers not to feed herbicide tolerant swedes to cows in the spring.

The Southland Swedes working group today released its final report into the incident which left hundreds – if not thousands – of sheep and cows dead across the region.

In 2014 farmers across Southland reported sick, dead and dying livestock – after they’d been fed on swedes – mostly a new herbicide tolerant variety developed and sold by PGG Wrightson Seeds.

Farmers were subsequently warned by industry experts not to feed the HT Swede variety to cows when they were heavily pregnant or with calves – because the chemically mutated HT swedes were producing unnaturally high levels of glucosinolates that are toxic to livestock. . . 

 Recreational fishing parks proposed in Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds as part of Marine Protected Area reform:

The Government has today launched a consultation document on a new Marine Protected Areas Act to replace the Marine Reserves Act 1971 that includes proposals for recreational fishing parks in the inner Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds.

“We are proposing a new system of marine protection that will include marine reserves, species-specific sanctuaries, seabed reserves, and recreational fishing parks. This more sophisticated approach with four different types of marine protection is similar to the graduated approach we take to reserves on land that vary from strict nature reserves to those for a specific or recreational purpose,” says Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith.

“We want to improve community and iwi involvement in marine protection and develop a comprehensive network of areas that better protects marine life and which enhances New Zealanders’ enjoyment of our marine environment.” . . 

Seafood industry supports sustainable fisheries:

The seafood sector supports effective marine conservation, its Chief Executive Tim Pankhurst said today.

He was commenting on today’s release of a consultation document on a new Marine Protected Areas Act to replace the Marine Reserves Act 1971 that includes proposals for recreational fishing parks in the inner Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds.

The proposals would cut commercial fishing in the proposed areas. . . 

Easing NZ Dollar Helps Lift Local Wool Market:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s C.E.O, Mr John Dawson reports that the first sale after the Christmas break of approximately 13,700 bales from the North Island saw a generally firmer market in local terms with 98.5 percent selling.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies eased 1.3 percent compared to the last sale on 17th December, however compared to the US dollar the New Zealand was back 1.9 percent. This weakening NZ dollar underpinned the market for most types. . . 

Grow Food, Not Lawns's photo.


Rural round-up

December 22, 2015

Federated Farmers praises farmers on Lake Brunner improvement:

Federated Farmers is praising the efforts of local farmers in improving the water quality of the West Coasts largest river, Lake Brunner.

Years of hard work by the Lake Brunner farming community has resulted in the water quality target, set out by the government, being reached five years ahead of schedule.

“The early achievement of the target is a great example of how we can reverse deteriorating water quality when farmers work together to reach a shared objective,” says Federated Farmers West Coast President Katie Milne. . . 

Curse of the Christmas tree – Lachlan Forsyth:

It’s arguably the biggest pest in New Zealand, but one of the least known.

Pinus contorta, otherwise known as wilding pine, may look like a lovely Christmas tree, but it is a vicious weed which is strangling the life out of our forests.

It has already infested seven percent of the country – 1.7 million hectares.

Left unchecked, it’ll infest 20 percent of New Zealand within two decades.

Not to be confused with pinus radiate, the common tree in forestry blocks, pinus contorta is a nasty, twisting tree, and it is rampant. . . 

Rabobank Global Beef Quarterly Q4: Ongoing Tight Supply to Support Prices:

Tight supply will support prices in 2016 as demand is expected to remain firm even though supply pressure is easing. China and the US will be the main import markets to watch in 2016—in particular the strength of demand, given high prices. According to Rabobank’s Global Beef Quarterly Q4 2015 report, Australia, Brazil, India and the US will be the main exporters to watch—in particular the supply of cattle and beef, in response to rebuilding pressures at different points in the cycle.

China continues to play a critical role in the global beef market despite a slowing economy. Although the domestic market has been volatile due to the impact of the grey channel, it will continue to offer sustainable opportunities for the rest of the world. . . 

NZ lamb exports likely to drop this season amid weak demand in China, UK – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand farmers are heading for lower returns for their lambs this season amid weakness in the country’s two largest export markets in China and the UK.

While prices for the first of the new season lambs processed in October and November for the UK Christmas chilled market were similar to last year, that won’t be enough to offset weakness in the broader market as the season cranks up to its peak production period from now through till May, according to AgriHQ senior analyst Nick Handley. . . 

1080 report shows poison being used responsibly:

The latest report by the Environmental Protection Authority on the use of 1080 in New Zealand provides further reassurance to the public that the poison is safe and is being used responsibly, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“1080 is a vital tool in protecting our native wildlife, like Kiwi, and preventing the spread of bovine tuberculosis. The area of land treated has doubled to almost one million hectares because of the “Battle for our Birds” but with very few incidents. This is a huge credit to the professionalism of the Department of Conservation (DOC) and TBFree New Zealand. . . 

Landcorp inks agreement with iwi for Sweetwater farm in Northland – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Landcorp Farming, New Zealand’s largest corporate farmer, will continue to be involved in the management of Northland farm Sweetwater after iwi take ownership of the property under a Treaty of Waitangi settlement.

Northland iwi Te Rarawa and Ngai Takoto will take ownership of the 2,480 hectare property near Kaitaia tomorrow, as part of a 2010 settlement. Landcorp, which has been managing Sweetwater in consultation with the iwi, will continue to provide farm management expertise, livestock and technology under a new joint-management and profit-sharing arrangement, the Wellington-based state-owned enterprise said in a statement. . . 

HBRIC Ltd Update:

Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company Ltd (HBRIC Ltd) is confident it can confirm a preferred investor mix for the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme before the end of the year.

HBRIC Ltd told today’s Hawke’s Bay Regional Council meeting that intensive work is being done with three potential investors and it continues to target the end of the calendar year to confirm investors for the scheme. However it says it won’t make the decision public until very early in the New Year. . . 

Kaingaroa Timberlands profit rescued by foreign exchange gain as log prices fall – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – Kaingaroa Timberlands, the nation’s biggest forestry business, posted a 37 percent gain in full-year profit as a foreign exchange gain more than made up for a drop in international log prices.

Net profit rose to US$332.8 million in the year ended June 30, from US$243.7 million a year earlier, according to the company’s financial statements. Profit included a US$281 million gain on foreign exchange movements, compared to a year-earlier charge of US$149.7 million. Revenue fell 22 percent to US$355.2 million, of which the bulk came in reduced log sales. . . 

Rural and Southern businesses best place for work life balance:

If you are planning to start a new business in the New Year and still want to have some time to enjoy the best of the Kiwi lifestyle, it could be worth thinking about moving to the country or heading down South.

According to the latest MYOB SME research, a net 54 per cent* of business operators working in rural New Zealand are satisfied with their work/life balance, while only 45 per cent of those working in the city are happy with how they split their time between work and leisure. . . 


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 3, 2015

Advertising executive’s shock speech tackles farmer depression – Rachel Thomas:

The final speech of the day was supposed to be a light-hearted talk about city boys working in the country.

Instead, advertising executive Matt Shirtcliffe stood up in front of a conference of roughly 120 farming and business folk and told them his wife was dead. 

“Depression took her life.” . . 

The presentation is here.

Kathryn Ryan interviewed Matt Shirtcliffe here.

India farmers’ ‘seeds of suicide’: 200-year old story behind a modern tragedy – Aneela Mirchandani :

In 1998, a farmer in Warangal, India killed himself after a failed crop by drinking pesticide. His body was found hours later lying amidst his one-acre crop, which was overrun by worms. This suicide was one of many that were reported on at the time; the incidence was particularly high among cotton farmers. It set off much hand-wringing in the press: how was India failing its farmers?

The stated cause of this farmer’s suicide was debt, and many anti-GMO activists have linked a spate of similar tragedies to the introduction of GMO cotton — although the genetically engineered crop was not introduced into India until 2002. But if one looks deeper, one can see the real cause: modern crops and a modern economy abutted against a rural population that had changed little since the nineteenth century. . . 

“We farm!”  Wait…  What?  (Our cows explained) – Uptown Girl:

“What do you do?”  Sometimes I identify myself with a lengthy description of my career in Ag finance, but often I just leave it at, “We farm!”
 
I also find myself using “We farm” as an explanation as to why I am alone so often at gatherings.  But the more people I talk to, the more I realize that not everyone knows what I mean when I say, “We farm”.  So I am going to explain exactly what “farming” means to my family.
 
Our farm consists of our cows, our sheep, and our row crops.  I will cover each of these over the next few posts, but will start with our cows.
 
One of my favorite parts of our farm is our cattle herd.  We have what is commonly called a “Cow/Calf operation” – meaning we maintain a group of cows who will raise a baby calf each year, and then sell the baby at weaning time.  . . 

New regulations to protect oceans:

New Government regulations to manage the waste and pollution within New Zealand’s vast Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) come into effect today, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says. 

“These new regulations cover discharges of pollutants and waste from offshore installations like oil rigs and ships in the six million square kilometres of ocean in New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf. They provide clear rules that protect the ocean environment and are the final stage of implementing the Government’s new environmental law covering the ocean,” Dr Smith says.  . . 

Glerups extends wool contract with NZ Merino through 2017 – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Glerups, the Danish woollen slipper maker, has extended its contract with New Zealand woolgrowers to meet increased demand for its product.

The company inked a 2017 contract through the New Zealand Merino Company for 120 tonnes of wool for about $1.5 million, during a visit to New Zealand this week, and expects to return next year to secure a 2018 contract, said Glerups supply chain manager Jesper Glerup Kristensen, the son of the company founder Nanny Glerup. It also extended its 2016 contract by 20 tonnes to 100 tonnes, up from 80 tonnes this year. . . 

Red Meat Sector welcomes decision to negotiate an EU-NZ Free Trade Agreement:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) are delighted that the European Union and New Zealand are set to progress negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement, as announced by Prime Minister John Key in Brussels.

The European Union (EU) is a very significant export market for New Zealand red meat products, worth nearly NZ$1.9 billion for the year ended December 2014. The EU is New Zealand’s largest market by region for sheepmeat exports, and second-largest for chilled beef and wool exports. . . 

Appointment of Independent Director to Fonterra Board:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited announced today the appointment of a new Independent Director Clinton Dines who will take up the Board position made vacant when Sir Ralph Norris steps down at the Annual Meeting on 25 November.

Chairman John Wilson said world-class governance is one of the Board’s top priorities, and the Co-operative needed directors with a broad range of talent and depth of business experience.

“The Board welcomes Mr Dines, an Australian, who has outstanding business and governance credentials. . . .

Fonterra Welcomes Progress towards NZ EU FTA:

Fonterra has welcomed today’s announcement in Brussels that Prime Minister John Key will begin discussions on a Free Trade Agreement with the European Union.

“This is an important first step towards a comprehensive and high-quality free trade agreement with the EU. We have free trade agreements with almost all of our other major trading partners, so this really is the missing piece,” said Miles Hurrell, Group Director of Co-operative Affairs. . . 

Wine Industry welcomes prospect of free trade with the EU:

New Zealand Winegrowers welcomes the announcement of a proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between New Zealand and the EU.

Improved access into the EU would be hugely beneficial to industry growth, commented Philip Gregan, New Zealand Winegrowers CEO. ‘An FTA with the EU would be a great outcome for New Zealand’s wine industry. The EU, as a whole, represents our single largest market, with exports totalling over $460 million and representing in excess of 30% of total wine exports. . . 

 


Rural round-up

September 27, 2015

Silver Fern Farms could become global brand – Hamish McNeilly:

The head of a Chinese food giant says Silver Fern Farms’ products could one day have the same global brand recognition as Coca Cola.

China’s largest meat processor, Shanghai Maling, plans to invest $261 million cash to own half of Silver Fern Farms’ business, with the co-operative owning the other half.

The company was a listed subsidiary of Bright Food (Group) Co, China’s largest food company, and involved in the manufacturing and distribution of chilled and fresh meat and value-added beef, candy and bottled honey. . .

New milk price is conservative – Hugh Stringleman:

An unexpected jump in milk payout forecast for this season to a more encouraging $4.60/kg of milksolids was the centrepiece of Fonterra’s annual results presentation for the 2015 financial year.

After only three consecutive price rises in fortnightly GlobalDairyTrade auctions Fonterra was emboldened to increase its forecast by 75c or 20% from the dismal $3.85, the record low it sunk to in early August.

Such a quick reflection of price optimism when the season was still young would be welcomed by farm owners, sharemilkers, staff members and rural suppliers as signalling the worst of the price slump was over. . . 

Leaner Fonterra now a quick responder –  Glenys Christian:

Fonterra has finished cutting jobs with the 750 people culled from its 22,000 workforce allowing it to make quicker decisions in response to market volatility, chairman John Wilson says.  

And its transformation project would also build a less risk-averse culture, which could be a problem in such a big and complex organisation.  

“We’ve got to be far faster because markets are moving so rapidly,” he said after Fonterra’s annual results release.  “Sometimes you can be better at doing that with less people rather than more.” . . .

Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings gets big pay rise:

As Fonterra prepares to lay off 750 staff, the firm has disclosed that chief executive Theo Spierings received a pay rise of up to 18 per cent – taking his pay to almost $5 million in the last financial year.

The dairy giant’s latest financial statements show its top-paid employee earned between $4.93 million and $4.94 million in the year to July 31.

That’s up from $4.17 million to $4.18 million in the previous year. . . 

Lake water quality goes online:

Information on the water quality of lakes around the country will now be available online as part of an ongoing initiative between the Government, regional councils and the Tindall Foundation, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today.

“Lakes are popular places for swimming and boating, and particularly with the summer months fast approaching, we want the many thousands of New Zealanders who visit them each year to have access to good, reliable information on the health of our lakes around the country. This is why lakes data is the next step for the LAWA website, which already provides data on our rivers and coastal waters,” Dr Smith says.

Dr Smith made today’s announcement with Local Government New Zealand regional sector group chair Stephen Woodhead. The new data on lakes will be live on the website from today. . . 

Agriculture to widen its reach into schools – Tim Cronshaw:

More agriculture exercises will be introduced in secondary school classrooms to encourage urban school leavers to take up careers in the primary industry.

A study programme for teachers to use agriculture examples in their lessons was launched in Christchurch on Tuesday with 15 secondary schools signing up for a pilot.

Accredited resources initially in science, English, mathematics and economics are expected to be delivered to teachers for the start of the new school year and will initially be for year 9 and 10 students. Over the next few years this will be phased in to NCEA Levels 1, 2 and 3 students and cover a range of curriculum areas based on school and teacher feedback. . . 

Scientists study the mysteries of cheese:

Makers of Roquefort and Camembert could benefit from a new genetic study of 14 fungal species found in cheeses, French researchers say.

But the study published in the journal Current Biology also raises questions about food safety due to the transfer of genes among Penicillium fungi, which are key to the making of soft cheeses.

“We were able to identify genes that are directly involved in the adaptation to cheese in Penicillium, opening the way for strain improvement, in particular for obtaining fast-growing strains,” said co-author Antoine Branca of L’Universite Paris-Sud. . . 


Quote of the day

September 18, 2015

One year on from the 2014 general election I need a basic question answered: what on earth does the Labour Party actually stand for? I have never witnessed in 25 years a Labour Party that is so rudderless, so uncertain as to what it believes in, in what it stands for, and so leaderless. It is all over the paddock on the issues that matter. Week after week we hear the Labour Party members speaking out of both sides of their mouths and engaged in doublespeak. Let us just look at the last week. Andrew Little said yesterday that Governments must not run deficits. He criticised the Prime Minister for some of the deficits that we ran post the global financial crisis. Yet on Sunday we had Grant Robertson saying: “I think the Government should run some more deficits.” So can Labour members tell me: are you for deficits or are you against deficits? Then we come to the issue of immigration. Andrew Little for the last 2 weeks has been saying that New Zealand needs to take more migrants, and I thought that was a genuinely held view from the Labour Opposition. Then Grant Robertson turns up—he forgot to tell Andrew Little—on Sunday morning, on Q+A , saying that Labour’s policy is to reduce the number of migrants. I would love to know Labour’s position. Just after the general election Andrew Little said that Labour is opposed to a capital gains tax. Then why is it that in every single debate I have with Phil Twyford on housing, he says we need to address supply and we need a capital gains tax? Can Labour members say where they stand on that issue? Then I come to the issue of housing, and on housing I have heard Mr Phil Twyford say that interest rates going up is bad. Then, when interest rates go down, he says it is bad. When we increase housing supply he says it is bad. Again, they are all over the paddock. Then we come to education. We have the issue of charter schools, and we hear Labour saying repeatedly in this House that charter schools are bad. Then we have Labour members hopping off to raise funds for charter schools in Whangarei and saying that they are good. Then, this week, we had something even more extraordinary. I thought that Labour was opposed to the private provision of social services. That is what I have heard in this House. Then I turned on the radio on Monday morning and I heard a Labour MP decrying the Minister of Education for closing the Pacific Christian School for non-performance and saying we should be keeping it open. Again, I have to say I am confused. But the one thing I thought that Labour always stood for is inclusiveness. If there was any party in this Parliament that I thought stood up for people not being treated on the basis of race it was the Labour Party. I thought it was right at its core that it would not be playing racial games with issues. Yet then we had the leader and Phil Twyford running their campaign of blaming the housing issue on people with Chinese-sounding names. It was so bad we had Winston Peters blushing. You see, Labour’s problem is that it has ripped up its core values. I come finally to the issue of the new flag. At the election Labour said, and I weed this out word for word: “The time has come for change.” Labour members said there should be a referendum on a new flag.

[continuation line: Well I say to Mr Little, why is it that voters cannot trust you]

Hon Dr NICK SMITH

Well, I say to Mr Little , why is it that voters cannot trust you? It is because only 1 year ago you went to voters with a policy, and you are reversing on it. And I say, with respect to the Red Peak flag—I have to say that the Prime Minister has been very generous. He said that if Labour wants to honour its policy and support the referendum, well, he will go the extra mile and will include the Red Peak flag on the referendum, but all Labour has to do is stand for what it stood for just 12 months ago. And so my plea is: can someone, anyone, anywhere, please tell me what does Labour stand for? – Nick Smith

The video of the speech is at In The House


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