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]


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

Rural round-up

September 2, 2015

Tap turned on at Hororata irrigation scheme – Annabelle Tukia:

The tap has officially been turned on for one of the country’s largest irrigation projects.

The Central Plains water scheme will irrigate more than 20,000 hectares of Canterbury farmland.

One Hororata farmer says the massive scheme, which runs off the Rakaia River, will enable him and his neighbours to completely transform their operations.

Rodney Booth has waited a long time to turn the irrigators on at his Hororata farm. . . 

Dairy and travel still our largest export earners:

New Zealand earned $2.3 billion more from exports than we spent on imports during the year ended June 2015, Statistics New Zealand said today.

In the year to June 2015, total exports of goods and services were $67.5 billion, while total imports were $65.1 billion.

Dairy remains New Zealand’s largest export commodity, earning $12.0 billion in the June 2015 year. However, this was down from $15.8 billion in the June 2014 year. Spending by international visitors to New Zealand (travel exports) increased $2.4 billion, reaching $11.7 billion in the June 2015 year.

“Dairy and travel are New Zealand’s biggest export earners,” international statistics senior manager Jason Attewell said. “A fall in dairy exports to China, combined with the increase in expenditure by overseas visitors to New Zealand, has narrowed the gap between the two.” . . 

App helps keep hives humming – Sally Rae:

Brice Horner gets a buzz about educating others about beekeeping.

Now the Dunedin police officer has developed a phone app that helps beekeepers identify whether they have the destructive bacterial disease American foulbrood (AFB) in their hives.

AFB kills bee larvae and infected hives have to be destroyed by burning, as the disease is very difficult to combat. After destroying the bee larvae, spores could survive outside a bee colony for more than 35 years.

It is a serious issue, and beekeepers are legally required to advise the AFB Management Agency within seven days of noticing an outbreak and to destroy the disease by burning within the same period. . . 

Kiwi dairy farmers feeling the pinch are right – their payout is the world’s lowest – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand dairy farmers bracing for the lowest payout in a decade probably won’t welcome the latest analysis of global trends in the industry – their counterparts in every other dairy-producing country are being paid more.

An expected uplift in dairy prices in the overnight GlobalDairyTrade auction won’t change the fact Kiwi dairy farmers are the lowliest paid. AgriHQ analysed milk prices from around the world converted to NZ$/kilogram of milk solids to allow valid comparisons, although some dairy farmers incomes in other countries are boosted by subsidies and support schemes.

Fonterra’s forecast farmgate milk price, which is the price setter in the New Zealand dairy industry, is $3.85/kgMS for the current season, the lowest in a decade. That compares to China at the other end of the scale at $11/kgMS, the United States at $8.15/kgMS, Argentina at $7.57/kgMS, and the UK at $6.95/kgMS. Of the countries analysed, Ireland’s payout of $6.10/kgMS was the closest to New Zealand’s. . . 

OceanaGold raises 2015 production estimate to reflect Waihi acquisition – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – OceanaGold Corp expects 2015 production to increase while costs fall after the gold miner takes control of Waihi Gold Mine later this year.

The acquisition of the Waihi mine from Newmont Mining Corp is awaiting approval from the Overseas Investment Office this month, and once completed, OceanaGold expects to assume the economic benefits and costs associated with Waihi from July 1, the Melbourne-based miner said in a statement. The company increased its 2015 production estimates, and reduced its costs forecast to reflect lower copper and diesel prices and a weaker New Zealand dollar, it said. . . 

Sanford quits Pacific tuna business, lines up buyers for vessels – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Sanford, New Zealand’s largest listed fishing group, will quit its underperforming Pacific tuna business and put the unit’s fleet up for sale.

The Auckland-based company sold its San Nanumea vessel and is in talks with a potential buyer of San Nikunau, its other Pacific tuna ship, after reviewing the viability of the business, Sanford said in a statement. On April 9, it entered into a conditional agreement to sell both international purse seiner vessels, according to Sanford’s interim report released in June. . . 

Rural Equities posts 27% decline in annual earnings after milk prices slumped – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Rural Equities, the farming group majority-owned by the Cushing family, posted a 27 percent decline in annual earnings as milk prices plummeted.

The Hastings-based company said operating earnings before interest and tax fell to $4.67 million in the year ended June 30, from $6.43 million a year earlier as Fonterra Cooperative Group slashed its milk price payout to $4.40 per kilogram of milk solids from $8.40/kgMS the previous year. While that impacted its seven dairy farms, the company said its Waikato Puketotara sheep and beef property had a record year and it had steady income from leasing 15 of its 25 farms.

“Operating earnings were satisfactory given the substantial reduction in milk price,” said executive chairman David Cushing. “The company’s portfolio, with a mixture of directly operated and leased farms and diversity by property type and geography, helped provide balance.” . . 

Government grant for East Coast stream restoration:

An $89,700 grant from the Community Environment Fund for the restoration of the Whangawehi stream on the Mahia Peninsula was announced today by Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith during a visit to the catchment. 

“New Zealand has a major challenge to improve the management of our waterways, which has to be achieved stream by stream, river by river and lake by lake. The key to the success of these restoration programmes is getting all parties – landowners, iwi and hapū, district and regional councils as well as the Government – working together. This has been achieved on this project and that is why the Government is providing funding support,” Dr Smith says.  . . 

Fonterra Farmers Can Now Apply for Co-Operative Support:

Fonterra farmers can now apply for Fonterra Co-operative Support, a loan to help them deal with the current challenging conditions.

Chairman John Wilson said Fonterra is well placed to help its farmers because of the Co-operative’s underlying strength.

“Being able to help our farmers is all about standing together as a Co-operative and using our collective strength to get through these tough times,” said Mr Wilson. “We have had a lot of interest from farmers who appreciate what the Co-operative is trying to do for them to assist them with their farming businesses in a tough financial climate, and we are anticipating a large number of applications.” . . .


Rural round-up

August 13, 2015

Strong outlook for primary sectors – Nathan Guy:

There’s been much talk about the dairy sector in recent days.

Last week, our largest dairy company Fonterra announced a new reduced forecast payout for farmers. This isn’t particularly surprising as it reflects the ongoing volatility in the international dairy price, but clearly it will have a significant impact on the dairy industry.

Times will be a bit tougher for dairy farmers over the next few months and it will have a flow-on impact in regional communities.

However, this volatility in dairy prices is expected to be short-term. The medium to long-term outlook for our dairy sector, and indeed all primary sectors, is very positive, and expected to grow by 17 per cent to more than $41 billion over the next four years. . .


Farmers to get higher wool price:

Marketing and sales company Wools of New Zealand has bumped up the price it’s offering farmers for lambs wool.

It will pay farmers a contract price of $7.50 per kilo for 28 micron to 31.5 micron lamb’s wool produced this season.

That is a 15 cent per kilo increase on the price it was offering at the beginning of July, which the farmer-owned company said reflected positive movements in the exchange rate, with a falling New Zealand dollar increasing export returns. . .

Hefty prices predicted for NZ beef:

 The Meat Industry Association says prices for New Zealand beef will be kept high, fuelled by Asia’s strong demand for protein.

Chief executive Tim Ritchie said although the United States, the country’s biggest beef market, was rebuilding its cattle herd numbers after drought, it too remained a very firm market and he expected it to stay that way for some time.

Mr Ritchie said the outlook for the country’s beef prices and exports was very positive, as many Asian countries were urging their people to eat more protein. . .

Milk payout cut undoes three years hard work – Sue O’Dowd:

Having to borrow back hundreds of thousands of dollars paid off their loan in the last 2½ years is leaving a Hawera couple bitterly disappointed.

Amanda and Bryce Savage, 50:50 sharemilkers on a 134ha farm for Maori incorporation Parininihi ki Waitotara, raised a loan to buy their first farm, a 74ha property near Stratford, in 2013.

Fonterra’s revised dairy payout of $3.85 kilogram milksolids (kg MS), down from $5.25, means they feel they’re going backwards because they’ll have to borrow back all the money they’ve repaid off that loan. . .

First Threatened Species Ambassador appointed:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has today announced New Zealand’s first Threatened Species Ambassador is Nicola Toki.

The Ambassador will be a high-profile role within the Department of Conservation for all of the country’s threatened species, working to build partnerships and encourage New Zealanders to become involved in conservation efforts.

“As a nation, we face a major battle to save our threatened species. Our unique native wildlife is besieged by introduced pests and other threats,” Ms Barry says. . .

Bluegreen programme of improved environmental management outlined:

A programme of stronger national direction and guidance on key environmental issues was announced today by Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith at the Environmental Defence Society’s conference in Auckland.

“A key problem with the Resource Management Act is that there has been too little central government direction on major issues. We are stepping up our programme of National Policy Statements, National Environmental Standards and national guidance to get better environmental results at less cost,” Dr Smith says.

Dr Smith today released the Ministries for the Environment and Primary Industries’ new guide on implementing the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. . .

Half Share for Sale in Large New Zealand Pastoral Farming Portfolio:

Half the shares in a large pastoral farming operation, New Zealand Pastures Ltd (NZP), are being offered for sale.

NZP is a private company that owns seven properties in Otago and Canterbury with a combined value over $100 million. Its portfolio comprises two partially irrigated and five dryland farms, ranging in size between 958ha and 7,533ha that have been predominantly managed as lamb and beef grazing and finishing units. Combined land area is 23,500ha with an assessed carrying capacity around 140,000 stock units. . .

BioGro Introduces New Organic Service:

BioGro Ltd, New Zealand’s leading organic certifier, has introduced a new Initial Contact Meeting service to help make it easier for anyone looking to ‘go organic.’

The Initial Contact Meetings are designed to inform and assist producers interested in organic production and certification.

Since the programme launched in November 2014, the meetings have proven popular with over 20 farmers and producers across New Zealand taking part so far. . .

Rural round-up

July 28, 2015

Rural professionals asked to be vigilant for signs of personal drought pain – Tim Fulton:

Men have a habit of carrying forward problems in the recesses of their mind, farm accountant Pita Alexander has come to believe.

Most of his career has been social work with accountancy on the side, he quipped to peers at the Railway Tavern in Amberley.

Stock agents, bankers, accountants and farm advisors were offered the customary round of sandwiches and savouries at Wednesday’s mini meeting, but the mood was subdued. One speaker labelled the drought – not to mention the crash in dairying – a “precipice”.

That’s financial – millions upon millions in lost income – and very personal. . .

Forest safety director appointed:

A National Safety Director, Fiona Ewing, has been appointed to advance the work of the Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC).

This is a key role in the recently-formed Council, set-up to lead safety culture change and to drive improvement in safety performance across the sector.

Ms Ewing has 30 years’ experience as a health and safety professional in a wide range of industries including energy, engineering, construction, agriculture and forestry in the United Kingdom. Her most recent position was Group Manager Health Safety Environment and Quality for Powerco. . .

Hurunui irrigation project on hold:

A company developing an irrigation scheme in North Canterbury has put plans on hold while it waits for the Environment Court to give a final ruling on consents.

The board of the Hurunui Water Project has decided to not continue spending money on the $400 million Waitohi Irrigation Scheme, to conserve funds it might need for potential legal costs.

The proposed water storage is planned to sit along the length of the upper Waitohi River and provide irrigation around the Hawarden area. . .

New Māori aquaculture agreements signed:

New regional agreements for Māori commercial aquaculture have been signed by Government Ministers today, including Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

Three regional agreements have been signed with iwi from the Auckland, Tasman, and Marlborough regions following successful negotiations between the Crown and regional Iwi aquaculture organisations.

The agreements are the result of the Māori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004, which requires the Crown to provide Iwi aquaculture organisations with 20% of new commercial aquaculture space consented since October 2011, or anticipated to occur into the future.  . .

King Salmon looks at Southland expansion:

The world’s largest king salmon farmer is looking to move into Southland once space for a new fish farm can be found.

New Zealand King Salmon says the project would be worth $100 million a year and create 150 jobs.

But first it has to find a place to put its new farm.

The company’s chief executive, Grant Rosewarne, said the company was ready to expand so searched around New Zealand and decided south was the way to go. . .

New seafood and marine centre welcomed:

The decision by Plant & Food Research to invest with Port Nelson in a new purpose-built research facility in Akersten Street is great news for Nelson, says local MP Dr Nick Smith.

“This investment helps lock in Nelson’s status as the seafood capital of New Zealand. The industry already contributes $300 million per year in GDP and 3,000 jobs to the regional economy but the future depends on an ongoing investment in science and technology to generate more value, maintain high food standards and ensure sustainability of the resource,” Dr Smith says.

The total investment of $7.5 million, including shared facilities, specialist fit-out and tenant fit-out is to be built by Port Nelson but leased by Plant & Food for a term of 25 years to house the government research company’s 38 science and support staff. . .


Rural round-up

July 10, 2015

Former Fonterra boss Craig Norgate dies:

The former Fonterra boss, Craig Norgate has died. He was 50.

Mr Norgate had a spectacular rise in business, becoming head of New Zealand’s biggest company, Fonterra, at the age of 36. . .

$158,000 to protect Taranaki biodiversity:

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith today announced a $158,000 Community Environment Fund grant for a project which aims to protect native birds and forest at Rotokare Scenic Reserve in South Taranaki.

“This funding will help support the work underway to ensure a ‘halo’ more than 2000 hectares in area surrounding the predator-proof fence of Rotokare Scenic Reserve. This funding will extend the successful work of the Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust as well as neighbouring property owners and local councils to create a flourishing ecosystem in an area that was previously threatened by predators and land use change,” Dr Smith says. . .

ComCom to file court proceedings over price fixing – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – The Commerce Commission intends to file court proceedings against PGG Wrightson, Elders New Zealand and Rural Livestock by the end of the month, claiming the three fixed fees charged during the implementation of a national livestock tagging scheme.

The consumer protection authority is investigating fees charged during the adoption of the National Animal Identification and Trading Act 2012, commonly known as NAIT. A spokesman for the commission confirmed it intends to file proceedings against the three agricultural companies and five undisclosed individuals before the end of this month. . .

Improvements sought for forestry scheme:

A review to increase uptake for the Permanent Forest Sink Initiative is underway and the government is seeking feedback from industry on the proposed changes, says Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew.

Introduced in 2006, the Permanent Forest Sink Initiative was the first national scheme that allowed forest landowners to earn emissions units for the carbon stored within their forests. . .

More than one prize to aim for in South Island farming competition:

In addition to the top prize of a $20,000 travel fund, entrants in the 2015 Lincoln University Foundation’s South Island Farmer of the Year Competition will also be able to pitch for one of four special category prizes, with a cash prize of $5000 each.

Lincoln University Foundation Chairman Ben Todhunter said generous support from sponsors meant that the four prizes could again be offered this year, after their debut in the 2014 season. . .

Two Brands, Three Blokes, One New Wine Company:

Two renowned Marlborough wine brands are joining forces, with the backing of former employees.

Highfield and TerraVin Wines will now be known as Highfield TerraVin Ltd.

Winemakers Alistair Soper and Gordon Ritchie have joined with General Manager Pete Coldwell to run the new company, with all three men having some strong goals in mind. . .


Technology takes vineyard to the world:

One of New Zealand’s fastest growing and most innovative wine companies, Yealands Family Wines is taking its sustainability story to global markets via a leading edge, digital platform. features dynamic content captured via a series of live feeds, directly from the Yealands Estate Seaview Vineyard and Winery in Marlborough, New Zealand. The website aims to give consumers and the wine trade a unique, and authentic behind the scenes look at one of the world’s premier sustainable wine producers. . .



Rural round-up

June 20, 2015

Environment Commissioner warns water quality is “not out of the woods yet”:

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, today released two reports on water quality, calling for further steps to safeguard the quality of New Zealand’s fresh water.

“To its credit, the Government has invested heavily in developing policy to improve the management of fresh water,” said Dr Wright. “The 2014 National Policy Statement is a major step forward. Some regional councils have already begun to act and there is a real sense of momentum.”

“But we are not out of the woods yet. Some lakes and streams are below bottom lines and many others are not far above them. And in many places, water quality continues to decline.” . .

PCE report constructively points to next steps in water reform:

The Government has welcomed the two reports released today from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment on managing New Zealand’s freshwater reforms.

“This report acknowledges the step change in improving freshwater management through the National Policy Statement in 2011 and the addition of the National Standards in 2014, but it also challenges the Government on the next steps. The report is timely in that it can feed into the work we are doing with iwi leaders and the reinvigorated Land and Water Forum. Our plan is to have a discussion document out on the next steps in freshwater reform early in 2016,” Dr Smith says.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has recommended six improvements to the Freshwater National Policy Statement. The recommendations are: . . .

 Federated Farmers supports PCE report:

Federated Farmers welcomes the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s report on Managing Water Quality which supports our long held position that the National Policy Statement (NPS) is a major step forward for water management in New Zealand.

Dr Jan Wright has reflected on what has been an effective couple of years since her last report, with a sense of significant momentum in the regions. She has made six recommendations which overall we agree with excluding concerns around the exceptions policy.

Ian MacKenzie, Federated Farmers Environment Spokesperson, says “We agree with the Commissioner’s recommendation for a more strategic approach in prioritising the more vulnerable catchments. To date some councils have spread their efforts too far and thin when they needed to prioritise and make some real progress on the ones that are under the most pressure.” . . .

Landcorp says 2015 earnings ‘on track’ despite weaker dairy prices – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Landcorp Farming, New Zealand’s largest corporate farmer, said it doesn’t need to downgrade its earnings outlook in the wake of falling dairy prices remain weak, as it sheltered from volatility by locking in a guaranteed price at the start of the season.

Dairy product prices slipped in this week’s GlobalDairyTrade auction to the weakest level in almost six years. State-owned Landcorp in October cut its forecast for this year’s operating profit to a range of $1 million to $6 million, from a previous forecast range of $8 million-$12 million, citing weaker milk prices. However the company said it is protected from some of the recent weakness by taking up Fonterra Cooperative Group’s guaranteed milk price. . .

Grass-fed infant formula venture for Synlait:

Canterbury dairy company Synlait is going into partnership with United States company Munchkin to create a new infant formula.

California-based Munchkin has seven offices around the world, and is a leading manufacturer of infant and toddler products.

Synlait’s managing director Doctor John Penno said the unique aspect of this agreement was the product will be grass-fed.

“We’re differentiating inside the farm gate and in a way that really epitomises the very good things about the New Zealand grazing system. . .

Fonterra debate on the wrong track – Andrew Hoggard:

The argument about how well Fonterra is performing is gathering pace. People are claiming there is a bloated management.  We have politicians calling for the CEO to take a pay-cut.  That CEO has just indicated possible redundancies as an outcome of an internal review.

The view seems to be that a number of support roles in New Zealand need to go and be replaced by people in the market.

Pub talk fixes on how many are earning more than what amount, and then assumes that if the pay is slashed the problem is sorted.

I think we sometimes forget how big Fonterra is.  You don’t pay small wages to top people to run a business like that. A far more sensible discussion for us to be having would be on what Fonterra pays in wages as a percentage of turnover. And then break that down by division.  Then compare with other successful dairy co-ops from around the world and see what lessons we can take. . .

Waikato Seasonal Outlook: A new drought and rainy period forecasting system is giving farmers and other primary producer a chance to adjust schedules to improve production and protect investments and livelihoods.

When it comes to climate risks in New Zealand, the bluster and rage of tropical storms can steal the stage. But what has really garnered attention over the last ten years are the recurring droughts some of which have affected not just regional New Zealand but the whole country. These events can flare up quickly, and can cause considerable economic damage and stress to farmers and the ecosystems under their stewardship.

Drought is often insidious and creeping, intensifying over many months, stunting or killing crops and limiting grass growth and quality as it develops, reducing groundwater levels and river flow and drying out water supplies. It represents a more frequently occurring and persistent climate hazards faced by New Zealand. Conversely, extended rainy periods and the occasional extreme rainfall event characterised by excessively high rainfall totals over a short duration and typically covering small geographical areas can lead to their own set of problems for the country. . .



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