Rural round-up

18/11/2022

No workers to harvest, so farmer sacrifices 300,000 heads of lettuce – Gerhard Uys:

A farmer has been forced to plough more than 300,000 heads of fresh lettuce into the ground because he cannot find enough workers to manually harvest them.

Farm labour woes come on the back of the Government announcement that the official unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.3% in the three months to the end of September.

Alan Fong, a Waikato vegetable grower, said ploughing produce back into the ground was sad, especially because of high vegetable prices. In October, vegetable prices were up 17% on the year before.

In October, the average price of 1kg of lettuce was $6.43, Stats NZ said, up from $5.39 a year earlier and $3.64 the year before that. . . 

Lamb processing delays expected due to labour shortage – Sally Murphy :

Farmers are being told to expect delays for this years peak lamb kill, with the season expected to be longer due to labour shortages.

Processors have been struggling with staff shortages for the past two years due to the border closure and staff being off sick with Covid-19.

AgriHQs latest market update said staff shortages had been a major problem for some processing plants and in some cases lambs were sent back to the farm as there were not enough staff to process them all.

Alliance Group, which operates five meatworks in the South Island and two in the lower North Island, had not had to send lambs back, but farmers were experiencing wait times of 10 to 14 days. . . 

Lifecycle study challenges methane measurement – Richard Rennie:

A carbon lifecycle study on New Zealand red meat has been welcomed as a good start, with provisos, by climate change (āhuarangi panoni) researcher Professor David Frame.

Released by Beef + Lamb NZ, the lifecycle assessment (LCA) study has determined NZ’s red meat is among the most efficiently produced in the world. 

Per kilogram, sheepmeat produces 15kg of carbon dioxide, while beef produces 22kg per kilo of meat.

The report determined the outcome is largely driven by farm-level efficiencies, representing 95% of the products’ carbon footprint. . . 

Dairy land being lost at 1 percent a year, Fonterra – Nikki Mandow :

Fonterra says declining annual milk production will likely continue in the foreseeable future, as dairy farmers sell their properties or switch to alternative land use. But forests aren’t to blame.

Dairy farmers are converting their land away from cows and milk at about 1 percent a year, Fonterra chair Peter McBride says. And that’s something the company is going to have to live with. 

Speaking at the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund annual general meeting, McBride said land use change could even go faster, as a variety of factors – from ageing demographics and farmer lifestyle choices to stricter regulation around greenhouse gas emissions and water quality – put further pressure on farmers.

The trend is despite record farm gate dairy prices, which rose from $6.35 per kilo of milk solids in the 2018/19 season to $7.14 in 2019/20, $7.54 in 2020/21 and $9.30 last season. . . 

EastPack announces $30 million notes issue to meet growth in kiwifruit demand :

EastPack, the largest post-harvest operator in the New Zealand kiwifruit industry and one of the country’s largest cooperatives, today announced that it intends to raise $30 million via an issue of five-year subordinated Notes to New Zealand investors. EastPack will have the ability to take oversubscriptions of up to $10 million.

The amount raised will help expand packing capacity at EastPack including processing and packing efficiency.

The minimum interest rate for the Notes will be 8.5% per annum, paid quarterly in arrears. The interest rate is set annually and will be set at the higher of the minimum rate or the five-year government bond plus 4.5%. The initial interest rate is 8.9% per annum.

In its discretion, EastPack may redeem the Notes any time after 3 years. There is no intention to list the Notes on the NZX debt market but the notes will be tradeable via Syndex. . .

Livestock is a form of climate justice in the global south – Simplice Nouala:

As the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) proceeds in Egypt, few seem to be acknowledging that the elephant in the room is actually a cow. The livestock sector has faced global scrutiny for its contribution to climate change, but is reducing livestock production actually a fair, or even an honest, climate outcome?

The answer is less than straightforward when considering the billions of people living in the Global South. As counterintuitive as it might seem at a first glance to people living in the “Global North”, there is a strong case to invest more in sustainable livestock systems across the developing world as a matter of climate justice. Let me explain.

Having been widely recognised as the “African COP”, this year’s negotiations are emphasising the need to support the most vulnerable in adapting to climate change by requiring the wealthiest historic emitters of greenhouse gases to pay for the loss and damage that has already occurred. Livestock actually offers a compelling case for both of these priorities.

If COP27 is to truly deliver for Africa, this should start with recognising the vast differences between livestock in the Global North and South. Viewing livestock and its climate impact in developing countries through the same lens as livestock in the Global North is, at best, inaccurate, and at worst, actively harmful. . . 

 


Rural round-up

18/10/2022

Govt emissions scheme ‘attack on  food production’ – Sally Rae:

Farmers this week have been decrying the Government’s proposal for farm-level emissions pricing. Business and rural editor Sally Rae talks to an innovative Southland farmer who describes the move as an attack on food production.

Earlier this week, Blair Drysdale posted a photograph on social media of a crop of oats thriving in northern Southland.

It was destined to eventually end up as porridge oats, served up as a healthy homegrown breakfast on tables around the country’s homes.

But on the back of what Mr Drysdale described as the “Government attack on food production” — a proposed scheme that would require farmers to pay for agricultural emissions in some form by 2025 — he expected that would ultimately lead to a “dramatic” price increase for that porridge. . . 

Harakeke stronger and cleaner than fibreglass – Nikki Mandow :

Two 22-year-old industrial design students making a low-carbon fibreglass alternative out of harakeke are raising $2m to start taking their product global

Ben Scales knew harakeke was tough. He remembers running over a bush as a teenager the first time he got to use his parents’ ride-on mower. He blunted a brand new blade.

So when as an industrial product design student at Canterbury University he and fellow student William Murrell started looking for natural, carbon-friendly alternatives to materials like fibreglass and carbon fibre, he thought about the humble plant known as New Zealand flax.

“I was doing a materials engineering paper and learning about composite materials and I got a carbon fibre splinter and a headache from all the resins we were using and thought ‘This is a horrible industry’. And being a Gen Z perfectionist I’m like ‘How can we make some changes?’” . . 

Feds urges core infrastructure focus this councils triennium :

There are myriad issues facing local government but always keep front of mind the topic that was likely top of the list of most residents’ concerns out on the campaign trail – their rates bills.

That’s the request to newly-elected councillors up and down the country from Federated Farmers local government spokesperson Sandra Faulkner, with the final results in some close electoral races now confirmed.

“Federated Farmers congratulates all successful candidates, and thanks all of those who stood. It takes courage to put your name forward for an election,” says Sandra, who has just stepped down from a district council elected role herself.

As it has in the lead-up to past local government elections, Federated Farmers published a 2022 ‘platform’ of hot council issues, outlining the farming sector’s concerns and suggested changes on everything from three waters and Resource Management reform to rural road maintenance, climate change and environmental regulation. . . 

OSPRI advising hunters not to release pigs into new areas :

OSPRI are advising pig hunters not to release and relocate pigs into new areas. Not only is it illegal, but it can also spread disease and unintentionally restrict hunting in the area.

Over the years, OSPRI has worked hard to eradicate TB in possums from large areas of New Zealand. OSPRI’s North Island regional partner Phil Dawson says this work can all be undone by the reintroduction of TB infected pigs with the potential of spill back of infection into the possum population. “Essentially moving and releasing pigs from one area to another area can also introduce TB into an area. Possums can scavenge a hunted pig carcass or offal and get infected with TB.”

Steve McFall from the Te Kuiti Pig Hunting Club explains that anyone who is releasing pigs from an area that is TB country is putting pig hunting at risk and could severely restrict hunting in that region.

“The ramifications for livestock are huge, and it also negatively impacts the pig hunter because if TB is found in wildlife in the region any control measures taken can interrupt hunting in that area.” . . 

New Zealand Food Awards 2022 supreme triple win for Poaka proves small sustainable succeeds :

Sustainability was the winning theme at last night’s New Zealand Food Awards gala dinner, with free-range pork company Poaka taking three awards for its Whole Chorizo salami product, including Supreme Winner and both the Primary Sector and Cuisine Artisan Awards.

New Zealand Food Safety (NZFS) sponsored the Primary Sector category and Food Safety Minister Meka Whaitiri presented at the event in Palmerston North.

NZFS deputy director-general Vincent Arbuckle says the high quality of entrants was a good illustration of the quality and innovation driving the food sector.

“We have an excellent food system in New Zealand, driven by passionate, hard-working New Zealanders. These awards are an excellent opportunity to recognise some of that talent. . . 

Welcome clarity on gene editing – Erin K. Gowriluk:

After years of farmers being on the offensive on the gene editing issue, there is finally some positive news for our industry.

Following lengthy public consultations and data review, Health Canada concluded crops developed through gene editing are safe and, in most cases, will not require a pre-market safety assessment.

Gene editing is a technology where scientists alter specific genes in a plant to achieve desired traits. Experts believe it has the potential to reshape plant science, enabling a more rapid development of crop varieties.

With the elimination of the pre-market assessment requirement, crop science companies will no longer be required to conduct costly and time consuming trials to prove a crop is safe for humans and the environment. This update clarifies the guidance for public and private sector researchers working to bring nutritional, environmental and production enhancements to grains and oilseeds with the latest plant breeding techniques. . . 


Rural round-up

23/09/2022

Plant and pollute or right tree, right place for the right purpose? – 50 Shades of Green:

We acknowledge with gratitude the latest comments from the Climate Change Commission. That the ETS allows companies to “plant and pollute” and needs reform. These comments are consistent with 50 Shades of Green long running assertions that indeed, the ETS needs a good overhaul.

We continue to ask the Government. Please pause before the Sheep and Beef sector is challenged out of existence. [1]

What has happened under current policy settings? Instead of driving a change in behaviour, at source, the opposite has resulted in our valuable breeding country, the top of the supply chain, used as a proxy, relying too heavily on planting trees to absorb polluters’ carbon dioxide emissions.

While the government takes its time reviewing the ETS, our issue is they have happily ignored our valid and vindicated concerns. Uncritically relying too heavily on what we can only assume is official advice and not acknowledging the devastating effects on New Zealand Hill country constantly put to them. The recent additional sales confirmed, and in the pipeline of more valuable stations lost from the sector that produces c$10b in receipts for the country are gone for good. Sweeping rural communities away in their path. . . 

Huge gains for industry in 50 years of deer farming science :

From a noxious pest that should be exterminated to livestock providing high value products to the world, the deer industry in New Zealand has come a long way in 50 years – and the research that made it possible is now being celebrated.

An event next week at AgResearch’s Invermay campus near Dunedin will mark 50 years of deer farming science at the site by AgResearch and its predecessor organisations, always in close partnership with the deer industry and farmers. The half century of research has included major advances in understanding of deer nutrition, health, behaviour and genetics, and in development of products such as venison, velvet and milk that are exported around the world.

“Fifty years ago, researcher Ken Drew and veterinarian Les Porter thought it might be a good idea to put some science in behind the newly emerging deer farming industry,” says AgResearch’s programme leader for Deer Science for Success, Jamie Ward.

“With incredible backing by early industry participants, innovation, positivity, and fantastic researchers, Invermay became synonymous with the evolution of the New Zealand deer farming industry and earned an international reputation for its science and research output.” . . 

How CH4 Global is turning seaweed into fodder for farm ruminants – and hopes to cool the climate – Point of Order:

Big  strides  are  being  made in the  development  of  a  seaweed-based   product  which,  it  is  claimed,  reduces  methane  emissions in ruminant animals  by up  to 90%.

The product, which its champions say could resolve New Zealand’s climate change threat  from  methane emissions  in  the nation’s  dairy  herd, has  been sold  for  the  first  time—-to  an  Australian customer.

It has been made by CH4 Global™, Inc., a company which says it is

”… on an urgent mission to address climate change by providing our seaweed-based Asparagopsis products to farmers worldwide so they can dramatically reduce the methane emissions of their livestock and realize significant value in the process.” . . 

Trading trees for cows – Nikki Mandow:

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment is to report next month on offsetting short-lived methane emissions from livestock by planting fast-growing forests – a bid to address two of NZ’s most vexed climate problems simultaneously

Dr Rod Carr says markets – in this case the Emissions Trading Scheme – have an important part to play sending signals about the real costs of greenhouse gas emissions.

But speaking at the Climate Change & Business Conference this week, the Climate Change Commission chair warns the “plant and pollute” nature of the present trading scheme, where companies can buy their way towards net carbon zero using forestry plantings as offsets, risks allowing them to get away with not reducing their actual carbon emissions.

That’s why New Zealand needs new solutions – and just across Wellington, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment is exploring one such. . . 

Volatility and vulnerability in the rural sector :

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were -126 fewer farm sales (-38.2%) for the three months ended August 2022 than for the three months ended August 2021. Overall, there were 204 farm sales in the three months ended August 2022, compared to 255 farm sales for the three months ended July 2022 (-20%), and 330 farm sales for the three months ended August 2021.

1,545 farms were sold in the year to August 2022 — 278 fewer than were sold in the year to August 2021, with 2.6% more Dairy farms, 25.2% fewer Dairy Support, 21.5% fewer Grazing farms, 13.9% fewer Finishing farms and 17.5% fewer Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to August 2022 was $25,690 compared to $27,170 recorded for the three months ended August 2021 (-5.4%). The median price per hectare decreased by 6.5% compared to July 2022.

The REINZ All Farm Price Index decreased 8.3% in the three months to August 2022 compared to the three months to July 2022. Compared to the three months ending August 2021 the REINZ All Farm Price Index increased 3.6%. The REINZ All Farm Price Index adjusts for differences in farm size, location, and farming type, unlike the median price per hectare, which does not adjust for these factors. . .

Bill drawn to help cellar-door wine tasting:

A law change that will help streamline the process required for wineries to sell samples at the cellar door has been drawn from the Member’s Bill Ballot today, MP for Kaikoura and National’s Viticulture spokesperson Stuart Smith says.

“The Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Cellar Door Tasting) Amendment Bill will plug an important gap in the old legislation so that winery cellar doors can now charge visitors for wine samples without having to secure a separate on-license and all the costs associated with that.

“While this may be a small change, it will make a big difference to New Zealand’s wineries.

“This Bill has been drawn at an opportune time as wineries have faced significant costs and reduced production as a result of the pandemic. This regulatory change will ensure that they can provide cellar door services without the unnecessary extra red-tape. . .

 

New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards’ entries open October 1st:

With just over a week until entries open in the 2023 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, organisers of the regional programmes are gathering in Rotorua for the annual conference to learn how to deliver over 48 events and numerous judging days..

General Manager Robin Congdon says the conference is an opportunity for the many volunteers from around the country to come together after a busy winter season.

“The conference will be a busy few days, ensuring everyone knows what’s required to deliver the dynamic programme and bring them up to speed on this year’s changes made to the Share Farmer category judging process,” he says.

“The Exec have reviewed extensive feedback on last year’s changes to the Dairy Manager and Dairy Trainee categories, which was overwhelmingly positive. . .


Rural round-up

04/03/2022

Farmers short changed by Labour yet again :

Labour needs to explain why it is severely restricting the number of dairy farm workers allowed into the country for no apparent reason, National’s Immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford and Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger say.

“Last year the dairy sector requested border exceptions for 1500 international dairy workers that were urgently needed for this year’s calving season,” Ms Stanford says.

“But the Government only granted 300, meaning this crucial sector will be short staffed and overworked for yet another season.

“Agriculture is the backbone of our economy, but farmers have had enough of the constant roadblocks from this Labour Government – this time in the refusal to grant border exceptions for urgently-needed workers.” . .

NZ-UK FTA ‘significant boost’ for farmers – Sally Rae:

The signing of a free trade agreement between New Zealand and the United Kingdom represents a “significant boost” for New Zealand farmers and exporters, the Meat Industry Association says.

Lamb and beef would eventually be allowed quota- and tariff-free access for the first time in decades, it said.

Under the FTA, New Zealand’s beef and sheepmeat exports to the UK would be fully liberalised over time, with no duties from the 16th year after the deal came into force following ratification by both countries.

During this time, beef and sheepmeat would be subject to duty-free transitional quotas, the quota for New Zealand beef rising in annual instalments from a starting point of 12,000 tonnes until it reaches 60,000 metric tonnes in year 15, after which it would be duty- and tariff-free. . . 

Businesses concerned over Gisborne’s kiwifruit ‘rates grab’ – Nikki Mandow:

The district councils attempt to treat kiwifruit licences as rateable land improvements will have wide-reaching affects on other businesses.

Kiwifruit grower Tim Tietjen didn’t know the Gisborne District Council would be doubling the rates bill for his property until he read about it in the local paper.

In a radical shift from previous rating policy, the council had decided licences for the SunGold or G3 variety of gold kiwifruit – licences Tietjen and his fellow growers buy from kiwifruit marketer Zespri – would now be counted as land improvements and billed accordingly.

Instead of his property having a rated value of $2.8 million, it was now calculated at $4.1 million. . . 

Build a resilient farm business with bloody good tips from DWN and DairyNZ :

Dairy Women’s Network are helping current and future farm owners and teams to future-proof their businesses with a webinar series on How to Build a Bloody Good Business, funded by DairyNZ.

Run between the 7th and the 10th of March, the online webinar series will look at the qualities of a resilient business and strategies that can be implemented to protect your current or future business from the unknown; how to increase the resilience of your team when considering the current talent shortage; and the role that different systems and technology can play in building a healthy and successful business.

Speakers from ASB, Xero, Figured and McIntyre Dick and Partners (part of NZ CA Group Limited) will discuss and answer questions on how great financial business systems will help your business thrive, led by people and strategy specialist Lee Astridge from No8HR. . .

NZ wine industry welcomes UK free trade agreement :

New Zealand Winegrowers is pleased with today’s announcement that New Zealand has signed a historic free trade deal with the United Kingdom.

“The agreement is very positive for the New Zealand wine industry. This will help remove technical barriers to trade, and minimise burdens from certification and labelling requirements. It will also support future growth in the market, and encourage exporters to focus on the UK,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. . . 

Carbon neutral sheep and beef farm on the market for sale for the first time in 100 years:

A substantial highly developed sheep and beef breeding and finishing farm which has been continuously owned by members of the founder’s family for the past 100-years has been placed on the market for sale.

The 1,038-hectare property known as Te Maire at Flemington just south of Waipukurau in Southern Hawke’s Bay was established in 1920 by S.A. Robinson Senior who purchased 203-hectares following the splitting up of Tourere Station.

Over the ensuing decades, Robinson’s sons, and their sons, added to the property – buying neighbouring blocks with their associated infrastructure, and expanding Te Maire to its current size which is subdivided into some 222 paddocks.

Generations of the Robinson family have taken an environmental approach to Te Maire’s expansion – always conscious of balancing ecological aspects with improving productivity. . . 


Rural round-up

15/02/2022

Farmers to pay more for essential staff when borders open – Rachael Kelly:

Farmers, desperate for staff, will end up paying essential workers up to $40 an hour when the borders re-open.

The border opens to vaccinated skilled workers on March 13, but they must be earning one and a half times the median wage.

Federated Farmers national intensive winter grazing spokesperson Jason Herrick said the requirement would push wages up from $27 an hour for foreign staff now, to $40 an hour.

“It’s just another attack on farmers and the primary sector,” Herrick said. . . 

Marathon shearing effort nets $130,000 for charity hospital :

Organisers are thrilled with the support they received during a shearathon that has raised money for the Southland Charity Hospital.

The hospital is the brainchild of the late cancer care advocate Blair Vining and his wife, Melissa, who wanted better cancer care for all New Zealanders.

Last weekend, a group of shearers, wool handlers, and support crew raised more than $130,000 during the Shear4Blair Shearathon.

Shearers put their bodies on the line as they completed 24 hours of shearing time, broken into 12 two-hour runs. . . 

The untold story of New Zealand’s favourite berry – Don Rowe:

They’re almost ready. Lined up in their thousands on tall bushes beneath an early summer sky, the boysenberries gleam like hairy red-wine jewels, or bloodshot spider’s eyes. Just a few weeks from now these bulbous berries will be picked from the vine, weighed, packaged and sent across the country and abroad. Because New Zealand is the world’s leading producer of a particularly unlikely fruit.

Simply put, we’re mad about boysenberries. Every year around Christmas they flood the market in punnets, jams and frozen treats. According to Tip Top, Boysenberry Ripple — first released in 1960 — is the fourth-highest selling flavour in both two-litre tubs and the humongous 16-litre tubs used for rolling ice-cream cones at dairies. In prepackaged cones, the boysenberry Trumpet is second only to a classic chocolate. And while the Ripple is exported to China, Malaysia and the Pacific Islands, it is here at home that we race to the dairy like pigs to the trough, consuming — per capita — the most boysenberry ice cream in the world, and never more than in summer.

The boysenberry is a Frankenstein’s monster of a berry and a uniquely juicy, hefty little mongrel. First developed early last century in Anaheim, California, by Swedish immigrant Rudolf Boysen, it’s a hybrid of the European raspberry and blackberry, the American dewberry and the loganberry. Boysen was an amateur horticulturist who spent his days splicing various genera and cultivars. Then in the early 1920s, before his creation made him famous, he disappeared, leaving his farm a tangled decaying mess. . . 

Anger, grief as cavalcade is called off – Shannon Thomson:

Organisers of the 2022 Goldfields Cavalcade have made the “gut wrenching” decision to pull the pin on this year’s event.

The cancellation coincides with the cavalcade’s 30th year celebration.

The event was scheduled for February 26, with hundreds of cavalcaders due to converge at the end of it on host town Millers Flat on March 5.

However the move to the Red traffic light setting due to the surge of the Covid-19 Omicron variant and the introduction of new regulations forced organisers’ hands. . . 

Little-known family firm buys renowned Sacred Hill winery out of receivership – Nikki Mandow:

The Poulters are New Zealand’s biggest family-owned winemakers, as well as the largest supplier of bananas to supermarkets. They just bought top-end vineyard Sacred Hill – their first big brand. In all likelihood, you’ve never heard of them.

Sacred Hill’s new chief winemaker Nick Picone laughs when I say I’ve heard Steve Poulter, the Hawkes Bay vineyard’s super-low-profile new owner, works hard. Crazy hard. 

“I’ve only been here five minutes, but what I can tell you is I haven’t met anyone as driven and hardworking as Steve. And I’ve worked for some pretty driven people,” Picone says. His bosses include, for many years, Villa Maria founder George Fistonich, definitely no slouch.

Oh, and while we are talking driven, Picone clocked up 10 (yes, 10) New Zealand Winemaker of the Year or Winemaker of the Show titles between 2011 and 2020. His new job puts him in charge of the future of some pretty classy wine brands – Riflemans Chardonnay ($70 a bottle), Deerstalkers Syrah ($60), and Helmsman cabernet sauvignon blend ($85). . . 

Otago-Southland FMG Junior Young farmer of the Year and AgriKidzNZ winners announced:

The competition was hot on Saturday as 70 teams went head-to-head in a bid to take out the Otago Southland AgriKidsNZ and FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year titles.

Twins Zoe McElrea (Columba College) and Millar McElrea (John McGlashan College) were crowned FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year Otago Southland champions and will be off to compete at the Grand Final in July.

Meanwhile, the ‘Agriboys’, Jud Duffy, Will Bensemann, and Theo Dynes from St Peter’s College in Gore took out the top spot for the AgriKidsNZ contest. . . 

 


Rural round-up

10/02/2022

Covid-19: Some farmers with Covid-19 may be allowed to keep working – Minister :

Farmers who test positive for Covid-19 may be able to continue working if they’re vaccinated and not in contact with others, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says.

The government is giving $400,000 to rural support trusts and other agencies to help farmers and growers prepare a contingency plan as Omicron reaches further into the community.

It is urging farmers, growers and lifestyle block owners to have a plan for who will help run their farm or feed livestock at short notice in the event they test positive for Covid-19.

People who test positive are required to self-isolate for at least 14 days and be symptom-free for 72 hours. . . 

Country of origin labelling soon to be mandatory for fresh and thawed foods:

New regulations taking effect this weekend will give consumers more information about where their food comes from.

From 12 February 2022, businesses must comply with the new Consumer Information Standards (Origin of Food) Regulations that apply to certain fresh and thawed foods: fruit, vegetables, finfish, shellfish, and cured pork such as ham, bacon, and prosciutto. If these foods are frozen, they must state the country of origin from 12 May 2023.

“Mandatory country of origin information will let consumers know where certain food comes from, and help them make informed decisions when they are buying these products,” said General Manager Fair Trading Vanessa Horne.

Foods covered by the Regulations will need to state the country of origin on the packaging or on a sign nearby. . . 

Tribunal win for Gisborne kiwifruit growers – Matthew Rosenberg,:

Kiwifruit growers have won their battle against Gisborne District Council over new rate hikes from producing the golden variety of the fruit.:

In December 2020, authorities in Gisborne decided licences to grow gold kiwifruit – which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per hectare – constitute an increase in value to the land, warranting a rates increase.

Gisborne was the first region to adjust land valuation for growers of the golden variety based on the value of the growing licence.

But the decision received backlash from the industry, with NZ Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) bringing a judicial review proceeding to the High Court, supporting an objection grower Tim Tietjen had before the Land Valuation Tribunal. . . 

How Comvita went form two to 200 staff in China – Nikki Mandow:

Our biggest mānuka honey company has had a presence in China for almost 20 years. Its experience offers a fascinating insight into selling health and food products in this vast, varied, and rapidly-changing market.  |  Content partnership

In the late 1990s, a health-conscious Chinese businessman called Zhu Guangping was on holiday in Hong Kong and browsing through a pharmacy when he discovered a New Zealand bee product brand he liked.

Comvita was finding a growing clientele among Chinese tourists who bought their mānuka honey, propolis and other bee products in Hong Kong and later, as China’s outgoing travel restrictions relaxed, in New Zealand.

They bought for themselves, for family and friends, even to sell when they got home – an early manifestation of what would become the multi-billion dollar ‘daigou’ personal shopper revolution. . .

FMG Young Farmer finals set to kick off under red light :

Excitement is building for the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Contest Series Regional Finals, kicking off this Saturday in Waimumu.

The Otago Southland Contest Series Regional Final is going ahead under the red light Covid Protection Framework with a 100-person limit and My Vaccine Pass requirements.

New Zealand Young Farmers Chief Executive Lynda Coppersmith says it’s exciting to be able to continue to host events with clear Government guidelines in place.

“Over the last two years the Contest Series has been seriously impacted by COVID, but our teams have done an amazing job of pivoting with different alert levels, restrictions and all the different scenarios that have arisen,” she said. . .

Where are the milk buyers? ask dairy farmers of Ganderbal in Kashmir – Mubashir Naikrshad Hussain:

On learning that hundreds of litres of milk were not being bought by dealers in Kashmir’s Srinagar City, the dairy farmers in Ganderbal district emptied their cans of milk in drains, as a mark of protest, on Saturday, 31 January.

The dairy farmers of Lar area in the Ganderbal district are worried about losing their decade-old job, on which their entire livelihood is dependent.

My friend and I travelled to Lar in Ganderbal district and spoke to the people involved in the business.

Zamrooda Banu, 34, a dairy farmer from Repora in Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district sold her gold bangles and other belongings to buy 20 cows. She hoped it would help her family. . . 


Rural round-up

15/12/2021

Women forge farming futures together – Sally Rae:

A farm training institute with a difference opened its gates in Northern Southland at the beginning of this year. Business and rural editor Sally Rae checks out how the first year of the Fairlight Foundation went.

For the past year, Emma Foss, Yvonne van Baarle and Ella Eades have lived, worked and learned together.

Now they are preparing to go their separate ways, pursuing careers in the rural sector, but they will always share a common bond as the first interns of the Fairlight Foundation.

The foundation is a female-only farm training institute based at Fairlight Station, a 2500ha property near Garston, in Northern Southland, owned by Simon and Lou Wright, and Doug and Mari Harpur. . .

Data ‘wrangler’ happy on block –  Sally Rae:

She describes herself as a recovering academic.

Most days, Nicola Dennis is happily ensconced in her home office, on a rural block of land in East Otago, surrounded by animals, and doing her thing as a “data wrangler”.

In November, Dr Dennis made the move to self-employment, establishing her own business which focused on the agricultural sector which she has been involved in since graduating from university.

Originally from Northland, her parents moved to be dairy farmers in Southland in 1996. She always had a love of animals, being outside and living in a rural setting. . . 

 

A day in the life of a beekeeper – Nikki Mandow:

The sun is shining, the mānuka is coming into flower and New Zealand’s beekeepers are hoping for a great season. But as business editor Nikki Mandow discovered, producing some of the world’s best honey products is way harder than it sounds.

If you want to write a story about beekeepers, you better be prepared to get up early. I talk to Alejandro Gibson, Comvita’s Taupo-based apiary manager, at 7am, but he’s already been up a couple of hours, is dressed in his hi-viz gear, and is champing to get off the phone to head off to his hives, before it gets too hot for the bees. 

Talking to journalists? Not high priority on a sunny day. 

But then I ask the question: “What’s it like being a beekeeper?” and any impatience or reluctance disappears. Gibson’s love for bees is infectious – almost an hour later, when I press stop on the Zoom recording, I’ve caught the bug. . . 

Tomato prices pull down overall food prices:

Food prices fell 0.6 percent in November 2021 compared with October 2021, mainly influenced by lower prices for tomatoes, Stats NZ said today.

Tomato prices fell 49 percent in November. However, their price was 54 percent higher than a year ago.

“The weighted average price of 1kg of tomatoes fell from $12.04 in October 2021 to $6.16 in November 2021,” consumer prices manager Katrina Dewbery said. “This compares with $3.99 in November 2020.”

Monthly fruit and vegetable prices fell 6.7 percent in November. As well as lower tomato prices, there were lower prices for broccoli, strawberries, and potatoes. These falls were partly offset by higher prices for apples, kiwifruit, and carrots. . . 

New Zealand winegrowers launches 2021 mentoring programme:

New Zealand Winegrowers is delighted to launch the 2021 Mentoring Programme. This programme aims to support wine industry members increase their confidence, focus on their self-development and reach their goals.

The programme matches one mentee with an experienced mentor from within the New Zealand wine industry, following a careful selection and matching process. The pair then meet regularly over the next six to eight months as the mentee sets goals, makes plans to reach them and is encouraged and supported by their mentor.

Previous mentors and mentees have found the programme incredibly valuable, with the 2021 programme the biggest so far including 18 matched pairs. Applications were received throughout September and October, matches carefully made and the mentor and mentee workshops run by Fiona Fenwick were held at Giesen’s Ara Wooldshed Cellar Door in Blenheim. Auckland mentors had their session online due to Covid Alert Level restrictions. . . 

NZ Dairy Industry Awards’ dairy trainee numbers increase:

The Dairy Trainee category has received a substantial increase in the number of entries for the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

170 entries have been received in the refreshed category including 27 in Canterbury region, 22 in Waikato and 21 in Southland/Otago.

Nationally, 112 entries were received in the Dairy Manager category and 82 entered Share Farmer of the Year.

NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon said a total of 364 entries were received for the Awards.  . . 

 


Rural round-up

31/10/2021

‘Farmers in limbo’: Water permit decision disappoints – Hamish MacLean:

A disappointed Otago farming sector says it has been left in the lurch by the Environment Court’s interim decision on the Otago Regional Council’s water permits plan change.

The court decision said interim consents to replace expiring water permits should be limited to a term of six years.

Otago Federated Farmers president Mark Patterson said as a result farmers would have trouble getting financial backing for supporting infrastructure due to the uncertainty short-term consents created.

‘‘The farmers are going to be left in absolute limbo,’’ he said. . .

Can Fonterra finally focus on adding value to milk – please – Nikki Mandow:

Fonterra has been talking up value-add as a way to add value for shareholders for a decade, to little effect. Could this time be any different? Business editor Nikki Mandow pores over a decade of Fonterra annual reports.

“We have clear aspirations,” trumpets Fonterra in its 2016 annual report, alongside a soft-focus photo of a nice-looking cream cake. “By 2023, our foodservice operations [a jewel in the Fonterra value-add crown] will be a $5 billion business, supplying over five billion LME [liquid milk equivalent] of dairy products to customers around the world.”

How Fonterra’s foodstuffs business was going to grow from a less than $2 billion operation to $5 billion wasn’t at all clear in that 2016 report, but who cared? There would be New Zealand mozzarella for the world’s pizza chefs, butter for the bakers, cream for the cake makers, and money for the farmers and shareholders. Hurrah! 

Except it didn’t happen. . . 

Flowers for mental health – Jessica Marshall:

United Flower Growers (UFG) have teamed up with florists across New Zealand and the NZ Peony Society to campaign for mental health funds.

The Peonies with a Purpose campaign for 2021 will see $1 from purchases of bouquets of Peonies made at selected retailers go to the Mental Health Foundation.

“We have teamed up with a number of influencers to help spread the word,” says a spokesperson for UFG.

“Looking after the mental health of Kiwis is important to us and anything we can do to support this amazing cause with our beautiful blooms, we are happy to do so,” they told Rural News. . .

Document designed to save key data  – Alice Scott:

A series of life experiences have come to fruition for a North Otago farming mother.

The result has been a one-of-a-kind online business, one which she hopes, might at the very least start a “what if” conversation for those in the rural sector.

Mother-of-two Paige Wills farms sheep and deer with her husband Richard in the Waitaki Valley.

She recently launched a business called My Peace of Mind; a comprehensive in-case-of-emergency document designed to help people organise all their essential information in case someone experiences an illness, injury or death so their family will have all the important information clearly laid out and all in one place. . . 

Ben McNab from Palliser wins Tonnellerie de Mercurey North Island Young Winemaker regional competition:

Congratulations to Ben McNab, Assistant Winemaker at Palliser in Martinborough, who came became the 2021 Tonnellerie de Mercurey North Island Young Winemaker of the Year. The competition was held on 27th October at EIT in Hawke’s Bay.

As the 2020 winner of the North Island competition Ben says “Defending the title added a bit more pressure so I was very relieved to come out on top again this year, especially as the calibre of the other contestants was so high.” He is thrilled to go through to the National Final and looking forward to competing against Jordan Moores from Valli and Peter Russell from Matua as he knows them both quite well. “It’s going to be a great competition. It will be tough, but with a real buzz. I can’t wait!”

Congratulations also goes to Kaitlin Bond from Indevin in Gisborne who came second and to Douw Grobler from Trinity Hill in Hawke’s Bay who came third. . . 

Station well poised on wine country’s edge:

Birch Hill Station’s proximity to Wellington means it offers an exciting range of options from its traditional pastoral sheep and beef base.

The 1,579ha (1,320ha effective) property sits only 10 minutes southeast of Martinborough in picturesque southern Wairarapa, offering a good mix of flat, rolling and steeper country that includes some attractive terraced land.

Bayleys Wairarapa salesperson Lindsay Watts says properties of Birch Hill’s expanse and quality are rare to the market, typically held intergenerationally by families.

Treating the station as his own, long-time manager Stuart Ross has overseen a high standard of farming, with exceptional land stewardship and stock. . .

 


Rural round-up

14/10/2021

Simplistic water rules not usable – Jacqueline Rowarth:

What is simple is always wrong. What is not is unusable.

French philosopher and poet Paul Valery wrote those sentences in 1942. We should remember the words in our struggles to find a way forward for agriculture.

Around New Zealand the regional and local authorities are dealing with the National Policy Statements, particularly those for freshwater. The goal is to find an indicator of water quality and apply a regulation.

It is not an easy task. . .

Vets need dedicated MIQ spots now :

An acute shortage of vets could lead to animal welfare issues if the Government does not respond to the New Zealand Veterinary Association.”

National Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says the association contacted her this week after months of lobbying the Government for managed isolation and quarantine spaces (MIQ) to get overseas vets into NZ.

“Earlier this year, MPI and Minister O’Connor advocated for 50 border exceptions for vets to enter the country.

“But these vets are unable to book spaces, in the lottery that is, this country’s MIQ system. . .

Hive to home: Comvita’s tough turnaround road – Nikki Mandow:

Over the past 18 months, our largest mānuka honey producer, Comvita, had to make some tough calls to turn around the business. But a hard-won strategy to control the whole supply chain – from hive to home – could end up being its secret weapon.

It all started in 1916 with a six-year-old boy called Claude Stratford keeping bees and making honey on his parents’ small South Island farm. He left school at 11, and started putting his bike on the Cook Strait ferry to take his honey to sell in Wellington.

He maybe didn’t know it, but he was running a one-kid, end-to-end supply chain management system.

Half a century later, in 1974, Stratford, then in his mid-60s, teamed up with Alan Bougen, a self-confessed hippy 40 years younger than himself. The pair founded a company, Comvita, based on selling natural health food products, mostly related to bees. There was mānuka honey, of course, but also bee pollen, honey vinegar, lozenges, and an elixir to help with coughs and sore throats. . .

Poultry farmers face added costs in effort to stamp out salmonella strain :

The Ministry for Primary Industries has introduced stricter controls for the poultry industry in a bid to control an outbreak of salmonella enteritidis.

The disease was first discovered in an Auckland hatchery in March – it’s since been found in 11 poultry operations.

Most infected flocks have been culled and only two farms remain actively infected – they can not sell product for human consumption.

The salmonella strain posses a health risk to humans, who can get sick from eating infected meat or eggs which haven’t been thoroughly cooked. . .

Cash injection for pines to natives forest conversion project:

The country’s largest ‘pine to natives’ forest conversion project has been given a $15,000 cash injection by a leading producer of radiata pine products. The initiative by Hawke’s Bay-based Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust (FLRT) is converting the former Maungataniwha Pine Forest into 4,000 hectares of regenerating native forest and now has the financial backing of the Pan Pac Environmental Trust.

The land lies adjacent to the Maungataniwha Native Forest, a 6,120-hectare swathe of New Zealand bush straddling the ridge system between the Te Hoe and Waiau Rivers in northern Hawke’s Bay, bordered to the north by Te Urewera National Park and to the west by the Whirinaki Conservation Forest.

Eighty years ago, the land was covered in mature native forest full of mistletoe, kiwi, kokako and kaka. The mature podocarps were logged and in the 1980s some 4,000 hectares were clear-felled and burnt for the planting of pine trees. . .

 

New Zealand genetics company Tropical Dairy Group announces capital raise on catalist:

New Zealand dairy genetics company Tropical Dairy Group Limited (TDG) announced today a private offer on Catalist – a new stock exchange designed for small to medium enterprises (SMEs).

Seeking to raise $3 million from wholesale investors, TDG is the holding company and 100% owner of both Thermo Regulatory Genetics Limited and Dairy Solutionz (NZ) Limited, founded in 2018 and 2009 respectively.

The raise comes ahead of an intended public listing in early 2022 on the Catalist Public Market.

Focused on developing heat-tolerant cattle in tropical climates, TDG’s genetics are sold into markets throughout Asia, the USA and South America, improving animal welfare and helping the world’s hottest communities provide greater food and protein security. . .


Rural round-up

16/02/2021

Hackles rise over stock reduction numbers – Hamish MacLean:

A possible 15% reduction in livestock numbers on red meat and dairy farms by 2030 could break New Zealand’s under-pressure agriculture industry, some farmers fear.

While industry groups are taking a cautious approach to the Climate Change Commission’s draft advice package, its preferred path includes reduced livestock numbers by 2030.

And the already weary farming sector feared an urban-centred Government could again make changes for rural New Zealand that did not match what was happening on the ground, Riverton sheep farmer Leon Black said.

Mr Black, a former Beef + Lamb New Zealand southern South Island director, said any policy that led to fewer farms in the South would be catastrophic for rural communities. . . 

Concern over land reform changes – Annette Scott:

Changes proposed in the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill threaten the viability of high country farming for pastoral lessees.

The Bill proposes to amend the Crown Pastoral Land Act 1998 and the Land Act 1948, to end tenure review and redesign the regulatory system to deliver improved Crown pastoral outcomes.

But farmers say the Bill is poorly drafted, placing unreasonable limitations on day-to-day farming activities for pastoral leaseholders.

Farmers will be bogged down in red tape and environmental outcomes would go backwards. . . 

Zespri faces a China conundrum – Keith Woodford:

China is New Zealand’s biggest kiwifruit market. Growth of this market has been spectacular with the Zespri-owned SunGold variety much-loved by Chinese consumers. The problem is that the Chinese are also growing at least 4000 hectares of SunGold without the permission of Zespri. 

That compares to about 7000 hectares of SunGold grown in New Zealand.

The question now facing Zespri and the New Zealand kiwifruit industry is what to do about it.  There are no easy solutions.

This issue is something I discussed with local folk in the kiwifruit-growing regions of China way back in the years between 2012 and 2015. It did not need an Einstein to work out that the SunGold budwood was already there. . . 

Kiwifruit settlement a token, but an important one – Nikki Mandow:

This weekend’s settlement over PSA kiwifruit disease compensation is good news for the taxpayer, but bad news for business owners, particularly farmers. 

On Saturday morning, a group of kiwifruit growers announced they had reached a settlement with the Crown over damages they suffered after virulent kiwifruit vine disease PSA entered New Zealand. The bacteria arrived in 2009 in imported Chinese pollen because of a Ministry of Primary Industries biosecurity blunder at the border, and it devastated the industry.

The growers wanted $450 million, plus interest, to compensate them for the destruction of their orchards; in some cases the destruction of their livelihoods. 

But late on Friday night, with the final stage of a seven year-long court battle due to start in the Supreme Court today, they settled for $40 million. . . 

‘Absolutely gutted’: Maniototo A&P Show cancelled over alert level move – Yvonne O’Hara:

The Maniototo A&P Show, scheduled for Wednesday, has been cancelled.

Secretary Janine Smith said organisers made the tough decision to cancel the show after the Government moved the nation to Alert Level 2 and Auckland to Alert Level 3 on Sunday night.

The situation was being assessed by the Government every 24 hours. . . 

Cattle game is trusted; but society still wants oversight – Shan Goodwin:

Cattle producers enjoy a high level of trust by the Australian community but that does not equate to support for a relaxed regulatory environment.

This is the key finding from first-of-its-kind independent research into public perceptions of the cattle industry’s environmental performance, from a team headed up by The University of Queensland.

The work points to the need for a rethink of how the industry sometimes frames the relationship between environmental regulation and community trust.

A well-designed regulatory framework that is developed with the engagement of key stakeholders enables the demonstration of sound environmental performance and should not be framed as a burden, or the result of society being ‘on our back’, says lead researcher Dr Bradd Witt. . . 


Rural round-up

02/02/2021

We need to science our way out of this:

It’s time for the New Zealand public to get ready for a discussion about how science can lead us out of our climate change crisis, Federated Farmers says.

Yesterday’s report released by the Climate Change Commission was a massive piece of work which dives into every corner of New Zealand’s approach to achieving its climate change goals.

The report challenges Kiwis to rethink just about every part of their lives, Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard says.

And farmers are no different to anyone else, except that they’ve been talking about science-based analysis, data gathering and solutions for much longer. . . 

Fewer cows recommendation absolute nonsense :

‘The Climate Commission’s recommendation to reduce livestock numbers by 15% by 2030 is not sensible, practical or justified,’ Robin Grieve, chairman of FARM (Facts About Ruminant Methane) said today.

Reducing livestock numbers will invariably cost New Zealand export income and mean that less food is grown. With an increasing global population that needs feeding this policy is not only anti human and selfish, it will also cause more global emissions as other countries with less efficient farming systems will have to produce the food New Zealand does not. Such a recommendation by the Commission is as silly as New Zealand reducing emissions by cutting Air New Zealand flights and letting Qantas take up the slack.

Reducing livestock might reduce carbon emissions but the bulk of these carbon emissions are sourced from methane and are not causing the warming the system attributes to them. . . 

The case of the catastrophic virus and government’s liability – Nikki Mandow:

This month, kiwifruit growers go to the Supreme Court seeking compensation over officials’ inadvertent release of the virulent vine disease PSA. And the case has far wider implications.

In June 2009, MAF (the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, now part of MPI) granted an import licence for some Chinese kiwifruit pollen, which turned out to be contaminated with the kiwifruit vine killing bacteria pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae, or PSA. 

The impact was devastating. Pollen infected a farm in Te Puke, then more farms, and as the disease took hold across the North Island, entire orchards had to be destroyed and several hundred farmers lost hundreds of millions of dollars.   . .

Summer sunflower crop sows seeds of interest – Ruby Heyward:

Popular sunflowers near Weston are in full bloom, and are attracting more than just birds.

Owners Peter and Sandra Mitchell said the flowers generated a lot of interest and it was not uncommon for people to stop and take pictures.

Although the couple did not mind visitors enjoying the flowers, it became an issue when people entered the field, and took or knocked over flowers.

People would sometimes get a shock when hopping over the electric fence placed around the crop to deter the farm’s cattle, Mr Mitchell said. . . 

Couple’s business inspired by lockdown mushrooming – Ashley Smyth:

Anna Randall and Daniel Eisenhut believe there’s something magical about mushrooms, and something equally magical about Oamaru. They speak to Ashley Smyth about their recent move and watching their fledgling business, Waitaki Mushrooms, take off.

For some, last year’s Level 4 lockdown offered time to reflect on priorities and seize opportunities.

Former Aucklanders Anna Randall and Daniel Eisenhut are two of those people.

The couple had previously considered moving south, but were nervous about leaving the bright lights and busyness of city life. . . 

 

The 20 most influential people in Australian agriculture – Natalie Kotsios , Peter Hemphill, James Wagstaff , Alexandra Laskie and Ed Gannon,

THEY are the people who make ag tick — the movers and shakers of Australian agriculture.

From the absolute peak of world trade power, down to those who keep our farms going day-to-day.

This inaugural list of Australian ag’s top 20 power players reveals an industry that has a strong backbone, yet is at the mercy of global politics and a fragile labour system, laid bare by the Covid crisis.

The power players were chosen by The Weekly Times for their influence on agriculture, for how their actions affect the entire industry, and for their ability to make big decisions. . . 


Rural round-up

07/01/2021

Massive deluge ‘kick in teeth ‘ at start of year – Hamish MacLean:

The deluge that drowned crops, dug up roads, and overwhelmed water supplies in Otago to start the year was a “real kick in the teeth” for many.

In some places, localised downpours dumped up to a third of the annual average rainfall for an area on to land and into rivers that could not cope.

And while a cleanup that could take weeks or months was under way yesterday, the region’s mayors said Otago had weathered another major storm.

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan said things were slowly returning to normal yesterday but roads remained closed, bridges were damaged, and three towns were on boil-water notices. . . 

Few ATMs, unreliable internet – and now banks cheque-mate farmers – Nikki Mandow:

Banks are accused of discriminating against rural customers by phasing out cheques before the broadband rollout to farms is complete. A Rural Women survey shows one in four families have little or no bank or ATM access, and many still have no internet – but the banks are ripping up their cheques.

Farmers and rural households are being told to switch to internet banking when banks stop accepting cheques this year. Yet thousands still have no access to broadband. Go figure.

In August 2020, Rural Women NZ sent out a survey to members, a survey which garnered the highest response rate that government relations manager Angela McLeod can remember over the two years she’s been in the job. 

Her members weren’t getting hot under the collar about health or education, agriculture or the environment. It wasn’t even a survey about firearms – although that survey got the second highest response rate.  . . 

How the Canes make hay while the sun shines – The Country:

Malcolm Cane has always preferred to do it himself, from silage and haymaking to drilling and cultivating.

Looking back over 30 years of deer-farming, it’s probably been a big part of his success.

Cane and his wife Kathy farm 390ha at Reporoa, of which 146ha is leased to a dairy farmer.

The Canes run about 1000 stags and 500 hinds, plus about 500 mixed-sex weaners at any one time. . . 

Detectors help bat walks work – Richard Davison:

Visitors to the Catlins have a chance to catch one of the area’s more elusive residents on the wing this summer.

Owaka couple Annette and Murray Patterson are leading a pair of New Zealand long-tailed bat detection walks during the holidays, under the twin banners of South Otago Forest and Bird, and the Catlins Bats on the Map project.

The first, successful, outing took place on December 29, and aspiring chiropterologists (bat scientists) could sign up for the second, at Tawanui, on Saturday, January 16, Mrs Patterson said.

The walks form part of an ongoing study programme led by self-described “bat lady” Catriona Gower, which has identified key Catlins locations for the critically endangered native mammal species. . . 

People are seasonal too – Stephen Barnard:

Over the festive period a number of city folk will have packed the car and travelled into the regions to catch up with their farming relatives.

If they completed the same trip last year they might have noticed changes in the countryside on their way. Hopefully greener pasture, fuller dams and fatter livestock.

Once arrived they might have been greeted by a swarm of flies, a pack of farm dogs making an eager inspection, and by talk of the weather, the harvest and the market.

Depending on the farm, they’ll have witnessed a flurry of activity as crops were harvested, or else not much at all as their family members took a well-earned break. . .

Emphasise UK meat’s sustainability this year, sector says :

Wales could put forward positive credentials as the world’s most sustainable place to produce red meat as climate change is set to dominate 2021, according to an industry figure.

In his New Year’s Day message, Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) chairman Kevin Roberts painted an up-beat picture of the long-term future of Welsh red meat.

Mr Roberts’s reminded the food and farming industry that Welsh beef and lamb were strong brands that consumers could trust in uncertain times.

He pointed out that UK retail sales of lamb and beef had risen in 2020 as consumers supported domestic farmers, that European importers had stuck with Welsh meat through the worst of Brexit uncertainty, and that long-term work to develop new markets was paying off. . . 


Rural round-up

21/11/2020

European potato ‘dumping’ hurting– Toni Williams:

An influx of European potato fries into New Zealand has already impacted on domestic growers, with less product planned for growing and staff job losses.

Hewson Farms, in Mid Canterbury, grows on average around 350ha of potatoes a year as part of its operation. It grows a large tonnage for McCain Foods, but it also grows onions, wheat, ryegrass, clover, hybrid vegetable seed, seed carrots, beetroot, hybrid rape kale and linseed.

Director Ross Hewson said the influx of European fries into New Zealand, as shown in New Zealand trade figures, resulted in more than 40 containers of product flooding into the domestic market.

There was an even larger influx into Australia, he said. . . 

Lewis Road: a tale of two butters – NIkki Mandow:

The (true) story of how a former global advertising guru with a passion for making patisserie and a former international banker and property investor with a passion for dung beetles may just have produced that rare prize – a New Zealand value-add dairy export brand

Anyone shopping at the gourmet Central Market grocery store in Austin, Texas last year might have been surprised to know that the middle aged man handing them a slice of bread and butter to taste wasn’t a down-on-his-luck casual retail worker, but a high net worth Kiwi businessman on a mission to reform New Zealand dairy.

Former Saatchi & Saatchi global boss Peter Cullinane, better known in New Zealand as the guy that sparked that chocolate milk madness in 2014, was accompanied on those trial-by-in-store-tastings by his Lewis Road colleague and company general manager Nicola O’Rourke.  . .

2020 Agricultural Journalism Awards:

Winners of the 2020 NZ Guild of Agricultural Journalists & Communicators Awards were announced at the eighteenth anniversary dinner, sponsored by Ravensdown, in Wellington on Friday 16 October.

Following are the award-winning entries. Most are linked to online items, but some are in pdf format requiring Acrobat Reader.

Ministry for Primary Industries Rongo Award

This award is for excellence in journalism in the primary sector. . . 

Tech-Talk – supporting supply chain transparency :

Consumers are increasingly calling for more transparency within supply chains and University of Canterbury PhD student Pouyan Jahanbin wants to do something about it.

Jahanbin knew that issues such as sustainability, child-labour and animal welfare were impacting consumer choices so he decided to develop a tool which will give people information about products at the point of sale, in real time.

Part of his research in Information Systems (IS) aims to comprehend the needs of all participants in the food supply-chain in order to develop an app that allows suppliers, growers, packers and distributors to share product information with consumers.

Pouyan says using blockchain technologies will improve trust and transparency of information and make verifying and sharing it easy. . . 

Producer prices whey down for dairy manufacturers:

Prices paid to dairy product manufacturers fell sharply in the September 2020 quarter, reversing gains in the March and June quarters, Stats NZ said today.

Despite falling 13 percent in the September quarter, the price level remains relatively high, similar to the highs observed in 2013.

“In the three months to September, prices fell for a variety of dairy products traded in the Global Dairy Trade auction, dipping from higher levels seen earlier in the year,” business prices delivery manager Bryan Downes said.  . . 

Significant Queenstown station up for sale:

One of New Zealand’s most prominent alpine properties has been listed on the open market for the first time in 40 years.

Halfway Bay Station – a phenomenal 18,000-ha station located on the shores of Queenstown’s majestic Lake Wakatipu – is now up for sale through premium real estate agency New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty (NZSIR). A large and unique landholding of this scale is likely to receive offers in excess of $50 million.

NZSIR sales associates Matt Finnigan and Russell Reddell say they are anticipating interest in the property from Kiwi residents and syndicates, expats and internationals. . .


Rural round-up

13/05/2020

Hard line on consent deadline adds to farmers’ stress:

Hawke’s Bay farmers grappling with fallout from one of the worst droughts in living memory are extremely disappointed no leeway is being given over an imminent resource consent deadline.

Federated Farmers has been trying to help Tukituki farmers dealing with the drought, a severe feed shortage and the Covid-19 lockdown. The end of May deadline for consents to continue to farm under the Tukituki catchment plan is adding considerably to the stress, Feds Hawke’s Bay Vice-President Matt Wade says.

To try and relieve some of the pressure, Federated Farmers and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council together wrote to Environment Minister David Parker asking for an extension of the consent deadline. . . 

Don’t block trade – Peter Burke:

Dairy processors are warning that any suggestion that New Zealand should adopt a protectionist trade stance is “stupid”.

Dairy Companies Association of NZ (DCANZ) chairman Malcolm Bailey told Dairy News he’s concerned about remarks by certain politicians; they have been quoted as thinking along these lines, he adds.

Bailey says at some stage COVID-19 will transition from being a health problem to an economic problem. Any rise in protectionism will be bad for us.

He says as an economy NZ has done very well “because we have a trading mentality and we have to encourage that and tell other nations that we are able to sell products to them and they can do the same to us”. . .

Z hibernates beleaguered biofuels plant – Nikki Mandow:

An international bidding war for tallow – a fatty waste product from meatworks – has closed Z Energy’s biodiesel plant just 18 months after the company finally got it up and running.

You couldn’t make it up. 

Production at the plant has stopped after rising global tallow prices combined with falling international diesel prices to make production uneconomic.

Staff were told last week the plant wouldn’t reopen after the Covid-19 shutdown. Now the equipment is being prepared for hibernation for at least a year, after which Z will make a decision whether conditions have improved enough to open up again.  . .

Seed plant reopening is ‘icing on the cake’ for Wairarapa Feds:

Confirmation that the old Masterton Vegetable Seeds processing plant will reopen for local seed growers is the ‘icing on the cake’ for peas growers in the Wairarapa this year, Karen Williams says.

PGG Wrightson Seeds has today announced a long-term lease of the former Akura Road site and machinery, which is “absolutely brilliant news” for local growers and the wider Wairarapa community, the Federated Farmers Biosecurity spokesperson and MPI Pea Weevil Governance Group Appointee says.

“To restore an operational seed cleaning and processing facility in the Wairarapa means we’ve cleared the last major hurdle to returning the local pea growing industry to where it was before the pea weevil incursion four years ago.” . . 

 

Earth Sea Sky produces protective face masks  using homegrown merino fibre :

Earth Sea Sky is no stranger to making gear that your life might depend on. For decades, the Christchurch-based company has produced outdoor clothing for the world’s toughest environments and has been a go to brand for Antarctica New Zealand and LandSAR. Now it has entered a new market of protective face masks using home-grown merino filters.

Earth Sea Sky multi-tasker Jane Ellis started researching protective face masks just a few days into New Zealand’s Level 4 coronavirus lockdown, when the country’s shortage of PPE gear hit the headlines. 

The company’s long-time outworker, a skilled machinist called Brenda, was keen to help too. From the safety of their own “bubbles”, the pair debated the merits of various designs and fabrics for everything from scrubs to masks and came up with ad-hoc samples.  . .

Changing of the guard at Pāmu’s Environment  Reference Group:

Pāmu’s Environment Reference Group (ERG) is seeing a changing of the guard, with three members stepping down, and four new members joining the group.

Steve Carden thanked Guy Salmon and Dr Mike Joy, who were both inaugural members of the ERG, along with Dr Dan Hikuroa, all of whom are leaving the ERG.

“Mike, Guy and Dan have all brought their passion for the environment and a desire to help find viable solutions to the challenging environmental issues Pāmu is facing across its farms.


Rural round-up

04/05/2020

An apple harvest no-one will ever forget – Nikki Mandow:

Apple growers have filled our fruit bowls and bolstered our export coffers, while harvesting a bumper crop and maintaining strict social distancing for their workforce. It’s been a nightmare.

Simon Easton sounds relaxed. The fourth-generation apple farmer grows 61 hectares of fruit outside Motueka with his brother. They are nearly at the end of this year’s harvest – a week more picking, a month more packing and they’re done.

Easy as. Not.

On a scale of one to 10, Easton reckons his stress levels this season have been up around 9.8. Particularly at the beginning of the pandemic. . .

Coronavirus: Alliance Group adapts to changing global markets -Louisa Steyl:

The rural sector is tipped to help Southland’s economy pull through the coronavirus lockdown. What does that mean for the Alliance Group? Louisa Steyl reports.

Being agile and responding to markets’ rapid changes both domestically and on a global scale will help some companies come through the downturn in the economy.

The Alliance Group, with processing plants in Dannevirke, Levin, Nelson, Oamaru, Timaru and its two Southland-based plants Lorneville and Mataura, has been affected during the lockdown.   . . 

 

Fish and Game review change to refocus:

The recently announced review into Fish and Game needs to ensure the organisation’s focus returns to working in the best interests of anglers and hunters, National’s Conservation spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.

“Over recent years there has been tension between Fish and Game and farming groups that has contributed to a rural-urban divide.

“Many prized fishing and hunting spots are on privately owned farmland and there is a lot of goodwill between individual farmers and recreational hunters and anglers in negotiating access. . . 

Kiwis left scratching their heads as butter turns white – Esther Taunton:

Something’s happening to our butter.

Usually a deep yellow, it’s been getting progressively lighter and even farmers are puzzled by its now barely off-white hue.

In a recent tweet, Golden Bay dairy farmer Wayne Langford pointed out the change, comparing a block of Anchor butter to his “tan free legs.” . .

Act now, plan ahead – Colin Williscroft:

Hawke’s Bay farmers struggling through extended drought and increasing feed shortages are being told to act now and plan for winter.

It’s a message farmers in other parts of the country should heed as well, with feed shortages likely to be wide-ranging. 

The southern half of Hawke’s Bay is entering its seventh month of below-normal rainfall and there is no sign of the drought breaking. . .

Learning from Covid: How biosecurity lessons in Asia will help Australia :

As the coronavirus crisis continues to unfold, a consortium of Australian and New Zealand veterinary scientists has been established to train a new generation of ‘animal disease detectives’ in 11 countries across Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

“A year after African swine fever wiped out more than a quarter of the global pig population and with more than 200,000 people dead from COVID-19, equipping veterinarians with the tools for disease outbreak investigation and surveillance has never been more important,” said program leader Associate Professor Navneet Dhand from the University of Sydney School of Veterinary Science and Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity. . .


Rural round-up

05/02/2020

It’s tinder dry – Sonita Chandar:

As temperatures soar and paddocks start to frizzle farmers in Northland are destocking and buying in feed while firefighters are nervously standing by waiting for the sirens to go.

“You could say we are pretty much on edge and on constant standby,” Northland deputy principal fire officer Wayne Martin says.

“Whenever we are called to an event we pretty much throw everything we have got at it to make sure we don’t end up with an Australia-type incident, especially if we have to travel a fair distance to get there. We will send the helicopter out as well to reduce the risk of it spreading and to contain the loss of acreage.” . . 

Hard yards on family farm pays off – Sudesh Kissun:

Harvesting 15 tonnes of cabbage in hailstorms and hand weeding paddocks under a scorching sun made a perfect training ground for Austin Singh Purewal.

The 18-year-old, who won the NZ Young Vegetable Grower of the Year award two months ago, says the hard work on the family farm is paying off.

Purewal, the youngest-ever to win the title, told Hort News that although growing up on the family farm wasn’t easy, he enjoyed the challenges. . . 

LIC delivers steady first half – Hugh Stringleman:

LIC has delivered a steady interim result in line with expectations during the 2020 financial year, including a small rise in revenue and a small drop in first-half earnings.

Revenue in the six months to November 30 was $163 million, up 1.4% from the corresponding period last year.

Earnings before interest and tax were $43.1m, down 6.5% and net profit after tax was $30.3m, down 7.6%.

The artificial breeding and farmer information company said earnings and profit were down because of the timing of expenses. . . 

Two cents’ worth – beetle mania – Nikki Mandow:

One man’s decades-long fight to deal with NZ’s farm effluent problems by bringing dung beetles into the country

As a child, scientist Dr Shaun Forgie was obsessed with snakes, so it was unfortunate he grew up in one of the few countries in the world that don’t have any. Instead he grubbed about in Ruakaka looking for other creepy crawlies, then completed a science degree specialising in insects.

He had planned a masters on parasitic wasps and their impact on fly strike in sheep. As one does. But one day in the lab, Forgie had a Road to Damascus moment that was to change his life, but could potentially have a far greater influence – producing a major change in New Zealand’s farming ecosystems.  . .

No sausages or salami?! The country-of-origin regulations let pork eaters down – Hilary Pearson:

Finally, New Zealand is getting country-of-origin food labelling. But the recently released draft regulations are a missed opportunity to provide consumers with clarity around where their food comes from and how it’s produced, writes Hilary Pearson of Freedom Farms.

It seems a bit laborious to rehash the already storied history of the Consumers’ Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Act. At this point it feels like it’s been talked about for eleventy-seven gazillion years. The bill was passed by parliament at the end of November 2018 and now, 12 months later, draft regulations have been released so we know what it’s going to look like in practice. And it’s clear it’s not as robust as pork eaters need it to be. 

In many ways we’ve timed our run poorly in terms of getting this legislation across the line. In 2018, when the bill was going through the select committee stage, some people delighted in telling me that no one really cared that much about how their food is produced, so country of origin wasn’t a big deal.

We’re now 18 months down the road from the select committee consultation and suddenly one in three New Zealanders are reportedly thinking about reducing their meat consumption because of the environmental impact of how it is produced. . . 

Rural golf course where sheep graze is teed-up for sale:

A quirky provincial golf course where sheep graze the fairways to keep the grass under control has been placed on the market for sale.

The Tumahu Golf Club near Okato in Western Taranaki is an 9-hole course where players have been driving down the fairways and putting on the greens for some 70 years. As a classic Kiwi ‘rural’ course, sheep graze the fairways, with knee-high electric wire fencing keeping stock off the putting greens.

However, with many Tumahu Golf Club members now aged in their 60s and 70s, the steady decline in core membership has seen the club’s fortunes wane. Big swinging Tumahu Golf Club members played their last club day just before Christmas. The course remained open until just after the start of the new year to allow for holiday golfers to get a final round in. The course has now officially closed down. . . 


Rural round-up

20/11/2019

Small dog helping with big message – Sally Rae:

Poppy might be a miniature dachshund but the message the diminutive dog is helping spread is a big one.

Poppy is the constant companion of Harriet Bremner, a North Canterbury-based teacher-turned-author who is focused on making the most out of life.

Miss Bremner’s partner, James “Bob” Hayman, was killed in a farm machinery accident in the Hakataramea Valley in January 2017.

Following his death, she launched the brand Gurt and Pops and released her first children’s book Bob `n Pops, which was a tale of the special relationship between Mr Hayman and the couple’s dog Poppy. . . 

How banks peddled a product that killed farmers – Nikki Mandow:

The disastrous impact of banks selling risky financial derivatives to farmers is still being felt in rural communities more than a decade later. How did it happen and how can we stop banks doing it again?

Rural advocate Janette Walker has a storage box at her house. She calls it her “suicide box”. In it are letters from farmers – mostly men, mostly in late middle age – who tell her about the impact on their lives of the events surrounding the global financial crisis (GFC) back in 2007-2008. 

The letters came to Walker as part of a research project she worked on in 2010 with Massey University banking specialist Dr Claire Matthews. . . 

Spooked insurers walking away from agriculture – Ean Higgins:

Farmers face potential ruin as insurers spooked by climate change, drought and bushfires ­refuse to cover crops worth billions of dollars.

Plantation crops such as ­bananas and pineapples, some of which were destroyed in the latest Queensland bushfires, could be the next to be uninsurable, a ­report published on Monday by global insurance broker Gallagher warns.

“Plantation insurance will be one of the first casualties of climate change,” the report says. Other crops including grapes, citrus and almonds could be not far behind, with insurers pulling cover altogether or raising premiums to the point where they become unaffordable for most growers. . .

Research to help rural health – Pam Jones:

A Central Otago health professional hopes her upcoming research will help address some of the inequities faced in the rural health sector. Pam Jones talks to Sarah Walker about a national fellowship she has received that will help her look into the challenges and complexities faced by rural allied health professionals.

A Central Otago physiotherapist will notch up a national first following health research she hopes will help all rural communities.

Sarah Walker has just been named a recipient of a Health Research Council of New Zealand Clinical Research Training Fellowship.

The $204,000 fellowship will allow Mrs Walker, who is a physiotherapist for Central Otago Health Services (Cohsl), which operates from Dunstan Hospital, to begin a doctorate at the University of Otago next year. . . 

Who should take up the challenge? – Gravedodger:

Many people who spend their time in cities with occasional trips to popular places for relief, often  have little idea how much of NZ landscape is bereft of communications as they have evolved to in the closing second decade of century 21.

We store our mobile home around five Kms from the northern end of CHC main runway. A site we used as a “Town House ” during our time in Akaroa.
It has zero access to the Spark network and is marginal for Vodafone.

We also have a site at a small camp just south of the two bridges that cross the Rakaia where it emerges from its gorge. That site has even more precarious phone links and our site has a luvly old Cabbage Tree,  ‘ti kouka’,   that completely blocks line of site to Optus. . .

ClearTech a gamechanger for Canterbury dairy farmer:

A revolutionary dairy effluent treatment system is delivering enormous environmental benefits for Lincoln dairy farmer Tom Mason.

Ravensdown’s ClearTech system, developed in conjunction with Lincoln University, uses a coagulant to bind effluent particles together to settle them out from the water. This clarifying process reduces freshwater use, helps existing effluent storage go further and reduces the environmental and safety risks linked with farm dairy effluent (FDE). . .


Rural round-up

25/09/2018

Counting sheep a new challenge for Northland science students:

Counting sheep is often touted as a remedy to help troubled sleepers nod off.

But for Whangarei Boys’ High School students, counting sheep has become part of the curriculum.

Two classes of Year 11 science students are studying a learning module called ‘Keep calm and count sheep’.

The resource examines the nutritional requirements of ewes and the factors that influence sheep growth rates. . .

Strawberry crisis: How NZ growers can prevent ‘crisis contagion’ – Daniel Laufer:

The reputation of New Zealand’s strawberry industry could be contaminated by the needles found in Australian fruit, but our growers can still minimise the damage, writes Daniel Laufer.

New Zealand strawberry growers face a challenging situation with the tampering of Australian strawberries. How can they convince consumers to continue buying strawberries, despite the highly publicised incidents of needles in strawberries grown in Australia?

The issue has made the headlines here in New Zealand with the first reported case yesterday of tampered Australian imported strawberries in an Auckland supermarket. . .

Major fresh produce traceability project underway in New Zealand:

In light of the recent shocking Australian strawberry tampering event, the New Zealand produce industry is taking every action possible to reassure customers their safety systems are robust.

United Fresh is the New Zealand pan-produce organisation that is currently leading a major New Zealand-led project reviewing traceability systems in our produce sector. . .

Final candidates for Fonterra elections announced:

Following the completion of the Self Nomination Process for the 2018 Directors’ Election Process, there are five candidates standing for three places on the Fonterra Board in 2018.

Peter McBride, Jamie Tuuta and Ashley Waugh were announced two weeks ago as the Independent Nomination Process candidates. All three candidates were nominated by the Fonterra Board after being recommended by the Independent Selection Panel. The process for their nomination was supported by the Shareholders’ Council in accordance with the Independent Nomination Process . .

Outspoken Fonterra critic launches campaign for board seatB –Nikki Mandow

Sept. 24 (BusinessDesk) – Outspoken former Fonterra director Leonie Guiney, who was temporarily gagged by the cooperative after losing her seat on the board last year, is seeking re-election in November.

Guiney, who has strongly criticised the strategy that led to Fonterra investing approximately $1.5 billion in now-failing assets like Beingmate and China Farms, is one of two self-nominated candidates. There are three official board nominees, and three places available. . .

Dairy co-operatives struggle without retained earnings – Keith Woodford:

Currently there are three dairy co-operatives in New Zealand – Fonterra, Westland and Tatua.  The first two are struggling for capital, whereas the third, the tiny Tatua, has been an ongoing success story of prosperity.

The essence of the difference lies in retained earnings and their productive use.

Comparative statistics for the three co-operatives are available for the six years from 2010/11 through to 2016/17. In that time Fonterra retained a total of 70c of capital per kg milksolids, Westland retained 84c, and Tatua retained $4.85. Those numbers spell it out in spades. . .

FarmIQ powers Farmlands’ SafeFarm:

New Zealand’s most comprehensive farm management software provider has partnered with the country’s largest farmer retail co-operative, Farmlands, to launch SafeFarm, a complete Health and Safety software system designed with New Zealand farmers in mind.

SafeFarm is built on FarmIQ’s software platform, utilising much of the mapping, recording, reporting and analytical capabilities inherent in FarmIQ.

The SafeFarm software package is available free of charge to Farmlands’ shareholders. Users of the application can seamlessly upgrade and trial FarmIQ’s newly launched range of farm management subscriptions from within SafeFarm. . .

 

The original performance fibre merino wool proves its natural function for transseasonal delivery – Louisa Smith:

As the original performance fiber, wool, in particular merino wool, has reemerged as a key contender for the sports and outdoors market. Natural, recyclable and also biodegradable, it is fast becoming a key contender for its breathability, thermal regulation and anti-odor, all inherent functions that appeal to the consumer, combined with its natural DNA.

Sustainability is a key factor through recycling and biodegradable functionality

Natural fibers, including cotton and silk are entering the performance sector, but for merino wool, the anti-odor benefits give it a heads up as this becomes a major trend in the sports and outdoors sector. Not just for the elimination of nasty body odors after high impact activity, but also a reduction in home launderings that benefit and environmentally friendly approach. . .


Rural round-up

21/09/2018

2019 Zanda McDonald Award shortlist announced: 

Six young agriculture professionals from both sides of the Tasman have been announced for the prestigious badge of honour for the primary industry, the Zanda McDonald Award.

Now in its fifth year, the award recognises innovative young professionals in agriculture from across Australasia. Five Australians and one New Zealander have been selected as finalists for the 2019 award based on their passion for agriculture, strong leadership skills, and their vision for the primary industry.

The shortlist is made up by Australians Alice Mabin 32, owner of Alice Mabin Pty Ltd in Linthorpe Queensland, Harry Kelly, 26, Manager of Mooramook Pastoral Co. in Caramut Victoria, Luke Evans, 28, Station Manager of Cleveland Agriculture in Tennant Creek Northern Territory, Nick Boshammer, 30, Director of NBG Holdings Pty Ltd in Chinchilla Queensland, and Shannon Landmark, 27, Co-ordinator of the Northern Genomics Project of the University of Queensland. Kiwi Grant McNaughton, 34, Managing Director of McNaughton Farms in Oamaru, North Otago rounds off the six. . . 

Kiwi farmers take on growing South American super food – Catherine Groenestein:

Growing Taranaki’s first commercial crop of quinoa was challenge enough, but finding a combine harvester in a district devoted to dairying proved tougher.

Luckily for Hamish and Kate Dunlop of Hāwera, they found someone who owns the only suitable machine in the region living just down the road.

The couple’s journey into growing a crop native to South America on their sheep and beef farm began with a discussion about whether quinoa, a food the health-conscious family was already familiar with, would grow in South Taranaki, Kate said. . .

 The grass on the far side of the fence will look much greener for Fonterra farmers – Point of Order:

It  must have felt  like  salt being rubbed into  their  financial wounds   for Fonterra’s farmer-shareholders, when Synlait  Milk this week  reported  its  net profit  soared  89%  to  $74.6m.   Fonterra’s  mob   saw  their  co-op  notch  up  a  loss of  $196m, and  with prices  at GDT auctions trending down,  they may also have to accept a trim  to the forecast milk price.

Where  Fonterra  talks of   slimming its  portfolio,  Synlait  is still investing  in expansion.

In the latest year Synlait has been working on new and expanded plants in Dunsandel, Auckland and Pokeno as well as a research and development centre in Palmerston North. . .

Much more mozzarella – Chris Tobin:

Cutting-edge technology used in Fonterra’s new mozzarella line at its Clandeboye plant is the first of its kind in the world, and being kept under wraps.

”It’s the result of years of investment into R&D and hard work at the Fonterra Research and Development Centre,” Clandeboye cheese plant manager Chris Turner said.

”The work has been supported in part by the Primary Growth Partnership between the Government, Fonterra and Dairy NZ.

”Other than that we can’t tell you too much more. . .

Fonterra steers clear of consultants after paying millions to McKinseys – Nikki Mandow:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group will not use external consultants for its newly-announced everything-on-the-table asset review, the dairy processor says. This follows allegations it paid up to $100 million a year between 2015 and 2017 to global consultancy giant McKinsey as part of its “Velocity” cost-cutting and restructuring programme.

It also forked out millions of dollars in CEO and other staff bonuses as part of its Velocity Leadership Incentive scheme. . .

Balle and Coull to join Ballance Agri-Nutrients Board

Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ shareholders have chosen Dacey Balle and Duncan Coull from an unprecedented field of 19 candidates to join the Co-operative’s Board, representing the North Island.

Murray Taggart, who retired by rotation this year, was unopposed in the South Island Ward and re-elected to the Board – while the decisions of Gray Baldwin to not seek re-election and Donna Smit to step down in the North Island Ward, opened a rare opportunity to secure a governance role with a leading rural business. . .


Rural round-up

14/09/2018

Fonterra loss could be opportunity for change – Andrew McRrae:

Dairy farmers are hoping the massive financial hit taken by Fonterra will be used as an opportunity to reset the business for the future.

The dairy cooperative delivered a net loss of $196 million for the year ended July, after being hit by compensation payouts and investment write downs.

Revenue rose 6 percent to $20.4 billion.

Orini farmer Allan Crouch said even though a loss had been signalled, it was still very disappointing, especially compared to the $734m profit the year before. . .

Fonterra ponders Beingmate future as part of strategic review – Nikki Mandow:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra is looking at whether it should get rid of its disastrous Beingmate investment as part of an ‘everything up for grabs’ strategic review.

Speaking as the company announced the first full-year loss in its 18-year history, chairman John Monaghan said the company was doing a “full stocktake and portfolio review looking at all our major investments, assets and joint ventures to see how they are performing and where they fit with our strategy”. Beingmate was a key investment under the spotlight. . .

Co-op must do better:

The Chairman of Fonterra’s Shareholders’ Council Duncan Coull has said he is extremely disappointed with the Co-op’s 2018 Annual Results.

“There’s no denying that our farmers are unhappy with current performance, and this year’s results,” he said.

“The underlying result and its impact on earnings, dividend and carrying value is totally unacceptable and one that our farming families will not want to see repeated. Moving forward, it is imperative that our business builds confidence through achievable targets and at levels that support a higher carrying value of our farmers’ investment. . .

A thoroughly modern-day forward-thinking farmer – Pat Deavoll:

If ever there was the epitome of a thoroughly modern-day Kiwi farmer, the new Federated Farmers South Canterbury president would be it.

Jason Grant does it all. He owns and manages two dairy operations and a 1000 hectare dry stock farm, is a director of an irrigation company, an active member of two river catchment groups, a husband to Anna and father to Ruby (11), Oscar (12) and Wills (13), and of course, in his Federated Farmers role, an advocate for the local farming fraternity.

That he has a lot on his plate is an understatement. He says his life is “pretty full.” . . .

Farmers deserve recognition for their hard milk slog – Lyn Webster:

We are living in fantasy land where many people seem to think money grows on trees.

Well, it bloody well doesn’t!

Warning: I am grumpy because I have just lost my job due to impeding farm sale – more on that later.

About 25 per cent of New Zealand’s overseas revenue is generated by dairy farming, which is done by about 36,000 people.  That’s not many people to bring in a huge chunk of the country’s income.  

When the payout drops, which can happen overnight, it can affect your dairy farming business very badly very quickly.  Milk prices are volatile, sensitive to international demand and currency changes. Farmers put their seasonal plans in place, including stock numbers and a budget – if the milk price plummets, you pretty well have to suck it up because you haven’t got much wiggle room. . .

Funds run dry for beekeeper working to eliminate deadly parasite – Maja Burry:

A West Coast beekeeper says his bees are resistant to the varroa mite but that decades worth of work may be lost unless he can urgently pull together enough money to keep his business running.

Varroa mites infest bee hives, feeding on larvae and an infected hive usually dies within three or four years.

Westport beekeeper Gary Jeffery said he wanted to eliminate the parasite by distributing mite-resistant queen bees that he has bred around New Zealand. . .

Fonterra changes vindicated– Hugh Stringleman:

The calibre of new directors and nominees for the Fonterra board vindicates the governance changes and the downsizing of the board and outweighs the initial loss of experience, departing director Nicola Shadbolt says.

Her decision not to seek a fourth three-year term is in accordance with the guideline of nine years as the optimum and 12 years as the maximum.

The three candidates for vacancies around the board table announced last Monday are one-term sitting director Ashley Waugh along with Jamie Tuuta and Peter McBride. . .

Deer market doing well – Ashleigh Martin:

The deer market is achieving well at the moment, New Zealand Deer Farmers Association chairman John Somerville says.

“Venison prices are the best they’ve ever been and the velvet has been really stable for six or more years with some really good pricing.

“We’re hoping for slow steady growth of the deer market


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