Rural round-up

December 7, 2018

Maize crops sick, seeds failing:

 A major seed supplier is urgently investigating reports from farmers that some of their maize crops aren’t growing properly.

Genetic Technologies Limited is the New Zealand producer and distributor of the Pioneer seeds brand and sells more than 20 hybrid maize varieties.

The crop is grown in New Zealand for the production of animal feed, either in the form of grain maize or as maize silage.

This season some farmers say up to 30 percent of their maize seeds from Pioneer have failed and other seeds that have struck are looking sick.

A tale of two milk companies – one of them is being suckled by taxpayers – Point of Order:

The contrasting fortunes of Synlait Milk and Westland Milk Products were thrown into sharp relief last week. On the one hand Synlait won applause at its annual meeting from shareholders, impressed by its performance in virtually doubling profit ($74.6m against $39.4m) in its tenth year of operations. On the other hand Westland had the begging bowl out for a Provincial Growth Fund loan of $9.9m which will help the co-op in funding a $22m manufacturing plant aimed at converting milk to higher-value products.

The Westland dairy exporter, discussing a capital restructure in its 2018 annual report, said it had relatively high debt and limited financial flexibility. . . 

Sheep needed on hill country – Alan Williams:

Waikato farmer Alastair Reeves has taken umbrage at the Productivity Commission’s suggestion sheep should be cast aside to make way for trees. He reckons sheep have a great future if they are not threatened by people making decisions in isolation and ignoring the ramifications of being wrong. He’s even got a plan for wool involving the Duchess of Sussex, aka Meghan Markle.

Sheep should be at the forefront of sustainable farming on hill country rather than being tossed aside for massive tree-planting programmes, Waikato hill farmer Alastair Reeves says.

It is a disgrace for the Productivity Commission to suggest up to 2.8 million hectares of new forestry be planted as a means of achieving a low carbon-emissions economy.  . . 

Water storage essential for future resilience – as experts cite drought as a major risk to NZ:

IrrigationNZ says a recent expert discussion document on drought and climate change highlights that future national planning to improve water storage and look at a range of options to mitigate the effects of the more severe droughts forecast is urgently needed.

“More frequent droughts and more variable rainfall will affect both urban and rural communities and will mean that we will need to rethink how we manage water in the future.
For example with less rainfall forecast over summer in western areas of New Zealand, there will be more demand for water storage from both councils and farmers to provide a reliable water supply,” says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Andrew Curtis. . . 

Elitism of another kind – Clive Bibby:

I grew up on a farm just outside the small Central Hawkes Bay town of Waipawa.

My forebears had owned sizeable tracts of farming land that had been hacked out of the bush and scrub under the Ruahine Ranges.

I am very proud to be a descendant of such pioneering folk who understood what it means to build a business from nothing and see it grow into something that makes a reasonable contribution to the local economy. They also built the first trading general store in CHB. The building still stands.

It is perhaps ironic that much of the farm land in question was in the near vicinity of the catchment area for the now defunct Ruataniwha Fresh Water Dam proposal. . . 

New tool helps farmers gauge carbon footprint:

Meridian Energy and Westpac NZ are proud to support a new carbon calculator that gives farmers a guide to the size of their carbon footprint

The tool has been developed by Lincoln University’s Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit (AERU) and Agrilink NZ, with financial assistance from Meridian Energy and Westpac NZ.

It is available at http://www.lincoln.ac.nz/carboncalculator. . . 

Horticulture growth retains momentum:

Horticulture growth retained momentum with a seven percent growth in export earnings since 2016, according to an updated report, with tariffs on exported produce down by 12 percent since 2012.

The New Zealand Horticulture Export Authority (HEA) and Horticulture New Zealand commission the report New Zealand Horticulture – Barriers to Our Export Trade every two years, with funding support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, NZ Fruitgrowers Charitable Trust, and industry. . . 

International Boma NZ summit to help Aotearoa’s food:

A future-thinking agriculture summit will bring together global and local experts on future farming trends, exponential change, and new business models and product pathways. The summit, called Grow 2019, is designed to help Aotearoa’s food and fibre sector be more innovative, collaborative, sustainable and profitable now and into the future.

Organiser Kaila Colbin says the two-day summit is an opportunity to learn about the future trends that are impacting the agriculture sector, and what to do about them, in a practical way, from people on the ground. Grow 2019 will also connect groups of like-minded individuals and organisations so that together we can understand, adapt and grow in a future that looks nothing like today. . . 


Rural round-up

December 1, 2016

Government farmer Landcorp puts 11,650 hectares of NZ land on the market  – Tim Cronshaw:

Government farmer Landcorp is offloading 10 farms totalling about 11,650 hectares.

Two of the properties are being offered for sale this month with another eight farms from across the country to go before iwi for the first right of refusal.

The farms were mainly sheep and beef units and should attract an enthusiastic response, said PGG Wrightson Real Estate general manager, Peter Newbold. . . 

Applications now open for Primary Industries Earthquake Relief Fund:

Applications for funding from the Primary Industries Earthquake Relief Fund are now open, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“Recently we announced a $4 million fund for uninsurable on-farm infrastructure repairs in the Hurunui, Kaikoura and Marlborough districts. Applications are now open and will close at the end of February, and I’m hopeful the panel will make an initial assessment of some applications before Christmas,” says Mr Guy.

“Criteria for applications has been released which includes re-establishment of uninsurable assets like water infrastructure and opening up tracks, culverts and farm bridges. . . 

MPI intercepts on-farm black market butchery operation:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has intercepted another illegal black market meat operation.

MPI District Compliance Manager Waikato/Bay of Plenty, Brendon Mikkelsen, says compliance officers recently executed a search warrant following an inspection at an Atiamuri Farm.

“Officers seized 22 freshly processed sheep that were destined for sale and several thousand dollars associated with the alleged offending.

“This operation involved the processing and sale of sheep, cattle and goats over a number of years. The operator is likely to face prosecution. MPI has a low tolerance for any black-market butchery operations.” . . 

Westland shareholders elect two new directors:

Well known West Coast dairy advocate Katie Milne and Canterbury Dairy Farmer Sven Koops have been elected to Westland Milk Products’ Board of Directors by shareholders, it was announced at the co-operative’s annual general meeting today (Wednesday 30 November).

Milne is a fourth generation West Coaster and farms at Rotomanu with her partner Ian Whitmore. In 2015 she won both the Dairy Woman of the Year title and Westpac’s Woman of Influence Rural award. She is a member of the national board of Federated Farmers and is currently the West Coast President. . . .

Strategy correct, mistakes in the delivery Westland Shareholders told:

Westland Milk Products’ shareholders turned out in force at their annual general meeting today to hear retiring chairman Matt O’Regan tell them that while the company’s business strategy was sound, it’s delivery had been poor.

In a frank address to an audience of some 150 shareholders demanding answers, O’Regan acknowledged that Westland’s low payout of $3.62 per kilo of milk solids, topped up from equity to a final payout of $3.88 was “beyond disappointing”, below break-even point for farmers and represented a failure of Westland’s goal to be industry competitive.

“However,” O’Regan said, “our strategy for growing Westland’s capacity to produce value-added products was, and remains, a sound one. Indeed, the survival of this company will depend upon its success. . . 

Horticulture shows ‘spectacular’ growth:

Horticulture has experienced a spectacular 40 percent growth in export earnings since 2014, according to a new report, with tariffs on exported produce down by 22 percent since 2012.

The New Zealand Horticulture Export Authority (HEA) and Horticulture New Zealand commission the report New Zealand Horticulture – Barriers to Our Export Trade every two years, with funding support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and NZ Fruitgrowers Charitable Trust.

The report, launched at an event in Wellington today, says horticultural produce exporters paid an estimated $190 million in tariffs, a reduction of 22 percent on 2012’s figure of $241 million. . . 

Horticulture celebrates major successes:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming a new report showing a 40 per cent growth in horticulture export earnings since 2014.

The strong results are highlighted in Horticulture New Zealand and the New Zealand Horticulture Export Authority (HEA)’s report New Zealand Horticulture – Barriers to Our Export Trade which is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and NZ Fruitgrowers Charitable Trust.

“Horticulture is a star performer of the New Zealand economy with export revenue just under $5 billion, making it one of our most important industries,” says Mr Guy. . . 

Oligopoly strangling fresh food supply chain – Alistair Lamond:

Last week the Horticultural Code was put under the spotlight.

Large wholesalers were mistreating growers with fear mongering tactics and long payment terms. It’s an all too familiar case for the hundreds of thousands of Australian small and medium sized businesses who are subjected to the corporate bullying culture that arises from one systemic problem – market power imbalance.  

In Australia, most industries are dominated by oligopolies – a state of limited competition, in which a market is controlled by small number of companies. . . 

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