Rural round-up

28/09/2021

Fear forestry conversions impacting farming communities – Shawn McAvinue:

A Swiss company has been given consent to buy a nearly 500ha farm in South Otago for forestry conversion.

The Overseas Investment Office has approved the sale of the farm in Hillend, about 20km north of Balclutha, to 100% Switzerland-owned company Corisol New Zealand Ltd.

Corisol paid the vendors — Alistair Lovett, Mark Tavendale and A R Lovett Trustees — $4.8million for the farm, which in the consent was described as a breeding and finishing unit.

The consent states Corisol intends to subdivide and sell about 71ha of land and its dwellings and covert about 400ha to commercial forestry. . . 

Charity funding rural counselling – Mary-Jo Tohill:

It is something of a misnomer to think because farmers are used to isolation, that things such as lockdowns do not affect them the same as other people.

“I think this would be particularly true of South Island farmers,” Will to Live founder Elle Perriam said.

Her mental health charity has just launched the RuralChange initiative to fund counselling sessions for rural people of all ages.

Ms Perriam did a Young Farmers online event recently with well-known farming personalities Tangaroa Walker (Farm4Life) and Kane Briscoe (FarmFitNZ). . . 

 

The schemes and drams over reducing cow methane – The Detail:

Millions of dollars is being spent on getting cows and sheep to produce less gas.

The projects in train range from genetics experiments, using seaweed in burp-free feed, and toilet-training cows. Some of it sounds ridiculous – but the animals produce methane, and New Zealand must do something urgently on reducing the amounts our agricultural industry is contributing to global warming.

Farmers argue that the country’s sheep and cows are the lowest methane emitters in the world but nearly half our total greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture.

These schemes are aimed at doing enough to get farms to our targets – by 2030 biogenic methane emissions should be cut by 10 percent on 2017 levels. By 2050 the goal is for methane emissions to be 24 to 47 percent lower than they were in 2017. . . 

Technology behind Covid wastewater testing helping farmers identify disease in herd :

A new test detects whether the bacteria responsible for Johne’s disease is present in a farm’s effluent wastewater.

The same technology used to detect Covid-19 in wastewater is now being used to help dairy farmers manage Johne’s disease in their herd, a contagious infection estimated to cost New Zealand more than $40 million in lost production each year.

Johne’s disease is caused by a bacterium which infects the gut of dairy cows and other ruminant animals. Common side effects include lower milk production, difficulty reproducing and rapid weight loss. . . 

Synlait Milk reports ‘largest ever’ loss of $28.5m :

South Island dairy company Synlait Milk has posted its forecast loss as it was hit by disruptions for its major customer, but predicted a return to “robust” profitability this year.

Key financial highlights

(compared to previous financial year)

  • Net loss $28.5m vs profit $74.3m
  • Revenue $1.37bn vs $1.30bn
  • Full year payout $7.82 vs $7.30
  • Forecast 2022 payout $8.00/kilo of milk solids

Synlait’s loss was at the top end of its forecast range of $20m-$30m as it bore the cost of sharp fall in orders for infant formula from its major customer A2 Milk.

Huge boost for local growers as Genoese Pesto moves to source all basil in NZ:

New Zealand’s number one pesto retail brand has moved to source all its basil onshore, exponentially increasing the basil-growing industry and helping sustain it through the challenge of COVID-19 Lockdowns as well as boosting the local economy.

Genoese Pesto, based in Horowhenua, had until recently obtained all the fresh basil that went into their award-winning products from Fiji, having anywhere from a few hundred kilograms to a tonne per week flown in.

However, issues around supply continuity, freight costs, biosecurity, and a concern for the environmental impact of the air miles involved led Genoese to find a New Zealand grower, securing a contract with Southern Fresh Foods in Cambridge, Waikato.

Genoese Pesto co-owner Andrew Parkin says they had been maxing out the volume of supply from the farm the business owned in Fiji, and when the first COVID-19 lockdowns occurred, they knew they needed to look for the security of supply here in New Zealand. . . 


Rural round-up

18/09/2021

Group gets go-ahead to buy Catlins station for forestry – Sally Rae:

Ingka Group — one of 12 different groups of companies that own Swedish furniture and homeware giant IKEA — has got the green light to buy a 5500ha sheep and beef station in the Catlins for forestry development.

Following recent approval by the Overseas Investment Office, an area of 330ha at Wisp Hill , in the Owaka Valley, would soon be planted with radiata pine seedlings

The long-term plan was to have a total of 3000ha — more than three million seedlings — planted in the next five years and the remaining 2200ha would ‘‘naturally regenerate into native bush’’, a statement from the company said.

Ingka Group owns about 248,000ha of forestry in the United States, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania. Between September 2019 and August 2020, Ingka Group planted close to seven million seedlings. . . 

The yo-yoing fortunes of the darling of the stock market – The Detail:

It used to be the darling of the share market, racing from 75 cents before sales of its infant milk powder took off, peaking at more than $21 last year.

But the a2 Milk Company’s meteoric rise is now tumbling, struck by complications by Covid.

Today on The Detail Emile Donovan talks to Sam Dickie, a senior portfolio manager at Fisher Funds, to talk about the company’s roller coaster ride, and how one of its greatest strengths – its unusual distribution channel – has become its greatest weakness.

Between 2017 and 2020, a2 Milk’s share price rose more than 900 percent. But over the past 13 months it has fallen by nearly 75 percent. . . 

Unhappy farmers are missing an important point – policy changes are what customers want to see – Craig Hickman:

It is much easier to say no to new ideas and just accept the status quo than it is to embrace change. Change can be scary.

Fonterra changed, it became more honest and transparent in its communication with farmers, and completely transformed the way it deals with the Government. It became better at articulating what it wants from suppliers.

Plenty of farmers don’t like this change, this new collaborative approach, and four years on they are still muttering that the dairy co-op is cosying up to the enemy.

Slowly but surely, with the odd hiccup along the way, farmer advocacy groups like Beef & Lamb, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers have adopted the same approach and given the same reasoning; it’s much more fruitful to work collaboratively with whoever is in power than to shout impotently from the sidelines. . . 

Young Farmer of the Year winners on the wealth of opportunities in ag :

On August 22, 1969, Gary Frazer from Swannanoa was crowned the inaugural Young Farmer of the Year, the same year that the first Fieldays event was launched at Te Rapa Racecourse.

Over 50 years later, the competition still stands as a staple event in the rural calendar and an opportunity for rural youth to come together and showcase their skills, knowledge, and stamina. The current and past Young Farmer of the Year, Jake Jarman and James Robertson, are young agri professionals trailblazing through the primary sector in their respective fields.

Jake Jarman gained the title, 53rd Young Farmer of the Year In July. A couple months later, Jake says the excitement surrounding his win has settled now, and he’s getting back to his normal routine, working as a Relationship Associate at ANZ in Ashburton.

“It was definitely a rollercoaster afterwards with lots of celebratory messages, interviews, emails, and what not, so now things have settled down I’ve got my life back a bit!” . .

OFI to build Tokoroa dairy plant for desserts, beverages, baked goods :

An overseas food ingredients company is planning to build a dairy processing plant in Tokoroa in south Waikato.

Singapore-based Olam Foods International (OFI) said the plant would create 50 to 60 full time jobs when fully operational.

OFI expected the first stage of the new investment would be completed in the Spring of 2023. This would involve the construction of a spray dryer facility, capable of producing high-value dairy ingredient products.

OFI has dairy operations in Russia, Uruguay and Malaysia and also grows and sources cocoa, coffee, nuts and spices from other countries. . . 

Commission releases final report on its review of Fonterra’s base milk price :

The Commerce Commission has today released its final report on Fonterra’s calculation of the base milk price it will pay farmers in the 2020/21 dairy season.

The Commission found that Fonterra’s forecast price of $7.45 – $7.65 per kilogram of milk solids for the season is calculated in a way that is likely to be consistent with the requirements of the milk price monitoring regime under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA).

The key areas of the Commission’s focus in this year’s review were two components of the cost of capital (the asset beta and specific risk premium), the appropriateness of provisions for asset stranding, and the inclusion of instantised milk powder as a reference product in the calculation of the base milk price. . . 


Rural round-up

10/09/2021

Austrian company given consent to buy 2018ha farm for forestry conversion – Rebecca Ryan:

More farmland is set to be converted into forestry in the Waitaki.

An Austrian company has been given consent to buy a 2018ha sheep and beef farm at Mount Trotter, near Palmerston.

The Overseas Investment Office approved the sale of the farm to 100% Austrian-owned company Cerberus Vermogensverwaltung GmbH, from Peter and Susan Lawson, as trustees of the Lawson Family Trust, for $8.5million.

The consent states the company intends to develop about 1524ha of the land into a commercial forest, principally in pine trees, and has received resource consent to do so. Planting is expected to start next year, and the trees would be harvested in 26 to 32 years. . . 

Flower farmers forced to bin or mulch harvest due to restrictions – Ella Stewart:

Under alert level 4 flower growers aren’t able to sell or distribute their goods. This means months of work and beautiful flowers are going straight into the bin.

On Saturday, Auckland-based flower grower Aila Morgan Guthrie took to her Instagram page to voice her frustration.

“I’ve just finished my harvest for the day and this is only one days’ harvest. It’s going to be the same tomorrow and the same after that and we’ve still got two more weeks of level 4 lockdown and we can’t sell them.

“Is there anyone out there in government or with contacts to government that can help us figure out how we can advocate for flower farmers in level 4. We’re one of the only businesses that have perishable goods that we can’t sell. All meat, fruit, veg – that can all be sold – but as for us, you know well, what do I do with this? This is all just going to go in the compost heap.” . . 

Hope tool can eliminate American Foulbrood –  Shawn McAvinue:

A new technology helping fight against a bee-killing disease is a “massive breakthrough”, an Otago apiarist says.

New Zealand Alpine Honey owner and Project CleanHive chairman Peter Ward, of Hawea, said he ran about 5000 hives across Otago, Southland and the West Coast.

The operation was one of the biggest in the South Island.

He had been beekeeping for nearly 45 years and the highly contagious American Foulbrood disease was a “constant concern”. . . 

Campaign for Wool reveals strategic direction:

Change is on the horizon and the future is bright.

That’s the message from The Campaign for Wool who has this week unveiled a dynamic short-term strategy that aims to help turn the tide on the struggles faced by New Zealand wool growers.

Campaign for Wool Chairman Tom O’Sullivan – himself a fourth-generation sheep farmer – says the strategy heralds a turning point for the wool industry, and growers should take heart. “I believe we’re at an important crossroads for strong wool,” he says. “Globally, consumers are starting to actively seek out natural and renewable products. We’re acting as quickly as we can, putting a short-term strategy in place that effectively triples our investment into the projects and resources required to leverage this sea change.”

The Campaign for Wool NZ Strategy 2021-2022 aims to deliver greater consumer awareness of wool fibre options through an integrated public campaign. “We know that when people are more aware of how wool benefits their lives, they’re more likely to purchase it,” says Tom. “That’s one way demand will grow, so an important focus for us is education and fostering a greater understanding of wool’s many qualities.” . . 

Farmers urged to enable staff to get vaccinations :

Farmers should do all they can to enable and encourage their staff to get their COVID vaccinations, Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“I know dairy farms are flat tack with calving and workforce shortages have never been worse. But there’s nothing more important than your family’s health, and that of your staff and their families.”

It would certainly help if district health boards booked a hall in some smaller towns for well-advertised-in-advance day clinics.

“If it’s possible to combine getting a jab with a trip into town for the next supermarket shop, or to pick up supplies from Farmlands or Wrightsons, try to make it happen. It’s part of being a good boss,” Chris said. . . 

Fall in dairy and forestry demand hits commodity prices :

Weakening demand for dairy and forestry exports saw commodity prices fall in August.

The ANZ Bank’s World Commodity Price Index dropped 1.6 percent last month, as dairy and wood products retreat from the extreme highs these hit earlier this year.

The dairy sub index fell 4 percent month on month, with whole milk powder, a key driver of farmer’s returns, falling 6.5 percent.

Forestry prices fell sharply, down 6.6 percent in August, as high overseas demand for logs started to ease. . . 


Rural round-up

18/07/2021

Rural living: the good, the bad and the glorious – Nicky Berger:

I never wanted to be a farmer. Growing up on a small sheep and beef farm north of Auckland, I spent many sunny afternoons in the “Pooh Bear Forest” below our house, and others learning how to handle wool from eternally patient shearers.

But I never believed it was my destiny to grow food. Instead, I spent my teenage years imagining myself working in one of the skyscrapers we would see on occasional trips into the city. When I was old enough, off to the city I went.

However, the unexpected death of my dad one sunny evening in 2004 changed everything.

Sitting at the kitchen table in my family home the following morning, I stared in wonder at ute after ute coming down our driveway, past our house, and heading over to the woolshed. . .

Images of distressed animals misleading council says :

Recent publicity surrounding intensive winter grazing in Southland has been unhelpful, the regional council says.

Images of distressed animals deep in mud have circulated on social media in recent weeks.

But Southland Regional Council chief executive Rob Phillips said some of them were not from this winter and many appeared to be taken outside of Southland.

“We want to follow up and address any poor practice, but when those circulating the images aren’t prepared to tell us where the properties are, it lets everyone down and certainly doesn’t help to improve the situation, he said. . . 

Farmers a cut above DOC in caring for Crown land – Jacqui Dean:

There’s some people who are firm in the belief that Crown land can only be properly looked after if it’s under Department of Conservation (DOC) control. In my opinion, that view is misguided and fails to recognise the state of vast tracts of land across the South Island.

I’ve spent the first half of this year visiting Crown pastoral leaseholders in the South Island to better understand the implications of the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill that’s making its way through Parliament.

This piece of legislation is touted by its proponents as a way to improve environmental outcomes. It puts an end to tenure review and places heavy-handed restrictions on the most basic of farming activities on crown lease land.

During my visits to these rugged and remote areas I’ve been able to compare high country land being farmed under a pastoral lease with nearby land under DOC administration. . . 

Farmers sent a clear message, Labour should listen:

The immense turnout to yesterday’s nationwide protests by the rural sector sent a clear message to the Government, they are fed up with Labour penalising them at every turn, Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins says.

“Yesterday farmers up and down New Zealand told the Government they wouldn’t be sitting down and taking the hits Labour is dishing out. All National MPs were with them, showing our support and how much we value the work our farmers do.

“Farmers helped New Zealand get through Covid-19, and Labour is repaying them through unworkable freshwater regulations, failing to deal with serious workforce shortages and now it’s hitting them in the wallet with a Ute Tax.

“The rural sector has rightly had enough. They’re not alone though, almost every other New Zealander is being hit in the back pocket through new taxes, rent increases and costs on businesses. . . 

 

Malaysian firm to convert Southland farm into forestry block – Shawn McAvinue:

A Malaysian company has been given consent to buy a nearly 460ha sheep and beef farm in Western Southland.

The Overseas Investment Office gave the consent to the 100% Malaysian-owned company Pine Plantations Private Ltd to buy the farm – near Tuatapere – from vendors Ayson and Karen Gill for $4 million.

The consent states the company intends to develop about 330ha of the land into a commercial forest, principally in pine trees.

Planting was intended to start in 2021-22, for the trees to be harvested in up to 30 years. . . 

City kids go bush – Sally Blundell:

It’s called real world learning: pine nut pesto, bush tea and home kill. Bush Farm Education is taking kids out of the classroom and into nature.

The classroom is a place of puddles and hay bales, trailers and tractors. Today’s lessons – fire safety, edible mushrooms and the reality of home kill.

“Just imagine if every kid in Ōtautahi Christchurch, or even New Zealand, could have a day a week out on the farm, in nature, learning about it,” says Katie Earle, founder of Bush Farm Education on Lyttelton Harbour. “It would just be incredible.”

Incredible but unlikely. A Sport New Zealand survey in 2019 found that only 7 percent of children and young people aged five–17 met the Ministry of Health guidelines of at least one hour of moderate to vigorous activity a day. Recent research by Ara Institute of Canterbury into education outside the classroom found a third of schools struggle to get students outside, citing time constraints, added paperwork, education regulations and health and safety rules. . . 

Increased demand for softwood lumber in the US and Asia will change the global trade flows of wood in the coming decade:

Softwood lumber has been in high demand in the US and Europe throughout 2021. The limited supply resulted in temporary price surges to record high levels during the spring, followed by substantial declines in early summer. The outlook for lumber demand is likely to be strong worldwide in the coming decade in most world regions, including North America and Asia. Both these regions are consistently dependent on imported wood.

Few countries in the world can significantly expand lumber exports, and Europe will play an increasingly important role as a wood supplier in the future. Tighter lumber markets will impact not just the sawmilling industry but also forest owners, pulp companies, wood panel manufacturers, and pellet producers.

The latest Focus Report: Global Lumber Markets – The Growing Role of European Lumber from Wood Resources International (WRI) and O’Kelly Acumen examines the forces driving the tightness of global lumber markets, including the demand outlook in the US and China and the supply potential from Europe, Russia, and other regions. It also analyses the possible implications of near-term changes in the lumber markets for all players in the value chain. . . 


Rural round-up

22/05/2021

Feds slam Govt’s immigration plans –  Gerald Piddock:

Federated Farmers are urging farmers with staffing shortages to write to the Government to outline the effect it was having on their businesses.

The move comes after two announcements from the Government over the past few weeks concerning immigration.

It firstly denied an application by Federated Farmers and DairyNZ to bring in 500 skilled migrants to work on dairy farms.

Instead, it approved 125 agricultural machinery operators, below the 400 that is needed. . . 

Treasury to review forestry policy – Neal Wallace:

The Government has approved the sale of 32,644ha of farmland to foreign buyers since 2018 for conversion to forestry under its special policy that encourages overseas investment into the sector.

Information provided by the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) reveals it approved through the forestry test the purchase by foreign investors of 30 livestock farms for conversion to forestry, and a further 35 existing forestry blocks covering 111,517ha.

The special forestry test was introduced in 2018 as part of the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement, which effectively streamlines the OIO process for foreign entities wanting to invest in forestry.

The policy is about to be reviewed by the Treasury, says an OIO spokesperson. . . 

South coping with the long dry – Sally Blundell :

The parched paddocks of farms on Canterbury’s Banks Peninsula have run out of moisture – nothing is growing. Farmers fear climate change has arrived and have begun adapting the way they work the land.

Tim Davie, director of science at Environment Canterbury, pauses in a stony gulley, a narrow trough between banks of browning grass. It was not what he expected to see.

“I was hoping to show you some water on the Port Hills of Banks Peninsula,” he tells Frank Film. “But there’s nothing here. Normally this pond would be full of water, up to my waist. On the western flank of Pigeon Bay, Edward Aitken of Craigforth farm walks across the parched ground of his sheep and cattle farm. The scenery is dramatic, the hills a uniform brown against a relentlessly blue sky. “These paddocks would normally have new grass and established greenfield crops. They’ve been fallow now since last November. There is absolutely no moisture in the sub-soil.” . .

Budget 2021: Federated Farmers welcome funding, Dairy NZ says it missed the mark:

Biosecurity, agricultural emissions research and farm planning were areas that received a funding boost in yesterday’s Budget.

On the agricultural emissions front, $24 million was committed to research and mitigation technology development, which could include things like methane inhibitors and the breeding of low emission animals.

Meanwhile, $37m would go towards a national farm planning system for farmers and growers, in line with the government’s plan for all farms to have written plans to measure and manage emissions by the end of 2024.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said in order to meet its climate and environmental goals, there needed to be a single, easy to use framework. . . 

Women in seed forum :

A recent turn out of women engaged in employment within the Seed Industry shows the future of diversity within the sector is looking good.

The second NZGSTA Women in Seed Forum was held at Riccarton Park Function Centre on the 19th of May and attended by 108 women from the Seed Industry. The roles of these women varied from agronomists, lab technicians, logistics roles, administrative roles, account managers, research technicians, grain traders, farmers and those passionate about the grain and seed industries.

Developed and hosted by the New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association, Executive Councillor Charlotte Connoley said “the purpose of the forum was to provide more opportunities for networking amongst women within the industry in addition to providing a platform for further discussion and collaboration around key challenges and opportunities that face the grain and seed industries.” . . 

Here Come The Girls: Cork students clinch 2021 Certified Irish Angus Schools Competition title

Five teenage girls at St Aloysius College, Carrigtwohill – who come from non-farming backgrounds – have just been crowned overall winners of the 2021 Certified Irish Angus Schools Competition.

Emily O’Donovan, Kelsey Hourigan, Helen Savage, Leah Buckley, and Rachel O’Gorman explored the topic ‘Communicating with the Consumer & Producer’ throughout the course of their 18-month project for the competition.

And, in an effort to educate consumers on the beef process, they created an App called ‘Angus Adventures’ which is available to download from Google Play.

The App focuses on the daily tasks of a farmer in an effort to inform consumers of the work and dedication required to produce Certified Irish Angus beef from farm to fork. . . 


Rural round-up

06/11/2020

Feds: staff shortages are undermining safety, mental wellbeing:

Skilled staff shortages are not only taking a toll on productivity but also farmer mental wellbeing, Federated Farmers Dairy Chair and rural health spokesperson Wayne Langford says.

“Farmers across New Zealand are having to push the limits to get silage/baleage cut, with many crops in the South Island being harvested when it’s wet.

“With variable weather conditions and a lack of skilled contracting staff, farmers are being pushed to make questionable decisions, such as pushing on with mowing because if they don’t they may not see the contractor again for weeks.” . . 

Dairy farming ‘one of the shining stars of Covid’ – ANZ :

Recent banking results show dairy farming might be one of the “shining stars” of the Covid-19 pandemic.

ANZ chief executive Antonia Watson said New Zealand’s farming sector had taken advantage of good prices for their products.

This means they were able to pay down the principal of their loans.

The problems in the dairy industry usually feature large in ANZ Bank’s full year results but they were absent from its latest annual report. . . 

Foreign investors get land purchase approval – Neal Wallace:

Two foreign-owned forestry companies have been given Government approval to buy land in multiple transactions without requiring approval for each purchase from the Overseas Investment Office.

Known as standing consent, Oji Fibre Solutions and Nelson Forests can both buy up to 15,000ha of sensitive land up to a maximum single purchase of 2500ha of land that is exclusively or nearly exclusively in forestry.

The approval also allows the two companies to buy a maximum of 500ha of land per transaction that is not currently in forestry.

The permission is capped at 25 transactions, excludes residential land and expires on 30 September 2023. . . 

Feds on labour issues as DairyNZ shelves GoDairy – Gerald Piddock:

DairyNZ’S shelving of its GoDairy campaign has shown how hard it is to recruit people into the dairy industry, Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

DairyNZ has put the dairy training initiative on hold until March as it reviews the three-week course and looks at ways it could be improved.

Federated Farmers assisted DairyNZ in getting GoDairy up and running while at the same time, launching its own scheme to get more New Zealanders onto farms.

He says those who had successfully gained employment were given starter packs from Federated Farmers and so far, 240 packs had been sent out. . . 

Feds president Andrew Hoggard elected to IDF board:

Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard is well used to representing New Zealand’s farmers. On top of that, he’ll now be representing dairy farmers from all corners of the planet on the board of the International Dairy Federation.

The Manawatu dairy farmer gets up at 4.30am to milk his herd but at least once or twice a month it’s going to be midnight or 1am starts as he joins on-line northern hemisphere meetings.

The IDF is the only organisation which represents the entire dairy value chain at global level – from farm gate to retailer fridge. Hundreds of millions of people depend on the dairy sector for their livelihoods as farmers, processors, suppliers or traders and every day billions of people consume protein, calcium and other key nutrients from milk and dairy products. . . 

Avian flu: 13,000 birds to be culled at Cheshire farm :

A total of 13,000 chickens are to be culled after an outbreak of avian influenza (bird flu) was confirmed at a Cheshire farm.

The H5N8 strain of the disease was confirmed at a broiler breeder’s premises near Frodsham on Monday (2 November).

It follows the unrelated discovery of the H5N2 low pathogenic strain of the virus at a small commercial poultry farm in Deal, Kent, where 480 birds have been culled.

Authorities said all 13,000 birds at the Frodsham premises, which produces hatching eggs, will be humanely culled to limit the spread of the disease. . . 


Rural round-up

23/12/2019

Wairoa farmland sold for forestry angers 50 Shades of Green as Shane Jones extends olive branch – Zane Small:

Shane Jones is extending an olive branch to the pro-farming community after the Government approved more farmland to be sold for forestry, saying he wants to hear their concerns. 

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) – a Government agency – has approved the sale of 1065 hectares of land in Wairoa from Craigmore (Te Puna) Limited, a company that manages various farm and forest investments in New Zealand.

The land being acquired is currently run as a sheep and beef cattle farm, with small plantings of radiata pine and manuka. The OIO approved the sale of land on the understanding it’s erosion-prone and better suited to forestry. . . .

Skills will help grow careers – Sally Rae:

From fitness to farming, Luke Fisher is relishing his career move into the primary industries.

English-born Mr Fisher, a business manager for Farmlands at its Motueka branch, has been in Dunedin for six weeks as one of two interns in the AGMARDT-AbacusBio international internship programme.

He is joined by Emma Hinton, who is business manager at Farmlands’ Leeston branch in Canterbury.

Sales Slump in the dairy sector:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 54 less farm sales (-16.1%) for the three months ended November 2019 than for the three months ended November 2018. Overall, there were 282 farm sales in the three months ended November 2019, compared to 260 farm sales for the three months ended October 2019 (+8.5%), and 336 farm sales for the three months ended November 2018. 1,295 farms were sold in the year to November 2019, 12.8% fewer than were sold in the year to November 2018, with 44.4% less Dairy farms, 1.6% less Grazing farms, 23.4% less Finishing farms and the same number of Arable farms sold over the same period. . .

River clean-up energises farmer :

Invests $18,000 of his own money to help restore river after realising the impact on waterways.

He’s a “townie” turned dairy farmer and is enthusiastically embracing the clean-up one of New Zealand’s most degraded rivers.

Gerard Vallely, a 65-year-old who, with his wife Ann, runs two dairy farms in west Otago, has set aside a sizeable chunk of his property to be developed into a wetland – and has so far spent $18,000 of his own money doing so.

The farms border two streams, tributaries of the Pomahaka River, and the land he has ‘donated’ is part of an overall project in the district to restore the river, long considered one of the country’s best fishing locations, back to health. . .

Christmas market short of peas, strawberries – David Hill:

Locally grown strawberries and peas could be missing from the Christmas dinner menu.

As he prepares for the seventh annual Sefton Christmas Harvest Market on his farm near Rangiora, North Canterbury grower Cam Booker said Christmas strawberries, raspberries and peas were in short supply.

He said there would be no homegrown strawberries on the Booker Christmas dinner table this year . . .

New Zealand Hops confirms Craig Orr as new Chief Executive:

Food and beverage industry leader, Craig Orr, is confirmed as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of New Zealand Hops Ltd (NZHL).

New Zealand Hops is a contemporary grower co-operative, based in Nelson, Tasman, the only region commercially growing hops in New Zealand. The co-operative represents the interests of 28 growers, many of whom are intergenerational families, having grown hops in the region for more than 150 years.

The co-ordination of the industry was first initiated in 1939 with the inception of the New Zealand Hop Marketing Board. . .


Rural round-up

03/11/2019

Forestry conversions rules ‘totally out of control’ – Kate Newton:

Wealthy European buyers have snapped up four more sheep and beef farms to convert to forestry, as rural concerns over the sales ramp up.

Overseas Investment Office (OIO) decisions made in September and released today show the sales total more than 2200 hectares of land previously owned by New Zealanders, in Gisborne, Wairoa and Whangarei.

The new owners plan to plant 1600 hectares of the land as commercial forests.

Austrian count Johannes Trauttmansdorff-Weinsberg, who purchased two other sheep and beef farms for forestry conversion in August, is the purchaser of two of the latest properties. . .

Farmers given breathing space on ETS but stress remains – Jo Moir:

The government’s “world-first” agreement with farmers on emissions means some farmers are grateful for the breathing space, but for others it’s just one less thing to worry about.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the agreement with farmers last week, putting agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme from 2025 – with a 95 percent discount rate.

Ms Ardern said the plan would give farmers autonomy over their own businesses. . .

Flying under the rural radar – Colin Williscroft:

The Women of Influence Awards often recognise women who contribute a lot but are not household names and this year’s rural winner fits that description, as Colin Williscroft found out.

Environmental planner and independent Resource Management Act hearings commissioner Gina Mohi was recently named the rural winner in the Women of Influence Awards.

The judges praised Mohi’s work balancing competing tensions around the productive use of land while having appropriate measures in place to manage environmental and cultural impacts on natural resources. . .

Look ahead with farm confidence – Annette Scott:

A programme to help sheep and beef farming partners plan for their future and adapt to change will next year extend to 20 rural centres.

The two-month Future Focus business planning programme, set up in 2017, equips farming partnerships to set a future path for their businesses, develop systems to achieve goals and lead their teams to success. 

The programme, delivered by the Agri-Women’s Development Trust to more than 130 sheep and beef farmers this year, will reach 320 farmers in 2020 with continued support from the Red Meat Profit Partnership. . .

Annual appointment for a trim but it’s no beauty treatment – Tracy Roxburgh:

Ladies, picture this if you will.

It’s been a long, cold winter and along with the extra layer of insulation you’ve acquired on your body, you’ve decided, to help keep yourself warm, to instigate a self-ban on your regular beauty therapy appointments.

But the sun actually has warmth in it now.

And very soon everyone’s going to be walking around in their next-to-nothings (undies, undies, togs, undies) so it would behove you to, well, sort yourself out.
Like, ASAP if not sooner. . .

 

North Canterbury farmer to represent New Zealand in Switzerland:

A young North Canterbury man will represent New Zealand at an international gathering of dairy farmers in Switzerland.

Robbie Wakelin, 28, has been selected to attend the 15th World Holstein Friesian Federation Conference in Montreux.

He was one of a record 17 people who were vying for the fortnight-long trip, which is being funded by Holstein Friesian NZ.

“It’s a really humbling experience to have been selected to be part of the New Zealand delegation,” he said. . .

 


Rural round-up

08/07/2019

Katie Milne addresses national conference:

Kiwis can be proud of the rural women and men who produce the top quality food that arrives daily in supermarkets, and the extra which is shipped offshore as exports that help fuel our economy.  Over 65% of our exports come from agricultural food production and we produce it with a lower carbon footprint than any other country in the world.  

Biosecurity threats, geopolitics, alternative proteins, robotics, disruptors, food and environment sustainability…there’s no shortage of challenges and change confronting us. 

But you should also know – especially if you’ve been fortunate enough to catch some of the keynote addresses and panel discussions of the inaugural Primary Industries Summit that Federated Farmers organised and has hosted Monday and Tuesday – that New Zealand also has a wealth of ideas, talent and drive to deal with these big issues coming at us. . .

Tougher bank capital rules could slice 10% from dairy profits – Rabo NZ – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Stricter bank capital requirements would severely dent dairy farm profits if the Reserve Bank goes ahead as planned, warn dairy interests in submissions on the contentious proposals.

“Our initial estimates are that the proposals could – at least in the short term – result in approximately a 10 percent decrease in profit for the agriculture sector,” Rabobank New Zealand said in its submission. . .

Trees replace top cattle – Annette Scott:

As far north as sale yards get in New Zealand the Broadwood selling centre in Northland hosted one of the country’s more notable capital stock clearing sales last week.

On behalf of Mark and Michelle Hammond of Herekino, Carrfields Livestock held the sale of a Hereford beef herd that put 50 years of top-quality genetics under the hammer, the animals’ grazing land destined for pine trees. . .

Ruapehu rural reading scheme spells out a winning idea  –  Katie Doyle:

A pair of librarians from the central North Island town of Taumarunui are bringing a love of reading to rural school children.

Fiona Thomas and Libby Ogle have started their very own mobile library – each month ferrying a load of books to two isolated primary schools in the Ruapehu District.

The idea came to life eighteen months ago when Mrs Thomas realised some kids in the region couldn’t access the library because they lived too away. . .

Blue Sky reports best result in 8 years – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Southland meat processor and marketer Blue Sky Meats says the year to March was its best result in eight years as a strategic plan bore fruit.

The company, which is due to release its annual report shortly, said the March financial year ended with revenue up by 34 percent to a record $140 million. Pre-tax profit was up 36 percent at $5 million. . .

Overseas investors fined almost $3 million for illegal purchase of Auckland properties:

The High Court yesterday ordered the overseas owners of two rural properties at Warkworth, north of Auckland, to pay $2.95 million to the Crown after an Overseas Investment Office (OIO) investigation found they were bought without consent. The properties were bought in 2012 and 2014.

The court ordered the owners to sell the properties and pay penalties, costs and the gain made on the investment.

The overseas owners – Chinese businessmen Zhongliang Hong and Xueli Ke, and IRL Investment Limited and Grand Energetic Company Limited – should have applied to the OIO for consent to buy both properties because they are rural land of more than five hectares. . .

Latest technology to be demonstrated at the Horticulture Conference 2019:

Technology that will help fruit and vegetable growers now and in the future will be demonstrated at Our Food Future, the Horticulture Conference 2019 between 31 July and 2 August at Mystery Creek, Hamilton.   

‘We’ve gone all out to ensure that this year’s conference features demonstrations of technology that can help growers tackle some of the challenges that they face,’ says Horticulture New Zealand Chief Executive, Mike Chapman. 

‘From biological control products for crop protection to robots for asparagus harvesting and greenhouse spraying, they will all be demonstrated during the morning of second day of the conference.  . .

Ben Richards becomes Bayer Marlborough Young Viticulturist of Year 2019:

Ben Richards from Indevinbecame the Bayer MarlboroughYoung Viticulturist of the Year 2019 on 4 July following the competition held at Constellation’s Drylands Vineyard.

Congratulations also to Jaimee Whitehead from Constellation for coming second and Dan Warman also from Constellation for coming third. . 


H word and F word

03/07/2019

In opposition the three parties now in government were opposed to foreign ownership of farmland.

In government they have made it so much harder for foreigners to buy farms to farm it’s almost impossible for them to do so. But the hoops the overseas buyers have to go through to buy farms to convert to forestry are much lower.

That means would-be foreign buyers are very, very unlikely to get Overseas Investment Office approval to buy distressed dairy or sheep and beef farms, even with plans, and both the ability and funds, to  improve them.

But the same buyers would be Almost certain to get OIO approval to buy those same farms if they intended to turn them into forests.

Overseas interests already own 70% of New Zealand forestry.

Making it much easier to buy farms to plant trees than to raise stock, for arable farming or horticulture,  will mean even more forestry is foreign owned.

Forestry is becoming an F word among farmers and rural communities concerned about the environmental, economic and social impacts of the rapid afforestation of productive farmland.

They can rightly apply the  H word – hypocrisy – to Labour, New Zealand First and Green Parties for their policy of making it easier for overseas purchasers to do this.

But wait there’s more.

These overseas entities will be able to offset their carbon emissions in their homelands, or from investments in other countries, with the trees they plant here.

It’s very tempting to use another F word to express my feelings about this.


Rural round-up

25/06/2019

Farmers have a tough time ahead let’s stand with them – Tom O’Connor:

The message from environment campaigner Guy Salmon of the need to adapt farming operations to avoid an eventual environmental catastrophe is not new.

It has been repeated many times in many ways by a growing number of far sighted people for several decades. For most of that time many of these people have been pilloried and ridiculed by those with vested interests or others who refused or were unable to understand the consequences of accelerated climate change.       

When Salmon told a conference of the Waikato Small Milk and Supply Herds Group at Lake Karapiro recently, unlike previous generations of dairy farmers, many of those in attendance would have been well aware of what he was talking about and the situation they face but unsure how to prepare for it. . . 

Farm credits on table – Neal Wallace:

The Government is considering letting farmers use riparian planting and shelter belts to offset their greenhouse gas emissions.

To qualify now, vegetation must meet area, height and canopy cover criteria which primary sector leaders claim favours plantation forestry and ignores the carbon sequestering function of most farmland.

Livestock and horticulture sector representatives have been lobbying the Government to broaden the definition, saying New Zealand needs every available tool to meet the goal of being carbon neutral by 2050 . . .

OIO review brought forward a year – Neal Wallace:

The Government has brought forward by a year a review into the screening of foreign forestry investors in response to concerns from rural leaders that large-scale tree planting is destroying communities.

The review was to be started by October next year but Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has confirmed it has already started and will look at the impact of Government changes to the Overseas Investment Act to identify any areas of concern.

The changes streamlined the vetting by the Overseas Investment Office of foreign forestry companies to reflect the fact about 75% of forest companies operating in New Zealand are owned by offshore entities. . . 

Leading food industry figures point to a positive future for New Zealand red meat:

Listen to the episode of Let’s Talk Food NZ podcast feature discussion panel HERE. Download images of the event HERE.

Last night, an expert panel made up of scientists and food industry experts were tasked with tackling the challenging question; Does New Zealand-produced red meat have a role in a healthy and sustainable diet?

Hosted by the Northern Club in Auckland in front of a crowd of food writers, nutritionists, dietitians and other interested parties, the panel covered a range of topics addressing whether we can meet the nutritional needs of exponential population growth, whilst working within the sustainable limits of planetary health.

The discussion was facilitated by NZ Herald journalist and editor-at-large of the Healthy Food Guide, Niki Bezzant who was joined by Dr Denise Conroy, Senior Scientist at Plant & Food Research; Dr Mike Boland, Principle Scientist at the Riddet Institute; Dr Mark Craig, a Auckland-based GP advocating a whole food, plant-based diet; Jeremy Baker, Chief Insights Officer for Beef + Lamb New Zealand Ltd; and Angela Clifford, CEO of Eat New Zealand. . . 

Ballance partners with Hiringa for Kapuni hydrogen project – Gavin Evans

(BusinessDesk) – Ballance Agri-Nutrients is to develop 16 MW of wind generation at its Kapuni site as part of a plan to produce renewable hydrogen there.

The fertiliser maker has partnered with Hiringa Energy to develop the $50 million project at its site in southern Taranaki.

Up to four large wind turbines would provide a 100 percent renewable power supply for the existing plant and to power a series of electrolysers to produce high-purity hydrogen, either for feedstock for the plant or to supply zero-emission trucking fuel. . .

 

Open letter to the non-agricultural community – John Gladigau:

Hi

We need to talk.

Firstly – apologies to you, because we are not always that good at doing this. We all too easily get defensive, up in arms and occasionally confrontational when we are challenged, accused or criticised. The thing is, we get a little sick of being called uneducated and ignorant when we have a lifetime of experience and many of us have qualifications which are similar to (or even exceed) our city cousins. It hurts us when people tells us we are cruel to animals, don’t care for the future of the planet and are blasé about food safety whereas for the majority of us the opposite is true. It frustrates us when people with little agricultural knowledge or experience lecture us on social media about the dangers of chemicals, our contribution to a changing climate, soil health, genetic modification and more when we have spent a lifetime working in, studying, experiencing and developing strategies to not only benefit our businesses, families and communities – but also those we produce for that we don’t even know. . . 

 


Rural round-up

05/06/2019

Climate change burden, benefits must be spread fairly – Gavin Evans:

 (BusinessDesk) – Setting stringent climate change targets without understanding their cost or feasibility risks placing an unfair burden on some sectors, climate change professor David Frame says.

Moving New Zealand to a net-zero carbon economy will have benefits but also real costs and it is important both are shared across the community. That will probably require creative approaches from region to region and from sector to sector, he said at the New Zealand Minerals Forum in Dunedin last week.

Policymakers need to focus on emissions – rather than the resources they come from – and find a way to broaden the discussion beyond electorally-easy targets like heavy industry and coal. Agriculture also receives a lot of pressure that “isn’t really justified,” he said. . . 

New way to work out who’s who in the paddock – Sally Rae:

How do ewe tell one sheep from another?

Greg Peyroux and Benoit Auvray, the co-founders of Dunedin-based Iris Data Science, might well have the answer.

They have been working on sheep facial recognition to cheaply re-identify sheep, potentially removing the need for ear-tags while also solving other farm management and broader issues.

While facial recognition had been developed for cattle in the United States and pigs in China, the pair were not aware of anybody doing it for sheep.

Sheep face images were collected and fed into a machine-learning model. . . 

 

Danone cleared to indirectly hold up to 65% of Yashili NZ –  Rebecca Howard:

June 4 (BusinessDesk) – Danone SA can indirectly hold up to 65 percent of Yashili New Zealand Dairy Co after its Danone Asia Pacific unit got a green light from the Overseas Investment Office to purchase up to 49 percent of the local dairy processor.

“The applicant has satisfied the OIO that the individuals who will control the investment have the relevant business experience and acumen and are of good character. The applicant has also demonstrated financial commitment to the investment,” the OIO said in a statement. . . 

Cherry exporter announces major Cromwell investment:

New Zealand Cherry Corp is expanding its operations and investment in Cromwell.

NZ Cherry Corp is a long established, locally owned Cromwell business. Its 32ha cherry block is the largest netted orchard in New Zealand. During cherry season it employs up to 500 staff and harvests up to 800 tonnes of cherries. It exports to 10 countries.

Director Paul Croft says following the recent purchase of a 244ha block of farmland adjacent to its existing orchard, NZ Cherry Corp is doubling the size of its orchard and turning 4ha into worker accommodation. . . 

 

Dairy export volumes advance to new record:

Dairy export volumes hit a new high after rising 19 percent in the March 2019 quarter, adjusted for seasonal effects, Stats NZ said today.

While dairy volumes were strong in the quarter, actual dairy prices fell 7.5 percent. That means dairy values rose only 9.5 percent, seasonally adjusted.

Dairy products are New Zealand’s top goods export, accounting for more than a quarter of the value of all goods exported in the March quarter. . . 

Shareholders back Primary Wool Co-Operative, providing strong support for the organisation’s future:

Primary Wool Co-Operative (PWC) shareholders have placed their organisation on an extremely strong footing for the future, providing overwhelming support for two key resolutions at the co-operative’s 44th annual general meeting.

Farmer shareholders voted in favour of maintaining PWC’s 50% shareholding in CP Wool, as well as over 98% supporting a constitutional change enabling a capital raise to back CP Wool’s five year strategic plan at the meeting in Dannevirke on May 23. . . 

Caring for stock in wild winter weather:

With winter now starting to bite, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is reminding pastoral livestock farmers of their animal welfare responsibilities, whether animals are kept at home or sent off-farm to graze.

“This time of year can be challenging for farmers, with wet and muddy conditions increasing risks to the welfare of their livestock,” says Kate Littin, Manager Animal Welfare.

“Many farmers, particularly in Southland and Otago, choose to break feed stock on crop over the winter months. It’s a great way to provide food for animals and protect pastures, but does require careful planning and good stockmanship to avoid welfare risks that wet weather can bring. . . 

Rural credit squeeze putting pressure on farmers:

Rural credit squeeze putting pressure on farmers access to capital.

Dairy farmers who are currently facing the two major challenges of falling land prices alongside increasingly restrictive access to capital are being encouraged to focus on a robust budgeting process and get on the front foot with their bank manager.

Findex Head of Agribusiness Hayden Dillon said “access to funding is becoming more of an issue, despite the good payout and this is putting some farmers under pressure” . . 


Rural round-up

09/04/2019

Intensive forestry creates ‘too many environmental risks’ – lawyer – Kate Gudsell:

The rules governing forestry are too light and need to be reviewed, environmental groups say.

The National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry came into force in May last year but are about to be reviewed by the government.

The Environmental Defence Society and Forest and Bird decided to conduct joint analysis because of increasing public concern about the impacts of commercial forestry in light of events like Tologa Bay last year.

An estimated one million tonnes of logs and debris was left strewn on properties and roads on the East Coast during two bouts of heavy rainfall in June last year.

Farmers put the cost of the damage in the millions of dollars. . . 

Overseas Investment Office approves Craigmore $52m apple orchard investment – Gerard Hutching:

Foreign investors headed by New Zealand management have been given the green light by the Overseas Investment Office to buy two horticultural properties after being rebuffed last year over a bid to buy a kiwifruit and avocado orchard.

Craigmore Sustainables has received permission to buy 479 hectares of sensitive land inland of Waipukurau in Hawke’s Bay and 59 ha near Gisborne. They will invest $52 million to develop apple orchards on the properties. . . 

Mustering tradition continues – Sally Rae:

The likes of helicopters and, latterly, even drones, have replaced horses for mustering on many properties in New Zealand’s back country. But in remote South Westland, traditions remain alive and well, as agribusiness reporter Sally Rae reports. 

Mustering in the remote and beautiful Cascade Valley in South Westland can come with its challenges.

But for Haast-based farmers Maurice and Kathleen Nolan, those challenges were amplified as they prepared for today’s Haast calf sale.

The sale is a major calendar event for the Nolans, a name synonymous with South Westland since the family arrived at Jackson Bay, south of Haast, in 1876. . . 

DairyNZ Schools website launched:

DairyNZ has launched a new website for teachers, giving them free, curriculum-based learning resources to help children learn about dairy farming.

The new website, called DairyNZ Schools, is part of DairyNZ’s in-school education programme. The programme is designed to ensure New Zealand school children get the opportunity to learn about dairying.

Learning resources

The website has learning resources for teachers of children from Year 2 to Year 11. The resources are free to download and teachers can filter resources by year level or subject area. . .

Course closures make farming a tough industry to crack – Esther Taunton:

Young people looking for farm jobs are being hampered by dwindling training options but farmers can help fill the void, Federated Farmers says.

Taranaki teenager Braydon Langton said on Friday he had been turned down by dozens of potential farm employers because of inexperience.

He said it was frustrating to hear farmers repeatedly complaining about a worker shortage but being unwilling to invest time in eager young people.

Chris Lewis, Federated Farmers’ spokesman for tertiary and workplace skills and training, said he sympathised with Langton and other young people in his situation. . . 

Sales of Southland dairy farms down on past years

While there is still a good selection of dairy farms available in Southland, there have only been a limited number of sales in the province compared to previous years, according to the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand.

Despite this, the REINZ said in its March monthly sales data release that two sales in Southland of larger dairy units were significant in terms of total price involved and there was a good level of activity on finishing properties

In Otago, there was restrained activity in the drystock sector where prices eased 10% to 15%, with reports of capital constraints from banks making finance difficult to obtain and therefore harder to get transactions together. . . 


Rural round-up

06/02/2019

Could turning aquifers into managed reservoirs prevent water shortages and seawater contamination?  – Nikki Macdonald:

It seems the neatest of solutions: take the winter water that rages, unneeded, to the sea, put it in a great underground tank, and drag it out again as the summer dry threatens to brown the grass and suck the life out of parched apples, lettuces, peas.

Managed aquifer recharge is the new buzz phrase in the search for answers to New Zealand’s twin problems of increasingly scarce water and weed-choked rivers toxic enough to kill fish.

Proponents tout it as a potential solution to everything from aquifers being sucked dry by irrigation to nitrogen pollution to seawater contamination of drinking water supplies. But critics say it could actually worsen New Zealand’s water pollution problems. . .

Slaughtered cattle dumped in WhanganuI puts spotlight on stock theft bill  – Liz Wylie:

The remains of two slaughtered cattle have been found dumped at Languard Bluff in Whanganui following numerous reports of livestock thefts and moves to introduce tougher penalties for those convicted of such crimes.

Spotted by passersby early yesterday morning, the remains appeared to be fresh and there was still a considerable amount of meat on the bones.

Stock thefts have long been a concern for Rangitīkei MP Ian McKelvie who has introduced a private member’s bill in Parliament to seek tougher penalties for those caught. . .

NZ commodity prices have strong start to 2019  – Rebecca Howard:

New Zealand commodity prices rose in January, arresting the downward trend of the past seven months, ANZ Bank’s monthly commodity price index shows.

The world price index rose 2.1 percent last month but was down 2.1 percent from a year earlier. In local currency terms, the index rose 2.9 percent on the month and 3.8 percent on the year. ..

Vertical farming is not the answer: New Zealand food security in jeopardy at current urbanisation levels – Pearly Neo:

A New Zealand report has revealed that the country’s horticultural industry and food security could face increasing challenges if it intends to rely on vertical farming to replace crops lost to a lack of land post-urbanisation.

This is mainly because vertical farming requires high investment costs, particularly when it comes to paying for electricity to provide suitable artificial conditions for crop growth. . . 

Honey NZ commits to 5 year Manuka planting programme:

One of New Zealand’s largest producers of Manuka honey has committed to plant at least 360,000 Manuka seedlings in the first half of this year, creating what it claims will be one of the biggest privately-owned Manuka plantations worth millions to the country’s future economy.

Auckland based Honey New Zealand has recently added 4,000 acres of land to its owned supply chain in a remote region of native bushland near the town of Taupo. . . 

Nelson Forests’ acquisition of Manuka Island estate confirmed by Overseas Investment Office:

OneFortyOne (OFO) has received confirmation that the Overseas Investment Office has approved Nelson Forests’ acquisition of Manuka Island estate in New Zealand. The completion date for the purchase will be mid-late February.

The Manuka Island estate, currently owned by Merrill and Ring, is approximately 2000 hectares of forest in the Wairau Valley near Blenheim. . .

Comment from Grant Rosewarne, CEO of New Zealand King Salmon:

I stand by the statement that finfish aquaculture has the potential to become New Zealand’s most valuable industry and its greenest primary industry. Salmon farming is one of the most efficient forms of animal food production in the world, and we categorically affirm that our farms are managed in balance with the environment.

The NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers have misunderstood a lot of New Zealand King Salmon’s farming practices and have made the mistake of assuming that fish farming in other countries can be directly compared to New Zealand. The article makes allegations about our farming practices that are unsubstantiated and incorrect. . .


Rural round-up

21/08/2018

Anti-glyphosate zealots want ag to use more fuel, chemicals and cut food output – Tim Burrow:

Sensationalist headlines about glyphosate have been plastered across media worldwide for the past week.

This followed the decision of a Brazilian court ruled to suspend the registration of glyphosate until national health regulatory agency completes a toxicological re-evaluation – which could take a couple of years.

Within days of the that ruling, the Californian Superior Court ruled that Monsanto was liable in a lawsuit filed by a man who alleged the company’s glyphosate-based products caused his cancer. . . 

Dedication to fruit industry recognised – Yvonne O’Hara:

Earnscy Weaver has been a familiar figure in the Central Otago horticultural scene all his life.

His contribution as a consultant, research liaison officer, industry body board member and leader was recognised when he was made a life member of Horticulture New Zealand at its conference last month.

However, he was in the United States talking to orchardists about recent developments with cherries, and will receive the award later.

He was delighted with the honour and was pleased as it also acknowledged the support of his wife Irene and family. . . 

Cookie Time founder Michael Mayell bets on a future of hemp – Aimee Shaw:

After 35 years in the biscuit business, Cookie Time founder Michael Mayell is heading in a new food direction: hemp seeds.

The snack food maker turned social entrepreneur is now advocating a future of hemp smoothies and other edibles.

Christchurch-based Mayell founded Cookie Time in 1983, aged 21, and has been on a “food journey” ever since.

His foray into hemp followed three months of researching the future of food. He’s now hooked. . . 

 

Why is Fonterra so bad at international ventures? – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s recently appointed Chair John Monaghan, in announcing the appointment of interim CEO Miles Hurrell, said that Fonterra wants to pause and reassess the way ahead.  This could be a breath of fresh air.  It needs to be a wind of change.

A starting question has to be why has Fonterra been doing so badly with its international ventures. This includes both international processing of milk and marketing of consumer-branded products. In the case of China, it also includes farming.

The so-called Fonterra Communications Division, but in reality the Fonterra Propaganda Division, has done a stalwart job over many years of painting over the cracks. But even those skilled operators have been unable to cover up some of the recent messes, particularly in China, but also elsewhere. . . 

OneFortyOne purchase of Nelson Forests confirmed by Overseas Investment Office:

OneFortyOne (OFO) has received confirmation that the Overseas Investment Office has approved its purchase of Nelson Forests. The completion date for the purchase will be Tuesday the 4th of September 2018.

Nelson Forests, currently owned by investment funds advised by Global Forest Partners LP, is a vertically-integrated plantation and sawmill business in the Nelson Tasman and Marlborough regions of New Zealand.

“We are very pleased that approval has been granted by OIO. The decision is important, providing certainty for the Nelson Forests’ team, customers, the region and the broader NZ forest industry. We look forward to being a strong contributor to the region,” said OFO’s Chief Executive Officer, Linda Sewell. . . 

Manawatu agtech start-up raises $900k seed investment:

A Palmerston North-based start-up company, Koru Diagnostics, has had impressive success with its first funding round.

Koru, which is developing cost-effective laboratory and rapid farmside tests, was substantially oversubscribed when it closed its seed funding round recently with close to a million dollars.

CEO, Rhys McKinlay, is very happy with the outcome. “We raised over $900k, mostly from angel investors, which will give us a commercialisation runway through until late 2019. These funds will be directed towards product development and commercial scale-up, protecting our IP and securing new commercial partnerships,” he says. . .

Horticulture signs up to prestigious Ahuwhenua Trophy:

Horticulture today signed up to be part of the prestigious Ahuwhenua Trophy Te Puni Kōkiri Excellence in Māori Farming Award, which recognise excellence in Māori farming.

Today, Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman and Kingi Smiler, Chairman of the Ahuwhenua Management Committee, signed an agreement that will see a horticulture Ahuwhenua Trophy in 2020. Each year the awards recognise a farming sector and horticulture will be on a third year rotation, after dairy (2018) and sheep and beef (2019). . . 

New Queenstown wine tour company will capitalise on booming industry:

With local family and tourism connections dating back three generations, a Kiwi couple are looking to make their mark on the booming Queenstown wine tourism industry.

Husband-and-wife to be Emma Chisholm and Lee Saunders have launched Alpine Wine Tours, a new wine experience offering unique, personalised and ‘adult-only’ experiences for every wine-lover.

Central Otago’s wine tourism industry is heading into a boom period, following research by Tourism New Zealand and New Zealand winegrowers showing that around 25% of international tourists seek out a wine experience, (increasing to 42% for those who visit to cycle or play golf). . . 


Rural round-up

03/08/2018

Trump farm policy is pure socialism – Liam Dann:

How embarrassing for US farmers. How embarrassing for Republican believers in small government.

Donald Trump’s administration this week unveiled US$12 billion worth of farm subsidies.

In doing so it took a bold leap back to the days of socialist inefficiency that New Zealand has pushed back against for more than 30 years. . .

Feds: unfair to short-change South Canterbury on representation:

As Environment Canterbury’s largest constituency by far, covering an area with significant water quality and quantity issues, South Canterbury should not be short-changed on its number of councillors, Federated Farmers says.

South Canterbury deserves to be represented around the ECan table by two councillors not just one, the three Canterbury provinces of Federated Farmers have said in submissions on the ECan representation proposal.

“At more than 18,000 square kilometres, the South Canterbury is one third again the size of the two other rural constituencies,” Federated Farmers South Canterbury President Jason Grant says. . .

High calibre candidates for High Country Advisory Group

The Chief Executive of Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) today announced the members of the new South Island High Country Advisory Group.

Andrew Crisp says he was delighted with the number of applications and was pleased at the value so many people saw in working together with government through the group.

“In just four weeks we had 33 applications, demonstrating how passionately people feel about this iconic area,” says Mr Crisp. . .

Warning over potentially infectious bacteria carried by cattle – Katie Doyle:

Taranaki District Health Board is urging rural communities to be on the alert for bacteria carried in by cattle that can be passed on to humans.

Verotoxin-producing E coli is a bacteria carried in the intestines of cattle, which when passed onto children can cause severe gastroenteritis.

DHB medical officer of health Jonathan Jarman said children on farms were at a high risk of catching the disease, with nearly half of cases ending up in hospital. . . 

Sustainability attributes set to play increasing role in Chinese food choices – NZ hort industry informed:

New Zealand’s horticultural sector will need to keep a close eye on the role sustainability attributes play in the purchasing decisions of Chinese consumers if it is to maximise returns from the rapidly-growing Chinese fruit and vegetable market, according to Rabobank’s senior horticultural analyst Hayden Higgins.

Speaking at the Horticulture New Zealand Conference in Christchurch last week, Mr Higgins said, while food safety, quality and nutrition credentials were currently the most significant factors influencing Chinese consumers’ food purchasing decisions, awareness of other product characteristics, including sustainability attributes, such as water usage and emissions, was growing. . .

 

OIO approves land sale near Arthur’s Pass to Czech businessman

The Overseas Investment Office has approved the sale of more than 40,000 hectares of South Island high country land to a Czech businessman, Lukas Travnicek, who has permanent New Zealand residence.

The land in question is Mount White Station, a 120-year-old sheep and beef station near Arthur’s Pass.

It includes 39,337 hectares of Crown pastoral lease and 678 hectares of freehold land in Bealey. . .

Craggy Range Vineyards gets green light to expand from OIO – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Craggy Range Vineyards has been given a green light to buy 132 hectares of land in the Wairarapa for $3.6 million.

The purchase will let the Australian-owned company expand its existing Martinborough vineyard, which is about a kilometre away, the Overseas Investment Office said. . .

Onerahi forest garden celebrates three years of feeding the community :

It started out as a messy bit of land behind Whangārei Airport.

Now the Wai Ariki Food Forest Onerahi-rahi, on the corner of Whimp Ave and Church St, Onerahi, has celebrated its third birthday after countless volunteer hours has it producing fruit and veges for the community.

Wendy Giffin, from the forest garden, said Saturday’s birthday celebrations were an indication of how far the garden has come in the three years since it started as a community vision. . .

Lewis Road cuts plastic production for milk bottles:

Premium dairy brand Lewis Road Creamery has announced it will move to recycled (rPET) bottles for its milk range from the end of August as part of its commitment to the New Zealand Packaging Declaration, committing to 100 percent of its packaging being recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025 or earlier.

Lewis Road is the first milk producer in the country to change to rPET bottles which are made from entirely recycled plastic. This means no new plastic is created to produce the bottles, which can then be continuously recycled. . .

 

To feed the world sustainably, repair the soil – David R. Montgomery:

New technologies and genetically modified crops are usually invoked as the key to feeding the world’s growing population. But a widely overlooked opportunity lies in reversing the soil degradation that has already taken something like a third of global farmland out of production. Simple changes in conventional farming practices offer opportunities to advance humanity’s most neglected natural infrastructure project—returning health to the soil that grows our food.

It is critical we do so. In 2015, a U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization report concluded that ongoing soil degradation reduces global harvests by a third of a percent each year under conventional farming practices. In some parts of the U.S. I’ve visited, the rich black topsoil that settlers once plowed is gone, eroded away leaving farmers tilling anemic subsoil. . .


Rural-round-up

26/06/2018

New Zealand primary sector nervous over prospect of trade wars – Jamie Gray:

New Zealand’s primary sector is viewing the rising tide of global trade protectionism with trepidation, but escalating trade tensions between the United States and China have yet to spill over into this country’s main exports.

Primary sector and trade representatives welcomed last week’s launch of trade talks with the EU as positive step.

At the time, European Union trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström voiced concerns about trade issues that have plagued markets in recent weeks after the US Donald Trump administration imposed steel and aluminium tariffs and the US and China stepped up their war of words. . . 

Guy Trafford traces the implications for agricultural trade flows from the game of poker the US is playing with China. All sides are vulnerable, even those not directly involved – Guy Trafford:

President Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping are involved in a high stakes game of poker. Trump played the first hand with a $5 0billion tariff card. Xi Jinping immediately matched it with a similar call and put tariffs on US products, namely sorghum and soya beans.

Trump then matched and raised the stakes by increasing the tariffs to another $200 billion with the threat that if China matched this then another raise to $450 billion would be played.

This threat would put tariffs on over 90% of China’s exports to the US. . . 

Clampdown on foreign farm buyers scares off investors with ‘tens of millions’ in funds, agents say – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – The government’s directive to the Overseas Investment Office to raise the bar in overseas applications to buy sensitive New Zealand land has scared away tens of millions of dollars in investments in rural property and will hurt farm values, real estate firms say.

The ministerial directive in a letter from Finance Minister Grant Robertson last November to Land Information NZ chief Andrew Crisp said the government is concerned to ensure any benefits from overseas investment in rural land “are genuinely substantial and identifiable” and economic benefits must be considered alongside environmental, social and cultural goals. Owning sensitive New Zealand assets was “a privilege, not a right.” The directive came into effect on Dec. 15 last year. . . 

Foreign farm buyer applications withdrawn in the past 12 months have tripled, OIO figures show – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – The rate at which potential foreign buyers of New Zealand farms subsequently withdrew their applications to the Overseas Investment Office tripled in the past 12 months, OIO figures show.

The data captures the period since the government’s directive to the OIO to tighten rules for overseas applications to buy sensitive New Zealand land (which means any farmland over 5 hectares). The ministerial directive in a letter from Finance Minister Grant Robertson last November to Land Information NZ chief Andrew Crisp said the government aims to ensure any benefits from overseas investment in rural land “are genuinely substantial and identifiable” and economic benefits must be considered alongside environmental, social and cultural goals. Owning sensitive New Zealand assets was “a privilege, not a right.” The directive came into effect on Dec. 15 last year. . . 

Bayer Hawke’s Bay Young Viticulturist of the Year 2018 announced:

Congratulations to Jonathan Hunt from Delegats, Crownthorpe Vineyard, who became the Bayer Hawke’s Bay Young Viticulturist of the Year 2018 on Thursday 21st June.

This is the third year Hunt has competed and he is thrilled to have won the title and to be going on to represent Hawke’s Bay in the National Final.

Congratulations also goes to Nick Putt from Villa Maria who came second and Grace Petrie from Trinity Hill who came third. . . 

Creative tea and coffee trends good news for NZ dairy:

It’s tea, but not as you know it. Right now people are adding more than just milk and sugar to their cuppa’s and Fonterra is set to meet the demand for adventurous tea and coffee drinks around the world.

Beverages made with yoghurt, topped with cream cheese and mixed with cream are growing in popularity, leading Fonterra to establish a new channel within its Global Foodservice business, Beverage House.

Almost 600 million cups of tea and coffee are consumed out-of-home daily in the Asia Pacific region, a 22% increase on five years ago. . . 

Report Provides Zero Carbon Solution:

Smoke free, plastic free but, more significantly, tillage free.

A report to the Productivity Commission is recommending “bold action” to eliminate tillage or ploughing within the next five to 10 years and replace it with low disturbance no-tillage.

Every time soil is tilled through conventional methods, it releases huge quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere which contribute to global warming.

While the government has introduced a Zero Carbon Bill, it has overlooked the impact of cultivation which causes up to 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and the report challenges the Minister, James Shaw, through the Productivity Commission, to do something about it. . . 

In dairy, a cutthroat U.S. business versus a Canadian cartel – Jerry Zremski:

A little comparison shopping goes a long way toward explaining why President Trump decided to wage a trade war with Canada.

A gallon of milk cost $2.89 at the Tops Friendly Supermarket on Niagara Street last week, while the same product at the Avonmart on Garrison Road in Fort Erie cost $3.35 in American dollars. And Fort Erie shoppers are getting a bargain: According to Numbeo, a crowd-sourced comparison price guide, the average cost for a gallon of milk throughout Canada is $6.32 in American dollars, nearly twice the U.S. price.

And it’s all because the United States and Canada operate their dairy industries in ways that are as different as a bald eagle and a maple leaf. . . 

World Desertification Day: Stories of Resilience from Somalia :

In observation of World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, delve into four stories of resilience from desert lands in Somalia. Meet two farmers and two female entrepreneurs, who—supported by the Somalia Emergency Drought Response and Recovery Project (SEDRP)—share their experiences of grit, hope, and resilience despite years of drought and famine risks.  Together with partners, particularly the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the project aimed to scale-up drought response and recovery in Somalia.

1. An impressive harvest, a happy farmer

The story of Saed Mohamud may not typically be expected from Somalia in 2017, two years into a severe drought that put the country in a nationwide state of natural disaster and famine—yet Mohamud is not alone. In 2017, thousands of families beat the odds and produced good yields, thanks to concerted efforts from government and partners, and solid donor investment in building farmers’ resilience against drought. . .


Rural round-up

05/04/2018

Feds welcomes NAIT recommendations:

Federated Farmers says its members will jump at the chance to contribute to the drive for improvements to the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme.

A report detailing a major review of NAIT, with 38 recommendations aimed at streamlining processes and boosting access and compliance, was released today after a long process involving OSPRI, MPI and a host of industry groups including Federated Farmers. . . 

Organic produce sitting pretty in a tasty $90 billion global market – Neil Hodgson:

The perception of organic fruit and vegetables is often of misshapen produce that doesn’t look very appetising, and it is fair comment.

However, the reality is many of those perfect looking fruits and vegetables have a beautiful appearance because producers use synthetic products to treat various bugs and diseases.

If you grow your own produce at home, then chances are they won’t look as perfect as the goods piled high on the supermarket or general food store shelves because chances are you don’t use too many synthetics in your garden at home.

You might use a bug spray and you probably add fertilisers and that is about it. . . 

Unusually, farmers and meat processors doing well at the same time. Beef prices slip. Deer prices get boost from pet food market – Guy Trafford:

SHEEP
Since allowing Shanghai Maling to purchase 50% of Silver Fern Farms (SFF) the meat company has had a significant turn around of fortune. For the twelve months from the $261 mln injection from Shanghai Maling, SFF has paid of $203 mln worth of debt and has managed to achieve a $15.4 mln after tax profit.

In the past it has often been a toss up between farmers and processors as to whom makes the profit. Rarely is it both. . . 

International acclaim for Whitestone:

Whitestone Cheese Co. is riding a wave of international critical acclaim after recent achievements at the world’s biggest cheese competition in Wisconsin USA and a trophy from the New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards.

At Wisconsin, Ohau Goat’s Blue achieved the highest accolade with 4th place in its category with a near perfect 99.7 out of a 100 – an incredible result and just 0.1 points off the bronze medal. Ohau Goat’s Blue is a new addition to Whitestone’s Premium Black Label range. The goat milk comes from a Washdyke farm just north of Whitestone’s Oamaru cheese factory, and the cheese is made with Whitestone’s Windsor Blue culture. . . 

Samantha is a cut above the rest – Robyn Bristow:

The knives were out last week as Samantha Weller, from New World Rangiora, trimmed her way to the title of World Champion Apprentice Butcher.

The 23-year-old travelled to Belfast, Northern Ireland, with New Zealand’s butchery team, the Pure South Sharp Blacks, to compete in the cutting test.

She competed against 10 others from five countries, who had two hours to turn a beef rump on the bone, a side of lamb, and a loin of pork belly into a display of value-added cuts – much like that seen in a butcher shop or supermarket. . . 

Seeka  sells out of Zespri after opposing changes to constitution tying shares to trays – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Seeka, New Zealand’s biggest kiwifruit grower, has sold out of Zespri Group after opposing constitutional changes at the monopoly export body that tie shareholdings to trays of fruit produced.

The changes were approved by more than 75 percent of shareholders last month but among the resolutions was that shareholders who voted all their shares against the overhaul could require Zespri to buy back their shares. . . 

OIO signs off on Icebreaker sale to US clothing giant VF Corp – Sophie Boot:

Icebreaker Holdings has been sold to US-based VF Corporation for at least $100 million after the Overseas Investment Office approved the deal.

In a media release today, North Carolina-based VF Corp said the OIO signed off on the transaction, which completed the transaction. The acquisition “is an ideal complement to VF’s Smartwool brand, which also features merino wool in its clothing and accessories. Together, the Smartwool and Icebreaker brands will position VF as a global leader in the merino wool and natural fibre categories.” The brand is expected to be immediately accretive to VF’s earnings per share, it said. . . 

Kiwi apple remains ‘Envy’ of others in USA:

American’s have once again selected New Zealand-born Envy™ apple as their favourite in a consumer competition run by the US Apple Association.

The interactive tournament-style competition called on American apple fans to vote for their favourite from 16 different apple varieties during the month of March.

Kiwi grower, T&G Global, was well represented in the competition with three of its premium apples namely JAZZ™, Envy™ and Pacific Rose™ being voted on by apple-lovers. . . 

Berry orchard sale offers horticultural operators a sweet growth opportunity:

One of the North Island’s most diverse boutique orchards –encompassing blueberry, raspberry and avocado production operations – has been placed on the market for sale.

Tomo Orchard at Pukenui near Houhora in the Far North, is an intensive 6.2 hectare horticultural venture growing blueberries under some 10,000 square metres of fully-enclosed framed canopies and 8000 square metres of covered netting. . . 


Rural round-up

21/12/2017

Southland stock trading  likely to be affected by Mycoploasma bovis outbreak – Dave Nicoll:

Some Southland farmers are frustrated and concerned as calves infected with Mycoplasma bovis may have been traded before the outbreak in Southland was discovered.

Last week, the ministry identified three farms near Winton that had tested positive for the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

Southland Federated Farmers president Allan Baird said there was some uncertainty among farmers because they knew little about the disease and it was possible some of them had stock from the affected farms.

Baird said he had fielded calls from several people concerned about the disease. . . 

Success of merino held up as example of how to boost languishing coarse wool – Gerard Hutching:

Rattle your dags” – that might be the call to Kiwi merino farmers following the news that the dags of the fine wool sheep are generating three times the price of quality strong wool fleece.

Higher quality regular fibre is selling up to a 700 per cent premium over coarse wool. The contrast could not be greater with the prices of coarse wool fleeces tumbling over the past 12 months, and a lot of wool not being sold has been put into storage until the industry picks up again.

Coarse wool exports fell 28 per cent to $550 million to the year to June as a lack of demand from China weighed on prices.

But New Zealand Merino (NZM) is starting to put a focus on coarse wool and using its marketing nous to turn the industry around. . . 

Streamlining NAIT comes with tougher compliance approach:

Federated Farmers is pleased that moves to streamline the National Animal Identification and Tracing Scheme (NAIT) process are coming in tandem with a tougher approach on non-compliance.

Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor has indicated after nearly five years of educating farmers about the importance of NAIT for biosecurity and food traceability, those who continue to ignore their obligations would face prosecution and fines of up to $10,000. . . 

Grant awarded to Paeroa company to study nutritional needs of bees:

It may well be the biggest thing to come out of Paeroa since L&P. 

Paeroa-based biostimulant company AgriSea NZ Seaweed Ltd has just been awarded a project grant from Callaghan Innovation for $74,000. The grant will go towards research and development of their bioactive products and the nutritional needs of honey bees. 

“This grant recognises the innovation happening at AgriSea and will continue to grow our R&D capabilities,” said Agrisea general manager Tane Bradley. “To date there is limited scientific data around the nutritional needs of the honey bee so this is really important.”  . . 

OIO considers $105.5 mln buyout of Harvard dairy farms – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – The Overseas Investment Office is considering the sale of Harvard University’s 5,500-head dairy farms in the South Island to a Singapore-based investor.

Accounts for the dairy farms filed with New Zealand’s Companies Office show that it entered into an agreement to sell its business assets to WHL Otago Operations on May 31, and the sale was now pending OIO approval but the settlement was expected by June 2018. The accounts show that the expected realisation value of all the company’s assets, after the cost of selling, was calculated to be $105.5 million as at June 30, 2017. . . 

Westland Milk Products completes leadership revitalisation:

Westland Milk Products Chief Executive Toni Brendish has completed her revitalisation of the dairy co-operative’s Executive Leadership Team, with the appointment of Jeffrey Goodwin to the role of General Manager, Sales.

Goodwin came to Westland from his role as Vice-President, Global Operations, for James Farrell & Co, which represents United States-based manufacturers in the export of their ingredients and finished goods.

“Jeffrey’s experience in food and ingredients sales is global in scale,” Brendish said, “with a record of success in South East Asia, Japan, China and the United States (among others). . . 

‘Green window dressing’: EU criticised for wasting billions on green farming subsidies:

Attempts to ‘green’ EU farm policy did not lead to any significant increase in environmentally-sound farming practices – despite countries spending a huge chunk of the EU’s annual budget on the scheme.

The UK’s net contribution of £8.6billion from last year went towards the project, but a European Court of Auditors report shows just 5 percent of the EU’s farmland benefited from the scheme.

The auditors found that the new payments added more complexity to the system but had led to changed farming practices on only about five per cent of EU farmland. . . 

Livestock to help offset big fall in grain production – Brad Thompson:

The farm sector appears fundamentally strong following a record year for farm production in Australia, Rabobank says, anticipating a weaker Australian dollar and strong livestock prices will bolster returns for most farmers next year.

Rabobank’s head of research in Australia and New Zealand, Tim Hunt, said Federal forecaster ABARES’ expectation of a 7 per cent fall in the value of gross production reflected less favourable weather conditions for grain growing after a record harvest last year.

“That is a climate story rather than a structural story, as in we are not back into industry decline we have just had a bad grain season,” he said. . . 

Moving beyond the green revolution in Africa’s new era of hunger – Calestous Juma:

A quarter of the world’s hungry people are in sub-Saharan Africa and the numbers are growing. Between 2015 and 2016, the number of hungry – those in distress and unable to access enough calories for a healthy and productive life – grew from 20.8% to 22.7%. The number of undernourished rose from 200 million to 224 million out of a total populationof 1.2 billion.

Conflict, poverty, environmental disruptions and a growing population all contribute to the region’s inability to feed itself.

To tackle hunger, the continent needs to find new, integrated approaches. These approaches – discussed at a recent Harvard conference – must increase crop yield, enhance the nutritional content of people’s diets, improve people’s health and promote sustainability. . . 

 


Popular but

30/11/2017

Would-be foreign buyers of rural and forest land will face tougher requirements under new government directives to the Overseas Investment Office :

Today’s announcements will apply from Dec. 15 and will catch any land sale applications already before the OIO that have not been approved by that date. They do not change the rules regarding acquisitions of significant business assets, Parker said in a statement.

Buyers claiming they intend to move to New Zealand will need to do so within 12 months of purchase rather than the current five years and buyers’ donations to local causes to ease their applications will be treated as a less significant factor than in the past. Criteria for consent do not change although today’s statement notes that can be achieved “by amending the (Overseas Investment) Act”.

Forestry Minister Shane Jones would shortly make announcements to strengthen the requirement of foreign investors in forestry assets to “support New Zealand wood processing and manufacturing, which will also support regional communities”.

Parker said the existing directive to the OIO was “too loose”, applying only to “very large farms more than 10 times the average farm size”.

“In practice this meant restrictions in sales generally applied to sheep and beef farms over 7,146 hectares or a dairy farm more than 1,987ha. This new directive tightens how we assess overseas investment in New Zealand to ensure authorised purchases provide genuine benefits.

“Too often we see investors buy a New Zealand farm, and then use existing systems, technology and management practices which don’t substantially add anything new, or create additional value to our economy.

“We want to make it clear that it is a privilege to own or control New Zealand’s sensitive assets, and this privilege must be earned. We campaigned on these changes and they won’t come as a surprise to potential investors,” said Parker.

All applications which are being assessed by the OIO at, and from, Dec. 15 will be subject to the new directive letter, with all applications not determined by that date being given a “fair opportunity to make additional submissions under the new approach”. . .

This will be popular with those who don’t like foreign ownership of land.

It will also be popular with those wanting to purchase farms if, as is likely, it depresses prices, at least in the short-term:

. . . A specialist farm accountant based in Christchurch, Pita Alexander, said he supported the rules but warned the move was likely to affect the farm property market.

“In principle I’m not against the main thrust of the new directive, I think it tightens up the existing arrangements and I’m not uncomfortable with that.

“But if you take these overseas buyers out – and let’s face it, they’re not completely out or banned – but if you take them out of the system you’ve got less purchasers so it would have a downwards effect probably on values over time, on the bigger farms in particular.”

He said having fewer potential buyers would affect the land value.

“It would be a downwards effect [on the values] because they are the ones who bring in bigger money.” . . 

A real estate agent told us there are 60 Southland dairy farms on or coming on to the market soon. That number alone is likely to depress prices. Taking potential buyers out of the market will have an even more depressing affect on values.

While those wanting to buy a farm will be happy about this, the move will be unpopular with anyone wanting to sell a farm, especially any whose equity was low.

It will certainly make a difference to how much they get and, if prices drop too far, could be enough to leave some sellers with nothing or even owing money.

The directive will also be unpopular with those who have signed up to sell to foreigners under the old rules for whom the goal posts have been moved.

The OIO process was already a difficult and time-consuming process with no certainty about the outcome.

This change will make the process more difficult and even less uncertain.

Whether it will have any longer term impact on prices and sales is doubtful.

The number of sales to people from overseas isn’t known but it was estimated as being only about 2% of total sales, and that would have included sales from foreigners to foreigners.

But it will mean less foreign exchange comes in to New Zealand, and some sellers will be forced to accept less for their farms and therefore have less to invest elsewhere.

It also opens the country up to accusations of hypocrisy.

Individuals and businesses own farms in other countries, amongst them is the New Zealand Superannuation Fund.

If it’s fine for our pension fund to own farmland in foreign countries, why is it wrong for foreign pension funds to own farms here?


%d bloggers like this: