Rural round-up

June 29, 2020

Agriculture emerges from lockdown relatively unscathed, but coming global recession will bite, says economist – Bonnie Flaws:

Agricultural incomes are expected to take a hit later this year as the effects of the global recession caused by coronavirus kicks in, says Westpac senior agri-economist Nathan Penny.

The sector was likely to remain profitable, however.

Despite having come through the lockdown and its immediate effects relatively unscathed, due largely to agriculture’s classification as an essential service, the forecast 3 per cent hit to global growth over 2020, meant there would be less demand for the forseeable future.

As a country that exported over 90 per cent of its agricultural production, New Zealand would be heavily exposed, Penny said. . .

McBride optimistic about Fonterra’s future despite global uncertainty – Esther Taunton:

Fonterra will face “bumps in the road” as the global economy rebuilds after the coronavirusoutbreak, but chairman-elect Peter McBride is optimistic about the dairy co-op’s future.

“Businesses learn more from challenges than successes and there will be plenty learnt from this,” the South Waikato dairy farmer said.

And McBride should know.

As the chairman of the Zespri board from 2013-18, he led the kiwifruit marketer through a crippling outbreak of the vine disease Psa, estimated to have cost growers close to $1 billion . .

Few winter grazing issues found – Neal Wallace:

Soutland farmers are being given a pat on the back for their winter grazing management so far this year, which Environment Southland says is an improvement on last year.

An aerial inspection by regional council staff prompted chief executive Rob Phillips to conclude farmers have made positive improvements.

“I’m encouraged by what we’ve seen. Farmers appear to have made a real effort, which is exactly what we need.”

Phillips said it is early in the season so wet weather will change conditions. . . .

Outstanding vintage despite Covid-19 conditions:

While it will be forever remembered as the Covid-19 harvest, an excellent summer throughout most of the country has contributed to an outstanding vintage for New Zealand’s wine regions.

“Although Covid-19 restrictions did have a huge impact on the way the harvest was run, they will not affect the quality of the wine, and we are really looking forward to some exceptional wines coming from this year’s vintage” said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

The New Zealand wine industry had hoped for a larger harvest in 2020, after smaller than expected crops over the last three years. With 457,000 tonnes of grapes harvested, this year’s vintage will help the industry to meet the high demand for New Zealand wine.

With New Zealand moving into Alert Level 4 just as Vintage 2020 began, the industry was acutely aware that it was in an incredibly privileged position to be allowed to pick the grapes, says Gregan. . .

Tug-of-war fan desperate to keep sport alive – ‘It’s weightlifting lying down’ – Carol Stiles:

A Waikato farmer is building a museum on his farm to preserve memorabilia from New Zealand’s oldest introduced sport – tug-of-war.

Graham Smith has a dairy farm 50 minutes south of Hamilton.

He is also a passionate advocate for a sport which is dwindling. He’s preserving the memory of tug-of-war in case one day it sparks up again.

He is the president of the New Zealand Tug of War Association and has been involved for more than 40 years. . .

Record on-farm price for EC Angus – Hugh Stringleman:

An Angus bull from Turiroa Stud, Wairoa, has made $104,000 at auction, believed to be a New Zealand on-farm sale record.

Turiroa’s best-ever sales performance also featured a price of $86,000 and an average of $12,560 for a full clearance of 50 bulls.

Andrew Powdrell said there was good buying further into the catalogue and there was a bull for everyone.

The Powdrell family was humbled by the result and thrilled the bulls are going to good homes. . .


Rural round-up

February 6, 2020

Significant risks highlighted in ETS reform bill:

Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) today warned the Government’s proposed reforms to the Emissions Trading Scheme risk accelerating the conversion of productive pasture land into forestry.

The lack of any restriction on how much carbon dioxide can be offset using forestry carbon credits and the lack of any robust analysis of socio-economic impacts of the Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading Reform) Amendment Bill will have major unintended consequences for farmers and regional New Zealand.

All three organisations have expressed concerns about the Bill in submissions to the Environment select committee. . .

Foreign funds talk to farmers – Nigel Stirling:

As many as 10 foreign funds are talking to large-scale farmers about refinancing loans the big banks want rid of, farm debt adviser Scott Wishart says.

Sydney-based Merricks Capital was the first foreign investment fund to break ranks with a $140m refinancing of dairy farmer Van Leeuwen Group in December.

The money manager said it is targeting $2 billion out of $10b in farming loans it believes the Australian-owned banks want off their balance sheets in the next five years.

After years of strong lending growth the Australian banks are reassessing their involvement in the New Zealand market after the Reserve Bank doubled the amount of capital they must hold against their loans. . . 

Cereal crops deluged:

Chris Dillon was 10 days away from harvesting 280ha of cereal crops when the Mataura River burst its banks and flooded his Ardlussa farm north of Gore on Tuesday.

He estimates about 1000ha of cereal crops on eight farms beside the river are under water,

His wheat, barley and peas were exceptional this year.

Provided the water drops quickly he can salvage some crop while insurance will cover a percentage of the production cost of the wheat only. . . 

New Zealand wine exports soar :

In 2019 there was an 8% increase in New Zealand wine exports, with total export value now reaching a record $1.86 billion according to New Zealand Winegrowers.

The USA continues to be New Zealand wine’s largest market with nearly $600 million in exports.

The non-stop increase in international demand is testament to the premium reputation of New Zealand wine, especially in its major markets where the country remains either the highest or second highest priced wine category in the USA, UK, and Canada. . . 

Consortium led by Lynker Analytics awarded government contract to identify New Zealand forest loss using Artificial Intelligence:

Wellington technology start-up Lynker Analytics has been selected by the Ministry for the Environment (the Ministry) to lead a consortium including UAV Mapping NZ and Carbon Forest Services to inventory the extent of forest loss in New Zealand during 2017 and 2018.

Each year 40,000 – 50,000 hectares of forest is harvested in New Zealand as part of normal forestry land use activity. Most of this forest area is replanted, however a small but significant area is deforested and converted to another land use. Deforestation is an important form of land-use change from a greenhouse gas perspective. The Ministry assesses deforestation in New Zealand every two years to meet international reporting obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. . .

Presbyterian Support Central funds support farming students, youth camps and community events

Presbyterian Support Central has distributed more than $170,000 from its Ann Sinclair Trust and James Gibb Fund this year.

Ann Sinclair Trust

Administered by Presbyterian Support Central, the Ann Sinclair Trust provides financial assistance to farming, agriculture, horticulture, orcharding and animal husbandry students. . .


Rural round-up

October 9, 2019

Extinction Rebellion should unglue their hands and reach out for the potential of gene editing technologies – Point of Order:

History was being made (we  were  told  by  mainstream media)  when  170,000  New Zealanders  took to  the streets to  demand  decisive  action  against  climate  change.  It capped a  week in which the  16-year-old Swedish girl Greta Thunberg dressed down a  summit in New York of world leaders:

“We are at the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth”.

That  apocalyptic   vision  was  clearly  shared  by  many young  New Zealanders: one Wellington student called on the government immediately to  cull the   country’s entire  dairy herd.

So   what   has   happened in the  fortnight  since? . .

Water rules’ outcome predetermined – Alan Emerson:

I joined more than 400 local farmers at the Ministry for the Environment consultation meeting in Carterton. 

In addition it was streamed to Federated Farmers members. It was an interesting experience.

The meeting started with MfE staff telling Wairarapa rivers are in good shape. 

They then went on to outline all the expenses to be foisted on us even though our rivers are, in their words, in good shape.

We were then told we need to manage our emotions and to be respectful of other attendees.

I’d suggest it’s not easy to manage your emotions when you are getting considerable costs foisted on you for no good reason. . . 

Kiwi clarity inspires import – Samantha Tennent:

Being a foreigner in a strange land is no barrier to progression in the dairy industry for one young woman from England. Samantha Tennent reports.

Nicola Blowey is the manager on 575-cow farm at Fairlie.

She was also the 2019 national winner of the Dairy Trainee of the Year at the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

She has found consistency and clarity across the NZ dairy sector compared to the diversity in Britain where farmers use grass in some way across their systems.

“Back home discussions don’t have the same clarity,” Blowey says. . .

Meat company still in limbo – Brent Melville:

About 160 seasonal workers at Oamaru Meats Ltd (OML) are entering their fourth week off the job after the meat processor shut down the majority of its processing on September 13.

The unplanned closure followed the suspension of its access to China beef markets.

The North Otago company, owned by Chinese company BX Foods, said it had been working with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Chinese authorities to get more information.

OML director Richard Thorp, who had described the shut-down as a “temporary break in production”, said the plant had continued and about 20 staff had been retained for “non-China” processing. . .. 

Pioneer of Central Otago winemaking still in the business – Yvonne O’Hara:

Reverend Samuel Marsden did not know it, but when he planted the first grapevines in Kerikeri, Bay of Islands, on September 25, 1819, he was indirectly introducing an industry that is now earning Central Otago millions of export dollars.

Frenchman Jean Desire Feraud introduced wine grapes into Central Otago in 1864 at Clyde, as did Alexandra businessman Thomas Oliver in the same decade.

They were also indirectly responsible for the modern vibrant wine industry in Central Otago.

There are now 135 wineries and 32 grape growers, producing wines that attract global accolades.

There is 1884ha planted in vineyards, of which 1502ha is planted in pinot noir, and last season the region produced 11,868 tonnes of wine grapes, New Zealand Wine Growers says. . . 

Minnesota farmers diversify into hemp production to stay viable – Lucy Kinbacher:

An American farming family are among a host of Minnesota growers taking up new hemp crops as prices for corn and soybeans tumble.

The Peterson family of Sever and Sharon, along with their son Aaron and his wife Nicola, operate about 445 hectares growing everything from corn, soybeans, pumpkins and apple trees, and are no strangers to business restructure.

Traditionally a truck garden vegetable farm in the early 20th century, they went on to dabble in wholesale production throughout the US and central Canada, roadside retail stores and even established Sever’s Corn Maze for added income. . . 

 


Rural round-up

June 19, 2019

Oh DIRA – Elbow Deep:

As a Fonterra supplying dairy farmer you have every right to be disappointed with the release of the Government’s changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA).

Fonterra will still have to supply raw milk at cost to new, presumably foreign owned processors who can then export value-added product in direct competition with the co-op, all without having to establish their own supply chain.

Fonterra will still have to accept new milk under the open entry provision, albeit with a few tweaks around new conversions and environmental concerns, which is worrying enough, but wait until you delve deeper: the flawed reasoning behind keeping this provision is MPI’s  belief Fonterra can already control supply through the milk price. How this belief persists when legislation exists specifically to prevent milk price manipulation is beyond me, and this is where my disappointment turns to anger. . .

Dairy champion: a balancing act – Ross Nolly:

Dairy Woman of the Year Trish Rankin is a primary school teacher, full-time farmer and a passionate environmentalist among other things. Ross Nolly reports.

When Trish Rankin heard her name announced as the winner of the 2019 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award she was completely taken by surprise. 

She has always followed her passions but never set out to strategically target an award.

Entering the 2013 Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Industry Awards and winning the 2016 Northland share farmer competition set the ball rolling for her. It brought about a realisation that people, many in the higher echelon of the dairy industry, are interested in what she has to say.  . .

Pets or steak? The inside story of a bovine brouhaha in the ‘burbs – Alice Neville:

An urban farm in Auckland has been raising cows for meat for years. This time, they decided to involve the community in the process – but the backlash was so intense, the plan was canned. Alice Neville talks to those involved about what went down, and what we can learn from the saga. 

Asprawling, hippy-esque bucolic paradise surrounded by multimillion-dollar white villas, Kelmarna Gardens is a bit of an anomaly at the epicentre of one of Auckland’s most bougie neighbourhoods.

Covering four and a half acres of council land on the Grey Lynn/Ponsonby/Herne Bay border, it’s a city farm and organic community garden headed by a trust and mainly run by volunteers. In recent years, local chefs have got behind the gardens: you’ll see Kelmarna produce name-checked on menus all over town. . . 

The foul-smelling bugs threatening NZ wine – Farrah Hancock:

Hold your pinot noir a little closer tonight. If brown marmorated stink bugs establish themselves, New Zealand’s red wine could taste unpleasant. Italian stink bug expert Professor Claudio Ioriatti visited New Zealand and shared lessons from Italy’s smelly bug invasion with local growers and scientists.

Tasting notes for New Zealand’s red wines could look very different if brown marmorated stink bugs establish themselves here.

New Zealand Winegrowers biosecurity and emergency response manager Ed Massey said stink bugs could cause a loss in production as well as a serious quality issue.

“They’re called stink bugs for a reason.” . . 

Organic product to tackle selenium deficiency in soils – Chris Balemi:

A new generation of organic selenium supplementation will be introduced into New Zealand this year, helping to solve NZ soil’s issue of low selenium.

Selenium is an essential trace element for ruminants and required for growth, fertility and the prevention of mastitis and calf scours. However, selenium deficiency is prevalent in soils NZ-wide. This presents an issue every farm manager would benefit from understanding better.

A new generation of organic selenium supplementation (called Excential Selenium 4000) will be introduced into NZ this year. It’s an important development because it will greatly improve on previous options for selenium supplementation on the farm.. . 

Yes, eating meat affects the environment, but cows are not killing the climate – Frank M. Mitloehner:

As the scale and impacts of climate change become increasingly alarming, meat is a popular target for action. Advocates urge the public to eat less meat to save the environment. Some activists have called for taxing meat to reduce consumption of it.

A key claim underlying these arguments holds that globally, meat production generates more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. However, this claim is demonstrably wrong, as I will show. And its persistence has led to false assumptions about the linkage between meat and climate change.

My research focuses on ways in which animal agriculture affects air quality and climate change. In my view, there are many reasons for either choosing animal protein or opting for a vegetarian selection. However, foregoing meat and meat products is not the environmental panacea many would have us believe. And if taken to an extreme, it also could have harmful nutritional consequences. . . 

Trump’s $16 billion farm bailout criticised at the WTO – Bryce Baschuk:

The European Union joined China and five other World Trade Organization members in criticizing the Trump administration’s $16 billion assistance program for U.S. farmers, indicating the bailout may violate international rules.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest farmer assistance program could exceed America’s WTO subsidy commitments and unduly influence U.S. planting decisions, according to a document published on the WTO website June 17. .  .

 


Rural round-up

May 20, 2019

Focused on fixing the Zero Carbon Bill – Sam McIvor:

Sheep and beef farmers are on the frontline in dealing with the impacts of climate change and we’ve been ahead of the ball in responding to it.

That’s why we’ve publicly said the government’s Zero Carbon Bill is far from perfect, and we’ve been telling the government that things need to change in order to ensure that the bill treats all sectors of the economy equitably and justly in responding to climate change.

We’ve put together a comprehensive factsheet on the Zero Carbon Bill that I encourage you to read, as it’s vital that farmers understand why getting this bill fixed is so important for our sector.
There’s elements of the Zero Carbon Bill we do support, as they’re sensible and based in sound science:  . . .

Farmers air frustrations over climate change blame – Abbey Palmer:

Tension lay heavy in a room full of farmers this week, many of them feeling as though the whole country had been pointing the finger at them.

Climate change initiated an emotive response at the Southland Federated Farmers annual meeting at the Invercargill Working Men’s Club on Wednesday.

An attendee said he could no longer turn on the TV or radio without facing backlash from the public for being a farmer.

Federated Farmers member Stuart Collie said it seemed Parliament was encouraging the public to “attack” the farming and agricultural industries for the state of the environment. . .

More notices issued in Southland in relation to bovis – Blair Jackson:

The Ministry of Primary Industries say 22 Southland farms have been given notices of direction relating to Mycoplasma bovis in the past two weeks.

MPI regional recovery manager Richard McPhail said 22 more farmers now had restricted movement of cattle from their properties.

The news was announced at the Federated Farmers Southland AGM in Invercargill on Wednesday. . . 

Dairy with a delicate touch – Gerhard Uys:

The business of milking sheep is all about happy, skipping and jumping sheep for Felicity Cameron and at her Waikato dairy the welfare of her sheep seems to be paying off. Gerhard Uys reports.

If ever there was a Jill of all trades who ended up master of one, Felicity Cameron is it.

Cameron grew up in a Hawke’s Bay farming family. From a young age she took every opportunity to gain farming experience from family members and friends who also made a living from the land.

At 17 she began dairy farming full time. . .

Summerfruit NZ plans big spend for industry growth – Yvonne O’Hara:

Summerfruit New Zealand (SNZ) is planning to spend nearly $17 million during the next seven years to grow the summerfruit industry.

SNZ board chairman Tim Jones, of Cromwell, said the strategy was designed to move the industry forward as well as make money.

Two consultation meetings with growers and other industry stakeholders were held in Alexandra and Napier last week to outline its Sensational Summerfruit:A bold plan for growth programme and ask for feedback. . .

Bay of Plenty animal feed company Fiber Fresh Feeds in receivership:

A Bay of Plenty animal feed company which employs about 45 people has gone into receivership.

Fiber Fresh Feeds is based in Reporoa and has developed high-performance animal feed formulas, predominantly for horse and calf feed.

The company has more than 30 years’ experience in the field, receivers from financial advisory firm KordaMentha said in a statement.

It sells both within New Zealand, and to Japan, Australia and the Middle East. . .

Farm launches therapeutic horse meditation sessions

A Cumbrian hill farm has launched workshops that offer visitors meditation and therapy sessions with horses.

According to the farm, visitors can ‘escape for the day’ to an environment where the ‘stresses of the modern world are stripped away’.

Each retreat begins with a session of yoga, followed by meditation with the horses. . .


Rural round-up

September 10, 2018

Tasman District Council U-turn on Waimea dam draws mixed reaction –  Cherie Sivignon:

The Tasman District Council decision on Thursday to revoke its earlier in-principle agreement to effectively end the Waimea dam project has received a mixed reaction.

Nelson MP Dr Nick Smith welcomed the 9-5 vote to proceed with the $102 million project after a new funding model was presented to councillors, calling it the right decision for the region’s future.

“The big gains from this project are environmental and economic,” Smith said. “It will enable the minimum flows in summer in the Waimea River to be lifted five-fold and fully meet the national standards for water quality. It will also enable another 1200ha of horticulture, creating more wealth and jobs.” . .

Tough job to get staff – Neal Wallace:

Labour hungry farmers and primary industry employers face stiff competition for school leavers with regional unemployment below 5%, secondary school teachers are warning.

Mid Canterbury’s unemployment rate is 2%, creating a competitive job market with school leavers having multiple offers and attractive wages and employment conditions, Ashburton College principal Ross Preece said.

So the days of farmers offering youth rates or minimum wages and expecting them to work 50-hour weeks are gone. . .

Better understanding of nutrient movement – Pam Tipa:

We need a better understanding of nutrient transport across catchments, says Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE), Simon Upton.

And he says we also need better understanding of what nutrient models can and can’t do to assist in building a picture and better communication of what is happening to water quality. Upton highlighted several gaps and faults in this information to a recent Environmental Defence Society conference.

The PCE is analysing Overseer as a tool for measuring water pollution from agricultural sources. Upton told the conference he is not yet in a position to preview findings on his Overseer report.

But the need for better understanding of nutrient transport, models and communication were among aspects which so far stand out to him in his findings. . .

Inquiry after lambs killed –  Tim Miller:

Mosgiel man Roy Nimmo says the killing of three of his two-week-old lambs is abhorrent and whoever is responsible should take a long hard look at themselves.

The three lambs were being kept in a paddock next to his home in Cemetery Rd, beside the East Taieri Church, with about 15 other lambs and ewes.

A ewe was also shot in the head but at this stage was still alive, Mr Nimmo said. . .

Agritech deal opens door to US markets – Esther Taunton:

New Zealand’s agritech innovators will have better access to the massive United States market through two new partnerships.

Agritech New Zealand, which represents some of the country’s top tech companies, has signed an agreement with California-based Western Growers, a trade organisation whose members provide more than half the nation’s fresh fruit and vegetables.

Signed last week, the deal will open doors for Kiwi agritech companies to enter the US market via the Western Growers Centre for Innovation and Technology in California and for US-based agritech startups to access the New Zealand market, Agritech NZ executive director Peter Wren-Hilton said. . .

Shortfall of tractor drivers a concern – Yvonne O’Hara:

Although a new apprenticeship scheme will address future labour needs in the horticultural industry nationally, there is also a shortage of skilled tractor drivers and irrigation technicians to work on Central Otago vineyards that needs to be addressed.

The three-year programme provides on the job training and support for 100 new horticulture and viticulture apprentices, and was launched last month.

It is supported by New Zealand Winegrowers, Primary ITO, the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) . .

Don’t take our dairy industry fro granted :

The current drought is showing the detrimental impact that the $1/litre milk and the discounting of dairy products has had on the profitability of dairy farmers across NSW.

Retailers’ behavior to discount dairy products had deteriorated farmers’ economic resilience and the prolonged drought is highlighting the reduced profits of farmers. 

Preparing for drought requires that during good years farmers from across all commodities have extra cash that they reinvest back into their farm to prepare for the lean times. . .


Rural round-up

July 25, 2018

Consistent performer helps others – Hugh Stringleman:

The Cookson family are at the true heart of Northland’s beef finishing industry beside State Highway 1 at Kawakawa and consistently producing carcaseweight yield and financial results well above the provincial average. Their pursuit of knowledge from hosting trials and research projects energises the Cooksons and draws hundreds of farmers to their field days. Hugh Stringleman went along.

Former New Zealand Spearfishing champion and international representative Geff Cookson has an impressive record in the water and on the land.

He has hit target after target and inspired many fishers and farmers over a lifetime of sports activities and on the Kawakawa hill country home farm he took over from his father in 1970.. .

Farm sales quiet but resilient – Alan Williams:

The rural real estate market remained resilient through the quiet June trading period, especially for drystock farms even though prices were lower overall.

Despite a positive pricing outlook for most sectors, the Mycoplasma bovis virus is a worry in dairy and beef farming zones and early spring is likely to be a test for the Government and industry animal eradication programme, Real Estate Institute rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said. 

Sales turnover was lower for the three months to the end of June compared to the three months to the end of May, with 32 fewer sales. . .

1080 drop to kill rabbits – Tom Kitchin:

A Manuherikia Valley farmer is making a last-ditch effort to rid his land of rabbits by dropping 1080 for the first time in three decades.

Ophir farmer Sam Leask, who owns the Booth Rd farm, said it was the first time a 1080 drop had been done on  his land in about 30 years.

“The rabbits have just got away … I’ve never seen rabbits like this in my life. It’s just got out to the stage that there’s so many rabbits we have to go back to the old methods. We hate to have to drop 1080 but we have no other choice.”

He had used pindone pellets, and completed shooting day and night but wanted something more effective . .

Mutual aid helps us survive winter – Bryan Gibson:

A mate of mine posted a picture on Instagram last night of the first three calves born on her dairy farm. For her, and for countless other dairy farmers around New Zealand, it has begun.

Calving is an intense period for dairy farmers. There are long hours, late night outings, sleep deprivation and bad weather to contend with. Of course, most farming families also have children to attend to, households to run and cows to milk again.

There were new lambs in the fields on my drive to work this morning too, a reminder this time of year is equally as stressful for sheep and beef farmers who are nurturing this abundance of new life. . .

Grape harvest up; season warmest in decades – Tom Kitchin:

The weather for this year’s Central Otago wine vintage was the warmest since 1956 and tonnage was up, on trend with the rest of the country.

A statement from New Zealand Winegrowers said New Zealand benefited from ”a warm summer” and 419,000 tonnes of grapes were harvested in the country’s vintage this year.

This was up 6% on the 2017 tonnage, but still lower than first anticipated, due to an early start to the season. . .

What are the challenges facing modern farming around the world? – Mary Boote:

Kenya is on the brink of embracing biotechnology in agriculture. On the brink. Now I’m ready to say something new. We’ve been on the brink for too long.”

These words, offered by Gilbert arap Bor, a Kenyan smallholder farmer and lecturer at the Catholic University of East Africa- Eldoret, illustrate the frustration shared by many farmers -smallholder and large across Kenya and much of the African and Asian continents. With the safety of GE crops confirmed and supported by scientists, approved by every regulatory agency around the world, based on thousands of reports and 21 years of data, why does the war regarding the safety of these often life-changing crops continue to rage?

Have no doubt: The impacts of this ‘war’ are real, and they challenge farmers in the developing and developed countries around the world. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 15, 2018

Technology that allows coal ban a first for NZ dairy:

The engineers who were part of the ground-breaking decision to use electricity to power a dairy company’s major heat source say the decision showed courage and commitment.

In a first for Australasia, Synlait Milk is using an electrode boiler at its expanding plant at Dunsandel, south of Christchurch, choosing it over more traditional options including gas, diesel and biomass. Synlait had already rejected the use of coal on environmental grounds.

Babbage Consultants, the engineers who worked with Synlait to make the vision a reality, said electricity was the best option once the carbon footprint of the project was taken into account, and the electrode boilers they recommended were between 99.5 per cent and 99.9 per cent efficient. . . 

Do celebrity endorsements work for rural brands? – St John Craner:

Using the brand equity of someone else to prop up your own can signal a weak brand or a creative team who have run out of ideas. It seems if you have little brand credibility, you can simply purchase it. Or can you?

One of the more recent rural endorsements is Fonterra using Richie McCaw whose services are also employed by Westpac, Versatile Building, MasterCard, AIG and Air New Zealand. I could have missed others and some commentators suggest his dance card is full whilst farmer-shareholders I know felt that same money could have been better spent elsewhere. Whilst Fonterra’s Milk for Schools programme is a great initiative and one that should be applauded especially for those farmers who donate their milk freely, I believe the best ads Fonterra do are those that promote their own. . . 

Why milk, meat and eggs can make a big difference to the world’s most nutritionally vulnerable people – Silvio Alonso:

As the world becomes increasingly aware of the growing demands being made of our planet, more and more of us are making lifestyle choices to reduce our negative environmental impact and carbon footprint.

Understandably, this has led to calls for changes to our diets, including reducing the amount of livestock-derived foods, such as meat, milk and eggs, we consume.

However, a new, extensive review of research published h as found that these foods can make an important difference to nutritional well-being in the first 1,000 days of life, with life-long benefits, particularly in vulnerable communities in low-income countries . .

Ecuador and the world of bananas :

In Machala, south west Ecuador, the air is thick and hot, the road straight and as far as the eye can see are bananas.

Ecuador is the world’s biggest exporter of the yellow fruit, accounting for about 28.3% of global shipments in 2016, according to Pro-Ecuador (and an estimated 40% in 2017, according to FAO). Bananas make up 10% of Ecuador’s exports in value terms, according to Pro-Ecuador. In 2016 it exported 215 million tonnes of bananas, baby bananas and green bananas, worth US$ 110 million, mainly destined for Russia, the US, EU, Turkey and China.

Ecuador’s farmers are keen to expand, but government regulations restrict farm sizes. The industry has started a campaign to change this, so its farmers can grow and improve efficiency through economies of scale.

It has 5,000 growers, from small farmers to medium-sized growers and is organized through 300 co-operatives and 200 exporters, according to government trade body Pro-Ecuador. . .

Muddy Buns cleaning up the butter market:

Muddy Buns, Dirty Dirty Bread, or Zang Zang Bao as they’re known in China, are creating a social media frenzy and driving a further craving for butter around the world.

Fonterra Edgecumbe is all geared up to handle this global trend and is commissioning a new butter line which will nearly double the factory’s butter sheet production from 4,500 metric tonnes to 7,000 metric tonnes.

Fonterra General Manager Marketing, Global Foodservice, Susan Cassidy says “The Dirty Dirty Bread can best be described as a chocolate croissant. People love the flaky chocolate pastry that’s coated in rich chocolate ganache and sprinkled with cocoa powder. . .

South Dakota tractor taken by tornado found in Montana – Stephen Lee :

 Doug Davis finally found his tractor that had been swooped up by a tornado from his ranch in northwest South Dakota. Sort of.

“The tractor is mostly scattered in Montana,” he told the Capital Journal on Monday night.

The tornado came from the southwest on Thursday night, June 28, one of many that twisted their ways across Carter County, Montana, and Harding County, South Dakota. . . 

New Zealand Wine of the Year Awards 2018:

The best of New Zealand wine will be discovered at New Zealand Winegrowers’ refreshed wine competition later this year.

The New Zealand Wine of the Year™ Awards is the official national wine competition of the New Zealand wine industry, replacing the Air New Zealand Wine Awards and the Bragato Wine Awards, two of the industry’s major wine competitions.

The New Zealand Wine of the Year™ Awards will combine the very best components of the previous competitions, with a focus on rewarding the grape grower and their single vineyard wines (a core component of the Bragato Wine Awards), as well as championing New Zealand wine excellence on a larger scale (a key objective of the Air New Zealand Wine Awards). . . 


Rural round-up

May 18, 2018

Wild West meat market – Ruby Nyika:

Complaints about food being sold illegally on social media and Trade Me have almost doubled over the past three years.

Illegal online meat sales alone nearly tripled, the Ministry for Primary Industries says. 

It’s a way to offload excess home kill and for buyers to shave dollars off meat costs, Tauwhare Home Kills owner Trevor Brunton said. 

But selling unlicensed meat – raw or cooked – online is illegal, and home-kill meat is particularly risky. . . 

Changes may lead to unforeseen problems – Pam Tipa:

Imposing changes on farming without considering wider issues such as economic and community impacts could cause unforeseen problems out ahead, says Robyn Dynes, science impact leader, AgResearch.

He was referring to Minister for the Environment David Parker saying nutrient limits may be used to reduce cow numbers.

Dynes says requirements or targets for reducing nutrient losses on farms are nothing new in many regions; most farmers are already moving that way. . . 

Good surge in strong wool prices heartening – Alan WIlliams:

Wool prices made a major advance at Thursday’s Christchurch wool sale, on large volume.

Prices remain at a low ebb but the move was heartening following gradual recent improvement, PGG Wrightson’s South Island sale manager Dave Burridge said.

The wool pipeline was moving through international markets without any stockpiles building up and a weaker NZ dollar, just below US$0.70, helped underpin the solid demand from a full gallery of buyers. . .

Farmers are suffering – Peter Burke:

Farmers and farm staff are overworked and some are facing chronic exhaustion.

That’s the view of Joyce Brown who runs StayWell – volunteer nurses who attend farm events to offer health checks to farmers.

Brown says this problem stems partly from the average age of a dairy farmer being about 58 and a drystock farm about 68. 

But it’s not only older people who are affected, she says.  . . 

New marketing initiatives – getting social :

New Zealand Winegrowers’ marketing team have launched a number of new initiatives to help promote the story of New Zealand wine.

Global Marketing Director Chris Yorke tells Tessa Nicholson about them.

Utilising digital and social media 

For many this is a strange new world of marketing yet it is one of the most important tools in the box for New Zealand Winegrowers and wineries alike. Which is why, Chris Yorke says, they are undertaking tests across all the major NZW activities in an effort to help the industry. . .

The future of food – Shan Lynch:

Today’s technology is rushing into one of the last traditional industries: agriculture.

A field largely still unaffected by the technological revolution, farming is ripe for change as need couples with opportunity.

“We’ve seen a wave of technology impact our information industries,” says Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Haim Mendelson. “Now we see another big wave of technology reshaping our traditional industries, and certainly agriculture is one of the most basic ones.” . . 


Rural round-up

May 4, 2018

Irrigation not an environmental irritation – Jacqueline Rowarth:

 Irrigation can reduce soil erosion.

Of course, the irrigation has to be carefully managed and precision technologies are part of the management. However, there is no doubt that overcoming any drought period during warm temperatures allows increased pasture growth, which is associated with maintenance or an increase in organic matter, which in turn decreases the likelihood of erosion. 

Any increased income resulting from the harvesting of extra pasture or crop can be invested in more environmentally sound technologies. . .

Government-owned farmed tests positive for Mycoplasma bovis – Gerald Piddock:

Landcorp’s Rangesdale Station has been confirmed as testing positive for Mycoplasma bovis.

The sheep and beef property near Pahiatua in North Wairarapa was confirmed as having the cattle disease by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Landcorp (Pamu) spokesman Simon King confirmed the farm had tested positive for the disease and was working with MPI and local veterinary services and were currently culling the impacted herd.

“We had been in touch with neighbouring properties to advise them of the potential that the farm was infected last week, and we held a community meeting on Wednesday to update our neighbours on the situation and the actions Pāmu (Landcorp) is taking. . .

Gathering data on hill country potential, risks – Mark Adams:

Federated Farmers is backing a research project now underway to better understand hill country development practices.  

The end goal is to create a decision tool to aid farmers as they weigh up the benefits, costs and environmental risks of development of their hill country blocks.

Farmers from Canterbury and Manawatu have already shared their experiences on this topic during anonymous interviews conducted by research company UMR.  The next stage of the project, commissioned by Environment Canterbury and supported by Beef & Lamb New Zealand and Federated Farmers (South Canterbury), involves detailed telephone surveys of 150 farmers in the two provinces. . .

No significant drop in rabbits seen yet – Hamish MacLean:

Counts to establish whether the new strain of rabbit calicivirus has taken hold will begin next week, but Otago landowners expecting to see dramatic drops in rabbit numbers could be in for a wait.

When the impending release of 100 doses of a Korean strain of rabbit calicivirus was announced in March, the Otago Regional Council said the pest population could be cut by up to 40%.

Now farmers are saying they have seen no evidence of the impact of the virus.

Council environmental monitoring and operations director Scott MacLean said post-virus release night counts would begin next week but a potential 40% decrease in numbers of the pest would take time. . .

Eighty per cent of farmers aren’t employing technology to be productive in the 21st century – Pat Deavoll:

A red meat industry group discovered in 2011 that high performing sheep farmers earned more than twice as much for their red meat per hectare of land than lower performing ones,

Furthermore, they produced more than double the amount of lamb per hectare. Why? For many reasons, the group concluded.

Farmers in the lower echelons of productivity were notoriously poor at embracing technology. They also failed to integrate with management systems, failed to connect with their banks, processors and advisors, did not employ measurement and benchmarking strategies, and were terrible at budgeting. An estimated five per cent of sheep and beef farmers used an adequate budget, but 65 per cent didn’t bother with a budget at all. . . .

Agricultural sustainability in a water-challenged year – Roberto A. Peiretti:

I strive for excellence on my farm in Argentina—but this year, I’m delighted to be average.

As we bring in our corn and soybeans this month—remember, our seasons are reversed here in the southern hemisphere—we have no right to expect much of a harvest. This cropping season, our rainfall was far below regular levels. Our plants didn’t receive as much water as they need to flourish as well as they can.

Rather than suffering a catastrophe, however, we’re doing just fine: We’ll enjoy an ordinary harvest.

That’s because right now, our soil never has been healthier. We owe it all to a vision of sustainable farming that is astonishing in its simplicity even as it depends on agriculture’s latest technologies. . . .

 

It’s not #sauvblanc day without #nzwine:

On Friday 4 May New Zealand Winegrowers is ready to celebrate what is shaping up to be most successful International Sauvignon Blanc day yet, with an online digital campaign reaching over 50 million impressions via the hashtags #nzwine and #sauvblanc.

“This is on track to be the biggest social media campaign NZ wine has ever been involved in and it is fitting that it is around Sauvignon Blanc Day – New Zealand’s most exported wine varietal,” says Chris Yorke, Global Marketing Director at New Zealand Winegrowers. . . 


Rural round-up

February 18, 2018

Are you bogged mate? – Mary O’Brien Rural:

I spend a lot of time raising awareness about spray drift but recent events have compelled me to talk about something that disturbs me even more than spray drift.

I have spent my whole life working in rural and remote Australia and always around country blokes; working with them, for them, and beside them. My father was one, my brother is one, and most of my dearest friends are country blokes. I have always worked in male dominated occupations and that certainly doesn’t make me special but I believe it has given me a good understanding of rural men and it has definitely given me a deep and profound respect for them.

So when I see country blokes facing challenges like never before, I need to say something because I know none of them will. I’m talking about rural men’s mental health and more specifically, rural male suicide. Yes, that mongrel black dog that sneaks in when you least expect it, grabs all of your rational thoughts, buries them somewhere you can’t find them, and without you or those close to you noticing, it gradually pulls you into a hole, a bog hole. . . 

Taupo Beef and Lamb starts exporting its meat range to Japanese supermarkets – Gerald Piddock:

Taupo Beef and Lamb has begun exporting its meat range to Japan.

The company, established by farmers Mike and Sharon Barton, sent the first container load of product in December which went on sale at five high end supermarkets east of Tokyo in mid-January.

The response from shoppers so far had been great, said Mike Barton at a field day at Onetai Station.. . 

NZ Ireland collaboration confirmed – Nicole Sharp:

Similarities between Ireland and New Zealand are leading to collaborations on research and development in the dairy industry.

Southland dairy farmers Tim Driscoll and Tony Miles travelled to Ireland recently with DairyNZ research and development general manager David McCall and AgResearch scientist Jane Chrystal.

The aim of the visit, which had funding from the two organisations and the Ministry for Primary Industries, was to cement the collaboration between the two countries.

Mr Driscoll said both countries were similar in climate which made them ideal for comparisons in research and development.

Mr Driscoll and Mr Miles, both trustees of the Southern Dairy Development Trust, wanted to make sure the Southern Dairy Hub was a part of the ongoing collaboration. . . 

Climate work ramping up:

With climate change champions, partnership farms and greenhouse gas roadshows in the pipeline, the Dairy Action for Climate Change is accelerating its work in 2018. Here are some details from DairyNZ senior policy advisor Kara Lok and developer Nick Tait.

The aim of the Dairy Action for Climate Change (DACC), launched in June last year, was for the dairy sector to proactively take action to mitigate against agricultural emissions. This initiative, by DairyNZ and Fonterra, has come at a time when it is increasingly imperative for the dairy sector to take leadership on such challenges.

At a climate conference in Germany late last year, Climate Change Minister James Shaw said New Zealand would be a world leader on climate change. The Government is looking to have the Zero Carbon Act in force by the middle of this year, which will enforce a net zero emissions target by 2050, and set up an independent Climate Change Commission that will decide whether agriculture should enter the Emissions Trading Scheme. Regardless of the outcome, it has never been more important for the dairy sector to take action on agricultural emissions. . . 

Plenty more lambing seasons in store – Yvonne O’Hara:

Even though he is 82, John Benington recently completed 57 consecutive lambing seasons. And he is intending to add to that number.

He still helps son Jamie on the family farm, Craigellachie Downs, near Beaumont, when needed, and he and wife Anne have their own smaller unit, near Lawrence.

Mr Benington is the third generation to live in the area.

”I was born and bred in Lawrence,” he said. . . 

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Put that baler twine back in your pocket son, this fence is beyond fixing, said no farmer ever.

Decisive action on Brown Marmorated Stink Bug necessary:

New Zealand Winegrowers applauds the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) decisive action in turning back three cargo vessels contaminated with Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB).

BMSB is one of the wine industry’s most significant biosecurity risks due to the insects’ potential to impact on both the production and quality of processed red wine.

New Zealand Winegrowers CEO Philip Gregan says a BMSB incursion would significantly affect the wine industry’s ongoing export success. . .


Rural round-up

November 22, 2017

A Kauri in the Forest – Michael Spaans:

Federated Farmers is extremely saddened to learn of the passing of DairyNZ chairman Michael Spaans.

Federated Farmers extends its condolences to the Spaan family at this difficult time.
Mr Spaans was renowned for his commitment and dedication to the dairy sector and held several key positions as a director at Fonterra and board member at DairyNZ between 2008 – 2015. . .

Taranaki young farmers take on NZ Dairy Industry Awards challenge:

Several NZ Young Farmers members look set to go head-to-head in Taranaki’s longest-running dairy awards programme.

James Holgate, 25, and Buddy Sharpe, 20, have entered the prestigious New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

They’ll both be vying to take out the title of 2018 Taranaki Dairy Manager of the Year.

James Holgate is in his second season as a herd manager on Tony and Lorraine Lash’s 350-cow dairy farm at Midhirst. . . 

Affected farmer criticises handling of cattle disease – Sally Brooker:

A dairy farmer whose herd is infected with Mycoplasma bovis feels let down by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Leo Bensegues revealed his situation at a packed public meeting in the Morven Community Hall last night.

About 200 people crammed into the venue for the sixth meeting hosted by the ministry since the bacterial cattle disease was  discovered  on farms near Waimate in July.

Mr Bensegues asked ministry officials if they would change their biosecurity protocols if he could show they were not working.

Technical liaison officer Victoria Barrell assured him they would. . . 

 

New Zealander nominated for top global wine role:

New Zealand Winegrowers welcomes the New Zealand government’s nomination of Dr John Barker as a candidate for the role of Director General of the International Organisation of Vine & Wine (OIV).

The OIV is the inter-governmental scientific and technical reference body for wine. Based in Paris, with 46 members accounting for more than 85% of global wine production and nearly 80% of world consumption, it is sometimes called the ‘UN of wine’.

“Dr Barker is an ideal candidate. He has deep understanding and expertise in the global vine and wine sector built on 20 years of experience,” said CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers, Philip Gregan. . . 

A2 Milk revenue, profit pushes higher in first four months of FY18 – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk, which markets milk with a protein variant said to have health benefits, says both revenue and net profit jumped in the first four months of the current financial year as it continues to benefit from strong demand for its infant formula.

Revenue climbed 69 percent to $262.2 million in the four months ended Oct. 30 from the same four months a year earlier, while net profit more than doubled to $52.3 million, the company told shareholders at today’s annual meeting in Auckland. Group earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization were $78.4 million, up 120.8 percent on the same four months a year earlier. . . 

Synlait Auckland officially opened, doubles infant formula packaging capacity:

Synlait Milk has opened its new Auckland site, which is home to its second state-of-the-art blending and consumer packaging facility.

Located in Mangere, the site was officially opened today by Auckland Mayor Phil Goff at a ceremony alongside all staff.

“We’re expecting customer demand for consumer packaged products to increase significantly in the near term,” said John Penno, Synlait’s Managing Director and CEO. . . 

New Zealand ag-tech increases farm revenue and consumer appeal:

One of the greatest costs to farmers tending an estimated one billion sheep globally is in lost productivity from parasites and ineffective drench programs. The result of a three year R&D project, funded by Sainsbury’s – the UK’s second largest supermarket chain – has demonstrated use of technology developed in New Zealand can save farmers in their supply chain alone around $19 million annually.

Dunedin based ag-tech company Techion Group’s combination of an internet connected device, data management system and connectivity to veterinary expertise delivers an effective means to manage parasites and drenching programs which affect the health and growth of animals. . . 

‘First Wolrd’ disputes can cause ‘third world’ dliemnas – Jennie Schmidt:

The majority of Americans know very little about genetically modified food. They’ll even tell you so: In a poll by the Annenberg Public Policy Center last year, 63 percent rated their understanding of GMOs as “poor” or “fair.” Only 4 percent called it “excellent.”

That’s why Congress is investing $3 million in the Food and Drug Administration specifically to be used for an education campaign. Before the FDA spends the money, however, it’s asking the public for input: This month, it has held forums in Charlotte, N.C., and San Francisco. Online comments are open until November 17.

The skinflint in me worries about this expense: Does a government with a national debt of $20 trillion really need to use its limited resources this way?

The realist in me observes that the spending decision already has been made, so we might as well quit wondering about “whether” and start thinking about “how.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

August 29, 2017

A2 Milk outperforms once again – Keith Woodford:

The a2 Milk Company (ATM) took a big step forward with its 2016/17 results which were released on 23 August. Sales were up 56 percent from the previous year to $549 million, and post-tax profits tripled to $NZ90 million. The market was impressed.

Everyone knew that a strong result was in the offing, and so the shares had already risen 50 percent over the preceding three months, and almost trebled in value on a 12-month basis. The share price then rose another 15 percent over the following three days to close at $5.74 at week’s end.

The most important messages within the annual report were not about the present but the future. The picture drawn by CEO Geoff Babidge was of a fast-growing company with no debt and lots of free cash in the bank to fund ongoing developments. . . 

A School of Rural Medicine to be established:

The Government will establish a new School of Rural Medicine within the next three years to produce more doctors for our rural communities, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith says.

“Every New Zealander deserves quality healthcare services, and we want to grow the number of doctors in rural and regional areas to make it easier for people in those areas to access other key health services,” Mr Goldsmith says.

“The new School of Rural Medicine will be specifically geared toward meeting the challenges faced by high need and rural areas of the country, and will produce around 60 additional doctors per year. . . 

Primary industries feel under siege as prospect of Labour-led government firms:

INSIGHTS ABOUT THE NEWS – The divide between regional and urban politics is being thrown into ever sharpening contrast as the election campaign unfolds. Agricultural industries and rural communities feel under siege in the looming election.

As reported in Trans Tasman’s sister publication The Main Report Farming Alert, weeks ago the chances of a Labour-led government seemed unlikely, but now the chance of this happening seems possible with policies which could prove ruinous for NZ’s main export industries.

Labour will tax users of water, including farmers (but not those companies using municipal supplies). Both the Greens and Labour are committed to bringing agriculture into the emissions trading scheme and say the carbon price should be higher. They have not stated how high they want animal emissions to be taxed. . . 

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to vote on ending Ruataniwha funding, writing-off $14M debt – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council will vote this week on whether to stop any further investment in the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme and write-off a $14 million debt owed by its investment company.

The vote on Wednesday comes as a result of a report into options following the Supreme Court decision to reject a Department of Conservation land swap need to create the storage scheme reservoir. 

The council’s investment arm, Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Co (HBRIC), owes $14 million to the council made up of $7 million of charges and $7 million of cash advances, according to the council report. For its part, HBRIC has an intangible asset of $19.5 million on its books related to the feasibility and development costs of RWSS. This was funded with the $14 million advance from the council and $5.5 million from external debt. . . 

Feds Wonder Why We Would Need A Tourist Tax?:

Labour’s suggestion of taxing international visitors to raise funds to pay for tourism infrastructure raises questions about why we can’t find the money already from existing tax.

Federated Farmers has been concerned about the pressure councils, particularly small rural councils, are under to maintain services for tourists, including public toilets and other facilities.

“We agree that tourism is placing increasing pressure on our nation’s infrastructure and these costs are being unfairly borne by regional economies.

“But surely it is possible to find the additional targeted funding for councils in need from within this already increasing area of tax take?” Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says. . . 

Behind the hype of lab-grown meat -Ryan F. Mandelbaum:

Some folks have big plans for your future. They want you to buy their burgers and nuggets grown from stem cells. One day, meat eaters and vegans might even share their hypothetical burger. That burger will be delicious, environmentally friendly, and be indistinguishable from a regular burger. And they assure you the meat will be real meat, just not ground from slaughtered animals.

That future is on the minds of a cadre of Silicon Valley startup founders and at least one nonprofit in the world of cultured meat. Some are sure it will heal the environmental woes caused by agriculture while protecting the welfare of farm animals. But these future foods’ promises are hypothetical, with many claims based on a futurist optimism in line with Silicon Valley’s startup culture. Cultured meat is still in its research and development phase and must overcome massive hurdles before hitting market. . .

Wine exports reach record high:

The export value of New Zealand wine has reached a record high according to the 2017 Annual Report of New Zealand Winegrowers. Now valued at $1.66 billion, up 6% in June year end 2017, wine now stands as New Zealand’s fifth largest goods export.

Over the past two decades the wine industry has achieved average annual export growth of 17% a year states the Report. “With diversified markets and a strong upward trajectory, the industry is in good shape to achieve $2 billion of exports by 2020” said Steve Green, Chair of New Zealand Winegrowers. . . 

More Kiwis than ever are enjoying speciality cheese:

As Kiwis prepare to celebrate New Zealand Cheese Month, sales data shows we are enjoying more locally made cheese than ever before.

Nielsen data shows supermarket sales of New Zealand Specialty cheese have increased in value by 6% in the 12 months to August 2017 . What’s more, in the first quarter of 2017 Nielsen says 771, 383 Kiwi purchased specialty cheese, an increase of more than 20% compared with the same period in 2014 .

Every October the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) members host a variety of tastings, inviting cultured Kiwis to events across the country to meet cheese makers and taste their wares. . . 

Largest ever Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year National Final:

2017 sees the largest National Final ever held for the Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year competition. Taking place next Tuesday 29th August at Villa Maria in Marlborough, there will be a total of six national finalists representing six of our wine regions: Tim Adams – Auckland/Northern; Ben Richards – Hawke’s Bay; Ben McNab Jones – Wairarapa; Laurie Stradling – Nelson; Anthony Walsh – Marlborough and Annabel Bulk – Central Otago.

Bulk is the first woman in the competition since 2011, so it is great to see viticulture is very much a serious career option for both men and women. . .  


Rural round-up

June 15, 2017

More funding to support rural mental wellness:

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have committed another joint funding boost to rural mental health.

The Ministers committed $500,000 for Rural Mental Wellness at the opening of the Fieldays Rural Health Hub earlier today.

It will go towards 20 workshops for rural health professionals treating people at risk of suicide, continued support for the rural Clinical Champions and Medical Director, as well as support aimed at younger rural workers.

“The Government recognises that rural life goes in cycles, and we want to support our rural communities through the ups and downs,” says Dr Coleman.

“The Rural Mental Wellness initiative is administered by Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand and Rural Support Trusts. . . 

Helping farmers return home safely:

Last year, 18 people died as a result of work-related incidents in agriculture, accounting for 36 per cent of all work related fatalities in 2016. This is significantly higher than any other primary industry.

The introduction of the 2015 Health and Safety at Work Act and WorkSafe’s ongoing scrutiny requires businesses to understand and adapt to minimise potential for harm to employees and contractors.

To help agri-businesses keep their employees and contractors safe, Safetrac has partnered with MinterEllisonRuddWatts to develop an interactive online training course. . . 

Sustainable farming fund hits 1000th project:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Associate Minister Louise Upston have tonight celebrated the 1000th Sustainable Farming Fund project, and awarded two Emerging Leaders scholarships at an event kicking off National Fieldays.

“The Sustainable Farming Fund supports the primary sector’s own forward thinking and kiwi ingenuity – which in turn helps keeps New Zealand ahead of the game,” says Mr Guy. 

“1000 projects have now been funded since the fund was initiated in 2000. This represents around $150 million in government funding alongside a significant level of sector support.

“The fund has supported projects as diverse as reducing nutrient run off on lowland farms, reducing use of antimicrobials when managing mastitis, and increasing the market share for New Zealand olive oil,” Mr Guy says.

Ms Upston says much of the success of the fund is due to its grass-roots nature. . . 

Commonsense prevails on firearms recommendations says Feds:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see that Police Minister Paula Bennett has listened to the concerns of the rural community on the Parliamentary Select Committee report into the illegal possession of firearms.

Minister Bennett rejected 12 of the 20 recommendations made by the committee that would have significantly impacted on licensed firearms owners- but done little to stop firearms getting into the hands of criminals. . . 

Vegetable prices up 31 percent in year to May:

Higher lettuce prices helped push vegetable prices up a record 31 percent in the year to May 2017, Stats NZ said today. Overall, food prices increased 3.1 percent in the year.

“Our wet autumn has pushed vegetable prices to their highest level in almost six years in May, with the largest annual increase to vegetables on record,” consumer prices manager Matthew Haigh said. “The increase was more pronounced because warmer-than-usual weather in the 2016 growing season resulted in cheaper-than-usual vegetable prices in May last year.” . . 

NZ agriculture needs to latch onto tech faster:

New Zealand’s primary industries need to latch on to technology faster to support the economic growth of its agri sector and become a world leader in a fast growing agritech market, NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says.

NZTech members have joined hundreds of other firms at Fieldays in Hamilton this week as technology becomes increasingly important for the New Zealand agri sector.

A growing awareness of the value of technology in agriculture can be seen by the number of farmers looking into technologies such as IoT, drones, sensors and robotics, Muller says. . . 

Smaller NZ wine vintage is full of promise:

The 2017 grape harvest has come in smaller than expected according to New Zealand Winegrowers.

The 2017 Vintage Survey shows the harvest totalled 396,000 tonnes, down 9% on last year said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. “Given strong demand in overseas markets wineries had been looking forward to a larger harvest this year. With the smaller vintage however, export volume growth is likely to be more muted in the year ahead.”

Mr Gregan said the smaller vintage was due to weather conditions. “Generally summer weather was very positive but there were some challenges as the season progressed.” . . 

Bellamy’s to pay Fonterra A$28M to change supply contract as it struggles to crack China – Sophie Boot:

 (BusinessDesk) – ASX-listed Bellamy’s Australia plans to raise A$60.4 million from shareholders and will pay nearly half of that to New Zealand’s Fonterra Cooperative Group in order to change their milk supply contract in its quest to comply with Chinese import regulations.

The two companies have been in negotiations this year after announcing changes to their take-or-pay organic powder contract. Fonterra and Bellamy’s first entered into a five-year, multi-million dollar deal to manufacture a range of baby nutritional powders at the Darnum infant formula plant in south-east Victoria in November 2015. . . 

Wrightson warns wet autumn will weigh on annual earnings Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson, whose chief executive yesterday signalled his departure at the end of the year, warned a wet autumn sapped the performance of its seed and grain business and will weigh on annual earnings.

The Christchurch-based company said it expects operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to be in the bottom half of its earlier guidance for earnings of between $62 million and $68 million, while net profit will be near the low end of its previous forecast for between $46 million and $51 million. . . 

Rural sector stabilises despite challenges:

Rural businesses show signs of improvement despite facing constrained business environment

However, 1-in-5 rural businesses expecting no change from technology a “cause for concern”

As Fieldays 2017 kicks off, a new survey by accounting software provider MYOB reveals rural businesses are showing strong signs of economic improvement despite a constrained environment. . . 

Fieldays an opportunity for careers advice:

More than 500 students will be offered advice on careers in the primary industries as they pass through the Careers and Education Hub at Fieldays this week.

Associate Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Louise Upston says that with strong growth in the primary sector anticipated over the next few years, the Government was encouraging more young people to consider careers in primary industries.

A number of schools, totalling more than 500 students, have registered to visit the Careers and Education Hub at Fieldays at Mystery Creek. Careers NZ will be among those offering advice to young people considering such a career. . . 

Plenty to celebrate for Zespri at Mystery Creek :

Kiwifruit’s growing importance to the rural economy is being celebrated at Fieldays 2017 at Mystery Creek this week, together with the 20-year anniversary of the Zespri brand.

The kiwifruit marketer has a large presence at the biggest agricultural and horticultural event in the Southern Hemisphere, hosting growers and industry stakeholders at its hospitality site over the four-day event. . . 

Wrightson boss Mark Dewdney to leave at the end of the year – Paul McBeth

 (BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson chief executive Mark Dewdney will leave the rural services firm at the end of the year, by which time a new leadership team is expected to be in place.

Dewdney will end three-and-a-half years in charge of the Christchurch-based company at the end of 2017 “to pursue private interests”, and will help the board install a new leadership group by 2018, Wrightson said in a statement. Chairman Alan Lai said Dewdney had done an “excellent job” in building staff engagement and targeting growth in certain areas of the business.. . 

Vodafone calls on rural Kiwis to check their coverage at this year’s Fieldays:

Thousands of rural Kiwis are within reach of better broadband and Vodafone is on a mission to end their ‘buffering blues’ at this year’s Fieldays.

The company is challenging visitors to use its brand new interactive coverage wall to see if they can get a faster and more reliable broadband connection where they live.

In addition to super-fast wireless broadband, Vodafone has a range of coverage solutions on display to help rural New Zealanders improve their connection to the world. . . 

BEC Feed Solutions expands to meet growth:

BEC Feed Solutions has expanded its New Zealand operation with the appointment of Rhys Morgan as South Island Sales Representative. The new position was created following substantial business growth after a successful three years in business, and the desire to expand BEC’s presence in the South Island.

Reporting to BEC Country Manager, Trina Parker, Mr Morgan will be accountable for growing the business via the sale of ingredients, solution-focused feed additives and premixes within the South Island. He will also have responsibility for developing the company’s presence in the dairy sector, in addition to account managing a number of existing clients across New Zealand. . . 


Rural round-up

June 14, 2017

Man who coined Gypsy Day says controversy ‘ridiculous’:

Former Northland rural report broadcaster Goldie Wardell is amused, but slightly miffed, that a term he introduced to New Zealand’s farming lexicon is now being called derogatory, and is banned in some circles.

It’s Gypsy Day. There, we’ve said it (while we still can).

“I’ve come in to confess,” Mr Wardell announced not too penitently. “I started the expression.”

Mr Wardell’s voice sounds familiar as he relates the story of how, back in the 1980s, he coined the phrase Gypsy Day for June 1, the traditional day sharemilkers pack up their cows and households and move to a new farm. . . 

Primary Sector Science Roadmap launched:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith have tonight launched the Primary Sector Science Roadmap at the National Fieldays.

Mr Guy says science will be a key driver in lifting overall primary sector exports to the target of $64 billion by 2025.

“From climate change, to changing consumer preferences, to a greater emphasis on issues like traceability and provenance, science and technology have an important role to play in ensuring our primary industries remain globally competitive,” says Mr Guy. . . 

Smaller New Zealand wine vintage is full of promise:

The 2017 grape harvest has come in smaller than expected according to New Zealand Winegrowers.

The 2017 Vintage Survey shows the harvest totalled 396,000 tonnes, down 9% on last year said
Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. “Given strong demand in overseas markets
wineries had been looking forward to a larger harvest this year. With the smaller vintage however,
export volume growth is likely to be more muted in the year ahead.”

Mr Gregan said the smaller vintage was due to weather conditions. “Generally summer weather was
very positive but there were some challenges as the season progressed.” . . . 

More success for Patersons – Sally Rae:

The Paterson family, from Gimmerburn, have added to their considerable farming successes by winning the New Zealand ewe hogget competition.

The awards night for the competition, which was in its 21st year, was held in Cromwell on Thursday.The family won both the fine wool and crossbreed categories and the overall title went to their crossbreed flock.

Father and son Allan and Simon Paterson, with their respective wives, Eris and Sarah, are the fourth and fifth generations to farm Armidale, which has been in the family since the 1880s. . . 

Positive steps towards tackling stock theft:

Federated Farmers is delighted to see the Sentencing (Livestock Rustling) Amendment Bill being drawn from the ballot to go before Parliament.

Livestock theft is not only a financial burden to farming businesses but also a risk to people’s safety. Farmers are often alone when confronting stock thieves.

“It’s frightening when you are faced with someone in a remote rural area who is most likely armed. The successful passing of this bill would show the victims of livestock rustling that the justice system is prepared to take these crimes seriously,” says Rick Powdrell, Federated Farmers’ Rural Security Spokesperson. . . 

More farmers seeking information on how to comply with water quality rules:

More Otago farmers are looking for information and advice on how to minimise their operation’s impact on water quality and comply with rules in the Otago Water Plan.

That’s one of the key findings of the Otago Regional Council’s annual survey to monitor the level of understanding and uptake among farmers about meeting their responsibilities under the Water Plan. . . 

Ravensdown Joins Agrigate Online Platform:

The Agrigate team has added another heavyweight data partner to the online tool, signing an agreement with agri-nutrient provider Ravensdown.

The agreement, signed last week, will see Ravensdown’s pasture and nutrient data added to the array of information that farmers can access using Agrigate.

Ravensdown captures and presents data on soil tests, nutrient status, pasture performance and proof of placement to drive better decisions.  . .

Live calf probiotic a world-first at Fieldays:

In a first for Fieldays, New Zealand company BioBrew is preparing to showcase CalfBrew, a live animal probiotic.

BioBrew will present its innovative product at the Callaghan Innovation Centre at this week’s Fieldays. CalfBrew is the first fresh probiotic containing live, active microbes to treat scouring and support optimal gut health in calves more effectively than current freeze-dried probiotics. As a world-first live probiotic supplement, CalfBrew has also demonstrated increased growth rate in calves. . . 

Wallace Corporation and Farm Brands Announce Merger:

Wallace Corporation Limited and Farm Brands Limited today announced the completion of the merger of their respective coproducts businesses and operations, to create Wallace Group Limited Partnership. The new multi-million dollar entity will also acquire the assets and business of Dunedin rendering business, Keep It Clean Ltd.

The merger of the two multigenerational coproducts businesses aims to optimise its processing capability, including developing higher value finished products, and establish an expanded casualty cow collection service in the South Island. . .  

Dairy sector well placed to take advantage of technology revolution:

Higher dairy payouts have put dairy farmers in a good position to take advantage of new technologies that will redefine farm efficiency in the years ahead, according to ANZ’s Managing Director Commercial & Agri, Mark Hiddleston.

“While diary and other commodity markets remain changeable, a higher payout provides an opportunity for our dairy farming customers to pay down some of the debt they’ve built up, and to reinvest in their businesses,” Mr Hiddleston said. . . 


Rural round-up

May 31, 2017

Meat exports sold to more than 100 countries – Allan Barber:

New Zealand’s meat exporters come in for a lot of criticism, either for selling too cheaply or for not adding value, and certainly because they can’t (or don’t) pay farmers enough for their livestock. This final criticism is presumably a direct result of the first two – the prosecution’s case argues if they sold product at a higher price or added more value, they would automatically be able to pay more for livestock.

Logic says the critics are correct, but they fail to take into account such annoying complications as market demand, tariffs and market access, exchange rates, seasonality, grass growth and the fact lamb in particular is too expensive to be easily converted into affordable ready meals. New Zealand meat exporters have successfully built relationships with overseas supermarket groups, high quality food distributors and top restaurants, as well as food manufacturers and fast food chains. . . 

Course cultivates wider understanding – Sally Rae:

Growing up on a North Otago dairy farm,  Isabelle Keeling’s knowledge of the agricultural sector was limited to the dairy industry.

Taking an agribusiness course has broadened the Columba College pupil’s knowledge of the wider industry. Having never previously studied economics or accounting, Isabelle (16) has been learning about the likes of co-operative business structures and cashflow forecasts.

“I can understand what my dad’s talking about,” she said, during a class at John McGlashan College this week. . . 

Geographical Indications to reinforce wines reputation:

New Zealand wine and spirit makers will soon be able to register their geographical indications, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Jacqui Dean told New Zealand Winegrowers today.

“Legislation to enable the wine industry to formally register their geographical indications in New Zealand is on track to come into force in late July,” Ms Dean says.

“A geographical indication shows that a wine or spirit comes from a specific region, and possesses particular qualities or characteristics as a result. . . 

North Otago farmer on board – Sally Rae:

North Otago farmer Matt Ross has been appointed to the board of LIC (Livestock Improvement Corp).

He replaces retiring long-standing director Alvin Reid while board chairman Murray King has also been reappointed.

Mr Ross and his wife Julie milk 1800 cows on a 580ha property in the Waitaki Valley. The couple won the national Sharemilker of the Year title in 2007. . . 

Farmer’s windblown trees named among world’s most beautiful – Richard Davison:

While windswept vistas are a regular sight in Southland, a group of macrocarpa trees has found worldwide popularity after they were named among the world’s most magnificent. 

US lifestyle website Brightside recently published an online photo article entitled “The 16 Most Beautiful Trees in the World”, in which a stand of windblown macrocarpa from the mainland’s southernmost location – Slope Pt in the Catlins – featured at number three.

The photograph, sourced from Flickr, was taken during a family trip to the area by French-born amateur photographer Ben Rodriguez. . . 

Your organic cotton t-shirt might be worse for the environment than regular cotton – Marc Bain:

The word “organic” is a powerful marketing tool. In clothing—just as in food—brands love to tout their use of organic agricultural products to show they’re doing their part to fight the industry’s outsized environmental footprint. They know consumers want products they believe are better for them and the planet. “Organic,” which generally means something was grown without synthetic additives or pesticides and wasn’t genetically modified, seems to promise as much.

But the reality isn’t always so simple. Your organic cotton t-shirt may have actually used up more resources to produce than one made of conventionally grown cotton, and could have a greater overall impact on the environment.

One major reason, as various speakers pointed out at a May 23 panel held by Cotton Inc., a research group that serves the cotton industry, is that conventional cotton varieties have a higher yield, meaning a single plant will produce more fiber than its organic counterpart. . . 


Rural round-up

August 23, 2016

Young Maori woman brings important cultural perspective to dairy farming:

Lincoln University student Ash-Leigh Campbell, 25, is one of the bright lights of Maori agribusiness in New Zealand.

Recently named as a finalist in the prestigious 2016 Ahuwhenua Young Māori Dairy Farmer Award – the first ever woman to make the finals of the dairy category – Campbell, who is of Ngāi Tahu descent, is passionate about bringing a Maori perspective to the dairy industry.

She graduated with a Diploma in Agriculture from Lincoln University earlier this year, and is currently studying towards a Diploma in Farm Management at Lincoln University. Her sights are set on doing a Bachelor of Commerce and Agriculture next year. Campbell is also an active member of the Dairy Women’s Network Lincoln University branch, and is involved with other industry groups. . . 

Irish Ag role mooted– Peter Burke:

New Zealand banks may have to play a social role with farmers, as do European governments, claims Professor Alan Renwick of Lincoln University.

Renwick says in NZ, with its free market approach, there is an expectation that banks, not governments, will see farmers through troubled times.

He says the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), though much criticised for supposedly keeping farmers on the land when they should not be, in fact has other good points which help manage some of the volatility in the market. . . 

Wool stoush positive – Pam Tipa:

An attack on Wools of New Zealand by its former chief executive has turned out to be a positive, claims chairman Mark Shadbolt.  

He says plenty of backing has emerged to keep going.  

“We have had a strong acknowledgement of support not only from growers, but from the industry in NZ and globally,” Shadbolt told Rural News. . .

Synlait Milk And the A2 Milk Company Reaffirm Infant Formula Supply Arrangements:

Synlait Milk Limited (Synlait) and The a2 Milk Company Limited (a2MC) are pleased to announce a new supply agreement between the two groups for the production of a2 Platinum® infant formula.

The agreement strengthens the current business relationship between a2MC and Synlait by providing certainty around medium term growth plans.

Current production volumes remain the same, but appropriate provisions allowing for increased scale to meet market demand in the medium term have been made.

“We are very pleased to have concluded negotiations in relation to our supply relationship with Synlait. We’ve maintained appropriate flexibility to assess new product and market opportunities as they arise,” said Geoffrey Babidge, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of a2MC. . . 

Comvita posts 15-month profit of $18.5M, lowers dividend ratio to pursue ‘opportunities’ – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, the manuka honey products company, posted a 15-month profit that broadly met its guidance while lowering its dividend payout ratio to chase “growth opportunities”.

Profit was $18.5 million in the 15 months ended June 30, after Comvita changed its balance date, from $10.2 million in the 12 months ended March 31, 2015, the Te Puke-based company said in a statement. Comvita reported profit of $17.2 million in the 12 months ended March 31, 2016, and had said that as the April-June quarter was typically Comvita’s quietest the 15-month result was likely to be in line with the 12 months to March 31. . . 

Wine industry converges in Marlborough:

Around 500 grape growers, winemakers, and industry leaders will converge in Marlborough this week to learn, discuss and network at the wine industry’s annual Romeo Bragato Conference.

“In the past year we’ve seen continued strong demand in our key export markets,” said New Zealand Winegrowers CEO, Philip Gregan.

“This year Bragato is all about working to protect the reputation for quality we’ve attained, and gaining a clear understanding of key market and production trends.” . . 


Rural round-up

July 28, 2016

NZer Matt Smith breaks world shearing record:

New Zealander Matt Smith has broken one of the biggest world records in shearing sports in England overnight.

He smashed the world solo nine-hours ewe shearing record with a new tally of 731 in the first global shearing record attempted in the Northern Hemisphere.

The previous record of 721 had stood for more than nine years since being shorn by Hawke’s Bay shearer Rodney Sutton in 2007.. . 

Farm survey shows confidence subdued but steady:

Farmer confidence has picked up slightly since surveyed last in January but remains weak, according to Federated Farmers’ July 2016 Farm Confidence Survey.

The survey was conducted immediately after the Brexit decision and this appears to have dampened farmer confidence in the global market, on top of their existing concerns about the domestic scene, president of Federated Farmers Dr William Rolleston says.

“The strength of the global economy, post Brexit, is weighing heavily on farmers’ expectations. . . 

Leading Kiwi farmers join global master class on fact-finding mission to Zambia:

Six New Zealanders were among a select group of 20 leading farmers from around the world to recently attend a Rabobank Global Farmers Master Class in Zambia.

The week-long education program – which comprised alumni of previous Rabobank Global Master Class events held around the world – brought together farmers from nine key food and agriculture-producing countries to observe the potential of the Zambian agricultural sector and to discuss the challenges facing local producers. The program saw participants visit a range of agricultural operations in Zambia’s Lusaka and Mkushi regions and hear from a number of key Zambian agriculture industry participants. . .

Challenges as Marlborough wine industry booms  Shannon Redstall:

Wine production in Marlborough is tipped to increase by 25 percent over the next five years so industry leaders are meeting to today to plan for the future.

The movers and shakers of the Marlborough wine industry are holding a meeting today to discuss the future of one of the country’s biggest exports.

Results from the recent Marlborough Labour Market Survey, a joint initiative by Wine Marlborough, New Zealand Winegrowers and Marlborough District Council, show the industry is rapidly expanding. . .

Predator-Free New Zealand Critical to Dairy Industry:

Fonterra has welcomed the Government’s goal of New Zealand becoming predator free by 2050.

“This is a hugely significant goal, and one that the dairy industry shares,” said Carolyn Mortland, Fonterra’s Director of Social Responsibility.

“A predator free New Zealand would have significant benefits for New Zealand’s environment as well as help with animal TB eradication.”

TB and other diseases carried by possums and rats carry a high on-going cost to farmers, as well as to dairy companies investing in pest control for the protection of production facilities. . . 

Allied Farmers shares jump 16% on earnings upgrade – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Allied Farmers shares jumped 16 percent after the rural services firm gave a rosier view on annual earnings due to a better than expected performance from its livestock division.

The Hawera-based company said pre-tax profit was between $1.4 million and $1.6 million in the year ended June 30, up from $1.11 million a year earlier. The final result will be released on by Aug. 29. The shares climbed 0.7 of a cent to 5 cents, valuing the company at $8.3 million.

“A large portion of NZ Farmers Livestock’s income is budgeted to be received in May each year, due to the timing of dairy herd sales,” chairman Garry Bluett said. “ . .

 


Rural round-up

May 23, 2016

Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act out of date and out of time:

Federated Farmers is calling on the Government to urgently set up an expert panel to review the regulation of genetic modification (GM) in the wake of a report by the National Academy of Sciences which confirms the safety of GM crops.

GM crops have been used in agriculture since 1996 and the study carried out by US-based National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine examined the literature, listened to speakers and heard comments from the public to determine the negative effects and benefits of commercial GM crops.

Federated Farmers President Dr William Rolleston says the report found there was no substantiated evidence of a difference in risk to human health between current commercial GE crops and conventional crops. . . 

Future-focussed farm since 1863 – Sally Rae:

Brendon Cross is the sixth generation to farm amid the spectacular beauty of the Otago Peninsula.

He and his wife Paula’s vision for farm sustainability was rewarded recently when they were named supreme winners in the Otago Ballance Farm Environment awards.

At a field day last week, judging co-ordinator Judy Miller described it as a successful farming operation that incorporated the complexities and challenges of farming in a semi-urban environment. . . 

YFC’s support after accident appreciated – Sally Rae:

Brooke Solly had been meaning to join the Maniototo Young Farmers Club.

The young shepherd had every intention of heading along to a meeting but she got busy, breaking in a horse, and never quite made it.

Then on April 2 this year her life changed, potentially forever, when she rolled her vehicle and suffered serious injuries, including spinal damage.

“I got through 22 years of not breaking any bones and then decided to do a hell of a job of it,” she said dryly. . . 

NZ export log prices lift in May as weaker currency offsets higher shipping costs – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand export log prices advanced this month as a decline in the local currency made the country’s shipments more competitive, offsetting a lift in shipping costs.

The average wharf gate price for New Zealand A-grade logs edged up to $120 a tonne in May, from $119 a tonne in April, according to AgriHQ’s monthly survey of exporters, forest owners and saw millers.

The in-market price of A-grade logs in China, New Zealand’s largest market, advanced to US$113/JAS from US$111/JAS last month as inventory levels on Chinese ports remain moderate, following a relatively low build up of stock on ports during the Chinese New Year holiday period. . . 

Business leaders from Agritech industry to gather at the upcoming INZBC Summit 2016:

Over 300 global business leaders and stakeholders will come together on 13th June for first of its kind summit on Agritech, being held by INZBC. The summit will witness business leadership from across New Zealand and India to discuss in depth the scope of agribusiness in both the countries.

The Summit is being held in partnership with New Zealand National Fieldays, the most respected organisation in NZ for Agriculture. . . 

New Zealand Winegrowers welcomes modernisation of Customs and Excise regime:

New Zealand Winegrowers has welcomed today’s announcement by the Minister of Customs around the modernisation of New Zealand’s Customs and Excise legislation.

‘The legislation was becoming increasingly outmoded and an update has been badly needed’ said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. ‘We are looking forward to changes in areas such as moving goods around New Zealand and simplifying the process for applying for refunds of excise for unsold damaged goods.’ . . 

NZ should be milking it in organic market:

Consistent growth in the demand for organic produce over the last four decades is a missed opportunity New Zealand dairy farmers can’t afford to ignore any longer, says organics stalwart Bob Crowder.

His comments are a response to a payout forecast of $9.20 for organic milksolids, more than double the price of conventional milk, which he believes has the potential to take New Zealand back to being a world leader in organics.

He laments New Zealand letting its status as a frontrunner in organics slide. “At one time we were one of the top certified organic nations in the world. Now we’re almost insignificant in the global picture,” says Mr Crowder. . . 


Rural round-up

January 29, 2016

Hard to see where sheepmeat solution will come from – Allan Barber:

Not surprisingly farmers are dissatisfied with the state of the sheepmeat market. The impact of drought has brought about a near 20% increase in the kill for the first quarter in a season where the full year lamb kill is forecast to be 1.7 million lambs below last year.

Consequently this season, already characterised by a falling schedule, will come to an early finish. Meat processors will need to manage their capacity and seasonal plant closures very carefully if they are to avoid incurring unwanted costs. From the farmers’ point of view, uneconomic prices for lambs are accompanied by a lack of killing space for ewes, of which there are plenty waiting for capacity to free up. . . 

Another tough season ahead for farmers:

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says the on-farm cash income of farmers from all milk production this season will be under $4 per kgMS as a result of today’s news from dairy co-operative Fonterra that it is dropping its forecast Farmgate Milk Price to $4.15 per kgMS.

“That’s because some extra Fonterra payments for this season are shifting forward out of the 2015/16 season into 2016/17. Very little was carried over from 2014/15.

“This will have ongoing effects on farmers’ cashflows, their business equity and their ability to keep managing debt. The reduced milk price announcement today means our industry is facing a reduction in dairy revenues by around $800 million. That means $67,000 less in cash revenue for the average farm producing 150,000 kgMS. . . 

Farm scarce wildlife to take profits from poachers – Stephen Franks:

Cheaper DNA identification could soon end lucrative illegal trading in protected New Zealand wildlife. All it needs are some careful law changes. Maori could once again routinely feast on (farmed) kereru, without risk to wild populations.

Current law prohibits buying and selling threatened species. That is meant to prevent profiting from poaching. Illegal supply to meet legal commercial demand could strip wild breeding populations. But the prohibitions perversely increase the scarcity value that makes poaching lucrative.

Now DNA technology can cheaply and quickly identify the family of individuals in a population. It could tell which are descended from an authorised commercially bred line and which are from the wild population. . .

New Zealand wine exports reach record $1.5 billion high:

New Zealand wine exports have reached a new record high of $1.54 billion for the 2015 year, up 14% on 2014 according to New Zealand Winegrowers.

‘The new record level of wine exports is an outstanding achievement for New Zealand wine exporters and testifies to the strong global demand for our wines,’ said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

New Zealand wine is exported to more than 90 countries, and is New Zealand’s 6th largest export good. . . 

Man plans tractor trek after wife’s death:

Ten vintage tractors will travel the length of New Zealand next month to raise awareness and money for Hospice New Zealand.

Auckland man Phil Aish came up with the idea after the death of his wife Janice 15 months ago.

The Tractor Trek will begin in Bluff on 22 February and end almost a month later on 18 March in Cape Reinga.

Mr Aish said some tractors had been bought in Southland and some were being freighted to Bluff before the big trip. . . 

Purple haze proves a hit – Sally Rae:

Blake Foster has contemplated putting a warning sign on State Highway 80 that reads ‘‘caution, purple distraction ahead”.

For visitors to the Mackenzie district can now stop and smell the lavender – all 99,000 or so plants of it.

Situated on the Mt Cook highway, New Zealand Alpine Lavender is the largest certified organic lavender farm in the southern hemisphere. . . 

Wool Eases Slightly:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s C.E.O, Mr John Dawson reports that the combined North and South Island wool auctions saw targeted buying with some categories firm to slightly dearer and others marginally easier.

Of the 19,800 bales on offer 93.7 percent sold.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies remained similar to the last sale on 21th January, softening by 0.23 percent. . . 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand appoints new CEO:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has appointed Sam McIvor as its new Chief Executive Officer. He will also have the role of CEO of the New Zealand Meat Board.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman James Parsons said McIvor is an experienced CEO who brings a range of strategic thinking and management experience to support both organisations’ work for sheep and beef farmers, and the broader sector.

McIvor is currently the Group General Manager Farm Operations at Ospri and he has held the roles of CEO Preston Corp Ltd and CEO of New Zealand Pork. . . 


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