Rural round-up

September 27, 2016

Drones to aid farm work :

Rab Heath grew up on a farm so he knows that grass equals money.

However, keeping an eye on your pasture takes time, and a huge amount of physical effort when checking soil conditions in every paddock.

Rab’s worked out a way to do this remotely, using drones. . . 

Canterbury farmers face bleak irrigation season – Thomas Mead:

Canterbury farmers face a tough spring with several key irrigation rivers already on restriction after a third straight year of low groundwater levels, with some wells, streams and springs to dry up.

Poor rainfall has left alpine rivers well below their long-term averages, with the Ahuriri River in South Canterbury already on a full restriction preventing all kinds of irrigation. Other rivers, including the Rakaia, Waimakariri, Hurunui, and Rangitata, are partially restricted.

Environment Canterbury (ECAN) surface water science manager Tim Davie says the restrictions are designed to protect ecosystems and stream-life. . . 

Technology set to play big part in NZ agriculture:

Ultimately, for New Zealand to diversify its export base, technology will play a critical role in improving value-add in agricultural exports, a leading New Zealand agri-tech expert says.

Craige Mackenzie, chair of Precision Agriculture Association of New Zealand (PAANZ), says precision agriculture has a lot to offer the bright future of the second biggest New Zealand industry sector.

“There is growing interest in the benefits of precision agriculture for environmental and financial viability of our New Zealand farms but we have a challenge ahead to get greater engagement with more farmers and companies in this sector. . . 

NZ Farming Systems Uruguay to cut ties with NZ, posts biggest loss since Olam took control – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – NZ Farming Systems Uruguay, set up by New Zealand investors in 2006, is to cut ties with the country after delivering its biggest-ever loss to owner Olam International of Singapore.

Olam has retained a New Zealand registration for the South American subsidiary since buying out minority shareholders and delisting it from the NZX in late 2012, with its registered office care of law firm Buddle Findlay in Auckland. But the latest annual report of Farming Systems says the group “has the intention to deregister the parent company from the NZ Companies Office and migrate to Uruguay.”

Farming Systems appears to have been hard hit by the downturn in global prices of dairy products, with its net loss widening to US$74.5 million in the year ended June 30, from US$69.5 million a year earlier. Sales fell 34 percent to US$48.9 million. . . 

NZ dairy farm prices show sharp rise, REINZ figures show – Edwin Mitson:

(BusinessDesk) – The median price per hectare for a New Zealand dairy farm sales has increased by more than 50 percent on a year ago, Real Estate Institute of New Zealand figures show.

In the three months to the end of August 2016, the median sales price per hectare was $40,469, with 14 properties sold. In the same period a year earlier, the median price was $26,906, with 21 properties sold, a rise of 50.4 percent.

The figures cover the winter period, with REINZ noting that the low level of sales can distort statistics. The median size of a dairy farm sold was 100 hectares. . . 

Venison sales set to soar this spring as Kiwis become more adventurous and health conscious in the kitchen:

Duncan Venison has reported a surge in demand from consumers and professional chefs in the run up to spring and summer, indicating that Kiwis are recognising the health and taste benefits, are starting to see it as a year-round option, and are also becoming more adventurous with how they cook it.

The company is selling considerable quantities of venison to restaurants and home cooks per week, with no sign of sales slowing down as the warmer weather approaches. This includes the “Bistro Fillet from Pāmu Farms,” a tender, pan ready cut that was developed earlier this year, and is now on the menu at restaurants such as The Sugar Club, Sails Restaurant, The French Café, Paris Butter, and Clooney.

Since the 1st July launch, sales of Bistro Fillet have exceeded budgeted volumes by over 50%, with a number of restaurants still to change over to their spring menu. . . 

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Because of their connection to the land, farmers do more to protect and preserve our environment than almost anyone else. They are some of the best environmentalists around  – Ike Skelton.


Rural round-up

June 17, 2012

Rates gouge farm incomes – Tim Fulton:

Thank goodness export prices are strong because a Beef + Lamb New Zealand report says local authority rates have risen cumulatively by just over 30% over the past five years.

“At an average increase of 6.1% each year it defines the expression ‘inflation busting’,” Federated Farmers local government spokesperson David Rose said when The New Zealand Farmers Weekly showed him B+LNZ’s figures.

The rates insight is part of the Economic Service’s regular survey of on-farm costs, combining data from Statistics New Zealand with its own assessments. . . 

Looking beyond the dollars at Winter Dairy Days:

Helping dairy farmers look ‘beyond the dollars’ at their whole farm system management is the goal of a series of winter dairy workshops being held by the Dairy Women’s Network around New Zealand in June and July.

The five workshops are being held in Winton, Rotorua, Cambridge, Hokitika and Nelson at the end of June and beginning of July and are a great follow on from the Essential Farm Finance days run by the Network earlier in the year.

Ngatea dairy farmer and farm consultant, Julie Pirie, will lead four of the workshops, with Te Anau dairy farmer Anna Kempthorne speaking at the Winton event. . . .

NZ Farming Systems cuts FY guidance as dry weather reduces milk production – Hannah Lynch,

NZ Farming Systems Uruguay, the South American dairy farmer controlled by Singapore’s Olam International, will miss its target to break even on a pretax basis this year after dry weather stunted pasture growth and milk output.

Farming Systems is now forecasting a loss of US$3 million to US$5 million on an earnings before interest and tax basis. The company will break even once it accounts for a fair value adjustment in the value of livestock, it said in a statement.

“Milk production continues to increase significantly year on year, although the very dry summer and autumn weather in Uruguay along with the later-than-expected completion of the new dairies, has resulted in milk production to date being below forecast,” it said. . .

Arable farmers cut back grain in favour of seed crops:

Arable farmers are cutting back on wheat and barley for next season and planting more seed crops in response to falling grain prices.

Growers cut back on seed production last year in response to higher grain prices but increased wheat and barley production and record yields created high stock levels and reduced prices.

Federated Farmers grain and seed chair Ian Mackenzie says the one contract price offered for milling wheat so far has dropped from about $460 to $420 a tonne.

Feed grain contract prices have dropped from about $410 to $360 a tonne.

Water storage scheme ‘vital’ for Hawke’s Bay farmers:

A central Hawke’s Bay farm consultant says farmers regard a proposed $220 million water storage scheme as being a vital step in the economic growth of the region.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has this week been hearing submissions on the Ruataniwha scheme, which could provide irrigation to 22,500 hectares of farm land.

Consultant Roy Fraser has visited northern Tasmania where he says farmers have been using water storage for more than 70 years. . . 

Dairy breeding a family tradition – Hugh Stringleman:

Stuart Bay retired on May 31 as chairman of the dairy co-operative LIC, the fourth generation of his family to serve on livestock improvement co-operative boards.

After 37 years of dairy herd improvement governance, perhaps Bay has seen and done it all?

No way. Bay would like his 22 years on the LIC board over again, for a ring-side seat for what he believes are the most exciting years to come in dairy genetics.

LIC is beginning to deliver genomics science, which promises dairy farmers routine gene fingerprinting of their calves, to quickly identify the most productive milkers and their predisposition to faults and diseases.

Trees on farms workshop : maximizing marginal land use:

A Trees on Farms workshop particularly designed for Maori landowners and farmers taking an inter-generational view of their land management options is being held in Ohope on Wednesday 20 June.

This workshop will focus on in the opportunities and benefits trees can provide in developing management for the marginal or less productive parts of the farm, and those attending will be able to discuss tree planting options with Maori land owners, experienced farm foresters and regional council staff.

The workshop and field trip will feature the Ohope property of Ngāti Awa Group Holdings, looking at trees as an intergenerational land management tool providing sustainable agribusiness solutions and enhancing long term land use. . . 


Foreign investors also make losses

February 12, 2012

Open Country Cheese blames its full year loss of $29.5m on the high Price of milk and our strong dollar.

The Auckland-based company has faced a kiwi dollar trading near a five-month high against the greenback in volatile global markets while global demand for commodities have helped drive up the price of milk, putting pressure on processing margins.

“It is clear that when this high degree of volatility is coupled with the commitment we have to produce competitive returns to our supply base we will have considerable more variance in our year to year trading results than desirable,” chief executive Steven Smith and chairman Laurie Margrain said in the annual report. . .

. . .  The dairy processor paid an average $7.56 per kilogram of milk solids to its farmer suppliers, a 24 percent increase from a year earlier. That’s short of the $7.60 per kg and 65 cents per share distributable Fonterra paid to its farmer shareholders.

Open Country is controlled by the Talley family and its second biggest shareholder is Singapore’s Olam International.

Will the people who are so upset at the thought of foreign investors taking New Zealand-made dividends be just as concerned about these ones having to take a loss.


Synlait purchase indictment on NZ capital markets

July 20, 2010

 Bright Dairy & Food, China’s third biggest dairy company by volume, has signed up to buy  51% of Synlait’s milk processing subsidiary, Synlait Milk, for $82 million.

The deal is subject to approval in China and here.

Federated Farmers says it’s an indictment on our capital markets.

“After last year’s abandonment of an Initial Public Offering, it’s a damming indictment on our capital markets that Synlait couldn’t rely on New Zealand to provide the investment capital necessary to fund its expansion,” says Lachlan McKenzie, Federated Farmers dairy chairperson.

Another New Zealand company may get a welcome injection of foreign cash too. Singapore’s OlamInternational has agreed to buy PGG Wrightson’s 11.5 per cent stake in New Zealand Farming Systems Uruguay, subject to regulatory approval, and is making a full takeover offer on the same terms.

I will be surprised if this gets the same criticism that a Chinese company’s bid for the 16 Crafar farms has.

Synlait owns farms, but it is the processing arm not the producing one, in which Bright Dairy will be investing and NZFSU  owns land, but in South America, not here.

Many people are not keen on the idea of foreigners taking too big a stake in our land but they’re less likely to be so emotionally attached to these companies.


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