Owen Poole CNZM

June 1, 2015

Owen Poole, of Wanaka, has been recognised for his service to the meat industry and business with a CNZM – Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

He began work as an office boy at Southland Frozen Meat and worked his way up to Chief Executive before leaving the company.

When he returned to help with the integration of the Alliance Group and Waitaki International five years later the company was in a very precarious position. He turned that round as Chief Executive then Chairman, built a strong foundation for the company and turned it into the biggest sheep processor and exporter in the world.

His hard work, strategic thinking, knowledge of the industry, industrial relations, and markets has made Alliance not just a national success story but an international one too.

Under Owen’s leadership the company took a series of tough decisions to rationalise killing space in response to falling stock numbers. Under his guidance, Alliance became the leader in the introduction of shift processing to large scale plants and more recently it has adopted multi-species processing in several plants.

Owen’s interest and dedication was not just to the company but to the wider meat industry. He was a valued member of both the Meat Industry Association and what was then the New Zealand Meat and Wool Board.

The Alliance Group is a co-operative. He was a firm believer in that model and the importance of good governance.

Owen devoted more than 30 years to the Alliance Group and the wider meat industry, leaving them both much better for his dedication, vision and leadership.


Rural round-up

December 17, 2013

Canterbury suffers another blow:

Farmers are reeling from yet another blow, after a severe localised hail storm tore its way through the Mayfield area of Mid-Canterbury.

“As the year draws to a close and we are fast approaching harvesting season, Mid-Canterbury farmers are facing a financial nightmare after the hail storm yesterday,” says David Clark, Mid-Canterbury Grain and Seed Chairperson.

“This has been a mongrel year for farmers in Mid-Canterbury; we have gone from snow to wind storms to a very dry spring to now this. It is a horrible way to finish off the year, with radish and carrot crops shredded and wheat and barley crops having the stuffing knocked out of them. . .

A timely reminder:

Fonterra dropped a bombshell last week when it announced its latest consideration on its farmgate milk price.

For farmer shareholders in New Zealand’s largest company, it had been shaping up to be a particularly merry Christmas, with economists suggesting the milk price could be lifted as much as 40c.

Elevated prices, which have defied predictions and remained at very high levels – the GlobalDairyTrade price index was just 7% below its April high and about 50% higher than a year ago – raised expectations for the forecast to rise. . .

UK butter eaters lose taste for Anchor after dairy giant cuts NZ ties – Nicholas Jones:

British shoppers have noticed that their favourite Anchor butter tastes different – with the explanation being it’s no longer from New Zealand.

In Britain, the famous Kiwi brand is used by European dairy company Arla. Until recently, Arla had shipped over New Zealand butter made by Fonterra, but has now switched production to its British facilities.

The Arla logo has been added to block butter packs, but the company has faced a number of complaints from disgruntled customers who were unaware of the change. . .

How much dairying is too much in terms of water quality? – Daniel Collins:

On 21 November the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Jan Wright, released her second report on water quality. It warned that business-as-usual dairy expansion by 2020 would leave our lakes and rivers more degraded than they are now, even with improved mitigation. I’d now like to re-cap what the report concluded, how it got there, and how it was received.

The report

The purpose of the report was to illustrate how land use change could affect future nutrient runoff – nitrogen and phosphorus – based on a simple, business-as-usual scenario for 2020.

Motu used a combined economics-land use model called LURNZ to project what land use changes are likely by 2020, driven by commodity process and knowledge of land use practices and landscape characteristics. Sheep and beef farming were expected to give way to dairying, forestry, and even reversion to shrubland. . .

Director elections mean an exciting Red Meat Industry:

Federated Farmers looks forward to working with the Boards of the cooperatively owned Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group following their recent Director elections.

“Federated Farmers congratulates the new directors elected to our two largest cooperatives, Don Morrison at Alliance Group as well as Richard Young and Dan Jex-Blake at Silver Fern Farms,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“We also congratulate Alliance Group chairman Murray Taggart on his re-election.

“Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre wishes to formally thank Alliance Group’s Owen Poole and Jason Miller as well as Silver Fern Farms’ David Shaw for their service to shareholders. . .


Rural round-up

November 27, 2013

Moment of truth for MIE and its board candidates – Allan Barber:

In the seven months since MIE’s first farmer meeting in Gore, there have been more meetings, discussions with meat companies and, most recently, nominations for the boards of Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group. Meat companies have tried and failed to find an acceptable solution to the problems raised by MIE.

Previous MIE executive members Richard Young and Dan Jex-Blake are standing for election to Silver Fern Farms’ board. Don Morrison has been nominated for the Alliance board as a farmer director, while a shareholder, Mark Paterson, has proposed a resolution to nominate Fonterra director John Monaghan for the independent directorship vacated by Owen Poole. This will be voted on by those members present at the AGM, but the result of that vote is not binding on the board.

Alliance Group’s AGM takes place on the 13th December and SFF’s on 18th. Therefore we will know before Christmas how many of these candidates have actually made it onto one or other of the cooperative’s boards. . .

Northland trust goes dairy with Te Tumu Paeroa:

A Northland Maori trust has entered into a partnership with land administrator Te Tumu Paeroa to turn a sheep and beef farm into a money-making dairy operation.

The Omapere Rangihamama Trust runs a farm near Kaikohe, which is currently used for forestry and maize, as well as sheep and beef.

But chair Sonny Tau says the Rangihamama Farm will soon be converted into a dairy farming operation, with 500 cows over 278 hectares. He says it will mean a better financial return on the land. . .

New x-rays and staff to strengthen border biosecurity:

New x-ray technology and more frontline staff will help to beef up New Zealand’s biosecurity defences at the border, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

Mr Guy today unveiled a new x-ray machine at Auckland Airport, one of 12 machines that have been installed around the country.

“The new machines will be more reliable than the Ministry for Primary Industries’ older x-ray units and will provide better image quality,” says Mr Guy.

“MPI will be able to screen baggage with greater accuracy and image quality. This means border staff will be better equipped to spot biosecurity risk items before they enter New Zealand. . .

Labour Inspectorate extending dairy farm visits to regions:

The Labour Inspectorate is extending its dairy farm visits to regions across New Zealand to check compliance with minimum employment rights.

Labour Inspectors began visiting dairy farms in Southland in August, with the work now being replicated in the Waikato, Hawkes Bay and Taranaki.

The visits are part of a long-term operation to identify breaches of employment law, with particular focus on a practice called seasonal averaging and the failure to keep accurate time and wage records. . .

AgResearch, Invermay and Genetics – Peter K. Dearden:

The opinions below are my own, and not necessarily those of the University of Otago, my employer.

You may be aware that AgResearch has decided to move its genetics/genomics team from Invermay near Dunedin, to Lincoln. This move has excited a great deal of attention in the Otago press, and some consternation around here. Genetics Otago  has been drawn into this as a centre of research excellence and hub for genetics and genomics that AgResearch is linked into, that they will lose the benefit of if they move. This has led to some unfortunate exchanges in the media, so I thought I would write something from my point of view.

AgResearch has had a long-term and excellent genetic/ genomics group at Invermay. Many of that group are members of Genetics Otago. Genetics Otago has over 200 members across the University of Otago, AgResearch, AbacusBio, and others (both companies and individuals) across Otago. AgResearch is a small, but important, part of that collaboration. . .

Herd TB status changes encourage testing:

Farmers and lifestylers are being encouraged to get their cattle and deer tested for bovine tuberculosis (TB) as soon as they have been registered with the TBfree New Zealand programme.

To ensure the programme’s testing requirements are as accurate as possible for all animals, some changes have been made to the TB status of herds.

The changes directly affect newly-registered breeding herds and non-breeding (dry stock) herds. All new herds now start off on a Suspended (S) herd TB status until they have passed their first whole herd test. . .

New Zealand’s Favourite Honey: Manuka Trumps Clover in 2013 National Honey Week Survey:

The popularity of Manuka honey has been confirmed in a recent national survey, which places it above Clover and other floral varieties. In the New Zealand-wide survey launched by Airborne Honey this month to celebrate the country’s first National Honey Week, 40% of Kiwis named Manuka as their favourite and 29% choose Clover. A number of other floral honeys featured further down the scale, including Vipers Bugloss (3%) and Rewarewa (2.26%).

The survey also revealed that the favoured way to eat honey in New Zealand is on toast (57%), followed by a sweetener in hot drinks (9%) and straight off the spoon for medicinal purposes (9%). Most New Zealanders eat honey once or twice a week with only 2% never eating honey at all. . . .

Brancott Estate Heritage Centre wins International Wine Tourism Award:

A New Zealand cellar door has won a 2014 International Best of Wine Tourism award with the Brancott Estate Heritage Centre in Marlborough being the only New Zealand cellar door to win this prestigious award.

The Brancott Estate Heritage Centre, home of Brancott Estate wines, is located at Brancott Vineyard, the site of the original Sauvignon Blanc plantings in Marlborough.

The Great Wine Capitals Global Network recently announced the winners of the 2014 International Best of Wine Tourism awards at a ceremony held at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus in St. Helena, California. The nine international winners were chosen from 53 local ‘Best Of‘ winners from nine Great Wine Capitals. In all, 350 applications were received this year. . .


Rural round-up

October 17, 2013

Overseas experience to boost FMD preparation:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced that a delegation of 10 veterinarians, farming leaders and MPI staff will take part in foot and mouth disease (FMD) training in Asia next year to experience working with the disease first hand.

“While the major focus is always on preventing FMD, it is also very important that we are prepared to respond to such an outbreak quickly and effectively if it ever did happen.

“The training will develop a larger pool of people in New Zealand with experience in recognising, diagnosing and controlling the disease.

“This is the latest initiative in a major 18-month programme of work, which involves the Ministry for Primary Industries and an industry working group working together on key projects,” says Mr Guy. . .

End of an era for southern cooperatives – Allan Barber:

Alliance Group chairman Owen Poole retired at the end of September after five years on the board and 15 in top management roles, while Eoin Garden, Silver Fern Farms’ chairman since 2007 is retiring at the AGM in December.

Both men in different ways have provided notably determined leadership of their respective companies through particularly difficult times for the meat industry. Although each will retire with some regrets at not being able to lead the way to a permanent recovery, it will be a relief to step back from the limelight and leave the battle to their successors.

Poole has been succeeded by North Canterbury farmer Murray Taggart who ironically was voted off the Alliance board at the same AGM as previous chairman John Turner, resulting in Poole being appointed the company’s first independent chairman. That was a consequence of farmer disaffection with low lamb prices, so in spite of some recovery before the last price drop nothing much has really changed. . .

Rise of corporate dairying in China:

A new report says China’s dairy industry is undergoing a massive restructuring, with traditional small farmers departing to make way for large-scale commerical dairying operations.

Rabobank’s report China’s Raw Milk Supply – Still Dreaming of a White River says the rapid changes taking place in China will have an impact on its demand for imports.

Co-author Hayley Moynihan says the restructuring is limiting China’s domestic milk flow. She says as the supply chain restructures, is it put under pressure in terms of its ability to increase the volume of quality raw milk supplies.

Ms Moynihan says the Chinese Government has taken significant action to improve milk quality since the melamine crisis in 2008. . .

Evolving a truly customer-centric industry:

New Zealand’s primary sector needs to develop a customer-centric approach to its marketing – by creating products with unique attributes that are sought after by global consumers.

That was a key theme of the just-released Volume 3 of the KPMG Agribusiness Agenda, titled “Evolving a truly customer-centric industry”.

KPMG’s Global Head of Agribusiness, Ian Proudfoot, says the sector needs to replace its traditional ‘trading mentality’ with a more targeted approach.

“Those customers who see the most value in what we produce – and are consequently willing to pay a higher price for the attributes they value – must be at the centre of everything we do.” . .

A primer of water quality – Clive Howard-Williams at Waiology:

Society is increasingly concerned over water quality. The means by which this is maintained and enhanced while growing an economy is a major challenge for governments in many places. Here I introduce some underlying concepts around water quality that Waiology followers will need to appreciate when they look at the forthcoming series of blogs.

What is good water quality?

Rather than just being a set of defined scientific numbers, water quality is rather a perception defined by communities and it varies from place to place and between communities. What is seen as poor water quality by some may be adequate for others. Generally however, good quality is usually recognized as water that is safely drinkable, swimmable and from where food may be gathered and that provides for community spiritual and cultural needs and for healthy ecosystems. . .

Happy World Food Day:

We all love to eat, but make sure that as you celebrate World Food Day today you spare a thought today for those who don’t have enough to eat.

‘Across the world 842 million people still suffer from chronic malnutrition, including a growing number in the developed world’, said HRLA chairperson Edward Miller, ‘and the latest New Zealand food security study reported that less than 6 in 10 NZ households are food secure.’ . .


Rural round-up

July 27, 2013

Owen Poole to step down from Alliance Group after 18 years, Taggart named chairman:

Owen Poole is to step down from Alliance Group, after an association with the Invercargill-based meat company stretching back 18 years, and will be replaced as chairman by fellow board member Murray Taggart.

Taggart was a farmer-elected director of Alliance between 2002 and 2007 and was re-elected to the board in 2010. He farms a 457 hectare sheep and cropping unit under irrigation in Oxford, North Canterbury.

Poole will step down as chairman on Sept. 30, having held the position since being appointed to the board as an independent director in 2008. He was the company’s chief executive between 1995 and 2005. . .

Strong backing for CPW share structure:

Central Plains Water Ltd yesterday received strong backing from farmers attending a Special General Meeting to agree the share structure and construction approvals necessary for first stage construction to proceed.

More than 200 shareholders attended the July 25 meeting, along with Selwyn District Mayor Kelvin Coe and MPI representative, Kevin Steel.

The meeting voted unanimously to proceed with construction of the irrigation scheme, with only one shareholder voting against the proposed share structure. . .

Forestry sector stands to gain major economic boost:

Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew has welcomed the announcement of a government and industry research study that could rejuvenate New Zealand’s forestry industry.

The 14-month project will study the feasibility of making biofuel from the waste product of forestry harvesting and processing. Material including sawdust, bark and harvest residue currently has little or no value, but could be a valuable new revenue stream if it can be commercially converted into biofuels.

“This study is potentially the first step in a very exciting new revenue stream for the forestry industry,” says Mrs Goodhew. . .

Forest owners pumped by bioenergy project:

Forest owners are hopeful that a project designed to convert forest waste into liquid biofuels will provide growers and mills with extra income streams.

In what is known as the ‘Stump to Pump’ project, the government has approved $6.75 million in funding to be matched by partners Norske Skog and Z Energy.

The $13.5 million project will be based at Norske Skog’s Tasman mill in Kawerau. The initial 14-month study will examine the feasibility and economics of making biofuel from sawdust, bark and harvest residue which currently has little or no value. If successful, a test plant will then be built in Kawerau. . . .

Bioenergy Association is encouraged by the Government’s support for biofuels:

The announcement by the Government of Primary Growth Partnership funding of $6.75 million) to investigate producing biofuels from forestry residues is encouraging and supports the forestry and wood processing sector strategy that identified that some emerging biofuel technologies can provide attractive additional revenue streams for existing businesses. . . .

Young farmer wins upland farm for 12 months – Isabel Davies:

A 23-year-old farmer has been given the chance to run a 248ha upland farm in Snowdownia after winning a unique scholarship.

Caryl Hughes from Dyffryn Ceiriog, near Llangollen, beat off stiff competition to win the opportunity to farm Llyndy Isaf, on the shores of Llyn Dinas near Beddgelert for 12 months from September.

The farm drew international attention in 2011 when £1m appeal to rescue it was spearheaded by Welsh Hollywood actor Matthew Rhys and supported by Catherine Zeta-Jones. . .


Rural round-up

May 6, 2013

Red meat industry change afoot – Sally Rae:

”Band-aid solutions” might be needed to avoid potential problems in the red meat sector next season, but a long-term view is essential to finding the right solutions, Meat Industry Excellence chairman Richard Young says.

More farmers have gathered to establish a mandate for industry change and further meetings are scheduled in the North Island.

At a recent meeting in Feilding, attended by about 700 farmers, Alliance Group chairman Owen Poole said the industry was developing an improved model and and a decision on whether it would go ahead could be expected within two months, Farmers Weekly reported. . .

Making a difference for dairy women – Sally Rae:

Sue Peoples wants to help make a difference to women involved in the dairy industry.

Dr Peoples, a social scientist based at AgResearch Invermay, is leading the first phase of Project Pathfinder, an initiative aiming to build the leadership capacity of New Zealand’s dairying women.

The project, which recently gained a Sustainable Farming Fund grant of $180,000 over three years, will get under way in July. . .

Adapting agriculture to a changing climate – Dr Gavin Kenny:

For more than 20 years I have worked professionally on the “what ifs” of climate change, focused mostly on what it might mean for agriculture. I’ve done this work in New Zealand, Europe, the Pacific Islands and Asia. During that time I have experienced the progression from the hypothetical to real-world responses. Climate change, particularly as experienced through more frequent drought and flood events, is increasingly influencing what farmers are doing in many countries. It is not clear whether this is yet the case in New Zealand, but I suspect so.

With a record summer drought just behind us, and with negative and positive effects that will continue to unfold for farmers, it is relevant to ask: What if we get more frequent and intense droughts in the future? How might farming change and how might those changes affect wider society? . . .

Real Mix in Farm Manager Finalists:

The 11 finalists competing for the 2013 New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year title are split between contract milkers and farm managers – as well as age, experience, and farm size.

Judging begins next week for the finalists comprising four males and seven couples, and involves a two-hour farm visit covering financial planning, human resource and farm management. The final component of the judging, an interview, will take place in Wellington prior to the winners being announced at the 2013 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards on May 24.

Winners in the 2013 New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year will also be announced and nearly $150,000 in prizes will be given away. . .

Fonterra Pilot Scheme to Give Farmers Milk Price Certainty:

Fonterra is piloting a new ‘Guaranteed Milk Price’ (GMP) scheme that will provide farmers with the opportunity to have more certainty in their milk price. The pilot will mean farmers can choose to lock in a milk price announced at the beginning of a season for up to 75 per cent of their milk supply.

Fonterra’s Managing Director of Group Optimisation and Supply Chain, Ian Palliser says the past few years have confirmed that volatility in commodity prices is here to stay.

“We recognise that every farming business is different. And while most farmers can live with the market volatility, there are times when some farmers would prefer more certainty as it would help them manage their own farming businesses,” Mr Palliser says. . .

Fonterra confirms supply offer dates:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today confirmed that a Supply Offer enabling farmer shareholders to sell the economic rights of some of their shares will open on 2 May and close at 5pm on 23 May.

Farmer shareholders will have the opportunity to offer to sell the economic rights of up to 25 per cent of their minimum required shares (‘Wet Shares’) to the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund.

The price farmers will receive for their economic rights (the “final price”) will be announced on 16 May. It will be calculated by reference to the average daily sales prices on the NZX for Fonterra Units for each trading day between 2 – 15 May inclusive.

Farmer shareholders will then have a further week after the final price has been announced to confirm if they wish to participate in the Supply Offer before it closes. . .


Rural round-up

April 30, 2013

New Lincoln Hub plans unveiled:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have today unveiled concept plans for a world-class agricultural research and education facility to be sited at Lincoln, near Christchurch.

The Lincoln Hub concept plans and business proposal have been developed by a partnership of Lincoln University, DairyNZ and Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) AgResearch, Plant & Food Research, and Landcare Research.

“The Lincoln Hub has the potential to transform New Zealand’s farming productivity by providing a one-stop shop allowing information and ideas to be shared more easily,” Mr Joyce says. “Internationally, science and innovation parks that collect together public and private organisations in one place drive a lot of education, science and innovation. The Lincoln Hub can achieve this for New Zealand farming.” . .

AgResearch capitalises its strengths to boost science:

A mammoth $100 million investment in AgResearch’s core science resource will help boost its potential to support exports from the primary industries in reaching $60 billion by 2025, on current policy settings.

“It is no secret that some of AgResearch’s physical scientific infrastructure is getting a bit creaky,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President.

“It was a genuine pleasure to be at the unveiling of an impressive roadmap that will also see the “hubbing” of primary research capabilities at and with Lincoln University. . .

Meat Industry excellence Group campaign warms up – Allan Barber:

The MIE organised farmer meeting in Feilding on Friday was attended by about 700 farmers which one speaker from the floor compared unfavourably with 2000 at the Drought Shout. However there is obviously an increasing level of support for substantial change to the meat industry’s operating method which results in volatile market returns.

Alliance and Silver Fern Farms were both represented and the respective chairmen, Owen Poole and EoinGarden, spoke in support of the group’s aims. Poole told the meeting the industry was working constructively to develop an improved model which was simpler than MIE’s plan and it was important to ensure the two plans were complementary. . .

MPI’s loss is LIC’s gain but Primary still comes out on top:

The resignation of Wayne McNee, Ministry for Primary Industries Director-General, to take up the position of Chief Executive at Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), will still see this talented person working in and for New Zealand’s primary industries.

“This role shows the versatility of Wayne who has performed to a very high standard with the public service and now departs for a high profile leadership role in a company important to New Zealand agriculture,” says Bruce Wills, President of Federated Farmers.

“Wayne has put the Ministry on the right path for farmers following the merger of the old MAF with the Ministry of Fisheries. I feel disappointed in one regard because he leaves it, just when we are starting to see the fruits of his work appear in this new and dynamic Ministry. . .

Budget 2012; support for frontline conservation work:

An additional $20 million over four years has been allocated to the Department of Conservation in Budget 2013 to provide for additional frontline roles and the upgrade of recreational facilities, Conservation Minister Nick Smith announced today.

“The four year funding package complements the Government’s recently announced tourism investment. It recognises that DOC is the Government’s primary agency responsible for providing infrastructure, visitor services and nature-based experiences that support the tourism industry,” Dr Smith says. . .

Innovative Dairy Companies Form Partnership to Boost Exports:

Two of New Zealand’s most innovative dairy companies are forming a partnership to boost exports to one of the world’s fastest growing consumer markets.

Synlait Milk will next month despatch the first consignment of a2® Platinum™ infant formula destined for mothers and infants in China. a2 milk™ contains only the A2 version of the beta casein protein which is more comparable to protein that mothers naturally produce than other versions of the beta casein protein found in standard milk.

Synlait Milk will be processing a2 milk™ from 10 suppliers from August this year and will further expand production to meet the requirements of A2 Corporation when a2® Platinum™ infant formula becomes available to mothers in New Zealand and Australia later this year. . .

Brancott Estate Celebrates the End of a “Sensational” Vintage:

Vineyard beats the weather to harvest pristine, flavoursome fruit

Early predictions of an outstanding vintage have proven true for Brancott Estate, the pioneers of the original Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, who have successfully completed harvest ahead of autumn rain, and with fruit that bears all the characteristics of the region.

“The season has been so dry until now and this has delivered a sensational vintage for Marlborough” says Patrick Materman, Chief Winemaker for Brancott Estate. “While we’ve enjoyed the sunshine, it hasn’t been a particularly warm season, tracking around the long-term average in terms of Growing Degree Days. This, combined with the lack of rain, is a real positive for vineyards. The dry conditions mean pristine fruit development and allow us to make harvest decisions based on optimal flavour development, while the relatively cool temperatures ensure the aromatic expression and balance of natural acidity that has made Marlborough famous.” . .


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