Rural round-up

January 10, 2018

Tests confirm cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis on Ashburton farm:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) confirms that the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis is present on a farm in the Ashburton area.

The Ministry’s response incident controller David Yard says milk sampling carried out by the dairy industry just before Christmas revealed a suspected positive result and MPI’s Animal Health Laboratory testing has just confirmed this.

“The affected farm and an associated property have been under controls since Christmas Eve as a precautionary measure. No animals or other risk goods such as used farm equipment have been allowed on or off the property during this time and these controls stand,” Mr Yard says. . . 

Water taxi arrives in North Otago

It’s been a funny old year on Gareth and Sarah Isbister’s farm, Balruddery, near Five Forks.

Swamped by rain, the cattle farmers finished 2017 beside the Kakanui River with new irrigation and options.

The Isbisters are happy to have the extra water on hand after a difficult 12 months for an irrigation rollout in their area.

Their supplier, the farmer-owned North Otago Irrigation Company, was meant to be pumping high-pressure flow to downland farmers like them in late 2016. Joint faults in pipes put paid to that idea, costing shareholders as the contractor fixed its faulty workmanship. . .

Ruawai farmer survives being trampled by stampeding herd:

Dairy farmer Chris Baker says he is “hellishly lucky” to have survived a stampede by his 180 cows that left him trampled, unconscious and with broken bones.

The 61-year old Ruawai man has been a dairy farmer for 40 years, and has never before been in such a life threatening situation.

He does admit to being kicked in the chest and elsewhere a few times by cows, “but that’s just day to day farming.”

Baker said he did nothing different or wrong last Tuesday but the freak occurrence could have left him dead. He now has a cautionary tale for anyone working on their own on a farm, and with animals. . . 

Pastures imperiled by seawater flooding – Jessie Chiang:

Seawater flooding of rural properties in Kaiaua is going to have a serious impact on farmers, Federated Farmers says.

Wild weather and a king tide last week caused widespread flooding in the coastal region on the western side of the Firth of Thames, leaving behind soaked properties filled with debris.

The federation’s Hauraki-Coromandel president Kevin Robinson said saltwater destroys pastures.

He said farmers would now have to wait for rain to wash away the salt before they could replant grass.

“It’s become evident that there are quite a few farmers there who [have been] significantly affected by the tidal inundation – one farmer 100 percent and others to a lesser degree,” said Mr Robinson. . . 

MyFarm sees dairy farm investments waning, eyes growth in horticulture – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – MyFarm Investments, New Zealand’s largest rural investment syndicator, is moving its focus away from its dairy farming origins and expects future growth to come from smaller overlooked investments such as fruit.

The rural investment firm was set up in 1990, initially investing in dairy farms which it syndicated to investors. It has since diversified into sheep and beef farms, horticulture and mussel farming and has more than $500 million of rural assets under management. About half its assets are dairy farms, with some 30 percent in sheep and beef farms and 20 percent in other investments, and the company expects its dairy investments to shrink as farms are sold when investments mature while the proportion in other areas grows. . . 

Have banks signalled they’ve had enough of funding the dairy industry? If funding is closed off, the new Govt’s obligations for the industry are likely to be expensive and even more stressful– David Chaston:

Rural borrowers currently owe banks in New Zealand $60.4 bln, according to the Reserve Bank.

With banks over the past decade rushing to support the capital needs of the growing dairy sector, two thirds of this rural debt is held by dairy farmers.

All rural debt represents just 14% of the debt held by banks in New Zealand and pales in comparison to the 56% of all debt banks hold over urban residences ($240 bln). These numbers don’t include another $4.9 bln lent to the rural support sector or the forestry or fishing sectors. . . 

Young Taranaki local wins Poultry Industry Trainee of the Year Award:

Henry Miles is a busy young man who is about to become even busier. Next month, the 21-year-old New Plymouth resident, who is currently Assistant Manager of a Tegel meat chicken farm, will step up to manage a large new free-range farm – which will expand to a total of eight sheds by adding a shed every seven weeks.

It is a role that Henry is well prepared for, having gained a thorough grounding in poultry farming since leaving school in 2014. . . 


Rural round-up

December 19, 2017

The water is on, now for the hard bit – Hamish MacLean:

The $57million North Otago Irrigation Company expansion is complete — much to the relief of shareholders, with weather forecasters predicting a warm, dry summer. But irrigation is not so easy for farmers as simply turning on the water and watching the grass grow, Hamish MacLean finds out.

It could be a couple of years before North Otago’s newest irrigators get to grips with their new resource, but with a big dry spell predicted this summer, farmers are pleased to have a guaranteed water supply.

While the water on the North Otago Irrigation Company’s expansion began flowing in September, it was the end of November when all 85 off-takes of the expansion were commissioned, reaching the end of the line at All Day Bay. . . 

Rabobank New Zealand announces new CEO:

Rabobank New Zealand has announced it proposes to appoint Todd Charteris to the position of chief executive officer, subject to regulatory approval.

Rabobank New Zealand chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden said Mr Charteris “will bring significant experience with Rabobank on both sides of the Tasman to the role of CEO, as well as a deep knowledge of agribusiness and extensive relationships across the global Rabobank network”. . . 

Jonni keeps quality core at Stirling cheese – Sally Rae:

You could call Jonni de Malmanche a jack-of-all-trades, or more accurately, a Jane of them.

The South Otago woman is one of the long-serving staff members at Fonterra’s Stirling cheese factory, having worked there for the past 23 years.

“I still enjoy coming to work every day. I love the people, I love basically what Stirling stands for which is we make great cheese,” she said.

The factory, which opened in 1983, was built by the Otago Cheese Company, formed after the merger of three small South Otago dairy companies. In 2010, Fonterra spent $7.75 million upgrading the factory. . . 

 

Westland Milk Products soon to announce new products – Alexa Cook:

New Zealand’s second largest milk company is planning to step away from selling dairy products alone and expand into alternative protein and blended products.

Westland Milk Products has bounced back from a $14.5m loss in 2015/16 to break even this year.

Chief executive Toni Brendish says the co-operative worked hard over the past year to become more efficient.

The company’s purpose was now “nourishment made beautifully for generations” which she said gave it freedom to go beyond traditional dairy products. . . 

Dry summer weather prompts farmers to offload stock, AgriHQ – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Dry summer weather is denting grass growth, prompting farmers to reduce their livestock numbers, with the increased volumes of animals hitting the market starting to weigh on prices, according to AgriHQ’s Monthly Sheep & Beef report for December.

“The common factor pulling values down throughout NZ is the weather,” AgriHQ analyst Reece Brick said in his report. “It was a rapid transition from a particularly wet early spring into one of the driest late spring/early summers in recent years, catching many farmers off guard.”

For the sheep industry, below-average growth rates through November kept a lid on the number of lambs being sent to slaughter, keeping prices higher than anticipated. However numbers were now coming forward in significant volume and the long awaited fall in prices has finally begun, Brick said, noting that meat companies had dropped lamb slaughter prices by 15-20 cents per kilogram over the past fortnight, bringing the price to $7.10/kg. . .

Capital gains tax may be on the horizon with the new government:

With the new government reversing National’s tax cuts in April 2018, the government has now announced the items that are on the tax agenda, and have also signalled other potential changes. Tony Marshall, tax advisory partner for Crowe Horwath, predicts how the government’s new tax agenda may affect farmers.

As promised, the government is forming a Tax Working Group and has stated one of the focuses of the group will be looking into capital gains associated with property speculation. Capital gains tax has always been a contentious topic and sends nervous tension through the farming community. . . 

Monthly Dairy production report November 2017:

Key Statistics:

• NZ milk production for November 2017 was up 4.2% (+3.4% on a milksolids basis)
• NZ milk production for the season-to-date was up 1.8% (+1.8% on a milksolids basis)
• NZ milk production for the 12-months through November 2017 was up 1.3% (+1.9% on a milksolids basis)

Full report here.


Rural round-up

September 23, 2017

North Otago water scheme expansion finally turned on – Yvonne O’Hara:

The $57 million pipeline expansion of the North Otago Irrigation Company’s project has been turned on this week, a year later than planned.

The first stage of the scheme was completed 11 years ago and the expansion was expected to be up and running this time last year, but was held back by problems with the new pipe.

North Otago Irrigation Company chair Leigh Hamilton said the water scheme has been talked about since the 1980s and the first stage of the scheme was built in 2006. . 

Back in business – Tim Fulton:

It was dry for so long Iain Wright started to forget the feel of mud at his feet.

But a “fantastic” amount of rain since autumn has turned his family’s fortunes after three years of Canterbury drought.

“It’s nice to know you can actually grow stuff.

“For so long you couldn’t grow anything,” the sheep and beef farmer said. . . 

Fonterra fails diversity test says Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner – Gerard Hutching:

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Jackie Blue has given Fonterra a serve for having so few women on its board.

But Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard said he couldn’t care if board members were transgender or of any race or colour, as long as they advanced the interests of Fonterra and farmer/shareholders.

Fairlie dairy farmer and current board member Leonie Guiney has been not selected to stand as a candidate for a second term, reducing the numbers of women on the 11-person board to two – Professor Nicola Shadbolt and Donna Smit. . .

New woolhandling event – Yvonne O’Hara:

One of the most prestigious events on the shearing calendar is only two weeks away and this year it will include a new competition featuring the top woolhandlers in the country.

The 56th annual New Zealand Merino Shearing Championships will be held at Molyneux Stadium, Alexandra, on October 6 and 7 and will be open to the public from about 7.30am.

Organising committee member Graeme Bell said the Merino Shears was one of the highlights of the shearing year. . .

One more chance for viticulturist – Yvonne O’Hara:

Annabel Bulk, of Felton Road Wines, has one more chance to win the national Young Viticulturist of the Year title next year before she is too old to enter. She intends to give it her best shot.

Ms Bulk has worked on the Bannockburn vineyard for about six years, and entered the regional competition for the past five.

This year, the vineyard’s assistant viticulturalist won the Central Otago competition and represented the region at the national final at Villa Maria, Marlborough on August 29, coming a close second to winner Tim Adams, from Obsidian, Waiheke Island. . .

Please no more meat regulation says NSW Farmers – NSW Farmers cattle committee chairman Bill Stacy:

The final report from the red meat senate inquiry was released last week. Its conclusions highlighted there are competition issues within the red meat industry, which generally act to the detriment of producers.

The report contained two key recommendations to improve competition. . .


Dave Finlay QSM

June 5, 2017

Dave Finlay has received recognition for his decades of service to irrigation, agriculture, sport and the community.

Mr David Finlay has played a key role in organising the irrigation of farmland in the Lower Waitaki region.

Mr Finlay has served for 41 consecutive years on the committee of the Lower Waitaki Irrigation scheme and the Board of the Lower Waitaki irrigation company, a scheme that irrigates more than 19,000 hectares of farmland.

In the 1990s he was a key player in the Irrigation North Otago group that developed an irrigation solution for the hills and downlands of North Otago. His contributions to irrigation have transformed the region and he has overseen the developments from inception through to completion.

In 1976 he was a founding member of the Lower Waitaki Golf Club and served as the Club President for four years. He is an active member of the St Kevin’s College Foundation and is involved with leading meetings, raising funds and recruiting new members.

He was a member of North Otago Federated Farmers and served a two year term as the Meat and Wool Chairman, representing the region in Wellington.

Mr Finlay has also held several coaching and administrative roles for North Otago Rugby and his efforts have encouraged schoolchildren to take up the sport.

Dave’s enthusiasm and dedication are legendary, he has more than earned this recognition for his service.

The ODT covers Dave’s QSM and other Southern recipients of honours here.


Rural round-up

September 12, 2016

Shearing role an honour – Sally Rae:

Johnny Fraser has a busy few months ahead of him.

Mr Fraser, a North Otago farmer, has been selected as New Zealand team manager for a transtasman shearing test in Australia in October.

Next year, he is heading to the United Kingdom for nearly six weeks, to manage the New Zealand team.

Shearing has taken Mr Fraser around the world, yet he reckoned the appointment was the  highlight of a lengthy involvement in the sport. . . 

Hardest part out of the way – Hamish MacLean:

The North Otago Irrigation Company has not hit its target of a September 1 commissioning for all shareholders, but chief executive Robyn Wells says the work programme for its $57million expansion is now progressing well.

With a staged commissioning of lines, Mrs Wells said all farmers on the expanded scheme would have their water turned on before Christmas.

Installing the large 1200mm pipe making up the “main spine” of the expansion had been “the most difficult”, but was now complete.

Ten crews, or 138 workers, continued to work across a “significant area of North Otago”. . . 

Strong outlook for horticultural sector – Sally Rae:

An average price of $90 for a 17.5kg lamb is being picked by ANZ economists for 2016-17 — but there are down side risks from Brexit impacts.

The bank’s latest Agri Focus focused on the price outlook for New Zealand’s major agricultural sectors.

The expected environment still looked challenging for key livestock sectors, despite some expected improvement for the dairy industry.

In contrast, the main horticultural crops were on track to post near-record export volumes and still achieve solid prices.

It was a mixed outlook for sheepmeat prices. down side risks were possible due to Brexit impacts but on the positive side, tradeable supply was expected to tighten during New Zealand’s main production window. . . 

Nelson Honey’s sweet success with Rainbow Station lease :

Nelson Honey has bought Rainbow Station’s pastoral lease, securing long-term access to 8300-hectares of high country.

Managing director Philip Cropp said the 33-year lease, which was finalised at the end of August, was significant as it future-proofed its access to the high-country farm.

It would see the company increase hive numbers across the station from 600 to 800. The number was about a fifth of the total hives the company had out across the region, he said. . . 

Family puts cropping skills to good use on sheep and beef farm – Heather Chalmers:

The McLauchlan family has gone against the dairy flow to stock a Mid Canterbury farm with sheep and beef, writes Heather Chalmers.

When the McLauchlan family bought their Mid-Canterbury farm in 2011, they were starting with a clean slate.

There were no stock on the 430 hectare Glengyle when they purchased it, so the family initially relied on dairy support and crops to generate an income while they gradually built up sheep and beef numbers. They have since leased a neighbouring 300ha property. 

They bought Glengyle after selling their mixed cropping farm in North Canterbury to dairy interests. Don McLauchlan said they were keen to move to a sheep and beef area, and get away from irrigation and the intensive management it requires. . . 

Former All White Tim Brown gets $9.7m to expand shoe business – Chloe Winter:

A woollen footwear business founded by former All White Tim Brown has been given a multi-million dollar funding boost.

Brown’s company Allbirds originally launched in 2014 after successfully raising about $3.68 million through a global crowdfunding platform and a US investment fund.

On Thursday, the former Wellington Phoenix captain secured an additional US$7.25m (NZ$9.71m) from Maveron, a private equity fund established by Starbucks founder Howard Schultz. . . 

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The mooing of your cows/bulls at night are keeping my kids and family up late when they need to get up early for school. Please address this problem.


Rural round-up

February 18, 2016

Landcorp forecasts bigger loss this year, no dividend – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Landcorp Farming, the state-owned farmer, won’t pay a dividend to the government for a second consecutive year as low milk prices erode earnings from its dairy business.

The company expects to post a net operating loss of between $8 million and $9 million in its current financial year ending June 30, chief financial officer Steve McJorrow told parliament’s primary production select committee in Wellington. That’s a bigger loss than the $1 million to $6 million it forecast in December, and compares with a net operating profit of $4.9 million last year. The projected loss means Landcorp won’t pay a dividend for the year, McJorrow told BusinessDesk after the select committee meeting. . . 

Drought relief in the pipeline for North Otago – Rob Tipa:

Farmers in the North Otago downlands between Duntroon, Enfield and Herbert will be happy to leave behind the stresses of desperately dry summers when the taps are opened on an expanded irrigation scheme covering an extra 25,000 hectares next spring.

In December, this region was shaping up for a summer from hell as farmers were forced to destock quickly with predictions of an El Nino long, hot summer drought.

The North Otago Irrigation Company, which currently supplies about 100 shareholders with irrigation water from the Waitaki River, was running at full capacity in November and December to cope with demand. . . 

North dairy farms lift collective environmental record:

Northland’s dairy farms are collectively lifting their environmental compliance performance with record numbers achieving full compliance last season.

Joe Carr, chairman of the Northland Regional Council’s Environmental Management Committee, says 65 percent of the more than 900 farms inspected over four months from mid-August last year had achieved full compliance, the highest rate ever recorded.

Councillor Carr, an Okaihau-based beef farmer and forest owner who represents the council’s Hokianga-Kaikohe constituency, says 944 farms were visited by the council or its contractor last season. . . 

Wall to wall sky – it’s a big country – Kate Taylor:

Most travellers drive around the South Island looking up at the picturesque high country. Kate Taylor jumped at the opportunity to experience the views up close with four-wheel-drive company NZ Adventures.

Asking how four-wheel-drive a four-wheel-drive trip will be is probably not a good start for my 1250-kilometre high country safari down the South Island.

Usually I would class myself as a good vehicle passenger – chatty, happy and with not an ounce of carsickness. But I think my hosts receive the occasional message about my state of mind… a tight grip on the door handle, mouth firmly shut and eyes to the upward view.

The trip caters for people with their own 4WD vehicles and preferably drivers with 4WD experience. Certainly, some of the places driven in the tour are not for the fainthearted, with sheer drops on the side of the tracks or long, steep inclines up to spectacular views and back down again. . . 

Journey to the top of the world – Kate Taylor:

Kate Taylor concludes her three-part series about a 4WD high country safari from Blenheim to Cardrona. The final days of the six-day journey are more familiar territory for the Otago farmer’s daughter.

Standing beside the monstrous Leaning Rock high above the Cromwell Gorge, I assume the tour guide is joking when he says I can see the Blue Mountains where I grew up.

After all, we had already been on top of one Blue Mountain in North Canterbury and driven through part of Blue Mountain Station in Mid Canterbury.

But there they are – no bird’s eye view of West Otago but undoubtedly the Blue Mountains in the distance. . .

I couldn’t find part 2 of this series, if you come across it please post the link in comments.

 

Is Fonterra’ strategy outdate – Jacqueline Rowarth:

More developments in dairy processing operations, this time in Northland, are yet another nail in what must not be allowed to become Fonterra’s coffin.

The dairy farmers in the region will, potentially, have a choice of which company to supply. The dilemma for them is whether they continue to support their co-operative or move to a new company promising good returns.

The promise is based on the demand in China for UHT milk and ice cream: China is now believed to be the biggest ice cream market globally. Chinese spending on ice-cream increased over 50% between 2009 and 2014. Furthermore, consumption is still under a quarter of that consumed by Americans, giving plenty of room for further increases. The new company should be onto a winner. . . 

Canterbury farmer unofficially tops world crop record – Monique Steele:

A Canterbury farmer with a wheat crop yielding above the world record missed out on glory because it was never officially recorded.

Leeston farmer David Birkett harvested 16.7 tonnes a hectare from his feed-wheat crop which would have topped the existing record of 16.519t/ha held in the United Kingdom.

He suspected he was heading for a personal best, but decided against bringing in officials to verify a Guinness world record attempt. . . 

Southern Dairy Hub site found:

Southern Dairy Hub (SDH) chair Maurice Hardie says the vision of a southern research and development dairying centre is much closer to being realised with a conditional agreement on two properties now having been reached pending the satisfaction of a number of minimum requirements for both parties.

“This is an important milestone in our plan to build a facility that is a partnership between local farmers, DairyNZ and AgResearch; the new farm will enable local dairy farming issues to be researched on southern soils in southern conditions,” he says. . .


Rural round-up

November 10, 2015

Chefs see food as much more than a commodity – Rebecca Ryan:

There’s a new movement gaining momentum in the New Zealand food industry. ConversatioNZ, aiming to ”inspire and empower” by creating a strong sense of pride and respect for the country’s natural, edible resources, is a not-for-profit movement created to share the story of New Zealand food and push culinary boundaries. North Otago reporter Rebecca Ryan talks to North Otago chefs and ConversatioNZ advisory board members Bevan Smith and Fleur Sullivan about it

Thirteen years ago, Fleur Sullivan saw waste and an opportunity for people to enjoy ”beautiful, fresh fish” straight off the boats in Moeraki.

Her restaurant Fleur’s Place, she says, was formed after she saw the byproduct – the fish brains, the heads, the livers – being thrown overboard from fishing boats and she knew she could use what was being thrown away. . . 

Te Brake hits the accelerator – Ali Tocker:

Changing the guard at Young Farmers has propelled meat industry accountant Jason Te Brake into the hot seat as chairman. He talked to Ali Tocker about his career so far and his aspirations for the Young Farmers movement while he heads the board.

Jason Te Brake is clever, confident and committed – three qualities that have earned him the role of chairman of New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF).

The 27-year-old has his sights set on a strong and secure future for the group.

Woman’s passion for health and safety leads to award:

A passion for improving health and safety on New Zealand farms, and in particular the health of those working in the industry, has contributed to a West Coast farmer being named the winner of the rural category of the Women of Influence Award.

Katie Milne, a dairy farmer from Rotomanu, is also a member of the Federated Farmers Board, the National Animal Welfare Advisory Board, TB-Free West Coast and numerous other groups, including being a volunteer firefighter.

Ms Milne works closely with the Rural Health Alliance and travels the country talking to farmers about health and safety.

She said some farmers were not coping due to low or dropping returns, but help was available. . . 

Water scheme expanding down valley – Hamish Maclean:

The North Otago Irrigation Company’s $57 million expansion down the Kakanui Valley is well under way.

Last month, McConnell Dowell Constructors crews began laying the main line – 1.2m-diameter reinforced fibreglass pipes – that will stretch towards Herbert.

The company almost tripled the size of the head pond on Ngapara-Georgetown Rd and upgraded pump stations over the winter.

The project was still on target for the September 2016 hook-up, company chairman Leigh Hamilton said. . . .

Significantly Improved Result Confirmed for Silver Fern Farms:

Silver Fern Farms has confirmed a positive 2015 financial result and further inroads made on debt reduction.

For the financial year ended September 2015, the company achieved Earnings before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation (EBITDA) of $86.9m. This represented a 28 percent improvement on the $68.1m achieved in 2014. Net profit before tax for the year was $27.2m, up from $1.8m in 2014.

Chairman Rob Hewett said Silver Fern Farms’ shareholders will be pleased by the audited result. . . .

Potatoes ditch cadmium:

University of Canterbury researchers have developed potatoes that are resistant to cadmium, a toxic metal found in soil.

They say the finding could give growers here a new marketing edge.

Biotechnology lecturer Dr David Leung said their potatoes had a trait that could solve this problem and enhance New Zealand’s best potato varieties. . . 

 


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