Rural round-up

August 11, 2018

Our farmed meat is a green food – Neal Wallace:

Exporters are not shy in promoting New Zealand red meat as grass-fed and free-range but recent studies by Oxford and Otago Universities have lumped our system in with feedlots to claim the industry is environmentally degrading and unsustainable. Neal Wallace investigates the true environmental impact of grass-fed beef.

Work to differentiate the environmental footprint of New Zealand’s pasture-based red meat sector from feedlot systems that have a far greater impact has begun.

Beef + Lamb NZ chief insight officer Jeremy Baker said NZ grass-fed, free-range beef has been included in international studies that claim beef production is a major contributor to climate change. . . 

Fonterra fund units drop to 3-year low as investors grow dark on capital structure – Paul McBeth:

Aug. 10 (BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund units, which gives outside investors exposure to Fonterra Cooperative Group, fell to a three-year low after the latest dividend downgrade added to scepticism about the efficacy of the cooperative’s structure.

The units dropped 2.7 percent to $4.97, adding to a 20 percent slide so far this year, and fell as low as $4.95, a level not seen since September 2015 when Fonterra was hit by a slump in global dairy prices and offered interest-free loans to its farmer shareholders to tide . . 

Fonterra announcement disappointing, definitive plan of action required:

Duncan Coull, Chairman of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Council, has expressed his absolute disappointment with today’s Board decision to reduce the 2017/18 forecast Farmgate Milk Price by five cents to $6.70 per kg/MS in order to support the balance sheet, and the decision to retain more of the Co-op’s earnings which will likely see no further dividend payment to Shareholders over the 10 cents distributed earlier in the year.

Mr Coull: “I can understand the Board’s rationale and that it is prudent to protect the balance sheet, but the fact that we find ourselves in this situation is unacceptable. . .

Fonterra’s credit rating safe but Shareholders’ Council labels payout cut ‘unacceptable‘ – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – S&P Global Ratings said there is no immediate impact on its rating on Fonterra Cooperative Group from the group’s lower farmgate milk price and dividend guidance for the year ended July 31, issued this morning.

However, the Fonterra Shareholders’ Council expressed deep disappointment, saying “the fact that we find ourselves in this situation is unacceptable” and took the unusual step of questioning the cooperative’s value creation record at a time when a new chief executive is being sought and the chairmanship has unexpectedly changed. . . 

Three Rivers catchment group catch up in Southland – Nicole Sharp:

Southland farmers are leading the way in environmental practices and 17 catchment groups are now established in the region. With six more in the wings, and half the region covered, reporter Nicole Sharp looks into some of the achievements to date.

When a group of farmers put their minds to it, anything is possible.

That is how the catchment group idea started in 2013, when some farmers in the Balfour area formed a group. . . 

Canterbury woman Ash-Leigh Campbell elected new chair of NZ Young Farmers Board:

A woman is at the helm of the NZ Young Farmers Board for the first time in 12 years.

Ash-Leigh Campbell was elected chair of the eight-member board yesterday, replacing Jason Te Brake.

The 27-year-old is a technical farm manager with Ngāi Tahu and helps oversee the management of eight dairy farms.

“I feel extremely privileged to be elected chair. I’m really looking forward to the role,” said Ash-Leigh. . .

Cereal yields down but growers remain positive:

Total hectares sown in wheat and barley this season is predicted to decrease by around 8%, but growers are positive about future prospects, Federated Farmers Arable Chairperson Karen Williams says.

Results from the Arable Industry Marketing Initiative (AIMI) July 1 Cereal Survey are out and confirm average yields are down compared to last season. Milling and feed wheat yields were down 12%, malting barley down 9%, feed barley down 10%, milling oats down 17% and feed oats down 6%.

“This is no surprise and reflects variable growing conditions (hot, dry, wet, cold) throughout the key crop establishment periods in late spring and early summer,” Karen says. . . 

Major international agritech announcement expected for NZ

In less than a fortnight, more than 30 New Zealand agritech leaders will make history in Silicon Valley.

They will be part of the international 2018 Silicon Valley agritech immersion programme and Conference, involving Silicon Valley Forum, Tauranga’s Wharf42, Agritech New Zealand, Callaghan Innovation, and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

Agritech New Zealand executive director Peter Wren-Hilton says the four-year-old Silicon Valley agritech connection will have a significant and long-term impact on New Zealand’s emerging agritech sector. . . 

Kerrygold butter is being taken to court over ‘false’ grass-fed cows claim – Katie Grant:

Customer can’t believe it’s not butter made from exclusively grass-fed cows

The company behind Kerrygold butter is facing legal action for advertising its products as being made from the milk of grass-fed cows.

A US customer has taken umbrage with the butter maker, hitting it with a class action lawsuit claiming that Kerrygold has “misled” consumers, leaving them “unable to exercise their right to choose grass-fed products”.

Kerrygold cow diet Kerrygold cows are fed grass, but not exclusively – they also eat various grains such as soy and corn at certain times of the year, according to Dyami Myers-Taylor, the customer in question. . .


Agritech exports worth $1.2b

January 14, 2015

New Zealand’s agritechnology exports are worth approximately $1.2 billion annually, and there is a big opportunity to grow them further according to the latest research into the sector, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said.

The Coriolis Report into New Zealand’s agritech sector was commissioned by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise to understand the export opportunities for Kiwi agritech companies. It provides detailed analysis of the size, value and future potential of the agritech sector, New Zealand’s strengths in an international context, and compares our agritech production with similar-sized agricultural nations.

“The agriculture sector plays a very significant role in our economy,” Mr Joyce says. “This research shows that our innovative agritechnology systems generate very significant exports in their own right, and provide the opportunity to deliver much more for New Zealand in the years ahead.”

New Zealand’s agritech sector is made up of a diverse range of products and services, including animal and seed genetics, fertiliser and agri-chemicals, fencing supplies, farm tools, machinery and systems, and pumping and irrigation industries.

“Australia and the United States are our top agritech export destinations but the research reveals that exports to Canada, China, South Korea and Saudi Arabia are showing double-digit growth,” Mr Joyce says.

“New Zealand has historically underperformed in agritech exports compared with other advanced agricultural nations.  However our exports are now growing more quickly than our competitors’, and opportunities for more growth exist across a wide range of markets.  Europe, China and South America stand out as the biggest areas of potential growth.”

The removal of the dairy quota system is opening up opportunities in Europe and New Zealand’s Free Trade Agreement with China, along with China’s substantial demand for meat and dairy products, is providing New Zealand agritech companies with significant opportunities, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says.

“New Zealand is one of the world’s most efficient primary producers, and this report shows our expertise and technology in this area is in growing demand around the world.”

Animal health products, medicines and preventative treatments for on-farm use were the largest export earners at $311 million. This category was closely followed by fencing supplies and equipment, and machinery and systems, each with $307 million in export sales.

The report is available here.

Land sales to foreigners is a very emotive issue. There’s rarely a fuss when an agritech company is sold even though the land will always stay here but intellectual property is mobile.

This is not an argument against selling to overseas companies. There can be advantages to New Zealand from such sales, not least of which is the investment of more capital.

We need to recognises and appreciate that our success in farming is both helped by and contributes to success in agritechnology and that foreign investment can help both.


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