Rural round-up

December 22, 2017

Diversity in a variable climate – Blair Drysdale:

Surprised and shocked would accurately describe my reaction to being asked to pen a column for a publication I love and have read from front to back for more than 20 years. It’s somewhat daunting given the calibre of the other columnists.

Along with my wife Jody and three children Carly (9), Fletcher (7) and Leah (5) we farm 325 hectares in Balfour, northern Southland with my parents Fiona and Ken still living on farm. Our farming operation consists of arable, beef, dairy grazing, sheep and land leased out to tulip growers annually.

It’s a diverse operation which spreads our risk across both our variable climate and commodity cycles, neither of which we can control or influence. We can have wet winters and very dry summers, with all four seasons turning up the same day occasionally just for a laugh. Like all regions it has its challenges, but if it were easy every man and his dog would want a crack. . . 

Difficult conditions constrain rural market:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (REINZ) shows there were 131 fewer farm sales (-29.3%) for the three months ended November 2017 than for the three months ended November 2016. Overall, there were 316 farm sales in the three months ended November 2017, compared to 261 farm sales for the three months ended October 2017 (+21.1%), and 447 farm sales for the three months ended November 2016. 1,577 farms were sold in the year to November 2017, 12.5% fewer than were sold in the year to November 2016, with 29.8% more finishing farms, 29.2% more dairy farms and 34.6% fewer grazing and 32.5% fewer arable farms sold over the same period. . . 

Westpac NZ offers relief to farmers affected by drought-like conditions:

Westpac is offering to assist its hardest hit customers, as drought-like conditions grip large parts of the country.

Westpac’s Head of Commercial and Agribusiness, Mark Steed said the impact of a severe weather event can be stressful for those affected, particularly in the dairy sector in recovery from the payout slump in 2015/16.

He said the bank is offering financial assistance and is encouraging farmers experiencing hardship to talk to Westpac about how the bank can help them. . . 

Recent graduates doing well in forestry sector:

Recent tertiary graduates are earning good incomes from their employment in the forest industry, according to a recent survey by the New Zealand Institute of Forestry (NZIF).

A survey of 600 NZIF members indicates recent graduates in the forestry sector are attaining a median gross salary of $58,520, which increases to $62,725 for a total remuneration package.

NZIF spokesperson Tim Thorpe says many of the graduates would have a degree from the University of Canterbury Schools of Forestry and Engineering. But he says others would be included in the recent graduate category as holders of New Zealand diplomas in forest management or similar, from Toi Ohomai in Rotorua, NorthTec in Whangarei or EIT in Gisborne. . . 

No reindeer here, but MPI says sleigh vigilant – Kate Pereyra Garcia:

There are currently no reindeer in New Zealand, not even in zoos.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) readiness group manager Melanie Russell said there was an attempt to import a reindeer 10 years ago for the filming of the Narnia movie.

“But the reindeer that had been trained for the role tested positive for an exotic disease, so the importation never happened.”

The reindeer in the movie was computer generated instead. . . 

Synlait Partners with Foodstuffs South Island to supply fresh milk and cream:

Synlait Milk is partnering with Foodstuffs South Island Limited to become the Cooperative’s exclusive supplier of its private label fresh milk and cream from early 2019.

Synlait intends to invest approximately $125 million in an advanced liquid dairy packaging facility to supply Foodstuffs South Island.

The investment establishes a platform for Synlait to pursue a range of dairy-based products for domestic and export markets in the future. . .

Commission releases final report on annual review of Fonterra’s Milk Price Manual:

The Commerce Commission has released its final report on its annual review of Fonterra’s Milk Price Manual for the current dairy season.

The manual sets out Fonterra’s methodology for calculating the price it will pay farmers per kilogram of milk solids for the current dairy season, ending 31 May 2018. Our review is part of the milk price monitoring regime under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA). The regime incentivises Fonterra to operate efficiently while providing for contestability in the market for the purchase of farmers’ milk.

“The Commission’s conclusion is unchanged from its draft report released in October, which finds the manual is largely consistent with the purposes of the milk monitoring regime,” Commission Deputy Chair Sue Begg said. . . 

Three million more chickens added to meet New Zealand’s record levels of consumption in 2017:

Fresh chicken sales are soaring higher than the mercury currently with the highest levels of consumption seen by the Poultry Industry Association of New Zealand (PIANZ).

The Poultry Industry has produced 118,000,000 birds this year to meet demand, three million more than 2016.

“We are are eating more fresh chicken than ever before. On average, Kiwis have devoured over 41 kilograms of fresh chicken per person this year, and we’re only just hitting peak poultry season,” says PIANZ Executive Director, Michael Brooks. . . 

Winemaker awarded World Pinot Noir trophy and New Zealand Wine Producer of the Year trophy in first ever wine competition entered:

In what surely must be the biggest upset in any wine competition in 2017, New Zealand winemaker Andy Anderson, on entering his first ever wine competition, has beaten wines from the best in the world at London’s prestigious International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) to take out two trophies. Anderson was first awarded the world’s best Pinot Noir trophy for his 2012 Takapoto Bannockburn Single Vineyard Pinot Noir and then secured the 2017 New Zealand Producer of the Year trophy.

These trophies are usually reserved for the powerhouses of the industry at the glamorous award ceremony held in London, not a winemaker entering his first competition.  . . 

Regional growth supporting global success of Kiwi wine industry:

• 2017 wine industry financial benchmarking survey shows profitability and strengthening balance sheets

• Wine industry makes diverse contribution to regional communities across New Zealand

• Opportunities exist for wine businesses of all sizes through new and emerging export markets as well as through tourism and online channels . . 


Rural round-up

September 6, 2016

Pukeuri boners get robotic workmates – Sally Rae:

A $7.5 million upgrade at Alliance Group’s Pukeuri meat works is the biggest investment at the site since redevelopment following a major fire in 2006.

Commissioning is under way of robotic  cutting machinery in the  boning room.

The machinery, developed by Scott Technology, features an X-ray unit that analyses each carcass and instructs two cutting machines where to cut.

The primal cutting machine separates carcasses into hinds, middles and forequarters.

A middles cutting machine then separates  middles into racks, loins, flaps and saddles. . . 

Water quality, farm model links asserted – Sally Rae:

New Zealand cannot continue to have conversations about protecting water quality without having a parallel set of conversations that change the farming business model, Taupo farmer Mike Barton says.

Speaking at the Institute of Forestry’s conference in Dunedin, Mr Barton questioned how to start that conversation if the model was to change.

“Food production is the biggest single component of our impact on the planet … We just don’t talk about that. Nowhere in the world do we internalise the environmental costs of food production,” he said.

About 150 years had been spent convincing consumers that food was cheap.

It would take two or three generations before environmental costs were internalised into the price model. . . 

Rakiura Maori Lands Trust & Real Journeys Announce Wild Kiwi Encounter on Rakiura/Stewart Island:

Rakiura Maori Lands Trust (RMLT) and Real Journeys announced today that their first joint tourism venture will be kiwi spotting on Stewart Island called Wild Kiwi Encounter.

These highly successful nocturnal trips were previously run by Bravo Adventures. Owner Phillip Smith, who began the original trips to see Rakiura/Stewart Island brown kiwi says he is delighted that he has been able to find a company with a solid conservation ethos to operate his Department of Conservation concession (authorisation to operate the trips).

“I’ve been running kiwi spotting trips for over a quarter of century now. I still love seeing the look on people’s faces when they see a kiwi in the wild for the first time, but was ready to put my feet up and let someone else head out into the night!” . . 

Higher lamb meat prices eroded by elevated kiwi dollar – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – Limited supply of lamb meat is pushing up prices in overseas markets, however the gains for local farmers are being eroded by the higher value of the New Zealand dollar.

The benchmark CKT price for a leg of lamb in the UK rose to 4.10 British pounds per kilogram in August, from 4.05 pounds/kg in July and 3.40 pounds/kg in August last year, according to AgriHQ data. In New Zealand dollar terms, returns declined to $7.41/kg in August, from $7.53/kg in July, and $8.35/kg a year earlier.

New Zealand’s lamb numbers fell last season as farmers reduced sheep numbers to cope with drought conditions, and are expected to decline a further 2.9 percent to 23.3 million this spring, according to the Economic Service of farmer-owned industry organisation Beef + Lamb New Zealand. . . 

Tonnellerie de Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker 2016 announced:

Congratulations to Jordan Hogg from Seresin – the Tonnellerie de Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker 2016. The National Final was held on Tuesday 23 August at MRC and the winner was announced at the Bragato Wine Awards dinner on Thursday 25 August.

Congratulations also goes to Alex Roper from Mission Estate, Hawke’s Bay who was the runner up. Tom Hindmarsh and Matt Fox were the other finalists, also performing strongly throughout the competition. . . 

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Female farmer – of course I don’t work as hard as men, I get it right the first time.

Buchan Uncorks New Design at NZ Winery:

Global architectural firm The Buchan Group has uncorked its design of the Mt. Beautiful Tasting Room in Cheviot, New Zealand, aimed at introducing food and wine enthusiasts to this internationally successful, locally grown wine label.

Mt. Beautiful is a premium North Canterbury wine brand grown and produced at Spotswood, 9 kilometres north of Cheviot. The tasting room based in Cheviot showcases its varieties in Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Chardonnay. . . 

Rod McDonald wines scoop international design award for ‘One Off’ Pinot Noir:

Hawkes Bay wine company Rod McDonald Wines is the only New Zealand winery and business to win a prestigious prize in the 2016 Harpers Design Awards.

The internationally recognised design awards, made up of a high calibre judging panel, received entries from ten countries around the world, with only five picking up an award.

“The standard was high, with some stunning examples of enticing and engaging design, really lifting those products above the ordinary,” said Harpers editor Andrew Catchpole. “But our brief as judges went beyond purely aesthetical considerations, looking at how well the design of each product had been tailored to the client’s brief and its target market.” . . 


Rural honours

January 13, 2016

The New Years Honours list included several awards to rural people.

Oamaru-born and Hakataramea raised, Richie McCaw was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Champion shearer David Fagan became Te Kuiti’s second knight:

. . . “Obviously we’ve got the main man, Sir Colin Meads. We’re all very proud of Colin and what he’s done,” said Sir David. . . 

Sir David received a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit on the 2016 New Year’s honours list for services to shearing.

He’s a 16 times Golden Shears champion, living legend, household name, former shearing contractor, farmer, 1999 Member and 2007 Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, 10 times world record holder and a terrific bloke.

The 54-year old’s longevity in the gruelling sport would have the best commentators gushing with superlatives.

Blow after blow down the woolly flanks of thousands of sheep, litres of sweat soaked into hundred of black singlets and hour upon hour with back arched over ewe, ram and lamb – Sir David’s feats have been called incredible and amazing.

His first New Zealand Golden Shears win was in 1986 and he reigned supreme from 1990 to 2001 winning 12 straight titles. . . 

Sports writer Joseph Romanos writes:

Fagan won 16 Golden Shears crowns (the Wimbledon of his sport), plus 11 world titles. . . 

I once asked farmer and former All Black captain Brian Lochore how shearing compared with rugby as a sport.

“Shearing at the pace they do in competition is very, very difficult,” he said. “There’s the hand-eye co-ordination and the whole body has to be working.

“You’re holding the sheep with your legs and your concentration has to be full-on. At that speed, if you make one slip, you’re gone.

“It’s physically very gruelling and then having to bend over like that makes it even tougher. David Fagan is up there with our greatest sportsmen.”

Fagan has been a superlative competitor, always able to find a way to win – the mark of a champion. . . 

From Shearing Sports NZ:

A wave of global congratulation has followed the announcement that Te Kuiti shearing legend David Fagan became a Knight in the New Year Honours.

Shearing Sports New Zealand’s first facebook post soon after the Thursday 5am announcement, confirming its chairman is now Sir David Fagan, reached 2000 people in less than an hour before most of New Zealand had awoken to the news, and more than 40,000 in less than 48 hours.

The regard for the five times World individual champion and winner of 642 finals in an international Open-class competition career spanning 33 years, was highlighted by Wales team manager Martyn David, soon to bring a team to New Zealand.

Almost 150 of the wins were in the UK, where Sir David, 54, bowed-out in a 2-all drawn series against Wales last July. . . 

John Lee  became a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit:

John Lee has devoted his life to ensuring a sustainable future for his beloved Cardrona Valley.

That dedication has been rewarded with the highest New Year Honour for an Otago person this year, with Mr Lee (79) being made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Now living in Wanaka, Mr Lee said he had long been fascinated by the valley’s rich gold-mining heritage. But he regretted the gold extracted had been taken from the district, most likely heading north to benefit Auckland.

As a young farmer, he vowed every dollar he could get his hands on would be invested back into the valley, Mr Lee said.

That aim has been realised in the form of his successful snow-based businesses in the valley, which help underpin the local economies of Queenstown and Wanaka, injecting millions of dollars annually. . . 

Brian Anderton became an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit:

Mr Anderton (78) was born to be involved in thoroughbred racing.

His father Hector and mother Alice were household names in thoroughbred racing across New Zealand and Mr Anderton rode his first winner, White Robe, when he was aged just 13.

He started his stud, White Robe Lodge, in Wingatui six years later, then moved it to North Taieri in 1981, where he and son Shane still train.

The pair have trained 815 winners together, after teaming up in the 1993-94 season. Mr Anderton won 608 races before the partnership, having gained his licence to train in the 1967-68 season. . . 

Andrew McEwen was recognised for his services to forestry:

The New Zealand Institute of Forestry (NZIF) is pleased to note the recognition of the importance of forestry within the New Year Honours list. Andrew McEwen, immediate past president of NZIF received an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to forestry.

“Andrew has worked tirelessly to promote the benefits of forestry for all of New Zealand” says President of NZIF James Treadwell.

“Throughout his career Andrew has informed and promoted the direct and wider benefits of all forms of forestry. He has long championed the need for better scientific understanding and professional management of the role of forestry, whether for conservation and biodiversity values of native forests or as plantation-sourced climate friendly and renewable fuel, packaging or building materials.” . . 

Jonathon Kirk  was made a Member of the NZ Order of Merit  for services of agriculture:

. . .The 65-year-old Waimate farmer was ‘‘absolutely amazed and quite honoured” to have been recognised in the New Year Honours.

In 1998, Mr Kirk invented the K-Line Spray Irrigation System – a flexible pipe with a series of plastic pods housing sprinkler nozzles that could be towed behind a vehicle.

Previous schemes, such as the border dyke irrigation system, had been inefficient and often wasteful of water, he said.

He saw an opportunity to develop a low-cost option, particularly suited to farms that were not suitable for a centre pivot or travelling irrigators. . . 

Lindy Nelson became a Member of the NZ Order of Merit:

. . .Narrowing down who nominated her wouldn’t be easy, as the Agri-Women’s Development Trust she founded and is the executive director of has changed many lives. 

The trust works to develop leadership, business and governance competencies of women in New Zealand agriculture.

Nelson said the idea for the trust came from her own life experience, marrying a farmer and living in a rural community. 

She noticed a lack of women in agricultural leadership roles and when she started researching said she met some amazing women, but also some who didn’t appreciate and recognise the skills they had and how they could be utilised. 

So she officially launched the trust in 2010 and spent the following two years working upwards of 80 hours a week as an unpaid executive to help create the programmes  and bringing strategic partners on board.  . . 

 


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