Rural round-up

June 28, 2019

More good farmland lost forever:

News that two large New Zealand farms have been sold off-shore, largely for forestry is depressing according to 50 Shades of Green spokesman Mike Butterick. The same owner has purchased both properties.

One farm is 734,700 hectares at Eketahuna that sold for $3.35 million. The other is 1037,000 hectares in Wairoa sold for $6 million.

“It’s bad enough having the land sold to foreigners but having good productive farmland sold for forestry and subdivision is criminal,” Mike Butterick said. . .

Decision time at Westland for Yili bid – Keith Woodford:

The time has come when Westland’s dairy farmers must make their decision. Do they want to take the money and go with Chinese mega-company Yili, or do they wish to struggle on as a co-operative?  We will know the answer after the July 4 vote.

If farmers vote to take the money, it will then be up to the Government to agree or refuse to accept Yili as the new owner. I will be surprised if they disallow the sale under the relevant OIO provisions. The ramifications of that would be severe.

Also important is whether or not the approval from Government is quick or drawn out. It is in no-one’s interest that it be drawn out, but OIO approvals can be remarkably slow.  Yili could step away if approval is not forthcoming by 31 October. . . 

NZ First is not alone in worrying at the implications of a Westland Milk sale to Yili – Point of Order:

Is   Westland  Milk   one of  NZ’s  “key  strategic assets”?

NZ  First  is adamant  it is and believes the government  should be a  applying a  “national interest test”   to the proposed  sale of the company  to the Chinese  dairy giant Yili.

Those  who  see  heavily indebted  companies  like Westland Milk struggling to  make a profit and  not  even  matching  Fonterra’s payout  to its suppliers might take a  cooler view  to  the proposed  sale. . . 

Minister heaps more costs on farmers:

The Minister of Agriculture has confirmed he hasn’t bothered asking his officials the costs farmers will face as a result of the high methane target the Government is imposing, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“When questioned in Primary Production Select Committee Damien O’Connor scrambled to confirm he’d seen no specific advice for costs per farm, nor has he even asked for any.

“Cabinet have blindly cooked up a methane reduction target of 24-47 per cent, despite scientific evidence suggesting this is too high and without knowing the costs per average farm and the impact it will have on rural communities. . .

Downsizing opens gate to A2/A2 farm:

He’s a dairy farmer with a passion for breeding, striving to be “at the front of the game.” She’s a converted city-girl who fell in love with the dairy farmer, despite her aversion to typical milk.

It doesn’t agree too well with my system,” Stacey White says.

“I used to have soy and almond milk and I’ve tried both them and rice milk; nothing’s really appealed in terms of taste, and baking with those substitutes doesn’t really work either.” 

So when Stacey became aware of A2/A2 milk 18 months ago, she tried it out and found it tasty, creamy, and, crucially, easily digestible.*  . . 

LIC migrates to NZX’s Main Board:

Herd improvement and agritech co-operative LIC will move to the Main Board of the NZX (NZSX) next month, transferring from the Alternative Board.

This comes as NZX announced it will move to a single equities board from July 1 and close the NZAX and NXT.

Of the companies migrating, LIC is the largest by market capitalisation, at approximately $109 million.

There are around 14 agritech companies featured on the NZX Main Board and only one other farmer-owned co-operative (Fonterra). . . 

How NZ farming is like a Steinway piano – Glen Herud:

I wonder if we rely too much on our pasture-based farming or our beautiful scenery or our clean image.

What if the things we think are our strengths are actually weaknesses?

Steinway and Sons had been the leading maker of grand pianos since 1853 when their business was crippled by Yamaha.

Professor Howard Yu explains how Steinway held on to their main strength for far too long and it eventually became a weakness. . .

 


Trading halt unlikely to be for +ve reasons

August 10, 2018

Fonterra placed a trading halt on its units yesterday.

Fonterra placed a trading halt on its units on the NZX yesterday as it works through reviewing its earnings guidance.

It expects to update the market by the end of trading today.

Fonterra Shareholder Fund units last traded at $5.11, down more than 18% from a year ago, having started the year at $6.66 in January.

In a brief notice to the NZX yesterday, Fonterra said it was preparing its annual financial statements for the financial year ended July.

”As a result of the work being undertaken there may be a variation from the earnings guidance previously given to the market,” the company said.

The fund’s units are open to the public and also farmer suppliers. . .

This is very unlikely to be for positive reasons.

The grapevine thinks this might result in a cut to the forecast dividend rather than the farmgate milk price, but that might be wishful thinking.

 


Rural round-up

April 24, 2018

Precious arable land – Eric Crampton:

I just don’t get the fixation with making sure that nobody builds a house on agricultural land.

The government plans to make it harder for councils to approve new homes and lifestyle blocks on productive land near urban areas.

A report out today, called Our Land 2018, shows New Zealand’s urban sprawl is eating up some of the country’s most versatile land.

It highlights that between 1990 and 2008, 29 percent of new urban areas were built on some of the country’s most versatile land. . . 

We are growing houses instead of food – Feds:

We are losing our most productive land to houses – that’s the most significant point Federated Farmers takes from the ‘Our Land 2018’ report released today.

The Ministry for the Environment report shows the pressure New Zealand agriculture is under from the loss of highly productive and versatile land due to urbanisation.

There was a 10% increase in urban areas from 2002 to 2012 and the loss would be even more now with the pressure on housing in the last few years. . . 

Auckland Council rates policy fails to value private land conservation:

Auckland Council is proposing to remove rates remission for privately owned land protected by QEII covenants.

QEII National Trust CEO Mike Jebson says “we are submitting against Auckland Council’s proposed policy. This policy discourages landowners from protecting natural heritage areas on their properties and fails to support protection of biodiversity on private land in the region.”

“QEII covenants often protect the habitat of threatened indigenous species, and provide corridors linking larger areas of private and public land set aside for conservation. The work landowners do in protecting their land, like excluding stock from the protected area, is critical in encouraging regeneration of native vegetation.” . .

 A2 shifts from a brand to a category, with Nestle and Mengniu now on board – Keith Woodford:

It is only six weeks since mega-sized Fonterra in New Zealand and medium-sized Freedom Foods in Australia announced their intention to produce A2 dairy products, these being products free of A1 beta-casein.  Since then, both Nestle and Mengniu have stepped up to announce that they too are developing brands for A2 infant nutrition products.

To place this in perspective, and as reported by Rabobank, Nestle is easily the largest global dairy company by turnover, followed by Lactalis, Danone, Dairy Farmers of America and then Fonterra. Further down comes Mengniu at number 11 globally, but number 2 in China.

It is now evident that dairy products free of A1 beta-casein are shifting from being a niche brand belonging to The a2 Milk Company (A2M) to becoming a broader dairy category. This was always going to happen, but the speed at which it is now occurring is taking most people by surprise. . . 

Livestock Improvement buys back $5.3M of shares to simplify structure – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – Farmer-owned cooperative Livestock Improvement Corp will buy back $5.3 million of its shares as part of its move to simplify its share structure.

In March the company’s shareholders voted to reclassify all cooperative control shares and investment shares into a single class of ordinary shares. Livestock Improvement said today that a small number of shareholders had elected to exercise their minority buy-out rights under the proposal. . . 

#SustainabilitySunday: A tale of two farms – Uptown Farms:

What you see above is crazy exciting for our family!

These two pictures are from two fields, only separated by an old fence row. The photos were taken about 4 foot apart. 

The farm in the bottom photo has been traditionally managed for north Missouri row crop farms. You see larger and more compacted soil clods, fairly typical of dirt in the area. 

On the farm in the top photo we have been using no-till and cover crop practices for three growing seasons. What you see, and would feel if you were here, is a light and loose soil. It’s full of organic matter without any compaction. (Think of potting soil compared to dirt from your backyard.) 

We have actually added soil to this farm by allowing crop residue and cover crops to decompose and turn to dirt. In only three years, we have changed the soil makeup of our farm.  . . 

Scales hunts for NZ agribusiness acquisitions to fit with apple export business – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – Scales Corp is eyeing potential agribusiness acquisitions that would fit well with its export apple business as the country’s largest apple grower aims to become the foremost investor in and grower of New Zealand agribusiness.

“We think New Zealand agribusinesses are in a good space, they make good products, and sell them to Asia,” chief executive Andy Borland told BusinessDesk. “We have over the years developed our skills around exporting and dealing with Asia, particularly China, and we are looking at businesses within New Zealand that would work with those sort of dynamics and be complementary to our apple business. We are really looking for those sort of New Zealand opportunities.” . . 

Good Idea! Feds Likes NZX Primary Sector Index Concept:

Federated Farmers congratulates the New Zealand Stock Exchange for coming up with the idea of creating a ‘primary sector index’ for investors.

The NZX intends to launch the new primary sector index later this year, where it will sit alongside the existing indices for other sectors such as energy, healthcare and real estate.

The index will include 15 companies, including Fonterra and A2 Milk. . . 

China begins to challenge multinationals in domestic infant formula market, says GlobalData :

CITIC Agri Fund Management, backed by Chinese state-owned CITIC Group, has recently agreed to buy a 25.18% stake in Hong Kong-based Ausnutria Dairy, one of the leading local suppliers of infant formula in the Chinese market. This clearly marks a change in direction for the government, which has hitherto been focusing its efforts on regulation in this sector, says leading data and analytics company GlobalData.

Local suppliers in China are yet to recover from the melamine contamination scandal in 2008, with parents continuing to put their faith in foreign-made milks even after a decade. . . 


Rural round-up

April 15, 2018

Water schemes left high and dry – Annette Scott:

The canning of Crown funding for water schemes is a “kick in the guts” for rural communities, especially when six regions have been declared in drought this year, National Party agriculture spokesman Nathan Guy says.

“This Government has now raided $100 million and effectively pulled the plug on any lifeline for rural communities,” Guy said.

“These projects, such as Hunter Downs and Hurunui, are about rural communities providing for much wider regional development and what needs to be remembered is that this Crown funding is not a grant. It’s a loan and it’s all paid back. . . 

Jeff Grant becomes Kiwi meat’s Brexit rep:

OSPRI and AgResearch chairman Jeff Grant has been appointed at the meat industry’s Brexit representative to be based in London.

On behalf of Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association the former National MP will provide the red meat sector’s response to Brexit.

Grant will work closely with B+LNZ’s Europe representative, the Government and commercial interests to help strengthen the red meat sector’s ties with the United Kingdom and safeguard NZ’s exports to the key market. . . 

Ploughing with horses luck of the draw – Nicole Sharp:

Straight and steady is the aim of the game, but it is no easy task with Anna and Nugget, who have minds of their own.

The two Clydesdales are part of Sean Leslie and Casey Rae’s horse ploughing team, from Middlemarch, which will be competing at the New Zealand Ploughing Championships in Thornbury this weekend.

They are one of six horse teams competing in the event and they will attempt to plough the straightest, neatest and tidiest plot, but a lot of it was luck of the draw, Mr Leslie said.

“It does depend on soil conditions and being able to tackle it and master it.” . . 

Auckland Council rates policy fails to value private land conservation:

Auckland Council is proposing to remove rates remission for privately owned land protected by QEII covenants.

QEII National Trust CEO Mike Jebson says “we are submitting against Auckland Council’s proposed policy. This policy discourages landowners from protecting natural heritage areas on their properties and fails to support protection of biodiversity on private land in the region.”

“QEII covenants often protect the habitat of threatened indigenous species, and provide corridors linking larger areas of private and public land set aside for conservation. The work landowners do in protecting their land, like excluding stock from the protected area, is critical in encouraging regeneration of native vegetation.” . . 

NZX targets ‘natural advantage’ in primary industries with new index, dairy derivatives expansion – Paul McBeth;

(BusinessDesk) – NZX wants to capture New Zealand’s “natural advantage” in the primary sector with a new index tracking listed industry players and build on the early success of its dairy derivatives market, says chief executive Mark Peterson.

The Wellington-based company is in the process of refocusing on its core market business to revive investor interest in the capital markets. Among those initiatives is a drive to capture New Zealand’s comparative advantage in agriculture and horticulture, and Peterson told shareholders at today’s annual meeting in Christchurch a new index will be launched in the second quarter including stocks such as a2 Milk Co, Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund, Comvita, New Zealand King Salmon, Scales Corp, Sanford, and Seeka. . . 

Working Lands: A Missouri farmer saves prairie and grassland birds – Joel Vance:

Tom Smith’s anthem could be “Don’t Fence Me In,” except that he has a fencing company. His customers can be bizarre; one wanted a 10-foot fence to protect his garden from starving mobs fleeing Kansas City and St. Louis, which, he was convinced, would burn to the ground within two years.

But most are more ordinary landowners to whom Smith, a 63-year-old cattleman, preaches the value of native grass. Smith raises about 90 grass-fed feeder calves on 627 leased acres of Hi Lonesome Prairie, a state-owned property near his Cole Camp, Missouri, home. “When I found a neighbor was planning to plow a patch of big bluestem,” Smith says, “I told him, ‘Oh, man, don’t plow that. What you’ve got there is native prairie.’ . . 

Z


Rural round-up

November 1, 2017

Farmers’ efforts rewarded with improving water quality – Esther Taunton:

Taranaki has recorded its best stream health trends in 21 years, a new report shows.

The 2017 Healthy Waterways report showed water quality in the region was ‘fit for purpose’ by almost all measures within the compulsory national criteria at almost all sites most of the time.

Published by the Taranaki Regional Council, the report looked at trends from 20 years of monitoring and showed most measures were improving or not changing significantly for the ecological health and physical and chemical state of 99 per cent of Taranaki rivers and streams. . . 

No Sign of Bonamia in wild oysters:

The latest testing of the Bluff wild oyster fishery shows no sign of Bonamia ostreae, says the Ministry for Primary Industries.

The testing was part of MPI’s surveillance programme for the invasive parasite, says MPI Director of Readiness and Response Geoff Gwyn.

“This is great news for the local industry and everyone involved in the response,” says Mr Gwyn. . . 

Global meat trends look positive – Allan Barber:

2016 saw widely differing agricultural export performances between New Zealand and our trans-Tasman neighbours. According to the Red Meat Advisory Council’s State of the Industry 2017 report, Australia broke all records by increasing its exports of red meat to A$15.1 billion, up by nearly A$6 billion since 2009. It was the world’s biggest exporter of beef, second biggest for sheep meat and third biggest live exporter.

In contrast New Zealand’s exports of red meat and offal declined by $909 million to $5.9 billion or 7.4% from 2015; the fall was shared fairly evenly between beef (down $481 million) and sheep meat (down $415 million), although the percentage drop for beef was much higher at 14.4% compared with 4.6% for sheep meat. Both volume and value contributed to the decline, with the United States responsible for three quarters of the beef shortfall and the EU, including UK, responsible for half that of sheep meat. . . 

Building a NZ brand:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s market development team is building a compelling case for the red meat industry to work with a New Zealand brand story under which individual brands could sit.

Michael Wan, who led a marketing team on a research trip to China, United States, Germany, India, Indonesia, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates and New Zealand, says this country needs a strong value proposition at a national level and to invest in telling its story.

The trip, which included comprehensive qualitative research at every level of the supply chain in each of the markets they visited, highlighted both a low awareness of NZ – especially its food production systems – but also the potential for growth in the lamb category. . .

Farmer Fast Five – Charles Douglas-Clifford – Claire Inkson:

The Farmers Fast Five: Where we ask a Farmer five quick questions about Farming, and what Agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Ballance Farm Environment Award Winner and Proud North Canterbury Farmer Charles Douglas-Clifford.

1.         How long have you been farming?

I have been involved in farming in one way or another all my life. I grew up on the family farm as a 6th generation descendant, finished
school and worked on various farms in Australia for a year. I then went to Lincoln University to study a BCom Ag. I went on to spend 6 years working as a rural bank manager for the National Bank in Palmerston North, Nelson and Timaru. Then in early 2012 I returned home to Stonyhurst with Erin, after getting married and have been here ever since.           

2.         What sort of farming were/are you involved in?                    

In the 6 years working as a rural manager I got to see a wide range of farming operations throughout the country. I was also
fortunate to have been in the finance sector through the global financial crisis. . . 

2017 Fonterra Elections Results Announced:

Returning Officer Warwick Lampp, of electionz.com Ltd, has declared the final results of the 2017 elections for the Fonterra Board of Directors, Directors’ Remuneration Committee and Shareholders’ Council.

Shareholders voted to elect incumbent Director John Monaghan and new Directors Brent Goldsack and Andy Macfarlane. . . 

Velvet market underpinned by growing demand:

The new deer velvet season has opened strongly, with farmers reporting early enquiry from buyers at prices 10-15 per cent above last season’s close.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) Asia market manager Rhys Griffiths says the price recovery is timely, given the investment many farmers are making in upgrades to their velvetting facilities.

“Regulatory changes in China last season led to a loss of buyer confidence and a dip in prices that did not reflect the steady growth in demand for NZ velvet from China and Korea, our major markets,” he says. . . 

Biosecurity Week 2017 kicks off:

Pests and diseases from offshore can cause serious harm to New Zealand’s unique environment and primary industries; and the Port of Tauranga is one of many potential gateways.

Biosecurity Week activities highlight the importance of biosecurity and the role that everyone in the Bay of Plenty can play in managing unwanted biosecurity risks says Kiwifruit Vine Health Chief Executive Barry O’Neil.

“We’re looking forward to talking to people who work on and around the Port about biosecurity – it’s such an important issue and one that really does affect everyone.” . . 

NZX plans to launch skim milk powder option contract – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – NZX, the financial markets operator, plans to launch a global skim milk powder option contract in December in response to customer demand.

The Wellington-based company said trading volumes in its skim milk powder futures market are up 113 percent this year as interest in its suite of dairy risk management tools increases. The new contract will add to the NZX’s existing futures contracts for whole milk powder, skim milk powder, anhydrous milk fat and butter, and its whole milk powder options. . . 

Innovative trading platform Syndex announces partnership with agritech firm:

Online share exchange Syndex is supporting New Zealand agritech company Regen to undertake a major expansion.

Syndex is an independent online trading platform for any proportionally owned asset for the private economy. Fractions of agricultural assets, units in commercial property and private equity can all be funded and purchased through the Syndex exchange. . . 


Rural round-up

July 14, 2016

Dairy farmers urged to plan for volatility – Sally Rae:

Dairy farmers need to strengthen their business structures by rebuilding equity in the next price upcycle and further develop flexible production systems that can easily reduce costs when prices fall, a new report from Rabobank says.

The severe price downturn marked the third trough in the past decade and the sector must plan for inevitable future volatility, report co-author and dairy analyst Emma Higgins said.

“Tough decisions will need to be made in the next upward cycle. Farmers will need to make a careful and considered decision whether to put some debt to bed or chase a profit margin through increased investment and spending. . . 

Million kg milestone for milk futures:

NZX celebrated a milestone in the development of its New Zealand milk price futures contract on Friday, with more than one million kilograms of milk solids (kg/ms) traded since the product launched at the end of May.

The total number of contracts traded since launch was 184 at close of trading on Friday. Each contract is worth 6000 (kg/ms), totalling 1,104,000 kg/ms.

The 2016/17 contract has traded at an average price of $4.53, while the 2017/18 average contract price was $5.60. . . 

Critical shortage of doctors in NZ small towns:

There’s almost no such thing as a ‘community doctor’ anymore, health expert Professor Ross Lawrenson says.

There’s a critical shortage of doctors in small towns across New Zealand, and Waikato University’s Prof Lawrenson wants medical students sent to rural practices earlier to combat the problem.

“The two medical schools did a survey of medical students who were just qualifying, and only two percent of them wanted to live in a community of less than 10,000 population – there’s a real issue there.”

He says the system is at crisis point, and he believes the way doctors are trained is letting down rural communities. . . 

Meat and dairy exporters secure largest ever container ship for Asia run – Pattrick Smellie

 (BusinessDesk) – The Kotahi joint venture between Fonterra Cooperative Group and Silver Fern Farms is launching a new weekly service to Asian export markets using the largest container ship ever to call at a New Zealand port.

The service will operate through the Port of Tauranga, where a $350 million port expansion and dredging operation will allow visits by a ship capable of carrying more than twice the usual number of containers seen on cargo ships operating through New Zealand.

The new service will see ships with a capacity of 9,500 TEUs – 20-foot container equivalents – calling at Tauranga on their way from the west coast of South America before heading to ports in North Asia. . . 

Rabobank New Zealand announces new CEO:

Rabobank New Zealand has announced the appointment of Daryl Johnson to the position of chief executive officer.

Effective immediately, the appointment sees Mr Johnson take over the role from Crawford Taylor, who has served as CEO in an interim capacity since October 2015.

Announcing the appointment, Rabobank New Zealand Chairman John Palmer said the bank was very pleased to have a highly-experienced banking executive of Mr Johnson’s calibre take the helm of the business as it continues its growth and development in the New Zealand market. . . 

MOU with Foshan City kicks off global Food Integrity Conference:

Chinese representatives visiting from Foshan city will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Asia Pacific Centre for Food Integrity tomorrow morning at the opening of the Food Integrity Conference 2016.

The MOU is an exciting step for the APCFI to work closely with colleagues in China on food safety education in Foshan. Foshan has a population of more than 7.2million and is the third largest city in the Guangdong province.

This agreement is a huge opportunity for the Asia Pacific Centre for Food Integrity, Executive Director and Conference Organiser, Dr Helen Darling. . . 

New salmon farms for Marlborough:

The opening of two new salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds today is a welcome development for New Zealand’s aquaculture industry, Environment Minister and Nelson MP Dr Nick Smith says.

“Salmon is a healthy, sustainable and high-value product and we should be proud that New Zealand is the world’s largest producer of farmed king salmon. New Zealand King Salmon’s Marlborough Sounds operation supports 440 jobs and $115 million in annual export earnings, and comes from just 8 hectares of farms in the 800,000 hectare Sounds. No other primary industry is able to support so many jobs and families from such a small area.”

The two new salmon farms in Pelorus Sound, the Waitata Bay farm and the Kopāua farm in Richmond Bay, add to King Salmon’s operating farms in Queen Charlotte Sound. They will eventually take the company’s production from 6000 to 10,500 tonnes per year, and boost earnings to more than $170 million. . . 

Million dollar mouse pest drops completed:

The ambitious Million Dollar Mouse pest eradication project on remote Antipodes Island in the sub-Antarctic has been completed ahead of schedule, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says.

A second helicopter drop of rodent bait across the island was finished yesterday afternoon, following a first phase completed on June 29.

“Despite very unsettled weather conditions, the Million Dollar Mouse team have done an outstanding job of making use of every available weather window to get the bait drop completed,” Ms Barry says.

“This is the most challenging pest eradication ever carried out in New Zealand and is a globally significant conservation achievement, safeguarding a unique, remote and forbidding land and the many extraordinary species living there.” . . 

Lamb flap prices rise to a year high in June; beef, lamb leg stable – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand lamb flap prices rose to their highest level in a year, driven by increased demand from China where the meat is used in traditional hotpot dishes.

Lamb flap prices rose to US$4.40 per kilogram in June, up from US$4.05/kg in May and the highest level since the first week of June last year, according to AgriHQ’s latest monthly sheep & beef report.

Chinese demand for lamb flaps has helped turn the offcut into a premium cut and lifted the overall return Kiwi farmers can get from their animals. The meat is processed into a lamb roll and sliced thinly for hotpot, the dominant cooking style for lamb and a staple of the Chinese national diet. . . 

Strong 2016 vintage confirms positive outlook for NZ wine:

As demand for New Zealand wine continues to grow in the key markets of the USA, the United Kingdom and Australia, the industry is rising to the challenge. That’s according to Alistair King, Crowe Horwath’s viticulture specialist, who says the outlook is positive, particularly with a plentiful grape harvest for the 2016 vintage.

“The wine industry is targeting a goal of export earnings of $2-billion by 2020; after a poor vintage in terms of volume for 2015 where just 312,000 tonnes of grapes came in, this year is looking considerably better,” he says. . . 

Mission Estate Selected as One of the World’s Best:

Mission Estate, New Zealand’s oldest winery, has further cemented its place on the global wine map by having its Jewelstone Syrah 2013 selected to appear at WINE Explorers’ Grand Annual Tasting 2016.

WINE Explorers is a unique four-year project to take an inventory of all of the wine producing countries of the world. Now in it’s third year, the unprecedented task has seen the WINE Explorers travel to 92 countries, visiting 250 winegrowing regions, surveying a total of 1500 vineyards and tasting over 15000 wines. . . 


Rural round-up

May 28, 2016

Westland ups its payout prediction for the coming season:

New Zealand’s second biggest dairy co-operative Westland Milk Products has released a budget for the 2016-17 dairy season of $4.55 – $4.95 per kilo of milk solids (kgMS).

Payout for the current season will be in the range of $3.80 – $3.90 per kgMS.

Westland will also start its payout advance payments for the 2016-17 season at $3.80 per kgMS, payable 20 September 2016. . . 

Westland tops Fonterra – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy farmers received cold comfort when Fonterra announced a low forecast milk price of $4.25/kg milksolids for the new season from June 1, with an advance rate beginning at $3.01.

Analysts’ expectations had been for an opening price of $4.60 or more, as well as some upside when world product prices steadily improved as expected towards the end of 2016.

They said Fonterra seemed to base its opening forecast on spot market prices and not the generally expected improving trend. . .

Farm profits help rural students get ahead – Kate Taylor:

A hill country farm east of Dannevirke has helped hundreds of young people with their tertiary studies. Kate Taylor visited to find out how.

Sheep and beef farmer Max Buckendahl has called the Weber district home for almost three decades but when his 30th anniversary rolls around next year he’s off to see the country.

Together with partner Lynn Moss and a fifth-wheeler artic truck caravan, he’s going to work (and fish) in the warmer climates of Northland for half the year and travel New Zealand for the other half.

“There’s no particular reason to go now but I wanted to stay here 30 years first,” he says. . . 

Silver Fern Farms:Details of Special Meeting:

• Special Meeting date set for Monday, 11 July 2016

Dunedin 27 May 2016: Silver Fern Farms has today settled the statement from two of the 80 requisitioners, in a form that Silver Fern Farms is willing to include in its Notice of Meeting, and has set a date of Monday 11 July to hold the Special Meeting.

The Board has received a statement from two of the 80 requisitioners and notes that the original 80 requisitioners sought a meeting of shareholders to consider: . . 

Silver Fern shareholders to vote again on Shanghai Maling deal in July – Paul McBeth:

 (BusinessDesk) – Shareholders of meat processor Silver Fern Farms will have a second vote on whether to approve its planned tie-up with China’s Shanghai Maling Aquarius in July, though the board intends to go ahead with the deal irrespective of the outcome.

The cooperative today set the meeting for July 11 in Dunedin where shareholders will vote on approving the proposed partnership and restructure, where the Chinese firm takes 50 percent ownership of the meat processor in return for $261 million of cash, a special dividend, and funds to bankroll the cooperative for seven years. Shareholders backed the deal in October, but John Shrimpton and Blair Gallagher, representing a group of 80 shareholders, have since sought a special meeting to effectively reconsider the transaction. . . 

Federated Farmers welcomes Freshwater Improvement Fund:

Federated Farmers is commending the Government on a new $100 million Freshwater Improvement Fund to aid communities investment in solutions for water quality in New Zealand’s rivers, lakes and groundwater supplies, announced in yesterday’s budget.

Federated Farmers water spokesperson Chris Allen says the fund will help communities achieve desired water quality outcomes sooner.

“It’s going to take innovative thinking, time and money to get to the level of water quality our communities aspire too,” he said. . . 

TB continues to be challenge for next decade:

Funding for TB control is less than it has been in the past but Federated Farmers is confident the new programme will continue to make progress with a more efficient spend of the money.

Federated Farmers OSPRI (TB Free NZ) spokesman Anders Crofoot said: “The amended TB Plan is a shift in approach from containing the disease to active eradication in livestock and wildlife. To date we’ve been successful at removing TB from large areas of New Zealand. This means with improved operational efficiencies and targeted work, enabled by advances in modelling we should see new TB Plan targets achieved.

The programme carried out by OSPRI will aim to eradicate bovine TB from cattle and deer by 2026, and from TB-infected wildlife in New Zealand by 2055. . . 

Government Support for Landcare:

Yesterday’s Budget marks a return to stable base-line funding for the work of NZ Landcare Trust.

The Minister for the Environment is responsible for financial appropriations for the 2016/17 financial year which include approximately $27 million for grants to third parties for water initiatives, environmental management and education programmes.

A specific appropriation identified within ‘Vote Environment’ has been established for the promotion of sustainable land management practice through a national network of coordinators. These funds are available due to the reprioritisation of $800,000 from the Community Environment Fund. This transfer reflects joint Ministers’ decision to fund the NZ Landcare Trust activities for 2016/17 and out years. No expiry date for this resourcing commitment has been set and it is identified as an on-going commitment. . . 

DairyNZ’s commitment to supporting dairy farmers:

Industry body DairyNZ is committed to supporting dairy farmers following the announcement by Fonterra of an opening forecast Farmgate Milk Price of $4.25 per kgMS for the 2016-17 season.

“The $4.25 per kgMS is not a surprise, although the particularly low opening advance rate of $2.50 per kgMS plus capacity adjustment is tough for farmers who will find the winter particularly difficult,” says DairyNZ chief executive, Tim Mackle. “This is the lowest opening advance rate in at least the last 14 years.

“The break-even milk income required for the average farmer is $5.25 per kgMS, yet under this forecast scenario they’ll only be receiving $4.45 per kgMS all up in terms of farm income, including retro payments from last season and dividends. . .

PwC supports NZ Milk Futures to manage milk price risk:

The NZX today launched a NZ Milk Futures contract that will eventually provide the opportunity for large and small dairy farmers to proactively risk manage milk price movements and volatility.

“The new futures contract essentially replaces, and considerably enhances, the Guaranteed Milk Price (GMP) contract previously offered by Fonterra,” says Roger Kerr, PwC Partner and Treasury Advisor.

“While the new futures contract has been expected, it will need support from the market to ensure its viability. This means that industry players with resources available to make this commitment, should be encouraged to participate,” says Mr Kerr. . .


Rural round-up

April 1, 2016

Nutritional Sales Underpin Half Year Underlying Profit of $12.3 Million:

Synlait has reported an underlying net profit after tax (NPAT) of $12.3 million for the first half of the 2016 financial year (HY16).

In contrast to $0.4 million in HY15, this improved performance is primarily the result of increased nutritional sales in canned infant formula.

“We’re glad to deliver a solid result for the first half of FY16. Our significant investment in customer and product development, people, plant and operating systems in recent years is beginning to transform our earnings,” said Chairman Graeme Milne. . . 

European market conditions depress Westland’s payout prediction:

Global market conditions for dairy products point to at least two more seasons of low milk payouts in New Zealand, Westland Milk Products told shareholders today as the co-operative revised its predicted payout for the 2015-16 season to $3.90 – $4.00 per kilogramme of milk solids, down from last month’s prediction of $4.00 – $4.10.

Westland CEO Rod Quin said the major driver of the revised payout remains the global oversupply of milk, compounded by the ongoing high availability and aggressive approach by the European dairy market.

Quin and Westland Chair Matt O’Regan have recently returned from Europe where they met with customers, farmers, processors, traders and industry advocates. . . 

Fonterra makes best of a bad job – Allan Barber:

The PR spin has been pretty active signalling a much improved half yearly result which was duly delivered this morning. The company confirmed a 40 cent dividend for the full year with the interim dividend being paid next month as usual and the final dividend being paid in two tranches in May and August instead of October.

This improvement in cash flow will do something, but not a lot, to comfort farmers labouring under a debt burden. Unfortunately it will do absolutely nothing to support sharemilkers who will have to rely on their share of the milk payout. Predictions for the rest of 2016 are notable for their conservatism, probably in recognition of a disappointing track record when forecasting the extent of the current downturn. . . 

Fonterra’s six-month results – good news but some underlying issues – Keith Woodford:

As expected, Fonterra has announced a greatly enhanced six-month profit for the period ending 31 January 2016. The profit of $409 million (NPAT; i.e. net profit after finance costs and tax) is up 123% from the same period in the previous year.

The expected full year profit of 45-55c per share implies an annual profit of about $800 million compared to $506 million for the full year 2014/15.

These figures are all very much in line with expectations . The reason for this is that when milk prices to farmers are low, then Fonterra has low input costs. Accordingly, there is more scope for corporate profit. . . 

Keep sharing the load by talking about it:

No matter which branch of farming you are in, you will face tough times, says Nelson farmer and Horticulture NZ President Julian Raine. When that happens, don’t be too proud to ask for help.

Speaking to the Farming Show’s Jamie Mackay as part of the Getting Through Adversity radio series, Julian said that even with the best planning, erratic weather events can cause mayhem. Jamie suggested that growing fruit crops is arguably one of the riskiest pursuits in farming: “One adverse event at the wrong time and suddenly your whole crop is wiped out. If you are a sheep farmer, for example, you at least have lambing spread over three weeks, or if you are dairy your risk is spread over nine months of milking.” . . 

Meat exporters ready to reap benefits of TPP:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement eliminates all tariffs on beef into our biggest market, the United States, within five years of coming into force.

Trade Minister Todd McClay, speaking at the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce this morning, says New Zealand exported meat products worth over $2.8 billion to TPP countries in 2015 and the gains once TPP comes into force will be significant.

“Our beef into Japan currently attracts a 38.5 per cent tariff. That has made it extraordinarily hard for our exporters to compete with other countries with lower tariffs. . . 

Ongoing market challenges weigh on New Zealand farmers, with confidence close to 10-year low:

The significant and persisting challenges in market conditions continue to weigh heavily on the nation’s farmers, with New Zealand’s rural confidence at the second lowest level recorded in the past 10 years, the latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey has shown.

Completed earlier this month, the survey found more than half of farmers surveyed (53 per cent) had a pessimistic outlook on the agricultural economy over the coming 12 months. This was significantly up from 30 per cent with that view in the previous survey, in late 2015. . . 

Dairy downturn: councils prepare to tighten belts:

Councils in rural areas might be forced to cut spending if the dairy downturn lasts for a long time, Local Government New Zealand head Lawrence Yule says.

A Westpac-McDermott Miller regional economic survey has shown big falls in confidence in major dairy areas including Waikato, Taranaki, and Southland.

Mr Yule said the businesses in many rural towns were already hunkering down as farmers tightened their spending, and that could spread. . .

NZX to teach farmers about new milk contract:

NZX expects to receive regulatory approval for the new fresh milk futures and options product within two weeks.

Chief executive Tim Bennett said there was a demand for the fresh milk contracts product after Fonterra scrapped its guaranteed milk price product for the upcoming season. . . 

NZ helping to restore Fiji’s dairy sector after Winston:

The New Zealand government says it will help restore Fiji’s dairy industry which is losing thousands of litres of milk and was devastated as a result of last month’s cyclone.

New Zealand announced additional aid to help Fiji’s recovery on Wednesday.

A lot of that money is going into the continuing infrastructure rebuild led by the New Zealand Defence Force. . . 

Helensville Farmers First To Claim Supreme Title In Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

“Environmental champions” Richard and Dianne Kidd are Supreme winners of the inaugural Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

At a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on March 30 (2016), the Helensville couple was also presented with the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award and the Farm Stewardship Award in partnership with QEII National Trust and New Zealand Farm Environment Trust.

BFEA judges described Whenuanui Farm, the Kidd family’s 376ha sheep, beef and forestry unit, as “a show piece farm on the edge of Auckland city”. . . .

From paddock to packet: The family behind NZ’s most successful independent chips – Ryan Bridge:

You’re about to meet a family of potato farmers who beat the odds to grow one of the country’s most successful independent chip businesses.

The Bowans are from Timaru and not only do they grow spuds, they transport them to their own factory and make the chips too.

Together they are Heartland Potato Chips.

It all started when Raymond Bowan decided to grow his own potatoes as a teenager. His son James Bowan has taken over running the family potato farm and unlike his old man, he doesn’t do it by hand anymore, there’s a flash piece of kit to help. . . 

Food development facility opportunity for creative entrepreneurs:

Those looking to be innovative with their food are wanted at the FoodSouth food development pilot plant on the Lincoln campus, but there are no Heston Blumenthal creations on the menu.

The final part of a national food innovation network, the facility provides three purpose-built independent food safe development spaces along with a variety of processing equipment — an extruder, ovens, dryers, enrober, mixers, and a mobile product development kitchen among them.

It enables businesses to develop product prototypes for market validation, trial new equipment, carry out scale-up trial work and sample manufacture in 20L to 200L batch sizes, conduct process development and improvement, and validate quality systems. . . 

It’s in the family for new A&P Association President:

Sheep and beef farmer Warrick James has been elected as President of the Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association for 2016 at the Annual General Meeting at Riccarton Park Racecourse on 30 March.

Based in Central Canterbury near Glentunnel, Mr James was confirmed as President of the 154th Canterbury A&P Show in front of outgoing President Nicky Hutchinson and Association Members.

“It means a lot to be President of the Canterbury A&P Association. We host the largest and most prestigious Show in the country – it really is the pinnacle of the A&P movement. Having been involved from a young age with my family and seeing my own children take part over the years just makes this even more special.” . . .

Trio spread cheer on woolshed tour – Suzette Howe:

At a time when life’s a bit tough for rural communities, a trio of Kiwi performers are setting off on a woolshed tour to boost morale. 

They’re coming armed with their own stage curtain, a bar and plenty of laughs.

Over the next five weeks the talented ladies will transform more than 20 working wool sheds into live stages the length of the South Island.

They’re travelling by horse truck, carting hundreds of chairs, a bar, and full production set.

Farmer Georgie Harper says it’s hard to say no when the performance is brought to you. . . 

Itinerary and booking information at The Woolshed Tour.


Rural round-up

May 5, 2015

Dairy price rise case of ‘when not if’ – Sally Rae:

DairyNZ research and the latest economic outlook for dairy farming was outlined at a Farmers Forum, organised by DairyNZ, in Balclutha last weekend. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae went along.

Medium-term prospects for dairy prices remain ”solid but not spectacular”, Rabobank’s director of dairy research New Zealand and Australia, Hayley Moynihan, says.

The 2014 15 season was further evidence of the market volatility expected to continue in global dairy markets, Ms Moynihan said.

A recovery in prices was all about ”when and not if” but the recovery was likely to be more prolonged than seen in 2009 10 and 2012 13. . .

 DairyNZ chief’s bloodline is farming – Sally Rae:

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle always wanted to be a farmer.

Brought up on a Kaikoura dairy farm which has been in his family for generations, farming is in his blood.

His intention was to go to Lincoln University, complete his tertiary studies and then return and farm alongside his brother.

But he got ”sidetracked” by the science and business aspect and was encouraged to follow that path. . .

Dairy to benefit from Chinese-NZ research:

A new research project between China and New Zealand is to focus on how to improve the efficiency of water use in the dairy sector.

The collaborative project involves AgResearch and the Chinese Academy of Sciences and is aimed at helping a range of factors from watering feed crops to washing out cow sheds.

Principal scientist at AgResearch’s Ruakura base Stewart Ledgard said both countries had a lot to learn from each other. . .

 Les Roughan still going strong in dog trialing at 91 – Diane Bishop:

Les Roughan’s ticker isn’t the best.

But, the 91-year-old, who lives at Mandeville, is determined to finish the dog trialing season before undergoing heart surgery.

Roughan is the oldest competitor at the Tux South Island Sheep Dog Trial Championships which are being held on Leithen Valley Farm at Greenvale this week. . .

New research into West Coast agricultural pest:

Fresh research by AgResearch scientists will help unlock mysteries of one of the West Coast’s worst agricultural pests and allow farmers to make better management decisions and potentially save money.

Porina caterpillars are grazers that have the potential to reduce the long term quality and production of pasture but AgResearch Senior Scientist Sarah Mansfield says very little is known about the pest’s specific impact on the West Coast.

However, research conducted during a three year $300,000 Sustainable Farming Fund project will allow farmers to better understand how to monitor for the pest and then utilise control methods more efficiently and cost effectively.

“One of the big problems is that farmers often use control methods too late and after the damage is already done,” Dr Mansfield says.

“Clearly this costs a great deal of time and money for very little return so we hope to be able to provide them with more effective tools to alleviate this.” . . .

NZX adds iFarm to its AgriHQ business –  Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – NZX has bought iFarm, the livestock market information business, for an undisclosed sum from owners Jon Sherlock and Peter Fraser and will add the firm to its AgriHQ data business.

The Napier-based agriculture service publishes reports covering export data and prices as well as a wrap up of stock sales across the country, the Wellington-based exchange operator said in a statement. The acquisition price was confidential and wasn’t material. . .


Rural round-up

June 14, 2014

Integrated agri-food value chains – Keith Woodford:

Many New Zealand agri-food companies are still struggling to understand the global shift to integrated agri-food value chains. This move has been playing out most spectacularly in the infant formula industry, where the small companies have been badly caught out, but the trend is much broader than that.

A key driver is the need to have food safety systems in place that span from consumers back to producers. It is not simply a case of the food having to be safe, it is also a case of there being a transparent evidential trail. Food testing is just a small part of this system.
A major focus has to be on overall business systems that react to first stage mistakes before they compound into major events. It was just such a failure to react to the warning signals that led Fonterra down a shambolic path with the botulism scare in 2013.

There is also a key idea relating to provenance. Consumers not only want to know that something is safe; they also want to know that they are buying is what they think they are buying, and that the brand is genuine. . .

Milk spill stopper wins innovation award – Jamie Small:

The dragons have chosen, and another farm invention is one step closer to commercial success.

For the second year running, Fieldays had its own Dragons Den-style competition for agricultural innovations.

The joint initiative, run by Fieldays and Hamilton business incubator Soda Inc, selected nine innovators from a pool of 20 to present their gadgets to a panel of experienced investors and business leaders.

The top prize, Most Viable Business, went to Pahiatua couple Graeme and Alison Franklin with the DTexH2o. . . .

Primary Industry’s outlook good:

Federated Farmers believes the ‘2014 Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries’, released by the Ministry for Primary Industries, shows a promising future for the New Zealand economy thanks to kiwi farmers.

“This report shows an increase of 16.3 percent in primary sector exports, to $37.7b on the previous year, which translates to increased farmgate incomes of 22 percent and an increase in off farm spending of 11 percent,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers National President.

“These statistics remind us of the importance of exports to New Zealand, in particular the impact on farmgate incomes and spending on farm inputs, which has a direct influence on rural and provincial economies. . . .

Applauding the night away: superb exporters win top recognition:

Spectacular export growth of hundreds of chicken and turkey products has won Tegel Foods the Supreme Award in the 2014 Air New Zealand Cargo Export NZ Auckland export awards.

Prime Minister John Key presented the award last night at the Langham hotel in Auckland also attended by Auckland Mayor Len Brown and ‘Minister for Business’, Steven Joyce.

The judges said Tegel has been an iconic brand in New Zealand for more than 50 years and began developing export markets 11 years ago. . . .

Fonterra slapped with $150,000 fine over NZX disclosure – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – The New Zealand Markets Disciplinary Tribunal has fined Fonterra Cooperative Group $150,000 for breaching continuous disclosure requirements to the NZX during the dairy manufacturer and exporter’s botulism false alarm last August.

Auckland-based Fonterra undertook a world wide recall after it quarantined several batches of whey protein concentrate last August on concern it was contaminated with a potentially dangerous strain of clostridium bacteria, capable of causing botulism. The strain was ultimately shown to be harmless. . . .

Boys from the farm turn on the charm – Libby Wilson:

Fieldays’ rural bachelor contestants have done the hard yards in the leadup to their event.

The eight eligible blokes chased sheep, shot clay targets, and went zorbing on their journey from Auckland to Mystery Creek.

And the action continued yesterday, with fencing, speed-dating and cooking.

Yesterday morning they faced questions from Waikato women.

It seems ladies into a romantic but rural first anniversary picnic would be a good match with Wanganui’s Fraser Laird, 26. “I’ve got some back paddocks at the back of the farm. It’s got a bloody good view. Serious,” he said. . . .

Farmers encouraged to embrace technology – Susie Nordqvis:

Accounting firm Xero is laying down a challenge to farmers this week’s Fieldays: start embracing technology and innovation to maximise profits and grow the economy.

The innovation hub at Fieldays is not quite Dragon’s Den, but it is a sure fire way of fast-tracking participants onto the national stage.

“We have developed an ice maker that makes a slurry and you can reduce milk from 32degC down to 5degC in three seconds,” says innovation den participant Richard Upperton.

Xero says if more people followed Mr Upperton’s lead then the economy would be in better shape. . .

New Zealanders and shearing – Ali Ikram:

Sheep outnumber New Zealanders seven to one. 

They’re crucial to our economy and they get a bad wrap when it comes to their intelligence.

But there was one question we desperately wanted answered – as New Zealanders, can we all shear a sheep?

Is it innate in us – a birth-right?

Or are there some born and bred in cities who simply can’t shear, no matter what? . . .


Rural round-up

July 23, 2013

Synlait Milk jumps 19% in NZX debut after raising $75m:

Business Desk – Synlait Milk jumped 19 percent in its NZX debut after raising $75 million in an initial public offering that was restricted to clients of brokers and institutional investors.

The shares first traded at $2.62 compared with the IPO price of $2.20. They were last at $2.75, valuing the company at $402 million.

Synlait Milk will use the $75 million raised to repay debt and help fund construction of a new lactoferrin extraction and purification facility, an on-site blending and consumer packaging plant, a new dry store, a quality testing laboratory, a butter plant, and a new spray dryer, according to the prospectus. Existing shareholders took advantage of the sale to sell down their own holdings, raising $38.7 million. . .

Strong Chinese Interest in Westland’s New Infant Range:

Westland Milk Products’ launch of its new Westpro NutritionTM range in China on Thursday last week (19 July) was well received with strong interest from customers and Chinese media.

The official launch of Westland’s range of infant nutrition base powders was part of a week-long visit to Shanghai by the company to demonstrate Westland’s commitment to the China market, raise awareness of the Westland Milk Products brand and to promote Westpro Nutrition. . .

International student exchanges opportunity of a lifetime – Pasture to Profit:

International Agricultural Student Exchanges offer an opportunity of a life time experience, few will ever forget. Exchange to another country, another University with a mix of exchangees from many different nations provides endless excitement, friendships & cultural appreciation at an age when you can “suck it all in” big time. I’d like to encourage many more agricultural students to apply for exchanges.

Potential employers look very favourably on any graduate who has taken these opportunities & made the most of them. . .

Entries Open for Next Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Entries for the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards open on August 1, 2013, and organisers are again expecting strong interest in the popular competition.

Facilitated by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFE), the awards promote sustainable land management by showcasing the work of people farming in a way that is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.

Held in nine regions, the awards are open to all farming and horticultural types. . .

Chair appointed to racing board:

Racing Minister Nathan Guy today announced the appointment of Glenda Hughes as Independent Chairperson of the New Zealand Racing Board’s (NZRB’s) governing body.

Ms Hughes was appointed as Independent Chairperson following consultation with the racing industry.

The racing industry makes an important contribution to the New Zealand economy, generating around $1.6 billion annually and around 17000 jobs. . .

Rotorua to host Maori Forestry Forum:

Registrations are now open for ‘Mai i te ngahere oranga – Māori Forestry Forum’ to be held at Waiariki Institute of Technology in Rotorua on Friday 16 August.

With $2 billion in forestry assets that include land, trees and energy options, Māori are set to become key stakeholders in the future of forestry.

This inaugural Māori Forestry Forum will provide a platform for Māori land and forest owners to discuss their experiences, issues and aspirations for Māori forestry in Aotearoa. . .


Rural round-up

April 18, 2013

Rationalisation of water services supported:

Rationalising water services and placing them at arms-length from local political control, as recommended in a new report is supported by industry body Water New Zealand.

However, the real concern Water New Zealand has is whether the reforms proposed by the expert group looking at local government infrastructure will be implemented (expert’s report released today).

“The need for reform has been known for a long time, but to date little progress has been made,” Water New Zealand’s Chief Executive, Murray Gibb said.

“Ratepayers and taxpayers will get improved services and better value for their money if the reforms are implemented. The proposals accord with industry best practice and should be supported,” he said.

Two other recommendations supported by Water New Zealand, are;
1. that a minister with responsibilities for management of all water related issues is appointed, and,
2. where economically justified, metering and volumetric charging for water are implemented. . .

Praise for NZ’s Tb programme:

A senior UK minister has praised New Zealand for its work in controlling bovine tuberculosis (Tb) during a fact-finding visit over the weekend.

Owen Paterson, UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said he had enormous admiration for what had been achieved by the TBfree New Zealand programme.

“You are still a society that is much more closely tied to the land and you have had this spectacular success freeing up your agricultural industry,” Paterson said.

“People understand the importance of agricultural production and food production and there are all sorts of lessons to be learned from what you have done.” . .

NZX to target agricultural firms – Christopher Adams:

Boosting the number of listed agricultural firms is one of the NZX’s main priorities and there are about 20 firms in the Waikato alone that could potentially float on the local bourse, says exchange chief executive Tim Bennett.

While agriculture is New Zealand’s largest sector, earning about half the country’s export income, it is under-represented on the sharemarket compared with other industries such as retail and manufacturing.

Bennett said he saw the lack of listed agricultural companies as a problem and an opportunity.

“As a country that’s got a significant export presence in agriculture, we clearly need to provide capital to that sector and at the moment there’s a relatively small number of companies involved in the agricultural sector on the NZX,” Bennett said. . .

Miraka – it’s Maori for milk:

Given the attention that focuses on Fonterra’s every move, it can seem that the huge co-op and the dairy industry are one and the same thing. But despite its dominance, a band of smaller players is surviving – and sometimes thriving – in the giant’s shadow.

One of the newest is a tiny, Maori-controlled dairy company which kicked off late in 2011, quickly turned a profit and already has a waiting list of potential suppliers after just two seasons.

The company, Miraka, runs a wholemilk factory at Mokai, 30km northwest of Taupo, that is already “full” – meaning it can’t take on any more suppliers. The fact that there is a waiting list is hardly surprising, given that it pays 10c per kg over the going rate at Fonterra.

And, unlike the co-operative model, Miraka does not require its suppliers to hold shares. . .

NZ Processing for China win-win – Tim Fulton:

Favourable signals from China’s elite could be just what New Zealand needs to expand its forestry portfolio, a member of the latest trade delegation to that country says. Tim Fulton reports.

Peter Clark, from PF Olsen, has come home from a week-long trip to China convinced New Zealand is moving closer to a stronger domestic milling industry.

NZ has proven its ability to use “rain, soil, sunshine and nitrogen” to turn seeds into logs for export, but the Rotorua-based chief executive wonders whether the timing is right to do more advanced processing at home. . .

Preparing new staff for the season ahead:

DairyNZ is reminding dairy farmers to prepare for new employees as the new season nears.

DairyNZ people team leader, Jane Muir, says people management practices have improved greatly on-farm in recent years, but there are always opportunities to do things better.

“The recent Federated Farmers/Rabobank Farm Employee Remuneration Survey showed 91 percent of dairy farmers provided permanent employees with written contracts – a sharp increase on previous years,” says Jane.

“This is great news because one of the areas where big wins can be achieved is around the staff recruitment and orientation process – the contract is just one part of that. . .

Rural Bachelor is back and this year there’s an international flavour:

The NZ National Agricultural Fieldays is on the look out for hard working rural blokes to represent the farming community  and are calling for entries across the country to the Trans Tasman. This year the competition will consist of eight finalists (six Kiwis and two Australians) who will be flown to a mystery location on Monday 10th June prior to Fieldays, each of the finalists will then make their way to Fieldays, stopping in specific towns along the way to complete various tasks.

The finalists will be judged on a range of aspects from technical skills, innovation, effort to enthusiasm and crowd involvement. They will also participate in heats throughout Fieldays and be judged on their interaction with Fieldays staff and volunteers, their team spirit, helpfulness, conduct and attitude in relation to Fieldays values. . .


Rural round-up

December 6, 2012

Innovative Wellington Entrepreneurs Identify Massive New Wool Markets

A small Wellington company The Formary has a plan that will help China reduce its air pollution, while at the same time creating a potentially massive new market for New Zealand wool.

After China’s rice crop is harvested in the paddy fields, millions of tonnes of rice straw are burnt, causing massive air pollution, closing airports, shutting out the sun and creating health issues for millions of people. Working with Massey University in Wellington, The Formary has developed a rice-straw-wool fabric prototype that could lead to a multi-million dollar business.

The Formary is owned by Bernadette Casey of Wellington and Sally Shanks from Gisborne and the idea is an extension of another product they developed, when they identified the potential of using waste fibre from Starbuck’s vast amount of unwanted coffee sacks and blending it with New Zealand crossbred wool to create fabric they called WoJo®. . .

Government to assist kiwifruit growers:

A package of support measures is to be made available to North Island kiwifruit growers affected by the Psa-V vine disease, Primary Industries Minister David Carter announced today.

Mr Carter has declared Psa a medium-scale biosecurity event under the Government’s Primary Sector Recovery Policy, triggering further assistance for growers dealing with the impacts of the disease. 

“The Government has worked closely with kiwifruit industry representatives to ensure that this declaration is timed to give maximum possible benefit to growers,” says Mr Carter. . .

Help for Kiwifruit Growers as Psa-V Declared an Adverse Event:

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) welcomes Government approval for a financial and recovery support package, for kiwifruit growers hit by the vine-killing disease Psa.

NZKGI President Neil Trebilco says the organisation has worked very closely with the Government, to firstly extend the coverage of existing adverse events recovery provisions to include incursions on pests and disease, and then get the Psa-V support package approved for kiwifruit growers.

“This will give some growers most affected by Psa a level of financial and welfare support to help them through the impact of this disaster.” . .

Equity raising and change of listing to the NZX Main Board

Today, A2 Corporation Limited (“A2C” or “the Company”) announces that it is undertaking an equity raising to provide additional funding to accelerate the global growth initiatives outlined in the recently announced strategic review.

The Company will issue NZ$20 million in new equity and the Company’s three largest shareholders have resolved to sell a percentage of their holdings in the Company to new and existing investors (together “the Transaction”) at a fixed offer price of NZ$0.50 per new share (“Offer Price”) to provide additional liquidity, contemporaneous with a change in listing to the NZX Main Board, thus facilitating inclusion in the NZX50. . .

Commitment needed by wool growers to ensure sustainable, profitable wool future:

A key objective of Wools of New Zealand is to build the company, evolving within five years to be a fully commercial grower-owned sales and marketing business.

Wools of New Zealand has spent considerable time meeting with all sectors of the industry in New Zealand and internationally building strong collaborative relationships and is now pursing commercial opportunities with supply chain participants for mutual benefit. The Directors are pleased with the cooperation and progress made to date. Wools of New Zealand is, for example, very supportive of the New Zealand scouring industry which underpins the quality and integrity of our fibre which supports the Company’s branded, market-pull strategy. . .

ANZCO Foods’ new Foodplus programme – comments by Sir Graeme Harrison:

ANZCO Foods Chairman, Sir Graeme Harrison, who has worked in the meat industry in various roles since 1973, is enthusiastic about the potential of the new Foodplus programme to enhance business opportunities for the sector.

ANZCO Foods and the Ministry for Primary Industries announced joint funding for the $87million Foodplus programme earlier this week. MPI Director-General Wayne McNee approved funding from the Primary Growth Partnership, which is administered by MPI.

Sir Graeme says it will give a vital boost to the meat industry. . .


Fonterra focus still payout

December 1, 2012

Yesterday was a big day for Fonterra.

Prime Minister John Key opened the company’s new $200m Darfield site.

Shortly before the opening, Fonterra’s units were launched on the stock exchange making  the biggest listing day stag that investors have seen for years.

The non-voting units, which launched at midday today, surged as high as $6.95, a 26 percent stag before closing at $6.85 from an offer price of $5.50. The fund’s turnover was $179.8 million as investors scrambled to get a slice of dairy exporter Fonterra Cooperative Group’s dividend stream.

Turnover in the NZX50 was lower, but substantial, at $175.2 million.

The most comparable float was the December 2011 listing of TradeMe, which rose 6.9 percent on its first day, and was up about 10 percent on its issue price by the end of its first week’s trading, said Andrew Bascand, at Harbour Asset Management.

The fund attracted more trading than the rest of the NZX50 put together and is likely to have been attractive to foreign investors, who took 42 percent of the initial issue of units after Tuesday’s book-build. . .

The price increase amounts to an extra $300,000 in value for the average Fonterra shareholder.

However, in a newsletter to shareholders, chair Sir Henry van der Heyden says the company’s focus will still be on the payout.

TAF was about removing redemption risk and giving farmers some more flexibility but making money from the milk they produce will be of more importance to shareholders than the price of units on the stock exchange.


Rural round-up

August 22, 2012

Award for Omakau farmer :

Omakau farmer Jan Manson has been awarded the 2012 Rabobank business development award for her project to reposition her farming operation for future expansion.   

Mrs Manson received the award at the executive developmen programme graduation dinner, which celebrated the latest business management thinking in agriculture. . .

Sheep, beef sectors look at training – Sally Rae:

A steering group is investigating the possibility of    copying in the South Island the residential training farm model, following concerns about the low level of skilled, work-ready employees in the sheep and beef sector.   

Sarah Barr, of Kyeburn, is co-ordinating a feasibility      project, on behalf of the Central South Island Residential  Training Farm steering group, including conducting a survey  to ascertain if there is an issue and, if so, how it can best  be addressed. . .

Fonterra wraps up record End-Of-Season export quarter:

Fonterra’s record end-of-season quarter has been the Co-operative’s biggest ever May, June and July – with 620,000 metric tonnes of dairy products loaded on ships for export to over 100 markets around the world.

Fonterra NZ Milk Products Managing Director Gary Romano says the Co-operative has shipped 36 per cent more than the same period last year.

“The record milk production in the 2011/12 season has meant Fonterra has exported more product at the end-of-season than ever before. Our teams have done a great job collecting the milk, processing it, packing it, storing it, selling it and shipping it.

“If we were to lay the containers we have shipped this year end-to-end they would stretch from the top of the Bombay hills to Christchurch – which is around 1000 kilometres,” he says. . .

Financial treat for rural schools – Rebecca Ryan:

Five Forks Primary and Omarama School received a financial surprise, thanks to their local farmers.

More than 200 rural schools throughout New Zealand received much-needed money for resources such as books and sports equipment.

Five Forks Primary and Omarama School received some of the more than $4300 distributed to schools from the Hatuma Growing Minds Fund.

Hatuma marketing and sales Aaron Topp said the fund was well received by rural schools.

More than $15,000 has been distributed to rural schools in the past three years. . .

US boot camp tune-up:

A WEEK of high-powered brainstorming was expected to heighten ideas of collaboration among 25 of New Zealand’s leading chief executives from the primary sector. With them was Primary Industry Minister David Carter.  

This august group has been tucked away at a ‘boot camp’ at Stanford University, near San Francisco. They represent the dairy, meat, seafood, horticulture and viticulture sectors.

No ‘industry good’ organisations are there but it does include the chief executives of MPI and NZ Trade and Enterprise. . .

Buffalo and rhino make big money:

MAKING SURE none of the rhinoceros herd is poached during the night isn’t something New Zealand farmers have to worry about but it is typical for an increasing number of South African farmers diversifying into the lucrative game breeding industry.  

After several years of rapid growth, there are now estimated to be more than 10,000 commercial game ranches in South Africa breeding rare species for hunting, meat and conservation purposes.

Kirstie Macmillan of Farm To Farm Tours recently returned from escorting a group of New Zealand farmers through South Africa, Victoria Falls and Botswana. . .

Australia and New Zealand Arrangement to combat illegal logging:

Australia and New Zealand have today strengthened their long standing cooperation on forestry issues by signing the Arrangement on Combating Illegal Logging and Promoting Sustainable Forest Management. The signed Arrangement illustrates a shared commitment to working together to address illegal logging and promote sustainable forest management.

Australia’s Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig, and New Zealand Associate Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, signed the Arrangement during forestry talks which included discussions relating to the progress of Australia’s Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill 2011. . .

Wise Nutrient Use Rewarded In Ballance Farm Environment Awards

Former fertiliser consultant Jim Galloway takes a scientific approach to the application of nutrients on his Nireaha dairy farm, west of Eketahuna.

Jim and his wife Lynette bought the farm in 2006 and are milking about 170 cows this season on a milking platform of 70ha (effective). The Galloways also own a nearby run-off, supplementing milk income by rearing extra dairy replacements and farming carryover cows.

Jim and Lynette are both Massey University graduates and Jim worked as a fertiliser consultant for nine years before going farming. This experience in the fertiliser industry is valuable when deciding the farm’s fertiliser policy. . .

Zespri keeping tabs on vine bacterial infection of gold varieties:

 Zespri International, which controls exports of the nation’s kiwifruit, is keeping tabs on the spread of vine bacteria disease Psa-V which is showing signs of infection in new gold varieties.

Listed kiwifruit packer and grower Satara Co-operative Group has warned its shareholders of the potential adverse impact Psa-V could have on its business. Pseudomonas syringae PV actinidiae is again showing clear evidence in orchard vines, Satara managing director Tom Wilson said in a statement to NZX. . .

Grape growers are on target for improved profitability

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has today released an analysis of viticulture production and profitability as part of its annual Farm Monitoring Report series. The report is based on models of a Marlborough and a Hawke’s Bay vineyard and an overview of the financial performance of typical vineyards, based on information gathered from a sample of growers and industry stakeholders.

Grape growers experienced significant erosion in profit last season, with unfavourable weather in both Marlborough and Hawke’s Bay leading to a 20 percent drop in average yields. . .

NZX confirms slump in 1H profit; Agri information stands out as bright spot:

New Zealand’s stock market operator, posted a 28 percent drop in first-half profit as revenue growth stalled and expenses rose, squeezing its earnings margin.

Profit was $3.25 million in the six months ended June 30, from $4.5 million a year earlier, the Wellington-based company said in a statement. Operating revenue rose 1 percent to $26.5 million.

The first-half results confirm NZX’s Agri information unit as the biggest source of revenue, growing 8 percent to $6.2 million in the latest period, driven by growth in subscriptions, while advertising revenue was little changed at $3.76 million. The company expects subscription growth to continue in the second half, when it typically enjoys the benefit of a seasonal pickup. . .

Long-term investment in NZ kiwiberry industry:

Freshmax NZ Ltd is the holder of the exclusive New Zealand master kiwiberry license, granted by Plant & Food Research (PFR) to commercialise four of their proprietary kiwiberry varieties. This month, Freshmax welcomes the decision by select growers to advance these varieties into commercial production in New Zealand.

Over the last few years global demand for kiwiberry has continued to rise on the back of a sustained increase in market share for berryfruit. Freshmax has recognized this exciting opportunity for New Zealand growers to benefit from increasing demand, through investment in kiwiberry production. . .

Skip the sheep can shake a leg again – Sally Rae:

First Tarras had Shrek – and now Tapui has Skip.   

And if Skip the Romney ewe was a cat, she would probably be down to about seven lives.   

Farmer John Dodd did not think the little triplet, born on a  cold and frosty night in rural North Otago, would survive its first night if left outside and took her home. . .


NZX plans June launch for milk futures

February 9, 2010

NZX is to launch its first dairy futures market in June.

Exchange derivatives manager Katherine Jaggard said interest had been high, both locally and internationally, which was an indication the dairy sector lacked such risk management tools compared to other traded commodities, like grain and coffee. . .

 . . . Farmers were interested in hedging their income against price fluctuations, but initial activity was expected from others in the industry, such as processors, buyers and traders. . .

Eventually, she would like dairy farmers to view the NZX dairy futures market on a daily basis, as they did now with the exchange rate.

“We see the exchange rate every day. It would be great to see the whole milk powder price every day.

“The data would be helpful to farmers. It would give them an idea where demand levels are,” she said.

I can see how hedging might appeal and that this market might be of interest to investors but I’m not sure if knowing the day to day demand is going to be useful to farmers.

If you’re producing widgets you might alter the supply at the whim of the market but milk harvesting isn’t like producing widgets.

A consistent trend in the price might help with a decision on whether or not to feed supplements but you can’t turn milk supply on and off to take advantage of market fluctuations.


NZX to launch milk powder futures’ market

June 4, 2009

NZX plans to offer a market for trading whole milk powder futures.

New Zealand supplies around 40 percent of the global whole milk powder market and market volatility had led to demand for a risk management tool similar to other commodity markets.

“It’s a natural fit for New Zealand to host the trading of milk derivative contracts, and to meet the global demand for risk management tools in the dairy industry,” NZX Head of Traded Products Fiona Mackenzie said in a statement.

Last month it was rural media, this month it’s rural produce.

It might be a good move for shareholders, I don’t think it will have any benefits for farmers and wonder if it’s another example of what Cactus Kate  calls: “making hay from a collection of other land-owners’ paddocks while the sun is still shining”.

Although, the sun isn’t shining on dairying at the moment.


What’s holding them back?

May 22, 2009

The statistics supporting the business case for having women on company boards  are compelling:

For companies in the top 25% (of highest women’s representation on the board) the return on equity was 53% higher; return on sales 42% higher; and return on invested capital is 66% higher than companies in the bottom quartile.

Of course statistics tell only part of the story – it’s possible that these companies performed better in spite of the women on the board rather than because of them.

It’s also possible that having women on a board is a sign of the intelligence and foresightedness which results in a well run and high performing company.

But regardless of the story behind those stats it does seem strange that women make up 46% of the New Zealand workforce but hold only 8.65% of directorships on the NZX top 100. Just 45 women hold 54  of the 624 board positions available and 60 of the top 100 boards have n0 female directors.

That’s been recognised by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, The Institute of Directors and Business NZ who launched a joint initiative last night to promote the economic benefits of having more women on boards.

A lot of women are actively involved in private rural businesses. Many farms are husband and wife partnerships, so are a lot of the small businesses which support farming and Rural Women’s Enterprising Rural Woman Award highlighted some of the successful rural businesses run by women.

There are plenty of urban business women too so it’s not lack of skills and experience which is holding them back.

The April edition of Next magazine opened a story on the issue with this:

The chairman of a large Kiwi agricultural company is asked why there aren’t any women on his corporate board.

“There’s no place for sheilas in this conservative, provincial boardroom, apart from making the tea,” is his gobsmacking response.

I’d hope that attitudes have changed for the better since this comment was made seven years ago but that still hasn’t translated into an increase in female directors.

What’s holding them back?

Are women choosing not to put themselves forward or  are they not being accepted when they do because, regardless of qualifications and experience, having a y chromosome makes some candidates for directorships and management more equal than others?

P.S.

The Hand Mirror posted on the MWF/ID/BNZ joint initiative when it was first announced.


Hidden agenda in NZX purchase of CPL?

May 6, 2009

I greeted uncrtically the news that NZX was buying Country-Wide, publishers of most of of the papers which get delivered free to rural mail boxes, including my favourite NZ Farmers Weekly.

Others aren’t so innocent.

Cactus Kate finds some sharp knives in the NZX Haystack .

Jenni McManus reports  that Trans-Tasman editor in chief Max Bowden has made a Commerce Commission complaint because he thinks NZX is trying to act as regulator in a market in which it would be a participant.

At issue: whether an organisation calling itself a regulator should be cornering the market in anything, let alone a commercial enterprise, by acting as both a player and the market enforcer.

Adolf at No Minister smells something fishy and asks:

How can it be that the regulator of share trading activities in New Zealand companies an be allowed to itself operate trading companies which are not part of its core activity, namely regulation? What happens when one of its own companies transgresses?

Roarprawn also smells something whiffy and agrees with Fran O’Sullivan who questions why the stock exchange is putting on gumboots.

Expanding into publications during the economic downturn is a bold move.

The Cross memo explains that the NZX is getting into an “advertising-reliant media publication” in this climate. She contends print media are the best way to contact farmers while internet access remains slow and inconsistent for rural New Zealand.

“This protects to a certain extent rural publications from the downturn in advertising in mainstream/daily media publication and, second, farmers’ behaviours as the majority still read physical papers instead of accessing the internet for their news and information.”

The memo predicts it will be more than five years before farmers swap to online news services.

I’m not so sure about that, improvements to rural boradband services are moving quickly. We’ve got wireless broadband but discovered by accident we could get a much better service through the phone line now.

I’ve always used “you don’t do rural broadband” to put off people wanting us to change to telephone providers. But when I used that line with a cold-caller on Monday I was told they did and we could get broadband access via our phone line. I phoned Telecom to check and was told that our exchange had been upgraded and our phone line could now deliver broadband.

If that service is as good as promised more country people will turn to the internet for news rather than waiting for the papers which come with the mail – which for us isn’t until early to mid afternoon.

This point is made by Quote Unquote who also has questions about the NZX purchase of CPL.

. . .  there are some astute comments about magazine publishing in general which Weldon could consider – in particular, Rundle’s key line:

To go into the magazine trade now is like starting a stable just as the first Model T Ford rolls off the line.

We’ve been getting a regular stream of change-of-address emails from farming friends who have discovered they no longer have to rely on dail-up access to the internet.

The service we get in the country still doesn’t deliver the ultra-fast speeds available in cities, but it won’t be far away and when it comes, our readinghahbits will change.

You can’t tuck a PC into your back pocket as you do with a paper when you’re heading up the back paddock . But if you’ve already read the news on the net  over breakfast you won’t need to.

The question of who’s going to pay for the news on internet will wait for another day.


NZX buys Country-Wide Publications

April 28, 2009

Country-Wide Publications is being sold to NZX for an undisclosed sum.

CPL Owners Dean Williamson and Tony Leggett, who bought CPL in 1997, have grown the business to produce 78 publications a year under seven mastheads, and from a turnover of $250,000 in 1997 to over $7 million in 2008. CPL publications reach all 86,000 farmers in New Zealand at least once every week.

Roarprawn doesn’t think it’s a good investment, but I do.

Fielding-based CPL publishes several rural papers including NZ Farmers Weekly, Country Wide South and Country Wide North and the recently acquired Dairy Exporter.

All are give aways which are delivered to rural mail boxes and all are quality publications which concentrate on rural news, issues and features. Unlike some giveaways the majority of their stories are fresh rather than rehashed press releases, are well read by farmers and attract good suppport from advertisers.

The CPL media relesase says:

Dean Williamson said, “This is an exciting next step for both the CPL business and the rural sector as a whole. Bringing NZX and CPL together creates a raft of new opportunities. Both are innovative companies focused on growth.”

Tony Leggett said, ” We understand our market and our business model reflects that. We give farmers the information they need, and astute advertisers appreciate that. We focus on value.

“Print media remains the right medium to reach farmers at this point in time. As we see increased broadband penetration in rural areas, we are likely to see more interest in our online offerings and will continue to develop products in this space,” said Leggett.

CPL operations will remain based in Feilding, managed by Dean and Tony. “This is a long term investment in the New Zealand rural sector,” said Weldon.

This isn’t the NZX’s first foray into rural business, it already owns Agrifax,  Dairy Week and Pro-Farmer Australia.


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