Rural round-up

June 2, 2017

Differing water quality rules still an issue – Sally Rae:

Simon Williamson has been re-elected president of North Otago Federated Farmers.

Speaking at the branch’s annual meeting in Oamaru, Mr Williamson, who farms between Omarama and Twizel, said it had been a busy year ”on many fronts”.

It was apparent the two regional councils – Environment Canterbury and the Otago Regional Council – were still taking a very different approach to water quality. . .

Cows make a comeback – Neal Wallace and Mel Croad:

Buyers are chasing breeding cows and heifers in what could be the first sign of a revival in breeding cow numbers.

In-calf heifer and breeding cow fairs across the country in recent weeks have drawn large galleries of buyers paying prices akin to those paid in Australia where the herd was being rebuilt.

Prices for in-calf Angus heifers at Temuka exceeded $2400 a head in early May when a lack of numbers saw two fairs rolled into one. But prices were helped by farmers rebuilding breeding herds. . .

Decision ‘simple arithmetic – Maureen Bisop and John Keast:

They may have suspected it was coming, but the announcement of the proposed closure of Silver Fern Farm’s Fairton plant in Ashburton was still devastating for many of the 370 workers set to lose their jobs.

The proposal to close the 125-year-old plant was put to staff at a meeting in Ashburton last Wednesday. A two-week consultation period was to follow, although if there was significant feedback that this was too short or too long, that would be considered. It was hoped to have a final decision on May 31.

Most workers already knew the future of the plant was uncertain. The seasons were shorter and there was an ever dwindling supply of lambs. . .

NZ Binxi builds 20% stake in Blue Sky Meats, may revisit takeover after getting OIO sign-off – Rebecca Howard:

China’s Heilongjiang Binxi Cattle Industry Co won’t rule out revisiting its takeover of Invercargill meat processor Blue Sky Meats now that the deal has Overseas Investment Office approval, having abandoned the bid in March when the OIO process missed a deadline.

“We don’t have any fixed position on what our next steps will be,” Richard Thorp, chief operating officer of Binxi Cattle’s local unit NZ Binxi (Oamaru) Foods, told BusinessDesk after the OIO gave the deal a greenlight this week. . .

Principals fear visa change – John Lewis:

Proposed changes to New Zealand’s essential skills visa could result in some small rural Otago schools closing, principals say.
Many parents working in the region’s dairy industry are migrants, and their children make up a significant percentage of rural school rolls.

The proposed changes will limit essential skills visas to one year, and after a maximum of three years, immigrants would have to leave New Zealand for at least 12 months before applying for another work visa. . .

Honoured for advocacy role – Nicole Sharp:

Doug Fraser is a name well-known in the farming circle.
Dedicated to the sector and the people who work in it, for a long time Mr Fraser has been a strong voice in Federated Farmers.

His behind-the-scenes work and advocating for farmers was recognised recently at the Southland Federated Farmers AGM, when Mr Fraser was awarded life membership.

Former Federated Farmers president Don Nicholson presented Mr Fraser with the award, speaking of his time working with Mr Fraser. . .

Health hub has 25 exhibitors – Annette Scott:

Getting like-minded health organisations together to change how rural people think about health has been the driver for the inaugural Fieldays Health Hub.

Health issues affecting rural communities would be the focus as a whole host of relevant health professionals and organisations delivered interactive health care of the future messages, Mobile Health chief executive Mark Eager said. . .

 


Rural round-up

April 18, 2017

Mentoring part of the prize – Sally Rae:

Papakaio dairy farmer Morgan Easton says he is ”humbled” to win the 2017 Zanda McDonald Award.

The Australasian agribusiness award was launched by the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group in
2014.

It was in memory of Australian beef industry leader and PPP foundation member Zanda McDonald, who died aged 41 after an accident at his Queensland property in 2013.

Mr Easton, along with Invercargill-based dairy consultant Jolene Germann and Waiau farmer Henry Pinckney, was initially shortlisted for the award, along with Australians Anna Speer, Will Creek and Airlie Trescowthick. . . 

It’s not just farmers – Neal Wallace:

The country’s senior scientist has called for a more mature conversation on solving water quality issues and an end to the polarised positions that have characterised the debate so far.

Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, the Prime Minister’s chief science adviser, said to have the pristine environment we all desired would not be achieved without having a conversation “where people are not threatened but will come together and discuss solutions”.

“Where we have gone is groups with extreme positions and people are not listening to each other.”

Farm’s efficiency gain, emissions fall impresses – Sally Brooker:

A South Canterbury farm has proved environmental gains can be made while production improves, scientists say.

Beef and Lamb New Zealand director Bill Wright and his wife, Shirley, have been farming a sheep and cattle property at Cannington since 1991. Their records have allowed scientists to study the profile of greenhouse gases while the farm evolved.

The the last two years’ data also gave insights into nitrogen-leaching.

“Farmers are conscious of their collective responsibilities to restore water quality and minimise their environmental footprint,” Mr Wright said.

“But this is material we are now only learning how to manage in a way that not only protects the environment but provides opportunities to be more productive with less impact.” . . 

Blue Sky left searching for positives after Binxi offer lapses – Allan Barber:

Invercargill based meat processor Blue Sky Meats is trying to put a positive spin on its prospects after being advised by Chinese cattle and meat company subsidiary NZ Binxi Oamaru that its takeover offer would not proceed. The main reason for the decision was failure to receive OIO approval by the 20th March deadline, but Binxi also cited a material adverse change in this season’s performance. As a result Blue Sky has advised shareholders they will continue to own their shares, 96% having already accepted the offer.

The offer for 100% ownership at $2.20 per share placed a value of $25.4 million on Blue Sky compared with a current valuation of just under $15 million based on the last trading price of $1.30. Chairman Scott O’Donnell made the point adverse seasonal conditions are part and parcel of agricultural businesses, while NZ Binxi has asked the OIO to continue to process its application in spite of its withdrawal. It also signalled its possible willingness to reconsider if the OIO were to come through with a positive response. . . 

UK will offer good trade deal :

New Zealand’s farmers and exporters will get a favourable post-Brexit trade pact with the United Kingdom but find a new European Union trade agreement much harder, Lord Sam Vestey believes.

The British peer and former owner of NZ meat processing plants under the name of Weddell until the 1990s was speaking at the opening of the Royal Easter Show in Auckland.

He was chairman of the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth and a regular visitor to major shows in NZ. . . 

Southland dairy consultant in the running for Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year:

A Southland woman who only milked her first cow seven years ago is one of three finalists in the 2017 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year awards.

Jolene Germann grew up on a Waikato sheep and beef farm and had no dairy experience until meeting her husband, Hadleigh, seven years ago. Now, she’s a busy dairy consultant with a full book and is an equity partner and sharemilker on a 200ha, 570 cow dairy farm in Aparima, Southland.

Germann’s husband nominated her for the Dairy Woman of the Year award and says her commitment to environmental sustainability and empathetic leadership style are her stand-out qualities. . . 

Dear Lady at the Bank – Ruby Uhart:

Last fall I went into the bank to deposit checks after we’d sold our calves.  The lady at the front desk wasn’t familiar with the company who had written the check.  I explained to her who they were and that we had sold two loads of calves.

She replied “wow.  I’m in the wrong business.”

At the time, it caught me off guard that she would say something like that and all I could do was chuckle a little and say “no.  You’re not.”

 I’ve been thinking about her all winter and different moments in particular made me wish I had said something to her other than what I replied in my dimwitted moment.  As with all of my best comebacks, they hit my brain later and are told with the story as “what I should have said was…”

So here goes.  Here’s my shoulda, coulda, woulda said….


Rural round-up

December 9, 2016

Farmers urged to report all crime:

 

A Federated Farmers survey shows the rural sector is plagued by thieves, rustlers and poachers but not enough farmers are reporting their losses.

Farmers need to get smarter about security, and work more closely with police to deter and catch offenders, Federated Farmers rural crime portfolio leader Rick Powdrell says.

More than 1,000 farmers from all over New Zealand responded to the on-line survey, with 26 per cent saying stock had been stolen from them in the last five years. More than 3% had been hit by stock thieves five times or more since 2011. . . 

Police investigating theft of 70 hay bales from farm near Wanaka – Rhys Chamberlain:

Otago Lakes Central police are on the hunt for thieves who made off with 70 bales of hay worth about $350 in total.

A police media spokeswoman said the theft occurred on the corner of Partridge Rd and St Ninians Way near Hawea Flat between 8pm Sunday and 7am on Monday.

There was no indication of the method used to take the bales and there appeared to be no witnesses, she said.

“The victim has no idea how they [hay bales] were taken.” . . 

Blue Sky Meats urges shareholders to wait for more information on Binxi takeover – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Blue Sky Meats has recommended shareholders wait for more information from the board on the future prospects of the meat processor before deciding on a takeover offer from China-based Heilongjiang Binxi Cattle Industry Co, which is at the top of an independent valuation range.

NZ Binxi (Oamaru) Foods, a subsidiary of the Chinese company referred to as Binxi Cattle Group, is offering $2.20 per share for the 86.5 percent of Blue Sky that it doesn’t already own. Independent adviser Campbell MacPherson values Blue Sky’s shares between $1.93 and $2.21 apiece, according to a report sent to shareholders yesterday. . . 

The Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust is seeking a tenant for its dairy farm:

The Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust seeks a tenant for the 80 hectare dairying operation in McLeans Island Road, Harewood – directly opposite Harewood Golf Course. The lease marketing campaign is being undertaken by Bayleys Canterbury, with tenders closing on December 14.

The dairy operation is part of the revenue activities of the Trust, which administers an expansive 1100 hectare flora and fauna sanctuary adjacent to Christchurch International Airport.

The Trust is a well renown not-for-profit wildlife organisation and is currently the only facility in the world breeding orange-fronted parakeets in captivity, and the only facility outside of the Department of Conservation to breed the rare black stilt and New Zealand shore plover bird species. It runs one of New Zealand’s most expert incubation and hatchery for rare breed chicks. . . 

  Anchor launches new range of premium products in China:

At its Annual General Meeting today Fonterra announced the launch of a new range of premium Anchor products in China, in response to the ongoing growth in demand for safe, high-quality dairy nutrition.

The new ‘Upline’ range features two new UHT milk products. LiveUp is a high-protein milk with 50 per cent more protein than standard UHT (at 5.7 grams of protein per 100ml), while NaturalUp is made from certified fresh organic New Zealand milk that meets Chinese and New Zealand organic standards.

Fonterra Greater China President, Christina Zhu, said the new products . . 

Mixed results for wool:

New Zealand Wool Services International Ltd’s CEO Mr John Dawson reports that the North Island auction comprising 9400 bales, which was 2000 bales above anticipated roster, saw a 93 percent clearance with a continuation of targeted buying. With price levels at lowest levels for several seasons, buying activity from some sectors has been stimulated for specific types, resulting in price lifts for target wools, however there were further reductions for out of favour types.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was 1.03 percent up on last week, having minimal impact locally.

Mr Dawson advises compared to last North Island selection on 1st December; . . 

British wool a thriving industry thanks to running the last marketing board in the country Julia Bradshaw:

Every sheep is different, so every fleece is different, you open one up and never know what you’re going to get,” says Ian Brooksbank, a senior head grader for the British Wool Marketing Board (BWMB) – the country’s last surviving agricultural commodities co-operative.

Brooksbank works at its North of England depot, a massive warehouse on the outskirts of Bradford, next to the headquarters of the marketing board. There, he and a team of workers grade and package fleeces from the surrounding counties. Grading takes huge skill, and Brooksbank has years of experience. “I started here in 1990 when I was 16, just pushing the skeps,” he says as he touches the fleece in front of him, pulling out and inspecting the fibres to see how strong and uniform they are.


Rural round-up

November 14, 2016

Alliance in good shape – Allan Barber:

Alliance has produced a solid result for the year ended 30 September with a pre-tax profit of $10.1 million compared with $7.9 million for the previous year achieved on 9% lower revenue of $1.366 billion. Of greater significance to farmers is the decision to distribute $9.8 million to shareholders, while the company’s equity position has improved from 58% of assets to 72%. Debt reduced from $129 million to $41 million with no seasonal debt at year end.

Alliance’s transformation programme has achieved improvements of $56 million compared with budgeted savings of $34 million and, according to chairman Murray Taggart, the company is only part of the way through the programme. In spite of the market challenges arising from global uncertainties like Brexit and the US presidential election result, Taggart told me he is feeling more optimistic than at any time since joining the Alliance board. . . 

Meat, wool lack NZ brand: report – Sally Rae:

One of the biggest weaknesses — and thus opportunities — for the meat and wool sector is the lack of a coherent New Zealand “brand” internationally.

That is a key point raised in Westpac’s latest Industry Insights report covering New Zealand’s largest primary industry.

Farmers, meat and wool processors, farm advisers and farm support business were among those canvassed for their views on the biggest risks and challenges for the sector. . . 

Stratford deposes world champ shearer Smith –

Reigning world champion Rowland Smith has been deposed by Southland shearer Nathan Stratford who will now represent New Zealand at the world championships in his home town.

The gruelling 10-month selection process ended in dramatic fashion at the Canterbury A&P show with Stratford causing the second boil-over in a many days after Mary-Anne Baty bolted into the wool-handling team with fellow Gisborne handler Joel Henare.

Stratford will team up with 2014 world champion John Kirkpatrick of Napier in the machine shearing team. . . 

Baty bolts into NZ woolhandling team:

A bolter. It’s an oft-used term in the sporting world, and it sits comfortably with Gisborne’s Mary-Anne Baty.

On Thursday Baty completed a remarkable three weeks by being named alongside Joel Henare in the CP Wool Shearing Sports New Zealand woolhandling team to compete at the 2017 world shearing and woolhandling championships in Invercargill in February.

Baty had to rely on a strong finish in the final qualifier of the six-event, year-long series in Hastings in October to sneak into the six-person selection final on a countback. She then made the most of her opportunity to qualify third from the semi-finals and take second place behind Henare to earn New Zealand selection. But it could have been a very different story. . . 

Binxi not only Blue Sky suitor – Neal Wallace:

A takeover offer by Chinese-backed NZ Binxi (Oamaru) Foods is not the only offer being considered by Southland processor Blue Sky Meats.

The company earlier this year employed Auckland consultants BDO to provide business options for Blue Sky and the $2.20 a share offer from NZ Binxi was the “first out of the blocks”, chairman Scott O’Donnell said.  

“They are not the only party talking to us.”  

The offer valued the company at $25.3 million, a significant premium on its market capitalisation value of $15m.   O’Donnell said the process of formally documenting the takeover offer, board consideration of its merits and finally making a recommendation to shareholders could take four to six weeks. . . 

Apple connoisseur to the core – Gerard Hutching:

Tony Fissette knows his apples. Hailing from Belgium’s growing heartland, he has been involved in the fresh produce business most of his working life.

As far as he is concerned, the jazz and envy apples he markets from his office near Brussels for T&G Global (the former Turners & Growers) are “the best apples I’ve ever eaten”.

European consumers agree. For the industry standard 18kg carton of jazz sold to supermarkets, growers receive an $8 premium over the old standby braeburn and royal gala varieties. . . 

Seafood New Zealand welcomes improvements to the management of our fisheries:

Seafood New Zealand welcomes the opportunity to review and refine fisheries management in New Zealand.

The Government proposes three strategic and two regulatory changes that focus on improving information gathering and management, and on ways to further minimise the industry’s environmental footprint, in the Future of our Fisheries report released by the Ministry for Primary Industries today.

“The report brings a renewed focus, for all those who love kaimoana, to work together to further improve New Zealand’s fisheries,” Seafood New Zealand Chairman George Clement said. . . 

Image may contain: one or more people, text and outdoor

I think that if you were raised on a farm, you were born with dirt in your shoes, and once you get dirt in your shoes, you can’t ever get it out.

 


Rural round-up

November 9, 2016

MIE tried hard but couldn’t make a difference – Allan Barber:

MIE’s decision to disband after three years trying to persuade the red meat sector it was going to hell in a handcart has come as no surprise. But the organisation’s founders and directors are not unnaturally disappointed at their inability to gain support for their plan to solve the endemic problems of the industry.

MIE’s chairman Dave McGaveston has blamed everybody for MIE’s failure, including the government, directors of Silver Fern Farms and Alliance (especially the MIE candidates who were appointed to their boards), the rural media, Federated Farmers and Beef + Lamb NZ. The last named organisation actually provided nearly $300,000 of financial support for farmer awareness meetings, business plan preparation and production of the Pathways to Sustainability report. But it incurred MIE’s displeasure when it refused to provide further funding for a roadshow to drum up support for the group’s plans, correctly recognising this was beyond its remit. . . 

China’s Binxi Cattle to mount $25.3 million takeover for Blue Sky Meats –  Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – China-based Heilongjiang Binxi Cattle Industry Co intends to make a $25.3 million takeover offer for Blue Sky Meats, the Southland-based meat processor whose shares trade on the Unlisted platform.

NZ Binxi (Oamaru) Foods, a subsidiary of the Chinese company, will offer $2.20 per share for up to 100 percent of the shares, Blue Sky said in a statement to Unlisted. The formal takeover offer has not yet been made but is due within 30 days of the notification of intention. . . 

Lamb flap prices jump to 18-month high on Chinese New Year demand – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Lamb flap prices jumped to their highest level in a year and a half, driven by increased demand from China where buyers are stocking up for New Year celebrations.

The price for lamb flaps rose to US$4.70 per kilogram in October, up from US$4.50/kg in September and US$3.80/kg for the same period a year earlier, according to AgriHQ’s latest monthly sheep & beef report. That’s the highest level recorded by AgriHQ’s since April 2015. . . 

Sydney shows off ag’s opportunities:

GROWING confidence in global agricultural is putting fizz back into the farm sector, and Rabobank’s innovation summit in Sydney today is yet another example of the investment communities’ interest.

Focused on food trends and new business development, 1000 local and international farmers are mingling with ag start up companies, investors and industry leaders on Cockatoo Island, formerly a convict prison barracks, Navy dockyard and now a UNESCO world heritage site. . . 

 

New programme tackling disruptive innovations for primary industries:

Five years ago, a small team of tech enthusiasts laid the groundwork for a new primary industry event for Australasia, MobileTECH. The objective was to bring together and showcase mobile innovations designed to increase productivity within the sector.

In a sector where meetings, conferences, expos or field days run every other week, it was always important that this event had to have a clear purpose. Those involved were excited about the growth in mobile technologies for the rural sector and in the rapid developments in cloud computing, wireless sensors, big data, satellite imagery and others.

In its design, it needed to be an independent programme about the technology and what it can do; not about politics, markets or the business buzzwords of the day. . .

Vegetable industry joins GIA partnership:

The vegetable industry has become the twelfth industry partner to join the Government Industry Agreement (GIA) biosecurity partnership, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“It’s great to have Vegetables New Zealand Incorporated signed up and working with the Ministry for Primary Industries and other industry partners,” says Mr Guy.

“It means we can work together on managing and responding to the most important biosecurity risks. . . 

Fresh vegetable industry signs biosecurity agreement:

Vegetables New Zealand Incorporated today signed an agreement with Government to better protect the fresh vegetable growers it represents in managing biosecurity procedures.

Vegetables NZ Inc is the governing body representing 900 commercial growers who produce more than 50 crops, with a farm gate value of over $390 million per annum, to supply the increasing demands of sophisticated customers both in New Zealand and in our export markets.

The Deed of the Government Industry Agreement (GIA) for Biosecurity Readiness and Response was signed by representatives from Vegetables NZ Inc and government at Parliament, with Martyn Dunne, chief executive of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), and Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew in attendance. Vegetables NZ Inc joins 12 other primary sector industry groups that have joined with the government in the GIA partnership. . . 

Are dairy fats beneficial for good health?

For decades, experts advised people to reduce their fat intake, however they now agree that fats are actually beneficial for people’s health, and dairy fats have an important role to play.

Fonterra Senior Research Scientist and Nutritionist, Dr Elisabeth Weichselbaum, explained that the idea that fat makes you fat was flawed. Research today shows that, people who eliminated fats from their diet often replaced them with refined carbohydrates, which in turn is thought to have contributed to the double burden of obesity and diabetes.

“Fat not only provides a valuable source of energy, but also delivers key building blocks for the body and essential, fat-soluble vitamins. Dairy, which is a natural source of fat, plays a key part in this because it is packed full of nutrients. . . 


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