Rural round-up

August 12, 2017

Farming to end –  Annette Scott:

FARMING will have to shut down in Canterbury’s Selwyn district to meet national water quality standards for the region’s polluted Lake Ellesmere, Environment Canterbury has told the Government.

In a business case analysis provided to the Ministry for the Environment, ECan outlined significant fundamental change needed to bring the lake, one of New Zealand’s most polluted, into line.

“On the current basis to achieve Government freshwater outcomes as mandated it would mean taking all intensive agriculture, not just dairy, out of the play,” ECan councillor and Selwyn district farmer John Sunckell said. . .

Mycoplasma bovis update:

MPI’s progress in the response to the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis was the focus of a well-attended public meeting in Waimate last night.

Around 100 people turned out to hear MPI officials and a number of industry body partners outline the current surveillance and testing regime and timelines, the robustness of disease containment measures and the actions farmers can take to protect their farms.

There remains no change to the number of properties with confirmed positive test results for Mycoplasma bovis – 2 farms, both within the wider Van Leeuwen group of farms. . .

Beltex lambs hit the ground – Annette Scott:

THE first lamb has hit the ground marking the beginning of an exciting new meat breed for the New Zealand sheep industry.

And for the partners in the venture it was almost more exciting than getting grandchildren.

Beltex embryos imported from England were transferred to four-year-old Perendale ewes on Blair Gallagher’s Mid Canterbury foothills Rangiatea farm in March. . .

Demand for vets ‘unprecedented‘ – Yvonne O’Hara:

As the southern dairy industry improves after seasons of low payouts and on-farm cost-cutting, some of the region’s veterinarian practices are finding it difficult to fill staff vacancies, a trend that is reflected nationally.

They are also in competition with overseas recruiting agencies, which are eyeing New Zealand to fill their clients’ needs.

The increasing demand for both production and companion animal vet services as practices get busier, is a good indicator of how well the economy is doing, New Zealand Veterinary Association’s Veterinary Business Group chairwoman Debra Gates said. . .

Catchment group and iwi join forces – Nicole Sharp:

The Pourakino Catchment Group and local iwi are putting a game plan in place for increasing plantings and improving water quality in the catchment by working together.

The group hosted a field day at Oraka Aparima Runaka marae recently, talking about the nursery run by the marae and how the two groups would work together to grow and plant trees in the catchment.

The group saw itself as a driver of change in Southland, as one of the earliest formed catchment groups in the region. . .

Too wet to sow pick-your-own verges for Palmerston North grower – Jill Galloway:

A pick-your-own garden is running to crunch point to get some vegetables planted so they’re ready for the week before Christmas, when everybody wants fresh potatoes, peas and berries.

Neville Dickey from Delta Gardens near Palmerston North said he was feeling the pinch of continual wet weather after 34 years of vegetable growing and meeting the Christmas market.

The 12 hectare block was on river silt, gravel and sand, and would dry out soon if there was a break in the weather, he said.

“There are not many years that have we have seen so much rain. We have had rain on and off since September last year.” . .


Rural round-up

March 8, 2016

Embrace change Ballance CEO says – Sally Rae:

Agriculture has to ‘‘sell itself to New Zealand”.

That is the strong belief of Ballance Agri-Nutrients chief executive Mark Wynne, who cited a generation of people with no rural connections.

The sector – which was the foundation of New Zealand’s wealth – had to keep promoting its good stories, he said. . . 

$2m fertiliser plant opens near Timaru – Sally Rae:

More than $2million has been invested at Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ Washdyke site with the official opening of a specialist PhaSedN fertiliser manufacturing plant.

Timaru Mayor Damon Odey and Ballance chief executive Mark Wynne attended the opening, along with local farmers.

The plant was developed in partnership with Te Poi Manufacturing Ltd. It was expected to initially produce about 10,000 tonnes annually with capacity to build production as demand grew. . .

Landcorp to scale back Wairakei dairy conversion – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Landcorp Farming, the state-owned farmer, confirmed it will scale back the conversion of former forestry land to dairy farming on leased land at the Wairakei Estate north of Taupo following a slump in milk prices and concern about the environmental impact.

New Zealand’s largest corporate farmer “will significantly reduce dairy’s footprint from the original plans and instead include alternative uses for the 14,500 hectares of former forestry land it leases from Wairakei Pastoral,” the Wellington-based company said in a statement.

Landcorp has a 40-year lease to develop and farm the former forestry land, and since 2004 has developed 13 dairy farms with 17,000 cows over 6,400 hectares of the property. A new land-use model will see the eventual number of dairy farms and cows on the Wairakei Estate significantly reduced from the 39 originally planned, it said today. . . 

Industry group well advanced on bobby calf initiatives:

The eight organisations that formed a Bobby Calf Action Group at the end of 2015 are well advanced on a range of initiatives ensuring best practice handling and management of bobby calves.

The group is DairyNZ, Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand, Meat Industry Association, Federated Farmers, New Zealand Petfood Manufacturers Association, Road Transport Forum, New Zealand Veterinary Association and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Scott Gallacher, MPI Deputy Director General Regulation and Assurance, said a number of the initiatives being worked on were new, other initiatives were already underway but were being accelerated. . . 

Seeka commits to a new HQ and major infrastructure development to handle growing kiwifruit processing demand:

Seeka Kiwifruit Industries (NZX-SEK) will move into its new headquarters in Te Puke by the middle of this year and plans to make it a centre of excellence for its produce and grower-focused business, says Chief Executive Michael Franks.

“Our new HQ will reflect our focus on the crops we and our growers produce, and the harvest and post-harvest value chain,” said Mr Franks.

The move is part of this year’s planned capital expenditure of $20 million to develop new infrastructure to handle increasing kiwifruit volumes. . . 

Manawatu Dairy Awards Winners Look for New Opportunities:

The 2016 Manawatu Dairy Industry Awards big winner, Stephen Shailer, is on the hunt for a new dairy farm position and hopes his win will help his progress.

Mr Shailer won the 2016 Manawatu Share Farmer of the Year title and $10,450 in prizes at the region’s awards dinner held at Awapuni Racecourse last night. The other major winners were Renae Flett, the 2016 Manawatu Dairy Manager of the Year, and Karl Wood, the 2016 Manawatu Dairy Trainee of the Year.

“We entered the awards for the first time this year as we are hoping to move to a 50:50 sharemilking position or lease farm, so we entered in an effort to make our CV stand out a bit more,” Mr Shailer says. “We also wanted to push ourselves to identify our own strong and weak points.” . . .


No tolerance for animal welfare abuse

December 5, 2015

Seven groups in the dairy, meat and other industries together to ensure ill-treatment of bobby calves won’t happen again.

The industry groups have joined with the Ministry for Primary Industries to “eradicate” bobby calves being mistreated and ensure animal welfare codes were being followed.

The groups are DairyNZ, the Meat Industry Association, Federated Farmers, the Road Transport Forum, the New Zealand Petfood Manufacturers Association, the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand, the New Zealand Veterinary Association. . . 

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said there has been a lot of talk over the last few days and the dairy industry was now focused on its next steps.

“Resolving these issues will depend, not on words, but on actions. We are committed to working with everyone in the supply chain to ensure bobby calves are well cared for.” . . 

Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie said the meat industry and the dairy industry was undertaking a systematic review from farm to processor to identify any opportunities for improvement and this would be completed before the next bobby calf season.

New Zealand Petfood Manufacturers Association chief executive Richard Brake said strong codes were in place for the treatment of bobby calves on the farm and during transport and in processing.

“The vast majority of New Zealand’s dairy farmers, transport operators and processors uphold and, in many cases, exceed these world-class codes,” said Brake. “We want everybody to uphold them.  That’s what we will all be working on.” . . .

The law is there and it’s clear – there is no tolerance for ill-treatment of animals and everyone in the supply chain must adhere to the high standards the law requires.


Rural round-up

November 28, 2015

Trade agreement opens door for agricultural exporters:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership has dominated media recently, but a Lincoln University expert says an equally significant trade-related development has gone largely unnoticed.

Agribusiness and Commerce lecturer Eldrede Kahiya said the Global Procurement Agreement (GPA) – which New Zealand became part of in August – opened up a $2.65 trillion-dollar market for New Zealand exporters.

Dr Kahiya said the GPA came within the framework of the World Trade Organization, and was designed to make it easier to compete for foreign government contracts. . . 

Livestock antibiotics to be replaced with vaccines by 2030:

Antibiotics for livestock are likely to be replaced with various vaccines by about 2030, and the value of New Zealand meat exports will grow because of the switch.

That growth was among the findings in a new report by the Veterinary Association, which shows the antibiotic era was coming to an end because of a growing resistance to them.

A consultant for the Association, Eric Hillerton, said antibiotics would still exist but they would not be a first choice in animal health. . . 

Slight drop in production keeps focus on high value products:

Westland Milk Products says its 2.5 percent drop in peak milk processing has meant more capacity available for the co-operative and its shareholders, enabling more focus on added-value product.

Chief Executive Rod Quin today confirmed that Westland hit peak mid November. In total, Westland processed 3,843,250 litres of milk by peak flow, compared with 3,931,022 the season prior.

“This slight drop, combined with our new dryer seven coming into commercial production meant we had greater capacity to put more of the peak milk flow into higher value products,” Quin said. “In previous years peak milk has all been channelled into bulk milk powders to maintain throughput, which give a lower return compared to products such as infant formula. . . 

Peter Tate makes the case for the broker and auction based system to sell New Zealand’s wool – Peter Tate:

New Zealand agriculture efficiently produces large volumes of commodities and while it would be great to have a stake in all the added value from the front end of the commodity chain, the large amounts of capital both intellectual and financial required, makes it difficult to achieve.

There are some companies that seek publicity about sales contracts they have made. That’s fine but often the fanfare is over a very small volume of product. This distorts the view growers have of marketing to the point that they think these companies are the only ones doing anything to market the NZ wool clip.

The real exporters, those with the long track records, continue to stay out of the limelight. This is due to what is called commercial sensitivity, it is an extremely competitive business. More cut throat than meat marketing, hence the old Yorkshire phrase “meaner than a mill boss”. So the firms who are selling and shipping  90% of the NZ clip remain tight lipped about their daily deals. . . 

RSE employers praise seasonal worker scheme:

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse says two recent reports show the huge benefits of the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme to employers, workers and the Pacific region.

A report into a pilot project involving 640 Tongan and Samoan RSE workers has found that they sent home more than 40 per cent of their take-home income between November 2014 and June 2015 –an average of between $4,600 and $5,500.

“Remittances have been playing an increasingly important role in reducing the scale and severity of poverty in the developing world,” says Mr Woodhouse. . . 

Praise for seasonal employment scheme:

Experience confirms two recent reports showing huge benefits from the scheme to employers and workers, the Rural Contractors Association says.

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse released the reports in which employers continued to praise the scheme, with an annual survey showing 95 percent believed the benefits of participating in the scheme outweighed the costs.

Rural Contractors President Steve Levet said it had made great inroads into being able to bring in seasonal machine operators to alleviate a shortage of labour in that area. . . 

Sound science point of difference for Waipara winemakers:

More than two decades of soil science work in the Waipara area has been brought together in a document launched at a Vineyard Soils Day at Black Estate Vineyard this week.

The document was received with enthusiasm as an invaluable resource by local wine growers, who acknowledged the potential for far greater collaboration in research initiatives between wine growers and Lincoln University.  

Former Lincoln University soil scientist Dr Philip Tonkin, Associate Professor Peter Almond, current Head of the Soil and Physical Sciences Department, Trevor Webb from Landcare Research, and other scientists, have spent the best part of the last two years drawing together available information on the geology and soils of the region gathered in the last 20 years, along with the records of former Soil Bureau surveys. . . 


Rural round-up

November 11, 2015

Push for Fonterra board cut takes to road

The board of New Zealand’s biggest company is not the place to learn how to be a director, says an advocate of cutting Fonterra’s board size to improve performance.

Former Fonterra director Colin Armer told about 30 farmer-shareholders at Tatuanui, Waikato that the Fonterra board should not be a “training ground” for “junior directors”. 

Aspiring farmer directors needed to come to the board having had commercial governance experience “outside – not through the (Fonterra) shareholders’ council”, said the large-scale dairying businessman.

Armer and former Fonterra deputy chairman Greg Gent are meeting shareholders who want to hear more about their call for voter support at this month’s Fonterra annual meeting for their resolution to reduce board members from 13 to nine. . . 

Drone technology makes mustering easy in North Otago – Daisy Hudson:

A North Otago couple have taken to the skies with a revolutionary new method of herding stock on their Kurow farm.

Janina and Justin Slee are using a drone to muster hard-to-reach cattle on their property near Mount Domett, and the technology has revolutionised the way they operate their farm.

After hearing about the drone at a show in Wanaka about six months ago, the couple decided to bite the bullet and try the technology on their own farm. . . 

Conservation ‘cornerstone’ of tourism – Stacey Bryant:

Southern tourism operator Real Journeys won a Conservation Week Award for protecting the kakapo and whio (blue duck) and also ridding the Walter Peak area of wilding pines and restoring land. Commercial director talks to Stacey Bryant.

What is it about conservation work that got your company interested and continues to interest it?

In the 61 years that Real Journeys has been operating, conservation work has always interested us.

Real Journeys founder Les Hutchins made the now famous quote (back in 1998): ”Today I am more convinced than ever before that conservation is the real cornerstone of New Zealand’s tourism industry. Tourism and conservation need each other for mutual survival and the right direction to go is to take more notice of conservation issues, not less.” . . .

Making it sexy – David Anderson:

The Government has set a target to increase the value of New Zealand’s food sector exports from $25 billion to $60b, meaning there will be an additional 50,000 jobs in the primary sector by 2025.

What must we do to encourage NZ’s best and brightest to look to the primary sector for a career?

According to John Brackenridge, the head of Merino New Zealand and the leader of the chief executives’ agri-bootcamp scheme that takes industry high-flyers to the United States, the current messaging aimed at attracting young people into the agri sector is unappealing and the wrong people are involved in that messaging. . . .

Get ready for the big dry:

Vets are encouraging farmers to prepare for a dry summer and to figure out how best to manage livestock through this time.

The NZ Veterinary Association (NZVA) says forecasters are predicting that the already strong El Nino conditions of spring 2015 will continue over summer and into autumn 2016 and it could rank amongst the four strongest El Nino events recorded along with 1972-73, 1982-83 and 1997-98.

“During El Nino NZ tends to experience stronger or more frequent winds from the west in summer, leading to drier conditions in the north and east, and more rain in the west,” it warns. . . 

What Indonesia wants – Melissa Aisthorpe:

INDONESIA’S growing demand for food imports holds much opportunity for Australian exporters beyond the cattle industry.

The real value of agrifood consumption in Indonesia is projected to quadruple between 2009 and 2050, on the back of expected sustained economic growth, population increase and continued urbanisation.

That’s according to a new report, What Indonesia wants: Analysis of Indonesia’s food demand to 2050 from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Science (ABARES). The report is set to be discussed at the 19th Indonesia–Australia Working Group on Agriculture, Food and Forestry Cooperation this week. . .

 


Rural round-up

May 9, 2015

Low-Cost Pasture-Based Dairying Still Our Best Bet, Say Farm Environment Leaders:

New Zealand dairy farmers shouldn’t lose sight of their competitive advantage, say farm environment ambassadors Mark and Devon Slee, who recently returned from a study tour of the Northern Hemisphere.

In late March the Canterbury dairy farmers and National Winners of the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards embarked on a 25-day trip to the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Ireland, visiting a wide range of dairy farms

Mark says a key aim of the tour, which was facilitated by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust and supported by a range of industry groups, was to study intensive dairy farming systems in Europe and to find out how farmers were using technology to improve sustainability. . .

Pacing global changes a big ask for Fonterra – Fran O’Sullivan:

Tim Groser’s warning that the dairy sector would effectively have to guts it out during a period of low milk payouts was timely.

It’s perhaps easier said than done maybe from the perspective of a Trade Minister.

But dairy farmers are a resilient lot. They’ve been through cyclical times before.

Yet, last week’s Fonterra announcement that the co-operative has downwardly revised its 2014/2015 payout forecast back to $4.50/kg milk solids (from $4.70) was still a hard knock for those that had factored the higher track into their own financial planning.

Federated Farmers pointed out just how difficult it was for some dairy farmers with their comment that the average Canterbury dairy farmer was now facing a loss of 91c for every kilogram of milk solids that they produced. . .

ANZ Bank was most aggressive in rural rate swaps sales to farmers, ComCom says – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – ANZ Bank New Zealand, the country’s biggest lender, was the most aggressive in pitching interest rate swaps to farmers, over which it subsequently agreed to pay $19 million in compensation, the Commerce Commission says.

General counsel competition Mary Anne Borrowdale told Parliament’s primary production select committee that of the three banks to settle with the regulator, ANZ had the most customers involved and was investigated over both the way it was able to move its margin and the break fees it charged farmers for an early release. While ANZ announced its settlement with the regulator before ASB Bank and Westpac Banking Corp, it only just made its offer to farmers yesterday. The three banks’ collective settlements totalled $24.2 million. . .

Landmark animal welfare legislation welcomed by veterinarians:

The New Zealand veterinary profession welcomes today’s landmark passage of the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill which brings greater clarity, transparency and enforceability of the country’s animal welfare laws, further strengthening New Zealand’s excellent reputation for animal welfare.

The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA), which played a key role in helping to shape the Bill, says some of the key changes include the legal recognition of animal sentience, which is sensation or feeling in animals, for the first time in New Zealand law.

NZVA President Dr Steve Merchant says: “Veterinarians are at the vanguard of animal welfare advocacy and public support is behind us in the call for greater clarity on issues concerning animal welfare and increased sanctions for animal cruelty. . .

 

 High prices and volumes for avocado growers:

Avocado exporter Avoco says its growers are celebrating the end of a season where they not only got a bumper crop – but decent prices for their fruit too.

Avoco said strong end-of-season demand from Australia lifted returns for growers – to $15 per tray for large avocados and $14 per tray for smaller fruit.

Avoco director John Carroll said the company exported a record volume of fruit – 4.5 million trays, out of a total 7 million trays – and still managed to get good returns for its 700 plus growers. . .

Anchor Gives More New Zealanders an Organic Milk Choice:

Anchor is making organic milk more accessible to New Zealanders with the nationwide launch of Anchor Organic.

Fonterra Brands New Zealand Managing Director Tim Deane said that with other organic milk brands only available in certain regions or very expensive, Anchor is on a mission to make organic milk more widely available at a fair price.

“We want to put organic milk in reach of more New Zealanders. We’ve done just that through our nationwide distribution and providing Anchor Organic at an everyday price that works out at only about 20 cents extra per glass compared to our standard Anchor milk,” said Mr Deane. . .

Wool Prices Bounce:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that a weaker New Zealand dollar, limited wool volumes pressuring exporters and renewed client interest, combined to lift local prices across the board.

Of the 6,350 bales on offer, 99 percent sold.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was down 1.79 percent compared to the last sale on 30th April.

Mr Dawson advises that Fine Crossbred Full Fleece and longer shears were 7 to 10 percent dearer, stimulated by resurgent Chinese interest with shorter types 3 to 6 percent firmer. . .


Rural round-up

December 7, 2014

Farmers key role in Oroua River’s success:

Federated Farmers congratulates the Manawatu River Leader’s Accord and its signatories on the stunning result with the Oroua River, which received the 2014 New Zealand River Award for the second most improved river in the country.

Federated Farmers Manawatu-Rangitikei provincial president, James Stewart, says “As members of the Accord, Federated Farmers couldn’t be more proud.

“Over the course of five years a Federated Farmers survey tells us that Horizon’s dairy farmers have spent an average of $100,000 per farm on riparian planting, fencing, effluent management and farming precision technology.This, along with other efforts such as the upgrading of the waste-water treatment plants and the Sustainable Land Use Initiative, have all had positive affects on the region’s rivers.” . .

 

The changing scale of dairy – Keith Woodford:

Twenty five years ago, New Zealand dairy farms were genuinely family businesses. The average herd was about 150 cows grazing on 65 hectares. Less than 5% of farms had more than 300 cows. In total there were 15,000 farms milking 2.2 million cows.

By 2013 the average farm size had more than doubled to 141 hectares, and average herd size had increased to just over 400 cows. Nearly eighty percent of national production came from farms with greater than 300 cows. In total there were 11,900 farms milking 4.8 million cows.

The average farm with 400 cows is now worth about $7.5 million. This includes land, cows and Fonterra shares. In dress circle locations such as parts of the Waikato, it can be worth a lot more. . .

Dairy production hits record high:

A farmer-owned co-operative says the past dairy season has been one of the best on record mainly because of very high grass growth rates.

Dairy industry statistics for 2013/14 have shown the country’s 4.9 million cows produced more than 20 billion litres of milk.

Just over 1.8 billion kilograms of milk solids worth $15.5 billion dollars was produced, delivering an average payout to farmers of $8.47.

The national herd grew by more than 138,000 – or by almost 3 percent – and production from each cow was up by just over 7 percent. . .

Plenty of interest in moratorium proposal – Allan Barber:

Although not all parties are in favour of it, the proposed moratorium on chain and plant licences has provoked a lot of debate and reaction from all parts of the red meat sector.

Generally the reaction from the farming side has been cautiously positive, although all groups require more clarification of exactly how it would apply and what it would mean to farmers. Rick Powdrell, Federated Farmers’ Meat and Fibre chairman, said it was important to canvas farmers for their views and hoped other groups, in addition to the Meat and Fibre Council, would discuss it with their members and suppliers. . .

 Moratorium would solve meat industry’s capacity problem – Allan Barber:

Word has got out suggesting some processors are in favour of a moratorium on new capacity as the only means of sorting out the meat industry’s excess capacity problem. It also appears MIE is initially supportive of the proposal, although it would need to be sure it was in farmers’ best interests before endorsing it completely.

My understanding is the moratorium would specifically prevent any new plants or chains operating on beef and sheepmeat around the country. This is where the plan is different from the previously floated concept of tradable slaughter rights (TSR) which proposed to set maximum permitted slaughter volumes for each processor. TSRs were supposed to enable whole plants or even companies to be closed with the costs of closure being financed by the sum paid to the owner. . .

Dairy industry animal database goes live:

The transfer of the Dairy Core Database from farmer owned co-operative LIC to industry body DairyNZ has been completed and is now part of a new Dairy Industry Good Animal Database (DIGAD).

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says DIGAD is a new database that will hold the New Zealand Dairy Core Database, all the data required for animal breeding evaluation purposes and some additional data for industry research. Access to the core data will continue to be controlled by an independent panel.

“This includes animal performance data from customers of herd recording companies LIC and CRV Ambreed and data collected by breed societies,” he says. . .

NZVA urges farmers to vaccinate stock against leptospirosis at an early age:

Leptospirosis is a significant risk to New Zealand farmers and the New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) continues to reinforce the message for farmers to vaccinate young stock against leptospirosis at an early age and to maintain protection through animal boosters.

Dr Jenny Weston, President of the NZVA’s Society of Dairy Cattle Veterinarians says Leptospirosis is a highly infectious disease that can crossover from animals to humans. Farmers, veterinarians, and meat processors are most at risk of contracting it.

“New Zealand has one of the highest rates of Leptospirosis infection in the world with 120 human cases reported each year. However, the rates may be even higher as there could be many more unreported cases, with recent research suggesting there could be up to 40-50 undiagnosed cases for every case that is reported.” . .


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