Rural round-up

December 23, 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

November 3, 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

July 8, 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

July 3, 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

June 25, 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

June 5, 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

April 9, 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

February 6, 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

August 21, 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

August 3, 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

June 26, 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

April 5, 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

December 21, 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

November 30, 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?


NZ loses its way

November 22, 2017

For several years, New Zealand has received international attention and praise for its economic success.

Just a few weeks with a new government this commentary from Jared Dillian at Forbes is less than enthusiastic about its policies:

On September 23, the people of New Zealand elected 37-year-old Jacinda Ardern as prime minister, the youngest prime minister in New Zealand’s history. Ardern has brought youthful energy to New Zealand politics, but her scary rhetoric during the campaign (like calling capitalism a “blatant failure”) has some people wondering if she will take the country back to the bad old days of the 70s and early 80s.

New Zealand is a supply-side economic miracle. Not long ago, it was one of the most unfree economies that was not actually Communist in name. Most industry was nationalized, from telecommunications and transportation, to banks and hotels. There were strict capital controls and prohibitions on owning foreign assets. And of course punitively high tax rates, inflation, and extraordinary levels of government debt. . .

Those policies from the early 80s back are the ones which failed us.

The 1980s saw an enormous rollback in the size and scope of government, and the beginning of a supply-side revolution. Of course, economic liberalization was happening around the world at that time, but it was most dramatic in tiny New Zealand.

New Zealand enjoyed unprecedented economic growth, and leapfrogged to near the top of the economic freedom rankings, where it usually sits only behind Hong Kong and Singapore. It became one of the richest countries in the world. Part of New Zealand’s success was due to good central banking; the Reserve Bank of New Zealand was the first central bank in the world to institute a formal policy of inflation targeting, which other central banks have copied over the years, to everyone’s benefit. . . 

Inflation is theft. It steals the real value of money and it’s the poorest who are hit hardest by it.

It seems likely that New Zealand will experience a recession during Ardern’s term. Nobody is predicting a return to the bad old days of the 70s, but New Zealand will probably lose its status as one of the most open, free economies in the world. It takes decades to weaken an economy, just like it takes decades to strengthen it. But investors will probably want to avoid New Zealand for the time being.

This government has taken down the welcome sign to immigrants and inwards investment.

Richard Harman at Politik reports the Government is to put the approval of overseas purchases of farmland on hold as it gets advice from officials on how to carry out its coalition agreement with NZ First to strengthen the Overseas Investment Act.

The hold is likely to affect tens of millions of dollars of property sales and possibly hundreds of millions of dollars worth of business transactions.

POLITIK understands that the sale of one large South Island property and the potential sale of an iconic Wanaka station along with two large North Island dairy properties are likely to be caught up in the move.

It was not clear from the comments from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday whether the hold will also apply to overseas business investments – but if that is the case, there are proposed takeovers in both the oil and gas and private hospital sectors that could be affected. . . 

The sale of Icebreaker  to VF Corporation which needs OIO approval as will the sale of carpet maker Godfrey Hirst to global flooring manufacturer Mohawk Industries.

Uncertainty over the economy, the inflationary affect of a lower dollar and higher borrowing, and whether immigrants will be available to fill staff vacancies is denting business confidence.

Less confidence means businesses are less willing to take risks, including hiring more staff.

It’s very early days but if overseas investors are being warned off and local businesses are losing confidence, it’s a sign that New Zealand is losing its way.

 


Will Icebreaker VF deal get OIO tick?

November 4, 2017

Icebreaker, one of the company’s that made merino fashionable, is selling to a USA company  but the deal needs OIO approval:

US-based VF Corporation needs Overseas investment office approval to buy Kiwi merino clothing maker Icebreaker, meaning the deal is worth at least $100 million. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Merino producers have been getting a lot of pressure to sign up to 10-year contracts with Icebreaker. The proposed sale explains that and a good number of committed producers would have made the deal more attractive to the buyer.

VF Corporation has a market capitalization of around US$28 billion and its portfolio includes The North Face, Timberland, SmartWool, Vans, Wrangler and Lee. In its third-quarter result, the company forecast its 2017 revenue would be approximately US$12.1 billion.

Icebreaker had annual sales of $220 million, of which 86 percent were in offshore markets. Its own outlets and e-commerce sales make up 32 percent of sales, according to the company’s latest statement.

While the terms of the deal were not disclosed, Icebreaker confirmed the need for OIO approval due to the size of the transaction, implying a minimum value of at least $100 million. In a separate statement, VF said “the purchase price is not material to VF.” It also clarified that it expects the transaction to close in April 2018. . . 

I would think the deal would be worth considerably more than $100 million. Regardless of how much more, closure by next April is probably very optimistic.

Friends who have had dealings with the OIO, as sellers and buyers, said it was a very time-consuming process.

Unless it gets a straight decline from the outset, it won’t be any faster under the new government.

According to Icebreaker, the deal creates an expanded opportunity for the New Zealand merino industry. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our global Icebreaker team and for our New Zealand wool suppliers to introduce a whole new universe of consumers to the benefits of sustainably farmed, ethically sourced, New Zealand Merino wool,” said Icebreaker founder Jeremy Moon.

John Brakenridge, CEO of the NZ Merino Company, noted VF have also had a long-term commitment to the New Zealand Merino industry through their investment in SmartWool and NZ Merino has worked with SmartWool in areas such as sustainability and social responsibility.

“Today we are seeing record demand and prices for New Zealand merino wool …the synergy of these two brands working as sisters from the same stable to build increased awareness of the Merino apparel category represents an exciting new development for the New Zealand merino wool industry,” he said. . . 

People tend to be less opposed to selling land to foreigners than selling companies.

But no matter who owns it the land and the business carried out on it stay here.

When a company is sold, there is no guarantee anything will stay in New Zealand.

Icebreaker is a New Zealand company and its clothing is designed here using locally grown merino wool but manufacturing has been done overseas for several years.

If the sale does go ahead, people who want New Zealand made merino will still have the choice of buying from companies like Glowing Sky and Mons Royale.

 


Rural round-up

April 28, 2017

Lamb prices and grass markets define a better second half of season:

Stronger lamb prices and plenty of grass have bumped up the season’s forecast profit for sheep and beef farmers.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Mid-Season Update revises up its forecast for profit before tax to $75,200 for the All Classes Sheep and Beef Farm. Six months ago, the outlook had not been so good ($67,000 per farm), but with plenty of feed in most areas and better lamb prices, it’s a better outlook, Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive Sam McIvor says. . . 

First Central Plains Water sustainability report released:

Background:

The Central Plains Water Trust holds the resource consents for the Central Plains Water Scheme. Central Plains Water Limited (the Company) owns and operates the infrastructure of the Scheme and contracts the supply of water for irrigation in the Scheme area to the farmers who are shareholders. The Trust licences the use of the consents to the Company for the taking and supply of the water, but does so with agreed conditions over and above those imposed by the resource consents. The Trust’s conditions relate to the environmental performance of the Scheme, and require that the Company impose environmental requirements on the users, set out in individual Farm Plans. Another one of the conditions is for the supply of data to the Trust on an annual basis so that the Trustees can have the data analised independently for use in publishing an Annual Sustainability Report on the environmental performance of the Scheme.

The attached report was published today on the Trust’s website: www.cpw.org.nz . . .

Sale of Mainland Poultry to Navis Capital – MinterEllisonRuddWatts advises:

Shareholders of New Zealand’s biggest egg producer Mainland Poultry, have reached an agreement to sell to Private Equity firm Navis Capital.

MinterEllisonRuddWatts was lead advisor to Mainland Poultry along with ANZ Corporate Finance from Australia.

While the deal remains subject to Overseas Investment Office (OIO) approval, it is a significant transaction for the countries agricultural and FMCG industry. . . 

NZ wool auction volumes remain high as farmers seek to move stockpiles – Tina Morrison:

Volumes at New Zealand’s weekly wool auction were higher than normal for this time of year as farmers try to shift bales they held back from previous auctions due to weak prices.

Some 6,160 bales were offered at yesterday’s North Island auction yesterday, 13 percent higher than volumes for the same time last year, according to AgriHQ. Some 70 percent of the wool was sold at auction, lagging behind the 75 percent clearance rate for the season to date, and well below last year’s 90 percent rate, AgriHQ said. . . 

Eight Kiwi producers recognised in the outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards:

Farming, horticulture and aquaculture recognised alongside crafted products

Absolute NZ Meat is the Supreme Winner of the inaugural Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards 2017. Their winning product Absolute Angus Porterhouse was named alongside seven category winners representing horticulture, aquaculture, cheesemaking, butchery and creators of premium crafted products.

The winners were announced in Auckland last night  after a panel of 10 expert food judges tasted more than 150 products from 82 growers, farmers and crafted producers in early March 2017 at the Fresh Factory in Auckland. . . 

Big cotton is planting the seeds for more subsidies – Vincent H. Smith:

Agricultural special interests have decades of practice in raiding the public purse, and it is only getting worse. Here is a case in point: cotton producers are canvassing Capitol Hill to lobby for access to a highly lucrative new set of subsidy programs.

Those programs, called Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC), were first enacted in the 2014 farm bill as a replacement for the costly Direct Payments program.  As part of a trade dispute settlement with Brazil, Congress agreed that cotton would not be covered by these two programs, which are available for major crops like corn and wheat, and minor crops like oil seeds (canola, mustard seed, etc.). . . 


Rural round-up

April 18, 2017

Mentoring part of the prize – Sally Rae:

Papakaio dairy farmer Morgan Easton says he is ”humbled” to win the 2017 Zanda McDonald Award.

The Australasian agribusiness award was launched by the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group in
2014.

It was in memory of Australian beef industry leader and PPP foundation member Zanda McDonald, who died aged 41 after an accident at his Queensland property in 2013.

Mr Easton, along with Invercargill-based dairy consultant Jolene Germann and Waiau farmer Henry Pinckney, was initially shortlisted for the award, along with Australians Anna Speer, Will Creek and Airlie Trescowthick. . . 

It’s not just farmers – Neal Wallace:

The country’s senior scientist has called for a more mature conversation on solving water quality issues and an end to the polarised positions that have characterised the debate so far.

Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, the Prime Minister’s chief science adviser, said to have the pristine environment we all desired would not be achieved without having a conversation “where people are not threatened but will come together and discuss solutions”.

“Where we have gone is groups with extreme positions and people are not listening to each other.”

Farm’s efficiency gain, emissions fall impresses – Sally Brooker:

A South Canterbury farm has proved environmental gains can be made while production improves, scientists say.

Beef and Lamb New Zealand director Bill Wright and his wife, Shirley, have been farming a sheep and cattle property at Cannington since 1991. Their records have allowed scientists to study the profile of greenhouse gases while the farm evolved.

The the last two years’ data also gave insights into nitrogen-leaching.

“Farmers are conscious of their collective responsibilities to restore water quality and minimise their environmental footprint,” Mr Wright said.

“But this is material we are now only learning how to manage in a way that not only protects the environment but provides opportunities to be more productive with less impact.” . . 

Blue Sky left searching for positives after Binxi offer lapses – Allan Barber:

Invercargill based meat processor Blue Sky Meats is trying to put a positive spin on its prospects after being advised by Chinese cattle and meat company subsidiary NZ Binxi Oamaru that its takeover offer would not proceed. The main reason for the decision was failure to receive OIO approval by the 20th March deadline, but Binxi also cited a material adverse change in this season’s performance. As a result Blue Sky has advised shareholders they will continue to own their shares, 96% having already accepted the offer.

The offer for 100% ownership at $2.20 per share placed a value of $25.4 million on Blue Sky compared with a current valuation of just under $15 million based on the last trading price of $1.30. Chairman Scott O’Donnell made the point adverse seasonal conditions are part and parcel of agricultural businesses, while NZ Binxi has asked the OIO to continue to process its application in spite of its withdrawal. It also signalled its possible willingness to reconsider if the OIO were to come through with a positive response. . . 

UK will offer good trade deal :

New Zealand’s farmers and exporters will get a favourable post-Brexit trade pact with the United Kingdom but find a new European Union trade agreement much harder, Lord Sam Vestey believes.

The British peer and former owner of NZ meat processing plants under the name of Weddell until the 1990s was speaking at the opening of the Royal Easter Show in Auckland.

He was chairman of the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth and a regular visitor to major shows in NZ. . . 

Southland dairy consultant in the running for Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year:

A Southland woman who only milked her first cow seven years ago is one of three finalists in the 2017 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year awards.

Jolene Germann grew up on a Waikato sheep and beef farm and had no dairy experience until meeting her husband, Hadleigh, seven years ago. Now, she’s a busy dairy consultant with a full book and is an equity partner and sharemilker on a 200ha, 570 cow dairy farm in Aparima, Southland.

Germann’s husband nominated her for the Dairy Woman of the Year award and says her commitment to environmental sustainability and empathetic leadership style are her stand-out qualities. . . 

Dear Lady at the Bank – Ruby Uhart:

Last fall I went into the bank to deposit checks after we’d sold our calves.  The lady at the front desk wasn’t familiar with the company who had written the check.  I explained to her who they were and that we had sold two loads of calves.

She replied “wow.  I’m in the wrong business.”

At the time, it caught me off guard that she would say something like that and all I could do was chuckle a little and say “no.  You’re not.”

 I’ve been thinking about her all winter and different moments in particular made me wish I had said something to her other than what I replied in my dimwitted moment.  As with all of my best comebacks, they hit my brain later and are told with the story as “what I should have said was…”

So here goes.  Here’s my shoulda, coulda, woulda said….


Rural round-up

September 18, 2015

Why the government has finally stopped a Chinese farm purchase – Politik:

The offer by a Chinese company to buy Lochinver station was turned down by the Government largely because the potential buyer was not proposing to invest much more money on the station.

Government sources have told POLITIK that the buyer, Shanghai Pengxin subsidiary, Pure 100 Farm, was proposing to spend only another $3 million extra on the station.

“What’s that – two and half Auckland houses?” said the source. . . 

Lochinver decision was a slow process:

The Overseas Investment Office could be in for an overhaul after concerns about the time taken to make a decision over Lochinver Station.

Shanghai Pengxin had agreed to buy the country’s biggest dairy farm for $88 million but ministers said there weren’t enough benefits for the country.

It took 14 months before the deal was finally blocked, and the owners are angry at the delays.

The Prime Minister admits it is a slow process which needs to change. . .

Federated Farmers welcomes government decision on Lochinver sale:

While Federated Farmers supports positive overseas investment into New Zealand’s farming system, it has welcomed today’s announcement by the Government that it has declined the sale of Lochinver Station to Shanghai Pengxin Group Co. Limited.

“New Zealand absolutely needs foreign investment, but there has to be clearly demonstrated benefit to the local and national economy. This was not proven here and we believe the Lochinver decision reinforces the importance of changes made to the Overseas Investment Office rules over recent years,” says Dr William Rolleston, President of Federated Farmers. . . 

Putting a dollar value on using good beef genetics:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Genetics is launching a new progeny test to put a dollar value on the extra profit that can be added to the dairy-beef supply chain by using good beef genetics.

At its core, the four-year test will calculate the additional value that can be added by using high-genetic-merit beef bulls, versus the unrecorded bulls traditionally used as “follow-on bulls” in most New Zealand dairy systems. What are the financial advantages for the dairy farmer, calf rearer and beef finisher?

Limestone Downs near Port Waikato is a high-profile trust-owned property, covering 3,200ha and wintering about 27,000 stock units. It has a long-standing relationship with Massey University and is often used to trial research projects in a commercial setting. The operation converted 350ha to a dairy milking platform two years ago and runs 610 Friesian cows and 190 heifers.

Ewe won’t believe the number of lambs –  Cameron Massey:

A first time mum in Thames doesn’t do it by halves – giving birth to quintuplet lambs.

Thames resident and ex-sheep farmer Weston Finlay keeps sheep on his property to keep the lawns in check and when he was offered a second ewe to accompany his first he couldn’t see any problem.

Only the new sheep was not a ewe at all. . .

Dos and Don’ts of bringing up a pet lamb: – Peter Fowler:

It’s that time of year again: schools around the country are holding pet days, and pet lambs proving a popular option. 

But bringing up a pet lamb can be fraught with difficulty. Rural News went to Elsthorpe Primary School in central Hawke’s Bay to find out from one of the winners of the pet lamb competition what it takes to bring up a champion lamb.

Phoebe, who has been a winner in the competition for four years in a row, said the first consideration was having enough space for the lamb.

Economic growth boosted by services and primary industries

Growth in services and primary industries supported a 0.4 percent increase in GDP in the June 2015 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today.

Agricultural production increased 3 percent in the June 2015 quarter, due to increased meat and dairy farming.

“Despite falling milk prices, we’re seeing growth in dairy production,” national accounts manager Gary Dunnet said. “But over the year, agriculture is up only a little, due to dry conditions last summer.” . . 

Hunt for great dairy pastures is on again:

The hunt is on for great dairy pastures in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty.

Entries are now open for the Pasture Renewal Persistence Competition run by the DairyNZ-led Pasture Improvement Leadership Group.
Competition organiser and DairyNZ developer Sally Peel says pasture renewal is one of the first steps to achieving high performing pastures. Improving poor yielding paddocks through good renewal practices can achieve substantial increase in pasture tonnage.

The competition has been running for five years with winners from all across the two regions.
Robert Garshaw of Waiuku won the 2014 best first year pasture. “Decisions such as cultivar and endophyte choice do matter. It’s really important to figure out what works well out of your farm and make the most of the establishment period,” says Robert. . . 

 


Ministers say no to Lochinver sale

September 17, 2015

Ministers have declined an application by a foreign company to buy Lochinver Station:

An overseas company’s application to purchase Lochinver Station has been declined because the benefits to New Zealand are not substantial and identifiable, Ministers Paula Bennett and Louise Upston say.

Pure 100 Farm Ltd, a subsidiary of China-based Shanghai Pengxin, applied to the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) last year to buy the 13,800 ha farm near Taupo for $88 million.

“Because Lochinver Station is classified by law as sensitive land, Ministers must consider whether the application meets the requirements set out in the Overseas Investment Act,” Associate Finance Minister Paula Bennett says.

“While we recognise and support the importance of overseas investment, the Overseas Investment Act states it is a privilege for overseas people to own sensitive New Zealand assets and therefore requires such investments to meet statutory criteria for consent.

“After detailed and careful individual consideration, we are not satisfied there will be, or is likely to be, a substantial benefit to New Zealand – a key requirement for applications of sensitive land of this size.”

While the OIO said the question of whether the benefits of the potential investment to New Zealand are or could be substantial and identifiable was finely balanced, it recommended approving the application.

“We agreed parts of the proposed investment could benefit New Zealand but in our judgement on the overall balance of evidence, the benefits are not likely to be substantial and identifiable,” Land Information Minister Louise Upston says.

“This proposed sale didn’t pass a test we are required to exercise Ministerial judgement on.

“This is an example of our system working well.  The OIO conducted a thorough investigation before making a finely balanced recommendation.  Ministers carefully assessed the evidence and ultimately came to different view.”

A summary of the reasons for the Ministers’ decision can be found here.

This decision shows the bar for overseas ownership of farm land is set very high.

It is very difficult for a would-be foreign buyer to prove that it would provide more benefits than a local one, even if the local is hypothetical.

 


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