Rural round-up

02/08/2013

Debt puts pressure on large companies to achieve solution – Allan Barber:

If there was ever a compelling reason for the meat companies to sort out the problems of procurement competition and excess capacity, the debt levels on the balance sheets of the big three at the end of last season provide one.

Between them they stacked up combined current and non-current borrowings of $710 million, 45% of these on Silver Fern Farms’ books, 28% on Alliance’s and 27% on ANZCO’s. No wonder they can’t afford another loss-making year like 2011/12 which makes this year so important for getting back into as healthy a condition as possible.

The forecast livestock volumes, especially sheep and lambs, for the next four years place a great deal of pressure on the companies to find a solution urgently before procurement competition breaks out yet again. MPI’s Situation and Outlook Report which came out in June predicts a gradual recovery in values, but livestock numbers and export tonnages are virtually static or declining, because of the effects of the drought, herd and flock rebuilding and the impact of dairy on land use. . .

Ballance pays record rebate after record performance:

 Ballance Agri-Nutrients shareholders are in line for a record rebate and dividend of $65/tonne, along with a recommended 60 cent increase in the value of their co-operative’s shares to $8.10.

The rebate averaging $60.83 per tonne and a fully imputed dividend of 10 cents per share will be paid out nearly six weeks earlier during mid-August, with Ballance Chairman David Graham saying the payment has been brought forward to reward shareholders and assist them with cash flows at the start of the season.

“The drought may be over but the financial impacts are not, so we are fast-tracking the payment for shareholders in recognition of that so they can gain the full benefits of a good year for their co-operative as quickly as possible.” . . .

AgResearch creating the ‘Silicon Valley of Food’

 With food being to New Zealand what ‘Silicon Valley’ is to the United States’ technology sector, Federated Farmers is backing AgResearch’s strategic move to create two major research campuses supplemented by two smaller ones.

“Federated Farmers is backing AgResearch in what is an important strategic move for it and New Zealand,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President.

“Its masterplan is about supporting primary exports to reach $64 billion by 2025.

“We cannot deny there is a human element to this change and while 40 positions are slated to go, the actual number will be low given this is a four- year transition. That said, it will require a number of staff and their families to consider where their long-term futures lie.

“Federated Farmers is encouraged to see that no staff will be required to relocate until 2016. . .

Reduce nitrate leaching with mobile milking system – Milking on the Moove:

Unconventional ways to reduce nitrate leaching

Part 1 
A few weeks ago I explained how agroforestry is a farming system that is able to reduce nitrate leaching.

Part 2
Today I will talk about how a dairy farming system based around a mobile cowshed is able to reduce the level of nitrate leaching.

A traditional cowshed is in a fixed location. The cows have to be within walking distance of the cowshed because they need to get milked twice a day.

The main cause of nitrate leaching on dairy farms in the cows urine patch.

For this reason, the cows are always grazed on the same block of land surrounding the cowshed. . .

Honouring the unsung young heroes of the Hawke’s Bay wine industry:

Moore Stephens Markhams Young Viticulturist of the Year Competition Friday 2 August 2013.

Hawke’s Bay is internationally renowned for its wine. The local wineries and winemakers are household names, with exceptional reputations in New Zealand and further afield.

Less well known, but just as crucial to the crafting of world-beating wine, are the viticulturists. They are intimately involved in all aspects of vineyard management; their extraordinary knowledge ensuring winemakers have the best possible grapes to work with after each harvest.

The region’s best up-and-coming viticulturists are being honoured on Friday 2 August at the Moore Stephens Markhams Young Viticulturist of the Year Competition. This is being held at Mission Estate – their viticulturist Caine Thompson took out the Hawke’s Bay competition in 2009. He went on to win the national awards, before being named New Zealand Young Horticulturist of the Year. . .

Technology could be future boon for kiwifruit growers:

A new online system is being developed that might one day help kiwifruit growers make decisions on when to spray orchards for pests and diseases. The system is in the early stages of development in a joint project between the University of Waikato and Plant & Food Research (PFR).

The web-based tool is should help reduce time and costs associated with pest monitoring in kiwifruit orchards and spray application.

The current process of physically monitoring pest levels is time consuming, says University of Waikato summer research scholarship student Michael Fowke.

“Spraying is a necessary exercise for growers and a lot of time is spent trying to identify when or whether spraying is needed,” he says. “It will need a lot more testing in the field but potentially this system could cut that time down considerably.” . .

Iwi Suggests To Pull Plug on Dam:

At a Hui an Iwi held at Matahiwi marae last night, Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated was asked by several Heretaunga hapū to oppose the Ruataniwha Dam project on their behalf.

The main reasons given were inadequate consultation, selective information release, and the failure by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to recognize and acknowledge the Tino Rangatiratanga that hapū had exercised over rivers and water bodies from time immemorial. . .

Keen-To-Learn Farmer Turns to Ballance Farm Environment Awards for Information and Inspiration:

Returning to the family farm five years ago was an in-the-deep-end experience for Waikato farmer James Bailey and his wife Ella.

‘Momona’, a 440ha (effective) Tirau sheep and beef farm, had been in the Bailey family for five generations, so James was eager to start off on the right foot. While he was mindful of the work performed by past generations, he was also keen to improve the environmental sustainability of the business.

James, a keen surfer, is co-founder of Sustainable Coastlines – an award-winning registered charity that organises coastal clean-ups, educational programmes and riparian plantings. . .


Rural round-up

27/01/2013

Maori Trust beats 1080 opponent in court:

A veteran oponent of using 1080 poison to kill possums has lost his latest bid in the courts to stop a Maori organisation using the compound.

David Livingston asked for a review of the Lake Taupo Forest Trust, after the Maori Land Court previously refused to grant an injunction against the trustees . . .

The use of dicyandiamide (DCD) to control nitrogen pollution in NZ – Bob Wilcock:

For the last 20 years New Zealand has been undergoing a rapid expansion in dairy farming, driven by commodity prices. New Zealand’s dairy exports, although small on a global scale of production, comprise 30-40% of internationally traded dairy products and are a major component of our gross domestic product (roughly 3%). Dairy farming is an intensive form of agriculture and its expansion into areas that were previously used for sheep and beef farming, combined with increased stocking rates in established dairy farming regions, has resulted in much greater leaching of nitrate to groundwater, and to surface waters receiving inputs of groundwater. . . .

Cargill to idle Plainview, Texas, beef processing plant; dwindling cattle supply cited:

Cargill today announced that it will idle its Plainview, Texas, beef processing facility effective at the close of business, Friday, Feb.1, 2013, resulting primarily from the tight cattle supply brought about by years of drought in Texas and Southern Plains states.  Approximately 2,000 people work at the Plainview facility, and they will receive company support.  Federal, state, county and city government representatives, as well as Cargill customers, suppliers and other key stakeholders were informed today of Cargill’s decision, concurrent with Cargill employees being notified.

“The decision to idle our Plainview beef processing plant was a difficult and painful one to make and was made only after we conducted an exhaustive analysis of the regional cattle supply and processing capacity situation in North America,” said John Keating, president of Cargill Beef, based in Wichita, Kan.  “While idling a major beef plant is unfortunate because of the resulting layoff of good people, which impacts their families and the community of Plainview, we were compelled to make a decision that would reduce the strain created on our beef business by the reduced cattle supply.  The U.S. cattle herd is at its lowest level since 1952.  Increased feed costs resulting from the prolonged drought, combined with herd liquidations by cattle ranchers, are severely and adversely contributing to the challenging business conditions we face as an industry.  Our preference would have been not to idle a plant.” . . .

Brazillian beef imports doubled in 2012 – Gemma Mackenzie:

UK imports of Brazilian beef doubled during 2012, but trade restrictions mean import levels are still 85% lower than in 2007, said Quality Meat Scotland.

Speaking at a recent “EU Imports and CAP” seminar in Bridge of Allan, QMS head of economic services Stuart Ashworth said that since trade restrictions were placed on Brazil in 2008, beef imports to the UK fell by 80% between 2007 and 2008, and continued to fall until 2011.
 
The European market was shielded from these imports as a result of significant import tariffs, however if trade restrictions were lifted, Scottish farmers faced the prospect of lower and more volatile beef prices, he warned. . .

Fonterra CFO announces retirement:

 One of the chief architects of Fonterra’s successfully launched listed units, chief financial officer Jonathan Mason, is to leave the co-operative.

The softly spoken former senior executive for the American wood products giant International Paper first came to New Zealand from 2000 to 2005 to be cfo at Carter Holt Harvey, which IP owned at the time, before returning to the US. . .

And a media release from the Pasture Renewal Charitable Trust:

Competition to boost awareness of pasture renewal:

Over 80% of New Zealand dairy farmers intend to renew run-out pastures this season, regardless of their financial outlook, reports a dairy farm survey released recently from CINTA.

This result highlights farmers know that annual pasture renewal is vital to their operations and yet actions do not always follow those intentions.

To encourage more action on pasture renewal, agribusiness organisations have the opportunity to get alongside farmers to discuss and encourage their annual pasture renewal programmes through the “Win a Free Paddock” campaign which runs from 20 January through until the closure date of 28 February.

Open to all farmers (from both the dairy and sheep/beef/deer sectors) the three prizes, valued at $8,000 each, will be drawn on 5 March 2013. The prizes consist of products and technical advice used in the pasture renewal process and may be redeemed direct from the winners’ nominated rural retailer.

On-line entries are encouraged at http://www.pasturerenewal.org.nz. Entry forms are also available from most rural retailers or direct from their representatives. Winners will have the option to undertake their pasture renewal in either autumn or spring depending on their farming system and location.

Run by the Pasture Renewal Charitable Trust (PRCT), the competition is an excellent chance to be “in the money” and “do something about the difference” between the best producing paddock on farm and the worst”, to boost overall farm productivity, says PRCT project manager Nicola Holmes.

“PRCT recognises the importance of trusted, long-term working relationships between rural retailer representatives, contractors, consultants and farmers and having them plan programmes and timing of pasture sowing to ensure the best results,” says Nicola.  “Right now plans for autumn pasture renewal activity for 2013 will be well underway on many North Island dairy farms.”

Farmers not committed to an annual pasture renewal programme miss the chance to significantly improve pasture quality on their farm, which in turn will ensure greater productivity, increased returns, improved animal health and more farm management options.

Nicola says The CINTA survey of 600 dairy farmers nationwide shows cropping programmes, not finances, are the biggest barrier to increased areas of pasture renewal on New Zealand dairy farms.

Around New Zealand the total percentage of pasture renewal falls well behind the 10-12% annually recommended by the Trust. Dairy farmers renew around 6-7% annually and the sheep and beef sector 2-3%.


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